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My LA to Z: Brooke Williamson
Any way you slice it, this Top Chef alum and chef/owner of Tripel and Hudson House (her newest endeavor, Playa Provisions, opens tomorrow) can’t get her fill of the L.A. food scene. See where she partakes in ice cream-stuffed shaved ice, Korean steamed crab, and Sunday morning crepes
It’s in Westchester, and it’s fantastic because it’s five minutes from my house. But in my opinion it’s the best Thai in L.A. It’s clean, fantastic, flavorful food. The papaya pok-pok salad is perfectly balanced and delicious, and I don’t feel bad eating it. It’s a green papya, traditional Thai sald with fish sauce dressing. It’s phenomenal. The best thing to do is get a side of the sticky rice, and when you’re done with the salad, put the rice in and let it soak up the rest of the vinaigrette—that’s the way to do it.
Playa Del Rey Beach
It’s unique and rarely crowded. The bike path is probably the least crowded of all the beach bike paths, and there’s a beautiful view of the ocean. It’s the perfect place to go on a family bike ride on a Sunday. Also when I choose to run on the beach, that’s where I go. It has jetties so I can track how far I’ve gone.
Blockheads Shavery Company
Shaved ice is one of my favorite things. You can add super fun, wonderful condiments like sweetened condensed milk or adzuki beans, or sometimes they stuff it with some type of ice cream in the center and then there’s ice on the outside. It’s perfect when it’s hot outside. My son is obsessed with it, too. I actually found out about it from someone on Instagram. I follow a ton of people on Instangram; It’s the best way for me to get inspired.
This is tied with Shibucho on Beverly and Dillon-ish. If I were to do a date night, I’d always choose sushi. I don’t get to eat it very often because of the expense or distance, but I’d drive to Sushi Sushi any day of the week. It’s beautifully, precisely cut fish that’s fresh and clean. And I’ve been going to Shibucho since I was 18. You can get some of the best sushi in the city super late at night. They have a phenomenal red burgundy list because it’s their idea of the perfect beverage to drink with sushi.
Pacific Fish Center & Restaurant
It’s kind of cafeteria-style, and most of the people there are Korean. We’re always the random white people in the corner. I go there for their fresh steamed crab and their sashimi salad. They also have really yummy kimchi stew. There’s a spicy sauce that’s a little sweet for you to dip the crab into, and the whole thing is very interactive. They give you mallets! It’s the whole experience. And their salad has a ton of sashimi over sticky rice. Pour the spicy sauce over it. It’s incredible.
Mandeville Canyon Fire Road
There’s a wonderfull eight mile fire road up Mandeville Canyon that is kind of our special getaway hike. When you get to the top you’re totally exhausted but you feel really accomplished. It’s about four and a half miles up, very steep the last two miles, and then you run down. It’s beautiful and lush, but there’s lots of poison oak. I never do it in less than two hours.
Happy Relax Foot Massage
It’s really random and unassuming, and I was scared of it until one day I decided I needed a foot massage. It’s an open room, probably 12 beds in one open room, and you lie down in a cot while someone works on you. They totally know what they’re doing and it’s so relaxing and incredible.
We have a new pastry chef at Tripel, Hudson House, and Playa Provisions, which opens Friday. She makes these warm chocolate chip cookies that are really simple but they’re big and chewy and crunchy on the outside, and they come with bourbon and vanilla milk. I could be happy ending up at any of those restaurants for dessert.
It’s still one of my favorite places in the Valley, mostly because of a nostalgia thing: It’s where my dad would take me when I was younger. They have super-thinly shaved corn beef on rye with Swiss cheese, cole slaw, and Thousand Island dressing. When my dad’s in town we jump at the chance to go, but my parents have moved to Mexico so it doesn’t happen that often.
They only take cash and there’s always a line, so you have to get there right when they open if not 20 minutes ahead of that. It’s really inexpensive for how much food you get. And you can get sides of spicy tuna rolls. I usually order way too much because I feel like I’ll never be able to make up for the time in between my visits. I would probably say that it’s the best ramen I’ve had in the whole city.
Mar Vista Farmers’ Market
We go to the Santa Monica market too but for different reasons. This one is more of a Sunday experience. They have these Nutella crepes every Sunday morning that my son looks forward to. These are the meals he gets: Nutella crepes and fermented vegetable broth. I like to stock up on lotus root and kimchi and tons of tempeh from Dave’s Korean, so that’s half of the reason why we go. They also have a stand that has the best stone fruit when stone fruit is in season. It’s less vegetable shopping, more Sunday breakfast.
Photographs courtesy (in order): (1-3, 7-9) facebook.com, (4) flickr.com/syvwlch,(5) flickr.com/Christina Xu, (6) mandevillecanyonassociation.com, and (10) marvistafarmersmarket.org