That Crying Woman

Early last year, I was sitting in a coffee shop doing my thing. And by my thing, that meant twiddling with my keyboard, trying to crank out an eloquent profile piece and forcing my brain to feel anything other than uninspired, blase, and bored.

And then she caught my eye — the young woman sitting at the table adjacent from me. Alone, Asian, shoulder-length straight black hair, petite. Average, for that part of town at least. But there was something about her body language that seemed off, sad, or defeated, or both.

She was crying, her body heaving up and down in grief or despair.

And I, of course, stared, now mesmerized at the display of raw emotion. She looked so isolated, so alone, so pained.

Her hands were clasped together in a fist like she was praying and by her hands, there was a thick book, also red, with gold letters on the binding. It looked worn out, as if it was a metaphor for her state of being: tired and exhausted.

As she flipped through the pages, I saw glimpses of heavy annotations; the book, I assumed, is a long-time friend. I went back to my work, an hour passes and she’s still there. Her iced coffee is untouched but by now her tears are mostly gone. The reading seems to have calmed her down. She gets up, closes the book, takes her coffee, and leaves the shop.

It’s been a year since that happened but I revisit that memory a lot. I think of the girl and her grief and how much she reminded me of myself. I’ve had moments like hers many times in my life and well, haven’t we all?

Those moments, when we’re so consumed by emotion that the world seems like a blur. Loneliness is at its peak and so we go searching within ourselves or within a piece of literature or a certain quote for comfort.

Struggling to come to terms with our new realities but completely blind to the fact that we aren’t alone in our struggles.

“Loneliness is the most unloneliest feeling in the world, as everyone has gone through it.” — Jarod Kintz.

All she — we — needed to do was look up.

Tasty Duck

Chinese food can be stunning. After a weeklong retreat at a farm and finally back home, I splurged on imperial cuisine. A feast fit for a royalty.

Eel sticky rice and Peking duck platter from Tasty Duck in San Gabriel — complete with the paper thin pancakes, piquant scallions, and finely julienned cucumbers.

Thankful to be back home.

1039 E Valley Blvd., Ste B102, San Gabriel, CA 91776.

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Dealing with Post-Breakup Depression, Part 2

Lately I’ve been getting a lot (and by a lot, I mean at least once or twice a week) of emails from people around the world asking for more advice re: How I Crawled Out Of Post-Breakup Depression By Dating Myself. Is there something about this summer? Or rather, the end of summer that has spurred on so much collective heartbreak? Or maybe that piece is just emerging up on Google’s ranks, and for that I should be thankful.

Mind you, that article was written a year and seven months ago and between that span of time I’ve, well, fallen in love and gotten heartbroken all over again.

Such is the nature of real life.

These emails are wonderful to receive and I respond to every single one of them to the best of my very, very limited ability. After all, knowing that I’ve impacted people’s lives for the better is what draws me to writing these type of posts.

I always find it a bit odd to be churning out more advice, as if people expect a sequel, as if, I’m a character in a novella who has found my happily ever after. (I haven’t. Nor do I believe in those sort of things.) And when people ask me, “How do I stop hurting?” “Your advice really helped, but what’s next? What should I do?”

I find it really difficult to respond to that. There isn’t a specific process.

The thing is, this is the nature of life. You get hurt, you dust yourself off, and with time, things will get easier. Such was the message of my first piece.

But I’ve also learned something new, something that most people don’t want to accept: Sometimes you will be back at square one, months, or even years afterwards, clutching at that broken heart wondering why it still aches. The pain is never as bad as that first initial shock, but it can still come back. After all, true love, even if it was one-sided or a bad idea, doesn’t just go away. It’s usually triggered by something — watching a poignant movie, listening to music, or accidentally seeing the picture you guys took together on your phone that you haven’t had the courage to delete.

This is okay. This is perfectly normal. It’ll come and go, to varying degrees. It won’t completely go away but you can render those thoughts harmless by accepting them.

