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>Chaya has two restaurants in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco which all serve wonderful Asian fusion cuisine in unique decor.

Chaya Venice is the restaurant I frequent the most because they offer a wonderful sushi bar in addition to their main restaurant (they also offer their sushi selections at the tables if you prefer that to sitting at the sushi bar). If you go early enough they even have a sushi bar happy hour with their rolls at half price. I prefer the seats by the window simply because in this bare floor restaurant the noise level is lower away from the center and you can actually hear your dinner companions when they talk. The food is the epitome of what other chefs aspire to in Asian fusion. The marriage of Asian spices with Californian fresh ingredients and French techniques is perfectly balanced here. My preferred entree is the grilled sea bass done with a ginger and miso sauce, served with fresh leafy vegetables; their sushi bar carries the elusive Spanish mackerel, and their selection of scotches and sakes can make you take a taxi home if you don’t watch your intake (be smart and take a taxi here so you don’t have to leave your car). If you are in the mood before or after your dinner to talk a walk, Venice Beach is only two blocks away, but if night has fallen, you are safer walking along Main Street, where you have well lit streets to safely window shop (most of the stores close at nightfall).

Chaya Brasserie, near the original Ivy, is a great place to go after a day of shopping on trendy Robertson. This location offers live music and a wonderful wine selection with an eclectic menu of daily specials and familiar favorites. The decor feels very South Pacific / Southeast Asian with giant electric fans overhead and a wooden floor. The menu astounds with the flavors that combine in imaginative and unique ways, like the short ribs braised in a lavender infused reduction or the vegetarian mixed vegetables with tofu that has been marinated to give it dimension and a kick. The wine selection here is superb, so ask for your waiter to suggest the best accompaniment to your meal if you don’t have a preference; you won’t be disappointed.

On my next trip to San Francisco I will try the Chaya there; it’s always nice to have something to look forward to, especially when you are familiar with the concept and love it.

Chaya has two restaurants in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco which all serve wonderful Asian fusion cuisine in unique decor.

Chaya Venice is the restaurant I frequent the most because they offer a wonderful sushi bar in addition to their main restaurant (they also offer their sushi selections at the tables if you prefer that to sitting at the sushi bar). If you go early enough they even have a sushi bar happy hour with their rolls at half price. I prefer the seats by the window simply because in this bare floor restaurant the noise level is lower away from the center and you can actually hear your dinner companions when they talk. The food is the epitome of what other chefs aspire to in Asian fusion. The marriage of Asian spices with Californian fresh ingredients and French techniques is perfectly balanced here. My preferred entree is the grilled sea bass done with a ginger and miso sauce, served with fresh leafy vegetables; their sushi bar carries the elusive Spanish mackerel, and their selection of scotches and sakes can make you take a taxi home if you don’t watch your intake (be smart and take a taxi here so you don’t have to leave your car). If you are in the mood before or after your dinner to talk a walk, Venice Beach is only two blocks away, but if night has fallen, you are safer walking along Main Street, where you have well lit streets to safely window shop (most of the stores close at nightfall).

Chaya Brasserie, near the original Ivy, is a great place to go after a day of shopping on trendy Robertson. This location offers live music and a wonderful wine selection with an eclectic menu of daily specials and familiar favorites. The decor feels very South Pacific / Southeast Asian with giant electric fans overhead and a wooden floor. The menu astounds with the flavors that combine in imaginative and unique ways, like the short ribs braised in a lavender infused reduction or the vegetarian mixed vegetables with tofu that has been marinated to give it dimension and a kick. The wine selection here is superb, so ask for your waiter to suggest the best accompaniment to your meal if you don’t have a preference; you won’t be disappointed.

On my next trip to San Francisco I will try the Chaya there; it’s always nice to have something to look forward to, especially when you are familiar with the concept and love it.

Chaya has two restaurants in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco which all serve wonderful Asian fusion cuisine in unique decor.

