Hello, Los Angeles!
Alright, let me break it down for you. There are three things to do in L.A. Eat, shop and go to the beach. Yep, that’s it. And in this post, I do them all!
1. The only exercise I got was stomach stretches
D, K and I hit the road at 6.30 a.m. to beat the Thanksgiving day traffic down to L.A. They dropped me off on the West side of L.A. by about 1 p.m., so we made good time. I still had to drive down to Irvine from there, but I made it to the Bs’ place with plenty of time to spare.
The house was remarkably serene when I arrived; the Bs had been prepping the Thanksgiving meal since days before, making the day itself a matter of heating everything up. Such a smart way to do it. Such succulent turkey. Stuffing. Cranberry sauce. Green bean casserole. Sweet potatoes. So much yummy. And yes, a lone shrimp.
The pre-meal ritual now officially includes prayer and photography. Everyone actually waited for me to get my camera and take my shots before we chowed down!
There’s a reason that I missed this holiday so much while abroad last year. I still remember how isolated I felt while writing my Thanksgiving-away-from-home post; I wasn’t unhappy or lonely per se, and I had a great evening getting to know new friends over Korean BBQ and frozen yogurt. But I could envision my family and friends gathered around the table like this, and I missed it. The effort that goes into it, appreciation as you eat it, warmth of hearty food and friendship. There’s nothing quite like it.
The marathon weekend of stomach stretching continued with dinner the next evening, at Madangse, an all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ. Sorry to knock your go-to place, M, but I thought this place was subpar. Granted, it was $10 for all-you-can-eat beef brisket, bulgogi, chicken, samgyupsal (pork belly) and more, and you trading off quality for quantity is part of the deal. But to be honest, I thought the best dish on the table was the kimchi.
So fun to catch up with grad school friends though, and listen to them carry on about education. (And I’m not being ironic!)
Another Asian eatery I tried was Class 302, a Taiwanese place popular for shaved snow. As J yelled into my ear, shaved snow is in the form of “RIBBONS!” The consistency is neither as icy as bingsu (Korean shaved ice) nor as creamy as ice cream, but something in between. It was yummy. I liked it. Good thing too, because there was tons of it!
2. Shop til the employees drop
I went Black Friday-outlet-shopping, which sounds like a recipe for disaster. But thankfully it was not the crazy kind where you line up for hours and break down doors and all that. A and I met at the Citadel Outlets at 10.30 a.m. on Friday, well after the craziness had subsided. But telltale signs of rabid deal hunting were evident in the heaps of clothes strewn across stores, and in the bags under the eyes of those poor retailers who’d been working the tills since 8pm the night before. One particularly gaunt-looking girl told me to have a nice day in the saddest, tiredest little voice ever.
Such madness! American consumerism at is best … and worst.
3. ¡Vamos a la playa!
The Bs, with whom I was staying, live not far from Corona del Mar. So A, N, E and I made a quick stop here one misty afternoon.
From afar, I saw what looked like a lawn on the hillside leading down to the beach. I loved the inventiveness of planting a whole lawn full of succulents instead of grass. So clever!
*Copious thanks to the B family for such a lovely Thanksgiving!
*Shoutout to J for letting me borrow his sweet ride for the weekend! Unmarked overnight packaging aside, that was so clutch.