Archive | August, 2011

Culver City Deserves a Proper Block Party

30 Aug

Ford's Filling Station Party

Ford's Filling Station Bringing the Party

Culver City’s reputation as a young and hip destination for the culinary-inclined continues to grow. Some of the more interesting dining offerings are tucked away in remote corners of the city and in nearby Palms, but downtown Culver City is a walkable restaurant playground for the hungry and thirsty. To promote the continuing revitalization of downtown Culver City, the Culver City Downtown Business Association sponsors a monthly Third Wednesdays Block Party.

Shrimp Bao at Moko

Shrimp Bao at MoKo

I remember attending my first Downtown Culver City Block Party last year. It was a great opportunity to introduce a bunch of friends to great spots in my city. I’d study each restaurant’s specials, map out a course, and we’d jump from spot to spot, checking out as many establishments as possible. The first block party I attended was a huge success. I got to experience Culver City in the best possible way: there were lots of people walking about, music everywhere,  and a celebratory atmosphere.

Additionally, my friends were excited to visit me in Culver City again soon to spent more time at our favorite spots. But a couple of block parties later, the specials got worse, restaurants put in less effort, and there were fewer people about. After one particularly unsuccessful block party, I decided not to attend anymore.


Steak Moko

Bao at MoKo


After sitting out several Third Wednesdays, I decided to give it another try when I got an invited out by a group of friends. Once again, I studied the flyer, made a list of the specials worth hitting up, and we hit the town. While most of the specials were lackluster, there were enough to make me excited about hopping around downtown.

The first special that caught my eye was the slow-roasted pork bao and hite beer combo for $6 at MoKo. I was curious to check out the spot since it has been divisive among food bloggers, and Jonathan Gold had that day called it “a restaurant Culver City needs.” Excited for a quick bao and beer for only $6, we took our seats in the mostly empty bar. Service was inexcusably slow and they changed the special without telling us (it was two bao & a Hite beer for $10 – still a good deal), but they were almost forgiven because the steak and shrimp bao were so damn good. Thinking back to those substantial bao, I’m sad that MoKo is closed and turning back into Gyenari (technically, G2).


honey's kettle

Honey's Kettle


The slow service put us behind on our restaurant-hopping, but we ditifully ran across the street to Honey’s Kettle. Unfortunately, our hopes were dashed when we attempted to order the 2 for 1 deal (the best advertised deal of the night) and were told that Third Wednesday specials closed at 9. We were still pretty hungry and prices are so reasonable at Honey’s Kettle, that we still ordered a feast of blueberry cakes, fried chicken, and biscuits. I used to love the pancakes overflowing with blueberries, but unfortunately the pancakes were a little drier and had fewer blueberries than on previous visits. Still, solid gut-busting food for a good price.

honey's kettle pancakes

Blueberry pancakes, fried chicken, and a biscuit at Honey's Kettle


After Honey’s Kettle, we lingered outside of Ford’s Filling Station next door. I give a lot of credit to Chef Ben Ford for knowing how to throw a party. Live music from Vaud and the Villains and a Crabfest with beer pitcher specials made it the most festive spot in town. Most of the city, however, put minimal effort into the event. If you were lucky, a restaurant might offer discounted wine or a free dessert. Since the event ends at 9, it’s almost impossible to enjoy more than one or two places.

It’s time that this event either ends or is rebooted. It has turned into a DineLA restaurant week, but it’s one night a month and with lackluster specials. It should run later, encourage bar-and-restaurant-hopping, have live DJs and bands, and feature real specials. The festivities should be spilling into the sidewalks and streets, not just in quiet dining rooms.

Tomorrow, I will talk about a more successful neighborhood block party.

First Look: Michael’s New Happy Hour

29 Aug


Jason's Famous Punch #1 ($6)

My enthusiasm for what Jason Robley is doing behind the bar at Michael’s in Santa Monica is well-documented. He is slowly transforming every aspect of the bar program at the 33-year-old restaurant. His latest change: adding a happy hour! I had the honor of being the first to try the new menu (mostly because I work nearby and word hasn’t gotten out yet).


The Downtowner ($7)

Before Jason and GM Andrew Turner could implement the new happy hour, they wanted to replace some of the awkward and dated lounge furniture. Unhappy with the usual furniture they came across, they opted to have the tall bar tables custom-made. I appreciate the new furniture, but I was there for one reason: the cocktails.

15th state

The 15th State ($8)

There are three cocktails and one punch on the menu, plus a couple of wines ($6) and beers ($4). Jason only makes one punch and “Jason’s Famous Punch #1” may be my favorite punch I’ve tried in LA. For a sweet punch, I was shocked at the depth of flavor it offered.


