Friday, August 31, 2007

The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch

On CNBC at 10 pm PST (NBC on my cable network is channel 33). This show is so inspiring for anyone who wants success in life, especially those aspiring "entrepreneurs". The message is "Anyone can do it! - Have a passion for what you're doing". It's for those of you who are working for someone else. Donny interviews all types of people from the already very successful people such as Donald Trump to the people who started their own business from nothing, even people who were practically homeless. My favorite past interviews:

Jim Koch: Founder of Samuel Adams beer
Sara Blakely: Founder of Spanks Lingerie
Amanda Kennedy: Founder of Sassybax
Teri Gault on yesterday: Founder of TheGroceryGame

Lots of words of encouragement seen here for anyone. Many people interviewed had absolutely no experience in business or the business they started.

Brooklyn Bagels in Los Angeles

Brooklyn Bagels - 2117 Beverly Blvd ( west of Alvarado) I think they are the Best bagels in Los Angeles. Soft and chewy on the inside and slighty crispy on the outside. I have been coming here for many, many years. Normal sized bagels here, not like Noah's which are humongous. I personally don't really like Noah's bagels that much anyway.

Tip - Monday Thru Friday from 3 to 5 pm, all bagels are half-priced (12 bagels, normally $7, are discounted half price to $3.50). These are bagels that were made that day, but not sold. Bagels last a long time once in the fridge, even longer when frozen.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hair Cut - Vidal Sassoon Academy

Although this is not my regular place to get a hair cut, I've been coming here off and on for over 10 years. Have gotten some really terrible haircuts (it was a creative class) and some very good haircuts (classic class) by the actual instructors there. Hit or miss. I made an appointment to get a haircut a couple of months ago (it was a refresher class for hair stylist who already have their license). It was the worst experience. There were 12 student stylists, 12 hair models and 1 instructor. Each stylist was assigned to a hair model. The teacher goes around to each student stylist and their hair model with the other 11 stylists as onlookers.

The instructor finally came to my chair. I had explained to both my student stylist and to the instructor specifically that I wanted to keep my hair long with some layering. The instructor did not listen and would not even compromise. First she suggested that I cut over 8 inches off. I said no way. Then she said 6 inches trying to make it seem as if she was compromising. I said no way. She said that cutting my hair would be a benefit for my stylist (learning experience) several times. Apparently the student stylist would not learn anything if the stylist actually cut my hair the way I wanted it. I was the customer and the customer is always right. We went back and forth (as all 12 stylist were watching) trying to compromise, but she didn't budge. So I left, very upset and got my $25 back and didn't get a hair cut.

Prices for Hair Cut: $25 Saturday& Sunday (no student discount)
$21 M-F (half-price with student id card)

Can anyone recommend a reasonbly, priced good hair salon/stylist in Los Angeles (preferably Hollywood, West Hollywood area)?

Stores with Good and Bad Return Policies

I only shop at places that have good return policies.

Target - 90 day return policy - no receipt needed, can scan item with credit card used to purchase.

Home Depot - 90 day return policy.

JCrew - generous 60 day return policy.

Williams Sonoma has the best return policy. I had purchased the stovetop Bialetti Cappucino maker ($89) during Christmas. Well worth it. A month later, the bottom black part started to peel off and bubble. I took it to WS with no box and no receipt. No questions asked. Exchanged immediately. They stand behind their products obviously.

Ikea has the worst return policy. I stopped shopping there since the return policy became too strict. It used to be ok to assemble furniture and see how it looks in your home. If you didn't like it, you could unassemble the furniture back into the box and return it. No problems. It has a stringent return policy now. I'm not sure when they changed the return policy, perhaps in the last 1-2 years, but box cannot be opened at all (i.e. assembled) if you want to return it. I used to enjoy shopping there, but frankly, I don't even feel it is worth it to shop there. The furniture is less expensive than most other furniture places, but it looks and feels it. It's not that cheap in terms of getting more for your money. You basically get what you pay for.

Ikea's motto used to be "it's ok" to return furniture, but should now be "it's not ok to return furniture".
Who the hell is going to buy an unassembled box of furniture and not assemble it? Now you're stuck with it. Ikea only cares about making money. They also started charging $0.05 /plastic bag. Couldn't they incorporate the bag prices by charging slightly more for furniture?

