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.
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.
Authentically prepared in true Philly fashion, the cheesesteaks at Downtown Philly Cheese Steaks smother 100% beefsteak with melted cheese, tomato, onions, and lettuce. The Downtown Philly menu offers much more though, with tasty fare ranging from 100% sirloin char-broiled burgers to gourmet pizzas, Stromboli, and more than 10 varieties of salads. The menu also displays 12 styles of hoagies and grinders including the genoa salami hoagie and the chicken cordon bleu hoagie.
With 40 years of sandwich-making expertise, Togo's gives party planners an extensive catering menu from which to choose their spread. Sandwich trays ($45 regular size, feeds 10), the Endless Combinations platter ($65, feeds up to eight with 16 half sandwiches of four different varieties, plus a regular salad), and a 3- to 8-foot Party Footer (feeds up to 32 people; prices vary depending on sandwich type and size) will supply sustenance for Valentine's Day group gatherers, enthusiastic Presidents' Day celebrators, and supporters of early-February professional American football championships.
The chefs at The Pita Pit stuff fresh white and wheat pitas with patrons' choice of more than a dozen toppings, 14 sauces, and four cheeses. Like placing sequins on a turtleneck, diners customize their pitas to taste, but the eatery's menu suggests premade configurations such as the spicy black-bean vegetarian pita with an array of garden greens and the prime-rib pita, which cossets taste buds with tender slices of beef. Sink herbivorous fangs into the falafel pita or give a coliseum-style thumbs-up to the chicken caesar pita filled with bacon and parmesan cheese. Any wrap can slip off its pita to seduce tongues in the form of a salad loaded with toppings such as hummus, cucumbers, and pineapple.