Los Angeles’ Silly Little Secrets.

DTLA
Here we see one of Los Angeles’ many “mini cities” that, when clustered together, make up one big city. Not sure who the urban planner was for LA, but its weird to me how everything is so spread out. 

In pre-celebration of the birth of MSM, Saturday night was filled with joy and magic that unveiled all sorts of secrets that Downtown LA has to offer. It began with an adventure to Takami Sushi and Robata, a sky-top sushi bar with soaring views of LA, followed by a secret tour of a mysterious spherical penthouse, ending with a dance at the brilliant best kept secret in the city.

Takami Sushi and Robata: TADA!

 

Takami
Nope. This is not Japan! Its Los Angeles! Grabbed this striking photograph from google images. The view from the top makes the experience at Takami Sushi all that much better. Gorgeous. Almost fantastical/SciFi, right? Straight out of Lucy

One thing I adore about MSM is that he knows I have food allergies and other eating restrictions, so he always thoughtfully sends me a link to menus days before we visit an establishment, giving me ample time to a. figure out what I want and b. speak up if there’s nothing I can eat. When I first saw the menu for Takami, my eye went straight to the glorious title The Endless Summer (my favorite season!). I couldn’t wait to try this refreshing sounding concoction of vodka, watermelon, mint, and a spritz of ginger ale. Once on the premise, I immediately ordered a Cucumber Gimlet. After all, isn’t it a woman’s prerogative to change her mind? Crisp and not overwhelmingly sweet or acidic, the gimlet was delicious. MSM ended up with The Endless Summer, which was exactly as it sounded, yummy. I highly recommend either.

Takami Robata  is actually three restaurants that share a dining area. This being said, there’s no way to plan the arrival of courses since the food is plated as the different kitchens prepare them, and there is no communication between kitchens. Sharing each course is the best plan of attack. Neither of us had been here before so the menu was our oyster, so to speak.

We decided to start with the shishito peppers (I LOVE THESE) and buttered scallops served on the half shell. You really can’t go wrong with shishito peppers.  I have never not liked these at any restaurant. I assume they must be difficult to mess up. The scallops…..OMG…..like butter! They actually tasted like buttered popcorn. A hint of sweetness balanced perfectly with salt and cooked to a precise texture, not too soft, not rubbery.

scallops
Enough with the chicken already! Lately I’ve been slighly obsessed with Scallops. They are packed with an abundance of lean protein and can be cooked in so many exciting new ways. At Takami they are grilled with butter and served on the half shell. Beautiful and Yum!

Next we shared the Angus filet, zucchini, and asparagus Robatas (basically kabobs). All of these were amazing. Just the right amount of spice. Nothing over-whelming. The veggies were juicy and had the correct amount of crunch. The meat….Voila! MMMMM.

At this point I was actually close to full but we continued with the Lemon Albacore Roll and a Spyder Roll. I was a little underwhelmed by the spyder roll  because I had to remove the mayo inflicted crab meat. What a travesty. The Lemon Albacore was FANTASTIC. We also had a plate of ahi sashimi with jalepenos that I almost didn’t want to review because no one does this like Nobu so its not really fair to judge. I will say I recommend avoiding this sashimi dish because the literal CHUNKS of tuna were SO BIG it seemed to be prepared for a giant!

 

lemon albacore
The Lemon Albacore Roll was divine. The lemon with zest attached was a brilliant way to enhance the flavors in this delicious roll. 

The staff of the restaurant was interesting. Our actual waitress, perhaps new, didn’t seem too versed in the menu and when I told her I had a soy allergy she said “remind me as you continue to order”. Really? Then she brought the peppers to the table with soy all over them. hahaha. Luckily my allergy isn’t anaphylactic. There was another person there whom I’m not sure was a waiter or a host or what but he was fun, funny, and fantastic. Not to mention he sported the most amazing mustachio I have ever seen. We enjoyed his banter. The ambiance is very “club” like with a touch of fancy (the out door tables especially ring “high end” to me ) yet almost like a “fancy in the airport” vibe. I loved observing the other patrons at their tables. Such a great mix of people in Down Town LA, as opposed to the homogeny so often seen in Santa Monica. There were fat women and skinny women and extremely effeminate men and macho women and macho men, and HUGE men and tiny men and all types of outfits….you get the gyst. It was great and kind of felt like we were in another country or at least a different state, making Takami a nice little escape.  The view from the rooftop of this trio of conjoined bars is nothing short of spectacular.