I'm glad IKEA's got more competition now but i'm sure they still dominate. I like West Elm (William Sonoma Owns it) and (Crate and Barrel Owns it) both.

Hawaii Vacation in Oahu

First time I went to Oahu, I stayed at the Sheraton Waikiki (right on the beach) with partial ocean view in 2003. I enjoyed it. The last time I was in Oahu was earlier this year in February. Stayed at the Kahala Hotel in Diamond Head area ($315/night was the special at that time). Hotel was grand and nice, slightly outdated and needed some upgrading. Despite that, I had a garden view (the golf course view next to the hotel with partial ocean view) which was . The room (Room 1128) was quite large with his and her bathroom and large bathtub. The employee who checked us in said that most Kahala hotel employees like to stay in Rooms 1126 and 1128. I loved this room because of the location - it was literally steps away from the beach, unlike some of the other hotel rooms in the main part of the hotel-I think the building our hotel room was in was an addition to the hotel (separate building), but connected to the hotel. Definitely rent a cabana $50/full day/$35 half day. Totally worth it - more privacy and protection from the sun. Sun rays are very strong in hawaii so i probably would not have been able to stay out all day without the cabana. I would have turned to a lobster color even with spf 30 sunblock. 2 cold bottled waters and 2 oranges given in a cooler to each cabana when we rented cabana for full day. Service was excellent and all employees were very friendly. Stay at one of the oceanfront hotels in Oahu. Hotel merely across the street is less convenient. I had a great experience.

Flight out of Oahu was 10 pm. Kahala gave me keys to use the showers which was very nice of them. Everything you needed was there including shampoo, conditioner, bath gel, disposable loofah and towels (same products were in the hotel room).

The other option besides the Kahala Hotel (4 stars) I was thinking of staying at was the Halekulani in Waikiki next to Sheraton Waikiki (5 star) at that time. I found a deal on for $360 (American Express Centurion Cardholders) . Apparently, lots of construction was around waikiki at that time, so I decided on the Kahala.

I ate at Diamond Head Market and Grill (3575 Campbell Ave at Monsarrat) quite a bit during my trip of 4 days. Gourmet plates and sandwiches. Great char-siu plate. $10 All plates served with rice and macaroni salad. Open for lunch and dinner.

Had heard raving reviews about the Kahala Hotel restaurant Sunday brunch at Hoku's. Was pricey at $55/per person, so I didn't try it.

Kahala Hotel also offers complimentary introductory surfing and scuba lessons which are taught in the pool at the hotel. Did not try. Kahala hotel beach is calm and has no waves. Surfing is not possible there. Small reef further out; met a local hawaiian who was trying to catch fish/octupus there. Fun to watch 3 dolphins swimming in the kahala hotel lagoon. Lots of weddings held there. Both valet and self parking were both $22/day. Was worth it to rent a car and pay for parking even though it was pricey, however the hotel did offer a free shuttle that takes you into waikiki and back every half hour until 9 pm.

My Preferred Korean Restaurants

Cho Sun Galbi on Olympic, couple of blocks west of Western. Last time was last month. Nice Ambience, good for large parties as well as Order of Galbi was $28 and I believe a minimum of 2 bbq orders must be placed to grill at the table. This is a typical rule for many Korean restaurants.If 1 order is placed, the bbq will be served fully cooked already grilled in the kitchen. I know many who swear by this place. I, on the other hand, did not enjoy the Galbi so much. The meat looked great when presented, but it was tough meat. Flavor was good but I had some meat pieces that would not cooperate and had to be swallowed in one piece. Side dishes were good (very potent, lots of garlic).

Woo Lae Oak on LaCienaga in Beverly Hills. I prefer the Galbi here, also $28. Nice ambience. Good for large and small parties. Six side dishes are usually given at most Korean restaurants, not here. Side dishes here are salad, cold bean sprouts/broccoli and kimchi. Flavor is mild here which I prefer (i.e. not as much garlic/pepper is used in each dish which usually leaves that taste on your mouth for days). Galbi is tender and flavorful. I love the black cod dish (un dae go jorim) here, also $28.

