Have you ever looked upon a meal and thought it was just too pretty to eat? It happens to the best of us, and to be perfectly frank, a pretty-looking meal is often disguising a lack of flavor or creativity. So when my buddy and I decided to head to Tsujita LA in West LA for lunch, I was a little concerned that their claim of “Artisan Noodles” would make for a pretty meal, but little else. But when we showed up and found an obscenely long line of people waiting to get a taste of the noodles, I thought again.
I’ve never understood the point of expensive sushi. When you get down to it, they’re all pretty much using the same ingredients with similar results. So when I ended up grabbing dinner at Hara Sushi in Santa Monica, I was a bit excited. Why? Because their sushi is always half-priced. And, they have a happy hour until 9:30 pm with some pretty cheap beers. So for once in my life, sushi sounded like a good time.
For a little post-tennis victory Japanese treat, I headed to Asahi Ramen in West LA with my vanquished tennis foe to get some…ummm ramen. Now don’t be fooled by the name of the restaurant, as it apparently has nothing to do with delicious Asahi beer. Confused myself, I took the liberty of looking up Asahi on the old interwebs and found that Asahi is the name of about ten different towns and cities in Japan, so for the name to carry over into both beer and ramen isn’t that surprising. Anyway, enough with geography and economics, let’s get to the food.
Finding a happy hour around town on a Sunday afternoon isn’t the easiest thing to do. You would think bars would be itching to get customers to come in for a post-Mass drink, but we had a to call a good four or five bars to find ourselves a nice happy hour with a combination of food and drinks. The bar we finally landed on was Q’s Billiard Club in West LA. Their happy hour involved $10 pitchers (of any beer) and half-off appetizers. It all sounded perfect for a fun little hockey-watching Sunday.
So one night I was told we were going to a cheap sushi place for dinner. Fine. You all know I am not a sushi fan, but if I’m going to eat it, it should at least be cheap. Somehow we wound up at Asakuma Restaurant in Brentwood, which was not cheap at all. This wasn’t the fault of the restaurant, but still I can’t understand why sushi is expensive. I fail to notice a difference between expensive and cheap sushi. In fact, some of the best I’ve ever had was also some of the cheapest I’ve ever had. Wow, do you readers ever get tired of me griping about sushi? No? Good, then read on about some Asakuma.
As a pleasant surprise, my girlfriend decided to pick me up some dinner from the California Chicken Cafe. They were supposed to have some great rotisserie chicken, so before she picked up, I took a look at the menu to figure out what to order. Since just about everything on the menu began with the word “chicken,” I was pretty happy. I decided to go with the 1/4 chicken (breast and wing) plus one side. Picking out a side was probably the easiest thing I’ve done since graduating elementary school. Of the 12 sides, only two were unvegan-friendly. These were the mashed potatoes and the fresh fruit salad. Feeling in a strongly savory mood, I decided on the mashed potatoes.
A drunken stumble across the street from Cabo Cantina in Brentwood, sits Di Vita’s Pizzeria, a relatively unassuming pizza parlor.
After an evening of drinking at Cabo, I found myself across the street at this parlor peering through the window to see what it looked like. I saw a couple at a table and decided they looked pretty happy. As we walked in, the couple stood up and we realized they both worked there and we were the only patrons in the place.
We looked at the menu as one of my friends frantically tried to read about the place on his iPhone. Finding nothing online, we decided to stick it out and ordered a large pepperoni pizza. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. Perhaps it only took 10 minutes to get our pizza, but our drunken hunger got the best of us and it felt like hours.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Middle-Eastern fast food, but it turned out to be just like it sounds. The place was set up similar to any other fast food place, except in place of grills, they had rotating spools of meat.
I had to choose between getting straight-up chicken, a plate or a wrap, most of which involved vegetables in some way. In the mood for a wrap, I decided to order the Schawerma. At Zankou, the schawerma consisted of steak, with onions, tomatoes, sesame sauce and hummus. I asked for mine without onions or tomatoes, and since the wrap was so cheap, I ordered a side of hummus and pita.
Within a few minutes, my meal was ready. It was a little discomforting to see a little bowl filled with beets and some sort of bright green pepper, but I was thankful that they had been quarantined into their own bowl and hadn’t touched my real food.
When the world shuts down on Christmas, there is only one kind of restaurant that can be counted on to stay open, the Chinese kind. With this in mind, I ventured out to West LA, to a restaurant called Hop Li. The name sounded good, since I couldn’t think of any way to make fun of it. After a decent wait (a good sign!), I was seated and leafed through the vast menu, finally settling on the Mango Chicken.
In a momentary unvegan brain fart, I completely forgot to ask the waiter to hold the vegetables.
As a warning, I am not one of those people who gets crazy cravings for sushi or thinks of sushi as some amazing dish that has to be eaten weekly. In fact, I am still waiting for the “sushi fad” to fade away like Pogs, skateboarding and the pet rock did years ago.
Despite this, I found myself in need of an afternoon snack in that crazy Japanese strip of West LA. My friend recommended Hide Sushi, and I complied. My unvegan diet doesn’t leave too much room for sushi, especially if you consider seaweed a vegetable, so I avoided the rolls and ordered the basic yellowtail over rice from the menu.
Sushi doesn’t take too long to make, so I didn’t have to wait too long to fill my mid-afternoon void. I filled my little bowl with soy sauce and a healthy dose of wasabi before dipping my sushi in.Â