Beautiful Eyes, Sake, and Kobe Beef.. oh and a view to die for…

Thursday January 19th, 2006

After a crazy first week of school, a sigh of relief is here. Ilene’s going back to New York dinner at Yamashiro in Hollywood. I haven’t seen her in ages and every time i see her, she gets more and more beautiful. I don’t know what it is, but in my experience, the girls i know that are half Spanish and half Korean are simply and amazingly beautiful. I think the more random you get in the mixes, the better the results. The top result of the mixture is most definitely the eyes. Oh the damn eyes. Anyways!
Met up at Leslies after picking up her brother. Ilene was meeting us up there and off to Leslie’s mother workplace to meet and leave to Hollywood. Of course things are never go accordingly to MY PLANS. I like to say im easy going and which i am, but certain things i just like to follow a schedule. Pretty much off schedule since i was wanting to leave at 6, get to west Covina around 6:30, bullshit around until 7 and then off to Hollywood to make the reservations at 8.
Left at 7 and headed straight to Yamashiro. At this point I was pissed because i said clearly that we were leaving at 6. Almost told at the last second we should just go straight to the restaurant. Again the only good thing is looking at Ilene’s eyes. Finally left, and Ilene up front. I just kept it quiet and bumped my Panic! At the Disco. However Leslie wanted Craig David which eventually Ilene did too. I wasn’t going to have it. I caught Leslie trying to push my feelings towards Ilene. Leslie has asked me before to make some copies of the photos i took of Damien Marley. I told her no, just to see how far she was going to go and that was that. Recently i told her not to tell Ilene to ask me since i most likely couldn’t say no to her. So when Leslie was trying to get the Craig David cd put in, she made a comment like, “Cmon Anh, its Ilene… You know.. Ilene.” She was sooo leading, and then Ilene got into it, and i was steadfast and just listen along to my cd.
Eventually I did put it in since i listened to all the songs i wanted to hear. The third track of the album, “The Story Goes” entitled Hypnotic got Ilene all into it. Nice.. Now if i ever hear the song, it’s going to remind me of her.
Made good time into the city and got to the restaurant. Which is right by the Magic Castle and around the corner from the Hollywood Bowl. You have to go up this little street and around the corner on a pretty steep incline. After going up and around for what it seems like forever. Arrived right in front of the place to bored looking valet attendants. Handed over the keys and to the left you see all of Los Angeles. I mean ALL of Los Angeles. From the skyline in downtown to Sunset Blvd to Beverly Hills to what I think was the skyline of Universal City. It was just one of the best views I have seen in my life. The wind was blowing out, which usually means not a cloud in sight. It was just amazing!
A little history on this place….
Yamashiro means “Mountain Palace” in Japanese. It was the dream of the Bernheimer brothers in 1911 to build a hilltop mansion 250 feet above Hollywood Boulevard to house their priceless collection of Asian treasures. Hundreds of skilled craftsmen were brought from the Orient to recreate an exact replica of a palace located in the “Yamashiro” mountains near Kyoto, Japan. This dream became a reality in 1914.
Read the rest of the History of Yamashrio