The Dominicano ($8)

None of the other cocktails disappointed. The Downtowner featured Tito’s vodka, lime, canton ginger liquer, St. Germain elderflower liquor, and soda. The Dominicano included Dolin Blanc, Dolin Rouge, Citadelle Gin, Aperol, and orange bitters.


Bruschetta ($6)

The 15 State cocktail is made with bourbon, ginger, and lime soda. The menu advertises Markers Mark bourbon, but Jason made mine with Eagle Rare, insisting it worked better with the drink.

It became clear that if I was going to sample all of the drinks on the menu, I should also order some happy hour grub to coat my stomach. The bruschetta featured heirloom tomato and melon with mint & basil. It was a simple and refreshing dish.


Crispy Sweetbread "Poppers" ($6)

Since bruschetta isn’t particularly filling, I decided to give the crispy sweetbread “poppers” a chance. These fried delights sitting on a bed of wonderful whole-grain mustard aioli were quite addictive.


Michael's Burger ($18)

If you’re like me and have already worked your way through the happy hour and regular cocktail menus, you can also order a well drink for $6. This is Michael’s, so you won’t be getting some random vodka out of a plastic bottle. The well liquors include Tito’s Vodka, Flor de Cana rum, and Eagle Rare bourbon.

The happy hour turned into happy multiple hours for me, and I realized it was time to get some proper food. While not on the dinner menu, if you ask Michael really nicely, he might let you order the burger. I’ve had my eye on the burger since it received a glowing review in Serious Eats A Hamburger Today. Made with Rocker Bros Meats and topped with grilled Maui onion, North Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon, Gruyère and Stilton cheeses, arugula, tomatoes, and served on a sesame seed-covered brioche from Etxea Bakery, this is a damn good burger that didn’t make me regret the $18 price tag.


Happy Hour Food Menu

Happy Hour runs Monday-Friday from 5 pm – 7 pm. In addition to this happy hour, there is plenty to look forward to at Michael’s: new dishes by the 24-year old new Executive Chef John-Carlos Kuramot, a fall cocktail menu by Jason, improving the rooftop garden, and stepping up the beer offerings (possibly adding a keg or two).


Happy Hour Drinks Menu

1147 3rd Street, Santa Monica

Michael's on Urbanspoon

Six Pots de Crème That Will Make You Crème Your Pants

29 Aug

This article originally appeared on LAist

Platine Pot de Creme

Platine Chocolate Pot de Creme with Cookies

It seems like every sweet treat gets its own holiday. Whether it’s donutscoffee cakepiewaffles, or even taffy, we’ll take any excuse no matter how flimsy to indulge in something delicious.

Saturday was National Pots de Crème Day, and to help you celebrate the dessert custard, we’ve compiled a list of popular pots de crème around town.

Platine bakery in Culver City will be serving its most popular pots de crème today: chocolate with black lava salt. If you return a week later, you’ll be able to try butterscotch with Glenlivet, and if you’re lucky, Chef Jamie Cantor will be serving buttermilk with macerated blackberries.

Gjelina, the darling of Abbot Kinney, will be serving their butterscotch pot de crème with salted caramel and crème fraîche.

Toasted Coconut & Miso Pot de Crème. Photo courtesy of Ramen Bull

Toasted Coconut & Miso Pot de Crème. Photo courtesy of Ramen Bull

If you still haven’t tried Breadbar’s Ramen Bull pop-up, now you can end your beef-based ramen meal with a brand new dessert: toasted coconut & miso pot de crème.

A safe bet is Bouchon Bistro’s always changing pot de crème with infused custard. Check out the recently-opened Bouchon Bakery while you’re there.

FIG, one of the LA’s best hotel restaurants, always serves a wonderful chocolate pot au crème with market berries and sable cookies.

FIG & OLIVE Melrose Place’s Chocolate Pot de Crème

Chocolate Pot de Crème. Photo courtesy of FIG & Olive

It’s not uncommon to hear that FIG & OLIVE Melrose Place’s signature Chocolate Pot de Crème is a dinner highlight. This popular dish features crunchy praline financiers, vanilla cream, and orange zest.

Did we leave out one of your favorite LA pots de crème? Let us know in the replies where we should break our summer diets today.

Weekend Planner: Aug. 27-28

25 Aug

Saturday: Hidden LA Instant Photo Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunt’s are always a fun way to explore a city. For $10, you and a team of 2-4 people will be given a loaner Diana F+ camera, some instant film, and a handful of clues in hope of wining some prizes. Call ahead to pre-register.

12-5 pm
Lomography Gallery Store LA
7998 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90046
(323) 301.1414


Saturday: Celebrate National Pots de Crème Day

This Saturday is National Pots de Crème Day, so why not break that summer diet with a tasty treat? There are plenty of great options to indulge in this decadent dessert in LA.

