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

NYE Tahoe 2016 | South Lake Tahoe, CA

2016 was a big year for us. We both got promotions at work, we bought a house in San Diego, and we got married!! No better way to end the year than with the company of friends & family.

This year's annual celebration with friends took place at a cabin in South Lake Tahoe. It was a group of about 22 of us; we've known each other for many years now (from school, work, and friends of friends). The cabin was absolutely beautiful and we ended up really liking the Lake Tahoe area.

In front of our cabin

The view from our back patio

After driving about 5 hours from SF, we settled in and got ready for our Hot Pot dinner. The crew always knows what to get: lots of meat, veggies, and a lot of sauce options.

Gavin & Dan with the meats

The veggies table

After Hot Pot, it was time to get ready for the White Elephant gift exchange! Mike was nervous about his gift (One Chip Challenge) because he wasn't sure if the 'winner' of the gift would actually eat it. Thankfully, Gavin & Corey were pretty pumped about it (more on that later). We ended up with some pretty sweet gifts (Mike got the Portal boardgame and Alice got a deep-fryer) and had some hilarious moments.

Gavin was lucky number 1

Pauline got a pair of hilarious masks (courtesy of Kin)

Kin got Mike's gift (2 One Chip Challenge boxes)

...but then got quickly stolen by Corey

...which then got stolen again and locked by Gavin

Kin then picked another gift and ended up with Alice's (4 glasses with cocktail recipes printed on them)

Alice got the amazing book, The Food Lab (which we already had a copy of)

...but that was stolen by Song-My

...which then got stolen again and locked by Ed

Alice then picked another gift and ended up with a deep fryer! (which eventually got stolen by Annie but then she gave it back to us as a gift :) Thanks Annie!)

Mike ended up with the Portal boardgame (courtesy of Corey)

much annie

so kim

such ed

The next day, most of the group went to the casinos but a few of us stayed and trekked to Lake Tahoe (the largest alpine lake in North America).

Us in our recently bought winter gear (in prep for our trip to Chicago next week)

View from the edge of the lake

Later that night, most of the group went out for SnowGlobe music festival but a few of us chose to stay in. Helen mentioned that she saw some billboards for a prime rib & lobster $20 deal and we excitedly decided that would be our last meal of 2016.

Prime rib & lobster $20 meal (also came with a salad or soup)

The stay-in crew

On the morning of our 3rd day, Gavin & Corey decided to go through with the One Chip challenge. They handled it like champs.

Oh and Muscle March (thanks to Dan Ye for introducing us to this amazing gem). Kim absolutely killed it on her first try, setting a high score of 80.

Howlin' Rays | Los Angeles, CA

Finally had a chance to hit up Howlin' Rays for lunch. Wait was about an hour and we ended up getting Medium Dark, Mild Dark, and a Medium Chicken Sandwich. Hands-down best chicken sandwich Mike has had but still prefer Gus's for chicken straight up.

Medium Dark

Alice also decided to get some baos from the newly opened Baohaus while we were waiting in line. Mike thought they were just OK.

2 fried chicken and 1 pork belly bao

2 fried chicken and 1 pork belly bao