Breaking mid dinner we walked along the patio seating and looked out over LA. Our curiosity was sparked regarding one very high round penthouse in the near distance. No one at the restaurant seemed to know what this was so MSM took it upon himself to find out.

The Sheraton VIP Lounge: A view from the top.

SheratonDTLA
I’m not sure why, but in the right hotel lobby, I feel like a Queen or Princess. I was surprisingly impressed with the lavishly decorated interior at the Sheraton Downtown LA. 

MSM used his vampire ways to convince the doorman at The Sheraton DTLA to not only explain the secret behind  the round building perched atop the hotel, but to also give us a private tour! Sadly the story gets less interesting from here….its a VIP lounge for Sheraton card holders,  similar to an admiral’s lounge at the airport. Half the “lounge” is an eating area where breakfast and dinners are served. The other half is a gym. A very nice gym. Though it was sort of “whatever” up there, it was another incredible view of our glorious LA.

Sheraton Lounge VIP
The hotels of DTLA seem to have really stepped up to the plate, taking their part in the city’s attempts at renovation and re-gentrification.

Cana Rum Bar: The perfect hideaway for a dark and stormy salsa dance 😉

CanaThisWay
The actual Cana lounge is hidden in an alleyway, but visitors can’t miss it! 

 

The next and final step of our adventure is, in my opinion, seriously one of the best kept secrets in LA. At first approach this bar feels like one would need a secret password to cross the velvet rope. In some respects you do, as this speak-easy type bar is a members only club. Don’t roll your eyes though, because the low 25$ membership price-point (that allows you two guests with each visit) is SO WORTH IT! Live bands or DJs every night, this is a dance club heaven but with a Cubana lounge vibe. There’s a cigar room out back with open beams. Literally, open beams- no glass. Sticking with the theme of the night, I just loved the variety of guests enjoying the ambience. The music was fun for dancing, the decor reminiscent of a Caribbean pirate ship, and the drink menu is vast and full of both unique fun rum concoctions and traditional pirate faire. I can’t recommend this place enough. If your itching for a little bit of Havana in your life, this rum bar is the spot to go.

cocktailListCana

barTender_Cana
A little bit of Cuba on my mind….and  perched on this bar tender’s head!

What the heck to wear while adventuring in DTLA on a fair weather night:

SO….as per usual MSM insisted I not wear my heels. At some point I’m just going to have to suck it up and wear them so he can see that I do not, in fact, complain of pain while meandering somewhat aimlessly in heels on date night. Believe it or not, I DO own some comfortable stilettos that are both sexy and functional. However, this  particular Sat was especially a celebration for him, so I decided to wear flat boots which ended up being a great idea. I was just the right amount of warm and definitely comfortable.  Also I loved the Mod look of my ensamble.

 

Jill_Cana
To be honest, I don’t think my bag is a great pair with this dress. The textures aren’t working together well for me. I need to ask Danielle what she would have suggested. I think she’s been pushing me more to try and make my own arrangements. I am getting better, but this one seems off….Dress: Alice and Olivia Bag: YSL Jacket: Vince Boots: Stewart Weitzman 
bootsDTLA
I was ultimately grateful for not wearing high heels! I feel like these Stewart Weitzman boots worked well. They kept me warm, I still felt sexy, AND I was able to walk for miles!

Down Town Los Angeles has really been growing in a good direction. So may exciting new galleries, shops, and eateries popping up left and right. My favorite is the little alcoves where amour can hide to sneak in some secret kisses ;). Très Parisienne not to mention perfect for the upcoming Valentines Day weekend. Or for any other weekend a couple may want to venture out. Je viens de l’adore quand LA aime l’amour. I adore when LA loves love!

