Culinary Treasure

“We’ve been open for five weeks today,” said Duc Pham of his new Blossom Vietnamese restaurant on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. 

Photo by Chris Mortenson

Pham just received the two heaters he ordered for the outside patio, which have arrived in time to warm outdoor diners for the coming windy weekend. 

“We’re moving with the space,” he said. “It’s telling us what it needs daily.” 

Venice is Pham’s fifth Blossom location – the original Downtown Los Angeles noodle shop launched on Main Street 17 years ago. Santa Monica’s Ocean Park Boulevard eatery opened five years ago. His Silver Lake spot, which opened in 2006, closed three years ago because of the building’s rapidly rising rent, and the Atwater Village restaurant popped up just over a year ago. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Natural Wine and Plant-Based Plates

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to more than a few unexpected things. One much-needed pleasant surprise is the proliferation of pop-ups.

Photo Credit: Only the Wild Ones

“In 2020, we were able to do a pop-up for De Buena Planta in a parking lot,” said Heather Tierney, founder of The Butcher’s Daughter, of the plant-based Mexican concept across Abbot Kinney that opened on Labor Day in 2020. “It was a way to get creative.”

Tierney is popping up once again with Only the Wild Ones, a natural wine bar on Abbot Kinney next door to The Butcher’s Daughter where The Other Room once operated. The landlord of the building, who also owns The Butcher’s Daughter and De Buena Planta’s properties, is in the process of converting it to retail space, but it’s a long process. Tierney has the go-ahead for her pop-up until the space is converted and a retail tenant moves in.

The pandemic and Abbot Kinney’s high rents have made Tierney a big proponent of pop-ups.

“Landlords on Abbot Kinney are holding out for ridiculous rents, so if anyone sees an empty storefront, it’s an opportunity to launch something,” she said. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Stepping Into Liquid

Just before Sachi Cunningham ’94.5 entered her sophomore year at Brown, she was given a bipolar 1 diagnosis and put in a rubber-walled room. It wouldn’t be her last time in a psychiatric hospital. When her mom died of ovarian cancer during her junior year, she fell into a deep depression and landed there again. But Cunningham, a competitive athlete who was on Brown’s varsity swim and water polo teams, went on to land at the top of the dangerous, male-dominated field of surf photography. She says that’s not a coincidence. 

Sachi Cunningham, ‘94.5

“Learning how to survive when a wave detonates on or in front of you has become an incredibly valuable practice of resilience and survival,” she says. “Every time I swim in the surf I am reinforcing how to feel comfortable in a situation that is entirely out of my control, and how to surrender to whatever comes my way and make the most of it.” The highs and lows of her bipolar disorder are as inevitable as the continued pounding of the waves, she says. “The lessons that this practice instills has helped to keep me functional.” . . .

Read the full article at Brown Alumni Magazine.

Coffee that Caters to the Community

When Edward Ackah-Miezah was in high school in Seattle, he got a job at Java Joe’s. It was one of his first jobs, and it played a major role in where he’s sitting today – at a table in front of his 4-year-old Playa Vista outdoor coffee cabana, Café Ruisseau.

“Joe was super cool,” shares Ackah-Miezah. “He was really popular. Everybody loved him, and I saw how magnetic he was and how magnetic coffee could be for a community. I fell in love with coffee and how it brings people together. Ever since, I’ve been in and around coffee.”


Tucked away next to Tocaya Organica and across the drive from Home State, Café Ruisseau has been thriving since 2016, when the Playa Vista Campus invited Ackah-Miezah to open a coffee shop to service the rapidly growing business community.

In mid-March, as with all aspects of life as we knew it, everything changed. …

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

40 Years of Pasta & Family

On Nov. 1, Vito Restaurant will celebrate its 40th anniversary — and like every other person and thing in the world this year, it’ll be a pandemic birthday. But Giovanna Somma, co-owner of the Santa Monica restaurant with her husband, Roberto, has a lot to be grateful for.

“Of course, it’s nothing like it used to be,” Giovanna says. “But we are doing OK. Fortunately, we are lucky enough that we own the property and we created a patio. And we do a lot of to-go. We are fine, but it’s very weird.”

What used to be a fine dining establishment with low lighting and bar crowds has transformed into a 13-table casual, lit-up, heated patio area in the parking lot.

“I was very skeptical,” says Giovanna about taking the Vito dining experience outside. “I have a nice, elegant restaurant. And now I’m here.”

