Tag Archives: santa monica

Fitness & Wellness Job Opening

While this isn’t a job opening to work with Hungry & Fit, we wanted to share this opportunity for anyone already in the LA area or anyone interested in moving to the LA area, specifically Santa Monica. The Santa Monica YMCA is a beautiful facility located right in the center of downtown Santa Monica, blocks away from the Promenade, a Yasiel Puig home run away from the beach and boardwalk.

It’s a unique space that has a basketball court, racquetball courts, group exercise studios, indoor cycling, an old school free weight area, cardio machines, a gymnastics room, two pools, a hot tub, sauna, steam room, an area with mats and a heavy bag, and much more. It’s not your standard gym, but it has everything from an old school t-bar row to a Versa Climber. In my opinion, there is a lot that can be done with this space.

A pic from us working out at the SM YMCA

A pic from us working out at the SM YMCA

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Fit’s Food Review: La Vecchia (Santa Monica, CA)

La Vecchia has always been a “treat” or “very special occasion” for my family and I. Most of you know I grew up in Santa Monica, California, and that’s where this gem is located. Whether it was birthday dinner, graduation dinner, or someone special from out of town visiting. I always have fond memories of being so excited and sitting in the restaurant devouring their delicious warm perfectly-cooked bread. It’s my mum’s favorite Italian place in town.

On this day, our last day in town during Memorial Day Weekend, my mum wanted to take us somewhere special for lunch before our flight. She would take no refusal on HER paying for lunch and she decided on La Vecchia’s. So we went RIGHT at opening–11am. It was hard to even get in because tree cutters were blocking the entrance. Finally, we got seated (first ones in so we knew everything was going to be OH SO FRESH). Chris didn’t know what he was in for but I was so excited, basically drooling for what was to come. The waiter came right up to us and gave us water and…yes, you know it, BREAD. And their amazing dipping sauce. I was in heaven.

photo 1 (39)Each slice was as warm, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside as ever. Just as good as I remembered it. And that garlic-basil-olive oil dipping sauce is out of this world. Basic ingredients, but they do it right. Now another food I always remember from La Vecchia is the fried calamari. My mum really wanted to treat us so we got the calamari and a tuna salad. The calamari was just as good as I remember and the tuna was fresh. Awesome appetizers.

Calamari

Calamari

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When I was little, I would always always always order the angelhair pasta. It was the only pasta I would eat from here. With olive oil and garlic. Mmm! However, I wasn’t in the mood for that today and actually had a really tough time deciding. Eventually I landed with the margherita pizza which I of course could not finish. My mum got fish and roasted vegetables and Chris got spaghetti and meatballs (classic Italian dish–he always has to go for this or chicken parm to try new Italian places out).

My pizza

My pizza

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Spaghetti and meatball

Spaghetti and meatball

Close-up!

Close-up!

Overall, we were very happy with each of our dishes. The veggies were roasted to perfection for my mum and the fish was seasoned beautifully yet subtly. The pizza had a nice thin, crisp crust and the cheese wasn’t overwhelming. Great balance of flavors. Chris really enjoyed the spaghetti and meatballs because it was fresh, the flavors were wonderful, the tomato sauce wasn’t too heavy, and the pasta was cooked just right. The only tragic thing about this meal was that we couldn’t eat our leftovers since we were going on the plane! I’m still regretting that. If you’re in Santa Monica, stop by La Vecchia on Main St. for a bite to remember and a great way to stay hungry and fit!

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BONUS KITTY PIC

The only way of seeing Nymeria in pictures at night is with the flash on

The only way of seeing Nymeria in pictures at night is with the flash on

Peruvian in Downtown LA: Mo Chica (Hungry’s Food Reviews)

This is another one of my “should just be a Yelp review” because it could be short and it’s going to be negative but I want to talk about the subject more than usual because it’s Peruvian food. As a whole food culture, it has to be one of my favorites, if not my absolute favorite. It’s generally a mix of Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish food. The diversity in the dishes is unbelievable and the development of flavors is unparalleled. One of my go to dishes when in Peru was lomo saltado and I’ve had gallons on gallons of Inca Kola so now let’s talk about Mo Chica.

A few months ago, the LA Times published its list of 100 or so best restaurants in Los Angeles for the year. We were conveniently in Santa Monica for the long weekend at the time. To our dismay, many of the locations listed were very expensive and not places we frequented. Therefore, I arrogantly thought the list was garbage, a mere compilation of advertisements and favors. But how could I be a fair judge without trying the other places? I had to try one and conveniently that ended up being Mo Chica for a second late lunch on a Sunday afternoon. We had Sugarfish (sushi) and I was NOT full. Kai told us that Mo Chica was on the newly formed list and when I saw it was Peruvian, I did not hesitate.

