Sorry for a great pause in my otherwise regular posting. Last week, I visited my brother and new sister-in-law in their new home in Long Beach. I flew there for about four days and it felt like a nice break from the everyday grind here in the Bay Area.
The weather in Long Beach was okay. It rained for a couple of days, but it was sunshine rest of the time. I have been to Southern California number of times-San Diego, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Los Angeles, Orange County, you name it- I have seen it all. Long Beach was an unexplored territory for me so it was nice for the newlyweds to open their apartment for me and show me around.
I flew in on Thursday from San Jose Airport into LAX. My sister-in-law, Zainub picked me up and then called an Uber for me (how sweet). The ride from LAX to their apartment in Long Beach was about 45 minutes. The traffic was smooth and the driver was nice so overall a nice welcome to So Cal. I unpacked once I reached the apartment and then took a long nap. In the evening, both my brother, Ali and Zainub returned from work and we went to a really cool Chinese restaurant in Long Beach called Nomads. Nomads is a halal Chinese restaurant my brother always raves about and since I eat only halal and it is really tough to eat meat in Chinese restaurants here in the Bay Area (there is Darda, but it is always crowded), I was excited to try it out. The décor of Nomads is very low-key, but the outside patio is pretty nice.
We started off the dinner with hot-n-sour soup, a desi staple when we go to any Asian restaurant (lol). The soup was okay, a tad salty in my opinion. For the entrée, we ordered Mongolian Beef and Caramelized Black Chicken Pepper with rice. We also ordered some sort of beef roll which was delicious. I preferred the entrees over the soup, and consider Nomad’s a nice, low-key restaurant to go to for some Chinese food.
The next day, I woke up and both Ali and Zainub were already at work. I had the toughest time navigating the new kitchen so I ended up eating Nomad’s leftovers for both breakfast and lunch. I didn’t even know how to work the coffee machine or where the tea bags were (embarrassing, I know). Anyways, that day it was pretty cold, cloudy, and rainy, so I just stayed inside. I had made an appointment at The Petite Retreat Spa, but I ended up cancelling it and they were nice enough to not charge me a last minute cancellation fee. Upon the couple’s arrival in the evening (my brother is a chief resident and my sister-in-law works full-time and is finishing her MBA), we Ubered to a Thai restaurant (see a pattern) called Long Beach Thai. The place was crowded, and out wait was about 25 minutes. Once we finally sat down at a table, I ordered a Jasmine Tea, which was sooo good. Since this place wasn’t halal, I ordered the Spicy Eggplant with rice dish, while Ali and Zainub ordered sort of chicken with rice dish. I would have liked to have the food more spicy. It seemed like it was very americanized and catered to people who don’t like the authentic Thai flavors. So not a must-go place, but the staff was super friendly and caring.
It was a funny coincidence to have Middle Eastern Uber drivers each way. On the way to the restaurant, we had an Egyptian that blared some hip hop music and on the way back we had a Pakistani driver who chatted us about his pilgrimage to Mecca (I asked him for her got his air freshener from). Overall, friendly drivers.
Saturday, we lucked out on the weather because that was our sightseeing day. Zainub had to finish her school project so after breakfast, Ali took me around Long Beach. It is a really neat city and the fact that it is by the beach, makes it more special. The houses reminded me of the nice area of Palo Alto, but the parking situation is a disaster there. So do take note of that if home shoppinghere (random advice, I know). I also checked out a neighborhood there which is right by a canal. My brother calls it “Venice in Long Beach”. This was a neat neighborhood as the houses were gorgeous, expensive ad there was a dock and houseboat in front of each home. If you are in Long Beach, do check this place out. After our little Long Beach drive, we made our way to Beverly Hills. I swear, as you enter you know you are in a nice place and you fall in love. The sun shines brighter, the trees are greener, the roads are wider, and there is a sweet stench of money in the air. Our first item on the agenda was to meet my best friend from college, Mahin and her new husband Ishmael. I have known Mahin for over ten years and she is kind of like my sister from another mother. I missed her wedding last year so this was makeup time. Zainub was already there with the couple.
We all took a table at Crème de la Crepe (Beverly Hills). The place is kind of small and tight. We got lucky and got a seat by the window so the sun was streaming through. The conversation was great, but the food was okay. We all ordered something different. I ordered the Vegetarian Crepe, because I eat only halal and it came with a small salad. The crepe itself was not that moist (is that weird to expect?) and the stuffing was scarce. The salad and dressing was good though. The place had 4.5 stars on Yelp so I am surprised I wasn’t impressed. But, the reunion with my friend and the conversation made up for the otherwise dull menu.
After lunch, we drove to Zainub’s school UCLA and took a tour of her building and campus. UCLA is a really pretty school. I was really impressed by the red brick buildings and the vast grass patches. I still think Berkeley is prettier because of the natural beauty and presence of art/culture. From UCLA, we drove to Rodeo Drive and walked on it. I didn’t do any shopping here, but it was pretty fun looking at all the cute dogs and of course posh shops. At the end of our walk, we stopped at a French bakery and had their tiramisu cake. I was tired by then so instead of going to La Petite Restaurant in LA like we originally planned, we went home. For dinner we ordered pizza from Tom Yum Pizza, which was so good, because it was like Italy and Thailand were on your mouth. Highly recommend it.
The next day (Sunday), I woke up, made myself some breakfast and packed. My flight was at noon so we drove up to LAX and said our goodbyes. Overall, this trip was just what the doctor ordered. Awesome food, awesome conversations, okay weather, and plenty of rest.