early birds

Hi, this is my friend Mary. We had been co-workers/friends for many years before we discovered our shared passion for eating amazing food. Imagine that? Last year, we decided to pick restaurants that neither of us had been to and try one every couple of months. We like to get together after work on Saturdays, the end of our work week. We always go early before places get too crowded and before we get too tired (doing hair all day can be exhausting!). So, we named ourselves “The Early Birds”… our own special little dinner club! Here is a review of our latest culinary adventure Playa.

Photo from the Playa gallery

We really enjoyed  Playa. The decor is very cool and modern. The entire dining room was softly lit by large chandeliers that looked like creatures from the sea. The ambience is comfortable and the noise level was fun and energetic but where you were still able to have a conversation. The service was great, on target, relaxed and friendly. The menu was small tapas style dishes that were quite good, beautifully presented and meant to be shared!

Photo from the Playa gallery

This is what we tasted:

Ensalada Flan de Elote (our favorite!): a corn custard with black quinoa, queso cotija, and squash blossom sauce.
Brittany: Beautiful presentation and amazing texture. Unlike anything I have ever had! Yum!
Mary: So tasty. Delicious texture. Smooth and crunchy at the same time.
 Photo from the Playa gallery

Chiles Gueros Rellenos: chiles, corn, crab, soy, ginger, and scallions.
B: Fun. Great flavors.
M: Lovely, delicious, with an uncommon but pleasing texture.

Papas Salsa Verde: stacked potato chips with a salsa verde drizzle.
B: At first, I thought this dish was too simple but the salsa verde was amazing and i really enjoyed having the chips around as the night went on to enjoy between dishes.
M: Although the salsa was yummy, it was on what seemed to be just ordinary potato chips.

Maize Cake Salsa Semilla: fresh burrata, salsa verde, arugula salad, amaranth, sal de colima
B: Delicous and refreshing. The burrata was creamy and melted in my mouth.
M: I agree with Brittany!

Maize Cake Wild Mushrooms: black garlic and olive “soil”, exotic mushrooms,
l’ explorateur cheese, porchini espuma, chives
B: This is a must try for any mushroom lover. It had amazing texture and rich flavor. I only wish I had someone to share it with. It’s a whole lotta shrooms!
M: I don’t do mushrooms.
 Photo from the Playa gallery

Dessert: A “sundae” of sorts. Chocolate cornmeal cookie and vanilla ice cream.
B: I completely agree with Mary.
M: The cookie was dry and the ice cream was too icy. Not my favorite.

Out of 5:
Food: B: 4  M: 3.5
Ambience: B: 5   M: 5
Service: B: 5  M: 5
Overall: B: 4.5   M: 3.8
Grand Total: 4.2

I would have to agree with Mary that, “the overall experience at Playa left me with a twinge of excitement in having had the pleasure of trying a new restaurant with a fun vibe, whose chef takes chances with combining not-so common ingredients and having them work together beautifully.” We can’t wait to come back!




Yamashiro, which means “mountain palace” in Japanese, has been a Hollywood landmark since the 1920’s. Nestled in the Hollywood Hills above The Magic Castle, Yamashiro is more then just a restaurant, it’s an experience. It has been on our radar as a place to check out for quite sometime now and my birthday seemed like the perfect occasion!

I’m so happy we arrived just before sunset because the views were spectacular. The poolside pagoda was imported from Japan and is 600 years old. It is one of the oldest structures in California.

The west facing view is amazing: you can catch a truly spectacular view of the  sun setting into the Pacific. During the Great Depression you could visit the gardens and admire the view for 25 cents. Ironically, now, the valet alone, costs $7.50!  
I loved the ambiance of the beautiful Garden Room, but the hostess recommended that we sit in the Sunset Room since it was our first time there. I`m so glad we took her advice. Not only did we have an amazing view of LA but we also had a view of the valet which made for great people/car watching!

The Kurobuta Pork Carnitas appetizer was the most amazing thing we ate all night. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! The bottom is a scallion-risotto cake topped with carnitas in a hoisin reduction with a honey mustard drizzle. A-MA-ZING! We will definitely be back for this! They also have a great lounge where one could come casually for a cocktail and an app and enjoy the view! Wether you live in LA or are just passing through you need to put Yamashiro on your list of things to do!


desert dreams

The recent days of unseasonably warm weather in southern California have me dreaming of the desert. Last year we made 2 trips out to the 29 Palms Inn to relax and frolic in the heat. Just a quick 2 1/2 hr. drive and we were transported to a place that can only be described as magical. Sometimes you just have to get out of town to see the stars, listen to the crickets chirp and recharge!


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