Perry’s star-studded birthday in Los Angeles

For five fun-filled days, Perry, Kei, and I headed down to LA to celebrate Perry's birthday. What started as a loosely planned trip turned into one filled with amazing food, tons of shopping, and a few celebrity sightings that left us starstruck.

Our first taste of LA

Hopped off the plane at LAX after a quick 50-minute flight from SFO. Thanks to Virgin America, I got to prep with an episode of Shahs of Sunset.

Perry, Kei, and I picked up our car and experienced our famous LA's notorious traffic while en route to Kimi's place in North Hollywood. We made it, and after we settled in and freshened up, we consulted Yelp to find our dinner destination. Robata JINYA, a Japanese restaurant at 3rd and Fairfax, seemed decent enough with four stars and 300+ reviews.

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Amazing food from Robata JINYA

The restaurant really gave us a taste of the LA scene — trendy space, well-dressed patrons, and a fully booked evening. Thankfully they reserve the sushi bar for walk-ins, so we only had to wait about 25 minutes to sit. Here's some of what we had:

1. Homemade Organic Tofu

In the words of Rachel Ray, “Yum-O!” It was fresh, light, and made right in front of us. Who knew tofu firmed so quickly?

2. Shrimp Toast

It is what it is: shrimp on toast. While very tasty, the portion size was incredibly tiny.

3. Seared Albacore Sashimi

Perfect. Simply perfect. Undoubtedly my favorite dish of the night. A bit of seared tuna with a layer of crispy onion created a stunning balance of flavors.

4. Prime Beef Yakitori

Yakitori is one of my favorite cuisines, and this did not disappoint. We had a shishito pepper and chicken skewer as well, but this one was the best.

5. Tonkatsu Ramen

A nice half portion to round out the Japanese experience. Really good.

Robata JINYA

8050 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Robata Jinya on Yelp

After that amazing dinner, we walked a couple of blocks to visit The Grove. We didn't want to spend too much time there since we were going the next day, so we only checked out Topman before heading out to experience LA nightlife.

Star-struck with Glee

Speakeasy drinks, a live show, and some burlesque dancers made Harvard & Stone quite a memorable experience. Oh, and so did the Harry Shum Jr. sighting!

Perry, Kei, and I met up with Maggie and her friends, and after the crazy 40-minute wait in line, we headed in to a packed bar. After a couple rounds of drinks, the music transitioned to a live band playing backup for the main show — two burlesque dancers climbing the walls, bars, and stairs. It was sexy to say the least, and it reminded me of Coyote Ugly with a bit of acrobatics mixed in.

A good chunk of the night was spent gawking at Harry Shum Jr. with Kei. I really wanted to go up to him, but he was talking to a friend throughout the night. What's celebrity etiquette these days? It's rude to interrupt, right? And to sneak a picture? I should've researched this on the plane.

Before heading back to Kimi's, we grabbed some food a block away at Sanamluang Cafe, which is open until 3:30AM. Delicious, authentic Thai food that's very cheap. We ate it when we got back, which helped us sleep and get energized for the days to come.

Harvard & Stone

5221 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Harvard & Stone on Yelp

Lifestyles of the rich and famous

The Grove, Beverly Hills, and drinks at Geisha House? We’re about to experience the complete LA from day to night.

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Kei, Kimi, Perry, and I starting the day off with lunch at Planet Dailies.

Planet Dailies

6333 W 3rd St #020
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Planet Dailies on Yelp

Our day started at Planet Dailies, a cool, open-air restaurant at the start of The Grove. The food is pretty standard American — burgers, salads, pizza — with a bit of LA style as it had a section called "Lopez Lean." Mario Lopez is known to make The Grove his second home, so it seemed very fitting. I ordered a burger, as well as a Dylan's Candy Bar shake, which held me over until dinner.

Kimi had a gig later that day, so we did some shopping to find a 20's-inspired outfit that she could wear. When she left, we explored a little more before heading out to Beverly Hills for some ice cream.


I scream, you scream

Ever since I found out of its opening, I’ve made it a goal to visit Sprinkles Ice Cream every time I visit LA.

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Taking Perry and Kei on their first trip to Sprinkles Ice Cream!

Sprinkles Ice Cream

9631 S Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Sprinkles Ice Cream on Yelp

There's something about Sprinkles that I really love. They're all about elevating a simple dessert into something more luxurious, which makes every customer feel like a star. With a 90210 address and prices to match, it's definitely one of those places where you just have to indulge.

The last time I came, I had a Sprinkles sandwich (ice cream between two cupcake halves). This time I went for something more traditional: an ice cream sandwich consisting of vanilla bean ice cream between a snickerdoodle and a peanut butter pretzel chip cookie. It was incredibly rich, so much so that I couldn't finish it all. Sad face, but we had so much more to do that night!