Happy Valentine’s Day ya’ll! I know its hokey and contrived, but instead of spitting at it, why not embrace the craziness by reveling in the idea of loving life!

xoxo

QJ

QJ

Jermaine Jackson Jr and the Asa Kaftan fashion show.

Untitled Number Eleven, 2011 by Gilles Bensimon, the first fashion photographer I ever loved.
Untitled Number Eleven, 2011 by Gilles Bensimon, the first fashion photographer I ever loved.  Click here to browse some of his work: Gilles Bensimon 

Once upon a time, a million years ago, when smog was not a worry,  children didn’t have to wear bike helmets, and there was no such thing as auto correct, a shy 13 year old girl (me) discovered Seventeen magazine. She read each issue back cover to front, taking in all its photographic glory, reading every article including the letters to the editors. As the images permeated her imagination, she could escape into the fantasized fairy tales. She was on the other side of the looking glass, wearing the beautiful clothes, running amongst the nymph models through alternate bewitchingly created universes. Also the articles provided sage advice and funny anecdotes. Her love, or obsession if we dare, with fashion was born.

A few weeks ago my friend Emily invited me to a fashion show benefitting City of Hope, an LA based cancer research and treatment hospital. Since I was on my work hiatus, I could excitedly RSVP “yes”, despite the event being held at one in the afternoon on a Friday. I don’t watch much reality television, so the fact the event was being televised on The Shahs of Sunset meant nothing to me- other than heavier than usual makeup and an immaculate outfit. How exciting! My first fashion show!

Asa’s Kaftans for City of Hope:

The Four Seasons Beverly Hills is nothing short of fabulous.
The Four Seasons Beverly Hills is nothing short of fabulous.

The event was held at The Four Seasons Beverly Hills. Wow this venue is beyond gorgeous. The Penninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills is one of my all time favorites. It’s posh but feels somehow approachable. It’s sort of like a little bit of a dream brought to reality. The Four Seasons, alternatively, is a little slice of heaven. Lush greens with well groomed gardens ensconce the hotel. Soft flowing lavish fabrics hanging from colums, dancing in the wind.

Traffic was terrible- who knew so many people would be out and about at 1pm on a Friday? I mean it is LA, I guess. Home to the rich and famous who don’t, apparently, need to work- or at least don’t need to go to the office to work. Anyways, I digress…..as I was saying, traffic was awful and I arrived not so fashionably late- 73 minutes late, to be exact.

I was signed in by a very gregarious man who explained he was one of the producers of Shah’s of Sunset, and then escorted me to the party. Luckily, as commonly expected in television production, everything was running behind. I hadn’t missed a thing! There was a silent auction table including wonderful items like a Skinny Girl libation basket, stunning pearl earrings, and a day trip to a world renowned spa. I put bids on the Skinny Girl and the Earrings. Little tip when it comes to silent auctions- be careful of what and how much you bid. Choose wisely. Three years ago I bid on 6 items at the Junior League of LA’s Harvest Boutique and I won every single item, totaling well over a thousand dollars! I mean yeah, it was for a good cause but that was  a lot more than I wanted or had expected to spend!

I love how lately I've been seeing a lot of fruit infused water offered at parties. They look so pretty and add just that little touch of flavor to tickle the palette.
 Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of fruit infused water offered at parties. They look so pretty and add just that little touch of flavor to tickle the palette. Very classy. 

I knew no one attending the party, only my friends Emily, Victoria, and January- who were working the party. I took a deep breath to get a grasp on my courage and began to tour the “room” (it was an outdoor patio area) and start conversations with a bunch of strangers. I met two women that own a PR agency and seemed to really love their jobs, a lovely editor in chief of a celebrity lifestyle magazine,  and a  group of well dressed co-eds.  I did glance around the room and noticed that Latoya (I thought it was Janet) Jackson was there. Cool!

