Little Sister in DTLA is across from Bottega Louie on 7th Street, but unless you are looking for it, you will miss the discreet signage and miss the mouthwatering flavors hidden inside this small space. My mouth has been dancing in joy ever since I found this place and I look forward to every meal there just as I look forward to every trip 🙂

I asked my server her favorite dish and I ordered it; grilled prawns, cabbage mix, mango, cucumber, onion, cashews in a lemongrass cilantro dressing. It’s a much bigger serving that it seems and it could easily have been my lunch with the complex and layered flavors and textures.

The pork, shrimp, and crab dumplings with a spicy black vinegar dressing, chive, spinach, and peanuts was so  tender and savory especially with the extra sauce on the side that I didn’t want to share any with my dining companions.

 The sauce could be a  savory cocktail 🙂

The rice paper pho banh cuon beef and beef tendon, herbs, lettuce, pickled onion was a melody of textures and flavors that combined like an accomplished band, bringing in elements of silky rice paper, with sweet spice and chewy tendon.

My least favorite was the spicy lemongrass chicken with garlic and dried chilies which had depth but not to my taste for the combination of spices.

Very little on the menu is over $15 and they have sandwiches, rice and noodle dishes, as well as congee for those who want more starch. It will take awhile to eat my way through their menu, but it’s a challenge I would like to accept!

Yelp Elite Members get wonderful perks like free tickets to Absinthe LA!

These are some of the pictures and videos, but it’s a much better experience in person 🙂

It’s a bawdy (over 18 only), funny, acrobatic, entertaining show where you will not be bored, but not recommended for anyone easily offended!

 You can park in the West Garage ($10-$30) and just go upstairs, or take Lyft and/or the Metro.

 There was a free photo booth where you could sit and send your picture to social media or email.

 While waiting for the doors to open, I sat down for a pic:)

The theater in the round seats about 500 and in the middle of the week for the early show, 400 came.

 That is a guy on top of 7 levels of chairs!

 These guys were my favorite act!

 A couple worked the silks in a beautiful aerial dance.

 Two acrobats and a metal circle rose and swung in a sensual dance.

 This show is only for 18+ because some acts were definitely not for minors (but fun for adults)!

 The “Bodyguard” for the MC had a few unexpected talents.

 Talented cast and crew deserved their standing ovation.

A few of the extraordinary performers in action!

The Last Bookstore is the largest and likely the most famous bookstore in Los Angeles, so enjoy today’s photo post until you are in the area and able to experience the magic of this place in person 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures speak volumes, and I get many ideas about where to go eat from my Instagram feed. The first time I went in, two other people also came in for the first time because of the pictures we had seen on Instagram:) I follow Eat Bearded on Instagram and Armen is one of the chefs/co-owners of Mini Kabob.

Ovakim and Alvard welcomed me as if I had entered their home when I came into the eight seat restaurant; the place is so small that the couple dining at the table closest to the door opened it for me from their seats!

They serve high quality food, done with heart and skill that can only come from people who love what they do, and they treat everyone as a new friend or old one, depending on whether it’s your first visit or thousandth time. I’ve now become a regular, introducing friends to the place, so now I feel like this is my home away from home:)

The first time I went in, I asked Ovakim what he recommended, and he said “Get the chicken breast” so I did and it was the most mouthwatering moist version I have ever eaten. The rice, onions, and grilled tomato and jalapeno were perfect compliments to the chicken and basmati rice. All this for under $15 and nearly enough for two meals!

When I saw the steak and salad, I knew I wanted that combo on another night, and it did not disappoint, with tender meat and a refreshing green crunch all for under $20.

The Lule minced chicken mixed with a bit of pork and spices is a slighter smaller meal especially paired with salad instead of rice, but big on flavor.

Or you can opt for half rice, half salad.

If you can’t decide, you can order a combo plate with chicken thigh, chicken lule, and pork, also with salad instead of rice if you prefer. I found the pork a bit dry, but still tasty.

The lamb chops are a big plate, and I ordered half salad, half rice to get a completely “balanced” meal, but it was so big I would only order this to go next time; this is the most expensive item on the menu coming in at slightly over $20.

Perhaps my favorite part of any meal here is the delightfully light garlic sauce that is served with every meal. I would eat this everyday if I lived closer to Mini Kabob 🙂 They make it fresh daily, along with their hummus.

 The lavash bread comes from a nearby bakery, and it is the only thing they do not make in house.