All of the urban lights

Lights, lights, and more lights. That's what you'll get at LACMA’s “Urban Lights,” an outdoor sculpture free for the public to enjoy.

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Visiting LACMA’s “Urban Lights”

After grabbing ice cream, we wanted to stop by LACMA to visit their light installation. It's something you see in every LA vacationer's Instagram, so we had to Instagram it ourselves! The setting is so romantic; rows and rows of lampposts set against the shadows of palm trees just swaying with the night breeze. If you can find that rare moment when you're all alone with the one you love, you should definitely take advantage of it here.

The three of us took a bunch of photos, as did several couples, families, and a group of ladies dressed up as Disney princesses. I have no idea what that was all about, but it seemed noteworthy. We left to go back to Kimi's place to get ready for the evening.

LACMA

8050 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Ashton Kutcher invested in it

Ever since Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen met up at Geisha House in Knocked Up, I’ve always wanted to go. And so we did … twice!

Kei, Perry, and I headed out to Geisha House for Tiffany's birthday. It's hard to miss as the building is bright red. We walked in to a fairly empty restaurant (it was a Sunday), which came with its perks — two free rounds of shots!

It was a liquid diet kind of night as Kei, Perry, and I just had drinks while the others ate (we did this because we were eating here the next night with Kimi). Needless to say, the night was a blur.

Geisha House

6633 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Geisha House on Yelp

Dirty dogs and dollar bills

Clubbing in LA is like clubbing in San Francisco. Once you’re done, you gotta look for the street hot dogs to complete your night.

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Making a mess on the Walk of Fame. Sorry Donald Woods!

Drai’s

6250 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Geisha House on Yelp

The night continued at Drai's, a fancy little club that sits atop the W Hotel. While the drinks are expensive ($14 per well drink), the views more than make up for it. And I gotta say, the people in LA are quite friendly.

Good laughs, good company, and strong drinks made this a night to remember … or at least worthy of trying to. We even learned how to truly live the LA life from our new friends!

Recipe for living the LA lifestyle

People watching on Melrose

LA is about looking good wherever you go. We wanted to test that, so we spent our lunch doing some people watching on Melrose.

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The Village Idiot is a great outdoor lunch spot, especially when Blue Jam Cafe is full.

The Village Idiot

6333 W 3rd St #020
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Sprinkles Ice Cream on Yelp

Melrose is a special place. It's home to stores that sell what I'd consider LA fashion: skulls, upside-down crosses, ripped denim, and American flags (think Ke$ha)at Forever 21 prices. It's the equivalent to Haight/Ashbury, and I love it.

We found a cool little brunch spot called The Village Idiot. We sat outside to see people stroll past, though the streets weren't crazy crowded seeing that it was a Monday morning. Great, easy food.


Oh snap, it’s Neil Patrick Harris!

Wow. Talk about an A-list encounter. Neil Patrick Harris. The Doogie Howser. He looks so different without a suit on!

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Shopping on Melrose. Apparently Neil Patrick Harris does, too!

Melrose Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90046

We were nearing the end of Melrose when we happened to just pass Neil Patrick Harris. You'd think there'd be a ton of paparazzi following him, but no, it was just him and a buddy doing their own thing. I'm surprised how casual it was. He passed by us twice, but the second time around, he was "on the phone" so we just took pictures from behind like an awkward stalker. Again, I should've read up on celebrity etiquette!

We headed off Melrose to Fairfax, which housed a series of streetwear shops. If you're into brands like Diamond, RVCA, or Pink Dolphin, this is the street for you.


Strolling along Santa Monica Pier

What’s a trip to SoCal without seeing any water? We made sure to take in the water at least once during this trip.

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The views from Santa Monica Pier are calm and soothing.

Santa Monica Pier

321 Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Perry, Kei, and I continued our shopping trip over in Santa Monica where the Third Street Promenade comes alive with street performers to dazzle tourists like us. We saw breakdancers and musicians, but the most fascinating act was some lady making art out of ketchup in front of Johnny Rockets.

Afterwards, we walked on over to Santa Monica Pier to gaze out at the water. It was a nice break from the rush of the LA crowds, so we savored it for a few minutes before heading back home.

Our night ended at Geisha House, this time with Kimi and her boyfriend to celebrate Perry's birthday. We ordered food this time around (oh, and we got another free round of shots!), and I gotta say, it's pretty good! Perfectly sized sushi rolls (50% off on Mondays!) and those shishito peppers made for a really delicious meal. I recommend it for anyone looking to try something trendy.

