Presidents’ Day is coming up! Sort of. Victor and I are still deciding if we want to go anywhere this year. We’ve been taking so many road trips recently it’s starting to take a toll on us, haha. I guess we’re getting old? But at the same time, we do want to take advantage of those scarce Mondays off! After Presidents’ Day, the next one isn’t until May! 🙁 Anyway, I was trying to remember what we did last year and it wasn’t until I scrolled all the way back through the photos on my phone that I realized our epic 48-hour trip to LA took place that weekend! We’ve gone to LA so many times now, but the trip last year was definitely a memorable one. We were actually in LA for just about 48 hours total? And we had a HUGE list of food places we wanted to try. The list started off at 50 and we finally managed to narrow down to 20-ish? We actually made it to around 15 over the course of 2 days! And that’s just FOOD. But we made time for a couple of scenic stops as well. So here we go! The trip that taught us just how far our stomachs could actually stretch:
Stop 1 – Honeymee (Sawtelle Blvd):
Pretty sure I’ve talked about this place before on the blog. So when we do these weekend trips, we usually drive down to LA from NorCal after work, so we end up getting there at like 11:30pm-midnight. Not that many places are still open by then. But thankfully, there are actually quite a few places on Sawtelle Blvd that cater to a late-night crowd. We always stop at Tsujita for our first LA meal (they’re open until 2am or something so that’s a plus). But even at 11pm, the line is generally still long-ish. So…because we were already quite hungry, we stopped for dessert first, literally right across the street. Honeymee does amazing milk ice cream with honey swirled in. It always hits the spot! They’ve been expanding their menu so you can now get an affogato version as well, but I always get the original 🙂
Stop 2 – Tsujita:
I feel like I’ve talked about Tsujita so many times. This place has the best tsukemen I’ve tried outside of Japan. If you haven’t tried dipping noodles before, give this place a shot! The broth is extremely rich but you’re only supposed to use it for dipping, unless you want to water it down afterwards to drink it. But I still find it to be too salty. As a dipping broth, it’s amazing! Love the noodles here, and the soft-boiled eggs here are absolutely perfect. Worth the wait in line, but if you can, go super early or super late.
Stop 3 – Bia Coffee:
When a florist opens a coffee shop, magic happens! Such a refreshing way to start off our first morning in LA. The lavender latte (on the left) is definitely one of the best coffee drinks I’ve ever had. Perfect amount of lavender flavor – enough so that the drink feels refreshing but not enough to make it taste like soap, lol. We chose this place because it was next to a bunch of other food places on our epic list. We were pleasantly surprised!
Stop 4 – Sumo Dog (K-town):
Sooo we made the amazing decision of hitting up a hot dog spot for breakfast, essentially, right after our coffee at Bia. Not the best idea. The food here is heavy AF. Just look at that hot dog. One hell of a hot dog. You literally have to eat it with a fork and knife. Panko crusted, with cabbage, mustard miso, tonkatsu sauce, mayo, and scallions. If you’re really feeling adventurous, they also have a foot long called the ‘Godzilla’. We had to save our stomachs for the rest of the day heh.
Stop 5 – Hangari Kalguksu (K-town):
I hadn’t been here in YEARS! Was so happy to see that they expanded the store, so the line was practically non-existent when we got there. This was brunch for us, I guess? After the hot dog, we weren’t all that hungry so we opted to split a single noodle soup. We got the plain one – nice and simple. It was delicious! Always hits the spot. The serving sizes are so generous here and the prices are amazing. I live for the broth here!! The ultimate comfort food 🙂
Stop 6 – OUE Skyspace LA (Downtown)
Yay finally a non-food place! We were stuffed after so many food stops that morning, we needed a break. The OUE Skyspace is a gorgeous space on top of downtown LA. You get amazing views of the city. They’ve also a cool slide at the top but they charge extra to go down it so we passed this time, since you already have to pay to go up. That’s worth, though. The slide? An additional $15 bucks or something for less than 5 seconds on a slide? Nah…Anyway, highly recommend stopping by if you’re in the area! Or even if you’re not, stop by downtown LA! There’s so much to do – so much food, interesting shops, street art, etc. Def worth a trip.