Had a little wait time before we were seated.The bar area faced the overall view of the city, which of course was amazing. We were then seated in the Sunset Room, which I sort of requested. You can kinda see the view in the photo since that picture is pretty much where we were sitting.
Most of the view was right behind me, i could have easily traded sides at the table but i didnt mind. I had the eyes to enjoy instead. Ordered off the bat some calamari and got some Sake. The cheapest one there which was a cold milky, “Nigori.” You can feel the milky consistancy and wasnt too strong. Calamari was totally good.
Looking around the menu, especially at the entrees, the items looked sooo good yet really expensive. The number one thing that caught my eye was the kobe beef and there was the kobe beef with grilled prawns. Goodness they were expensive. How expensive? Well Kobe beef can go for 300 bucks a pound. A flippin pound!! The whole thing around it is that the cow is massaged daily and fed beer. However I read that its fed beer to induce an appetite during the summer. Another thing i read is that the cow could be born and raised anywhere but ended up in Kobe, Japan when slaughter, its still technically and legally still Kobe Beef. Well i over looked that and decided upon the Grilled Seafood which included lobster, calamari steak, scallops, shrimp, mahi mahi among other things. The Black Bean Lobster in risotto caught the eye but i wanted something different sorta and fairly less expensive.
Ilene got the Sitting Buddha Sushi roll which actually tasted like a Spring Roll i am accustom to. Other sushi we got were Dragon Roll, Rainbow Roll, Catipiller roll and a Sushi box which included 20 pieces of typical random sushi. I was gonna share a Sashimi Sampler with Brandon but our waitress Yoshi convinced me to get the Toro Tuna sashimi special. Entrees we ordered, I got the Grill Seafood and Ilene got the Kurobuta Pork Chop. I guess the cooks made it twice and we ended up getting the one they sent out also. Leslie’s eventually arrived and Leslie preordered her a Kobe Steak. Thats what im talking about.
Her mom gave me a good chunk of the Kobe beef and man o man. The best flippin meat i have EVER tasted. Kobe Beef is known for the unique marbelization of the fat interweaving with the actual meat. This meat doesnt need nothing. No A1 sauce, just light salt and pepper on the grill to a medium rare perfection. I honestly was chewing each piece about 50 times before swallowing. It tasted that damn good!!! Now this must be how the other half wines and dines.. Oh yes!!
The lobster i had was pretty good. The sushi was ok, decent i say. I wasnt really impress but Yamashiro, even though it has a Japanese history, but it states its cuisine as “CalAsian.” Other than that, everything else was wonderful. The ice tea has a really strong flavor.
A lot of conversation, and laughs and fun. I refrained myself from pulling the good ol “Thats what she said,” on Ilene. I mean there were some key moments, but i wanted just to hang out and be cool. It was brought up and little Brandon whos only in fifth grade hears me say it but he doesnt understand the context of how to use it. Its totally funny sometimes when he says it and it actually fits the context of the usage. Chitter chatter was fun.
Dessert was even better. We got 4 deserrts.. I picked up some cream puff thingy. It was ok, Leslie and Ilene shared something. I didnt recall. Leslie’s mom got a Strawberry Donuts which were really good since it had this strawberry sauce and Brandon got the various sorbet. A great way to end a great night of food, views and conversations. It was even better since i didnt have to pick up the check. I could barely pick up the Kobe Beef tab, i dont think everything combine i could have handled. I dont know the total but i do know how much the tip was, so i could do some math and figure it out.

Afterwards we all hit the bathrooms. The way you have to take to get to the bathroom you go through the Koi Pond dining area. The was vacant since it was not really a busy night and any normal person would pick the view over the view of potentially century living old Koi. What sucks is that there wasnt a walk way to get down to see the Koi upclose but i guess its just part of teh ambience.
I made it back to the table to chat alone with Leslie’s mom. She was digressing on the day, and of course i put my witty intelliegent comments and off to the outside. Rigtht in front of the entrance where you see the view of the city is a little Japanese inspired garden. You can see the Pagoda which i guess is the oldest structure in California.

Walked around each side of the garden while Ilene was taking pictures. I told her what I learn from Anthony Bourdain, I told her, “Be a traveler, not a tourist.” This goes for everyone who reads this. You should know the difference.
More photos, posing and so on. Our cars came from the valet and off we go. I decided just to cruise around Hollywood and Sunset to show Ilene the sights. I mean she lived in California but its always nice to point out the landmarks and such. Drove around and then off back to Rancho. I was thinking maybe we should hit up a club and just dance the night away. Manny was doing Scribbles in Diamond Bar but i figured nah.
Headed to Leslies to hang a litle, tried to do some computer stuff. Was going to head back to Ilenes but i was tired and we headed over to my house for a little. Did whatever and that was the night. It was a totally fun night and Ilene gets back from school in May. Its going to be a good summer for sure! HAHA…
Kobe is some good shit!! the Beef and the Laker. 81 damn points!!!

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About Anh Nguyen

Anh Nguyen is a Los Angeles based freelance photographer. Over the past six years, he has covered various concerts, movie premieres, red carpets, parties, and events. A southern California native, Anh attended UCLA and holds a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy and a minor in Accounting. In addition to photography, he is currently pursuing his license as a CPA and hopes to go law school. Adding to his many interests, Anh also loves to cook and has worked as a line cook for Food Network's celebrity chef Scott Conant's restaurant, Scarpetta, in Beverly Hills.