Sunday, December 03, 2017

Rate-A-Restaurant #380: Jinya Ramen (Hollywood) Is No Express

Restaurant: Jinya Ramen Express

Location: Hollywood and Highland Center (Hollywood)

Type of restaurant: Ramen

We stipulated: Blogger Kid 2.0 and I were in Hollywood to buy and sell at Amoeba, but the kid also insisted on visiting Hollywood and Highland for lunch. There aren't many quick and easy lunch choices there, but I finally sold him on Jinya Ramen express..

They stipulated: This is the Chipotle-style ordering equivalent of ramen. Choose a broth, a noodle style, a protein, and a limited number of garnishes.

What we ordered: Mike: Ramen (10.99) with chicken spicy broth, thin noodles, grilled marinated chicken, kikurage, cilantro, tomato, jalapeno, buttered corn, spicy sauce. Kid: side of fried chicken (three pieces, $3)

High point:  The broth lived up to the right amount of spice, and I liked the choice of garnishes.

Low point:  Oh where to begin. The wait was awful -- I've gotten my ramen faster at actual restaurants. Something broke down in the system, as people in line waited a really long time for their orders. My guess is they didn't have noodles ready, and it took time to cook -- which defeats the entire purpose of "Express."

Overall impression: The ramen wound up actually being surprisingly good considering how lacking in care it seemed to be, as the people behind the counter splashed items in a bowl.

Will we return: I'll find my ramen elsewhere.

KCRW Open House Reveals The Public Station's Cool New Digs

They're outta the basement! Well, almost. KCRW's long-awaited building is one step closer to officially opening, now that it's been unveiled to the community. An open house on Saturday gave both KCRW staffers and listeners a chance to finally see the new facilities, and imagine what it will look like once operations officially move there next spring.

It's a big deal. KCRW is currently located in a cramped basement under Santa Monica College's cafeteria; it's actually pretty amazing how much gets done in such a small space. The new building, located off campus in a nearby plot of land owned by the college, will give KCRW a chance to breathe — and to grow. It's pretty impressive.

Start with a welcome reception area. There is no such thing at the current station.

High ceilings, and most importantly: Sunlight. Again, in short supply in the current basement.

Looking down from the second floor, countless work stations.

"I will only listen to KCRW."

A tribute to KCRW by superfan David Lynch.

For the opening afternoon, Anne Litt broadcast live.

A mostly empty interview studio that eventually might be used for various programs.

The open-air floor plan.

To always remind staffers of their humble former studios, the breakroom has been christened "The Basement," complete with this photo of the stairs that currently lead down to the station's basement home.

The music library will be quite the highlight.

Pics of Jack Black and Daniel Radcliffe in the stacks.

Where the electrical equipment will eventually live.

One of the most impressive parts of the new station is the downstairs music area, which will include a green room for guests, plus showers (!) for visiting bands. Also, bands will be able to roll their vans right up to the building, allowing them to unload their equipment in a snap. Quite a change from right now, when they often have to haul their instruments across the Santa Monica College campus.

The new performance space at KCRW also promises to be quite a draw, allowing guests to watch and giving bands much more room to perform.

Congrats to KCRW, it's a long overdue upgrade for Southern California's premier public radio station (and yes, I am biased -- don't forget to hear Joe Adalian and I every Tuesday morning during "Morning Edition" for our segment "Screengrab"!).

Saturday, December 02, 2017

L.A. Zoo Lights Is Back To Once Again Brighten Up The Holidays

The Los Angeles Zoo's L.A. Zoo Lights has become one of our favorite holiday traditions — on par with the Downtown On Ice skating rink at Pershing Square. It's back for a fourth year, enchanting nighttime guests through Jan. 7 (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day).

This year's display brings back some favorites, such as the disco ball forest (with music by KCRW!), the water bottle frogs and the projection elephants. But much of this year's display is new, including an impressive reworked water show and a light-filled "twinkle tunnel."

This light show is much more enjoyable than the old DWP lights display that used to create a traffic nightmare in Griffith Park. The kids will appreciate it, while there are grown-up drink options (including the recently opened Golden Road Brewery stand) for the adults.

The L.A. Zoo notes that it landed USA Today's "10 Best Zoo Lights" honors in 2015 and 2016 – and is nominated again this year. Here are some images to show why:

The Blogger Kids as silhouettes

Live music


One of my favorite decorations every year, this large tree draped with green lights.

Spider web

Disco ball forest!

Improved, more elaborate water show this year.

Another favorite, the water bottle frogs.

The line for the "twinkle tunnel" is long, and on busy weekends can be a 20 minute wait -- but don't be discouraged; it's worth a look.

One word of warning: The carousel closes early, make sure you buy a ticket before 9:10 p.m. -- we just missed the cut-off, and had two sad Blogger Kids as a result.