We, our identities and personalities, are made up of a collective of memories and experiences. Without these, we would not be us. Some are memories are stronger than others. Unfortunately for the brokenhearted, love is one of those things you can never forget, whether it’s the love the new mom has for her infant child, as she holds him tenderly on the entire airplane ride, never getting up, just so the baby can have a peaceful slumber. Or if it’s that exquisite feeling of lying right next to the current love of your life, staring into his eyes and wishing time could stop because everything is perfect. To quote John Green, “Some infinities are bigger than others.”

The compilation of such moments are what propels us to do such grandiose things in the name of love. For that mom — that’s dedicating her entire life to raising her son. For that girl — it’s sticking by him through thick and thin and putting up with all his bullshit because she thinks he’s worth it.

And say that son grows up and runs away? Or that boy ends up breaking the heart of the girl?

Love is still love.

You can’t forget it.

This is a beautiful thing, as painful as it may be. Our life stories are threaded together by a string of emotion. But don’t let a lost love take over your entire novel.

Last time, my motto was: “I will not let myself hurt me anymore.”

I still believe that wholeheartedly. But this time, I’m taking it a step further: Do I want to make this a story about how I was a victim, or how I rose above it all and became a victor?

The key, I suppose, is to keep on writing that story. Embrace the plot twists. Realize that he or she is now a part of your story, that sometimes, memories of them will make you sad, but that’s completely okay. To ignore the impact a love has had on your life is to suppress a part of yourself and that is not healthy.

These twists are what makes you multifaceted and unique and vulnerable and deep. These heartbreaks have created within us a wonderful, special mosaic so that we can appreciate the people who do stay in our lives and most importantly, so that we can realize our own worths.

Just don’t let your story end at: “And then I got my heart broken and I was sad for the rest of my life.”

The plot thickens.

Quillisascut Farm: You Needed To Be There

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I cried when I left Quillisascut.

As I pulled out of the pebbled road, past the herb garden, past the honeybees, until the farm school, its wooden sign and the tire swing out in front disappeared out of sight…I felt a growing sense of loss.

Back on the narrow road, endless and winding, with only a bold yellow line leading the way and the steady sound of my rental car’s sputtering engine — the tears came, and then a full-on, deep, cathartic cry. The week was gone and I missed it, deeply, already.

And I know I wasn’t the only one.

Quillisascut Farm is a haven — an extraordinary place in ordinary circumstances. The 36-acre farm was built from the ground up by Rick and Lora Lea Misterly, who moved to the hills of northeastern Washington in 1981 with four goats. Together they started a life and raised a family, animals, and then soon, a burgeoning cheese business. Today they are also a farm school, where they teach lessons of sustainability and farming to anyone eager enough to listen and spend the time.

It’s one of those places that’s difficult to describe. You needed to be there.

When you’re at Quillisascut, things begin to make sense.

“Oh this is how potatoes grow.”
“This is how chickens are killed.”
“We can produce so much of our food ourselves.”
“There are so many wild edible plants around us.”
“We depend so much on Earth and its inherent magic and biology to survive.”

And when you leave, well, everyday life feels off.

“Why are there so many chemicals in this piece of bread? In this cut of meat?”
“We waste so much in urban living.”
“Why are our cities so sterile, so devoid of any real life and connection and nature?”
“Why do we depend on supermarkets for food?”

I tell people I went to farm school for a week and how it, in many ways, changed how I saw different facets of life. They’ll raise their eyebrows and nod in skeptical affirmation. “That’s lovely,” they’ll say.

I don’t think they get it.

You needed to be there.

You needed to be there, when Rick killed the young goat and we stood around its bloody carcass, hung upside down, as morning raindrops fell to the ground and mixed with its blood. It felt like a funeral. As we watched Rick tactfully skin the carcass, we all stood there, silently respecting the process and the life that was taken to feed us. But more importantly — to teach us.

