Over Thanksgiving week, Jason and I went to LA for the week to visit my brother. My brother moved out there a couple years ago and we hadn’t had the chance to visit so it was perfect to go the week of Thanksgiving to spend a week with him! I’ve been to LA numerous times in the past but it’s always constantly changing with new food establishments and things to do so I was super excited to go back. Jason had never been to LA so it was a great opportunity to show him around. It was nice having my brother there because now that he’s a local, he knew exactly where to take us and how to get there. I think the past few times I’ve been to LA, I didn’t have anyone take me around. I just stuck to the tourist spots and didn’t really venture out. This time, we went all over the place because we had a car from Silvercar to drive around. More on that in my next post where we drove all the way down to San Diego! It was because of Silvercar that we were able to do so! :)
But, before we get ahead of ourselves, I wanted to show you where we went and what we ate in LA. We only touched the surface, I’m sure, and we will surely be back for more soon. We absolutely fell in love with the weather in LA and the laid-back personalities. We also noticed that everyone was NICE and they genuinely wanted to know how your day was when they asked you, “how are you doing?” It wasn’t just saying it out of habit; when they asked you that question, they actually really wanted to hear about your day and what you’ve been doing…aka your story. I can’t really say that about East coast!
My brother lives in Marina del Rey, which is really close to Santa Monica. The first full day we were there, he drove us to the canals near his house. These canals actually have homes on them! Can you imagine having a boat and canal right behind your house?!
We then parked our car along Wilshire Blvd. and walked to the Third Street Promenade and over to see the Santa Monica Pier and beyond.
We then took a quick drive over to Venice Beach and walked alongside the pier.
Okay, so for months and months I’ve been hearing about poké bowls. Californians have the neatest food trends and by the time they make it over to the East coast, they’ve already moved on to the next thing. So, I had to get my hands on a poké bowl while we were out there and off the boardwalk of Venice Beach was this little poké stop.
It was everything I dreamed it would be. I adore sashimi so I knew that I would love this bowl. The fish was so fresh and tasty!
The next place we went to was epic. It’s called Komodo and they have the BEST Asian fusion tacos and get this…a ramen burrito. Behold…
I feel like we ordered one of everything. The ramen burrito was super filling so I could barely eat any of the tacos we also ordered – and I only ate HALF of the ramen burrito while Jason ate the other half! But it was so freaking good. It had Chinese sausage on it too!
Next, we were craving something sweet so we headed to MILK.
My brother got the red velvet and Thai iced tea ice cream, while I got the fruity pebbles ice cream sandwhich (which, by the way, was ice cream sandwiched between two macarons!). I totally thought this was going to taste super artificial in flavor but I was pleasantly surprised that it tasted fruity and perfect!
Since daylight is so short, after MILK, we quickly drove up to the Griffith Observatory to catch the sunset and to watch the city of Los Angeles light up the night sky. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
After all the eating we did, you would think we wouldn’t be hungry for dinner, but we were! My brother took us to a Hawaiian take-out place called L&L Hawaiian BBQ. It was so good. I got the L&L mix platter which had Hawaiian BBQ beef, chicken and short ribs. Jason got the chicken katsu and my brother got the chicken katsu with curry version. It was super filling but oh so good!
It’s definitely a takeaway kind of place so if you’re wanting something quick and delicious, I’d highly recommend it!
When we got there, the line was already wrapped around the establishment, BUT it goes really fast so don’t let that deter you. Plus, you get a deliciously awesome breakfast sandwich. Get a load of this! We both got the Fairfax.
And then we thought it’d be a brilliant idea to get coffee at G&B Coffee AND waffles with homemade jam ricotta on top. Omg the coffee was amazing. I got an iced latte with homemade MACADAMIA NUT MILK and the waffle was a corn flour yeast waffle. So crispy and cooked to perfection!
The next morning, Jason and I made our way to Abbott Kinney (super close to my brother’s house) to get our Blue Star Donut fix! We picked up the blueberry bourbon basil donut and the buttermilk lemon poppy seed and both were really good! I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the buttermilk lemon one. At first I thought it’d just be a standard lemon donut but I loved the buttermilk tang.
Later that morning, we went to brunch down the street from where my brother lived. This place was so innocuous. There was no sign for the name of the restaurant and you could’ve just walked right past it, which we did, lol…I wish I had remembered the name of this place but it completely slips my mind! I know it was an Italian restaurant though.
Before moving to Marina del Rey, my brother lived in Manhatten Beach so he took us there after brunch to check out his old stomping grounds. I must say, not too shabby! He was two blocks from this gorgeous view. Every. single. day!
