At the Shop House

Shop House Kitchen
Where the hell is the Sriracha?

Have you been to Shop House yet? Have you even heard of it? Well, if you’re a fan of Chipotle (i.e. all of the human race), then you’re going to pee. The founder(s) of our favorite environmentally conscious burrito chain have taken their world-dominating dining formula to Southeast Asia. That’s right, Shop House is Chipotle gone stir fry. And when I say Southeast Asia, I mean these people WENT to Southeast Asia, lived there, studied the cuisine, and brought it back to make this restaurant. It totally shows. Stand in the all-too-familiar assembly line and choose every layer of your bowl, from the variety of rice or noodles, to the selection of locally produced meat, to the expertly cooked veggies, to the one of two delicious curry sauces. There are endless combinations, but I usually stick to the salad bowl (made with shredded cabbage) with tofu, broccoli, green beans, green curry, papaya slaw, cilantro, peanuts, and garlic. I’m not gonna lie, it’s kind of the best thing ever. If you’re not a vegetarian you should definitely try the pork and lamb meatballs – phenomenal. And what makes it five stars for me is that it’s more than starving artist friendly. If I get my tofu bowl with just one veggie and bring my own water bottle, I get a hot, spicy, satisfying meal for less than $8. For that price I could do it three times a week and keep it way healthy (aside from the tremendously high salt content).

I frequent the Sunset/Vine location, which is generally pretty quiet, so it’s nice for a date or to treat yourself out to a good meal and some reading/blogging/crying time. I’m also fairly certain this location is a cruising spot since the percentage of clientele that are alarmingly gorgeous lingering gay men seems exceptionally high… but that’s probably not a bad thing… The staff and service are beyond friendly, like, “omg we’re a new restaurant and we REALLY want you to LOVE us so we all snorted uppers” kind of friendly. It’s only mildly unsettling and let’s be honest, I love people who will entertain my banter (see photo above).

In short, Shop House has definitely become my new addiction and with friendly staff, low prices, and seriously good food, I have no doubt it will soon be yours. Next time you think Chipotle, make it Shop House – you won’t be sorry.

Shop House – Southeast Asian Kitchen
6333 Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028

Click HERE to read my review on YELP.

Clean Eating at Lifefood

Lifefood Organic Raw Vegan Gluten Free FalafelWhen you’re trying your best to eat healthy, some days you just need an ace-in-the-hole; a place you can go where you know that every single thing on the menu will be a good decision. For me that place is Lifefood Organic on Cahuenga and Sunset. Nestled in a bustling neighborhood that is fast becoming one of my favorite in Hollywood, Lifefood Organic is a health market, a restaurant, and a spa all rolled into one. Stop in to get lunch, stock up on supplements and raw snacks, get your B12 shot, and continue on with your day – it’s no joke. I only ever come here for the food (big surprise), but if I had lots of money to spend I could totally see myself trying all their natural snacks and supplements.

What I love about their menu is that literally everything is vegan, gluten-free, and raw. So if I’m in need of a sandwich fix, but I’m not in a place where I can go all out for a traditional sub, or if I just need to eat some food that I know will make me feel fantastic, this is where I go. Pictured here is my go-to, their falafel wrap, which again is entirely vegan and gluten free and comes with some sort of heavenly green dipping sauce (no idea what it is, all I know is that it’s delicious and I eat all of it). I have also had their pad thai – my friend Brett swears by it. You get all the textures and flavors you expect from Pad thai without ever missing the meat or egg. It’s like vegan magic. They also are a full juice and smoothie bar and even serve vegan ice cream – mmm!

Now I can’t lie, with food this good and this natural, you know it isn’t going to be cheap. This wrap is $13 – worth it both for the flavor and the mental satisfaction, but it is by no means starving artist friendly. And I actually went home after this and ate a salad – lol! Still, it’s a fantastic treat when you’re in the mood to eat out but not in the mood for temptation, conflict, or self-loathing. If clean eating is your thing, then you won’t be disappointed by Lifefood Organic.

Lifefood Organic
1507 Cahuenga Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Click here to read my review on YELP

Dirt Lobster

So I have become obsessed with the farmer’s market near my apartment in Hollywood, not surprisingly known as the Hollywood Farmer’s Market. I’ve decided that every time I go I will buy something new that I’ve never tried before, bring it home, and cook it. My rule is I bring a $20 bill with me and that is all I get to spend – after all I am the Starving Artist. Last week I took mom and discovered a beautiful thing – the mushroom tent. It is, as you might guess, a tent full of all kinds of mushrooms, most of which I have never seen or heard of before. And what I love about it is that the owner divvies up the mushrooms into little, flat-priced paper bags. I honed in on these little beauties:

You might have guessed from the title that these are known as Lobster Mushrooms, and you can clearly see why. The color is spot on and I have to say that even the texture is reminiscent of lobster. I didn’t want to do anything crazy to them, so I cooked them very simply in olive oil, butter, salt, and pepper. I also added asparagus, chives, and finished it off with a squeeze of fresh lemon. I ate it with a sliced heirloom tomato, also purchased at the farmer’s market. So fresh and delicious.