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You needed to be there, when the neighboring farmer talked about his vegetable garden as his pride and joy. You needed to be there to feel how excited he was to show us the deep hue of green on the kale leaves. And how, to him, the baby spinach shoots were more than just spinach shoots. They represented vitality and hope and a future for him, his wife, and his newborn son Theodore.

You needed to be there to witness the peach farmer and how he knew the name and personality of every single tree in his orchard, when he planted them, and their individual history. You needed to be there to bite into the fruit — fresh off the branches, completely pesticide-free.

You needed to be there to feel the love Lora Lea had for her goats and see how she tenderly washed their udders and milked them, calling them by name and retreating into her workshop to create beautiful rinds of cheese to sustain her and her family.

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You needed to be there to hear how giddy the beekeeper got when he handled the backyard hive. And when he saw a baby bee, trying to push herself out of a cell for the very first time, you needed to be there to see him cheer her on, nudging nearby worker bees to give the baby space to breathe and emerge into life in the colony.

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You needed to be there to watch the chefs fashion jams, stews, breads, pasta, sauces, and infusions from the abundance of the land. You needed to be there to taste the feast and realize, “Wow, how rich life can be with just land, water, and seed.”

You needed to be there to feel the power of community as we all sat on the front porch, shelling walnuts, or picking grapes, staring at stars, or that one day we tediously separated a wagonload of spiny arugula leaves from their branches. You needed to be there at the dining table, to really experience how wonderful eating and drinking together with strangers can be without the interruption of technology.

And finally, you needed to be there to see.

To see how simple and beautiful living off the land can be. To see how little we actually know about our food and how dependent we are on gigantic agricultural corporations and generic brands. To see how small we are in the grand scheme of things and how much we need to take care of and nourish our land. To see how out of touch we are in our daily lives with nature and people and how we need to build more communities and connect with other human beings in genuine, heartfelt ways.

And to see — the true meaning of sustainability.

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Guys, I Think We’re Approaching Food Completely Wrong.

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Beets from Santa Barbara Farmers Market

Guys, I think we’re approaching food completely wrong.

I’m in the millennial generation. It’s a generation of juice cleanses, paleo if you’re in that community, gluten-free, and an endless feed of photos of my generational counterparts hitting the gym hard and supplementing with murky green shakes. For those who aren’t into that sort of thing, or “bird food,” as some of my friends like to call it, they’re hawking over bowls of glorious artisanal ramen and seasonal shared small plates in airy restaurants with chalkboard walls and local beer.

It’s exhausting.

People spend more money on gym memberships than on quality groceries. People know more about the pedigree of local chefs than their local farmers.

To be able to cook well at my age is a rare skill. Those who are adept at it are like unicorns. People actually brag about not being able to cook.

And it’s no wonder why. We were taught to prioritize academia. I grew up in a traditional Taiwanese family with immigrant parents who forced me out of the kitchen despite my protests. I was instructed to focus on math, piano, Chinese, science. When I would try to cook, I would be met with condescending eye rolls and scoffs. And so, illiterate in the art of cooking, I ate out all the time in college. I gained weight and felt depressed, constantly hungry, and obsessed with what I was eating. I started really getting into food and fell straight into writing about the restaurant world in New York City. People love food. Post an article on bacon-laced sweets or a doughnut/croissant mutt and lines will form. People will camp out. People will go out of their way. To consume, consume, and consume.

Pork chops from Cook Pigs

Pork chops from Cook Pigs

There was a brief phase where I started to really obsess over my body. Bombarded with images of fit, beautiful women both online and in real life, all while dating a gym aficionado — I guilted myself into working out endlessly.

I started counting calories, running miles, eliminating wheat, eating smaller portions, and I’d order mostly salads whenever I went out. I became stressed out and obsessive. Who wouldn’t? In addition of normal day-to-day tasks, I was micromanaging my body.

I’ve abandoned all of the above: The daily gym routine. The counting calories. The fad diets. The heavy juicing. The obsession with restaurants. I will not wait in your lines.

And I’ve never felt better in my life. I don’t have to think about what I’m eating, how much I’m eating, when I should eat, if I should be eating. I don’t feel behind if I haven’t checked out the latest, hottest restaurant.

