The photo above was taken by my younger brother at Santa Monica beach, right after my older brother and I got off the plane at LAX from NYC. It was my older brother's idea to go to the beach even though the sun was already setting because both of us hadn't seen the beach for a while, as evidenced by our touristy pose taking photos of everything with our phone. My younger brother, the one who lives in LA, was shaking his head the entire time, giving us a look of pity as he failed to understand why going to the beach was such a big deal for us. Yo, lil bro, let me tell you something, once you live somewhere that isn't surrounded by beaches, you will then understand our longing to feel the waves sweep over our feet against the soft grains of sand. You know, you never appreciate something until it's gone, that sort of thing.
You know the saying that goes the grass is always greener on the other side? I think it's true, tried and tested from my own experience. Now that I no longer live in LA, I find myself wishing I could live there again, I feel that the lifestyle there is better, the palm trees are taller, hell, I even feel that I get a better golden glowy tan sunbathing there than anywhere else in the world. However, I'd like to add something to this saying, yes, the grass is always greener on the other side but the rose (rose because my knowledge on plants is very very limited) is redder here in my own lawn. What I'm trying to say is that yes, some things might be better in LA, but there are also some things that are better in Paris, where I currently live. I mean, the croissant and pain au chocolat for instance, I have yet to find a better more buttery version than those I find in Paris. Seriously, it's not a cliché, they really are better in Paris. The museums are more diverse and interesting in Paris too. And since this post isn't about Paris VS LA, I will stop with the comparisons here. But you get what I mean right? Before you get all pissed and say shut up, you ungrateful brat, you live in Paris so why are you complaining? Believe it or not, I'm also a human being which makes me almost impossible to please. In fact, I often wish there could be a utopia that would possess great qualities of the various places I love. Imagine, LA weather & beaches and its amazingly diverse restaurants and communities combined with intricate Haussmann buildings, awe-inspiring exhibitions, mouthwatering pastries and desserts, arrays of affordable yet delicious wine one can find in Paris. I can go all day describing my utopia.
One of my most frequently visited neighborhoods in LA is Sawtelle Boulevard as pictured above. It is also known as Little Osaka because Little Tokyo is already taken, it's in Downtown LA. This boulevard boasts numerous places to eat and yes, you guessed it, there are many Japanese restaurants. You've got to go to Tsujita Ramen for their out of this world ramen and tsukemen. The photos above were taken at Tsujita Ramen Annex that is located right across the original Tsujita. They do differ a little bit in terms of flavors and the ramen at Tsujita Annex features bean sprouts. My older brother prefers the Annex one, my younger brother likes the original Tsujita and me, I like both because they are different in a good way. So it really depends on your personal preference. Keep in mind, the line gets really long at both Tsujitas even on weekdays. Try to get there early before lunch/dinner time or go there at an awkward time to eat. I usually go to Coffee Tomo to get some iced coffee and super yummy sweet potato cheese pretzel while waiting in line for Tsujita. Wait, what? Sweet potato pretzel before eating ramen with super rich broth? Really, are you still surprised by now? Another favorite place to eat there would be Hide Sushi as pictured above. I used to go there at least once a week when I lived in LA. They have fresh sushi (try their salmon, scallop special, yellowtail scallion hand roll) at relatively affordable prices. When we went there for dinner, one of the waiters remembered us. He asked where my brother and I have been, how come it's been so long since we ate there. Aww, I'm touched he still remembers us. I miss Hide Sushi!
Moving on to Koreatown that's located near Downtown LA. This Koreatown is hugeeeee and you can see signs in Korean everywhere. There are fantastic restaurants that serve ah-ma-zing Korean food that I still dream about from time to time. One of my all-time favorites is Han Bat Sul Lung Tang which is this traditional Korean soup served with flank/brisket/tongue/intestines, choose whichever you want. It's really simple yet complex and time-consuming to prepare. Before eating it, you're supposed to put seasonings such as salt, pepper and green onion yourself so you can adjust it to your own liking. Whenever I feel cold in another part of the world, I still think about this comforting soup often. Another favorite is Seoungbukdong, they have oh-so-tender galbi jjim that's so moist and juicy as you can see above. Damn, I'm starting to salivate. Across Seoungbukdong, there's this well furnished and decorated Pinkberry and of course I had to make a stop there. Milk chocolate crunch is still my favorite topping and I don't even like milk chocolate. Also I notice that there are less and less Pinkberry stores in LA and it actually worries me a little bit.
And of course I have to talk about In-N-Out burger. This is what I always tell people, you have to get the double double cheeseburger because that's how you get the ultimate juicy beefy cheesy explosion in your mouth. You can definitely go crazier than double, it's totally up to you. And I love my double double with grilled onions. For the fries, I like mine animal style which means the fries would be covered in grilled onions, melted cheese and orange mayonnaise sauce thingy (yeah, as if french fries aren't fattening enough). As you can see in the third photo above, there's this lettuce looking thing that seems out of place. It's In-N-Out's protein style burger meaning it's just beef patty and lettuce, perfect for people who aren't me. The drive-thru line at this Venice location was soooo long but what else is there to do than to wait patiently? Oh yeah the air smelled like grilled onions around the restaurant and I'm curious to know how the people who live around there feel about this. My apologies, peeps, I contributed to that grilled onions smell in the air.
This time around, I also hung out in Venice quite often. I like to take a walk and browse the shops and restaurants on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. The restaurant right across Aēsop where I had lunch at (pictured above) is Gjelina and I really like the anchovies and burrata on toast appetizer; the saltiness from the anchovies is nicely balanced with the milkiness of the fresh burrata. Right down the street on the same boulevard, there is this ice cream shop called Salt & Straw and they have flavors of the moment created by elementary school (if I remember correctly) students. I tried one of the students' flavors which was jackfruit (not the one pictured above) at the time. It was so refreshing especially consumed under the sun accompanied with those tall palm trees. And also, my favorite perfume store Le Labo as you can see above, is further down the street. My favorite scent from Le Labo for the moment is Thé Noir. Le Labo perfume isn't cheap at all so I hesitated whether I should buy it. But 2 weeks after my visit there, I still couldn't get Thé Noir out of my head. I finally bought it in Paris in their store on Rue Saint-Honoré and promised myself I shouldn't buy anymore perfumes because you know, I'd still love to be able to afford meat.
This is Los Angeles part 1 and stay tuned for part 2!