Stop 7 – Lao Tao Taiwanese Street Food (Chinatown)
So…the original plan here was actually to go to Howlin’ Rays – also in Chinatown. But holy crap the line was so long we would have waited at least 2 hours. Sooo…we decided to explore other options. Lao Tao apparently is pretty popular too but we happened to walk by when it was relatively quiet, thank the lord. Still a line, but we got through within like 15 min or so. And got a table! (The place is pretty small). The food here is super simple but delicious! The beef noodles were my fave. The noodles had such a pretty ribbon-y shape. Great texture too. And the beef/toppings added the perfect amount of flavor. The drink we got was some purple yam coffee. Not that great, lol. But all in all, pretty cool place! I thought it was a pretty good alternative to that 2 hour line at Howlin’ Rays. We’ll try our luck again next time.
Stop 8 – Lawry’s Prime Rib (Beverly Hills)
Possibly one of my favorite restaurants of all time. This is THE place to go if you’re a fan of prime rib. I like it better than HOPR in SF (the experience itself is basically identical). Highly recommend just splitting a large cut here with someone else. It’s more cost effective that way 🙂 And you each will still get the mashed potatoes, bread pudding, and salad. There is a split fee but still quite a bit cheaper than getting two separate cuts that total up to the same size. If you’re hungry, get the creamed corn as well! It’s pretty heavy but goes so well with the meat and potatoes. The prime rib here is always cooked perfectly, and paired with the perfect au jus sauce. Ahhh I can practically taste it right now. It’s been too long. Need to make a trip back there soon. Their salad is also pretty great, haha. On par with the quality of the prime rib.
Stop 9 – LACMA Urban Lights (Mid-Wilshire)
Even though I spent 4 years in LA for undergrad, I never made it out to these lights. So I finally decided to go see what the hype was all about. It’s a really cool exhibit! Especially at night. Should not have worn such high heels…parking there is kinda tricky so we had to walk a decent amount. But yeah, this place gets pretty crowded. We saw some people doing professional photoshoots, this other guy was shooting a music video, and of course, a bunch of other tourists like us! But there are enough lights so that you’ll be able to find your own little space. I probably won’t be back again anytime soon but glad I finally made it out 🙂
And that’s it for Day 1! We did make some other stops while we were in downtown LA like The Last Bookstore, the temple in Chinatown, etc. But didn’t really take any pictures. We were considering getting dessert after Lawry’s but we needed to rest our stomachs before Day 2 of our epic weekend..
Stop 10 – Café Gratitude (Newport Beach)
We went to meet up with my sister early the next morning in the Newport Beach area. Feeling a little guilty from our food choices the night before, we opted for something a bit more healthy for breakfast. I actually didn’t realize that Cafe Gratitude served only vegan food?? I was actually looking forward to a nice omelette. I ended up getting the acai bowl, which wasn’t bad! They arrange everything here so beautifully and the space itself is gorgeous – very modern with lots of natural light. Inspires me to try to be healthier LOL. But as ya’ll will see, the rest of the day was filled with questionable food choices, haha.
Stop 11 – California Scenario (Costa Mesa):
I had no idea this place even existed, lol. But we wanted to give our stomachs a break before the next couple of food places. So we looked online for places nearby. And this random exhibit showed up. It’s located in the middle of a corporate business park. There’s no parking but we decided to just make a quick stop for some photos so we may or may not have parked in a invalid spot. All good though, we made it out with no problems. The pyramid is definitely the coolest part of the exhibit! I actually can’t even remember the other ones. Definitely worth a stop! It’ll take you like 10-15 min max.
Stop 12 – Slapfish (Irvine):
Omg I love this place. It’s been so long. The first time I had it was after running my first (and last) half marathon. The chowder fries were amazing!! So of course I had to get them again this time. Highly recommend! The lobster rolls here are good too but meh, too expensive, especially given how full we were, we couldn’t justify getting one. Victor got a lobster breakfast burrito instead. He said it was really good! If you check in on yelp, I believe you get a free plate of chowder toast? Also really good! This place is located in the middle of a school campus (or really close to one), so you’ll see lots of students there, and lots of other good food/drink places. After this, though, since this was basically our second breakfast / brunch, we were good on food for a while.
