NYC Part 3: Babbo & Goodbye

The main reason my parents and I went to NYC was to meet up with my good friend Alex for dinner at Babbo Ristorante.

By this upcoming September, I will have known Alex for 18 years. That means our friendship will legally be an adult, but still will not be able to rent a car. All bad jokes aside, I have known Alex for almost 2/3 of my life! We went through middle school and high school together and stayed friends even after I moved to a different coast. We traveled through Europe together, we drove from California to Pennsylvania together, and we have celebrated many New Years Eves together. Also! In 2008, while perusing the website Passive Aggressive Notes, I encountered this hilarious passive aggressive note, and immediately recognized Alex’s handwriting. I know, I know, I’m being overly sentimental. But, I’m very grateful to have such a good friend. I’m also grateful my parents took us to Babbo because Mario Batali can do no wrong.

Lower Level Dining Area.

Cherry Bellini.

Villa Matilde Aglianico.

Chickpea Bruschetta.

Sweet Onion Crostini, with Babbo Lardo Glistening.

Goat Cheese Tortelloni with Dried Orange and Wild Fennel Pollen.

Black Spaghetti with Rock Shrimp, Spicy Salami Calabrese and Green Chiles.

Mint Love Letters with Spicy Lamb Sausage.

Sunday Special: Braised Short Ribs.

Barbecued Skirt Steak with Asparagus “alla Piastra” and Salsa Verde.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake.

After dinner we took a stroll through Washington Square Park.

Are you still reading? Unfortunately, the time has come for me to take a break. I have had a lot of fun & I hope all two of my readers enjoyed these past few months. Tschüß!

Filed under:Bar, Cocktails, Favorites, Food, New York City, Wine

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Lukshon – Culver City

It’s apparent that I’m a big fan of FO I & IIA lot of my friends One close friend even assumed that when Sang Yoon opened Lukshon next door in February 2011, I was first in line. Sadly, my friend was incorrect. It was only until a few weeks ago that I was able to finally check it out. Because I have let a lot of time lapse, I am just going to summarize my experience as wonderful — Being promptly seated by a friendly hostess to being served delicious food and having my water glass repeatedly refilled by an astute waiter. I would go back in a heartbeat. And plan to soon!

I have placed *s next to my favorite drinks/dishes.

THE DRINKS:

* Fujian Cure: Isle of Skye 8 year old scotch, lemon, galangal, lapsang souchong black tea

Yokohama Romance: Prunier VSOP cognac, cherry heering, kaffir lime, lemongrass, shaoxing wine

THE FOOD

Spanish Mackerel coconut vinegar, jalapeno, lemongrass, green papaya

* Spicy Chicken Pops Shelton Farms drumettes, garlic, kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), spicy sichuan salt

* Garlic Pork Belly do ba jian, rice cakes, cabbage, garlic chives

* Baby Monterey Squid stuffed with chiang mai pork sausage, with candlenut, mint, and rau ram

X.O. Rice jasmine rice, house-made x.o. sauce, long beans, egg

* Crispy Roasted Brussels Sprouts lightly fried in a soy sauce with sesame seeds sprinkled on top

Complimentary DessertsChocolate Custard/Pudding & Mango Panna Cotta

Lukshon
3239 Helms Ave.
Culver City, California
310-202-6808
Mon-Sat: 5:30-10:30pm

Filed under:Another Day, Favorites, Los Angeles

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Studying Sandwiches @ Mendocino Farms

It was a big week for me. My first time on the DASH & my first taste of Mendocino Farms located…. downtown!

First, the DASH experience. Only trying to get a little over a mile from where I was, paying the $0.35 to get there seemed legit on the warm June gloomy day. (However, starting on 07/01/11, the ride will cost $0.50) I didn’t pay so much attention to the actual time it took to get there so I can’t really tell if the DASH lived up to the name. But, I did get to do something I don’t do as often as I’d like: If you’re thinking it is sitting next to strangers you are SO VERY WRONG. Instead, it’s staring out the window and looking at downtown. My mental map of the area is far from developed. Finally having the opportunity to look around, not having to focus on the road and driving, helps me orient and familiarize myself with this wonderful city.

Second, Mendocino Farms. Adjacent to the Omni Hotel is the California Plaza. Inside the plaza appears to be many different restaurant choices and dining options. As it was official LA feeding time, 1pm, lines were forming everywhere. MF’s line was the longest, which reassured me that I was making the right decision. While waiting in line, a genuinely perky worker who was excited to be alive and working (but not in that annoying way), handed me a menu and asked if I had any questions. Not noticing that the answer to my question was practically written right in front of me, I asked what the soup of the day was. Notwithstanding my obvious oblivion, the worker patiently and excitedly told me: chicken tortilla and a tomato bisque.