  • Whatever flavor Jamie is serving, fans of Platine Cookies in Culver City can’t get enough of her pots de crème. Grab a cup of LAMILL coffee to take home along with your dessert.
  • It’s not uncommon to hear that FIG & OLIVE Melrose Place’s signature Chocolate Pot de Crème is the highlight of a dinner there. This popular dish features crunchy praline financiers, vanilla cream, and orange zest.
  • If you still haven’t tried the beef-based ramen at Breadbar’s Ramen Bull pop-up I write about two weeks ago, now you can end your meal with a brand new dessert:  Toasted Coconut & Miso Pot de Crème.
  • Gjelina, the darling of Abbot Kinney, will be serving their butterscotch pot de crème with salted caramel and crème fraîche.
  • Looking for an excuse to check out the recently-opened Bouchon Bakery in Beverly Hills? Now you have one: get your covetous hands on Bouchon’s always changing pot de crème with infused custard.


Saturday: Red Sun Pop-Up Beer Garden at Sushi Roku Pasadena

This Saturday is your last chance to check out Sushi Roku Pasadena’s “Red Sun Saturdays” pop-up beer garden. In conjunction with the One Colorado Music Series, Sushi Roku is taking over the One Colorado courtyard. While you are enjoying live music by  Katie Costello, you can enjoy a 4-course feast for $40 or order a la carte options such as sushi, robata skewers, and a selection of appetizers, beers, wine, and cocktails.

The Courtyard at One Colorado
1 Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91103


Saturday and Sunday: Sunset Junction Alternatives

For the first time in over 30 years, there will be no Sunset Junction this year. The last minute permit denial means that lots of bands are scrambling to reschedule. It also means that you can see a lot of great bands in smaller venues than you are used to. Here’s the low-down on the the rescheduled concerts.

Saturday: B-Movies and Bad Science at La Brea Tar Pits

I’m going to be lazy and just cut and paste this: “Bring your picnic blanket and cozy up to watch a movie in Hancock Park at the Page Museum at La Brea Tar Pits. Come join us for thrills, chills, and, yes, all the goofiness of those vintage sci-fi and horror flicks, and get here early for a light-hearted discussion with our own science experts, as we introduce the day’s featured movie to see if there’s any common ground between science fact and science fiction.

Check out a spotlighted specimen from the collection or the colorful B-movie memorabilia, including lobby cards, posters, and even actual movie props. See it all, and you’ll agree that real science can be just as wild and out of this world as reel science! This summer will be all about Dinosaurs and their sci-fi counterparts, ironically taking place at the Page Museum at La Brea Tar Pits, a dinosaur-free environment.

Featured Movie: One Million Years B.C. (1966) at 8:30pm
A caveman is banished from his home and finds temporary shelter among a group of oceanside cave dwelling people. After a second banishment, he sets forth with a beautiful cavewoman played by Raquel Welch! Adventures begin to take shape as they face the harsh prehistoric world as a couple.”

5801 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90036


Saturday: In Kovacsland: A Tribute To Ernie Kovacs at Egyptian Theatre

Described as a “mad genius,” Ernie Kovacs made a huge impact on the direction of television. The Egyptian will be showing clips from between 1951-1962, and follow it with a discussion between TV greats such as Harry Shearer, Jeff Garlin, Merrill Markoe, George Schlatter, Jolene Brand Schlatter, Bob Odenkirk, and Ben Model.

7:30 pm
Egyptian Theatre
6712 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 9002


Sunday: LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

Jonathan Gold, the man with the golden pen, insatiable appetite, and a Pulitzer, is putting on what is shaping up to be one stellar pancake breakfast. Participating restaurants include FIG, BLD, Salt’s Cure, Mayura, Meals By Genet, Nickel Diner, Playa, and LAMILL. Tickets are $25 and benefit the LA Food Bank.

11 am – 2pm
214 South Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012


Now: Save 40% The Taste Tickets

THE place to be Labor Day weekend for food & booze lovers is The Taste festival. This four day culinary marathon is put on by the LA Times as well as  Food & Wine. There are a slew of events including a Burgers and Beer night where you can sample 30 burgers and 30 breweries/spirits/wines, a “Taco Tequila Tryst” hosted by Roy Choi (Kogi, Chego, A-Frame), and a Street Eats event hosted by Susan Feniger. Each event ranges from $125-150, but if you buy your tickets from Opentable Spotlight,  you can get them for 40% off.

Margarita Dinner at Border Grill: Great Value Hits Downtown Santa Monica

24 Aug


Grilled Oja Santa Shrimp

Border Grill has been a downtown Santa Monica staple for over 25 years. Too Hot Tamales Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken aren’t willing to just rest on their laurels and simply serve contemporary Mexican food to tourists and locals who are still working their way down J. Gold’s 99 essential restaurants. The Border Grill brand has been expanding with a popular food truck, converting Ciudad into a  second Border Grill downtown, opening a Vegas location, and even opening a “taco stand meets corner kiosk” called Border Grill Stop. With all of this activity and Susan Feniger pouring her energy into her new restaurant Street, it’s nice to see that the original Border Grill is trying new things. I was recently invited to a 5-course dinner with cocktail pairings hosted by Susan Feniger and Border Grill Executive Chef Alex Moreno. The first time I met Chef Feniger, I was swept away by her enthusiasm, positive energy, and warmth. I was excited to experience that positive energy once again and to see what culinary treats they had in store for us.