I’m part of the extended family now 🙂

Meeting someone in Los Angeles can be a daunting task, especially when you must drive across town to do it. Even choosing to meet halfway in the middle of the day can still lead to chaos. People say there are no accidents or coincidences, so when I was supposed to meet a friend at noon at the Hotel Angeleno, traffic and rain conspired to have me enjoy the views and food alone.

It was my first time in this circular building, although I’ve driven past it numerous times on the 405 going in and out of the San Fernando Valley. I will definitely stop by the next time traffic is crawling and I want to be above the mess rather than in it. If you stop by during Happy Hour, they have nice bites and drinks with the view and a $7 parking fee.

Since I was there in the afternoon, after the normal lunch hour, there weren’t many people and I had a choice of seats with a view. I chose the ones with cushions a bit further away from the windows, but there were hotel guests who chose otherwise. I had a glass of Pinot Grigio as I waited for my friend, but as I got updates that the trek from the airport was going to take at least 90 minutes, I decided to order lunch.

It’s been awhile since I’ve had the classic salad Crab Louie, and I was happy to see the large portion of crab and vegetables arrive. For a hotel, this was a very correct dish, with real crab (canned), and local vegetables, including heirloom cherry tomatoes. The dressing was a green goddess instead of the traditional Louie, but it was tasty enough for me to use it all with some additional salt and pepper to perk it up. Lunch was fairly priced for a hotel with a view; with my wine and tax, my total was $38; this is a non tipping hotel, so everyone is paid a living wage by the hotel from the maids to the waiters and bartenders.

By the time my friend finally arrived, it was time for Happy Hour and since I had only eaten a salad, I got the ceviche. It was a bargain for the ingredients and the unusual green chips made me think it was St Patrick’s Day, but it could have used some tapatio or zesty spice.

I got to see my friend’s room that had a view overlooking the condos on the other side of the freeway.

The bed looked comfy with modern touches like a lit headboard and USB plug in ports.

The desk area carried on the same modern theme and included numerous ports built into the wall. There was a safe and mini fridge hidden behind the placards, water and snacks at reasonable for hotel prices. There was even a little coffee/tea maker with Wolfgang Puck coffee and Numi organic green tea.

 

The bathroom had several nice amenities, including a robe, toiletries, and three sets of towels for one person!

 

 

I think the coolest part of the hotel is the emphasis on them doing things a bit differently, from the non tipping policy to the unusual shape of the building; they definitely are not square 🙂

Sometimes a journey to a quiet green spot like the Gardens of the Self Realization Fellowship Headquarters is the perfect antidote to living in Los Angeles; admittance is free and all are welcome to breathe in the peaceful surroundings. Enjoy the view from the top of Mount Washington; if you are on the West side, visit the Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades.

 

 

 

 

I miss going to the marché in France and having fish and shellfish galore at several fishmongers, all competing for my business with the freshest catch and the best prices. Americans don’t seem as enamored by preparing their fish whole as the French; most people I know here want only the filet and nothing else. I have eaten with friends who literally sent a fish back because the head was still attached 😦

Having grown up eating whole fish (yes, I am that person who loves eating the eyeballs), I searched for some place nearby that had a fresh varied selection other than Whole Foods, which had only the American trio of salmon, halibut, and swordfish, with an occasional appearance of sea bass or trout. After a scary journey to a dark, dingy, very smelly “fish market” which shall remain nameless, I finally found Seafood City. Yes, there are Asian markets nearby, but none offer the freshness and variety of Seafood City. A great deal of their fish is farmed, and some have been frozen and defrosted, but for sheer selection they can’t be beat on the East side of Los Angeles. Santa Monica Seafood on the Westside has perhaps twice as big of a selection with more high end and wild caught choices, but price wise they are also twice as expensive.

The market is in Glendale in the mall that houses only a Target and a Macy’s, so there is plenty of parking and easy freeway access. Being a market, they also have vegetables, fruit, noodles, and all kinds of foods Filipino’s might crave, since that is their primary clientele. There is a small butcher case, but I’ve never seen anyone in line for anything other than the fish counter. It took me awhile to understand the system, but basically, you choose the fresh fish or seafood you wish with tongs, putting your choices into clear plastic bags.