Giovanna is sitting at the edge of her patio. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Unstoppable Sushi

Success stories are hard to come by these days. But Wabi on Rose is one of them.

“We’re thriving on Rose,” proclaims co-owner Tricia Smalls triumphantly via cell phone.

It’s music to the ears. Especially after an unexpected fire in December 2018 forced the popular sushi restaurant Wabi on Abbot Kinney (or Wabi 1) to close.

“We were doing the best we could to open in that location,” shares Smalls, “but due to the size of the loss, we were forced to look into other locations. Venice is our home and we wanted to stay, but there wasn’t a lot available.”

Then the owners of Makani, located on Rose, approached Smalls to do a partnership. Wabi’s owners were familiar with that space — one of Wabi’s owners was one of the original designers of Makani — and they decided it was a good fit.

Just two weeks before the pandemic lockdown, Wabi signed the contract. And despite the unfortunate turn of events, Wabi decided to move forward and try to make the best takeout program possible in Venice.

On April 4, Wabi on Rose (or Wabi 2) launched their takeout program. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Best Place to Order Up the Custom Cake of Your Dreams: Angel Maid Bakery

My stepmother discovered Angel Maid Bakery years ago on the strip of Centinela between Venice and Culver Boulevards, in a part of town now called Del Rey. It’s been our go-to custom cake bakery since, and we all have our favorites.

My favorite is strawberry shortcake, with fresh cut strawberries and not-too-sweet whipped cream between layers of white chiffon cake. My stepmom’s fave, the chocolate banana, is also delicious: chocolate cake with sliced bananas and custard cream, completely covered with fresh whipped cream.

We’ve never tried anything else, but the possibilities are endless: Tres Leches, mango mousse, raspberry passion fruit mousse, Mont Blanc (chestnut cream, meringue whipped cream, almond dacquoise cake), tiramisu, mocha chiffon, carrot cake, German chocolate and the menu goes on. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Best Museum Without Walls: Tim Rudnick’s Venice Oceanarium

Have you ever seen grunion run at midnight at the edge of the ocean? Or looked at sand from all over the world through a microscope under the white tent at the end of the Venice Pier on a Sunday? Or walked by a circle of people in November reading “Moby Dick” out loud, one at a time through a microphone, surrounded by a huge actual whalebone at the breakwater on Venice Beach?

Each one of these sea-centric activities is hosted by the Venice Oceanarium, a museum without walls since 1995, founded by Tim Rudnick.

In the late ’80s, when Rudnick was in his mid-40s, he decided to go back to school.

“One of my daughters, Pesha, gave me a book for my birthday with the inscription, ‘To dad, who knows everything.’ That made me want to find out more,” shares Rudnick. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Childcare for the 21st Century


Brella Founders Melanie Wolff and Darien Williams

Everything is available on-demand these days. So why should childcare be any different? That’s the concept behind Brella, a new childcare model launched in Playa Vista in November.

Say you and your friend are new mothers strolling with your babies down Runway. You’re both struggling with the huge, life-altering changes that come with this new stage of life. You’re desperate to connect and chat about your issues, and maybe leave with a few ideas and solutions. But your babies are crying. They need to be held, fed and changed. And all you want to do is stop, sit, breathe and hear your friend’s comforting voice.

That’s the beauty of Brella. Pop into the brightly colored open space at Runway (or better yet, check online on the app) to see if there’s room for two … toddlers. Leave your babies with qualified, credentialed care and score the quiet, uninterrupted time you need. …

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

Star Chefs Honor the Legacy of Chef Joe Miller by Preparing a Meal Like No Other


Chef Raphael Lunetta, Jill Davie, Kevin Meehan (left); The Mar Vista chef Gulianna Sarto (right) 

Notable chefs, farmers market vendors, family and friends gathered on Dec. 2 at Venice Boulevard destination restaurant The Mar Vista to remember Chef Joe Miller, best known as the founder of Joe’s Restaurant on Abbot Kinney Boulevard.

There had been other memorials before — Miller, who was only 60, died in late October from complications of cardiac arrest — but this was a celebration of his life … with food. The event centered around dinner, which longtime Joe’s Restaurant fan Gail Rogers said was the best food she’s ever eaten — “and the wine was flowing.”

Michelin-starred Joe’s Restaurant was open for 24 years before closing in 2016. My entire family loved Joe’s, and most of them attended the dinner. I, too, have fond memories of the nights we celebrated family occasions at Joe’s. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.