The first course was a fried grilled oja santa shrimp with tomato mint tea. The fried shrimp was enjoyable but the tomato mint tea was way too salty and I couldn’t finish it. The cocktail pairing was a cucumber mint gin and tonic made with tru organic gin and cucumber mint ice cubes, a very refreshing way to start the evening. All of the cocktails were made with Tru Organic spirits made by Greenbar Collective, a Los Angeles company started in 2004 by the husband and wife team of Melkon Khosrovian and Litty Mathew, who were in attendance at the dinner.


Abalone and California Avocado Ceviche

The next course was lime-cured red abalone and California avocado ceviche with heirloom cherry tomatoes and Persian cucumbers. Executive Chef Alex Moreno emphasized the importance of local ingredients and informed diners that the red abalone were alive two hours before and caught the day before and day of in Santa Rosa. This was a lovely version of ceviche with a presentation to match. The dish was paired with a ginger lemon drop with tru organic vodka, meyer lemon, and ginger syrup. I’m usually not a fan of lemon drops, but this was not too sweet and definitely one of my favorite versions of this drink.


Squash Blossom Relleno

Up next was the squash blossom relleno with crema, homemade requeson cheese, and preserved lemon. The lemon was picked from the chef’s mom’s tree and preserved for a year. The bread served as a nice vessel for this creamy and spicy dish.


Squash Blossom Relleno

The cocktail pairing was a spiced grapefruit fizz with crusoe organic spiced rum and homemade grapefruit soda.


Seeded Lamb Chop

The final savory course was a seeded lamb chop with grilled heirloom tomato, grilled romano beans and spiced corn pinwheels. The lamb was outstanding and the sesame seeds were a nice addition. Paired with a curried margarita with ixa organic silver tequila, lime, curry leaves, and agave, this was the highlight of the evening.

Susan Feniger and Sous Chef

Susan Feniger and Executive Chef Alex Moreno


Farmers Market Fruit Crisp

The meal ended with a farmers market fruit crisp featuring plumbs, strawberries, apricots, and blueberries. The cinnamon ice cream helped push this dish into the “winner” column. My liver was given a break during this pairing: a LAMILL Mini Cafe de Olla -a spiced Mexican latte made with LAMILL dark roast espresso with cinnamon, orange zest, allspice, clove, and piloncillo sugar.

Susan Feniger

Susan Feniger Commanding a Room

Of course, one of the big perks of the meal was getting to listen to the animated Chef Susan Feniger discuss her passion for cooking. The meal had a few highlights and a couple near-misses. The final verdict: what a great deal for only $55. Four cocktails and a latte can run you $55 many places, and here you also get 5 courses of food. I was a little nervous when I walked in and discovered it was communal seating, but I ended up surrounded by interesting people and didn’t want to the meal to end.

Susan Feniger

Top Chef Master Susan Feniger

If you’re interested in attending the next Border Grill Margarita Dinner, you can sign-up for the Border Grill newsletter. They are aiming for an end up October date. 

Border Grill Santa Monica
1445 4th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 451-1655

Disclosure: This meal was hosted


Border Grill on Urbanspoon

Music Monday: Jenny & Johnny, Concert Listings

22 Aug


When I think of the LA indie rock scene these days, I immediately think of bands such as Silversun Pickups, Edward Sharpe, Local Natives, and No Age. Before Silverlake and Echo Park was pumping out great music, only one band came to mind when I thought of the genre: Rilo Kiley. Rilo Kiley was “so LA.” Formed by childhood actors Jenny Lewis (Troop Beverly Hills along with dozens of film and TV credits), and Blake Sennett (Boy Meets World Salute Your Shorts), Rilo Kiley released four full-lengths that range from solid to outstanding.

Rilo Kiley – Portion for Foxes

The final Rilo Kiley album was in 2007’s Under the Blacklight. Frontwoman Jenny Lewis released the solo album Rabbit Fur Coat backed by the Watson Twins in 2006, and another solo album in 2008 (Acid Tongue). Since Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes introduced Jenny Lewis to Scottish-American songwriter Johnathan Rice, the two have been romantically and professional inseparable. Johnathan played on Rabbit Fur Coat, co-produced Acid Tongue, contributed to Elvis Costello’s Momofuku along with Jenny Lewis, and has played at every one of Jenny Lewis’s solo shows.

Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue

Considering how close they became both privately and professionally, it was almost inevitable that the two would form their own band. After recording demos with Rilo Kiley’s Pierre De Reeder, the two road-tripped to Omaha, Nebraska to record their I’m Having Fun Now with the brilliant Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes. The two played most of the instruments themselves, with the occasional assist by Rilo Kiley drummer Jason Boesel. The result is a joyous pop record perfect for an LA summer. I admit that I was a little disappointed after the first couple of listens last year, but this summer it has really grown on me and it’s a beautiful driving record.

Jenny and Johnny – Scissor Runner

Jenny and Johnny – Big Wave

Next week we will see what other former Rilo Kiley members are up to.

Monday Aug. 22

Frank Fairfield at the Redwood Bar & Grill

Start your week with some folk revival. This 25 year old from California’s Central Valley has been playing his fiddle and banjo while opening for Fleet Foxes, and now is heading to the Redwood Bar & Grill to play some standards as well as some original tunes.

Frank Fairfield – I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground

Free Shows

Every Monday in LA provides the opportunity to check out a great local and/or up-and-coming band for free. Today, you can see Stone Darling at The Satellite, Active Child at The Echo, The Ross Sea Party at The Silverlake Lounge, or Robert Francis at The Bootleg Theater.

Robert Francis – Mescaline

Tuesday Aug. 23

Troubadour Jazz Fest at The Troubadour

This is a lot of jazz for $10. Sarah Renick, Natasha F Agrama, Laura Mace, Rebecka Larsdotter, Patrice Quinn, Kamasi Washington, Ruslan Sirota, Ian Martin, and Tony Austi.

Chris Thile at Largo

Chris Thile? The name didn’t immediately ring a bell for me either. You might know Chris better from the acoustic trio Nickel Creek or the mandolin player for the Punch Brothers.

Chris Thile & Michael Daves- My Little GIrl in Tennessee


Wednesday  Aug. 24

Keegan DeWitt at Origami Vinyl

Singer-songwriter, film composer, and actor Keegan DeWitt will be performing at Origami Vinyl at 7 pm. If you can’t make this show, seem him Thursday at the Hotel Cafe.

Keegan DeWitt- Thunder Clatter


Obits at the Satellite

If you are still mourning the loss of Hot Snakes or Edsel, you’ll have the chance to ameliorate the pain for one night at the Satellite. Obits is composed of  guitarist Sohrab Habibion of Edsel and vocalist/guitarist Rick Froberg of Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu, and Hot Snakes. These veterans are doing back-to-basics rock and supporting their recent release Moody, Standard, and Poor.

Obits- You Gotta Lose


Thursday  Aug. 25

Deadmau5 at Hollywood Palladium

Don’t miss the chance to see producer Joel Thomas Zimmerman don a mouse head at the Hollywood Palladium. Dancing shoes required. There will be an encore performance on Friday at the Palladium.

Deadmau5 – Professional Griefers


Friday  Aug. 26

Atmosphere at Greek Theatre

The  Minneapolis, Minnesota hip-hop duo is taking over the Greek.

Atmosphere – Yesterday


John Vanderslice  at the Echo

After five years with experimental pop band MK Ultra, singer-songwriter John Vanderslice  has been doing the solo thing since 2000.

John Vanderslice- Too Much Time

Saturday  Aug. 27

Jon Brion at the Largo 

Multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion is a staple at the Largo. If you haven’t seen him do his monthly show at the Largo yet, it’s a no-brainer.

Goo Goo Dolls & Michelle Branch at Greek Theatre

If you are feeling nostalgic this week, check out the Goo Goo Dolls & Michelle Branch play their hits at the Greek Theatre.  It’s my belief that the 1998 Goo Goo Dolls album Dizzy Up the Girl still holds up as a wonderful pop record.

Goo Goo Dolls- Name

Weekend Movie Picks: Aug. 19-21

19 Aug

My good friend and LA history/culture expert Laura Katz wrote this guest post about movies to see this weekend. I hope to feature many more stories from her in the coming months covering historical sights, unique events, and maybe even some music.

Friday:  Pee Wee’s Big Adventure at LACMA

Pee Wee’s Big Adventure is being shown outdoors as part of LACMA’s “Tim Burton Sampler” at the Dorothy Collins Brown Amphitheater in Hancock Park behind LACMA. It’s free! Obviously a classic.

Hancock Park | Dorothy Collins Brown Amphitheater, Free
5905 Wilshire Blvd

Corpse Bride at LACMA

Me Having a Great Evening at a Previous Burton LACMA Screening


Saturday: Rhino Resurrected: The Strange Story of The World’s Most Famous Record Store!

