Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Sublime...I just died and gone to heaven.

Check back later when Alex is available to do a commentary about this because I will not be able to do it justice.

Alex's commentary:
After many months of reading reviews and all the build up, we finally get a reservation! The concierge at the Beverly Hills hotel negotiated and begged for an availability. After the reservation has been finalized, the concierge warned me how tough the chef is. He has kicked out many patrons because they fail to mention their likes and dislikes. Liz was getting scared because she has many food limitations.

The place was really hard to find. There was barely a sign...just a small one that read "Urasawa" by the elevator. It is located on the 2nd floor, in the nicest area of Rodeo Drive. We were greeted by our server by name when we walked in. Upon walking in, we realized how small the room was and there was a deadening silence. The decor was very minimal, barely an ambience. Only 9 seats at the sushi bar and a small room for 4, although the don't use that room for guests, except for hanging our coats. There was only 1 guest when we arrived at 7pm. He was already half-way done with his meal.

All 3 of us felt really uncomfortable at first, definitely not your typical sushi restaurant. Once we sat down, I ran my hands over the table and felt how smooth it was. Oh yes, I read that he sands his bar down every night. There and then, I knew we were in good hands...let the adventure begin.

Hiro-san asked for our names and we were on first-name basis from there. He asked Liz if she had any dietary restrictions, she said she doesn't eat salmon roe, uni and dairy. His response was "You cannot eat here then." Oops...big booboo! Then a smile cracked from his face and she was relieved.

I am not going to go through every single course that we had because we were served 9 appetizers, 22 pieces of "you have only 10-second to eat" sushi, 2 deserts and a green tea.

All in all, although it was quite intimidating at the beginning due to the small size of the restaurant and the attention that is lavished upon us, once we got into the meal, the nerves slowly left and the meal was tremendously enjoyable. I will definitely come back!

Click here for lots of pics!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Dim Sum at Sea Harbor Seafood restaurant

It is interesting as a Chinese growing up in North America, every city that we have lived in, after searching for the best Asian grocery store, the next thing is always the search for the best dim sum. We always compare the standards to Vancouver's dim sum.

After eating at many sub-par dim sum restaurants, we finally stumbled upon Sea Harbor Seafood restaurant. It is the closest thing to what you would find in Vancouver, i.e. Fisherman's Terrace in Richmond.

What should one look for in a dim sum restaurant, you may ask?
I always look for:
  • quality ingredients
  • fresh seafood
  • "melt-in-your-mouth" dough
  • innovative and modern dishes
  • attention to details i.e. de-veined shrimp in dumplings
  • quality of their broth i.e. sharks' fin dumpling soup
  • knife skills i.e. finely sliced scallions
At Sea Harbor, they have a few dishes that they have pretty much perfected like their self-acclaimed "best in the world" mini baked BBQ pork bun, all of their shrimp dishes i.e. shrimp dumplings, shrimp rice rolls etc., steamed daikon cake, pork ribs in black bean sauce, braised chicken feet, glutenous rice with mushrooms and diced chicken, fried chicken "knees", and seafood/lobster congee. One of my favorite things to order at dim sum is the sharks' fin dumpling soup, however, sad to say, it did NOT meet my standards. Their steam BBQ pork bum is consistently bad because the meat always tastes like it has been oxidized. They have foie gras wonton on the menu which I will not ever try as I know how much foie gras costs and why mess with the classic wontons. I am not a big fan of Chinese desserts but I have tried their egg tarts a few times and it is always warm, flaky and delicate. Service is your typical Chinese restaurant, it is not consistent. You have to an extreme VVIP before they will even offer up their XO sauce...sometimes we ask for it, and the waiters "pretend" not to even hear us and just bring us the regular chili oil. What's the big deal? Oh well, we have not climbed the VIP ladder yet. Although we got seated right away once when there were like 500 people waiting for a seat (there is usually a line up out the door on the weekend).