You line up to tell them if you would like your fish cleaned and or fried FOR FREE. I opted for cleaning only, so I was given a claim check for pick up at another counter. The wait varies according to the lines; one day I waited 15 minutes for my fish, on a busier day I waited nearly 30 minutes. If you just want shrimp, mussels, calamari, or crabs, they will package up your baggie in a sturdier bag, wrap it and put a price tag on it immediately at the first counter. It’s a much simpler process than it seems, and the customers will help you figure it out if you get confused. If all else fails, get one of the prepared packages of fish to go 🙂

 Yes, you are reading that correctly, whole yellowtail for $3.99 per pound!

Wild Seabream is one of my favorite fish and

for the same price, I also bought wild yellowtail snapper.

They have clams, oysters, squid, and mussels. If you want your shellfish swimming, they have tanks of live lobsters and crabs at the end of the counter. The Maine lobster was only $12.99 a pound, so if you are lucky there will be some left.

 Many sizes of shrimp were available, all at very low prices.

 One day they had a huge tub of live crayfish

and a huge tub of live blue crabs!

Fresh calamari (which I cleaned) and stir fried with bok choy.

Wild White Perch from Canada which I roasted with scallions.

If those crayfish and crabs are still there when I go back, I may make a cajun shellfish boil 🙂

Los Angeles has so many food options, it would take several lifetimes to cover all the choices, changes, and cuisines, but it’s fun trying 🙂 Today’s post is on some places where I only ate one meal, but I will be returning to all three.

King’s Gastro Pub is in an alley behind Old Town in Pasadena. I walked by one day and made a mental note to come by because it has a casual dog friendly patio, live music some nights, and once a month they do a pig roast! I’m not a beer connoisseur, but if you are, they have 24 on tap, as well as a full bar, so this place should be on your radar. I came for brunch one warm Winter day; it was around 78 F in January and people were in shorts and sandals! The patio filled up quickly as we got one of the last tables for our brunch. This is a family friendly place during the day because not only were dogs on the patio, but also lots of kids, and they even have high chairs!

We decided to share an order of fish and chips. The fish was a marvelous beer battered cod and so crisp and tasty we didn’t need any sauce other than a squeeze of the lemons. The fries were addictive and we ate every single one.

We shared a very brightly Californian salad of goat cheese, carrots, spring greens, walnuts, and red onions (covered by very greasy but fresh naan which we didn’t enjoy that much). This salad could have easily been a light meal by itself. Both the fish and chips and salad were under $15 each and well worth it.

Redbird is in Vibiana, the first city’s first Catholic Cathedral, now a full service event venue. The chef/owner, Neal Fraser, has always been one of my favorites since his days at Grace (which was one of my favorite restaurants until it closed in 2010). The DineLA $25 menu was a great excuse to experience what he’s been working on lately in a stately location.

I chose the starter of chicken pot pie with hearts, thigh, thyme, hen of the woods mushrooms. It arrived in a tiny saucepan that was both functional (oven to table in one receptacle) and fun.

Underneath the flaky top was a rich filling of complex and rich root vegetables with chicken pieces that was so rich it could have been a meal in and of itself. The filling was a bit salty, so you will want to dip the top into it.

The gorgeous Wyoming Golden Trout, with sultanas, oregon hazelnuts, quinoa, spinach and brown butter was an enormous, perfectly done filet, with crispy skin, tender flesh, and interesting sides. I loved the contrasting textures of the crunchy hazelnuts, the grainy quinoa, and the soft spinach. I have no idea how I managed to eat this entire serving after the chicken pot pie, but it was so good, I couldn’t stop. I just took my time and small bites 🙂

The last stop on today’s blog post is at Blue Plate Oysterette in Santa Monica.  Taking advantage of DineLA once again, I went for a $25 lunch. When I took a bite of the Ahi tuna tartare with lemon and olive oil on a herb pistou crostini, I smiled in delight. The  crunchy toast and the herb pistou added depth of flavor to the fresh fish with a brilliant twist on the ubiquitous appetizer.

Their famous lobster roll, offered dressed or undressed (I chose naked) on either brioche or butter lettuce (so it can be gluten-free for those who care), served with a large side of fries. The lobster was moist, warm, and already had plenty of butter, so the melted butter on the side was completely unnecessary. What can you add to lobster to make it any better? Nothing 🙂

The Los Angeles Magazine Whisky Festival offers both aficionados and novices tastes of at least 30 (I didn’t count and I could not find a list of participants online, so I am guessing) spirits ranging from single malt scotch to blends, bourbons, ryes, and some specialty ones made from rice! Tickets were $95 and included 3 hours of tasting (using a Waterford glass we could take home).