L.A. Zoo Lights takes place 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly through Jan. 7 (except Dec. 24 and 25). Tickets are $10 for L.A. Zoo members, and prices vary for non members: During "Value Nights" (weeknights the first two weeks of December), it's $14.95 for adults and $11.95 for kids. During "Prime Nights" -- most nights closer to the holidays -- the price is $19.95 for adults and $14.95. Santa is there on some nights; it's an additional fee for photos. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Rate-A-Restaurant #379: Division 3 (Glassell Park)

Restaurant: Division 3

Location: 3329 Division Street (Glassell Park)

Type of restaurant: Breakfast/Sandwiches

We stipulated: With a friend in town, and a day after the Great Los Angeles Walk, we were looking for a delicious breakfast spot beyond the usual choices, and I had just learned about Division 3.

They stipulated: "To-go window for breakfast and lunch with a dog-friendly patio." They specialize in breakfast biscuit sandwiches, but the biscuits can be substituted with arugula.

What we ordered: Mike: Mexican chorizo, white scrambled egg, avocado and D3 special sauce on a biscuit ($5); Maria: fennel cured salmon, soft scrambled egg and chive-creme fraiche on arugula ($5); Nathan: scone; Evan: fruit danish

High point:  Cozy patio, great prices, nice vibe. Very happy they did a substitution on my sandwich, as they were able to give me egg whites.

Low point:  Not much, other than the surprising number of flies buzzing around us while we were enjoying breakfast.

Overall impression: Such a great weekend morning vibe.

Will we return: Absolutely! And next time we'll bring the dog.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Great Los Angeles Walk 2017 Recap: 17 Miles Of Exploration, As We Explored Beverly Boulevard and Much More

Beverly, you're beautiful!

The Great Los Angeles Walk hit Beverly Boulevard for its 12th edition, and hundreds of passionate Angelenos -- fueled by love of city and community and eager to walk across the city -- hiked from downtown's Japanese American National Museum (in Little Tokyo) to the ocean on Saturday, Nov. 18.

Together, we kicked things off in the morning with a welcome from the museum's CEO, Ann Burroughs, who noted that we were standing on historic ground — the spot where hundreds of Japanese Americans were rounded up and sent to internment camps, during a dark moment in United States history. (Given the events of the past year, it was worth a reflection on the dangers of losing democracy.) Then, back for another year, author and legendary endurance swimmer Diana Nyad, who brought along members from her organization, EverWalk, gave the crowd a pep talk and reminded everyone why it's so important to explore the world on foot.

From there, the crowd walked past the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA and the west on Temple, navigating around a completely separate downtown walk that had been organized by the United Way. We passed the Music Center and Walt Disney Concert Hall, then headed west of downtown, through Historic Filipinotown. As 1st Street turned into Beverly, we navigated the bridge next to the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre, then made our way to Valerie Confections for morning pastries (although no hot chocolate as had been promised!). Then it was on to East Hollywood; Koreatown; Larchmont; Hancock Park; La Brea; Fairfax; and Beverly Hills. After a lunch stop at Bristol Farms in Beverly Hills (the old Chasen's Restaurant!), we turned down Santa Monica Boulevard. In Beverly Hills, we encountered loads of construction — forcing us to take a detour through a nearby alley, which proved to be serendipitous as we saw some truly interesting and (in the case of one Gaudi-inspired building) unconventional homes. As we marched toward Santa Monica, we felt the cool ocean breeze, and then celebrated at the Santa Monica outpost of Plan Check.

All told, it was more than 17 miles, and nearly 50,000 steps.

Here are some highlights from the day:

Selfies before the walk

Just part of the crowd at the Japanese American National Museum

CEO Ann Burroughs speaks

And they're off!

"Go For Broke" monument

Marching uphill on Temple

At the music center

On Hope Street, next to the DWP

More, passing the DWP building

Disney Hall!

Heading down 1st

Tricky bridge where 1st turns into Beverly. Some went up, some went left, some went right.

Bob Baker Marionette Theater

L.A. mural

Historic Filipinotown mural


Original Tommy's

Above and below: Murals near the Gabba Gallery

Snack break at Valerie Confections

Still can't figure out what this means.

Walkers, as seen from a Hancock Park garage sale

Active Coyotes in Area


New Beverly Cinema

El Coyote

Message on Beverly

Pan Pacific Park

CBS Television City

Doggie daycare

They're installing this ugly metallic frame on the Beverly Center

Sideshow Bob tree

Bristol Farms Beverly Hills

Formerly Chasen's

Chasen's booth

Beverly Hills

Intriguing, Gaudi-inspired home

Slow down for Walkers!

So true.

Ube donuts!

Santa Monica celebrates

Just some of the finishers at the end! (Others were already at Plan Check, while some hadn't made it yet)

Thanks again to Diana Nyad (above, at the end point in Santa Monica.) Send us links to your photos! And we'll add some roundups below.

See you next year -- Saturday, November 17, 2018, for lucky walk #13!
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