Stop 13 – Wayfarer’s Chapel (Rancho Palos Verdes)
This is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been to. We lucked out too. Notice how the chapel is super empty inside? They were actually about to start a wedding. We didn’t even plan on coming here when we did. But if we had gotten there any later, even by like 10 min, the chapel would have been closed to the public. So happy we were able to see the inside though! Such a beautiful place to have a wedding. The tall glass walls/ceilings make it look like something straight out of a fairytale. And the whole place overlooks the ocean. The ultimate dream wedding venue!!
Stop 14 – Jus’ Poke (Redondo Beach):
This is actually one of my favorite poke places I’ve ever been to (outside of Hawaii). The emphasis here is definitely on the fish, less on the toppings, which I personally prefer. The tuna here is so fresh, and they’re poke options are all marinated perfectly! So much flavor and pretty generous serving sizes too. The shop itself is quite small, so I can def see it getting pretty busy during peak hours. But we went in the middle of the afternoon so there weren’t too many other people there. But the poke was SO delicious!! Haven’t found a place quite like this in NorCal yet but I’m still looking 🙂
Stop 15 – Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream and Yogurt (Redondo Beach):
Holy crap it feels like I’ve been writing forever, haha. Anyway, we honestly weren’t hungry, like at all, after Jus’ Poke. But I had heard so many good things about this ice cream shop and we were so close by…so guess what we ended up doing…dessert!! I actually don’t remember the flavors we got, but the highlight of this place is the amazing price/value. And their super extensive menu of flavors. You’re bound to find something you like. It took us so long to narrow down to 4 flavors!! And all of them were good. I think one of the flavors we got was banana? So good. I generally don’t like banana flavored things because I usually find the taste very artificial. But here it tasted super fresh. Highly recommend!
And that wraps up Day 2!! We had dinner much later that night, and the lighting at the place was so dim I actually didn’t take any pictures. We ate at a place called Killer Noodle (also on Sawtelle – same street as Tsujita). It was ok. I’m not a fan of dan dan noodles so…but several of my friends have been and they all really enjoyed it.
Stop 16 – Meatzilla (Downtown):
This place was probably the most highly anticipated on our list. And we weren’t able to find time during Day 1 or 2…so…we decided we had to squeeze it in on our last day before we started the drive back. And so happy we did! But definitely did not think through the next food stop. We actually had this right before we went to eat KBBQ. Eh. Stomachs were not very happy after. But this pizza burger was amazing. Such a clever idea!! The burgers were so big though we ended up having to eat it deconstructed. All the toppings were great. And the fried chicken had just the right texture. And the pizza bun was amazing. Highly recommend!! Just not before KBBQ…
Stop 17 – Eight Korean BBQ (K-town)
This place isn’t AYCE, and they only serve pork belly, but the pork belly here is delicious!! Thankfully, we were eating with 2 other friends who had also eaten right before and weren’t super hungry. So we split a standard order between 4 people. It actually ended up being the perfect amount, though given what we had right before, we were still stuffed. They cook everything for you here, which is so nice. And it comes with 8 pieces of pork belly, all marinated with various ingredients/flavors (herb, wine, miso, red pepper, etc). The herb and wine ones were probably my favorites. And at the very end of the meal, they cook out kimchi fried rice – also delicious!! All in all, a wonderful experience! And a great last meal in LA.
Stop 18 – Malibu Hindu Temple (Calabasas):
And we’re finally at stop 18! The last stop before we started our drive back up to NorCal. This stop was kind of along the way since Malibu is further up north. But omg, totally did not expect to find a place like this in LA. I remember seeing this place on IG and triple-checking to make sure it was actually in Malibu. I guess not that many people know about it though, and thankfully it wasn’t super crowded. It’s a gorgeous temple! Almost feels like you’re in a different country when you’re walking around all the buildings. Definitely a hidden gem of LA.
And yay! That’s the end of our trip. I don’t think our stomachs ever fully recovered from all the food we ate that weekend. But no regrets! We definitely took full advantage of our time in LA. Since then we’ve been to LA at least 3 more times, but those trips were less…food-focused. Might do separate posts on those trips 🙂 But first, gotta plan the long weekend coming up in February!