My Saturday pick is definitely the Don’t Knock the Rock showing of Rhino Resurrected: The Strange Story of The World’s Most Famous Record Store! at Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax Avenue. Growing up in Los Angeles, the little legendary record store on Westwood Boulevard was my weekend shopping trip of choice. This film is sure to delight music lovers and Los Angeles aficionados alike. As I try to be both, it is doubly disappointing I cannot make this super exciting world premiere (!), as I will be prepping for an extreme yard sale. Y’all should all check this out and report back. I hear there will be “some very special Rhino guests” spinning records and doing a Q & A.

Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre
611 N Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, 90036


Sunday: Das Boot at the Egyptian Theatre

Das Boot at the Egyptian Theatre, presented by the American Cinematheque and the Art Directors Guild Film Society. I feel ashamed to admit that I haven’t seen this film. Well, it’s the 30th anniversary of this West German WWII war film and it is probably time to take a second look at it, even if you have seen it already—especially as there will be a discussion following the film with production designer Rolf Zehetbauer, who won the Oscar for Cabaret.

Egyptian Theatre
6712 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 9002


For a comprehensive weekend film guide, visit LAist Film Calendar

Weekend Planner: Aug. 18-21

18 Aug

Thursday: Westwood LIVE

This monthly event in Westwood starts at 5 pm and promises happy hours, live performances, street performers, and swag. Napa Valley Grille will be offering free wine tastings, live music, discounted drinks, and food specials like Roasted Heritage Pork Belly with Nectarine Marmalade and Gillard’s earthy Cedar-Smoked Cultivated Mushroom Bruschetta with melted Cowgirl Creamery Wagon Wheel Cheese, each $7 à la carte or $4 when ordered with the matching wine. Head over to the Hammer museum for a free JAZZPOP show by the Empty Cage Quartet. Check out all the deals and events.


Friday & Saturday: Zombie Joe’s Underground’s Romeo & Juliet

Zombie Joe’s Underground presents their fast-paced, high-impact production of Shakespeare’s  passionate tragedy, about two star-cross’d lovers whose untimely deaths unite their feuding families. Tickets are $15.

ZJU Theatre Group
4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood
Reservations: (818) 202- 4120


Saturday: Free Concert by Phranc & Peter Case at Grand Performances

Grand Performances has been putting on free performing arts events that celebrate LA’s diversity for 25 years. This Saturday, enjoy a free show by folk singers Phranc and Peter Case. Exene Cervenka was originally scheduled to perform, but sadly, had to be replaced on the bill. Phranc was born in Santa Monica and got her start in the 80’s LA punk scene and you might even recognize her from the excellent documentary The Decline of Western Civilization. This free show is billed as: “Two original voices from the folk music scene come together on one stage for an evening of witty, tongue-in-cheek yet heartfelt songs.”

Phranc – Folksinger

8 pm at California Plaza in Downtown Los Angeles
300-350 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90071


Saturday: Free Concert of The English Beat at Pershing Square

Ready for some 80’s ska-revival? Enjoy a free concert by the English Beat with openers Urban Dread.

8 pm at Pershing Square
532 South Olive Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013


Saturday: Shape Note Singing Workshop with SASSAS at Kings Road Park Pavilion
To say this is an unusual way to spend a Saturday afternoon would be an understatement. “Come and learn as well as participate in a unique, alternative musical language. Utilizing a few shapes instead of basic music notation, the shape note form invites participants to hone in on harmonic structures in large groups, allowing beautiful sounds to materialize among people who have likely never sung together before. The music is easy, the sound is joyously resonant, and all voices and ages are welcome — a willingness to sing is the only requirement.”

1:00 Singing Shape workshop lead by Jessica Catron
3:00 Traditional Sing facilitated by Laura Boyd and Rick Russell
5:30 Alternative Sing
6:00 Pot luck dinner in the park

Kings Road Park Pavilion
1000 North Kings Road
West Hollywood, CA 90069


Saturday: Ai Weiwei Sculpture Opening at LACMA

Starting this Saturday, you can visit  the first major public sculpture by Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei. LACMA is the only West Coast stop of “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” international tour. “The installation will comprise twelve monumental bronze animal heads that are re-creations of the famous traditional zodiac sculptures that once adorned the fountain clock of Yuan Ming Yuan, the Old Summer Palace, located just outside Beijing.”


Saturday: Indiana Jones at Outdoor Cinema Food Fest

If you’ve gone this whole summer without enjoying an outdoor movie screening, you’re running out of time to take advantage of our beautiful weather.  You can make up for lost time by checking out Cinema Food Fest’s screening of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. $10 gets you a patch of grass to lay your blanket, live music by Glen Iris and The Quiet, and access to a dozen food trucks, including Komodo and the Poutine Truck. You’ll even get to enjoy an advanced screening of ABC’s revenge.

