It was crazy when friends started turning 30, but now that friends are turning 40 thats just insane. The past week I actually had two friends who celebrated their 40th on back to back nights. The first was of a newer friend Lisa T. who actually pushed her celebration a few weeks after her actual birthday to have it at her friend’s restaurant in Little Tokyo Toranoko. It was pretty cool that they had the whole front patio and a special drink menu made up for her birthday.
The second party was for Mr. BBR of the COC gang out in Placentia at a Dive Bar called Clubhouse Grille & Spirits which brought together all the groomsmen from his wedding some eight years ago. It was a pretty loud and rocking place with Steve and Noel already blasted by the time that I got there, while Roland and I as the young’ins of the group were the ones actually taking it easy. Fun times have led to a Pre-Thanksgiving get together already in the works.
Look how young and skinny we all looked back then.
Sunday morning after a late night of drinking on Friday and a Saturday of shopping in Orange County Joy and I decided that we needed to get out early on Sunday and get some exercise in. The Pasadena Hiking Pacers is a group that a basketball buddy belongs to which does hikes every Sunday morning at 7am all around the LA Mountains. The start of the new hiking season just began so the hikes are very easy to begin.
This weekend’s hike was at Chantry Flats to Sturtevant Falls which was a super easy 2 mile hike (walking on pave roads for a quarter of it) which leads you into a tree covered valley with lots of water, man made damns, which ends up and a pretty good sized waterfall and lake (pond more like it). The path is well defined and can be easily managed by kids and dogs alike.
The only tough part is going back which is all uphill and at the end is pretty steep, but don’t tell that too all the older Korean ladies walking up like a stroll on the beach.
Of course no trip to vegas is complete without a little over indulgence and when it comes to over doing it with me its all about the food. Joy and I are not much of buffet eaters but reading over Wicked Spoon‘s (@ the Cosmopolitan) individual serving styles of food seemed right up our alley so we decided to give it a shot for brunch on the morning we arrived into vegas. We planned it just right to get there before 11am so that we would get the breakfast prices and get to sample the lunch items as well.
The highlights of the breakfast items were the red velvet pancakes, eggs benedict, and bacon, while the best of lunch were the green beans, mussels. They also served tri-tip (i guess they used to serve prime rib), slab bacon (pork belly), fried chicken (no taste) and a selection of asian foods, i wasn’t all that impressed with the flavors. Cross one more place i probably wont be back to, but again i’m just not a buffet person anymore.
Mac ‘n Cheese with ham, green beans, whipped potatoes, slab bacon, mussels.
Assorted cheeses and meats, sushi, korean galbi, dashi soup
Pizza, smoked salmon, watermelon gazpacho, vegetable soup
blueberry crumble, ice cream, chocolate dipped straberries, custurds, and macaroons
The first after game dinner we had was back at the Cal at the Market Street Cafe where they serve up cheap eats all day and all night. While the special for the night was a steak and shrimp combo, i went with the gravy and got the chicken fried steak, while joy got the butterfish. Both were great, and both were under $10 which by today’s vegas standards cheap. There’s also a late night menu thats served after 11pm where you can get their special oxtail soup which we took advantage of the last night we were there after coming back from dancing at Xs. Market Street Cafe s a bazillion times better than anything you can find open past midnight on the strip in terms of price, type of food and quality of food. Getting a big bowl of saimin or oxtail soup is so much more satisfying then a burger with fries from Grand Luxe Cafe or Denny’s.
Butter Fish with rice and vegetables
Watch out! there’s peanuts in that oxtail soup! But i ate the meat anyways without any problems!
For breakfast on saturday morning i stopped by Lappert’s (all the way from hawaii) for some coffee and malasadas. Granted they weren’t as good as leonards it was still tasty in the morning.
In between our last two games on Saturday Joy and I initially drove out to china town looking to get my leg worked on, but when we found that it was a bad idea we went searching for some noodle soup. We ended up at Asian BBQ & Noodles for a bowl of Duck and Wonton Noodle soup for just $6.
To celebrate our third place victory we decided to have one last buffet at the Garden Court Buffet at the Fremont Hotel where it happened to be Steak Night, which meant there was some guy cooking up steaks to order all night long. I actually enjoyed the steaks and they also served split crab legs. Overall for the price that we paid it was well worth it.
