Craig’s Birthday Dinner at Mori Sushi

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It’s a bit of a struggle for me to spend a fortune on sushi. Don’t get me wrong; I really like sushi, but I’m perfectly happy eating the $12 sushi sampler at Jinpachi for lunch in West Hollywood. Craig, on the other hand, is a major sushi enthusiast. He loves the stuff and, if given a choice between an elegant eight-course meal at a palace of fine dining like Le Bernardin or Jean-George vs. an omakase dinner at a well-regarded sushi restaurant, he’d pick the sushi every time.

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Something Happened At Rustic Canyon

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On Thursday night, we were supposed to go to dinner with Craig’s former boss and the boss’s wife. A work dinner, so to speak. “7:30 at Pizzeria Mozza,” said Craig, earlier in the day.

Then, as 7:30 rolled around, Craig pulled me aside. “I told a white lie,” he said. “We’re not going out with (name redacted) and (name redacted). I’m taking you to Rustic Canyon.”

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Uncle Jerry and Joe Turkel at Fromin’s Deli

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And now a funny story from L.A.

For his birthday, I decided to take my 91 year-old Uncle Jerry out for lunch to his favorite spot, Fromin’s Deli in Santa Monica. It’s a pretty traditional deli with lots of character: salty waitresses, corned beef sandwiches, black and white cookies at the register. We were sitting at a table near the front, despite the fact that Uncle Jerry would’ve preferred a booth (there was a wait), and chatting about Craig’s movie and, later, Uncle Jerry’s experiences in World War II. As we were getting up to go, the man next to us said, “You’re leaving? I feel like I know you guys. You’re talking about the film industry, and you, you’re talking about the war.”

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A-Frame

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The International House of Pancakes is not, by any standard, a hip place to eat. Leave it to Chef Roy Choi (a chef I cooked with for my cookbook, best known for starting the Kogi Truck) to turn an IHOP into a must-visit L.A. dining destination, one that effortlessly oozes panache and cool.

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Blue Plate Oysterette

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See the way the light is hitting the white wine in my glass?

That’s a summer moment, a California moment; it’s a moment that transcends anything critical I might say about the restaurant where this moment took place. Not that I have anything critical to say. Blue Plate Oysterette is situated on Ocean Blvd. in Santa Monica and if you took this same restaurant and relocated it to a shopping mall in Minnesota, you would think it had no reason to exist. And you would be right. But sitting there in Santa Monica, as it is, facing the Pacific ocean, the sun hitting it on its way down in the sky, it’s a perfect summer seafood restaurant.

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The Apple Pan, Gjelina Take Away & The Lazy Ox Canteen

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I’m terrible at geography (please don’t ask me to find Iowa on a map) but I’m wonderful at food geography, especially when I know a city really well. In New York, friends would call me on a regular basis with queries like: “I’m going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and need a place for an afternoon snack before going to a 5 PM chamber music concert at The Frick.” (Answer: Cafe Sabarsky.) Here in L.A., though, I’m on shaky ground (earthquakes notwithstanding). I’m new here and when a food geography issue arises, I’m not as quick on my feet. But I’m getting better.

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The Best Sushi Of Our Lives at Sushi Zo

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Ok, ok, I know what you’re thinking. “Adam,” you’re saying, shaking your head while sipping a vanilla iced latte (why are you drinking that, anyway?), “you’re losing credibility. You just wrote a post below this about some blood-infused noodles and said that the Thai restaurant where you ate them offered the best Thai meal of your life. And now here you are, one post later, and you’re talking about the best sushi of your life. Don’t you think you’re overselling things a bit? If you keep calling things ‘the best of your life’ no one’s going to take you seriously. You’re like the boy who cried ‘best fill-in-the-blank of your life.'”

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