Monday, January 11, 2010

Hotel Erwin & RA Sushi

Hotel Erwin - Roof Top Lounge "High"

I went to Hotel Erwin on Saturday night for a friend's bday.  It is located in Venice Beach, and I had never been there nor heard of it before - I don't venture to Venice often.  It seemed to be a relatively small hotel, with a roof top lounge called "High".  It boosts 360 degree view of the beach and city.  Even though it is only 6 stories high, it is pretty much the highest thing in Venice.  So you do actually get a very good view.  I was there at night, but I bet during the day the ocean view would be amazing since it's only steps from the ocean!

I arrived at around 9:30 or 10, and there was almost nobody there.  This was surprising as I did consult Yelp prior to going, and many reviews said to get there early, otherwise there would be a line going up the elevator.  Hmm... well there were only a few groups of people there when we arrived.  But whatever, it seemed cool, it's got lots of swanky looking lounge chairs in different "booths", separated by plants so you can't really see or hear the people next to you.  It's kind of got the same idea as the Standard hotel in downtown, but not as "clubby" and doesn't have those pretentious Hollywood type.  I guess you can reserve a booth without having to pay for it.  They also have tons of heat lamps as it's completely outdoors, and they give you blankets to cuddle with if you are still cold!

They seemed to have a pretty decent drink menu, with appetizers.  Oh, the coolest thing about the menu - they light up when you open them!  Very clever!  Definitely a cool little thing to have when you are sitting in the dark trying to order.  Anyway, they had good selections of martinis, and beer & wine.  But I just ordered shots of vodka and glasses of water the whole night.  I rather eat my calories than drink it.  A neat trick I learned to consume alcohol without the high cal and high amount of sugar in the mixers - if you order a glass of ice water and a shot, you can drink a bit of the water and then pour the shot into the water glass, mix it with the water in it, and then mix some Crystal Light into it all (I carry those packets with me everywhere).  They taste amazingly good.  This way each drink has pretty much only the calories that's in the shot.  So about 50 calories a drink.  I guess you can also just take shots straight up, but this way is definitely yummier, and you have the option to sip and not get wasted.  Plus you get to hydrate at the same time.  =)

Anyway, I guess since it is still "winter", it did get a bit chilly out there when the wind picked up and blew out the heat lamps.  But they were pretty good with coming around to re-lit them.  Oh yeah, the service there was great.  There is a bar, but you can't order from it.  You have to order from a waitress who will then go to the bar and get your drink for you.  The waitress we had remembered everyone's drinks, and she came around often and refilled quickly.  We could also do multiple tabs so that was cool not having to worry about splitting the bill at the end between like 10 people.  They add 18% gratuity to the bill automatically, which is kind of BS since that is more than what people would tip for drinks on their own.  I normally do one dollar per drink.  So for a $12 drink, I would have given $13 total, instead of $14.16 with 18% gratuity added.  Adds up if you order many drinks.  After all, how hard is it to pour some vodka into a shot glass???  She gave good service so that was whatever.  But if she sucked then I would not have been happy with that. And no I did not consider adding another tip on top of that!  Haha (Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm if you know what I'm talking about...)

All in all it was a cool place.  I would like to go back there during the day some time and watch the sunset, and maybe try some of the food too. 

RA Sushi - Huntington Beach

I had lunch at RA Sushi in Huntington Beach yesterday.  I had been there once before for a friend's birthday, and remembered it being good.  So I decided to give it a try again since I was in the area.  It's right on Main Street along with other shops and restaurants, and has a very good view of the ocean.  It is more of a hip sushi place with some interesting (but probably not authentic) sushi creations.  I like that kind of sushi sometimes.  Especially after eating mostly at SugarFish  - the real "good stuff", it was kind of nice to have a change just for the sake of diversity.

Between 2 people, we ordered a mango lobster roll, spicy yellowtail roll, tempura calamari roll, ahi tuna on crispy rice, and scallops & mushrooms on crispy rice.  They were all interesting and pretty tasty.  This place gives you relatively big portions too - every order came with 8 pieces of sushi, so you feel like you are getting something for paying $10 each roll at least.  We also got their edamame which came with sea salt, and the seaweed salad that was very very good.

As usual, probably ordered a little too much to eat.  But I was pretty satisfied with it all.  Could be my calorie splurge of the day!  I would probably frequent this place more often if it wasn't all the way in Huntington.  I know they also have a location in Torrance, but that's still a little ways from here so I'm unlikely to drive there for that.  Only if I'm in the area already.  Plus, with SugarFish down the street, I can't think of a reason to venture out any time soon.  

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