Chaya Venice is the restaurant I frequent the most because they offer a wonderful sushi bar in addition to their main restaurant (they also offer their sushi selections at the tables if you prefer that to sitting at the sushi bar). If you go early enough they even have a sushi bar happy hour with their rolls at half price. I prefer the seats by the window simply because in this bare floor restaurant the noise level is lower away from the center and you can actually hear your dinner companions when they talk. The food is the epitome of what other chefs aspire to in Asian fusion. The marriage of Asian spices with Californian fresh ingredients and French techniques is perfectly balanced here. My preferred entree is the grilled sea bass done with a ginger and miso sauce, served with fresh leafy vegetables; their sushi bar carries the elusive Spanish mackerel, and their selection of scotches and sakes can make you take a taxi home if you don’t watch your intake (be smart and take a taxi here so you don’t have to leave your car). If you are in the mood before or after your dinner to talk a walk, Venice Beach is only two blocks away, but if night has fallen, you are safer walking along Main Street, where you have well lit streets to safely window shop (most of the stores close at nightfall).

Chaya Brasserie, near the original Ivy, is a great place to go after a day of shopping on trendy Robertson. This location offers live music and a wonderful wine selection with an eclectic menu of daily specials and familiar favorites. The decor feels very South Pacific / Southeast Asian with giant electric fans overhead and a wooden floor. The menu astounds with the flavors that combine in imaginative and unique ways, like the short ribs braised in a lavender infused reduction or the vegetarian mixed vegetables with tofu that has been marinated to give it dimension and a kick. The wine selection here is superb, so ask for your waiter to suggest the best accompaniment to your meal if you don’t have a preference; you won’t be disappointed.

On my next trip to San Francisco I will try the Chaya there; it’s always nice to have something to look forward to, especially when you are familiar with the concept and love it.

>Ever been out to dinner and you want to go somewhere else for a drink, maybe some music or entertainment, but made no plans and have no ideas where?

Liquid Kitty is a small hole in the wall bar that is probably best known as the setting for numerous TV episodes. If you drink, their martinis are better than average, and if you don’t drink, you can sip a soda as you listen to the DJ spin dance worthy tunes into the night. If you are lucky, you may find live music, karaoke, or if you go Wednesday night, bring your iPod and you could play DJ that night! This is definitely a 20-30’s crowd, but if you’re over 40 and cool, you will be comfortable with the slightly seedy vibe.

Plan B offers very decent food with bikini dancers until 2am, so if you skipped dinner and find yourself hungry at midnight this truly is a good Plan B to a 24 hour mediocre breakfast diner. I’ve gone with male friends and felt perfectly comfortable and welcome as a female customer in what could be described as a bikini bar (in the 60’s it would have been called a go-go bar). Most of the dancers are college students from the nearby UCLA campus and because they are clothed, there is a sexy, not skanky, vibe to the place. I was also very surprised by both the service and the menu. I had a napoleon of wild mushrooms and a delicious jumbo shrimp cocktail that were both worthy of a restaurant here. If you haven’t eaten dinner, you can have it here, whether you want a marinated swordfish with tomato aioli or a broiled filet mignon with spinach, green beans, potatoes gratin, and either sauteed mushrooms or a gorgonzola sauce. Their prices are very reasonable (like $28 for surf and turf); and they even have a decent wine list (but order a cocktail, it just isn’t a wine bar kind of atmosphere here).

The night is young, go out after dinner!

Ever been out to dinner and you want to go somewhere else for a drink, maybe some music or entertainment, but made no plans and have no ideas where?

Liquid Kitty is a small hole in the wall bar that is probably best known as the setting for numerous TV episodes. If you drink, their martinis are better than average, and if you don’t drink, you can sip a soda as you listen to the DJ spin dance worthy tunes into the night. If you are lucky, you may find live music, karaoke, or if you go Wednesday night, bring your iPod and you could play DJ that night! This is definitely a 20-30’s crowd, but if you’re over 40 and cool, you will be comfortable with the slightly seedy vibe.