Ma Dang Gook Soo (9th and Western) - Although the name suggests the specialization is noodles in a hot soup (they make their own noodles), I go to this place for the dol sot bibim bap (riced mixed with vegetables on a hot stone plate). $9. I have tried many other places for this dish and nothing have compared so far.

BCD Tofu House (one on 9th and Western next to Ma Dang Gook Soo) - It is a chain so there are many scattered throughout Los Angeles and even in the U.S. I am not a big fan of Soon Doo Bu (hot soup with silken tofu- mild, medium or spicy), but I know many people who love this soup. It's especially soothing on a cold winter day. BCD does have cold bibimbap and galbi that are ok but not that good. $8-10.

Tahoe Galbi (corner of Wilshire and Wilton) - only $14.99 for so much food (bang for your buck here). It's practially "all you can eat". I like the chicken bbq - it's tender dark meat stripped of its fat. Galbi is so-so, kind of chewy. Tahoe gives you a choice of 6 bbq items to choose from (you can order all 6 or order just 1). Obviously, you will get less of each if you order all 6, but you get to try all the meats. Other bbq choices besides galbi, chicken, bacon looking meat and thin slices of un-marinated meat. Once you have finished your plate and are still not completely satiated, you can order another plate of whatever bbq choice you did enjoy from the 6 bbq choices. Tahoe also gives you tons of side dishes including thin rice noodle sheets to wrap you bbq meat in. Don't forget to dip it in the soy sauce and/or sesame oil with salt sauces.

Update - Went to tahoe yesterday, 9/16/07. All you can eat price increased from $14.99 to $16.99. Parking increased from free to $1.50.

Seoul Garden (Genghis Khan/Korean Style Shabu) on Olympic, a couple of blocks east of Alvarado. I love this place. $23/person for shabu at lunch/dinner. All parties share the same cooking pot at the table to cook the thin slices of raw meat. A pile of green onions also is given that complements the meat flavor which should be cooked together with the meat. Dip the cooked meat and green onions in the dipping sauce provided. It's not over yet. Sesame oil, seaweed and rice/noodles are then added to the leftover broth with an egg. Complete satisfied now.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Lunch in Downtown L.A.

Mendocino Farms - My favorite place for sandwiches. Very good, gourmet sandwiches. Highly recommended. Hard to find if you are not familiar with the area. Lower level of California Plaza at 300 S. Grand. I love the "wine country steak and brie" sandwich panini grilled. $7-10 per sandwich.

Mangia Mangia - Lower Level of Arco Plaza at 5th and Flower. Italian Food - Pasta's, pizza's and sandwiches. Food just ok. $6-10.

Happy Bowl on 6th in between Grand and Olive. Korean owned bowls similar to Yoshinoya with a Korean twist. $4-7. I like to eat here when I'm in the mood for Asian food. Would not recommend bi-bim bap dish, not authentic. I prefer to take out here.

Cafe Pinot - Just ok, nice ambience for lunch. Visited yesterday. Lunch prices $10-20 for appetizers, $16-25 for entree. I had the yellowtail dish which was more like a yellowtail salad with fennel $19. Nothing memorable. Service was excellent, although food took a while to be served.

Gas Company Food Court (hard to find) at Northeast corner of 5th and Grand (2nd Floor, tell the security guards that you are going to the cafeteria) - Tried it a total 3 times. Supposedly gourmet food. Was not impressed with the roast beef sandwich or fish tacos (very bad), but I know someone who goes here everyday for breakfast. Changes menu daily and weekly (see below):

Original Philippe's - Historic Landmark claiming to have invented the French Dipped Sandwiches On Alameda, north of Temple Street. $0.09 coffee. $5-6 /beef, turkey, ham, pork and lambsandwiches. Tuna sandwich (not french dipped) also served here. $1 for side of macaroni salad, potato salad and coleslaw. Hot mustard can be added to sandwich. Very popular during lunch. Nice casual restaurant. Open until 10 pm daily. Breakfast served until 10:30 am.

