My Last Meal(s) in La La Land

by Audrey

The Best Food in the World

Ok, so maybe I’m a little biased since LA is my hometown, but we do have such amazing and authentic food. LA is a melting pot with people from all over the world bringing their cuisine to our city. I have been so lucky to be able to try so much delicious food without ever leaving the city. From Koreatown to Little Ethiopia, we truly have it all!

From my past three visits to Helsinki, I hadn’t really run across any authentic Asian and Mexican food, so I think that’s what I’ll miss the most. I took Kimmo to his first Korean BBQ and Shabu Shabu experiences in LA, as those don’t seem to exist in Helsinki. I did find a Filipino restaurant. Sadly, although the food was good, it was far from authentic and there were no traditional Filipino dishes like Adobo, Lumpia, Pancit, etc. But I’ll save that story for another time. Oh and how could I forget Ice Cream! We have so many delectable ice cream spots, which if you know me, is my addiction. I even have a tattoo of an ice cream cone. For some reason, I couldn’t find any good craft ice cream spots in Helsinki.

Best Restaurants in LA

Ok so this is a ridiculous list of last meals that I wanted to have, and I definitely did not get to hit them all up, but I would give myself an A for effort. Below is my list of favorite restaurants in LA. With all my friends wanting to grab dinner before I left, I was at a different restaurant almost every night. I’m pretty sure I gained like 10 lbs in my last few weeks because I treated every meal like it was my last damn meal. Sorry Kimmo, more to love, right? Besides, I’ll need the extra cushion when I don’t have that LA sun anymore. Ha! 

SUSHI & JAPANESE

  • Kazu Nori & Sugarfish – These are by the same owners. Kazu Nori is a hand roll bar. They have triple layered seaweed imported from Japan on the daily, making it extra crispy. That combined with the warm rice and fresh fish, makes it my favorite hand rolls in town. Most places you go, the rice is cold and seaweed can get sticky and soggy which is not how a hand roll should be. Sugarfish has set menus and has a combo of sushi and hand rolls. 
  • Kanpai – My favorite sushi spot on the Westside. They have a regular menu and daily menu. The menus can get overwhelming, but I like to sit at the bar and get the chef’s recommendations. 
  • Gen Sushi – Arguably the best sushi in LA
  • Yojie’s Shabu Shabu – My favorite shabu shabu spot! I like it sukiyaki style. 
  • Sunny Blue – Favorite Omusubi spot
  • Manpuku – Favorite japanese bbq
  • Kotoya Ramen – Favorite ramen spot. I never got to try Tsujita, but that’s most people’s go to
  • Mitsuwa Marketplace – This is a Japanese marketplace that has a food court as well. There are a couple in LA. This was a typical lunch spot for me where I could satisfy my cravings for ramen, sushi, Japanese curry, and green tea kit kats!

KOREAN, CHINESE, & TAIWANESE

THAI & FILIPINO

  • Thai Patio – My late night Thai spot in Thai Town (Hollywood)
  • Ayara Thai – Favorite Thai spot on the Westside
  • Crispy House (formerly “Magic Wok”) – My favorite place for Filipino deep fried goodness (sisig, lechon kawali & lumpia are my faves here). Just be warned, the service isn’t great, and it’s definitely a hole in the wall, but so legit!
  • Barrio Fiesta – My 2nd favorite Filipino spot in LA

ITALIAN

  • Bestia – Probably my favorite restaurant in LA. Must get the bone marrow with cavatelli
  • Felix Trattoria – This place is so damn good. You can even watch the pasta being freshly made. The closest to authentic Italian food that I’ve found
  • The Factory Kitchen – Plain good Italian food in the Arts District
  • Scopa Italian Roots – Next to Felix, my 2nd favorite Italian spot on the Westside. Also, if you like Whiskey, they have a secret Whiskey bar in the back called Old Lightning. Ask your server to get you in. 
  • Maccheroni Republic – My favorite Italian spot in Downtown LA. I love the squid ink pasta. 

MEXICAN

ICE CREAM

  • Ginger’s – My favorite ice cream spot! Ice cream is made freshly every day, from local ingredients. They also seem to have the most flavors I’ve ever seen. Ugh, so amazing. 
  • Wanderlust Creamery – Another fave. Ube Malted Crunch is my jam. 

