Two weekends from now, I will be left to my own devices (no wife, no kids), for approximately 24 hours; let’s say from 6 PM Saturday to 6 PM Sunday. Seeing as my birthday’s this month, and having gotten a (small) raise at work recently, I’ve decided to put together a quick solo eating tour of L.A. for that weekend.
I’m not as young and spry as I used to be, so I can’t make this a true round-the-clock tour (i.e., not going to pull an all-nighter and hit places at 4 AM), so, practically speaking, I have ~6 hours Saturday evening and ~9 hours in the daylight on Sunday.
I’m making my list now, with a focus on places I’ve never been before (marked with an asterisk below), with a couple of favorites thrown in. I plan on sampling just one or two dishes at each place so I don’t fill up, or go broke, too quickly. Here’s my list so far...
6 PM - Animal*: I want to hit this place right when it opens. I'm ordering just two dishes: the pig ear, chili, lime, fried egg; and one of the dishes with foie gras, but which one? I’m leaning toward the veal tongue, smoked foie gras, pastrami spices, crab apple, as it is less expensive and a smaller dish, and I want to pace myself. (~45 minutes, $26+)
7 PM - Red Medicine*: Since I’ll be dining alone, I’ll probably just try the bánh mì at the bar. I’m hoping that’ll also save on waiting for a table. Do they serve the full menu at the bar? (~30 minutes, $12+)
8 PM - Scoops Westside*: Of course, it will depend on the flavors they’re serving that day, but any recommendations? (~30 minutes, $5+)
9 PM - Shunji: I’ve been wanting to go back for a while. I’m doubtful bamboo will still be in season, so I’m hoping he’ll have chawanmushi. And, of course, I’ll have a few pieces of sushi too. (~45 minutes, $30+)
10 PM - ??? I’d like to hit at least one more new place before retiring for the night. Taking suggestions.
Here’s a Google Map of the Saturday leg of my tour: http://goo.gl/maps/WmKZ (to protect the guilty, I put West L.A. as my starting location). Not a bad little circle, if I do say so myself. I tried to be conservative with my schedule, but I know I’ll be at the mercy of Saturday-night wait times. How realistic are my time/cost estimates?
10 AM - Sea Harbour: First and only visit was nearly a decade ago. I plan on arriving early, as I do not want the wait to throw off my schedule. Hopefully going solo will score me a quick seat at a shared table. I’ll be ordering chicken feet, bamboo steamed tofu skin rolls, and maybe one other dish. (~45 minutes, $15+)
[Argh, why does the CH code keep closing the <p> tag before the closing parenthesis in the preceding paragraph?!?]
11 AM - Mama Lu’s Dumpling House*: On their last visit to L.A., my parents tried both Dean Sin World’s and Mama Lu’s xiao long bao and liked the latter’s much better. Naturally, I have to try both places’ XLB in person myself. (~30 minutes, $5+)
12 PM - Dean Sin World*: See last stop. Just getting a plate of XLB to compare the mother/daughter restaurants. (~30 minutes, $5+)
1 PM - Happy Garden*: Can’t believe I haven’t been to what I’ve heard is one of the best Taiwanese restaurant in L.A. Going to order a bunch of those “small eats” that would meet ClarissaW’s grandmother approval, e.g., dishes with pigs blood, kidneys, or intestines; chou dou fu. :-) (~60 minutes, $15+)
2:30 PM - Mama Lu’s Dumpling House*: Hoping to arrive right before they close for the afternoon, just to pick up some frozen dumplings. Must remember to bring a cooler and ice. (~15 minutes, $15+)
3 PM - VP Tofu*: Technically, I’ve never been, but I’ve had their dou hua once as take out. I’ll probably just opt for some fresh cold dou jiang on this stop. (~15 minutes, $5+)
3:30 PM - UMAMIcatessen*: For the foie donut. (~15 minutes, $8+)
4 PM - Water Grill*: For a half dozen raw oysters and whatever else strikes my fancy. (~45 minutes, $30+)
5:30 PM - Nanbankan*: Thought I’d wrap up my tour with some authentic kushiyaki, and this place has been on my radar for a while. Any suggestions for three or four dishes to order? (~60 minutes, $25+)
Here’s a Google Map of the Sunday leg of the tour: http://goo.gl/maps/XmGu. The reason for the backtracking to Mama Lu’s is because I don’t want to buy frozen dumplings in the morning if I’m not going to get home until early evening. I’m a little worried that the wait times for Sunday will be longer than it usually is, as it will be Father’s Day. How realistic are my time/cost estimates?
Any red flags, recommendations to skip a place (with explanation) or to add a place? Am I being too ambitious?