Everytime I go to LA, I like it more than the last time. I didn't really like LA as a teenager... maybe it was because I would have rather been blasting Head Like A Hole in my bedroom with the curtains drawn all day. The friendly people and cute palm trees were probably too cheery for my industrial rock lifestyle.
But now as a thirty-something, I crave a change of pace and the urge to get out into the sun. Meeting our extended Umami Mart family in LA was simply FUN.
As we drove onto the I-5, Kayoko turned to me and said, "Is it ridiculous that we JUST launched U-MART and are now taking off to LA?" It probably was crazy given that it hadn't even been a week since our big launch. But leaving town for a few days was totally necessary for our sanity and it was too late to turn back anyway -- we were in our summer dresses (Anders in his shorts) listening to Ander's Euro-tune themed iPhone ditties in a Prius V, quickly blazing through Fresno. What a life!
We stayed at our lovely friend Sara's house in Silverlake. I had no idea we'd be staying at a place with such a gorgeous view overlooking the Silver Lake Reservoir.
After a good night's rest, our first stop was to meet Ms. Kuishinbo at Sun of a Gun for lunch. Unfortunately, my lens was too preoccupied by the food that I didn't take any pictures of us. Oops.
This smoked cod dip was amazing. I wish I could recreate it at home. The celery ribbons were pretty to look at and so satisfyingly crispy.
A few of us at the table got this chicken sandwich. Eerily reminiscent of Bakesale Betty's sandwich here in Oakland, although a little more saturated with sauce. They do admit it is "inspired by" Betty.
Kayoko and Anders shared this octopus salad which I had the pleasure of sneaking a bite off of. The octopus was fresh and perfectly cooked (tender and juicy). I am usually not a huge fan of whole garbanzo beans, but I think I liked these because they weren't canned.
Our next stop was Bar & Garden in Culver City for our sake tasting.
This was our first time at Bar & Garden, which just opened earlier this year.
Owners Marissa and Lauren integrate wine, liquor and plants for a rustic, retro, LA vibe.
I really liked the way all the bottles were displayed. It was a liquor store that you felt like hanging out in. The freshness of the plants was inviting and their selection of wines and liquor was impressive.
Our tasting started at 5pm and ended around 8:30pm. Old friends, new friends and family showed up! It's kind of cheesy, but I felt like it was a really heartwarming event.
People were into the sake and very inquisitive about the different types. It made me think about the original Umami Mart tag line, "Everybody eats! Let's talk about it!"
Me, Kayoko and Marissa of Bar & Garden.
The next morning, we met up with the Ramen Shaman for lunch at Silverlake Ramen.
Looks like he spotted us first.
Most of us got the tonkotsu ramen. It was very good, although everyone had different opinions about the chashu.
The Ramen Shaman got the tsukemen.
Kayoko got the shoyu ramen.
These celebs didn't even have the time to look into my camera, even though I was calling out their names. "Sara over here! Mei: Blow us a kiss! Kayoko, can we get a smile?"
Bye bye LA!
We'll be planning another sake tasting at Bar & Garden soon so see you in the fall!
SON OF A GUN
8370 W. 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
BAR & GARDEN
6142 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
2927 W. Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026