Inside

Inside

Mo Chica actually reminded me of other New York City Peruvian restaurants that actually were not very good. It didn’t remind me of the good places in the Jersey ghettos and in Peru itself. Nevertheless, I ordered the lomo saltado for takeout. Orders come with two sides but the host informed me that they couldn’t give me sides since it was takeout and the price remained. I was so excited that I had no problem with that (I would regret that). While we were waiting, I saw an employee carrying a six-pack of Inca Kola to the bar. Inca Kola is the drink of Peru, literally, that is what the can says. It tastes like golden bubblegum soda. I told the host to throw that on the take out order so Alana could try some. Then I got the food and bill, so it was time to pay and eat.

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15 dollars for the lomo, 4 for the soda. Are you kidding? Four dollars for a can of soda? I can buy a six-pack in New Jersey for $2.50. I can get a two-liter bottle for a dollar! It’s even cheaper in Peru. I know you don’t have to import that stuff so how can it be so expensive? Crazy. And 15 for the lomo? Okay, but without the sides? This better be the best lomo that I’ve ever had. Well as you can see in the pictures, which were taken before I ate anything, I think they forgot half my food. It was the smallest portion of that dish I’ve ever gotten. And what I got wasn’t good! It was okay and they gave me very little rice! It felt like I was robbed.

Where's the rest of the rice?

Where’s the rest of the rice?

How can you ruin a dish like this? It’s basically onions, high quality beef, and french fries cooked in a pan with delicious flavors. Even in the bad areas of Lima, for a dollar, I got bigger portions of higher quality product. Safe to say that I have no interest in returning for the other dishes if they can’t get lomo right. And after seeing the portion sizes and prices of the other dishes, I really can’t see what reason I have to return anyways. For other LA locals that don’t know Peruvian food and get caught up in the trend, I hope you enjoy it and keep them in business. They seem like nice people and the service was good. We’ll just leave it at the fact that it doesn’t seem like Grandma and Mom made this food. It seems more like it was the cool son that cared about being trendy and looking fancy, not being authentic and full of flavor.

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Disappointing. Please find a GOOD Peruvian restaurant as in my opinion, it is probably the best ethnic cuisine there is. It has everything you need and want and more. Eating Peruvian food really is a great way to stay hungry and fit!

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A Beautiful Summer Beach Wedding (First to Get Married)

This is going to be a very happy post because it was a very happy day for everyone. One of (probably my absolute best, top 2 ^_^) my very close friends recently got married to a great guy. Memorial Day Weekend 2013, Laura and Tim Johnson were married in a beautiful ceremony at the nicest church in Santa Monica, CA.

Woohoo!

Woohoo!

First, Laura went to college and met Tim. Then when we went back to LA, we visited them at Pepperdine University and went out for Thai food. We didn’t get to hang out much but Tim seemed like a really nice guy and we got along pretty well. So, I was actually happy for Laura, which is saying a lot because she’s kind of family. (A slightly younger little sister) Later, she tells us they’re engaged and we get the save the date. Excited! We buy our plane tickets for Memorial Day Weekend and then it’s the big day out of nowhere. Here comes the good part!

Before we got there

Before we got there

Getting ready for wedding...Chris the self-proclaimed French hairstylist

Getting ready for wedding…Chris the self-proclaimed French hairstylist

Alana and I show up LATE to the ceremony. That’s right. We show up after the bride and have to slip into the church through a side door. Felt horrible but who wants a boring wedding? I don’t think it ruined anything and Laura seemed so into it (and nervous) that she probably didn’t even see. Too many important people there anyway. It was a short and enjoyable traditional ceremony. The priest was very funny and made the boring parts really fun.

Yay!

Yay!

It was just great seeing Laura and Tim up there. Stuff happened… and then they kissed! We cheered, they left, everyone left, we left. Then, we decide to go to the spot for the reception in a limo bus with her family and closest friends. Alana and I talked to her parents in the bus and they remembered who I was. Her mom has such a great memory and is the sweetest lady ever. Laura’s dad is super nice too. Then, when we get to Casa del Mar (nicest hotel in Santa Monica, great restaurant) we find out that the reception doesn’t start for 4 hours! Oops, we didn’t do our homework. So then we slip out the back door and make our way to Bay Cities for lunch. I texted Laura and Tim to see if they wanted any but it seems like they were too busy so no Bay Cities for them!

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Leaving for the RECEPTION this time

Leaving for the RECEPTION this time

Finally we come back for the reception and it was top-notch. Casa del Mar and the host families did not disappoint. The cocktail hour included a free open bar, SUSHI, oysters, sliders, and more. You can see the pictures, including one where Alana tried her first oyster off the shell. Then we all got moved inside and we were seated at Table #2, which had all couples that were basically all from Pepperdine. The only person I know besides those 4 already mentioned was Evi, the maid of honor. I never got the chance to say hi but she made an awesome speech, along with the best man, all the parents, etc. Really heart-felt and nice warm reception. The food was all amazing, especially the filet mignon. On to the entertainment.

Cocktail hour

Cocktail hour

NEVER AGAIN

NEVER AGAIN

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Drool...