It’s simple really.

Eat. Real. Food.

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Cooking beets

You see, the gym fad and the diet fad requires you to consciously think about what you’re doing with your body. It requires you to pay for that membership, to abide by strict dieting rules to accomplish a certain goal. On the other end, in the restaurant space, it’s easy to overeat because you’re determined to try the darlings of the menu that you’ve heard so much about. Eating has become some sort of statement. Checking in at a particular restaurant gives you a weird type of street cred.

It’s so unnecessary. (Which I why I gravitate toward mom-and-pop restaurants in my writing. I adore them not so much for the food, but for the culture and stories they’re bringing.)

I get a box of recently harvested, locally-sourced, organic, pesticide-free groceries every week. It’s not just fruits and veggies. There are meats, cheese, grains, and occasionally, a bar of fair trade chocolate. I’m forced to cook, to feed myself, and for the first time, begin a real love affair with my food. I’m eating rich, buttery pork chops, freshly-made pasta, hand-harvested rainbow carrots. The tomatoes are potent — they’re dry-farmed.

I’m learning that dinner can be utterly simple. I’ll slice my cheese of the week and eat it with the grapes. Or, I’ll saute my sunburst squash with onions, season it with salt and pepper and serve it over pasta. Not every meal needs to be a epic feat.

When you eat fresh, amazing things happen. You don’t need the sauces, the complicated dressings, the elaborate prep work. Fruits and vegetables have an entirely different texture and taste. My onions are consistently sweeter than run-of-the-mill supermarket varieties. I can eat an entire tomato by itself. I’m hooked on the subtle sweetness of yellow corn. Quick blanched vegetables with a simple aioli — that’s my go-to snack. Trust me, recently-harvested carrots taste a hell of a lot better than baby carrots from the supermarket. I don’t have to worry about brining my chicken; it’s naturally juicy. Grass-fed butter over a fresh loaf of bread that was baked that morning? It’s heavenly.

As for my body. I don’t even think about it anymore. I don’t have to. I eat to eat. I don’t eat to make a statement. I’m eating whole foods and simple dishes that aren’t laced with additives.

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Out of the Box’s Real Food Box

And so, I say, away with the crazy fads, the weeks of hard-core juicing, the obsessive workouts. Kale chips are delicious, but they shouldn’t be the only thing you eat.

I challenge you: try a week of eating real food. Try food that has been harvested recently minus the pesticides, minus the hormones. Go to your local farmers’ market. Re-learn, from the ingredients up, what you’re putting in your body.

Have a love affair with your food. Touch the produce. Cut it. Cook it. Because as with all relationships, if you’re in a healthy, loving bond — you won’t sweat the little things.

Thank You

A month ago, I wrote a post on why I had stopped writing, not entirely sure if I would ever get back completely in the groove again. Immediately, you guys flooded me with positivity and emails.

Thank you.

Recently, I have been writing again, and every week I’m greeted with more and more of your voices in my inbox. And trust me, that makes my day — to know that what I’ve penned has had an impact on you, even if it’s as simple as the fact that I’ve made you hungry with all the talk of food. For others, the impact has been much more profound and my mind is blown when you tell me your stories.

This Monday, I went out to dinner with a gal who had found me via one of my more personal posts. We had an amazing conversation about love and life, being in our early 20s, and the liberation that comes with being single and young and curious.

The real life connections I’ve made by pressing “Publish” has been invaluable.

And the comments. Some of you guys have been following my career since I started writing in college and I’m so grateful for it. You see, you’ve made an impact in my life too. Hearing your feedback is what propels me to get up, open a blank window, and start typing from the heart.

I’ve recently started a new chapter in my life and in the beginning it was a reality that was tough to stomach. Change is scary. But waking up to these little tidbits of positivity and emails from you all has really made my days.