Plan B offers very decent food with bikini dancers until 2am, so if you skipped dinner and find yourself hungry at midnight this truly is a good Plan B to a 24 hour mediocre breakfast diner. I’ve gone with male friends and felt perfectly comfortable and welcome as a female customer in what could be described as a bikini bar (in the 60’s it would have been called a go-go bar). Most of the dancers are college students from the nearby UCLA campus and because they are clothed, there is a sexy, not skanky, vibe to the place. I was also very surprised by both the service and the menu. I had a napoleon of wild mushrooms and a delicious jumbo shrimp cocktail that were both worthy of a restaurant here. If you haven’t eaten dinner, you can have it here, whether you want a marinated swordfish with tomato aioli or a broiled filet mignon with spinach, green beans, potatoes gratin, and either sauteed mushrooms or a gorgonzola sauce. Their prices are very reasonable (like $28 for surf and turf); and they even have a decent wine list (but order a cocktail, it just isn’t a wine bar kind of atmosphere here).

The night is young, go out after dinner!

>Dim Sum literally means “heart warmer” but the true translation is small bits of goodness for brunch. In Hong Kong, servers wheel carts around to tables, yelling out what they offer, and you order what looks or sounds good by waving down the cart and pointing to the dishes you want; it’s a bit like hailing a food taxi. The bill at the end of the meal is calculated by the size and number of plates on your table. There are numerous places in Chinatowns across the world which serve Dim Sum, but finding a good Chinese Dim Sum restaurant is like finding good pizza; if you live in a place where people come from the same country as the food, your chances are better.

Los Angeles has a small Chinatown (compared to S.F. and N.Y.C.) and there are some decent Dim Sum places, but the stress of driving downtown, finding parking, and then trying to get decent service if you do not speak Chinese (or look Chinese) is simply not worth the hassle for most people (including me, and I am of Chinese origin). If you are willing to endure the experience, my advice is to push back if you are pushed while waiting in line, and to yell back if someone yells at you, even if it is an old woman who is pushing and yelling at you, otherwise you will never get any food, drinks, or attention from the servers. When you are hungry, having to be aggressive to get food may come naturally, but it’s just too much work for me to endure; I prefer peace and ease with my food.

To find a good place for Dim Sum away from the madness is a treasure, but there is one restaurant in West Los Angeles (near Brentwood), called VIP Harbor Seafood, and they even have validated valet parking if you can’t find street parking. This restaurant serves Dim Sum for $2.50-$4.75 per plate and they serve it Hong Kong Style on wheeled carts that roam around the tables. The added bonus here is that they tend to understand enough English to stop their carts and serve you what you want when you flag them down. All the usual specialties are served including the classic Har Gow (steamed shrimp dumplings), spare ribs with black bean sauce (these are tiny bite sized ribs, not the kind you find in a BBQ joint), rice noodles with beef, Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, shrimp stuffed bell peppers, baked BBQ pork buns (a good way to initiate a novice to Dim Sum since it is basically a sweet dough wrapped around BBQ pork), and sweets like egg custard tarts in a flaky shell. VIP Harbor Seafood also serves up nice lunches and dinners, but their Dim Sum offerings are a rare find and should be experienced at least once, especially if you have never tried Dim Sum. In this peaceful easy setting, you can see if you like it enough to brave going thorough the hassles of Chinatown for more exotic fare like chicken feet in black bean sauce.

Hop Li Seafood serves up lunch and dinner at four locations in Los Angeles, only one of which is in Chinatown, so you can have the same great food without the hassles closer to your home (if you don’t live in Chinatown). Like VIP Harbor, Hop Li specializes in seafood and there are fish/lobster/crab/shrimp tanks in the restaurant which serve as part of the decor as well as part of the menu. They literally pluck out the lobster, crabs, shrimps or geoduck clams when you place your order. This is seafood as fresh as you can get it, without being on a boat. I love their fresh crab with ginger and scallions, and their spicy salted shrimp; both are served on gigantic platters which invite everyone at the table to dig in and feast. They also offer wonderful fresh vegetable sautes like their Buddha’s Feast assortment, rice noodle dishes like Chow Fun, and the usual Kung Pao and Fried Rice. Having Chinese-American standards on their menu does not stop them from offering the more esoteric dishes like jellyfish and salted fish casseroles, so you can come here and be happy whether you are a timid novice or fearless expert eater. They even make parking easy by offering valet parking in case you need it.