La Cienega Park
8400 Gregory Way
Beverly Hills
Doors at 5:30, Band at 6:30, Movie at 9 pm


Saturday: Mad Decent Block Party Downtown

This free block party features performances by a handful of bands, including  Major Lazer. There will also be shaved ice to keep you cool, dodgeball games to get the heart rate up, and plenty of beer. RSVP at

12-8 pm at Lot 613
613 Imperial St., Downtown

Sunday: Gourmet Music Carnival at LA State Historic Park

If you’d rather spend your Sunday downtown instead of in the South Bay, the Gourmet Music Carnival promises to be quite the scene. $12 advanced tickets get you access to 40-60 gourmet food trucks, live music, and up to 230 of L.A.’s best handmades, vintage and crafters.
Music schedule:

  • 11am: Number 2
  • 11:55am: Letting Up Despite Great Faults
  • 12:50pm: The Country
  • 1:45pm: Walking Sleep
  • 2:40pm: Sean & Zander
  • 3:35pm: Francisco The Man
  • 4:30pm: Mad Planet
  • 5:25pm: Broken Numbers
  • 6:20pm: The Hangmen

LA State Historic Park
1245 N Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
11 am – 7 pm


Sunday: Dance Party with  John Cameron Mitchell at La Cita Bar

NYC dance party Mattachine is headed to downtown LA, and you can join the party for only $3 at the bar. Guest DJ will be none other than John Cameron Mitchell, the man responsible for one of my favorite musical movies Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Mattachine is doing a “cross-country summer road trip ‘promoting ethical homosexual culture’ across America to remind folks that queer is more than Gaga, skinny jeans and texting while sort-of dancing.” Sounds like a good mission, but they had me at “John Cameron Mitchell.”

9 pm – 2 am at La Cita Bar
336 S. Hill St
Los Angeles, CA 90013


Sunday: Taste at the Beach 6 at Hermosa Beach Community Center

I don’t give the South Bay enough love, but I’m going to try to work on that. The Kiwanis club is putting on a food & wine “extravaganza”  featuring 20 restaurants and eight wineries/breweries. Tickets are $60 and there’s going to be live jazz.

Hermosa Beach Community Center
710 Pier Ave
3 pm-7pm

Fat Spoon: Curry Heaven in Little Tokyo

18 Aug

Pork Cutlet Additional Curry

Pork Cutlet Curry ($10)

Little Tokyo has long been a dining destination for the simple fact that it houses ramen favorite Daikokuya. This week, it has a new neighbor that might be able to do more than just fill the bellies of disappointed diners unwilling to wait in an hour line for Daikokuya. On Monday, Chef Hiro Fujita and Michael Cardenas, founder of Innovative Dining Group debuted the curry and pasta concept Fat Spoon. Now you can satisfy your craving for Japanese food with ramen at Daikokuya, curry at Fat Spoon, and tapas at Izakaya Fu-ga, all before walking over to grab a flight of Japanese beer at Far Bar.

Corn Dogs at Fat Spoon

Corn Dogs with Curry Ketchup ($5)

I didn’t realize just how popular pasta and curry was until my recent two week trip to Japan. It seemed like you couldn’t turn a corner without bumping into chain restaurant Curry House CoCo Ichibanya or another fast food joint drizzling curry over hot dogs and flatbread. If I had a pasta craving, that was an easy craving to satisfy as well.

Spinach at Fat Spoon

Spinach ($2)

If you’re fortunate enough to arrive and find an empty table, you’ll be warmly greeted with “irasshaimase.” Otherwise, write your name on the waitlist and join the Daikokuya crowd in loitering outside. If you are like me and can’t resist little corn dogs, Fat Spoon serves a pretty good version with a flavorful and slightly sweet curry ketchup (even though the menu advertises mustard). It wasn’t quite as good as Stefan at LA Farm’s version, but I still recommend them.

Garlic Bread at Fat Spoon

Garlic Bread ($2)

For sides, I went with the sauteed spinach and crunchy garlic bread. They were fine but next time I’d probably skip these two and try the sauteed mixed mushrooms. The real reason to go to Fat Spoon, however, is the curry. Curry options include: pork cutlet, seafood, jidori chicken, beef short ribs, or vegetables. I went with the pork cutlet because I had a great reference point after trying the famous pork tonkatsu at Maisen in Harajuku, Tokyo. This was a great version and a steal at only $10. The crispy fried kurobuta pork loin was good on its own, but much better when drizzled with the curry sauce (and best when drowned in the sauce). I’m excited to go back and try the short rib curry and vegetable curry.

Carbonara at Fat Spoon

Carbonara ($9.50)

Fat Spoon’s other specialty is pasta. I went with the carbonara, but should have trusted my gut and gone with something more unique like the tarako with salted cod roe, cream, dried seaweed, and shiso leaf. The carbonara was a traditional, straight-forward take on the classic and I was a little bored by it. I appreciated the texture of the noodles and there was a good amount of pancetta, but next time I’ll either stick with the curry or try a less-traditional pasta. You can’t blame Fat Spoon for doing a traditional take on the pasta, but I guess I was expecting something a bit more interesting.

