Travel

West LA

Establishment neighborhood
Dan the Man’s Superkids (Closed)
2347 Pontius Ave., West LA
This kids’ gym offers gymnastics classes for a range of age groups—beginning with the Jump Starters class for twelve-month-olds and expanding into more-advanced courses for tweens up to twelve. With current COVID restrictions in place, Dan the Man has gone virtual with a series of instructor-led warm-ups, gymnastics, and movement classes for children, from toddlers to kids ages five and older. Set up a cushioned space, press play, and let them work off their energy in the safety of home.
Yamakase (Closed)
11678 W. Olympic Blvd., West LA
Once you've made the cut (apply online), you'll receive directions to an unmarked location where the door is not only closed, it's locked. Knock and they'll verify your identity and finally lead you into Chef Yama's 15 seat domain. He's behind the bar using his mad knife skills to immerse you in an omakase/Japanese small dish excursion of Olympic proportions. In around four hours, there are 24 courses to sample—all delicious: Some recognizable, some not, but it's worth being adventurous (Chef Yama famously went down a few years back for serving whale). It's BYOB so bring sake to share between your crew and Chef Yama.
Totoraku
10610 W. Pico Blvd., West LA
LA's secret Japanese beef restaurant, Totoraku, isn't so much a secret anymore. But it's still incredibly difficult to get into. You either have to know chef-owner Kaz Oyama or know someone who has dined at Totoraku before and knows him. (The ultimate seal of approval as a guest of Totoraku is getting a business card at the end of your meal with the private number used for reservations.) Nothing about the look of Totoraku is impressive. It's marked from the outside by a sign for "The Teriyaki House Pico," a failed restaurant of Oyama's. Inside the tiny space, there is little to no decor to speak of. And there's no wine menu—interestingly, Totoraku is BYOB. But there's probably no better place for beef—of all kinds, served raw, cooked, and grilled right at your table.
Nong La
2055 Sawtelle Blvd., West LA
Considering Nong La’s immense popularity, it’s easy to forget that it’s actually a small, family-run operation. It started with brother-and-sister duo, Elaine and Victor Phuong, and their mom Khanh Phan, who sourced family recipes and adapted them into a perfect menu of Vietnamese banh mi, egg-topped fried rice, and a light, flavorful pho that you can customize to your liking. The new La Brea location is just a smidge fancier than the Sawtelle original but the menu is for the most part identical. Tip: Treat yourself to a glass of the homemade passion fruit iced tea—it’s delicious and just sweet enough to constitute as dessert. A new location just opened on La Brea.