To Live and DINE in LA: Driving Bumblebee, ABS-CBN Interview, Cee Lo, Big Burgers + Fried Chicken
The title of this seriously packed to the rafters post, was inspired by one of the most illist rappers that ever lived, Tupac Shakur who penned the song To live and die in LA that was on repeat on my ‘cassette’ player back in the 90’s. I secretly thought I was a gangsta livin up thug style. And to make it worse, I also pimped up my first car to the point where the cops had to to put a canary on it due to the fact that my rims were way too big and my back lights were blackened! I was horrified as I spent quite abit of time and paper on the car. And no I didn’t give it a name. Reality was, the only automatics that rang free in my neighborhood were found in my car having replaced the damn transmission several times.
As you may have seen on my twitter streams or facebook updates, the trip to the US or A certainly started off with a shot gun bang! I was like, hold up. Hold..up! From being on the Jay Leno Show, at Whitney Houston’s Hotel on the evening of her death then being interviewed by a news station, The Grammy Awards to driving a roaring yellow Chevy Camaro convertible, watching stunning sunsets at Santa Monica and endless eatathons. And this was the first leg of our US Tour. We still hadn’t even hit San Fransisco let alone Hawaii. Each day was planned to precision from dawn to dusk. Because were were only in Los Angeles for a wee bit, it was crucial keys that we balance the touristy stuff vs. the eating. Of course, I was leaning more towards to the latter.
The moment before I gained a few KG’s from all the burgers I ate at Bob’s Big Boy
There were so many things that we did, ate, saw which got me a little worried about the magnitude of this post and how the heck I was gonna fit all that warbling in. For my avid readers, you know I don’t like doing a part 1, part 2 blah blah blah -, so I’ll try and fit it all in here but I’ll dish out separate posts on the solid Filipino Food Tour of San Jose, The Burgers and The Breakfasts and Santa Barbra. And that’s just LA!
It’ was funny to note people’s reactions when we start to speak in our Aussie accent. They start to tilt their head and wander where the hell these Asian guys are from!
Did I do the unthinkable?
So, did I end up stalking Jessica Alba at Jinky’s Cafe?
Did I manage to catch a glimpse of the seriously hot Mariah Carey outside her LA Mansion after during a stakeout?
Did I get to meet Beyonce, Chris Brown or Adele at the Grammy’s?
Did I run on stage at Jay Leno Show like a crazed fan to touch Cee Lo or Rachel McAdams?
Or did I just simply eat my own weight in food? Keep reading after you’ve succumbed to the giant cookie below.
A giant mutated peanut butter cookie from that is now sitting deep within the pits of my bowels
Highlights In a nutshell
~ My beloved Bumblebee – a Chevy Camaro convertible (yellow like Bumblebee from Transformers!)
~ On the Jay Leno Show with guests Rachael McAdams and Cee Lo Green
~ The death of Whitney Houston, at her hotel and my interview with ABS-CBN News
~ The massive massive massive burgers!
~ Popeye’s Fried Chicken
~ The Grammy Awards 2012
~ VIP Warner Bros Studio Tour – on the set of FRIENDS
~ Rodeo Drive
~ Views from Griffiths Museum
~ Stalking stars at Mulholland Drive + stunning night views of LA from the top
~ Amazing sunsets
~ Staying at Hotel California
~ Breakfast at Jinky’s Cafe and Jack n Jills
~ Dinner at Budda’s Belly and meeting some nice folk
A long walk and breakfast at Fig Tree’s Café
The Second Chapter
~ A Mexican breakfast at Lily’s Cafe & Pasteries
~ Seafood feast at Brophy Bros
~ Birthday dinner at Le Petit Valentien
~ Cupcakes at Crush Cupcakes
– Waking up to Cajun Kitchen’s cornbread and catfish
A drive down the coast to San Jose and San Fransisco
We touched down pretty much close to midnight so we were totally buggered. We checked into the classic Hotel California down by Santa Monica. I loved everything about it. From the framed movie posters on the wall, quotations from the Beach Boys, the surfboard acting as the bedhead (freakin cool hey?!) to the whole beachy feel with the brick paved bathroom, polished floorboards and considering the beach is at the doorsteps, you can hear the waves crashing.