An interesting fact about me: I will never ever order a bisque, especially tomato. I’ve tried really hard to like it, but to no avail. It might be the one food (that I’m aware of at this point in time) that I absolutely dislike. It’s a combination of the tomato taste and the texture. My reaction is like no other reaction I have had before to anything else in life. But, I digress…

Like most lunch hot spots, you order up front, pay at a register, and wait for (with the ability to watch) the preparation of your meal. When complete, the food will be placed in a brown lunch bag and someone will then proceed to call out your name.

Not interested in the soups, I focused on a sandwich. It was not an easy decision, but I ended up choosing the A Sandwich Study of Heat (Turkey Avocado)fresh local farm turkey, smoked gouda, avocado, chili aioli, jalapeno relish, tomato, romaine lettuce, (side of chipotle salsa by request).

Although I have a useful liberal arts degree, I never sandwich studied heat before. I can only guess the studying of heat in sandwich form is in reference to the sandwich eater’s ability to control the amount of heat of the sandwich through using the spicy salsa at their own discretion. My studies turned sloppy after I accidentally spilled the salsa everywhere.  Aside from my mess, the heat was not overbearing and made the turkey avocado really stand out.

MF is also a provider of Boylan Soda in fountain soda form (not bottles). I am familiar with Boylan gourmet sparkling beverages because the company is from NJ area & I know I have had it throughout my life (but only in bottle form). It was quite a delight to have refillable access to the fountain. The only complaint: it’s FOAMY. Filling up my soda took 2-3x longer than it normally does (total first world problem). However, it is totally worth the wait.

I hope to repeat MF again in the future. The whole experience (aside from the large crowd/line) was great. And, their menu is so impressive that it wouldn’t be fair to not go back.

Mendocino Farms
300 South Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 620-1114
Twitter: mendocinofarms

Philippe – Chinatown – Single Dip Experience

One fine afternoon I was able to make it to Chinatown for lunch at Philippe. Philippe, established in 1908, claims to be home of the original French dip sandwich.

When I entered around noon, the place was packed with lines to the wall opposite of the display counter.  Food is ordered and served in a unique manner: along a display counter exists about 10 servers who are called “carvers.” Each carver has everything they need to prepare your meal right in front of them so that they can take care of your whole meal.

Not surprisingly, this place is CASH ONLY (but there is an ATM (or what east coasters call a MAC machine – acronym for money access center). Seating is family style and there is an upstairs floor with many different rooms. The floor is covered in saw dust – which is presumably to absorb the many liquids that fall in this busy establishment.

A French dipped sandwich consists of either roast beef, roast pork, leg of lamb, turkey or ham served on a fresh baked French roll which has been dipped in the natural gravy of the roasts (au jus). ($6.00) Swiss, American, Monterey Jack or Blue cheese may be added. I chose the turkey French dip, no cheese!

Although Philippe’s serves close to 300 pounds of pigs feet every week, I opted for the potato salad as a side. ($1.20)

Philippe is also known for its hot French mustard.  At every table there is a squirt bottle of the mustard for you to use at your discretion. The heat is more like a horseradish/wasabi. I hope to buy a jar and send it to my parents someday.

My biggest regret? Not double dipping! Double dipping is when the completed sandwich is dipped in the jus. One can also order the sandwich “wet” which I am guessing is a more serious kind of double dipping in the jus.

You dip the way you want to dip, I’ll dip the way I want to dip.” – George Costanza

Philippe
1001 N Alameda St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 628-3781
Daily Hours: 6AM-10PM
Twitter: PhilippetheOG

LAPD – Downtown

I was arrested! Arrested by the shiny and comically mesmerizing LAPD building located downtown, across from City Hall. It was impossible for me not to stop and take pictures — even at a time when I was trying to beeline to the subway.

It’s official title is the Los Angeles Police Department Police Administration Building, designed by DMJM (or what is now AECOM) Architects and completed in 2009. The 491,00 square foot, 10-story building was a $437 million project and houses about 2,300 employees/officers. The design is “modern with both physical and metaphorical connections to the surrounding community.”

The building/design has won a plethora of awards and certifications. Two are of note:

  • ONE: It has achieved a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council because of sustainable strategies such as using recycled content building materials; energy-saving daylighting design and lighting controls; a high-efficiency HVAC system; locally produced materials; and water-efficient plumbing fixtures/irrigation/landscape materials.

Pictures inside the LAPD can be found here.

LAPD Police Administration Building
100 West 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

I yell! You yell! We all yell for Yelle!