East Side Italian Deli on 1013 Alpine Street near Figueroa/Chinatown- Area used to be Little Italy back in the day until eminent domain of the freeways. Last remaining Italian Deli in that area.Popular with city firefighters and policemen. Traditional sandwiches (meatball, pastrami, etc). $6-10. Located in residential area near Chinatown. West of Figueroa on Alpine. 213-250-2464
Hours: 8 am-4 pm M-Sat

Sashimi lunch special at Sushi Gen, $11. 422 E. 2nd St. (at Alameda in Honda Plaza); (213) 617-0552. Rice included. Same amount of sashimi at lunch and dinner, but lunch is half the price.
11:15 pm to 2 pm M-F lunch
5:30 pm - 10 M-Sun dinner

Pastrami sandwich on rye at Langer's. 704 S. Alvarado St (at 7th street); (213) 483-8050. Curb side pick up service available. Known for their pastrami.
Hours: 8-4 M-Sat, closed Sun

Sandwiches-extra lean add $2.95

Combination Sandwiches
#1 - PASTRAMI Cole Slaw, Russian Style Dressing : $11.60
#10 - PASTRAMI and SWISS CHEESE Russian Style Dressing $11.60
#19 - PASTRAMI, SWISS CHEESE and COLE SLAW Russian Style Dressing : $12.25
#44 - HOT PASTRAMI, Sauerkraut and Nippy Cheese Grilled on Rye $12.30
#88 - HOT CORNED BEEF, Sauerkraut and Swiss Cheese Grilled on Rye $12.30

Announced on 9/11/07: Intersection outside Langer's deli will be called "Langer's Square" named after the founder of Langer's Deli, Al Langer, who opened the restaurant 60 years ago.

Do not go to Hot off the Press (5th and Grand)- the sandwich place with Boar's head marked all over the sign (I even thought it was called Boar's Head for a while) - Terrible panini sandwiches.

My Take on Iphone and LG VX 8700

The Iphone is great. Quite frankly, it has made me even lazier because now I don't have to actually walk to my computer to browse the web. I sit on my bed or couch watching tv while browsing the web on my iphone. Coverage for phone and edge (Cingular's internet) is pretty good on Cingular - I live in Los Angeles. However, I often get the message "circuits are busy, please try again" when I call NY. Also, a call was dropped today. Never ever happened to me with Verizon. I don't use the Iphone for phone conversation usually because I can't hear the other person unless I'm in a very quiet place. Holding the phone to the ear gets very tiring for calls lasting more than a minute so it is best advised to use a bluetooth headset. . I like the google map feature which is helpful (it is not a navigation system). The Edge network (defaults to Edge when WiFi is not available) is very slow; also can not talk and browse internet at the same time. Thru Wi-Fi, I was able to browse the internet, listen to music and talk to someone via speakerphone all at the same time. Great technology.

I mainly use my Verizon LG VX 8700 to talk to people which I love. This LG phone has 2 MP camera and takes great outdoor pics (terrible indoor/anywhere with bad lighting). You can upload pictures wirelessly on to your computer via bluetooth. It now seems inconvenient for me to even upload pics thru a card reader. You can upload your own mp3 files using a microSD card and a card reader. Sound is great and speakerphone is loud. Very slim, no bulge in your pocket. I paired it with the Plantronics 260 stereo headset. Can listen to music and answer phone calls interchangeably. The Plantronics Pulsar 260 is a bitch to untangle every time you want to use it (retractable cord would be nice). I would not recommend. It claims to have a bluetooth range of 30 feet. I had the phone in my left pocket and the Pulsar 260 in the opposite pocket and songs would pause. Apparently bluetooth range is less than 2 feet. I thought it was my particular set, so I ordered a new one. Same thing happened with second set.

Cingular vs. Verizon Los Angeles coverage. I'd have to say Verizon's coverage is much better. Both have different coverage. I'll check the number of bars on my Iphone (Cingular) and LG vs 8700 at the same time. Sometimes I'll have more bars on Cingular Iphone than Verizon's LG vx 8700, vice versa. It all depends on where you are, but the reason I'd say that Verizon is much better is because I've never had a dropped phone call with Verizon, even with spotty coverage. I had a dropped call recently with Cingular's Iphone - I had full coverage at that time. I thought it was the other person's phone (t-mobile pearl), but they too had full coverage. Hmmm, go figure. I've also had the message "all circuits are busy, please try again" quite often when calling someone in NY on Cingular's network. I'm pretty sure it was Cingular because after attempting several times and getting the same recorded message, I called with my Verizon phone and the call went thru immediately. Whenever I used my Verizon phone to call this person in NY, I've always gotten thru.

