n/naka (#3) | Los Angeles, CA

After our trip to Chicago for Alinea, we discussed with Alex where our next stop was going to be and we decided it was going to be n/naka. n/naka is our favorite restaurant in the world. Our first visit was in 2013 and our second visit was last year when Mike's mom was in town. It has everything we look for in a perfect meal -- the food (Japanese is our favorite), the ambience, the service. It just feels like an amazing meal at a friend's house.

We weren't sure when we were going to go, but with us moving to San Diego at the end of the month, we decided to go before the move. Alex worked his waitlist magic, and he snagged us reservations within a couple weeks! 

As usual, the staff recalled our previous visits and let us know that the menu would be completely new (except for Chef Niki's signature abalone pasta -- Alice's favorite dish in the world). And as usual, everything was absolutely delicious. The standout dishes of the night were the seared amberjack (with beet and nori puree), the abalone pasta, and the sushi.

Chef Niki's signature abalone pasta

In addition to the great food, the night was filled with great drinks and even better company. A few highlights captured below

Coming up with WiFi network names

Cherishing the juices of the A5 Wagyu and Foie Gras

#HIPHOPBAG HOTEL

Our zen rock for the night

The group with Chef Niki

Alinea | Chicago, IL

Mike and our friend, Alex Cho, had been talking about going to Alinea for months and we made it happen over MLK weekend. We booked The Alinea Kitchen Table and it was a unique and really fun experience. 

Alice getting ready at the airbnb

Chris & Kyle looking sharp

When we arrived at the restaurant, Alex was outside waiting for us. We then went into the unmarked building, checked in our coats, and was led to the kitchen to be greeted by our first course at the table: freshly cooked bread with various spreads & toppings. Mike's favorite was the Alaskan King Crab.

After our first course and Kyle had a number of refills of the bread, we were led inside the Kitchen for a special cocktail. 

After the cocktail, we were seated back at our table and was asked to 'spot the differences' from when we left to when we came back. One new addition was this beautiful assortment of citru was a string of delicious and beautifully plated courses.

At this point we were all feeling pretty stuffed but once we saw the balloons start coming out, we got SO excited and forgot about how full we were.

Balloons start coming out & Grant sighting

After that came the finale where the chefs came out and plated the final course to some music. One of the pieces of art above our table was used as the canvas for the course.

Kyle & Liz excited once the music came on and the lights dimmed

It was an unforgettable night and we ended it with a group photo with Grant Achatz.

Exploring Chicago | Chicago, IL

Alex Cho and Mike had been talking for months about making a trip to Alinea (Michelin 3-star) and we were able to get reservation for MLK weekend. We stayed in an airbnb apartment in Ukranian Village for 3 nights and had a jampacked itinerary.

 

The Art Institute of Chicago

Our first trip was to The Art Institute of Chicago; we wish we had more time to explore!! We only were able to stay for a few hours and only got a small peek at all the amazing exhibits. If we lived in Chicago, we'd definitely be members.

Us in front of The Art Institute of Chicago

 

Picklebacks & Fatsos

Later that night, after the amazing meal at Alinea (see post here), we hit up a few bars with good company and good drinks. We also took our first picklebacks -- we can never go back to another chaser.

The gents (minus Alex Shapiro)

The ladies

After drinks we got some late-night Chicago-style dogs at Fatso's near our airbnb. Fatsos was definitely a place we'll never forget -- we went there our first 2 nights for food and on the 3rd night (we didn't go), there was a shooting there and a person got murdered. Super spooky.


Deep-dish pizza @ Lou Malnati's

No trip to Chicago would be complete without a stop for some deep-dish pizza. Out of all the choices, we picked Lou's (the fave from the majority of our friends). There was no wait and it was 👌👌

The Malnati Chicago Classic

 

The Bean @ Millennium Park

After the deep-dish pizza, we walked it off by heading to Millennium Park. We also made some stops for face-swaps along the way.

The Chicago River

The Bean aka Cloud Gate

 

The Aviary, Au Cheval, The Second City

After our trip to Millennium Park, Alex & Andy put our names down on the waitlist for Au Cheval (3 hour wait!!) and we all met up for our reservation at The Aviary. Mike got a 3-cocktail course (LeBron Chewbacca, Jungle Bird, Doppia Bevande) and Alice got the Up the Ice Ante. They were some of the tastiest and most creative cocktails we've ever had. We also met Alex's friend Andy and had a great time chatting.

After hanging out for 3 hours, our table was ready at Au Cheval and we got the famous burgers with fried eggs and bacon.

After dinner, we finished the night off with a show at the legendary improv theatre, The Second City.