Social media, the Internet, media, and all that jazz gets a bad rap in this day and age. But as impersonal as it all can be, the reality is that behind each screen is a real life person with feelings, thoughts, ambitions, and emotions.

And it’s lovely to be able to connect through this medium. So for the people who have pressed that “Like” button, typed “HI CLARISSA!”, left a comment… and especially those who have ended up as dear friends from all of this — thank you.

You’ve all made a profound, deep, and lasting impact in my life.

Favorite Sri Lankan Restaurants in Los Angeles

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Originally posted on my KCET column, Have You Eaten?

Sri Lankan food is extremely similar to South Indian food. This makes sense. Sri Lanka is an island off of the coast of India and Indian traders have settling down in Sri Lanka for 2,500 plus years. The main difference in the food: Sri Lankan dishes do not use any dairy products. Coconut is used liberally instead.

The island also uses a greater proportion of spices in their food and the consistency of the curry is not as thick or oily as their Indian counterparts. Arab, Malaysian, Portuguese, Dutch, and British influences can also be detected in the cuisine due to a history of trading and colonization.

Sri Lankan restaurants are hard to come by in Los Angeles. There are only a handful of these eateries at a time and most of them are located in the Valley. And, a fair warning, like South Indian fare, the food is extremely spicy.

Here are four:

Apey Kade
Apey Kade is a family operation. It’s located in a small strip mall in Tarzana. Walk in and chances are, you’ll see some of the family’s children hanging out behind the counter. The regulars are friends and the owners are perfectly friendly. They’re known for a killer buffet special; it’s $10 a person. If you’re ordering a la carte, do give the deviled chicken a try. The poultry is infused with curry leaves, lime juice and a liberal splash of fresh and dried chilies. 19662 Ventura Blvd, Tarzana, CA 91356.

The Curry Leaf
Curry Leaf is an airy diner right in Reseda touting Sri Lankan and Indian specials. The food is served buffet-style and if you make it for lunch, it’s $8.99 per person. They serve great hoppers – a crepe-like dish fashioned with a fermented batter of coconut milk, rice flour, and palm wine. It’s great with an egg inside and The Curry Leaf has entire evenings dedicated to this classic dish. 17734 Sherman Way, Reseda, CA 91335.

Café Lanka
Tucked in the hills of La Crescenta, Café Lanka is manned by husband-and-wife team Subodha Dharmathma and Mahesh Berera. Their avocado juice is a crowd favorite. No powders are added; they use only fresh avocados. If you’re a first-timer, the shrimp biryani bowl or mutton curry is a good way to start. Spice levels can be adjusted to taste. For dessert, try their Sri Lankan flan, called wattalappan, made with coconut milk, jaggery (a type of sugar), and eggs. 3436A Foothill Blvd., La Crescenta, California.

Baja Subs Market & Deli
Baja Subs Market & Deli is many things. First and foremost, they’re a market and a deli. They also sell Mexican food and double as a Sri Lankan eatery on weekends only. Any of their devilled dishes are great but the Sri Lanka biryani is their star dish. Cool fact: Biryani was brought over to Sri Lanka by South Indians in the 1900s. The main difference? The Sri Lankan version sometimes serves it with string hoppers, which are thin steamed rice noodles. 8801 Reseda Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324.

VIDEO: How To Make Chinese Eggplant


This is by far my best video yet. Took me two and a half days, but so worth it!

The recipe below was written by my buddy Dan who is my guest in the video. Clearly, the writing style is not mine.

Ingredients:

3 eggplants; sliced vertically
4 cloves garlic; diced
1-inch nub of ginger; diced
1 stalk of scallion; diced

2 tbsp cornstarch
1/8 cup sweet soy sauce
1 cup water
2 teaspoons Hondashi
2 teaspoon sugar

Preparations:

Eggplants
Put the eggplants in a bowl and salt generously. Use your hand (or anything really) and toss the eggplants around so the salt distributes evenly and leave it there for 30 minutes to an hour. The salt is going to draw some of the eggplant juices out so your dish won’t end up tasting bitter. After the time is up, rinse the salt off the eggplants and pat it dry with a paper towel. Don’t be afraid to use a bit of force to squeeze some more of the juices out. Toss the prepared eggplants with cornstarch so each of the pieces has a light coat. Then just pop it in your mouth place on the side.

