Summertime in LA

August 23, 2009

Without even realizing it, summer’s practically come and gone in no time flat!

My days during the season have been filled with work, sunny evening runs, and discovering a little more of what LA has to offer in terms of restaurants, bars/lounges, and sights and sounds! To my pleasant surprise, I’ve had the luck of stumbling upon some really awesome places that I wanted to share.

1) Annenberg Space for Photography: Nestled between the corporate high-rises of Century City, this was a great place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon. I’ve been looking forward to visiting the gallery since it’s opening in April, but the new Pictures of the Year exhibit on July 11 was the perfect opportunity to finally check it out. Not only is the gallery beautifully designed, it overlooks a grassy knoll that is perfect for picnic lunches, people watching, or napping. The Century City Westfield mall is also conveniently down the street. I loved that I could enjoy the offerings of the photography exhibit and then spend the rest of the day discovering the surrounding area. With all that it offers, the gallery is free to visit and only $1 to park all day. The Annenberg Space for Photography turned out to be a terribly cute and fun date spot!


2) Bottega Louie: I have NO idea how I’ve never discovered this place before now! Being out on client sites has limited my time in Downtown LA, but a friend suggested this place as a lunch option recently and I AM IN LOVE. Bottega Louie offers gourmet Italian food in a classy setting. The food was scrumptious and very, very fairly priced for the ambiance that the restaurant offers. With about $25 each, we had more than enough food to spare between the two of us and even had dessert (the semi fredo was ah-mazing)! The restaurant also offers the option of grabbing something quickly from its market and patisserie if you’re in a hurry. This is now at the top of my favorite places to eat when I’m in the area.


3) Boulevard3: I think I’ve come to accept that as a 20-something living in LA, most of my going out choices relate to bars and lounges. Going out in LA is definitely a little trickier and requires much more effort than it ever did in SF, so I hate to admit that sometimes the concept exhausts me before I even attempt to go out. Well, after prettying up for the night this past weekend, I found myself at BLVD3 for a friend’s party. I’ve heard that it’s one of the classier LA clubs and was actually really impressed by the night. The venue was great–there were plenty of large open spaces with a calming outdoor area for relaxing and talking. The crowd seemed more sophisticated and everyone had a good time without any ridiculous shenanigans that you usually see at dark clubs. This place deserves another trip back!



Tasting Menu: Momofuku Ko

March 24, 2009

Last week, I scored reservations to the elusive Momofuku Ko restaurant!  The dining experience here starts even before you clamber onto a stool and eat – getting a reservation requires you to navigate through the online system, and beat hundreds of other hungry clickers for a spot at the 12-seat bar of Ko.

Everyone is treated equally – no special VIP attention is given.  That’s the enforced rule at Ko; that everyone has access to it.  Ironically, this makes it really difficult to get a res, and the one week ahead only rule doesn’t make it easier.  Every day at 10AM, the online system opens for the 7th day from that day.  Reservations can be made for 1, 2, or 4 and are taken very quickly, so a fast finger and persistence is vital.  Sometimes, people get lucky and score random cancelled times, but more often than not, the screen will look like this:


Frankly, I think the whole process of snagging a reservation inflates the whole experience.  It sets lofty expectations for the meal quality, taste, service, decor, etc. 

On the contrary, my night at Ko was low-key and chill. First off, we couldn’t even find the door because it’s so nonchalant and hidden.  I live by the East Village, and have walked right past Ko many times (but for a good reason – Tarallucie next door for dessert!)  Once we found the door, the pretty hostess seated us on stools at the bar and we commented on the no-frills wine cork that doubled as a chopstick holder.  Digging the casual vibe.

When our meal started, the dishes came quickly at first – yummy appetizers that were pleasing and promised a great meal ahead.  We had about 5 plates in 20 minutes, and the bf deliberately slowed down, wanting to drag out the night as long as possible haha.  Beginning favorites included:

  • a standalone biscuit that was plain yet buttery and fluffily delicious
  • long island fluke sashimi in a mildly sour/spicy buttercream sauce accented with poppyseeds
  • soft boiled runny egg with caviar, vinegar, and topped with a sprinkle of fingerling potato chips

After the teaser appetizers, the dishes get heavier. I remember a pasta with snail and chicken sausage (i am terrified of snails and gave my pieces away), halibut, the (in)famous foie gras and a tri-tip steak surrounded by a genius jalapeno sauce.  Each plate is pretty generous considering that there is still more to come.  However, this is where the meal lost a few points with us – the bf and I weren’t so pleased with the shaved frozen foie gras with Riesling jelly over pine nut brittle and lychee, which was the one dish that everyone who dines at Ko raves about.  Not being a huge fan of foie gras and its heavy taste, I’d been looking forward to it with some hesitation.  To some, the peculiar arrangement was just the right balance of heavy flavor, crunchy texture, and light sweetness.  For me though, the way the foie gras flakes melted and stuck to the roof of my mouth just didn’t sit right with me, and I concentrated my anti-gag reflex efforts on the brittle and lychee, which I did think were yummy. *shrug* maybe we need more sophisticated taste buds.

Dessert was okay but not spectacular – a guava sorbet with liquid cream cheese (would have much preferred the sorbet by itself) and black sesame + lemon ice cream with a huge hunk of sugared funnel cake.  Throughout the meal, we shared a good wine pairing which went well with each of the dishes, which I’d recommend.

The menu changes a little each week; I read somewhere that the chefs rotate out one dish at a time so that it’s not always the same meal.  Reading/seeing pics of other people’s accounts of their Ko experience, this seems to be the case, as we didn’t get to try some of the other much-written about dishes.  Also, we didnt take pictures b/c the bf forbade me from doing so, no mixing technology with food.

 (photo by

All in all, it was something cool to do once, but probably not again for us.  At $100/person, it didn’t rock my world as I’d hoped. We probably wouldn’t get another reservation for awhile anyway, and plus, there are so many other restaurants that NYC promises!