dinner with david spade

Ok, so maybe I didn’t really have dinner with funnyman David Spade, but I got you to read this post! I did, however, have dinner in LA this week at the same restaurant as Spade. In fact, he sat next to us with some unidentifiable woman. In my mind, that’s close enough.

Yes, work brought me back to LA for another quick trip packed with lots of sights and happy bellies. And thankfully, it was a meeting with a client who enjoys eating and good food just as much as we do.

We started the trip with dinner at Woo Lae Oak in Beverly Hills. It’s Korean and my first exposure to it. This is also where we had dinner with, er sat next to, David Spade. I did manage to overhear him tell his lady friend he’s a huge fan of the place and frequents often. I can see why, the space was beautiful and as I’d soon learn, the food was equally as impressive.

My one coworker, as well as my client, are both Korean. So while I did glance at the menu, I knew we were in very good hands and just let the two experts handle the ordering. They did not disappoint and provided great background on the food, some history and other fun learnings as well.

We started with a few appetizers, including Cham Chi Hwe (tuna tartare), shrimp dumplings and Ke Sal Mari (Dungeness crab and leek wrapped in spinach). For dinner, we went family style with several orders of Kal Bi Jim (beef short ribs in a sake ginger soy glaze), Un Dae Gu Jo Rim (black cod in a spicy sweet garlic soy sauce) and Soon Dubu Gijae (spicy seafood soup), plus several sides.

I can’t believe this is the first time I have tried Korean food. I have really been missing out on some fabulous eats! I really enjoyed everything, especially the short ribs, cod and tuna. Wonderful flavors, aroma and presentation. The only thing I didn’t care for was the type of kimchee called Kak du Gi made with radish. This was way too spicy for me and the kick seemed to last forever.

At the end of dinner, the client shared she was taking us to Mario Batali’s new place for lunch the next day, Mozza. My two coworkers instantly looked at me and laughed because they are all too familiar with my Mario obsession.

Since I’ve been to Otto, I was expecting something pretty similar, and I was right. The space itself is significantly smaller than Otto, but boasts the same loud pizzeria feel and lots of fun Italian swag (my favorite was the placemat that tells you how to speak Italian).

I started off with the Umbrian lentils with goat cheese and since pizza is the house specialty, went with the super thin egg, guanciale, radicchio, escarole and bagna cauda pizza. I also ended up with a small portion of the eggplant caponata as well (my pizza wasn’t ready when the others were up, so the server brought me this while I waited – nice gesture).

For me, those lentils were the best thing I tasted on the trip. They would have made Dominic Cerino proud! Extremely flavorful and I especially loved the goat cheese pairing. Honestly, I could have had a giant bowl of the lentils and called it a day. Actually, I could have just had the lentils and eggplant and called it a day. Two fantastic appetizers. The pizza was also enjoyable, but truthfully not as good as the other two items and not as great as I was anticipating. I was expecting something similar to Mario’s one pizza at Otto and it wasn’t. This one was good, and I’m glad I ordered it, but the guanciale was a bit too salty and the radicchio and escarole were slightly overpowering. In truth, even if it was the best pizza ever, I was already full and could only manage a slice.

Nonetheless, knowing I was a few feet away from Mario’s famous olive oil gelato, it didn’t matter how incredibly stuffed I was, I couldn’t leave without having this dessert again. This is another dish I’ve enjoyed at Otto and was hoping it made the menu here – and it did. I tried the gelato sampler with the olive oil, espresso and pistachio flavors.

Easily the olive oil is the best gelato I have ever had. It does taste like pure olive oil, but in a very appropriate, dessert-esque kind of way. The pistachio was also bouncing with flavor. After listening to me rave about the olive oil gelato, everyone tried some and to my surprise, they weren’t as won over as I would have expected. I think they all much preferred the pistachio.

For our last meal before takeoff (thanks to the red-eye, it was a late meal), we went to Sushi Roku in Santa Monica, just a few feet away from where Cameron Diaz was filming a few hours earlier.

We ordered a few rolls, including yellowtail, spicy tuna, caterpillar, unagi and soft shell crab, plus miso soup. Everything was pretty good but not great. I’d have to say my favorite was the caterpillar. I loved the atmosphere and location of this place and would definitely go back because of it. But I think this time, I was just too tired and ready to get home, that I really didn’t give anything a proper chance.

Also on this trip, I tried Pinkberry for the first time. I actually didn’t know too much about it until my coworker pointed it out. It’s a super deluxe frozen yogurt chain that only offers three flavors (original, coffee and green tea) of yogurt with a slew of topping choices.

At first I was like, just three choices? I tried a sample of the original and was really surprised by how good it was. I was expecting TCBY basic vanilla, but it really wasn’t. It was a bit citrusy and really satisfying. I added fresh strawberries and Fruity Pebbles, something I have not had in at least 20 years! And I have to admit, I really liked my childhood cereal on the yogurt. I can see why people refer to this place at Crackberry.

All in all, it was a successful trip out to LA, both for work and for eating. We also had time to do a little exploring and quickly checked out Melrose (picked up a new purse at Fred Segal, which was the last thing I needed), Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and the Sunset Strip. My only complaint about this trip, and CA trips in general, is that Continental doesn’t offer enough flight options. Whenever we travel, each flight is always booked, including the red-eye. More options other than the current two, especially on the way home, would be ideal.