Curry Pan

Curry Pan ($2)

I was tempted to order a salad, but once I noticed a “curry pan” to-go on the back of the menu, I knew that it had to try it. It ended up being the best item of the night. Since I was in a hurry to catch the Holy F*ck comedy show, they bagged it to go and I was in street food heaven. It was fried, filled with rich curry, and piping hot. Best $2 I’ve spent on food in a long time.

Fat Spoon Menu

Fat Spoon Menu

I did get a bit frustrated with the slow service and them sending one of my dishes to the wrong table, but they are new and hopefully they’ll iron that out. It’s one of the prices you pay for trying a new and exciting restaurant and why I tend to wait until a restaurant is at least a month old. Overall, Fat Spoon is a welcome addition to the neighborhood and I’m glad to have a new go-to place for well-priced traditional Japanese curry.

Fat Spoon
329 E 1st St.
Los Angeles – Little Tokyo
Sunday- Thursday 11 am-11 pm, Friday-Saturday 11 am-midnight.


Fat Spoon on Urbanspoon

Music Monday: Nico Vega & Shows This Week

15 Aug


My first introduction to Nico Vega was for Indie 100.3’s I Also Like to Rock concert series on July 3, 2008 at the UCLA Hammer Museum. I knew nothing about the band, but I was floored as soon as lead singer Aja Volkman belted her first note. The three-piece formed in 2005 and no matter my mood when I throw in their CD, I feel energized and feel the need to rock out. They have a self-titled full-length and a handful of EPs. Like what you hear? Check out their Roxy show this Thursday.


David Dondero @ The Hotel Cafe

I am tempted to cancel my plans tonight to go see singer-songwriter David Dondero at the Hotel Cafe. Some of my friends find his voice a little irritating, but I could spend countless hours listening to him weave vivid tales. One of my favorite troubadours, and you’ll be able to understand Conor Oberst’s non-Bright Eyes projects a lot better once you realize how much of an influence Dondero has been.

David Dondero – Zero with a Bullet


Adele @ Greek Theatre

Adele is red-hot at the moment. She’s been covered by everyone from Patti Smith to Linkin Park, and has been remixed by just about everyone with a turntable. See what the fuss is all about at the Greek Theatre. Also, catch her Wednesday at the Hollywood Palladium.

Adele – Rolling In The Deep (Jamie XX Remix

Reggie Watts at Largo


Like some comedy with your music? If so, Reggie Watts is your man. Creative, super talented, and you never know what he’s going to be dishing out. He’s also playing the Largo on Tuesday.


Fool’s Gold @ Amoeba Music

The LA collective is playing a free show at Amoeba in Hollywood at 7 pm.

Cut Chemist at HOB Anaheim

KCRW presents Cut Chemist at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney. Prior to doing his solo thing under the moniker Cut Chemist, DJ Lucas MacFadden was a member of such venerable groups as Jurrassic 5 and Ozomatli.

Joni’s Jazz w/ Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan, Glen Hansard @ Hollywood Bowl

Herbie Hancock! Glen Hansard of Swell Season & The Frames! Aimee Mann! This all-star tribute to Joni Mitchell is perfectly suited for the Hollywood Bowl. In addition to Joni Mitchell favorites, The Hissing of Summer Lawns will be played in full.

La Font @ Origami Vinyl

Local band LA Font continues making their rounds of local venues, this time stopping by Origami Vinyl.

LA Font – Fine Lines



Nico Vega & Eastern Conference Champions @ Roxy

Seems like Nico Vega plays a decent amount at the Roxy, and I’m not one to complain. See why Nico Vega is this week’s featured local artist.



Z-Trip w/ De La Soul, Nosaj Thing & more @ Hollywood Palladium

The Rock Boxx Tour is passing through Hollywood, with DJ Z-Trip bringing along De La Soul & Nosaj Thing.

De La Soul – Rock Co. Kane Flow Feat. MF Doom

Walt Disney’s Fantasia 
@ Hollywood Bowl

What better way to watch the Disney masterpiece than projected at the Hollywood Bowl with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra? Don’t forget a nice bottle of wine and your picnic basket. If you’re busy Friday, you can see a repeat performance on Saturday.


The Paul F. Tompkins Show @ Largo at the Coronet

This edition of the Paul F. Tompkins variety show features the hilarious Paul Scheer (The League, Children’s Hospital) and musical guest Michael Penn. You’ll never know who he might pop-by.


Jim Ward (of Sparta) @ The Satellite

He rocked out with At The Drive-In, continued on with some ATDI members for Sparta, did his own thing with Sleepercar, and now is doing the folk-troubadour thing under his own name. He just released a solo album

Jim Ward – Broken Songs (with Tegan Quin)