Places to Shop Til You Drop

I go to The Grove quite often. I live 5 minutes away. It's a great place to hang out, watch movies and shop. Farmer's Market is also a great place to eat and shop for mostly food. Comfortable cushioned, stadium seating and usually easy to park when not crowded (but of course, avoid Friday and Saturday nights). Familiar food places include Wood Ranch BBQ, Cheesecake Factory, Maggiano's Little Italy and The Farm of Beverly Hills. Also has a French restaurant called Morels. I tried it once and was disappointed. Good for people watching. Most people have to walk thru the outside patio from the self-park to get to the main part of the Grove. Nordstroms, Crate and Barrel, Anthropologie, Jcrew, Barney's Co-op here.

Star sightings a couple of times at the Grove. The biggest stars I saw on the same day hanging out together was in the last week of December last year. Waiting on a bench inside the movie theatre was George Lucas. A couple of minutes later, Ron Howard walks up to him. They met up to watch "Children of Men" which I decided to watch as well. Turns out George Lucas was in town to be the Grand Marshall of the 2007 Rose Parade.

Beverly Center is indoor and has H&M, Forever 21, Macy's with Home Department (better selection than other Macy's), Bloomingdales (no home dept) , Banana Republic, Club Monaco, Sephora, Victoria Secret, Louis Vuitton, Gucci. Food places include Rubio's, Mongolian BBQ and KFC.

Banana Republic, Forever 21 and Victoria Secret are all at The Grove and Beverly Center.

Westfield Century City Mall - I used to go here a lot to watch movies before the recent renovations, but I hardly ever go now. The all new movie theatre is nice (stadium, cushioned seating). They moved the movie theatre to the other side of the mall. Bloomingdales with home dept, Macy's (no home dept), Jcrew, Tiffany, Benetton/Sisley.

3rd Street Promenade - My, how 3rd street has developed (spans over 4 long blocks now). I don't go here that often, but it is a nice one-stop shopping area. Urban Outfitters is on one end and Banana Republic is on the other end, 4 long blocks away. How inconvenient. Lots of street acts. Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Banana Republic, Jcrew, Borders, Barnes and Noble, Club Monaco, Levis. Parking is free for 2 hours at one of the many Santa Monica parking lots if you enter before 6 pm.

Old Town Pasadena - Outdoor shopping street. H&M, Tiffany, Crate and Barrel, Jcrew. Lots of boutique stores too. Over 10 miles away. There's really nothing here that I don't have at the closer area malls.

Jersey Boys at Ahmanson Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles

Wonderful Musical which I saw Monday, August 27th. Story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons rise to stardom. Great Performances. Will be playing at Ahmanson until Thursday, August 30th. Tomorrow is last day. Ticket prices start at $20 for really bad seats.

Go see Jersey Boys if you can. Don't get the misconception that this is a musical about gay men from the title. It is not.

July Vegas Diary

Treasure Island Hotel. Small, easy to get around hotel with comfortable beds. Would definitely stay there again. Only downside, check-in/check-out line was ridiculous - I waited a good half-hour just to check-in. Good Mexican Restaurant called Isla inside.

Saw both Cirque du Soleil's Mystere at the Treasure Island hotel and O at the Bellagio hotel. Mystere was much better in my opinion. O got rather boring after the first 20 minutes. Would not recommend O in terms of pricing for a good seat at $150 / ticket vs. $90 /ticket for Mystere.

Shortly after Vegas, I caught Barnum and Bailey's Ringling Brothers Circus in Los Angeles. There were many similarities to the Cirque Mystere show, but of course, Cirque was more artistic and better coordinated.

I have now seen a total of 3 Cirque du Soleil's (also Delirium which played at the Staples Center). I was not impressed at all.

Go see Mystere. See parts of Mystere in the movie "Knocked Up".