I am fairly well versed in French wines, and although I do have a smattering of whisky knowledge, I have neither the tolerance nor purse to imbibe several fine spirits on a regular basis. I was invited as part of a friends’ birthday who not only knew many of the participants, but shares my palate preferences, so his girlfriend and I just said, “You tell us what we should try!”

Our first taste was an 18 year old single malt scotch by Duncan Taylor which turned out to be my favorite 🙂 As noted by Compass Whisky (not a participant), the age noted on bottles refers only to the youngest component, so keep that in mind when making buying decisions of blends!

 There were many award winners

and specialty distillers.

I thought I didn’t like Bourbon until I tasted Angel’s Envy, poured by the blender herself of a special blend only available at the Intercontinental Hotel in Los Angeles; it’s the highest award winner for a delicious reason! Macallen was on hand with a double cask that I enjoyed very much.

The guys at Duncan Taylor wore kilts!

This was my first time inside the La Brea Tar Pits Museum, and it was mind boggling!

 

This is a sloth!

Fun interactive display with handles that required two hands to slightly budge one lever!

The space was incredibly educational and entertaining for an event venue, this was one long wall,

 and the workspace was on display as well as the finished assembled pieces.

The lines for food were longer than the lines for scotch, but the passed bites were more interesting than the mashed potato bar and the usual charcuterie, cheese, and crudite buffets. Since this was a spirited event, the emphasis was on the drinks not the food, but the bites were varied and well presented. Some bites not shown were mini crabcakes, stuffed mushrooms, and fried macaroni bits; on the sweet side at least three kinds of mini cupcakes floated through the rooms as well. The space was so large that a DJ, a jazz combo with singer, and a vinyl playing stereo all filled various sections with music without overlap.

 There were also some fun booths like a photo stand, shoe shine,

 and cigar rolling by El Canito Cigars.

 I got a Robusto to go 🙂

My go to method of getting to DTLA is via Metro, especially during peak traffic hours and any day it rains in Los Angeles. Another perk of traveling by train is that I don’t have to think about whether I can drink since I don’t have to drive, so as I was waiting for a friend at Water Grill, I had a nice and spicy Bloody Mary. At $15 it was both strong and tasty enough to merit the price.

The lunch crowd was a bit sparse since it was chilly and rainy, but it did fill up a bit more as it got later.

The light fixtures at the bar carried the nautical theme with a fishing rod base.

When my friend arrived, we decided to split an appetizer as well as have the DineLA $25 menu, which included an appetizer and entrée. The Wild Tahitian Big Eye Tuna crudo with red beet jam, horseradish cream, mizuna, red beet chips and olive oil $15 which we shared had perfect tuna, but neither of us liked the horseradish cream which had neither bite nor flavor, but we did enjoy the beet chips for the contrasting texture.

We both chose the New England Clam Chowder with manila clams and Applewood smoked bacon as our appetizer. It was not the thick creamy chowder we were expecting and had a tart component which neither of us appreciated, but we enjoyed the soup enough to eat most of our very copious servings.

We loved all three kinds of freshly baked bread with butter and without. My favorite was the maldon salt, but the cheese and olive breads were great too.

We ordered the wild spanish grilled octopus $19 with tomato, feta and nicoise olives and when we tried to cut it it was so tough we each took one bite and sent it back. It’s difficult to ship any food overseas and maintain its integrity, and octopus is also fragile in that it is perishable. They saw how charred it was and when we said it was too tough to cut with our knives, they immediately offered to redo or replace our order. We decided to go with the crudo to completely avoid any risk of overcooking.

My friend chose the Wild Costa Rican Mahi Mahi caponata with Sherry gastrique and maldon salt and enjoyed it although the thinner parts of the filet were slightly overcooked; it’s a fine line between under and over cooking any piece of fish which is cut unevenly. Since we both cook, we know the challenge well and found it was still a nicely done piece of fish.

I ordered the salad nicoise with wild Australian Albacore with white anchovy and haricot verts and found this deconstructed presentation as unusual as the choice to serve the Albacore over beans. The ingredients were all good, but I had to add seasoning to my plate to perk it up a bit.

The atmosphere and service were impeccable; this is a perfect setting for a business meeting or if you want a good drink at a stylish bar. Portions are large, and the fish is very fresh, so if you stick to the oysters or raw/rare choices you can’t go wrong.

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