Oh so Grand!

Oh so Grand!

Recently, Zuke Oshiro (SoCal’s travel editor) and myself were invited to get a bird’s eye view of the beginnings of something rather grand. Looking out from the 44th floor of the Wells Fargo Tower, we could see not only helio-pads on multiple rooftops, and amazing views of the San Gabriel mountains, but also the auspicious foundations of the future GRAND.

The GRAND, located at the epicenter of Grand Ave’s Arts corridor in DTLA, is designed by 90-year-old, Frank Gehry—the man who revolutionized architecture’s aesthetics. This newest Frank Gehry project is being constructed right across the street from his famous Walt Disney Hall, and this is the first time that Gehry has designed a second building alongside one of his own. Not only that, but a third design is in the works for the Colburn School of Music expansion. That means Los Angeles will boast three Frank Gehry designed buildings in a row. The rest of the dream team signed on to bring this vision to life is: the Rockwell Group, Tara Bernard and Tony Ingrao.

The GRAND will be a dynamic destination for shopping, dining and entertainment, with chef–driven restaurants, and name brand stores— as well as being a paradigm-shifting place to live.

For long-term residents there’s “The Grand Residential Tower”—39 stories boasting 436 residences of which 323 are luxury apartments and 113 are ultra-reserve collection. If all this sounds very luxurious it’s because it is. There’s a swimming pool over-looking the Walt Disney Hall, stunning BBQ areas, 24-hour concierge, 24-hour valet parking, plus a dog sitting facility where you furry friends will be well looked after if you need to go out of town.

For short-term guests, there’s the 20-story, 309 room, Equinox Hotel. This is the third hotel for the luxury fitness company that touts “high performance living” and offers exceptional health and wellness for their guests. Like their flagship hotel in NY, the Grand Equinox will focus on three core concepts: movement, nutrition and regeneration. In line with these principles, there’s a state of the art gym, a pool deck on the 7th floor, restaurants with top chefs (who take your dietary needs to heart), and regeneration? Well, that’s all about getting the perfect night’s sleep. Due to extensive sleep research, Equinox Hotel rooms come equipped with a button you press to hit “sleep mode”. This means your room darkens to zero light, the acoustics bring you noise-free nights, and since apparently the best temperature to sleep in is 66 degrees, your room will stay at that temp for the night (if you so choose).

The Grand Ave Arts Corridor is already home to: MOCA, the Walt Disney Hall, the Broad, The Colburn School of Music and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. In fact, there are more performing arts venues in a 2 block radius than anywhere else in the US.

At the hub of the Grand Ave Arts Corridor, located within walking distance to eight different entertainment and cultural venues, the GRAND aims to fully support the world-class Los Angeles’s performing arts and cultural scene by offering free, curated performance events, multiple public programs and plan on hosting permanent and temporary art installations, too.

The pedestrian walkway and public plaza (which Gehry calls the Urban Room) will have green spaces (using rainwater collection for irrigation purposes), and outdoor benches set amongst olive trees and tranquility. Having incorporated sustainable and innovative features, The GRAND exceeds energy efficiency requirements and further offers guests EV charging stations, on demand EV car sharing, and 150 bicycle parking spaces. The GRAND is also accessible from the Civic Center/Grand Park Metro Rail station, plus there’s a new Grand Ave Arts Station being built—set to open in 2021. There’s even talk of a free Streetcar that will service the DTLA area.

Lastly, an oval outdoor bar at the epicenter of the towers–suspended between floors with an exotic sculpture overhead, promises to be a huge attraction. My favorite thing is that on special occasions, the GRAND will project images and videos of the LA Phil onto the actual Walt Disney Hall itself. Imagine sitting in that oval bar on NYE watching fireworks in the sky while symphonies sweep across the beautiful Walt Disney Hall building. I want to do that. Okay, so when will all this be ready? Roughly, at the end of 2021. I believe the GRAND will most certainly live up to its name.

 Rendered photos courtesy of “Red Leaf, New York”.

A time-lapse video of The Grand’s first concrete foundation pour, in which 13,478 cubic yards of concrete were poured into the foundation of The Grand’s 39-story residential tower. The first pour took place this summer.

