ZSPLIT: SoCal & Tokyo / by zhaophotography

A few days after we arrived in LA, Jared and I had an enormous fight and decided to spend the rest of our "business" trip separately.  KIDDING!  Actually, Jared was joining up with our friend Dan Chen (Chennergy.com) in Tokyo to help photograph a couple weddings.  Even though I desperately wanted to go as well, I couldn't bear to be apart from Baby Duck.  And it was kind of a no brainer decision to "allow" Jared to go on this trip without me.  I mean a trip to Japan, eating all of our favorite foods and photographing epic weddings with Dan?  Yeah, I couldn't say no.  So I stuck around in LA catching up with old friends and spending time with my in-laws.  Yup, I actually like my in-laws.  They're kind of awesome. And now I present to you ZSPLIT in iphone photos!

I've been on a bit of a macaron tasting spree, so I tasked Jared with the job of hunting down one of the Pierre Herme outlets in Japan.  And I found my way to La Provence Patisserie in Beverly Hills.

I was meeting up with a friend so I bought a whole bunch of large size macarons and a red velvet cupcake for us to share. It wasn't until after we sat down that she told me that she was a on detox diet and that I was going to have to eat all of these by myself.  Suffice it to say, I think I almost died of sugar overload.  I mean, I wanted to taste them all and it seemed like such a waste to not finish it.  Oh the dilemma.  Jared on the other hand got to taste the famed Isaphan.  Rose, lychee and raspberries and cream between two giant macaron shells?  I was a tad jealous, but that salted caramel macaron I had was pretty damn good.

I've been hearing so many amazing things about the 85°C bakery in Irvine. Since I was making so many drives out there during my trip, I also thought it would be a waste if I didn't make a pit stop to try things out for myself. So I wasn't exactly prepared for this. First of all the line... is LONG. Out the door and around the corner long.  And people are pastry crazy. I saw people grabbing trays, I grabbed a tray. I saw people grabbing at pastries, I started grabbing at pastries. I saw people piling their trays and creating pastry mountains. I ... built the following tiny mound. I also ordered their Sea Salt Coffee. Yum! But then I finally got to sit and taste these pastries. Ho.Ly.Crap. I mean anything fresh out of the oven is guaranteed to be tasty, but I felt like I was in pastry heaven. Soft... buttery... chewy... I can't even properly describe the awesomeness that I tasted. So I'll leave it at that. I did have some the items the next day and it wasn't nearly as awesome. So I highly suggest you order and eat them right away! Meanwhile, Jared had a second Pierre Herme macaron... I wasn't nearly as jealous.

The next morning my in-laws took me to have dim sum at New Capital Seafood Restaurant in San Gabriel.  During each visit, we always end up here at least 3-4 times whether it be for dim sum or dinner.  What can I say? My in-laws like good food at good prices.  Besides the standard dim sum fare, I made sure to order the honeycomb tripe.  You don't normally see this in Chicago, and definitely not in generous portions.  Yup, I like tripe.  I like it a lot.  You have no idea.  I was an extremely happy girl.  Jared on the other hand sent me photos of chicken sashimi and said it was even better than the last time we had it in Kyoto.  Then, I was back to being a little jealous.

During one of the days I spent with Bee of Rasamalaysia.com, she made me this bowl of Assam Laksa from scratch. First of all, assam laksa was our absolutely favorite dish that we had when we were traveling in Malaysia several years ago. Bee, the gracious hostess, made sure that I'd get a taste of her tried and true home rendition of Assam Laksa. I took one bite, closed my eyes, and was immediately transported back to that hot and sticky afternoon Penang. Very few dishes can do that for me, and this was no exception. Spicy, sour, hot and delicious, this bowl of assam laksa alone was worth the trip. THANK YOU, BEE! Meanwhile, Jared was eating tonkotsu ramen. And as much as I love tonkotsu ramen, I wasn't so jealous =)

While Jared was still in LA, we met up with some of his cousins, nieces and nephews.  One of his nephew's birthdays happened to be the following weekend while Dylan and I were still there.  How I turned what was supposed to be a simple small dinner at a Chinese restaurant into a huge backyard blowout with water balloons, bbq and Angry Birds, I don't know.  (wink wink).  I made these felt characters for his birthday gift.  I had planned on completing the entire set with the rest of the birds and all the pigs but simply ran out of time!  Meanwhile, Jared was falling in love with the Studio Ghibli museum.  Ok so these are both awesome and epic, so let's call this a wash :) I think at about the same time, my in-laws took me to Top Island Restaurant for some giant giant prawns and Jared was waking up at 5am to head to the Tsujiki Market for fresh fish.  Ok he wins, but the prawns put up a pretty good fight.

My in-laws are also really good cooks and they wanted to prepared a special dinner for me.  I came back one evening to stir fried blue crabs, ong choy and fried rice.  Do you see while I love them so much?  Jared was eating yakitori at that time.  Both of us sort of have a love affair with yakitori, but with all the intention and sentiment riding on mine, I'm gonna say my meal won. ;)

One of my last dinners was at a Pho restaurant recommended by Jared's sister.  I don't know WHAT happened since the last time she ate there, but it was not good at all.  The broth tasted diluted and bland.  Complete and utter pho FAIL.  I won't name the restaurant but I don't think bad pho restaurants should be allowed to exist in the San Gabriel Valley.  Is that not an oxymoron!  Jared was eating soba at Narita so ok he wins by default.

And of course I couldn't leave without one lunch at In-n-Out.  Back when I was interning in silicon valley so many summers ago, I had plenty of in-n-out.  Oh the memories.  Jared had so much time he decided to have a second and last meal at Narita of tonkatsu.  On this final note, let's call it even :) And thus ends ZSPLIT!  It's only been a month and a half after the trip, so that is an improvement on our current delayed posting schedule I dare say!