Although Sammy Cahn didn't elaborate on "the lunches we used to pack" in his hit, "The Things We Did Last Summer," I can't imagine that they were nearly as good as this summer's moveable feast of good friends sharing good food. Looking back at the last few months, we've covered a lot of ground - and plates. And ice cream cones. And bakeries. And...
Without further ado, here is a sampling of what "I'll remember all winter long."
|Rock and roll: Okay, tuna yukke wasn't technically |
a sushi "roll," but it totally rocked!
Tuna Yukke at Kula Revolving Sushi Bar - There is something oddly satisfying about having conveyor belts placidly carry food past your table. It's a feeling like the excitement of flagging down the ladies with their dim sum carts at Empress Pavilion. Since Yayoi, a native of Japan, was willing to eat here, I figured it would be pretty good, and it was.
Sushi would undeniably qualify as a superfood. The two-pieces of Tuna Yukke (spicy tuna with poached egg) packed a protein wallop, leaving barely enough room for more sushi, but I still managed.
Yayoi says that the proper way to eat sushi is sans chopsticks. I found this helpful YouTube video that describes the correct way to enjoy sushi – and this tongue-in-cheek video that tells you what not to do.
|Lamb satay at Three Spices: Fun on a stick - except|
for any dining partners who might end up with my
portion in their lap!
One can hardly compare a place like Kula to a veritable temple of art like Ono's. But there is definitely some sort of spiritual satisfaction that is gained with a cuisine as exacting as sushi, whether it is in the creating of it, or the eating.
Lamb Satay at Three Spices Thai Kitchen - My new UCLA foodie friends and I had decided that our head maven Anna could not possibly have a complete picture of Asian food in Los Angeles unless she experienced the cornucopia of choices in the Torrance/Gardena area.
While the area has been a longtime enclave of Japanese and Japanese Americans, many other types of cuisine have taken a foothold in the last decade or so. We started the cook's tour at Three Spices Thai Kitchen in Gardena. My fondest memories from eating at Three Spices are of accidentally flinging bits of lamb satay across the table while trying to slide them off the skewer with my fork. Dylan doesn't usually mind when that happens, but I decided to behave myself a bit better since I lunching with ladies.
We started with shrimp tom kha soup, a traditional broth of lemongrass and coconut, spiced with galangal, thai chili, and lime juice. We also ordered the lamb satay, which I carefully ate off the skewers. The requisite peanut sauce is elevated to another dimension here, with just enough zingy sweetness to complement the perfectly grilled lamb chunks.
|So close, and yet, so far: The bakery case tease while standing|
in line at Huckleberry
Saturday Morning Brunch at Huckleberry - Breakfast has always been my favorite meal to eat out, despite the fact that on the weekend, it's everyone's favorite meal to eat out. The lines at Santa Monica's Huckleberry are bearable in my opinion, because of the bakery case that provides a hint of the delights to come. By the time Shiho and I reached the cashier to place our order, we had forgotten what we wanted for breakfast, so addled were our brains with the sight of tempting biscuits, cookies, and other treats. With our eyes bigger than our stomachs, we started off with a blueberry crostata, a lime posset, and a maple bacon biscuit. Actually, we also ordered a salted caramel cookie bar, but in our guilt, we had that boxed up to go.
|Always eat dessert first - even at breakfast!|
Eating with Shiho is an exercise in feast and famine, both literally and figuratively. We are both super busy, so we don't see each other all that often. But when we do, we fall effortlessly into the companionable habits of old friends. She is a great listener, and I shamelessly take advantage of that.
When I finally stop talking and glance absentmindedly down at the table, I invariably notice that Shiho's plate is like a palette with a carefully placed swath of paint perched on it. She has this habit of neatly sweeping her food toward her, unconsciously swabbing the plate clean. I have always marveled at this rather admirable quirk of hers. Although I never think much of how my plate looks when I'm eating, I am always suddenly aware when dining with Shiho of how it is always as unorganized as my thoughts.
|Clean sweep: Shiho's plate would be the "do" |
in a table manners tutorial.
Afternoon Tea at Chantilly Patisserie - While a bakery is always a great place to start the day, they are a pretty good place to greet the afternoon as well. Our South Bay Asian food crawl brought Karen, Anna, and myself to Chantilly Patisserie in Lomita, home of the Choux aux Sésames. A cream puff flecked with black sesame seeds, is filled to order with black sesame cream, a delectable blend of East meeting West in pastry form.
We also enjoyed the Othello, a waggish name for a bar of chocolate and sesame flavored cake. The Gâteau Fraise, a strawberry chiffon confection that lent our little break some fruity zing and girly pink aura, and cups of top-notch coffee gave us the lift we needed after a day of doing what we do best - eating and shopping.
|"Umami" burger: Chantilly Patisserie's black sesame cream puff|
brings subtle savory to dessert
It stands to reason that a place that offers its patrons the chance to cook and eat a boiling hot pot of soup at the table, will offer the extreme flip side of this experience for dessert. Flake ice is another dessert innovation from Taiwan, home of the much regaled boba drink. Creamy snowdrifts of what is a cross between shaved ice and soft serve are laden with a variety of toppings, including sweet red bean, tiny boiled peanuts, and a great blob of that flan-like Japanese style pudding.
|It's not easy being green - or finishing a Green Tea |
Snow Flake Ice at Boiling Point!
This has been an unusually hot summer, with unprecedented humidity and record temperatures for Los Angeles. But my friends and I have managed to stay cool, at least metaphorically speaking, with a taste for adventure that extends beyond the average Popsicle. Every meal can be an experience, and doubly so when shared with the people who give your life its flavor.