Good Chinese food is hard to find, but good Chinese food in pleasant surroundings, with easy parking and good service, even if you don’t speak or look Chinese, that is priceless.

Dim Sum literally means “heart warmer” but the true translation is small bits of goodness for brunch. In Hong Kong, servers wheel carts around to tables, yelling out what they offer, and you order what looks or sounds good by waving down the cart and pointing to the dishes you want; it’s a bit like hailing a food taxi. The bill at the end of the meal is calculated by the size and number of plates on your table. There are numerous places in Chinatowns across the world which serve Dim Sum, but finding a good Chinese Dim Sum restaurant is like finding good pizza; if you live in a place where people come from the same country as the food, your chances are better.

Los Angeles has a small Chinatown (compared to S.F. and N.Y.C.) and there are some decent Dim Sum places, but the stress of driving downtown, finding parking, and then trying to get decent service if you do not speak Chinese (or look Chinese) is simply not worth the hassle for most people (including me, and I am of Chinese origin). If you are willing to endure the experience, my advice is to push back if you are pushed while waiting in line, and to yell back if someone yells at you, even if it is an old woman who is pushing and yelling at you, otherwise you will never get any food, drinks, or attention from the servers. When you are hungry, having to be aggressive to get food may come naturally, but it’s just too much work for me to endure; I prefer peace and ease with my food.

To find a good place for Dim Sum away from the madness is a treasure, but there is one restaurant in West Los Angeles (near Brentwood), called VIP Harbor Seafood, and they even have validated valet parking if you can’t find street parking. This restaurant serves Dim Sum for $2.50-$4.75 per plate and they serve it Hong Kong Style on wheeled carts that roam around the tables. The added bonus here is that they tend to understand enough English to stop their carts and serve you what you want when you flag them down. All the usual specialties are served including the classic Har Gow (steamed shrimp dumplings), spare ribs with black bean sauce (these are tiny bite sized ribs, not the kind you find in a BBQ joint), rice noodles with beef, Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, shrimp stuffed bell peppers, baked BBQ pork buns (a good way to initiate a novice to Dim Sum since it is basically a sweet dough wrapped around BBQ pork), and sweets like egg custard tarts in a flaky shell. VIP Harbor Seafood also serves up nice lunches and dinners, but their Dim Sum offerings are a rare find and should be experienced at least once, especially if you have never tried Dim Sum. In this peaceful easy setting, you can see if you like it enough to brave going thorough the hassles of Chinatown for more exotic fare like chicken feet in black bean sauce.

Hop Li Seafood serves up lunch and dinner at four locations in Los Angeles, only one of which is in Chinatown, so you can have the same great food without the hassles closer to your home (if you don’t live in Chinatown). Like VIP Harbor, Hop Li specializes in seafood and there are fish/lobster/crab/shrimp tanks in the restaurant which serve as part of the decor as well as part of the menu. They literally pluck out the lobster, crabs, shrimps or geoduck clams when you place your order. This is seafood as fresh as you can get it, without being on a boat. I love their fresh crab with ginger and scallions, and their spicy salted shrimp; both are served on gigantic platters which invite everyone at the table to dig in and feast. They also offer wonderful fresh vegetable sautes like their Buddha’s Feast assortment, rice noodle dishes like Chow Fun, and the usual Kung Pao and Fried Rice. Having Chinese-American standards on their menu does not stop them from offering the more esoteric dishes like jellyfish and salted fish casseroles, so you can come here and be happy whether you are a timid novice or fearless expert eater. They even make parking easy by offering valet parking in case you need it.