In closing, Sea Harbor has hit my soft spot for dim sum. They are good compared to all the other dim sum restaurants in LA. They also have another branch in Richmond, by the same name. But if I were in Vancouver, I would ONLY go to Fisherman's Terrace!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday Brunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel

Seldom does Alex get Sundays off...but he did this Sunday and so he decided to take me to the Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge for Sunday brunch!

Yay...I am soooo excited coz I LOVE Sunday brunch! We got there and were promptly seated in the garden booth. Why? Because we are VIP and we roll like that...LOL. I had my morning mimosa and Alex had his double espresso. Then our chef du jour, Chef Dan Olson came out to say "hi". We ordered from the 3-course brunch menu but Dan decided to kick it up a notch and as usual, sent us out some really delicious courses!!

So for our first course, we got a very decadent and precise poached egg (to be exact-63.9 celcius for 45 mins) with luxurious toppings of osetra caviar, balik salmon, poached lobster medallions, shaved perigord truffles on micro greens, double-shucked peas and prosciutto, truffle purée, creme fraiche and shaved chives. Oh yah, don't forget the extra cute and mini brioche toast! They were sooo heavenly!

After enjoying this luxurious course, out came our "real" first course. I guess that was just the amuse...mmmm...Mine was the tuna tartar, sweet mango, sesame-infused seaweed salad and wonton crisps.

Alex had the crab cake, velouté of cauliflower, vegetable á la greque, and toasted Marcona almonds.

By this time, we were almost full...and running out of time. We had a day spa retreat scheduled for 1:15pm and it was already 12:20pm. We were supposed to be at the retreat 1/2 hour early. Oh well, we still wanted to eat. So next came our main courses. I had the linguini pomodoro and it was just supposed to be pasta and tomato sauce but since we were "VIP" I got hooked up with some shrimp and scallops...ooOOooOOooo la la!

Alex's main course was very extravagant BUT scary. He ordered the steak tartar (freshly ground tenderloin tip) which featured table side service. He likes his tartar mild with extra anchovies. For one to eat straight up steak tartar is a little much, so it also came with toast points and some really crispy and old school french fries.
OMG...we are so full!! BUT I had to have this waffle that Alex has been telling me about. It's the true yeast-risen Belgium waffle. It is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. When you cut into it, you can hear that "crisp" sound. It came with fresh berries and the Beverly Hills hotel's own maple syrup.
Everything was fabulous...compliments to the chef!! I had to pack my pasta for my Tuesday's lunch as I was WAY tooooo stuffed. Live to eat or eat to live, you be the judge.

Now off to the spa!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Shopaholic Makes A Movie!!

Given the success of Bridget Jones' Diary and any number of other "chick flicks" based on chick lit, I'm ecstatic to say that a movie based on the Sophie Kinsella Shopaholic series is in the near future! I cannot wait to see a film all about Becky Bloomwood and her wacky adventures.

According to Sophie Kinsella's Vodcast, P.J. Hogan (Peter Pan, My Best Friend's Wedding) will direct Confessions of a Shopaholic, an adaptation of her bestselling novel. Jerry Bruckheimer will produce. Shooting begins this November and Isla Fisher will play Becky Bloomwood. For those of us who don't know her, she is Sasha Baron Cohen's (yes, that's right, BORAT!!) wife and her last movie was in Definitely, Maybe with Ryan Reynolds.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Murakami Exhibition at the MOCA...part 2

OMG...I wrote soooo much about our meal at Daikokuya that I had to create a new post for the actual Murakami exhibition.

So the main reason for me wanting to go to the Murakami exhibition was due to the Exclusive Louis Vuitton Store at the venue! If you know me, I am the ultimate bag whore.

