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For those who bake, vanilla is as essential as sugar to most sweet recipes. Vanilla Bake Shop has recently opened a small storefront in the Westfield Century City Mall. One of my friends is already a regular and as soon as we entered, she was greeted with “Welcome back”! (Being a regular in any bakery may be a sign that you may have a sweet tooth 🙂

The cupcakes are moist, made with quality ingredients, and they serve organic coffees if you want to enjoy your cupcake at one of the two tables outside.

The variety of flavors changes daily with a few daily offerings, like the Bittersweet Dark Chocolate, made with Dark Chocolate Cake, Bittersweet Chocolate Frosting, and Sprinkles, and the Mom’s Birthday Cake, made with All American Yellow Cake, and Milk Chocolate Frosting (the sugar flower on top makes this the cutest choice). Since I don’t have a huge appetite for sweets, I loved the little baby cupcakes which were literally two bites each and only $5.25 for three.

The regular size cupcakes ($3.50 each) are for those who want a full dessert, and they also make regular sized 6″-14″ three to seven layer layer cakes which can be ordered for special occasions with flavors like black and white raspberry, dulce de leche crunch, and fleur de sel. The pink cupcake below is the Vanilla Bean, made with Creamy Vanilla Bean Cake, Madagascar Bourbon, and Vanilla Bean Frosting.

Every day has some unique cupcake flavors, like Meyer Lemon raspberry on Saturday, made with Yellow Butter Cake, Lemon Curd Center, Vanilla Bean Frosting, and Raspberries, or Marshmallow Graham on Tuesday, made with All American Yellow Cake, Graham Cracker Chocolate Crust, and Toasted Marshmallow.

With so many choices, it’s easy to take the owner’s motto, “Remember to take a moment out of each day to enjoy something sweet” literally!

Vanilla Bake Shop on Urbanspoon

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Sake House is one of those lucky places that has a great location, just two blocks from the ocean and one block from the popular Third Street Promenade, so they are pretty much guaranteed business if they serve halfway decent food. That would be exactly how I would describe their sushi; halfway decent.

The ginger was fresh, but the crab meat was fake and those two facts were harbingers for the quality of sushi found here. I went for happy hour, a daily special menu with most menu items and drinks under $6.

We began with a seaweed salad which was about on par with most standard seaweed salads. The addition of micro sprouts and some radish were nice touches.

I ordered a spicy tuna handroll which came with fried onions and fresh scallions. As far as handrolls go, this was middle of the road for a sushi place. There was too much spicy mayonnaise and the fried onions overwhelmed the balance even though they added a nice crunch.

The sashimi plate had a decent selection of sushi and the fish was fairly fresh, but not outstanding in any way, and the presentation left much to be desired.

The crunchy onion tuna sashimi was a very basic combination of tuna, ponzu and fried onions. It was fine in the same way that a woman might say everything is “fine” when she has nothing better to say and tries to be polite.

We had a Monster roll of eel topped with spicy tuna which was the favorite of the evening, but again presentation was lacking and the spicy tuna was overworked with too much mayonnnaise.

I had the house sake, which was palatable, and they offer artisanal sakes for up to $147 for 750 ml, so I suppose if I had upgraded my drink, it may have made the food more palatable as well.

They say in Real Estate that the only thing that matters is location, and at Sake House it seems that rule does seem to hold true since the food is definitely not the draw.

Sake House by Hikari on Urbanspoon

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