Sauce
For the sauce so the dish doesn’t taste like bland nothing, grab a small bowl and just mix the ingredients in the sauce section together and put on the side.

Thy Holy Trinity of Chinese Food (Ginger, Scallion, Garlic)
We said diced, but how finely chopped you want the holy trinity is up to personal preference. We’re lazy so we just coarsely chopped it but if you want more of a kick of a specific flavor in your dish, just chop it finer so it has more surface area to release its flavors. Just keep in mind that the finer you chop it, the faster it’ll cook.

Procedure:

Set the heat to medium and just eyeball some amount of cooking oil onto the pan. We’d suggest a tablespoon or two, then just throw the garlic and ginger onto the pan. The idea is that you want to lightly fry the garlic so it has a nice crunch in the finished dish, be careful in adding too much oil though since the eggplant is going to soak all of it up the moment it touches the pan.

For the sake of not having super soggy scallions, toss the scallions in about a minute in. Save a handful of he uncooked scallions for garnish at the end.

Is the garlic starting to look kind of golden brown? Sweet, toss the eggplants in. Mix the trinity with the eggplants thoroughly. Separate any eggplant pieces you see stuck together.

Depending on your pan, toss enough sauce in so it covers the bottom half of the eggplants. Mix it around a bit and cover the pan with a lid and let it sit for three to five minutes. The cornstarch should be doing its work and thickening the sauce and reducing the sauce through the reduction will intensify our dish’s flavor. Basically, if you uncover the lid and see black gunk coating the eggplant, that’s a good thing.

Woot, now you’re done, put it on a plate or over some rice and throw the scallions you saved on top for the finishing touch.

Why I Hate Clubbing

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I’m at the age where my Facebook feed is filled with photos like the one above. The Vegas glam shot. Tight dresses, lots of make-up, and a killer set of heels. The weekend getaway, where you all pool in for a fancy suite, and everyone knows a bouncer on a texting basis.

Ugh. Never again.

When I turned 21, I dragged my boyfriend of that time to Vegas. We booked a hotel, I did vodka shots for the first time in my life and chased it with Oreos. (I thought I was so clever. I’ve hated Oreos ever since.) The excitement was palpable. I had planned the whole trip so I could finally go clubbing. Halfway through the night, we realized my boyfriend had forgotten his ID and my 21st birthday turned sour from there.

I really wanted to go clubbing.

Months later, I eventually got my wish and my 21st year was spent doing things normal 21 year olds do.

First, some context: I was a prude throughout my adolescence. I was affiliated with a cultish organization that demonized all and any vices. Holding hands with a guy was considered bad. My conservative past is a story for another time but at 21, I had already broken away from that mentality.

Naturally, I was thrilled to do what I thought “normal” people did: I went clubbing, I got drunk. While that was the extent of it, this was a big deal for me.

When my boyfriend and I broke up, I took it up another notch. Once I got so drunk in a club, I ended up in the hospital. I also have a very distinctive and embarrassing memory of me in San Francisco with my best friends, standing on a platform in a dive club and screaming “I LOVE YOU S.F. AHHH!!”

Fast forward to now: Don’t ask me to go clubbing with you.

The only time I ever have a positive experience is when I’m with certain best girl friends. These are the girls who I know are there to a) spend time with me and b) dance with me. And even if the hottest man walked right on over, they wouldn’t give him the time of day. These girls will literally push men away from them. But they’re hard to find. I only have two of them in my life.

It’s so fucking pointless. Clubbing is a mating game at its most primal level. Man and woman find each other, grind, make out, touch, get bored, repeat with another person. And at the end of the night, it’s 3 a.m., someone’s feet is bleeding, another girl is so drunk her poor date is carrying her over his shoulder, and everyone is hungry for Denny’s.