Anyway, back to the store. Unlike your regular Louis Vuitton Boutique, this one that is specially set up at MOCA features only products specially designed for the occasion by Vuitton and Murakami. The exhibition store will feature a new Murakami-designed 'Neverfull' bag with an LV Hands print and a round Monogram canvas coin purse with the same design. In addition to that, Murakami has also designed a Limited Edition diary/organizer/Agenda/Year Planner featuring a new character called Chibi Kinoko (Little Mushroom printed on Vuiton's signature Monogram Canvas, Monogram Multicolore (available in both Black and White). Alas, most of the items were already sold out as it was the last week of the exhibition. Lucky Alex...LOL!

So since there was nothing for me to buy at the store, I was going to be artsy and actually enjoy the art exhibition. Too bad photography was not permitted at the exhibit. However, I did manage to find someone else's blog which had really good photos of the exhibit. So the following photos are credited to Supertouch blog. Enjoy!

Murakami’s masterpiece: This giant beast is finished entirely in platinum leaf, officially making it the ultimate piece of art bling…

KaiKai and KiKi...they are the mascots for Takashi Murakami's company, Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd.

Murakami created an alter ego named DOB, whose name was taken from a line made famous by the late Japanese comedian Yuri Toru that asked the existential question: Dobojite dobojite?, (Why? Why?) As the complexities of Murakami's examination of his own identity evolved, so did DOB, in painting and inflatable form, morphing from a strand of DNA to a balloon-like form with innocent eyes.

Lastly, Milk and Cream, a pair of multiple-panel paintings, accompany Hiropon and Cowboy. Each depicts a graceful arc of white fluid against solid pastel pink and green backgrounds. The grand stroke of fluid, be it milk, semen or paint, recalls the paint drippings of abstract expressionist Jackson Pollack. At the same time, the foamy white fluid resembles the crashing waves of Edo-era printmaker Hokusai. The influence of woodblock printing and screen painting show Murakami's training in nihonga, a school that sought to revive traditional Japanese art forms. Murakami remixes modern Western art and traditional Japanese art, while denying the hierarchy of high "art" culture vs. low pop culture.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Off to the Murakami Exhibition at the MOCA...part 1

I am so excited to go to the exhibition of Takashi Murakami, the artist who popularized the Superflat style of modern art. Murakami's art appears on the limited collection Louis Vuitton handbags, Kanye West's Graduation album cover and in his recent music videos.

But before we hit the exhibition, a girl has to EAT! So my friend, Janet, and I head off to fill our bellies with some ramen. Yummmm...we went to Daikokuya which is only a stones throw away from the MOCA. This place has a reputation of being "one of the best ramens ever" in LA. We were seated quickly as it was still early. Usually, you will have to sign your name on this clipboard they have on the chair right in front of the entrance and wait for a seat. We made our orders and the food came out like lightning too! This is what we ordered:

Japanese green salad–this was included as we ordered a lunch combo. It is different from the regular japanese green salad that you may be familiar with. The dressing still has the citrusy flavor, however, I think there is a little bit of mayo and garlic in it as well. A very appetizing start to our meal!

Then came our gyozas which were buried in green onions. They really love their green onions here which you will see in all the other pictures.

By this time, we are craving our ramens...I can smell the fragrance of the pork broth so strongly as we were sitting by the bar. They were roasting off some pork as well, I think for the preparation of broth for the next day. I WANT MY RAMEN!

OK, the ramen was not ready yet so they brought out our fried rice–this is also part of the combo! It has their famous shredded pork in it. I didn't eat the fried rice because I am packing it for my lunch on Monday!

Finally!! Our ramen is here...So what makes Daikokuya ramen so good? Well, according to their website and menus, the ramen broth is made up of pork bones that are simmered nearly all day long along with some shoyu. They soak their hard boiled eggs and use tender cuts of pork with tons of green onions, sesame seeds, bamboo shoots, and bean sprouts. MmMMMmmm...I put my face over this steaming bowl of ramen and inhale...it smells like heaven...LOL.

Janet insists that we have to show how yummy their pork is. It is soooo soft, it melts in your mouth like "buttah"...LOL...and don't forget the egg!

It was a great start to the day...except now I am too full to be walking around at the Murakami exhibition!