Three things to order at Geisha House

1. Shishito Peppers

A delicious start to any meal, these peppers are flavorful and sweet, and with a tiny bit of heat to wake you up. Get it for the table; there’s a lot to share.

2. Geisha Kiss

This place is probably more well-known for their drinks than their food, so make sure to get this one. It’s a perfectly balanced cocktail filled with lychee, Chambord, and champagne.

3. Red Samurai

“Spicy tuna & cucumber topped with avocado, tuna, grape tomatoes, serrano peppers, & vinaigrette.” All the stuff I like without any of the stuff I avoid (eel, I’m looking at you).

To the happiest place on earth!

What better way to celebrate a birthday than at the happiest place on earth? Happy birthday to my favorite, Perry!

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Kei, Perry, and I hanging out in Cars Land at California Adventure.

California Adventure

1313 Disneyland Dr
Anaheim, CA 92802

It's been a while since all of us had been to Disneyland, so we decided to make it an all-day event arriving right when the park opened and staying until the park closed. We had gotten tips from a few folks on how to maximize our time across the two parks (thanks Shari!), so we went in with a plan and mostly stuck to it.

Rides to not miss at California Adventure

1. Radiator Springs Racers

Waiting in line is a bitch, but so worth it. One part storyline and one part thrill ride made this my favorite ride in the park!

2. Toy Story Mania

Think of it as an upgraded version of Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, or Mario Party kicked up a notch. Ridiculously fun.

3. Screamin’ California

I had a hard time imagining Disney doing a roller coaster (with loops). But this one was great so much fun even Perry rode it!

4. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Not as good as the original, but still a great experience. My favorite part were the workers who maintained their creepiness from start to end.


“Happy birthday, Perry!”

It was time to let everyone know it was Perry’s birthday, so we dropped by Town Hall to get his birthday pin.

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Grabbing some lunch with Kei, Kimmy, and Perry

Disneyland

1313 Disneyland Dr
Anaheim, CA 92802

With that pin on, all the cast members greeted Perry with a smile and a "Happy Birthday" that made the day even more special. Disneyland was a blast. Old hits like Indiana Jones and Space Mountain were still a blast to ride, and a majority of the rides (aside from the ones at Fantasyland) only had a wait of 10 minutes.

From day to night

Disneyland and California Adventure are even more magical at night. It’s like a whole different park, and with a lot less people!

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Some of California Adventure after the sun goes down.

Night fell pretty quickly once it hit 6:45PM. After riding Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster at Disneyland, we headed back to California Adventure to ride a few more rides and prepare for World of Color.


Water water everywhere

Leave it to Disney to blow every other show out of the water with their modern take on a traditional fountain show.

World of Color was a great ending to our night, as well as Perry's birthday. Sorry to be so cliché, but it was magical. All the scenes projected onto the water brought my back to my childhood in a way that only Disney could accomplish.

We didn't get to finish the show, though, as we got rained out in the middle of "Colors of the Wind." Perry, Kei, and I ran to the exit, but not without getting drenched first. It's amazing how little covering there is in that park. We dried off in World of Disney where we got a few souvenirs to take back home.

World of Color

1313 Disneyland Dr
Anaheim, CA 92802

Before we headed back to North Hollywood, Perry, Kei, and I stopped by Newport Beach to meet up with Jessa at Avila's El Ranchito to catch up on her new med school adventures. A great end to an exhausting and exhilarating day, complete with a taco bar.

Until next time, LA

It’s been fun, Los Angeles, but it’s time to head home to the foggy Bay Area. But not before having ourselves a feast!

Our flight wasn't until later that afternoon, so we snuck in some last minute activities before heading to LAX. Our first stop was lunch at Tahoe Galbi in Koreatown. LA is known for their Korean BBQ and this did not disappoint. We had a ton of food for just $11.99 per person, and man … the beef brisket gets me every single time. Pro Tip: If you're grilling onion, make sure it's cooked 100%.


One last sweet stop

We had passed by Milk almost every day, so after lunch, we decided to finally stop by and try some of their dessert.

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A Thai ice tea macaron ice cream sandwich and blue velvet cake from Milk!

Milk

7290 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Milk on Yelp

We ended our trip with a little something sweet. Milk is one of those places you go after you're done with the dinner portion of your date. Every time we passed it, which was usually at night, there were lines out the door. Perry, Kei, and I stopped by at about two in the afternoon, and we were greeted with no lines. We each got a macaron ice cream sandwich, and I got a few cookies to take home. Delicious, to say the least.

As we boarded our Virgin flight back home, Perry, Kei, and I took one last look at LA and relished in the adventures we had over the past few days. It was a much needed getaway from the Bay Area, one that came with new adventures, new friends, and probably a few pounds. Success.