Amenities were pretty standard – flat screen tv, fridge though the phone and the tv remote controller didn’t work. I was way to jet lagged to care so so long as there was a bed, I didn’t care.
The writings on the wall
Details: 1670 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica CA 90401
My beloved Chevy Camaro convertible aka Bumblebee from Transformers
The first morning was crazy.
Let me start by just saying that we actually booked a Mitsubishi Spyder convertible. Much to our surprise, they didn’t have any in stock so they gave us a brand new Cheverolet Camaro convertible. We saw the bright yellow car roll into the front of the lobby and thought “Dayem, that car is fooyne!” to then being handed the keys by the valet dude. We were like” Um, has there been some sorta mistake?!” We had no idea. I mean, it’s one of those cars that you see on TV wishing you could drive one day never believing for a second that you would actually do so. We got in and slowly pulled out of the driveway in disbelief. Driving in LA for the first time was freakin hard enough after spending all your life driving on the opposite side of the road, but driving a car this wide made it way scary. After making a pitstop to familiarise ourselves with the beast, we went cruzin down the ‘gaawd I’m gonna die’ freeways with the top down and radio on. We felt like kings of the road!
My sweet ride…
Me and my ride “Bumblebee”…and my “Aw yeah bitchez” pose
My Bumblebee had to transform in Venice Beach…just because
OBSERVATION! I found it quite amazing to find that the air around LA generally smelt like WEED. It was like in every street corner, in Beverly Hills, in the park, coming out from a restaurant – everywhere! I felt slightly high just by walking around the place.
Breakfast at Jack n Jills
Details: 510 Santa Monica Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90401 310.656.1501
I was contemplating on whether I should do a separate post for all the brekkie type meals I had in LA or in US for that matter in the style of my Breakfast Indigestion posts, but I thought I’d let you have a abit of a perve right now!
Jack n Jills was a hop and a skip away from our hotel. To be honest, I actually put this down on the itinerary because after looking at their menu, I saw that they had Louisiana Banana Cream Pie filled with delilah shortbread cookies and homemade whipped cream. Now doesn’t that sound just absoluteness down right delicious?! Is that insane or what!
I gotz me some old skool tator tots on the side alongside the Texas Cheese Toast and their House Scramble. We also ordered a stack of their buttermilk pancakes which were unreal and massive.
Considering how lucky we were with the weather, it was a gorgeous sunny day with a light breeze which made our walk back from a hefty meal that much easier.
Next Stop: Rodeo Drive + Sunset Boulevard
After the enormous meal, we hit our tourist bound route to Rodeo Drive, the home of Pretty Woman and a place where girls have one mission: to divide and conquer as they strut their Jimmy Choo’s. We wanted to experience some Valet Parking treatment in The Hills. We expected a huge bill being in high end shopping central but it was FREE. We tipped well of course. I mean how bad would it look if we didn’t tip generously considering we were rolling in a 2012 Camaro. No El Cheapos around here!
Doin my Hollywood pose…kinda…
Running low on time, we quickly too a brisk walk around the shops then scooted back to the car for a drive along Sunset Boulevard.
We were greeted with imposing billboards pushing anything from the new TV series Smash to the iPad as we drove down the buzz filled strip like we were the guys from Entourage.
Bob’s Big Boy Burgers!
On the way to the Jay Leno Show at NBC Studios, we had an hour to kill and we were hungry so we headed to Bob’s Big Boy Burgers. Yes, that is indeed the name of the burger joint. Prior to the trip, we vowed to lose at least 3KG so we can lap it up in the US with no guilt. That didn’t happen. FAIL. Our aim was also to trek the US hunting for the best burgers – that happened so WIN! So much so that I am literally paying for it with an ongoing dreadful sluggish demeanor which I will have to eventually shake, shake, shake, shake it off with a planned exercise regime I promised my workmates I would do.
In addition to their way cool merchandise reminding me of Astroboy, we’d heard alot about Bob’s Big Boy Burgers and their Double Deck Cheeseburger so we stayed virgin US burger eaters and remained celibate until we tried one of these babies. And boy was it worth it. From what we saw, they were as the name suggests, BIG. I’m not one for eating for the sake of size, so I was relived to find that quality had prevailed. For starters, talk about a killer pattie – a surprisingly crispy exterior throughout (not just the edges), juicy and well seasoned wedged in between a soft bun. The lettuce as you can see was bright green and the tomato, sweet and well ripened reducing the need for over saucing.
