Sandra Tsing Loh on the complications of meeting friends for dinner in LA.
It sounds like either the opening line of a JOKE or a WORD problem from math class: “Three LA women want to go OUT together for DINNER on a Thursday. One lives in Pasadena, another in SOUTH Pasadena, the THIRD in mid-Wilshire— On THIS day the woman living in Pasadena is LEAVING at 5 p.m. from DOWNTOWN. And mid-WILSHIRE needs to be home by 9:30. And South PAS needs to take her daughter to the farmer’s market, can’t leave ‘til 6:15. Oh, and since we’re all feeling BROKE after TAX day, it has to be both cozy and CHEAP.”
It is a tribute to the strength of our FRIENDSHIP that my two GIRLFRIENDS and I are even ATTEMPTING this.
On the morning of the appointed day, Mid-Wilshire makes an opening gambit -- in a brilliant stroke of inspiration, she suggests—via email-- some cheap but GREAT little Koreatown boite. It’s a BOLD gambit, given that none of us KNOWS of such a boite, and none of us particularly LIKES Korean food.
But I google, I wiki, I yelp, and eventually hit the golden triangle of descriptors—Koreatown, Jonathan Gold, and “surprisingly inexpensive”-- Just to be SAFE I find a photo to ensure this is NOT just all about kimchi and tentacles because sometimes Jonathan Gold can steer you wrong but, no, it isn’t, and the plan is MADE.
But as I’m trolling up Vermont at 5:15, mid-WILSHIRE chimes IN and says now South PAS can’t leave until 6:30, so maybe we should all meet at an Italian joint there instead? I now call South PAS and she says that the problem with the ITALIAN place is she ALWAYS RUNS INTO PEOPLE SHE KNOWS. Suddenly she says, “My Taco in Highland Park is good!” although she admits it’s weak on ambience--
I am driving in CIRCLES now—
“Downtown,” she says suddenly, “There’s that new gourmet WURST place!” It occurs to me that my friends are people who read too many RESTAURANT reviews in too many odd PLACES-- They’re always remembering just one disjointed PHRASE about the restaurant like “it’s really hip,” “gourmet wurst,” or “crab apple martinis,” none of which EVER sound remotely GOOD to me. And they can never recall the name or LOCATION.
South Pas literally says to me: “The gourmet wurst place—it’s downtown near the GARMENT district thingie where like black CHURCH ladies would buy HATS.”
Finally I just pay $7 to park and walk into the FIRST place I can find—Senor Fish!
Later, clinking margaritas, mid-Wilshire says: “There’s an IPHONE app for this!”
Oh really? Then NEXT week, we’ll arrange dinner out for four! What can go wrong?