I woke up missing Los Angeles this morning. Probably because a few weeks ago I had dinner with my Californian friends who were visiting Paris. Or probably because I woke up to a typically gloomy Parisian sky. Or also because last week, when I was in Lake Como, Italy, the radio in my taxi suddenly played The OC's theme song, Phantom Planet's "California". "California, here we come, right back where we started from, Californiaaaaaaa...." I mean, what are the chances?
How is it possible that I live in one of the prettiest cities in the world and still have this burning yearning for the other one all the way across the globe? How is it that after so many years, so many tears spilled, so many hand shakes & introductions, so many hairstyle changes, my mind keeps circling back to where it was 10 years ago?
I had no idea that I would sound this whiny. Actually this whole post is about me feeling so blue, the pictures are just there to lure you into this trap of my egocentric rambling. I don't know why I feel this way, don't get me wrong, I'm not feeling depressed or anything like that, I'm happy with the way things are in my life right now. It's just that a whole chunk of my life was spent in LA, and that period just happens to be the most carefree time of my life so far. I don't know if it's me romanticizing my days in LA, like an edited compilation of clips where the not-so-pleasant ones don't make the cut. It's like my mind is trying to sell this glowy, full-of-sunshine-and-no-rain image of LA to itself.
Normally, to shut me up from rambling too much, you gotta feed me food. Apparently, it also works when I'm writing because just by looking at the photos of Night + Market Song, I now wanna stare at those photos and drool over my keyboard instead. The location I went to was the one in Silver Lake. See, I no longer remember the names of the dishes we ordered because it was like 3 months ago, so yeah... My advice is to go there with an open mind because you'll find less mainstream Thai dishes that taste sooo good. In one of our trying-to-sound-intelligent-and-can-sound-a-bit-pretentious conversations, my brothers and I think that there's this new wave of trendy asian fusion restaurants with so intentionally cheesy it's so good décor, but with surprisingly amazing and bold flavors.
As usual, we stuffed ourselves with all those goodness at Night + Market Song, probably a little bit more than what our stomach could take. Luckily, Silver Lake is full of cafés and shops we could take a look at while digesting our crispy rice appetizer (oh yeah, I remember that's crispy rice!) and the many other things we ate. So, across the street we went. I have this fetish for Aēsop and since each store has a different design and/or concept, each visit to different locations is unique. I admit, personally, the unusual scents of Aēsop products take a little bit of getting used to. But once I'm used to it, I'm hooked! My favorite is the geranium leaf body cleanser. By the way, this is not a sponsored post although I wish it was.
We came across this sunglasses store called RETROSUPERFUTURE that showcases their products flatteringly, almost like art works at museums. I went in there not having any intention to buy anything but couldn't resist the temptation. In my head, I was all like oh you know, it's important to have a proper pair of sunglasses because the sunlight in LA can be quite blinding. I had to buy a pair in order to be a safe driver and not endanger myself or anyone else, kinda like a civic responsibility, you understand right?
We then walked along the street and saw Pine & Crane, a modern Taiwanese restaurant pictured above. My brothers told me about their sea salt iced tea and of course I had to try it! That foamy sea salt cream, oh my.. need I say more?
Oh, also, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened at Universal Studios Hollywood and I could not contain my excitement! Coincidentally, I had just finished rereading the Harry Potter series, all 7 of them, before I arrived in LA. So everything was still fresh on my mind. Needless to say there were sooo many people and it was a fantastic idea to invest in the front-of-line pass to avoid long lines. The Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey ride is the coolest ride I've ever been on; we actually rode it twice! Another highlight is the butterbeer that has this creamy butterscotch like foam on top that I wish would magically refill itself.
My older brother and I decided to try out Bestia, this happening Italian place in downtown LA. We called ahead and got a table at the bar around 10.30PM. Kinda late but it's okay, because we're still young right? That's what I kept trying to tell myself haha. So then when we arrived, we were seated by the window with high chairs and all. It was an individual table really rather than a table at the bar. The waitress was very friendly and she explained how Bestia was started by a husband-and-wife team. She also recommended some dishes including the pasta with uni pictured above. It's a very nice idea to tell your customers the story behind the restaurant, huh? One day if I have the opportunity to be a manager at or an owner of a restaurant, I shall learn from Bestia. It was a delicious modern Italian restaurant with a sophisticated-without-being-over-the-top ambiance. Highly recommended.
Another great find during this trip is this coffee shop in Culver City called Bar Nine. My brothers' roommate told me about this place and it sure wasn't disappointing. Btw, Josh, if you're reading this, thanks for telling me about Bar Nine! They use glass jars that we can take home as their coffee cups, how great is that? Plus the place is a coffee roasting place and it's super spacious. Oh, and they offer classes as well. As an avid coffee drinker, I really wanted to sign up for one of the classes but unfortunately, they had classes only after my departure from LA. Next time then.
In conclusion, I've discovered new things in LA from this trip. I walked quite a lot this time around as I didn't rent a car and I had to borrow my brothers' cars when they were available. I noticed a lot of things I otherwise wouldn't have seen sitting behind the wheel, like how walkable the distance actually is from Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice to Mitsuwa supermarket on Centinela Avenue.
LA will always be my second home. I was an ambitious 16-year-old filled with hope and dreams when I moved there. My LA days represent my ultimate youth period and optimism at its highest level. How could it not? Most of my lazy Sundays were spent eating super yummy dim sum or dumplings in Alhambra and its surroundings with my siblings/cousins/friends and sometimes with all of them at the same time. Living in highly diverse LA means I could have Hawaiian food for breakfast, Burmese for lunch, super juicy burger for dinner. I used to hang out at bubble tea cafes or any place that sells sugary drinks or food, after class with my dear friends. We would even drive 20 something miles just to get shaved ice on a week day evening. We could be having so much fun and drinking so much at a friend's birthday bash and still woke up just in time for work at 8AM the next day. At the time, the future was still so far away and it didn't bother us that whatever lied ahead was foggy because we thought we would figure it out no matter what when the time comes.
Trust me, I'm not a bitter 25-year-old. Yes, life has its way to discourage me, to try to rob all my optimistic feelings away from me at times. But then, life also has its way to lift me up, although I have no idea where I will be feeling down again before feeling elated again not too long after. You know, roller coaster of life. I would just say whatever memories I have of LA are wrapped in this protective bubble, safe from any external harm or damage. I bet if I were to relocate to LA again, I'd also miss Paris and its out-of-this-world bakeries and patisseries. I'd probably write a post about how much I miss Paris and how expensive wine is outside Paris. Human nature, huh?
Anyways, I'm gonna go out for a walk and probably stop at the bakery nearby for a brioche because the sun is suddenly out again here in Paris.