Jason Park’s connection to culinary ingenuity began before he was even born. His grandmother, a native Korean, began experimenting with blending Japanese and Korean cooking styles after she studied in Japan. She passed on her techniques and recipes to her daughter, who did the same to a young Jason.
From a young age, Jason showed his affinity for gourmet food by dutifully watching international cooking shows and sounding a trumpet whenever he bit into a perfectly salted popcorn. During college at UCLA, he dabbled in biology and psychology before returning to his true passion for cooking. After spending the next few years honing his skills in the kitchens of restaurants in Los Angeles and Osaka, he opened the doors of his own establishment as the executive chef.
At Maru, Jason draws on his grandmother’s principles of culinary fusion as he blends the flavors and textures of French and Japanese fare. He assembles dishes that range from Mediterranean risotto to sushi rolls using an ever-changing assemblage of seasonal ingredients, which he hand-selects each week at the Santa Monica farmers' market. He also has fresh fish flown in overnight from Japan’s seafood markets.
To complement Maru's continent-spanning dishes, sommeliers assemble balanced lists of local California wines, imported French blends, and Japanese sakes.
It started as a simple idea shared by two moms. Karen Bain and Lisa Kudrika wanted to make their favorite dessert, shave ice, “hip and trendy,” according to 805 Living magazine. So when they opened Shave It—which recently celebrated the grand opening of its new Tarzana location—they made sure to express their sense of style with chic interior design inspired by water, ice, and snow. Inside the shop, blue plexiglass hangs like icicles over steel tables and chairs. Flat-screen TVs broadcast shots of surfers and snowboarders, and a colorful floor changes design with every step.
Each cup of fluffy shave ice comes drenched with fruity “flavas” flown in from Hawaii, such as mango, guava, or green tea, or a combination, such as root beer ice over vanilla ice cream. Beyond the storefront, Shave It also purveys the frozen concoctions on the go, thanks to a mobile truck that is often spotted at beaches and parks, unless its cloaking device is turned on. They also donate a percentage of their sales to their foster-child foundation, Foster a Miracle.
A lot of people get manicures and pedicures for the results. Nail Garden is intent on making sure their clients enjoy the process, as well. After settling into a pedicure chair with a cup of tea or glass of wine, your feet soak in a pipe-free basin with orange slices floating on the water's surface. Nail techs perform a hand or foot massage with each treatment, often using a warmed anti-oxidant oil.
And Nail Garden's techs promise that if your polish chips within the first 72 hours after you get your nails done, they'll redo it and you won't have to pay a single cent in return or give them one of your treasured livestock. These extra touches have drawn a noteworthy crowd, with Us Weekly reporting visits from celebs such as Vanessa Hudgens.
In addition to spa manicures and pedicures, the staff performs treatments such as lash tintings, lash-extension applications, and teeth whitening. Depending on the location, decor elements might include hand-blown light pendants or preserved trees.
Since 1992, Potato Corner has fascinated international crowds with its wholly customizable menu of crispy french fries, though franchises only broke ground in America during February of 2010. The new U.S. shops cropped up in places with lots of foot traffic, entrancing people with the scent of fresh-fried potatoes in malls, airports, theme parks, and at marathon starting lines. Potato Corner’s straight-, loopy-, and criss-cut fries come unadorned in their lightly salted glory, or they can be tossed in gourmet flavorings such as barbecue, cheddar, chili, and sour cream and onion. The shop has also expanded its repertoire to include baked potatoes, chicken tenders, and a butler who tucks cloth napkins into collars in order to sate customers in search of a full meal.
Though passed down through several generations, the family recipes that serve as the basis of Thai Chefs Restaurant’s menu retain the delicate balance of sweetness and spice that characterizes Thai cuisine. Other influences that span Southeast Asia also show up across the menu, whether in colorful curries or stir-fried noodle and rice dishes that blend vegetables with your choice of chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp. When they aren’t dousing short ribs in their house-made barbecue sauce, the restaurant’s chefs craft vegetarian entrees around strips of silky tofu or marinated animal crackers.
The casual dining room seemingly draws its inspiration from the profusion of steamy curries on its tables. Swathes of pale yellow and bright red enshroud the walls, which play host to stenciled artworks depicting tropical-island motifs. Helical sculptures dangle from the ceiling’s tiles, turning in the breeze that passes through the restaurant every time the door opens or the dragon napping in the air ducts sneezes.
Inspired by the traditional handmade clay oven, or tandoor, that roasts many of its signature dishes and breads, Tandoori Grill specializes in slow-cooked Indian recipes. White-meat chicken marinates overnight in a special house sauce before joining herb-steeped lamb and fish in the oven. Curries and kormas flavor lamb, chicken, prawns, and vegetables ready to be scooped up with 11 varieties of naan and other flatbreads. In the dining rom, paintings of the Taj Mahal and other Indian scenes dot burgundy-colored walls that match the tablecloths and clash terribly with redheads.