Drool…

Alana's stuffed veggie plate

Alana’s stuffed veggie plate

Beautiful table

Beautiful table

They hired a very talented band of all kinds of musicians and vocalists that covered tons of songs. We went from Motown to hip hop to country to GREECE! There was a Greek-Armenian (I think) artist who was hilarious. He had such great charisma and energy and we could tell that everyone that could understand him was loving it. So we were loving it too. They danced traditional Greek dances to traditional songs and we watched. Alana was jealous that she wasn’t Greek. It was a great mix of a traditional American and Greek wedding. Everyone had a great time and we left a little early because we were getting a ride home from Alana’s generous father around midnight (what, are we in high school?). The best part of the night for me was getting to give Laura and Tim a good bear hug and get a picture with the bride. I snuck in and out while they had ten free seconds in between events and songs. I barely made it but I’m glad I did and I’m super happy for them.

Band

Band

Greek/Armenian singer

Greek/Armenian singer

Father/Daughter

Father/Daughter

GREEK DANCE

GREEK DANCE

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Hopefully we get a chance to visit them in their new home soon! Congrats you two and we better have reunions in Jersey, LA, and everywhere else! Cant’ say enough about that day and wish everyone could have been there! Good luck Laura and Tim. We’re here for you if you need anything! The big picture is that if you are really close and care about certain people then you can just see them after years and it’s like you never missed a day without seeing them. One of Alana’s clients who is an absolutely lovely lady told us that yesterday and it’s so true. Always be there for those good friends because having those extra support systems can mean the world to people. Loving your real family and friends can give you the support to stay hungry and fit!

(P.S. – I haven’t seen any of the Twilight series movies, nor do I plan on seeing them anytime soon. However, Laura and Tim’s first dance was to Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” and that was my favorite part of the night. Love that song)

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Bride & Groom

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The Japanese Taco Masters: Sunny Blue (Santa Monica, California)

During my time in school in South Korea, I found it very challenging to maintain my daily caloric intake of 10,000-12,000. One reason is the food is extremely healthy and calorically low. The second is that the servings are tiny compared to those in the United States. Finally, so much of the food is extremely spicy and very painful for me to eat because of my geographic tongue. The result was I first found out how to say, write, and read wrappers for food. The first words I learned were beef, chicken, tuna and spicy/hot.

I learned how to read the wrappers on a portable food called kimbap, or gimbap, or however you spell or say it. The g and k sound in Korean is one of the tricky ones to learn how to differentiate between when you learn the language. It’s pronounced kimbap, if you’re American. I lived on these… I mean I must have had at least 6-12 a day and they were not of the highest quality. They were typically from 7-11 or a local market similar to 7-11 depending on where I was. We had one of these markets in our residence hall on campus so I got all the ones I could from there. Typically, I would have the not spicy tuna with mayo. It gave me the protein I needed, wasn’t spicy, and had some extra calories from the mayo. It was good, it made me happy and it only led to me losing 30 pounds in Korea as opposed to maybe 40. That’s another story I’ll cover in the future when I talk about my fitness journey and goals. So why did I bother to tell you all this history… well this is why.

Tuna

Tuna

On Main Street in Santa Monica, you can find an amazing little food shop called Sunny Blue. Fit and I went there the first week they opened a few years ago and it was dead every day. The female owner, Keiko,  was nearly the only one working there but we frequented it every day during that week in Samo. Why? Because they served omusubi, or onigiri, or rice balls. These are the Japanese twin of my kimbaps and I was thrilled to find it. They are VERY similar and this location does not lack quality control and creating great flavor profiles. They make all of their omusubi fresh for you. The ingredients are prepared earlier but they are assembled to order, and freshly seasoned in the process.

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Over the past few years, they have gotten much more popular and now when we visit, the line is out the door. We are thrilled that they have seen such growth and success because they deserve it for their devotion to their craft. They also serve some traditional Japanese sodas, shrimp chips, and frozen yogurt. When we got the froyo when they first opened, it wasn’t quite the quality of YogurtLand nor did it match their level of omusubi, so we’ve never tried their froyo again. Nevertheless, Sunny Blue is a must stop-by food location in Los Angeles, and the brilliance is you can eat one whenever. I don’t care how full you are from lunch, each rice ball is a snack sized treat that can find its way to your stomach.

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From our most recent trip, yesterday, the menu has expanded to include daily specials and a long list of classic selections. Popular choices include: miso mushroom, hijike shitaki, tuna mayo, tokyo tori, curry chicken, miso beef, and more. Those are our favorites because of the lack of spice, but richness of other flavors. They are reasonably priced in the range of $2.50-$5.00 depending on what you get. I’ve actually never seen one for more than $4.50 so $3-4 is a more accurate range for the normal menu. PLUS, now they sell very cute t-shirts! Sunny Blue is a hungry and fit favorite. We even learned to make it ourselves so when we depart Santa Monica, we can somewhat resemble the deliciousness. It tastes delicious, is light on the wallet, and can definitely help you stay hungry and fit!

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Tuna

Tuna