Good Chinese food is hard to find, but good Chinese food in pleasant surroundings, with easy parking and good service, even if you don’t speak or look Chinese, that is priceless.

>It is hot here in Southern California in the summer, but nothing like the heat in the desert. I used to live in Palm Springs where it has reached 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Those of us who live (or have lived) in hot places know the necessity of cooling off when it seems we step into Hell every time we step outdoors. In Palm Springs the shops and restaurants use misting systems to add some humidity and cooling without having to pay the staggering air conditioning bills. But what if you are not in town or in your car and you need some cooling relief without the aid of air conditioners or misters?

Chill Factor is a clothing company founded in Tempe, AZ which makes caps and neck coolers which you can wear anywhere. Their products contain hydro crystals will swell to over 400 times their original size, and transform into a cooling gel. It is simple to use, just soak the cap or neck cooler in cold or ice water for about half and hour and then wear it! The cap and neck coolers are washable by hand and completely reusable. With prices ranging from $5-$25 it makes sense to buy two so you can switch off if you are going to be outdoors for several hours. Golfers love this product, as does anyone outdoors for any length of time in the summer. Even people who are indoors all day appreciate the cooling factor if they heat up doing physically intensive labor all day; movers, trainers, and construction workers all love these items. They make kid sized clothing too, so the little ones can benefit.

Chill out this summer with chill factor clothing of you can’t get to your favorite pool or beach.

It is hot here in Southern California in the summer, but nothing like the heat in the desert. I used to live in Palm Springs where it has reached 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Those of us who live (or have lived) in hot places know the necessity of cooling off when it seems we step into Hell every time we step outdoors. In Palm Springs the shops and restaurants use misting systems to add some humidity and cooling without having to pay the staggering air conditioning bills. But what if you are not in town or in your car and you need some cooling relief without the aid of air conditioners or misters?

Chill Factor is a clothing company founded in Tempe, AZ which makes caps and neck coolers which you can wear anywhere. Their products contain hydro crystals will swell to over 400 times their original size, and transform into a cooling gel. It is simple to use, just soak the cap or neck cooler in cold or ice water for about half and hour and then wear it! The cap and neck coolers are washable by hand and completely reusable. With prices ranging from $5-$25 it makes sense to buy two so you can switch off if you are going to be outdoors for several hours. Golfers love this product, as does anyone outdoors for any length of time in the summer. Even people who are indoors all day appreciate the cooling factor if they heat up doing physically intensive labor all day; movers, trainers, and construction workers all love these items. They make kid sized clothing too, so the little ones can benefit.

Chill out this summer with chill factor clothing of you can’t get to your favorite pool or beach.

It is hot here in Southern California in the summer, but nothing like the heat in the desert. I used to live in Palm Springs where it has reached 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Those of us who live (or have lived) in hot places know the necessity of cooling off when it seems we step into Hell every time we step outdoors. In Palm Springs the shops and restaurants use misting systems to add some humidity and cooling without having to pay the staggering air conditioning bills. But what if you are not in town or in your car and you need some cooling relief without the aid of air conditioners or misters?

Chill Factor is a clothing company founded in Tempe, AZ which makes caps and neck coolers which you can wear anywhere. Their products contain hydro crystals will swell to over 400 times their original size, and transform into a cooling gel. It is simple to use, just soak the cap or neck cooler in cold or ice water for about half and hour and then wear it! The cap and neck coolers are washable by hand and completely reusable. With prices ranging from $5-$25 it makes sense to buy two so you can switch off if you are going to be outdoors for several hours. Golfers love this product, as does anyone outdoors for any length of time in the summer. Even people who are indoors all day appreciate the cooling factor if they heat up doing physically intensive labor all day; movers, trainers, and construction workers all love these items. They make kid sized clothing too, so the little ones can benefit.

Chill out this summer with chill factor clothing of you can’t get to your favorite pool or beach.

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