You’re on a dance floor with hundreds of people, clad in the most uncomfortable shoes anyone can find (“At least they’re cute!” you think, but who ACTUALLY looks at your shoes?!), bobbing up and down hoping someone hot will sashay their way over. You’re with your girlfriends and everyone looks like they’re having a good time together. But the moment a guy swoops in, your friends are missing in action.

And then. The men.

The assholes who think it’s okay to grab your ass or your boobs. The guys who initiate a dance just by getting straight to it.

(To those few men who have respectfully asked me to dance in a club — THANK YOU.)

Then sometimes you find someone you can actually have a decent half-assed (shouting) conversation with. And they think that gives them the liberty to plant their mouth on your face.

I get it. This is the culture of these places. And I get some people enjoy this lifestyle. That’s fine.

But it’s not for me. A couple years ago I did the whole Vegas-trip-with-all-the-girls-and-one-or-two-guys thing. The girls and I got glammed up and we were pumped for a night out in town. The getting-ready portion is always the best part. There’s this anticipation. This hope that something epic will happen. That maybe, just maybe, you’ll meet someone cool.

We get to the club. Wait in line. Get a drink. Hit the dance floor.

30 minutes later, I’m in a restaurant with a girlfriend chowing down on a gourmet burger. And THAT’S the highlight of my evening. An hour later I’m in bed, completely alone in a Vegas suite while the girls are out and it’s fantastic.

The next day we’re at a day club, I’m dressed in a bikini, the sight of alcohol repels me, and all I want is that fucking burger again.

That’s when I knew.

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good party. I’ve been taking up salsa dance classes and go dancing at salsa clubs on a weekly basis. I love the social part of actual dancing. You know, the type of dancing where you’re using your brain and it requires steps and some sort of basic technique. Men will hold out their hand and ask you to dance. You dance with them for the entirety of the song, and when that final beat hits, you say your thank yous and part ways.

I also adore country dancing clubs. I can’t line dance for pennies but I love country music and I have a great time watching people execute two-steps and the electric slide. That’s the culture of those places — actual dancing.

Not hooking up.

For me, a party is about, first and foremost, bonding with my close acquaintances and second, actually meeting people and developing authentic connections.

But when that connection is reduced to SEX, BOOBS, DRUNKEN MAKE-OUT SESSIONS…I’m really just another piece of ass.

And I hate that.

That’s not a party. That’s social laziness.

Best Thai Restaurants In Los Angeles

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The City of Angels has the largest Thai population outside of Thailand, so it’s no surprise that Thai food is in abundance around town. If you just want to wander, you should explore Thai Town, a six-block area centered along Hollywood Boulevard between Normandie and Western Avenue, where many of the city’s best Thai restaurants are located. From boat noodle specialists to spicy Southern Thai fare and fusion Thai food, there’s something for everyone. Read on for 10 of the best Thai restaurants in Los Angeles.

1. SIAM SUNSET
A bit difficult to spot, Siam Sunset is attached to an America’s Best Value Inn. Don’t let the unconventional location deter you though, there’s a slew of Northeastern specialties on the menu, including the standout papaya salad and glass noodle salad. The khao man gai, a mutation of Chinese Hainan chicken over rice, is fantastic as well. While most of the dishes are great, the real gems of Siam Sunset are housed in their breakfast section. Get the porridge and Chinese donuts, paired with hot coffee, and mixed with a couple drops of condensed milk. 5265 W Sunset Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90027.

2. LUM KA NAAD
This is the perfect place to go for a crash course in regional Thai food. The husband and wife team are from Northern and Southern Thailand respectively, and they’ve married their favorite dishes from their hometowns into a comprehensive menu with more than 100 items. The restaurant name is appropriately named “Lum Ka Naad,” it’s an expression of deliciousness in Northern Thailand. Try the pork curry, seasoned with spices that are regularly sourced directly from Thailand. 8910 Reseda Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324.