This was so successful I’ve decided that each week I visit the market I will buy something I’ve never eaten before and see what I can come up with. I have a feeling I may be on a mushroom kick for a while. And you know what, I’m ok with that.

Farmers’ Market Glory

Well friends, let me tell you, John Williams at the bowl last night was the best concert I’ve been to in a long time. We saw an olympic suite set to footage from olympic games recent and in the distant past. Violinist Gil Shaham brought the house down with a suite from Schindler’s List as well as a suite from Williams’ oscar-winning arrangements of Fiddler on the Roof. A huge chorus from Cal State Fullerton accompanied Williams in a suite from Amistad, which I’ve never seen performed live, not to mention Duel of the Fates from Star Wars Episode 1, which, regardless of how you feel about the prequels, is an epic piece of music. But none of this held a candle to the end of the show when, in honor of the film’s 30th anniversary, Williams conducted the entire last reel of E.T. live to picture with dialogue and sound effects tracks. There aren’t may ways to make me sob, but that sure is one of them. All in all an outstanding evening with many good friends. And of course, pound cake.

So after an outstanding evening with friends I got up late this morning and walked myself down to the farmers’ market in Hollywood, which, shockingly I had never been to. I was totally unprepared for the onslaught of fresh produce and vendor food, but I did manage to escape with what you see in the photo here. I tell you, nothing excites me more than fresh picked tomatoes. I may have eaten them already… like apples… with salt. Outstanding. But don’t you worry, I have big plans for those strawberries.

Tonight I am enjoying an impromptu cookout in Venice. Hotdogs, hamburgers, salad, potatoes. It doesn’t get any better than this. More on this soon.

Hope everyone is enjoying their labor day weekend!

Perfectly Pleasant Paninis

Hello, friends, and happy Monday! First I must thank you for your support in watching, liking, and commenting on my first youtube cooking video that I released this past Friday. I’m really happy with the response so far and look forward to getting out the next one. Yay!

But for now, let’s talk about the weekend. My roommate found herself craving a panini sandwich on Saturday afternoon and I found myself having no friggin clue where one would go to find one. Well I can’t think of a better excuse to find someplace new, and that’s just what we did. I got on Yelp and in seconds I discovered an actual Italian panini shop within walking distance from our apartment, I Panini di Ambra on Hollywood Blvd. We’ve lived here for two years and I never had even inkling that this place existed. A few minutes later we found ourselves at the cute little shop (we totally didn’t walk… it was really hot… don’t judge). About 15 years ago I took a trip to Italy with my parents. I was in 7th grade. When we entered the shop I immediately was taken back as if one could have found this place on any street in Italy. The lady behind the counter who greeted us with her thick Italian accent made it clear that this was a family owned and operated business. As we stood examining the menu, a group of Italian men entered the shop speaking Italian and started bantering with the owner in their language. It was kind of amazing.

I decided on the Salame Sopresata, which had salami, smoked provolone, tomato, and arugula. If I wasn’t already reminiscing from the atmosphere of the place, the sandwich alone would have done it. It’s the bread. Many paninis you get in the US have this thick, dense focaccia that really takes over and weighs down the sandwich. The focaccia at this place was thin and airy – exactly what you would find in Italy. It cooks to a perfect crunch that is easy to eat and doesn’t get in the way of the meat and cheese. My roommate was equally impressed with her Caprese panini.

Truth be told, it took some time for us to get our sandwiches, but they were in the middle of assembling a huge catering order when we got there, so I couldn’t be upset about it, particularly for a small family shop like this. Besides, it gave more time for me to stare at the group of  attractive Italians sitting inside. We had a table outside and I kept wandering in to “look around”. She got nervous that I was getting impatient. Ha. Not at all my dear, not at all.

In addition to Italians and paninis, yesterday was the July Beer Garden at Tender Greens. Hard to believe an entire month has gone by since the last one. I’m sure you’re sick of me gushing over Tender Greens Beers Gardens by now, so I’m going to spare you… for today. Expect a full report on this month’s feast tomorrow.

For now go and get your Italian fix… and eat a panini too ;-)

I Panini di Ambra
5633 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles 90028

Click here to read my review on YELP