The Las Vegas Invitational is a basketball tournament that brings in players from all around the west coast from as far as Hawaii. The tournament has been going on for the last 19 years and has a fascinating history with downtown Vegas. I was kindly invited to play along side with many of my Monday night Narbonne Basketball group and I was excited to participate in an actual timed/ref’d game. The tournament consists of 10 divisions with 8 teams each, with one game friday night, and two games saturday afternoon, with the championship game held at 3pm on Saturday.
When we all met at the Veterans Memorial Leisure Services Center in Summerlin which was 20 minutes outside the strip it was interesting to get the team together as a whole for the first time. We had a deep team with ten players, whereas most of our opponents only had between seven to eight. The team had a good mix of heights, skills, and age groups to take on our challengers and we felt good going into the games.
I was actually picked to start the games, and i think it paid off because i already knew how three of the other four players played so we were able to communicate well with out many words. Game 1 was pretty messy in the beginning with most of us, especially me find my legs, and my stroke but once the jitters left we went on a roll to go on to win the game. I made a few outside shots and a drive to the basket and did my best on defense.
Game 2 happened on Saturday morning at 10am after a semi late night with a little drinking mixed in. If Game 1 was messy, Game 2 was a disaster. After the first few minutes my left leg started cramping up and i was barely able to contribute anything worthwhile during the game. We were actually up by double digits by half but squandered it away with four minutes left to play. Try as we might we ended up in the third place game a few hours later.
During the break between games my leg really started to cramp up more, and initially was going to drive to Chinatown for a massage, but my sister advised against it. Another player had a large a salonpas that wrapped the area and i just kept massaging it lightly for a half hour and worked out most of the pain. Other players also showed up with cramps, and another hurt his knee bad enough the game before not to be able to play.
Game 3 we played fast and hard, and it showed with another double digit lead going into half time. Our bench players who really could’ve ran the other team out of the gym and even giving up most of our lead we late in the second half we got out of there with a 2-1 record and third place under our belt. After the game even as happy as we were to get 3rd we knew that we should have been in the championship game.
I had a really great time playing for the team, and hope they invite me back on the team next year. I already planted my seeds of being on it by offering to come up with a new Mixed Plate jersey design. Check out the video compliation of the highs, lows and in betweens.
Labor Day weekend was a time to sit relax, eat out once or twice and catch a movie. Joy and I didn’t really have any plans so we just did what we do best, eat and explore. Saturday we went out for dim sum at the really the only/best dim sum in the southbay Sea Empress Seafood. Its technically probably not as good as the ones found in SGV but being only 5 minutes away makes up for a lot of other things. Personally i still think it tastes good, just don’t order off the menu.
Afterwards we went driving around and ended up at Scoops Westside for some Oreo Cream Cheese ice cream and Coconut Jasmine ice cream, which were both very good. We got in touch with the Manichans and decided to go to dinner Killer Shrimp after 8pm. It was still early so we needed a snack to tide us over and so we went to Helms Bakery for a hot dog at Let’s Be Frank which makes all natural frankfurters. I preferred the mutt dog (pork and beef) while joy enjoyed the all beef Top Dog. With a few extra hours to kill we ended up at the “discount” Culver City Theater to watch Midnight in Paris which was enjoyable to watch, but i’m sure it would’ve been 10x better if i had taken an Art History or Literature class back in school.
Grabbing a couple drinks at the Brig on Abbot Kinney, the Manichans finally got done doing their thing and we went to dinner at the original Killer Shrimp, which opened their doors once again after 2 years of being closed. Once upon a time there was a restaurant that did one thing, and did that one thing well, a spicy cajun shrimp in a garlicky broth. Too bad we got them a bit early or their menu expanded far beyond their capabilities because the broth to Ben’s opinion wasn’t up to par, and in the middle of the night we all had stomach issues.
Sunday Joy and i tried to work off our Saturday indulgence by literally running our Temescal Canyon hike, but of course while i initially wanted just a coffee and croissant we ended up getting a croque madame and an omelette. The day ended at the Manichans + RIley with a BBQ of some Korean Beef, some Corn and Pirates of the Caribbean 4 which was a nice way to spend the weekend.
Riley the dog
KBBQ & Corn