3. JITLADA
Known for its extremely spicy food, Jitlada features a Southern Thai menu that is much-loved by foodies and journalists alike. In fact, food blogger Jo Stougaard of My Last Bite loved the restaurant so much, she ate her way through Jitlada’s entire 300-dish menu during a two-year journey that began in 2010. The khua kling phat tha lung, a Southern Thai curry dish with shredded beef and a heap of turmeric, is a must for fans of spicy food. The searing heat of this dish will test even the sturdiest of palates. 5233 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

4. NIGHT + MARKET
Night + Market is hip and delicious, a worthwhile combination that has propelled Kris Yenbamroong’s restaurant to Thai food fame in Los Angeles and beyond. Yenbamroong’s flagship restaurant is located on Sunset Boulevard. A second location, Night + Market Song, recently opened in the heart of Silver Lake, adorned in shades of fuchsia and serving favorites from the original location. The catfish tamale, wrapped up in a banana leaf with chile and fragrant herbs, is highly recommended. 9041 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069.

5. ISAAN STATION
Isaan, located in Northeastern Thailand, is home to nearly one third of the Thai population. Sticky rice and chili peppers are prominent features of the cuisine, and Isaan Station in Koreatown takes great care to reflect that in its menu. The sticky rice comes in an adorable woven bamboo basket, which is not only aesthetically awesome, but also keeps the rice warm. The papaya salad with pickled blue crab – called som dtum bhu mah – has a nice pop from the chilies, and is balanced out by the cool and crunchy papaya. 125 N Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004.

6. LACHA SOMTUM
Lacha Somtum is another Thai Town sweetheart that pays homage to Isaan-style food. The menu has quite a repertoire of green papaya salads, but the real attraction here is the balut curry. It’s not for the squeamish – balut is an embryonic chicken. It’s usually eaten by itself, but Lacha Somtum has taken the liberty of sautéing it in a fragrant stir-fry of chilies and bell peppers, with wonderfully rich results. 5171 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

7. SALADANG SONG
Saladang Song in Pasadena is a gorgeous place to dine. Hit it up in the early evening and ask for a seat outside, where candles are lit to help set the mood. Saladang Song is the sister restaurant to Saladang, located next door. (“Song” means number two in Thai.) Saladang Song has a more diverse menu than the original, with items that you might find on the streets in Thailand. Song is also a bit pricier. You can’t go wrong with any of the refreshingly spicy papaya salads. 383 S. Fair Oaks Ave., 91105-2524 Pasadena, CA.

8. SAPP COFFEE SHOP
Yes they serve coffee, but the real draw here is the noodles. Sapp Coffee Shop is a boat noodle specialist, a beef noodle soup that’s literally served off boats in Thailand. It’s a delicious combination of beef, tripe, offal, crispy pork rinds and thick rice noodles, fortified with an earthy blood broth. If you’re squeamish, opt for the jade noodles with BBQ pork, duck and crab meat instead. 5183 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

9. RUEN PAIR
If you have a hankering for Thai food after midnight, Ruen Pair might be your best option. It’s open until 3 a.m. – perfect after a night out in town. The outstanding spicy catfish is deep-fried and served with a heaping portion of hot peppers and mint leaves. For an extra kick, thick curry paste is smeared all over the fish. If you’re looking for food to end the night, get the pad thai, it’s a solid rendition of the classic dish. Be sure to bring the leftovers home – pad thai is a perfect hangover remedy for the morning after. 5257 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

10. DAISY MINT
Daisy Mint is an airy Pasadena lunch spot that serves up fusion Thai food. Everything is beautifully plated and the lunch specials are consistent. The Daisy Noodles, a customer favorite, is made with rice noodles flavored with a red curry, and topped with basil and crispy, fried shallots. Fresh bean sprouts are served on the side. The Daisy Ribs are also highly recommended – the ribs are coated with a nice sweet and sour sauce, and the meat is literally falling off the bone. Order anything on the menu that starts with “Daisy,” and you won’t be disappointed. 1218 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106.