Okay, so acai bowls are a huge thing out in LA, too, and we don’t have them here on the East coast (yet). They’re kind of like smoothie bowls (and you know how I feel about smoothie bowls) but there is something different about acai bowls that I loved. I think it’s just a thicker consistency than a smoothie bowl and the toppings on the ones out in LA were so fresh and vibrant. Jason and I had an acai bowl almost every day, haha
Later that evening, Jason and I headed back to Abbott Kinney to dine at Gjelina. Not gonna lie, we weren’t a huge fan. The place was literally like eating in a cave. So so sooooo dimly lit that even the servers had to use their cell phones to light up the menu or to see what they were writing down. Honestly, if your own waitstaff can’t see what they’re doing, you should probably turn up the lights. I get it’s for the ambience and the cool ‘hipster’ feel..but when no one can barely see what’s in front of them, let alone what they’re eating…it’s probably a sign to turn up the lights a bit. This was the only photo I managed to grab and brighten up in Lightroom. The only dish we loved was braised pork meatballs and the grilled kabocha squash that this dish was inspired from.
SUGARFISH! If you can’t get a reservation at NOMA, you should definitely go to SUGARFISH. The freshest sushi I’ve ever had! If it’s your first time there, definitely do the ‘trust me’ menu, which is basically what the sushi chef that day chooses for you to have. You can’t go wrong with that and it’s a great sampling of lots of their fresh fish. If you’re not a big fan of sashimi (raw fish), then you should stick to their rolls. We all got the ‘trust me’ menu :)
Omg, so after sushi, my brother and his friend decided to take us to Aloha Pizza and Shave Ice Company. Like it’s a full on popular pizza joint but inside they also serve the most epic shaved ice. And inside this shaved ice, there’s ice cream. And this is ONE order!! It served us four perfectly and it was so awesome! I wish we had this over here!
And then they had these mochi ice creams. I got chocolate and coconut and goodness, it was ridiculously good. They’re homemade so it’s super chewy and fresh tasting :)
On Thanksgiving day, we didn’t plan the cooking time correctly so we were left starving at lunch, so we went out to a Japanese restaurant for lunch and saved Thanksgiving for dinner. This Japanese restaurant had ridiculously awesome yakisoba topped with all these crazy toppings. The bonita flakes were so freaky cause they’re so light and the air blowing on them made it seem like it was a moving live creature!
Our last day in LA, we drove along the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) to Malibu. I want to live in Malibu or somewhere near the coast. The drive is so gorgeous and the beach is RIGHT THERE! And the dining all along the coast is so beautiful. NOBU is actually right off the PCH but that morning for brunch, Jason and I went to Malibu Farm. I love that we basically dined on the water and had the most gorgeous view. Sigh..if only every day was like this!!
OH and guess who we saw while we were in Malibu?! My biggest chef idol ever, Giada! Of COURSE the only celeb I manage to see while I was out in LA was her. Foodie lovers unite! We were at a shopping center in Malibu and we were standing in front of this empty parking spot. Then we see this bright orange SUV with no windows roll into it. Jason was all about the car and wanting to take a photo of it but then I heard her familiar voice…and then I was like omg Jason, it’s Giada, Jade, and her new boyfriend. I REALLLLLY wanted to ask for a photo but they were just having a day to themselves and grabbing lunch so I didn’t want to be that annoying person. Plus, I’m sure if I had stopped them, other people would’ve started gathering to do the same and I would’ve ruined their afternoon, lol
I got the coconut berry french toast “pudding” and Jason got their salsa verde egg sandwich with brioche bun. We were not disappointed! The bloody mary was extra spicy too – just the way we like it!
Later that afternoon, we met up with my parents and brother and went to this epic dim sum place in Alhambra, which is a good 45 minute drive from Malibu but goodness, it was SO WORTH IT. We ordered like 21 dishes (they probably thought we were nuts) but this dim sum place was the best dim sum I’ve ever had in America. It puts the East coast dim sum places to shame.
On our last night, Jason and I started driving towards Manhattan Beach but then saw a little stop off before and it was a beach..forgot the name..but we just wanted to be able to get near the water and catch the sunset. We caught the sunset and it was magical. The colors and then the sailboats in front of the horizon and the palm trees. It was pretty much picture perfect :)
Stay tuned for our San Diego portion of our trip! We ate SO much in the two days we were there. I can’t wait to share with you all!
Disclaimer: Silvercar offered us a complimentary 8-day car rental but everything else with this trip was out of pocket.