After much research for a reasonably priced restaurant, read good reviews for Mon Ami Gabi (Parisian Food) at Paris Paris. Was absolutely terrible. Filet mignon ($30) and fish dishes ($20) were bland. Felt ripped off. Would never ever go there again.

Would recommend Isla Mexican Food at Treasure Island. $15-25 /entree.

Also, a Starbucks small coffee inside Treasure Island was $3. So expensive. The price for a small coffee here in Los Angeles at Starbucks is $1.60.

Vegas has gotten very expensive. Also tried Wynn Hotel brunch buffet which was $30; dinner was $40. I would pass on the Wynn brunch buffet-had large selection, beatifully presented.

Ordered a cake for a B-Day celebration from Treasure Island Room Service, 3 days prior to arrival. Room service General Manager, Kathleen Franco, provided excellent service. Cake was picked up by Manager of Isla Restaurant from Room Service Department in TI. Many different cake options. Prices vary by size. Cake was precisely what I ordered and delicious.

6" cake, serves 6: $26

8" cake, serves 12: $33

10" cake, serves 16: $40

1/4 sheet, serves 24, $60

1/2 sheet, serves 48, $100

Vegas Hotel Specials Website:

Also previously stayed at MGM, MGM Signature (no smoking, no casinos, no self parking-valet parking only) and Bellagio. Stayed at Bellagio when it first opened. I absolutely loved the Bellagio room I was in-very memorable. Deserves 5 star. MGM Signature was disappointing. The location was a 10 minute walk to the MGM casino/strip (Las Vegas Blvd). Oversized bathtub was weird. Couldn't really find any affordable places to eat in MGM. Most MGM restaurants were very, very expensive.

Cheap & Good Los Angeles Restaurants I Frequently Visit

Hide Sushi on Sawtelle Blvd(Sushi and Bento Box type dishes) in West L.A. - Reasonably priced, hit or miss sushi. Have been eating here for many years-very nice employees. Average sushi for 2 pieces $3.50-5. Thumbs up.

Asahi Ramen on Sawtelle Blvd (Ramen, Fried Rice) - Average ramen bowls at $5-8. Fried rice $5. Tasty. Thumbs up.

Hurry Curry of Tokyo on Sawtelle Blvd (Curry and Japanese Style spaghetti) - Nicely presented food and large portions, unfortunately taste of my spaghetti dish with was very bland on my spaghetti dish. Average dish $8-10. Thumbs down. Keep in mind, KCRW fringe benefits are accepted here.

Tere's in Hollywood (Melrose and Cole) - Very good mexican food (burritos, enchiladas with mole, tacos. $5-10.

Noshi Sushi in Koreatown (Beverly and Hobart). Hit or miss sushi unfortunately. Average sushi for 2 pieces $4-6. I like the spicy tuna and spicy scallop rolls.

Joan's on Third - Gourmet food on 3rd/Kings Road - sandwiches and side dishes. I always get the trio plate for $10.25 which includes 3 salads/side dishes of your choice. I love this place. Joan's has recently expanded (opened on 9/7/07)

Bay Cities Italian Deli on Lincoln in Santa Monica - Great meatball subs and sandwiches. $6-10. Also has market and sells their own parmesan bread. Closed on Monday, closes early at 7 pm on days open.

Mario's Peruvian - (Melrose and Vine) - Popular place. I don't come here too often because I find the food a bit heavy, but it is very good. About $10 per dish.

Yang Chow on Broadway/Alpine in Downtown Los Angeles. Everyone always orders the slippery shrimp ($14) and steamed pork dumplings ($6). Other favorites include the green beans with ground chicken. Slippery shrimp is a very, very sweet dish. Quality of shrimp is poor but sauce makes up for it. Open for Lunch and Dinner. Make your own slippery shrimp with better quality shrimp. Sauce probably taste good with chicken too. Recipe for slippery shrimp posted by the LA Times on 7/29/05 below:

Yang Chow Slippery Shrimp from LA Times: Total time: 25 minutes/4 Servings
1 pound large shrimp
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons water
2 cups oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger root
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon tomato sauce or ketchup
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon white wine
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 green onions, sliced