Message in a Bottle

Message in a Bottle


Garden of Flavor (started by Lisa Reed in 2011) is a company that produces organic, cold-pressed energy elixirs made from fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and berries. Always organic and natural, Garden of Flavor juices are not only delicious but also good for you. In fact, the habit of drinking fresh organic vegetable juice daily is probably the simplest way to transform your body and health. With one of the featured ingredient being the immune-system boosting Vitamin C, these juices concentrate all the vitamins, minerals, enzymes and chlorophyll of the vegetables and fruit that your body needs.

All the drinks are tasty but my favorite is the TURMERIC GINGER ENERGY ELIXIR. This juice has some major zing! Turmeric is one of the most powerful herbs and roots on the planet, and considered the brain and beauty root in Eastern medicine. This cold pressed Energy Elixir has freshly juiced Hawaiian Turmeric Root, Ginger Root, Guayusa and living probiotic cultures for Zen-like focus, energy and well being.

Among other juices offered are MEAN GREENS (a customer favorite) nutrient rich with Kale, Spinach & Parsley along with alkalizing Cucumber, and the WHEATGRASS PINEAPPLE ENERGY ELIXIR that combines fresh organic Wheatgrass with dark leafy organic greens, Pineapple and Mint, blended with Guayusa and Probiotic Cultures.

You could also try the Garden of Flavor cleansing package that supplies a 1 x day, 3 x day or 5 x day juice cleanse.

Garden of Flavor juices are online and available in stores near you.


Japan 47 Artisans: Quietly Spectacular

Japan 47 Artisans: Quietly Spectacular

The JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles JAPAN 47 ARTISANS exhibition on Oct. 29, 2019, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ryan Miller/JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles)

JAPAN HOUSE, Los Angeles is showcasing the diversity of Japan’s 47 prefectures through a collection of art, crafts, and design created by 47 young artisans (one from each prefecture). The exhibit, called 47 ARTISANS, runs through January 5, 2020, at Japan House Gallery on Level 2 of the plaza at Hollywood & Highland.

Each of Japan’s 47 prefectures has its own regional history, culture, and flavors that the exhibit’s 47 ARTISANS have drawn from; infusing their own childhood memories from their hometowns into their work. The results are beautiful, useful, and sustainable works – as the artisans incorporate traditional materials and techniques with the needs and flavor of the present.

The design pieces capture what makes each prefecture and artisan unique, but the collection as a whole exemplifies the shared respect for design and beauty that Japanese craft has carried for centuries—a balance of tradition and innovation.

Go see these innovative, delicate and heartfelt takes on traditional crafts—they are quietly spectacular.

Address Hollywood and Highland  * 6801 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

(800) 516-0565






Mandarette Chinese Café

Seeing as 90 percent of independent restaurants close during their first year, and the rest usually average a five-year life span, Mandarette Chinese Café is obviously doing something right because this year, they’re celebrating their 35th anniversary. In this competitive business with slim margins, fickle diners and fluctuating ingredient costs, how does Mandarette Chinese Café do it?

According to the owner, Ken Yang and long-standing manager, Davy, it’s all about the relationships. In fact, the restaurant’s motto is: “treat the customers as you would your own family”.

This approach has built them a solid base of faithful neighborhood patronage. The ever-friendly Davy joked that Mandarette has seen 3 generations of clients. One family brought in their baby, and today, that baby brings his own children to the restaurant.

On top of great customer service and care, Mandarette Chinese Café serves traditional Chinese dishes with a modern flair. You’ve heard of Orange Chicken? Well, how about Strawberry Shrimp? This is a Mandarette signature menu item—cooked with their proprietary sweet and spicy strawberry sauce, and served with sliced strawberries and steamed broccoli. This unique dish is a customer favorite and highly recommended.

At this moment, Mandarette is offering their 35th Anniversary “Special Menu” of Sun Bay (three cups) Chicken, Aromatic Fiery Shrimps, Braised Beef Noodle Soup and Sichuan Poached Fish Fillet. Their regular menu is available too, which includes classics like Won Ton Soup, Crispy Vegetable Spring Rolls, and tasty Pot Stickers.

Try the Bon Bon Chicken Salad served with cucumbers and peanut sauce, or the Lobster Noodle Mandarette Special—delicious and reasonably priced. Or Singapore Noodles— a good bet for curry lovers. Less spicy is the Chicken with Asparagus in black bean sauce, or for vegetarians how about Bok Choi with Shitake mushrooms: stir-fried with garlic or ginger. For dessert, the Green Tea Ice-cream is gulp-down good.