It was such a pleasure meeting and speaking with the stunning and gracious Ms. Mimi, Editor in Chief of Celebrity Style Magazine. I adore her, and her outfit! xo
It was such a pleasure meeting and speaking with the stunning and gracious Ms. Mimi, Editor in Chief of Celebrity Style Magazine. I adore her and her outfit, particularly this necklace. So pretty! xo
Guests waiting for everyone to be seated. Typical LA, most are killing time on their cell phones- or booking their next appointments. I definitely feel like I know this man from somewhere....
Gift bags underfoot, some VIP guests wait while everyone else is seated. Typical LA,  killing time on their cell phones- or booking their next appointments. I definitely feel like I know this man from somewhere….and I LOVE that woman’s pink hair!

Finally the fashion show was to begin. The party progressed onto the adjacent lawn, resplendent with sunlight and brilliantly saturated greens. How gorgeous this area was! I could imagine a princess getting married here. Emily and Asa both stood and spoke for a moment, explaining the event. As the music played, the models amusingly walked by, the fluid fabrics flowing behind as a light wind took grasp of the kaftans. Asa’s Kaftans of multitudinous colors perfectly contrasted the green setting. I appreciated the designer picking models of all shapes and sizes. They walked with such confidence. I could tell everyone was having fun.

singleWalker ThreeWalk

I just loved the colors of the Kaftans, and how well the fabric flowed. They look so luxurious. I can imagine someone wearing one in Santorini. I told that to Asa's mother who exclaimed
I just love the colors of the Kaftans, and how well the fabric flows. They look so luxurious. I can imagine someone wearing one in Santorini. I told this to Asa’s mother who exclaimed “There is one named Santorini!”. They are made NOT of silk- so easy to care for, but appear to move like silk. They look and feel luxurious. If your interested in purchasing one, I’ve included a link below.

After the fashion show I spoke with Emily and met a very attractive colleague who was introduced as Asa’s “soul mate”. He was kind, spiritual, and very intelligent. I asked if he worked in fashion as well. He mischievously smiled and answered “No, I work in music. Mostly on the business side, but I’m working on an album.” We discussed the significance of music and music therapy amongst other things. When we parted ways I told him “good luck on your album! I hope to hear it and see it sometime!” Later I found out he was Jermaine Jackson Junior. Ha! I hope its a good thing I never know who anyone is prior to meeting them! (AKA I’m totally embarrassed).

What the heck to wear to a benefit Fashion Show held in the middle of the afternoon:

I seriously had NO clue!  I mean for me this event was at the oddest time of day. Cocktail attire seemed too dressy, business attire too casual. Plus I knew friends of the fashion industry would be in attendance, so I wanted to make sure my outfit had edge and was a fair player. And on top of that it was to be televised!

myOutfit
Blazer: Theory Top: Alice and Olivia Skirt: Stella McCartney Shoes: Christian Louboutin (the first pair of designer shoesI ever bought! I will keep them forever). Not Pictured: Handbag: Celine Handbag Karlito Charm: Fendi. <because you can’t go to a fashion show without Karlito!

Danielle definitely pulled through. I’m not sure why, but I’m always impressed when she throws out an outfit idea without looking through my wardrobe. How does she remember what I own? This time she really surprised me because she suggested a pair of shoes I bought nine years ago. A pair with which she’s never truly admitted are acceptable! I guess fairy godmothers remember everything :).

My friends and I after the show.
My friends and I after the show. As mentioned previously, I will never get rid of these shoes. 

I had a fantastic time at my first fashion show. I look forward to hopefully one day attending another! I ALSO look forward to watching this episode on Bravo. It will be fun to see if I made it in the cut!

Asa’s family and friends were all so lovely. I hope her line sells exquisitely. If you are interested in purchasing an Asa Kaftan, please click here: Asa Kaftans

If you are interested in learning about or donating to City Of Hope, please click here: City Of Hope

{PS} Happy November everyone!

xoxo

QJ

QJ