I don’t know why, but we also ordered a side of chili fries. According to my GP, I need to increase my calcium and there was enough cheese in there to give me a week’s worth of calcium intake. I finished it for my health people!
I heart chilli fries
Details: 4211 Riverside Dr Burbank, CA 91505 Ph: 818 843 9334
Next stop: Taping of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno with guests Rachel McAdams and Cee Lo Green
It seems to be a tradition that everytime we go to the US, we become part of the audience of a popular TV show. A few years back when we were in New York, we were randomly picked off the street to be on the Jay Leno Show so my friend made a effort to get us on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and just in the nick of time, we got our hands on some tickets. WOOT!
So full from the massive burger at Bob’s Big Boy earlier, we made our way down to NBC Studios for the taping. Luckily we ate because there was so much weed in the air people were getting the munchies!
I wanted to take photos but the organisers were super strict about no photography within or of the premises. People were literally being reprimanded on the spot. I did manage to snap up a pic of the sign…whoopie.
The process was quite confusing. There were a few check points and various queues where you were shortlisted for a spot. When you though you were in THE line, you found out that you were actually in the line prior to THE line. We were getting nervous as hell because out of 300+ people, only 200 or so would get in and being on holidays, it would have been disappointing if were were rejected after waitin 2 hours. We must’ve been sprinkled with angle dust as we finally made it in. When we were being ushered in, the staff told us we got the last two eats. WTF!
Image Credit: http://www.rachelmcadams.org
Rachel McAdams, better know from movies like The Notebook and the hilarious Morning Glory looked hot and was pretty funny as she spoke about her bad driving abilities on set. Cee Lo Green known for his funked up songs like Crazy and Forget You is also a judge on The Voice (which seemed to air 24/7 in the US) also came across as a cool ‘living for the moment’ kinda guy. He spoke about his performance with Madonna at the Superbowl and sang a duet with his ‘The Voice’ protege Vicci Martine.
Image credit : www.http://tvlog.me
It was so surreal being in the audience and was so cool to see guests that I actually like and admire. And no, I didn’t run down to the stage like a crazed fan asking them to sign my chest. But should I have?!
Pizza at Rosti Tuscan Kitchen
Buggered from the day’s activities and still a little jetlagged, we wanted some comfort food. Meaning carbs. There I said it.
Around the quiter parts of Santa Monica are a strip of eateries ranging from your gastro pubs (Father’s Office) where you can watch the NBA game to the more intimate places like Babalu to Rosti Tuscan Kitchen.
In the mood for pizza with a plenty of cheese, very few topping and meat, I ordered a Simple Pepperoni Pizza in all its glory with each slice leaving behind a trail of stringy melted cheese. Satisfying – ahuh.
Details: 931 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90403: 310-393-3236
The famous Santa Monica Sunset, nightlife and the walk
One of the reasons why we opted to stay at Santa Monica was to see the famous sunset along the pier in addition to being a pretty cruisey and beachy part of LA . In fact, an ode was made to Santa Monica in a song of the same name by Savage Garden where they describe the amazing place just perfectly. LIKE!
Santa Monica by night
Nightlife by Santa Monica Promenade
Santa Monica by day
Whitney Houston and my interview with ABS-CBN that night at her hotel
The minute we got back from watching the Santa Monica sunset, breaking news flashed onto the TV screen back at the hotel – Whitney Houston dead at 48. I was in shock. I just could not believe it. I thought it was a joke, like were watching some sort of parody on MTV. For the next 15 minutes, our eyes were glued to the screen.
Later that night, we drove past Whitney’s hotel on the way back from Sunset Boulevard and luckily, found a carpark nearby so we decided, why not check out what was going on. There were a tonne of people from fans to the media because in addition to the madness, Clive Davis’ Pre-Grammy Party was also held at the same hotel.
My karaoke buddies know I like to belt out a tune so my friend dared me to start singing with the fans, so I did. Bwahahaha! Then ABS-CBN wanted to interview us for their segment. Geeze. I didn’t know what to say. I was asked a few questions around what I thought of the late Whitney and her music. I mean geeze, she was a household name and her music spawned a whole new generation of singers whom she paved the way for, so I did have something to say once I shook off the camera nerves! EEK!