Although I usually prefer to post chronologically, I will backtrack for special occasions that I want to remember forever. The special occasion I am referring to is Yelle, the delightfully fun & French electropop band that performed at The Music Box on 5/21/11.

Yelle is pronounced like the word “Yell” (the e is silent) BECAUSE the band was originally called “Yel” as an acronym for “You Enjoy Life” but after finding out there was already a band in Belgium (“eurocrunk” style) using that name, the French band feminized the name into Yelle. Currently, the band consists of the lead singer, Julie Budet (who goes by the name Yelle); GrandMarnier (Jean-François Perrier/drums); & Tepr (Tanguy Destable/keyboard).

I remember first hearing “Je veux te voir” around 2006-07 through the archaic website some of you might remember called MySpace (the one thing MySpace was good for – helping bands get their music heard). And then sometime in 2008, I heard “Ce Jeu.” To this date, these are two of my favorite Yelle songs (I don’t think I’m alone in that statement).

When I found out Yelle was playing in Los Angeles, I did not think I was going to be able to get tickets. A combination of having never been to Music Box before and it being only days before the show led me to assume I wouldn’t be able to get the tickets. Fortunately, my pessimism only allowed me to be that much more excited and pleasantly surprised to find that the tickets were available. Overall, Yelle was great live and helped kick start my fun summer. I hope to see them again someday in the future (preferably in Europe)!

Les faits saillants:

  • Easy and free street parking! [I hate paying for parking]
  • The tickets only allowed me upstairs in the balcony section. Although some would be upset that they were not near the stage, I loved being able to relax upstairs, sip my Heineken, take the time to look at the crowd and the crazy art on the wall, and just enjoy my personal space. [Not usually a fan of being in sweaty, albeit dancing, crowds]

  • The French man selling shirts was very nice to me and didn’t hate me for asking so many questions [I usually have a lot of questions]
  • Yelle, the band, put on a great show! There were the Safari Disco Club costumes, fun dancing and crazy lights. Even the Tchiki Tah Man showed up (from the “Que veux-tu” video)!

  • Yelle, the person, is an adorable femme fatale. She owned the stage with dance moves that transcended grace, all the while oozing awesome and sex appeal. Yelle also made a reference to the highly publicized rapture that was supposed to occur that day. The icing to the cake was her repeated angelical voice stating to the crowd “Thank HUUUUUEEEEEEEEE!”

Filed under:Another Day, Favorites, Music

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(Hi!) / Hama Sushi / Delicious

Almost 2 years, wow. I’d be lying if I said my life has not significantly changed since the last time I blogged. I’m not going to get into the boring details, but let’s just say I do not have much free time. (I’m still lamenting that I never got to finish blogging about my trip to SF. It’s too late now, I have no idea where my photos are from that trip.) Fortunately, I have a teeny weeny tiny bit of extra time that allows me to hopefully add a few posts. I am spending my summer in a part of Los Angeles that I have never really explored before – downtown! Including, but not limited to: Little Tokyo, Olvera Street, and Chinatown. I am very excited for what lies ahead.

As you might have noticed in the past, as I became busier in my life (not unemployed) my choice of subject matter and adjectives became more limited (everything was either delicious or not delicious). This will probably be the case this summer as well. So, I apologize for my future lack of descriptions now & hope you still enjoy my documentation of delicious, sans details.

Anyway, let’s cut to the chase! (A phrase that originated in the U.S. film industry b/c many early silent films started with obligatory romantic story lines but ended in chase sequences. The first reference dates back to 1927 after the first ‘talkie’ The Jazz Singer. More info on this phrase here.) For my first review this summer, I will start with what arguably might be the best sushi restaurant in the downtown vicinity: Hama Sushi. I bet you’re wondering what Hama means. No? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway. According to one website on Kanji and Romaji the word Hama, aka  はま, means beach or sea coast. (This name choice makes sense b/c it implies that the sushi is fresh from the ocean.) Although the restaurant is small and it was getting close to standard lunch time in Los Angeles (1pm), my friend and I were able to be seated immediately and order our little hearts out. And it was delicious. DELICIOUS.

To be honest, I can’t remember everything we ordered. But, it doesn’t matter because everything was great. I am confident that I could order completely differently next time and still give my same lazy delicious approval.

However, there are a few things that stood out enough for me to repeat: Order hot green tea (obv), order toro (obv), order hand rolls (they are cheaper and more filling). There are a few more pictures, but uploading them is not as easy as I remember it to be! Maybe I will add them later…

Hama Sushi (Yelp page b/c I couldn’t find official website)
347 E 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Neighborhoods: Downtown, Little Tokyo

Filed under:Another Day, Favorites, Los Angeles

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