Wednesday, my last full day in California, felt like my first full California day. I headed out in the morning to check on the Broad Museum, saw that the rest of the city had the same idea, and headed towards the Beverly Center to try what would be my #1 NEW LA FOOD DISCOVERY* OF THE TRIP, a Taiwanese-ish sandwich shop called M. Con. (*Except it's not like I really discovered it. Other people did. I just went because I saw their Instagram pictures and stuff).
First of all, look how charming and well-designed, right? So much good tile. And that's just the rear dining area.
From an understated selection of sandwiches, all coming on what I'd describe as a house-baked scallion pancake English muffin, I picked the porkbelly. There was a ton of belly on their and it was lip-smacking, finger-kissing delicious.
I also ordered a "Bird's nest", a fried egg served on top of a tangle of what I initially took to be fried onions, but as I progressed in my eating began to suspect was a tangle of onion and cabbage and maybe some other things? A keen discerner of ingredients I not always am, but I know what I like, and I liked this.
But here's the M. Con top-secret MVP, their house sambal oelek, which stands above most in-house spicy offerings with its clever inclusion of heavy amounts of cilantro and green onion. At first I used sparingly so as to not clutter the chef's vision for my sandwich, but then I gave in and went full on and ended up basically eating a sambal sandwich with a little pork belly.
Then I did a little Beverly Hills-adjacent exploring and lead on the salespeople at the Leica store a little asking to see the electric viewfinder and a few straps but had the decency to not ask them to unlock any lenses for me.
We're all just proud of Greg for even trying to open a fancy store. It's tough business!
After being out and in that car for hours, I headed back to San Marino but made a final stop in Chinatown to pick up a little second lunch or early dinner from Howlin Ray's, a new Nashville Hot Chicken joint. I ordered their spiciest possible chicken, of course, a move which lead me into conversation with the chef/owner. It was nice to talk a little hot chicken shop with someone, compare notes on other establishments, swap opinions...makes all my previous chicken suffering worth it. A whiff of the chicken in shop let me know it was serious business and once I got home I had to yell a warning at my mother as she almost opened the oil-soaked box with her bare fingers.
Here is that chicken. It was very mean. The spice was just caked on it all over, like a second skin. You could probably snap off pieces of the spices and be left with crispy fried chicken skin to snap off beneath. I made quick work of the leg, ate a bowl of ice cream, and left instructions that Greg eat the thigh when he came around.
I also brought back food for Mom and Grandma: A Top Round Roast Beef on Weck, a Top Round Fried Chicken sandwich, and a Steak In the Heart sandwich from Chego.
That evening I traveled west to meet many good people at the new Chego Taqueria. So good was the gathering that it felt like my trip was really beginning on its last night. I'll spare you the food photos except for one, but know that many tacos and even more blackjack quesadillas were eaten.
Our man Keith, recently arrived from family trip to Utah.
Then we went back to Brandon and Lindsey's house for some interactive video party games that were actually, me proved wrong, pretty fun.
So sad that in a room full of people we're all just looking at our phones. Sigh. Just kidding! That's how you played the game.
Thursday. So sad to see the trip coming to an end. But let's end it right with a porch portrait.
I took the edge off a little (or maybe just rubbed salt in the wound?) with a family lunch at Night + Market Song, my last trip's Food MVP.
The spread. We ordered all the good stuff.
But here's a close-up of their fried chicken sandwiches. Everyone's got a fried chicken sandwich now and I am ok with that!
Asked Mom to pose with this mom
She, in turn, asked me to pose with this photo. Ok. Fair.
Look at this store how it matches the utility box out front to its clothes. Do they repaint with each season?
Ok. And that was it for my LA trip. It was a good time and I hope I was a little useful. I look forward to returning soon, or soon-ish. We'll see.