Besides beer and wine (of which there is a good selection) Mandarette also makes homemade Ginger Root Ale—a refreshing treat loaded with digestive enzymes. Healthy? Yes, because Mandarette makes everything from scratch and strives to be health conscious. Their Chinese food is lighter in the way it’s cooked and served. There are no thick heavy sauces, MSG, fillers, or unhealthy ingredients, and Mandarette also offers Gluten free options, including gluten free beer and even complete gluten free dinner events (more info about that on their website – mandarette)

And by the way, did you know that in China it is impolite to start eating before the elders at your table? Or did you know that Pu’er tea can last 100 years? Or that if you were going to meet with the Emperor you were expected to wear a traditional Chinese robe? And that one such robe is encased in glass and hangs on the wall of the Mandarette restaurant?

Go visit Mandarette Chinese Café where the warm, cheerful staff will feed you not only healthy, tasty dishes but also interesting, quirky stories, and make you feel 100% welcome.

Address:  8386 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

Hours: 11:30AM—10:00PM Daily

Phone: (323) 655-6115

AltCar Expo 2019

AltCar Expo 2019

AltCar is the only event in the United States that gathers every single model of alternative technology (light-duty) vehicle available in one location and lets you enjoy a free test drive. A transportation show dedicated to alternative fuel vehicles, AltCar doesn’t just host exhibits of clean cars, they’ve been responsible for more direct alternative technology vehicle sales to both fleets, and the general public, than any other event in the state. Given that 52% of all Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) purchases are in California, the Altcar events are critical to keep building momentum and to promote mass awareness.

This past weekend, AltCar Santa Monica did just that by helping the general public discover all of the existing alternatives to the way we use energy and transportation. Hundreds of citizens came to test drive vehicles and speak with product specialists about the latest EV technology on the market.  “The AltCar and Electrification Expo is the leading venue for getting the public excited and energized about transitioning our community to carbon-neutrality, both in terms of zero-emission vehicles and buildings,” said Drew Johnstone, Sustainability Analyst for the City of Santa Monica. “AltCar is a strategic partner for the City of Santa Monica and helps push the needle forward in the City’s commitment to decarbonizing transportation and infrastructure.”

Tesla was, of course, a popular exhibitor and guests had the opportunity to test drive the Model 3, Model S and Model X. Tesla product specialists also discussed the Model Y, a crossover vehicle set to debut in 2020. I’m excited for that.

The Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell was another popular test drive vehicle, with many guests claiming to have never driven a fuel cell EV before. If you don’t know what a fuel cell EV is, you’re not alone. Click here for a good explanation from the Union of Concerned Scientists. 
After completing a test drive, Toyota offered guests the chance to build their own sustainability kit with eco-friendly and reusable items including a metal straw, produce bags, reusable ziplock bags, bamboo cutlery, and a cloth napkin.
A panel entitled “EV 101” overflowed with guests interested in switching to an EV. The panel explored the charging options on the market, installation costs and benefits, and rebates available for Santa Monica and Angelenos.
For those interested in not just clean cars but clean homes too, the “Building Electrification for the Home” panel focused on building (and retrofitting) homes to be zero-carbon and to minimize harmful indoor air pollutants.

The Altcar Exhibitors included:

  • Tesla
  • Nissan
  • Toyota
  • Honda
  • Prius Prime
  • Toyota Santa Monica
  • VW Santa Monica
  • Zero SR/F
  • 1992 Mazda Miata EV Conversion
  • AQMD
  • Clean Vehicle Rebate Project
  • Center for Sustainable Energy
  • Citizens’ Climate Lobby
  • Santa Monica College
  • Southern California Edison

The Test-Drive Vehicles included:

  • Tesla Model 3
  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model X
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Toyota Fuel Cell
  • Toyota Prius Prime
  • VW e-Golf

The goal of Altcar is to motivate everyone to take action to support California’s groundbreaking clean car policies that are driving national and global change.

And in case you don’t know who the Union of Concerned Scientists are, they’re a group of nearly 250 scientists, analysts, policy and communication experts dedicated to solving our planet’s most pressing problems. They combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.
Yay for them, and yay for Altcar!

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