My LA To Z: Omar Akram

The L.A.-based piano composer (and the first Afghan American to win a Grammy) fills us in on where to find mind-blowing sushi, organic Persian food, and the perfect spot for romancing your significant other.

The Getty

The Getty Museum is one of my all time favorite places to go. The view is incredible and there is this beautiful garden. Sometimes, I just go to the café and sit outside. The last exhibit I went to was a while ago, but I like to check out the permanent art installations. The last one I saw was the DaVinci exhibit and it was absolutely amazing—they had some of his sketch work. The experience of going to the museum, seeing the architecture, and just being there is amazing.

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This place is sort of a fancy restaurant but it has a casual atmosphere. I was there recently and they have all kinds of clientele; Larry King was there last time, but there’s a younger crowd, too. Craig himself is a fun guy. When you have a baby, you’re limited in places you can go, but he makes you feel welcome. Plus, they have this incredible vegan Parmesan. I’m not vegetarian, but I love their salad and vegan pasta.

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Johnny Rockets

I used to go here a lot to relax. The location is fun because you can walk up and down on Melrose; you shop and look around, then stop for a burger. I remember going just to sit there, drinking milkshakes and writing music. It’s my casual kind of place.

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Houston’s at Manhattan Beach

Everything here is good. When I moved from the East Coast, I noticed there was a Houston’s here and I was so happy. The atmosphere is dark inside, but it’s an upscale version of a diner. And they have a really great steak salad. I would highly recommend it. 

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Sushi Roku

I love sushi. At Sushi Roku, they have amazing rainbow rolls and their salmon is fantastic. So is the sashimi. When you go there, you recognize a lot of the people who eat there. Tim Robbins was there last time I went. I’ve got to say, it’s one of my favorite sushi restaurants.

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When I want to do something romantic for my wife, we go here. I love Japanese Gardens, and the one at Yamashiro is beautiful–the view from there is just amazing; you’re right on the Hollywood Hills. I would recommend going in the evening because it’s breathtaking. It’s a fancier restaurant, but they have a nice area where you can go in and have a casual drink and take in the scenery. The place is a landmark. 

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ArcLight Cinemas, Hollywood

What I like about this theatre is that you can reserve spots so you have no worries about getting a seat. And it’s nice that they have a café area and restaurant where you can sit down and grab a quick bite to eat. To me, it’s a just great place to watch a movie. It’s been a while but I saw the last Mission Impossible there. Plus, the people who go there are well behaved—that can be a challenge these days.

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Flame Persian Cuisine

This is one of the few places that will serve organic Persian food. I guess my wife saw it on “Shahs of Sunset” and they had lunch there—we were going way before that, though! We would frequent this place quite a bit when my wife was pregnant, so the waiters knew us. For a while there, I was Persian fooded out. But the ambiance is nice and the meat is fresh and organic. Just remember not to park on Westwood Boulevard if you go! 

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Photographs courtesy (in order): (1) WikiMedia Commons (2), (3) WikiMedia Commons, (4), (5), (6), (7) WikiMedia Commons, (8)