I still can’t believe she’s gone and much like Michael Jackson, much too soon at such a young age.
Dinner at Buddha’s Belly – Good Food. Good Fortune.
We came across Buddha’s Belly on our way to brekkie one morning. The catchy name caught my eye and after reading the menu, I was super intrigued to find out how it would fare considering it was an Asian fusion restaurant.
Going off the menu, I saw a blend of Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. Without hesitation, I ordered the edamame to start with. The place was packed and a 30 minute wait for a table didn’t sound appealing so we ate at the bar which turned out to be the best decision. We met the nicest group of people in LA. First a down to earth couple who gave us tips on where to eat and drink in the Napa Valley, a cool chap who was actually going out with one of the waitresses who suggested a few lookout points and must see sights to a group of girls who I swear reminded me of the girls who star in reality TV show, The Hills. So funny. They wanted to take us around their hood.I in turn suggested what dishes to try out!
Straight off the bat came the Tuna Volcano With Crispy Rice. Basically, fresh ahi tuna atop rice cakes and ponzu. I loved this and wished for seconds.
My main was the Spicy Thai Beef Salad fit with all the trimmings including a hefty amount of sirloin steak cooked to a rare beautiful state flavoured with a spicy cilantro & lemongrass dressing.
As the restaurant’s tag line suggests, we indeed came across some good food and good fortune that night as it sent off a signal to give us a trip of a lifetime going forward.
Green Tea tiramisu
Details: 205 Broadway Street Santa Monica, CA 90401
Breakfast at Jinky’s Cafe
It was day two and we hadn’t spotted any celebs waling around in their PJ’s so we did brekkie at Jinky’s Cafe, known for attracting stars like Jessica Alba. That, along with a glance at the menu was reason enough.
I was really getting used to the brewed coffee with no milk in the states. No magics, picollos, lattes, soy this, skinny that. Gosh, sometimes, I just want a damn coffee like how it used to be. NO frills!
Set amongst a causal atmosphere, it attracts both locals and travelers alike.
French Toast with a side of my new BFF tator tots and scrambled eggs. It all went well splendidly together especially with the maple syrup pouring ceremony.
Details: Jinky’s Café 1447 2nd Street Santa Monica
On the set of FRIENDS at the Warner Bros VIP Studio Tour
We decided to skip Universal Studios and replace it with a Warner Bros VIP Studio Tour. One, because I’ve already been there when I was a kid and two, many of the rides were down.
Nothing beats a tour on some of your favourite show’s sets and checking out what goes on behind the scenes whilst being driven around in a tour cart. We also got to stepo out of the cart quite a few times to walk on the sets of The Mentalist, The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men (Ashton Kutcher’s trailer is the size of a house!), take a look at some of the most famous cars used on movies like Batman, Austin Powers, Harry Potter, Gran Torino to the pinnacle of the tour, on the set of my favourite show, Friends!
One thing I did take away from the tour was if you had a heap of props, you can make alot of muhlala. A lamp was renting out for $3000 a day!
I got to touch the cups at Central Perk and sit on the infamous couch.
Can you believe this was the set of Jurassic Park?!
Ellen’s Production office!!!
On the set of Gilmore Girls
Details: 3400 W. Riverside Drive Burbank, CA 91505 Ph: 877-492-8687 Visit: http://vipstudiotour.warnerbros.com
OMG kind of Fried Chicken at Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits
*SIRENS GO OFF* Fried chicken!!!
It’s been a good 5 years since I’ve hunkered down on some good ol’ Louisiana fried chicken from Popeyes since my last NYC trip. Too long I reckon. Now, this ain’t your average fried chicken ok. This shit is good and should be bowed down to. It’s cheap, better than KFC and their warm ‘better loosen your belt for it’ biscuits kick ass.
It was as shameful sight. Here we were ooohing and aaaaing at out table proclaiming our love for chicken as the locals started in disbelief. Well, to them, they get access to this crack everyday. To us, we act like this is our last meal son.
Details: 6384 Hollywood Boulevard 90028 web: http://popeyes.com/
A Drive to Griffith Observatory
One must walk off the chicken fat to earn the next meal. Where can you do that in LA? Griffth Observatory!
