Friday, September 21, 2018

The 13th Annual Great Los Angeles Walk Explores Koreatown, Via 6th Street, in Honor of Jonathan Gold

For the 13th Annual Great Los Angeles Walk, we're hitting one of the most underappreciated streets in Los Angeles: 6th. It might not have the flash of a Wilshire, an Olympic, or a Santa Monica, but it's the workhorse street that gets you across town a bit faster than those other boulevards — and has plenty of sites of its own to explore.

But more importantly, 6th Street is one of the key arteries through Los Angeles' Koreatown neighborhood. And according to Jonathan Gold's assessment of Koreatown's restaurants, it also boasts some of the neighborhood's best food.

Like many Angelenos, we were heartbroken to learn of J Gold's death earlier this summer. If you loved Los Angeles, you loved Jonathan Gold — one of the most important L.A. boosters ever. When the Great Los Angeles Walk first tackled Pico Boulevard in 2007, he gave us a list of restaurants to hit during our all-day hike — something we used again when we returned to Pico in 2016.

Alas, Jonathan Gold is so synonymous with Pico that ideally that's where we'd return to celebrate him. But since we just hiked Pico two years ago, we wanted to recognize him in another way. Gold championed Los Angeles, its neighborhoods, and of course, its food. And he was particularly fond of Koreatown, and turned all of us on to countless great reasons to visit.

That's why, for 2018, we're walking down 6th.

From downtown, we'll start off at Pershing Square, and head west -- along the way seeing sites such as the Standard Hotel, the Jonathan Club, the Pacific Dining Car restaurant, MacArthur Park, the Park Plaza (now known as the MacArthur), Lafayette Park, Chapman Market, Koreatown, Hancock Park, Park La Brea, the La Brea Tar Pits, LACMA, and more. When 6th ends, we'll stroll up San Vicente to Burton Way, and walk through a strip of Beverly Hills, past the Courthouse and city center, and down Little Santa Monica, eventually making our way onto Santa Monica Blvd. for the rest of the walk to the ocean.

Stay tuned for more details! Always check for updates, and feel free to drop us a line at to let us know you're coming!

Most importantly: The date for the walk is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2018 at 9 am. Meet at Pershing Square! (It's always the Saturday before Thanksgiving -- just remember that!) More details to come!

And here's just a little taste of 6th in Koreatown:

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Rate-A-Restaurant #383: Trap Chicken (Glendale)

Restaurant: Trap Fried Chicken

Location: 1600 E Chevy Chase Dr. (Glendale)

Type of restaurant: Fried Chicken

We stipulated: Because of the lines, I still haven't been to Howlin' Rays. I know, I know. I might as well hand in my "spicy chicken" card now. But I do love all things spicy, and am always on the lookout for something new. For a Saturday night dinner, checking out the new Trap Fried Chicken, in our part of town, was worth a shot.

They stipulated: There are different levels of spice, depending on what you can handle: Mild, Hot or XXX.

What we ordered: XXX sliders for me ($12), mild sliders for Blogger Kid ($12), one mild, one hot for Maria ($12), Mac + Cheese for Blogger Kid 2.0 ($5), Fries ($3)

High point:  The sauce gave the chicken the spice that I craved. The pieces of chicken are extra big — you could probably split an order with someone else, depending on your hunger. I gladly devoured both, but Maria was one and done.

Low point: Blogger Kid felt that his mild sandwich was still too spicy — which made us wonder if he actually got a hot sandwich vs. a mild one.

Overall impression: The Mac and Cheese was good, and a nice alternative for the kid who didn't want chicken. Also, living up to its name, trap music was blaring from the speakers as we arrived — but it was a mix of music, and it was a good touch.

Will we return:  I'd like to hit it again — when I'm off my diet.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Celebrates Its Revival at Raucous Comic-Con Panel — Watch

The highlight of this year's Comic-Con is quite easy. I had the honor of moderating this year's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" panel, which was a celebration of the show's revival on NBC after having been canceled by Fox. The cast came ready to play, and I knew the audience was ready to go the second I asked them for a "NINE NINE!"

Here's who participated:

o Luke Del Tredici (WRITER)
o Dan Goor (EP)
o Andy Samberg (JAKE PERALTA)
o Melissa Fumero (AMY SANTIAGO)
o Terry Crews (TERRY JEFFORDS)
o Stephanie Beatriz (ROSA DIAZ)
o Joe Lo Truglio (CHARLES BOYLE)
o Chelsea Peretti (GINA LINETTI)
o Dirk Blocker (HITCHCOCK)
o Joel McKinnon Miller (SCULLY)

NBC has uploaded the entire panel, watch below!

And a quick shot from the stage:

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Neil DeGrasse Tyson Plays Jenga, Purge City Opens, and More Scenes from Comic-Con 2017

Every year I wonder if I really want to head back to the craziness of Comic-Con -- the headache of getting down there, navigating crowds, running around to do a million different things. And then I end up at a party and watch astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson playing (and losing!) Jenga, while sampling various beers and wines, and I'm reminded that my Fear Of Missing Out will forever trump my dreams of a quiet weekend.

This was actually a pretty successful San Diego Comic-Con -- particularly because of my "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" panel (more on that in a separate post). I feel like I didn't overdo it, but did enjoy a bit more this year the parties I attended, the activations (particularly Purge City, as seen below), and covering some decent panels. Oh, and it didn't help that I lucked out with the hotel lotto this year and landed at the Marriott Marquis, right next to the convention center. That makes a huge difference.

Now, some sights from this year's SDCC:

Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston at the "Breaking Bad" reunion panel. Read more about it here.

