weekender in LA: happy lebron day

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Happy Lebron-starts-for-the-Lakers Day everyone!  A momentous day, hopefully an auspicious one.  There’s been a drought not only in Southern California’s water reserves, but in winning seasons for our Showtime squad and that just will not do. We were obviously spoiled by the Kobe era.

And if that weren’t enough, the Dodgers play the Brewers tomorrow to win the NL pennant race!  Because everyone loves October baseball…let’s continue the series of NLCS/ALCS cities with LA! We goin’ back to Cali, Cali, Cali…

Drinks are necessary to start off any weekend.  At the very least, posting up in a watering hole will get you off the traffic laden roads of the hell pit that is LA freeways.  In Historic Filipinotown exists a art deco speakeasy called Genever (that’s Dutch for gin).   May not look like much now, but this neighborhood is going to be IT in a few years.

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Genever specializes in gin based drinks, but with a pacific islander twist.  You will see lots of coconut, pineapple, pandan and other fruits specific to the region.  Refreshing with a sexy, tropical vibe…yet in a West Egg/East Egg setting.

After a drink or two, you will be in the mood for some serious eats.  Since LA is one of the culinary capitals of the world, every notable chef stakes a claim here at some point.  Usually it’s early in their careers, and that’s why it seems a little surprising that it took David Chang this long to do so.

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Majordomo is chef’s first foray onto the West Coast.  It’s about time!  He somehow found (no doubt $$$ was involved) a spacious industrial warehouse in between Chinatown and Frogtown and reinvented it into a sleek, classy establishment.  The surroundings are sketchy, but that can be said for most of LA.

The menu is Korean fusion as per Chang’s m.o.  It’s recommended to try the Bing breads, which look like Chinese naan, with their accoutrements ranging from lamb, soft boiled egg and roe, and ricotta and strawberry jam.  I’m sure they’re fine, but this did not appeal to us.

What did appeal, was a chance to dig into some jumeokbap.  Literally.  This is a Korean seaweed and rice dish that you have to mix by hand.  Don’t worry, they provide plastic food service gloves for you to form the mixture into little balls.  So cute, and beyond that, SO DELICIOUS.  The cucumber, seaweed, carrot, sesame oil — so many textures and crunches.

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And the next dish is a must order:  the macaroni and chickpeas.  This dish is chef’s take on cacio e pepe (if you’ve read my Rome guide, you know how I feel about this dish, emoji heart eyes x a million).  This dish is incredibly savory.  You taste it and let the umami bathe your tongue, and then you marvel that there’s no cheese in this dish and that the parmesan notes you’re tasting are purely from the chickpeas.  In fact, the chickpeas are made into a hozon, which by comparison is the fermentation process that makes miso from soybeans.

This dish is top ten all time.  Really notable, despite its erroneously perceived simplicity.

The last dish was a roasted pork belly served with rice, lettuce, gochujang-ish paste and daikon.  This was just okay.  I’m more partial to a pork belly that’s got a little more spice/flavor in it, like it wouldn’t kill you to throw some 5 spice into the rub, SGV style.

There are some art spaces around this area, but other than that, not much to see.  Except…for the inevitable celebrity sighting.  That night’s was Conan O’Brien.  He’s very tall and distinct.

Nothing is more LA than getting breakfast/brunch/linner.   AM meals in LA are events, so either go butt early like (7 AM or earlier) or godspeed if you try at any other time.  Republique is one of those restaurants you will be waiting for, but it will be worth the trek to La Brea.  It’s a place to be scene/seen, and as a perk, the food is actually very good.

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Cruise through K-Town towards downtown to spend some time exploring before heading to Staples.  Downtown is actually awesome.

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city hall dressed up in dodger blue

From the peddlers selling all sorts of swap meet goods and wares in Santee Alley to perusing the wholesale blooms at the LA Flower Market to window shopping in the jewelry mart, it is a patchwork quilt of different sights and sounds.

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Must sees include the Last Bookstore (you know, the one everyone posts about on Instagram — make sure you buy a book!), Grand Central Market (have a second breakfast here at eggslut), Angel’s Flight funicular and Pershing Square in the winter for ice skating.

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weekday mid-mornings at Grand Central are the best

There are a lot of options for pre-game food.  You want casual but really good? Sugarfish for sushi.  Looking for a rooftop bar? Perch is your perch.  Want to be very French? Say oui to Bottega Louie.  Expensive but possibly worth it Vietnamese food?  Little Sister.  Old timey LA establishment?  Cole’s French Dip (where the sandwich was invented, probably when someone accidentally dropped their sandwich in their soup).  Looking to impress your date even more than scoring courtside seats to see LebRondo & Co.?  Faith & Flower is your fancy.  So. Many. Food.

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A great little eatery downtown that is quick and satisfying is Badmaash.  I loves me some comforting Indian food, and this restaurant serves updated (but not too updated) Indian street fare.

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With a full belly, you’re ready to rub elbows with Jack Nicholson, Andy Garcia, Dyan Cannon and pals at the Staples Center.  Mind your surroundings as you walk in, you’ll never know who you’ll see…

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KAJ sighting!

Hopefully you’ll be sleeping in the next morning after celebrating a Lakers win.  But at least wake up on time to enjoy a stroll through whatever neighborhood you’re in.  Mornings in LA are for walks.  That’s why everyone has a dog in this city.  It’s a time to visit your favorite local coffee shop to catch up on some gossip with your pals or slam a few more chapters in whatever novel you’re reading.

If you’re on Sunset and looking for a different type of coffee place (they call themselves experimental), look no further than Rubies + Diamonds.  Nope, not a jewelry store as I thought when walking past it.  Their cold brews are pretty good.

Down the street is the Hollywood location of Amoeba Music, which is just the best independent record store chain in the world.  There’s always signings, free shows, and hip teens here.  Great place to people watch, for sure.

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Or, if you’re on the other side of Hollywood, West Hollywood, nearby Fairfax shop, Paramount Coffee Project, is the best place to get a flat white, as they are Australian.  The small chain has an outpost across from the Supreme store and down the block from my fav’s Jon & Vinny’s.  Kill two morning birds with one stone by having a coffee here and then noshing on some pizza at J&Vs.

Honestly, it’s not too far from the Grove too, so you might as well get your tourist on while checking out the farmer’s market or getting in line at Dominique Ansel.

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Before heading to Chavez Ravine, hang out in adjacent Echo Park.  There’s tons of shops and eateries abound, but go to the lake and rent a swan boat.  Super kitsch, fun for the whole family.  When you’re done with the boats, stop by Beacon restaurant next door for a breakfast spammy (you read that right) or wagyu burgers.

All I do in LA is eat apparently.  Anyway, enjoy the Dodgers in the third oldest stadium in MLB.  Even though you’ve probably already unbuttoned your pants after all the eating, you gotta have a Dodger Dog.  It is truly the perfect cap on a great LA weekend.

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