1. Peel, devein and butterfly the shrimp.
2. In a bowl, mix the shrimp with one-quarter cup -cornstarch to completely coat the shrimp.
3. Combine the remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch with 2 teaspoons water in a bowl and set aside.
4. Pour the oil into a skillet or wok and heat over medium heat until hot. Add the shrimp and deep-fry until golden, about 45 seconds.
5. Remove the shrimp and drain the oil from the wok, leaving 1 tablespoon for stir-frying. Reheat the wok. Add the garlic, ginger and cayenne. Stir for a few seconds, then add the tomato sauce, vinegar, wine, sugar, salt, one-quarter cup water and the reserved cornstarch mixture. Cook and stir until the sauce is thick.
6. Add the shrimp; toss until covered with sauce. Add the green onions, stir, turn out onto a platter and serve.
Each serving: 302 calories; 19 grams protein; 16 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 18 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 168 mg. cholesterol; 508 mg. sodium.

Yang Chow Slippery Shrimp recipe from Bon Appetite Magazine (3/08 issue) is different:

2 pounds uncooked shrimp
6 tbsp plus 4 tsp cornstarch
4 tsp water
1 cup vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 tsp unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp dry sherry
1 cup plus 1 tbsp thinly sliced green onion
Follow directions above.

Yai Thai Restaurant in Hollywood - 2 locations. (Hollywood and Wilton is the original and very small; Hollywood and Vermont opened earlier this year and much bigger). I love pad thai and I always order pad thai whenever I eat at a Thai restaurant. Had very, very tasty pad thai at Yai (original location), only $7; i thought the pad thai was much better here than any other thai restaurant I've tried. Heard the crispy catfish with chili paste was delicious. I prefer to take out at the smaller location.

I've tried making my own americanized version of pad thai. I found a recipe on that used ketchup instead of tamarind sauce. I could not find tamarind anywhere, so I tried the recipe below and it actually came out pretty good. I found asian fish sauce and dried rice noodles in the Asian section at Ralph's grocery.

Pad Thai
3/4 pound rice noodles
3 T Asian fish sauce (Such as naam pla)
3 T Ketchup
2 T Rice Vinegar
1 1/2 T Brown Sugar
1/4 t cayenne pepper
3 T vegetable oil
3 large eggs- lightly beaten
8 garlic cloves
4 shallots-minced or 1 small onion-minced
1 cup medium shrimp
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
4 scallions (green onions)
3/4 cup water

Add dried pasta to boiling water for 1 minute (should be slightly undercooked). Rinse and drain well.
For sauce - Stir fish sauce, ketchup, rice vinegar, brown sugar and cayenne together.

Heat 1 T oil in non stick skillet. Add eggs and stir until they are scrambled. Transfer to bowl.
Heat remaining 2 T oil. Add shallots, then garlic. Add shrimp and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Add sauce, noodles, bean sprouts, scallions (green onions) and the water. Mix together and cook for another 3-5 minutes until water is evaporated. Add egg and toss.

Nijiya Market (on Sawtelle near Olympic) - Grocery store with take out food (both hot and cold). sushi samplers, rolls, bento box. Has microwave to warm up food. $5-$10. Not the best tasting sushi or bento box plates, but affordable and quick.

Favorite Clothing/Shoe Sales which I always visit

American Rag on La Brea (February and August): Has cute shoes, vintage clothing that don't smell as much (cleaner than most re-used stores) - usually cute shoes on sale with mark downs of 30% on first day and get additional mark downs over time, pass on clothing sales which are expensive

LF Stores (Larchmont and Santa Monica) - Similar to Urban Outfitters but much more expensive. Everything was 60% off in the store which started mid-August.

Fred Segal (begins last weekend in September) - original prices totally marked up; prices seem more reasonable at sale but still can be expensive. Santa Monica and West Hollywood locations.

Barney's Warehouse Semi Annually at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica (February and August): hit or miss, expensive first couple of days, then additional mark downs over the coming week.

Loehmann's (August and February) - imports from Italy from major designers at semi-reasonable prices, however can be expensive but discounted significantly from original designer prices.

YOOX - - Great place to find designer stuff. Always has sales items and gets new stuff quite often. No designer fakes sold here.