Aaron Paul brought out his baby to kick off the "Breaking Bad" panel.

An army of male Marges.

To promote the new USA/Syfy series "The Purge," the networks created "Purge City" — a play on the Party City stores. In this case, you were given $25 in Purge Dollars to buy some supplies -- t-shirts, bumper stickers and other things. It was a well-done activation, featuring actors playing clerks asking, "How will you be spending your Purge Night?"

"Born to Purge"

Purge gear that sadly wasn't actually on sale.

Purge cake demonstration.

Purge City advertisement.

The cast of "Fear the Walking Dead."

View of the San Diego marina.

Thanos keeps guard at the Lego booth.

"Cord Cutters Only" at the Amazon Fire activation.

Creepy Marvin the Martian.

Love this cosplay: Grimace, Jollibee and Panda Express with Iron Man.

More Jenga. I think NDT pulled the piece that collapsed the structure because he was kinda done.

"The Good Place" clowns.

Monday, July 23, 2018

In Memory of Jonathan Gold, King of Los Angeles

It was a coincidence that just two days after the death of Jonathan Gold, the New York Times published the latest in its ongoing series of Stories That Get Los Angeles So, So Wrong. For such an important metropolis, LA is constantly misunderstood — sometimes by its own residents. But Jonathan Gold was the antidote to that — the ambassador, or as Roy Choi called him, the "King of LA" — someone who not only understood our city, but helped thousands of others understand it too.

I've enjoyed reading so many tributes in the last few days that all credited J. Gold for opening their eyes to the neighborhoods, the people, the culture, and of course, the food of Los Angeles. The rest of the world still sees L.A. as mostly Hollywood and the Westside. But in J. Gold's LA, that is just a fraction of it. Boyle Heights, Koreatown, South LA, the San Gabriel Valley, and on and on. These are the people of Los Angeles, and we are damn lucky to live in the most diverse and vibrant metropolis in the world.

J. Gold inspired us to get out of the house and explore that world. His annual list of the 101 best restaurants was a cultural check list, a chance to travel around the world within the L.A. county limits. And he used his power wisely, helping support small businesses by highlighting the best.

Of course, like many, I was inspired by J. Gold's famous Pico Boulevard Project, in which he ate his way down the street — from downtown to the ocean — chronicling every birria taco and every gastrobomb along the way. For our second Great Los Angeles Walk in 2007, I reached out to Gold and asked him to give us a roster of places to eat as we made our way down Pico. (I dusted off the list when we did the Pico walk again in 2016.) So, of course, back then I had to contact the Pulitzer Prize-winning scrbe. To my pleasant surprise, he emailed back quickly, and even said he read Franklin Avenue! I managed to pick his brain on a few spots and he gave a selection. From 2007:

  • El Salvador Cafe. 575 E. Pico

  • El Parian. 1528 W. Pico ("I went on record in 1990 claiming that El Parian’s birria was the single best Mexican dish in Los Angeles, and nothing in the thousand L.A. Mexican meals I have eaten since then has done anything to sway me from that belief," Gold wrote in 2006)

  • La 27th Restaurante Familar. 1830 W. Pico (Nicaraguan food -- Gold suggests "nacatamals and fritanga").

  • El Colmao. 2328 W. Pico (Cuban food -- Gold suggests "fried pork leg with onions).

  • Las 7 Regiones de Oaxaca. 2648 W. Pico. ("It is Las 7 Regiones’ coloradito, its version of one of the famous seven moles of Oaxaca, that is a really remarkable concoction — thick and dense and sweet-hot and unctuous, the product of hours of labor and probably 20-odd toasted seeds and chiles and spices," Gold writes.)

  • Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. 5006 W. Pico. ("Roscoe’s is the Carnegie Deli of L.A.’s R&B scene," Gold wrote in an old review.)

  • Oki-Dog. 5056 W. Pico. (Go for the pastrami burritos, Gold says.)

  • Magic Carpet. 8566 W. Pico. (Gold once wrote that he used to live close by: " if I had tasted Magic Carpet's melawach back then, I might never have moved - a bronzed, pizza-size fried Yemenite pancake that seems to have a hundred levels of wheatiness, a thousand layers of crunch and the taste of clean oil, melawach is one of the greatest dishes in Los Angeles.")

  • Twin Dragon. 8597 W. Pico. (Gold admits that he likes some of the Shanghaiese dishes here, writing a few years back: "Although the kitchen is perfectly capable of turning out dishes stunning only in their mediocrity, some of the truly Shanghainese dishes -- smoked fish, round steamed dumplings, shredded pork sautéed with salted vegetables -- are fine.")

  • Pico Kosher Deli. 8826 W. Pico. (Gold recommends the pastrami sandwiches, and wrote in 2004 about its "PLT" -- like a BLT, but with pastrami.)

  • John O'Groats. 10516 W. Pico. ("Smoked pork chops," Gold recommends.)

  • Pico Teriyaki House. 10610 W. Pico. (Gold notes it's nearly impossible to get in, so it's not a spot to visit during our hike. But for future reference, he says try the robatayaki.)

  • Torafuku. 10914 W. Pico. (Their izakaya dishes are a little too pricy for he hike, but Gold named it one of L.A.'s 99 essential restaurants in 2005.)

  • "Man, it's a long street. I'll try and think of some others," he wrote.

    Last night I watched "City of Gold," the documentary about J. Gold — now streaming on Hulu. It will make you hungry, which is the point — in honor of the legend, take a moment this week and explore a neighborhood you've never visited, and eat at a restaurant you've never tried. Now, more than ever, J. Gold's message of community is so important to combat those who'd like to tear us apart.
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