BURGERS

  • In N Out – Self-explanatory. Best fast food burger, period!
  • Shake Shack – Ok this one isn’t from LA, but it’s here and it’s amazing. Shack stack all day!
  • Father’s Office – People might argue this isn’t a burger because it’s on more of a french roll rather than a round bun. Also, some may not like the no-substitution or addition rule (like adding ketchup), but that’s because it’s perfect the way it is, which is why it’s my favorite burger in all of La La land!

AMERICAN & OTHER

  • Animal – For the carnivores. The most intricate and delectable meat dishes. 
  • Son of a Gun – This is the sister and seafood restaurant of Animal. These people know what they’re doing
  • Panini Kabob Grill – This is a chain but their chicken and koobideh kabob are fire! Just ask Kimmo. It was his favorite spot in my neighborhood. 
  • Trader Joe’s – Ok so this isn’t a restaurant, but I’m going to miss my favorite supermarket so much!! Trader Joe’s is cheap and has all my favorites: ready made orange chicken, cookie butter ice cream, everything bagel seasoning…I could go on and on. 

New Restaurants

Because my usual spots weren’t enough, I also had many bucket list restaurants that I wanted to hit up. So many highly acclaimed restaurants opened up this year, so it was a great way to get my friends to hang with me while trying the newest openings or restaurants I’ve never gotten around to trying. Here are the ones I was able to fit in the last couple months that I really enjoyed.

  • Hippo – Everything here was seriously fantastic! I was especially blown away by the Winter Squash Cappellacci with Browned Butter, Sage, and Amaretti. I would say this is the best new restaurant in LA for 2019.
  • Nightshade – This is Top Chef Mei Lin’s new restaurant in the up and coming LA Arts District. The shrimp toast and scallops were good, but to be honest it wasn’t as memorable as the other new restaurants I’ve tried like Hippo and Blackship.
  • Blackship – This is a new Italian Japanese spot. 2 of my favorite cuisines fused to one? I’m in. I thoroughly enjoyed every dish here, but the Shungiku Gnocchi was the star.
  • Pikoh – Pikoh was a cute little spot in West LA. I love the influences of so many cuisines from Peruvian, Japanese, Spanish and more. The cocktails were delicious as well.
  • Wallflower – There aren’t too many Indonesian spots in LA and this isn’t traditional Indo food, but definitely inspired. Everything was good, but the Duck Lumpia and Rendang Mamak really stood out
  • Margot – My roommate and I went here and were impressed by every dish. Our favorite was the Cappelini with black truffles.
  • Izakaya Hachi – Japanese Izakaya spot. I had the Beef Tongue, Baked Crab Salad, Meatballs and Agadashi Tofu. All so delicious, and my would be new favorite Izakaya spot.
  • Casa Modena – This was a local Italian spot by my house that I’ve been meaning to try, and I finally did with some co-workers. It is affordable and authentic. They even have a “Truffle Hunter” menu offering a myriad of black truffle and white truffle options. Bottles of wine are affordable as well.
  • Tar & Roses – This has been on my list since I’ve moved to West LA but never got around to trying it. I really enjoyed the Oxtail Dumplings and the strawberry crostata dessert was divine!
  • Jon & Vinny’s – This was my last sit down restaurant meal in LA and it did not disappoint! You must get the “LA Girl” pizza and the meatballs. I wish I had more people with me so we could try more, but between me and my girlfriend Jenn, we did good work.


Homemade Filipino Feast

My cousins threw me a surprise final home cooked meal and boy was I in for a treat. They set up a “Boodle Fight” or “Kamayan” meal. A boodle fight is a meal that dispenses with cutlery and dishes. Diners instead practice kamayan, Filipino for “eating with the hands”. The food is placed on top of a long banana leaf-lined trestle table and in the true military practice, diners do not sit in chairs but instead stand shoulder to shoulder in a line on both sides of the table.

It was so delicious and had tons of my favorite Filipino dishes such as lumpia, grilled eggplant, bbq pork skewers, grilled pork belly and pancit. Check out our spread. I am definitely going to have to try and do this in Finland and school the Finns on real Filipino food.

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2 comments

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Michael E. April 18, 2019 - 3:55 am

Wow, you really did cover it all! Great list! I’d have to agree, Hippo was probably my favorite new restaurant I’ve tried this year so far. Izakaya Hachi too. Actually, a lot of this list brings back some delicious memories. So glad most of them we got to share together!

Now I’m looking forward to part 2., Helsinki edition!

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Audrey
Audrey April 18, 2019 - 8:52 am

Thank you so much for indulging me and joining me on all my food adventures. I gained like 10 lbs, no joke! Heart you bestie, and see you in Helsinki =)

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