With views of the Los Angeles Basin, the Hollywood sign, downtown and the pacific ocean, it was the perfect way to appreciate LA in its entirety. It has also been featured in many Hollywood films such as Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Terminator Salvation, Transformers to TV shows like The Wonder Years, 24 and the classic Beverly Hills 90210. There were so many people visiting, traffic needed to be diverted which leads me back to when I say there was much walking as we had to park 20 minutes down the steep hill and bushwalk! Wah.
If the views weren’t enough, the Planetarium show is a must, even if you aren’t interested in how our galaxy was formed. Funnily, I thought that it was an automated pre-taped speaker narrating the show only to find that the speaker finally made an appearance toward the end of the show. My friend looked at me in disgust.
Another good chillout zone was Griffth Park where locals get their dosage of vitamin D.
Griffith Observatory? Do it.
Details: Griffith Observatory 2800 East Observatory Road
The Grammy Awards 2012
One thing we didn’t get to organise before we left were tickets to the Grammys. Nonetheless, we still rocked up to see the red carpet and with tinsel town filled with frenzy surrounding Whitney’s death – everyone was in town.
There was alot of buzz when we arrived. Limos everywhere and fortunately, we changed our car spots as we initially parked in some real dodgy part downtown. I didn’t want to walk 20 minutes back only to find that our precious Bumblebee has been stolen.
Though we didn’t get to snap up any red carpet photos, the best part was hearing Chris Brown perform and just being there in person was an enjoyable experience.
Stunning views from Mulholland Drive and looking for Mariah’s House
After the Grammy’s, we headed for The Hills to soak up the splendor of LA’s legendary night views at the Hollywood Bowl Overlook, Mulholland Drive. It was damn scary driving up the hilly road laden with fallen rocks leading up to the summit, especially at night with a wide car but it was worth it.
The views of from the top were spectacular and was in awe at the amount of energy zapping lights. Sadly, Mariah was nowhere to be found. I even sung Hero to try and get her out to see me, but that damn Nick Cannon….I tell you!
(below) How RAD is the cloud formation
Venice Beach: A long walk and breakfast at Fig Tree’s Café
An early wake up call and a 40 minute walk from Santa Monica to Venice Beach later, we find ourselves at Fig Tree’s Café, known for their chicken-apple sausages, has been serving up killer breakfasts along Venice Beach since 1978 and is situated right near the famous outdoor muscle gym.
The alfresco area was a perfect spot for soaking up the sun and people not too mention cute dog watching. I counted at least 15 poodles and 13 American Boxers. If you’re gonna eat here, dining outside is a must.
In the mood for more Mexican to go with my ‘just how I want it’ brewed coffee, the Breakfast Quesadilla for $10.95 sounded like a deal. Again, so huge.
Details: 429 Ocean Front Walk Venice, CA 90291 Ph: (310) 392-4937 Web: http://figtreescafe.com
Some memorable shots of Venice Beach
Venice Beach is known for attracting the weird and whacky from guys walking around clad in teeny tiny briefs to those carrying around boomboxes bopping their heads when there’s no music actually playing! We also spotted some amazing signers busking on the boardwalk from a kid who sounded like Erykah Badu to an up and coming Jason Mraz.
Bob Marley mania
Yeah…not doing any weights whilst on holidays…or at all.
Best thing about LA? The people. Everywhere we went from restaurants, tour desks, random strangers – the locals were so friendly and hospitable. Take our dinner at Buddha’s Belly for example. We sparked up a conversation with a lovely couple which led to a guy joining in giving us tips on where to go to then a group girls joining in offering to our tour guides! It was unbelievable. This repeated itself over and over again not only in LA but in San Fransisco to Hawaii. I love the Yankees!!!!
We did it Hollywood style babay! Hollywood.
People were heaps friendly and didn’t mind being in photos including my homz right here.
LA Posts still to come: Cafe Hopping in LA (ahuh!) and Santa Barbra
Also join me on a drive down the west coast from Santa Monica to Malibu, a night in Santa Barbra, Filipino Food Tour in San Jose, an NBA Game at Oakland, more food plus concerts in San Fransisco and eating my way through the picturesque Napa Valley.
If you’re not already signed up for updates from Food Rehab, get on the list and I’ll do my best to keep us learning about none-other than glorious, GLORIOUS food! Also, follow me on Facebook or Twitter if you have either of those addictive things.