Star Alliance Business Class Lounge LAX – Lunch Options

I recently review the Star Alliance Business Class Lounge at LAX where breakfast options were primarily served.

I recently returned again, where breakfast was just ending, and lunch offerings were being served.

I will just focus on the food in this review.

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Fruit

There was a melon salad, grapes, and cut watermelon.

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Smoothie, Rice Pudding

There was a mango and peach smoothie, and pumpkin rice pudding.

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Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Krispie treats were also on offer.

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Salmon

There was a salmon teriyaki type dish, rice, and vegetables.

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Thai Curry

There was a vegetarian Thai curry soup.

Pita chips and crackers were also offered.

There was a selection of cheese and dried fruit.

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Salads

Several different types of salad were also available.

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Sandwiches

A flat bread sandwich, a wrap, and vegetables were also offered.

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Veggies

In all, the lunch offerings were pretty substantial, especially for a domestic lounge. Although there was really only one hot entrée on offer, several types of salads and sandwiches were available.

I have another upcoming trip, and will have the opportunity to visit the lounge again. If different things are being offered I will have another review.

Asiana Airlines: Los Angeles to Seoul – Economy

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Asiana Departure Gate

Asiana Airlines
Flight OZ 201
Los Angeles to Seoul
Depart 12:10 PM, Arrives 5:35 PM + 1 day

 

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Asiana A380

I arrived about 15 minutes before boarding was scheduled to begin. The plane was already at the gate, and dwarfed the service vehicle beneath the wing, demonstrating the behemoth size of the majestic giant.

Boarding was fairly organized, as there were signs posted for each group: First Class/Asiana Diamond, Business Class/Star Alliance Gold, and two separate economy class lines depending on row number.

As my ticket to Manila was among the lowest I’ve seen, I was stuck in economy. Even though I have Star Alliance Gold status, getting an upgrade is very unlikely on any Star Alliance partner.

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Economy Seating
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Economy Seating

Economy seating wasn’t too bad. There was a decent amount of leg room, even though economy seating is 3-4-3.  The color scheme is rather drab though.

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Pillow & Blanket

Already waiting at my seat was a pillow and blanket.

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Economy Slippers

Slippers were also provided. Although they were very thin, this is a nice amenity for economy class.

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Screen & USB Port

The IFE was crystal clear, which always isn’t a given, even with today’s techonology centric world. There was also a USB port at every seat.

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Outlet

There is an outlet between seats which is convenient for charging at least one device.

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Foot Rest

There is also a foot rest at every seat.

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Sparse Air Vents

Like many foreign carriers on international routes, there are no personalized air vents. There are several air vents above the cabin doors. My last flight on Asiana was uncomfortably warm, almost to the point of me not wanting to fly Asiana ever again. Granted I was sick on that flight and didn’t feel good during the entirety of the flight despite being in business class.

Oddly, Asiana turned on the AC for this flight for the first and last 30-45 minutes of the flight. It felt great initially, as it was a hot day in Los Angeles upon departing, but over the course of the flight the cabin became progressively warmer.

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Economy Class Lunch

Lunch service began about 90 minutes after take-off. It consisted of a roll with butter, a small salad with garbanzo beans, beef with vegetables, and lemon cake for dessert. The salad had very little dressing. The beef was slightly overcooked, and the vegetables retained some texture. The cake was tender, but the frosting had a very chemical taste to it which was unappealing.

Flight attendants came though the cabin fairly regularly offering glasses of water, which was much appreciated.

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Snack Mix

A small bag of snack mix was also distributed.

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Snack

A mid-flight snack of a turkey sandwich on croissant like bread was provided. Although basic, it hit the spot.

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Pre-Landing Meal

The pre-landing meal was pretty substantial. It contained a salad of kidney beans, corn, onion and pastrami, a roll and butter, chicken teriyaki with vegetables and rice, and small side of fruit. The salad had no dressing, but the pastrami was very good. The chicken was fairly tender, and about what you would expect at Flame Broiler or WaBa Grill.

Headsets were collected about 40 minutes before landing, which I thought was ridiculous. You may be better off bringing your own headsets if this an issue.

Service was friendly throughout the flight, and refills of drinks were offered fairly regularly. The cabin did get rather warm during the middle of the flight, however flying Asiana economy class is a pretty good product.

Star Alliance Business Class Lounge LAX

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Star Alliance Business Class Lounge
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Star Alliance Business Class Lounge

I last visited the Star Alliance Business Class Lounge at LAX in 2014. All of my international flights since then have either left out of Terminal 7, and I had one flight on KLM but have no Sky Team status.

The lounge is one floor up from the main terminal floor. The lounge has a stunning, but simple exterior with clear and elegant signage. After presenting my boarding pass, I was quickly admitted.

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Reception Desk

Once entering the lounge, there is a desk to the left with agents there to help with any questions or problems you may encounter.

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Library/Signage

The lounge is separated into several different spaces. One room has a library theme.

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“Hollywood” Room

Another space features the iconic Hollywood sign.

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Main Room
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Main Room
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Main Room

The main room of the lounge features plenty of seating which is well spaced, and doesn’t give you a cramped feeling. There is a magazine and newspaper rack.  There is additional seating on the opposite side of the newspaper rack, along with a bar.

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Dining Room

The dining room is a fairly small space, but was relatively empty during my visit. The most stunning feature is the wine wall.

The food in the lounge consisted of bread and bagels, different types of salads, juices, cereal, eggs, sausage, roasted tomatoes, bacon, and quiche.

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Soda Fountain

There is a soda fountain.

There is also a noodle bar.

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Espresso Machine

There is also an espresso machine.

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Media Room

There is a media room with a large TV and a fair amount of seating. The room is dark, which would make watching TV more pleasant.

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Shower Suites

The lounge does feature shower suites; however, I did not take advantage of this. After having left my watch in the shows room last time, I was hesitant to use it again, LOL.

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Terrace
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Terrace

One of the best and distinguishing features about the lounge is the terrace. There is plenty of seating. There is a water feature on the back wall, some outdoor heaters, and bar seating. Plane spotting is fabulous from out here.

The Star Alliance Business Class Lounge at LAX is one of the better lounges that I have been to in the US. The space is large and inviting, with plenty of seating in a comfortable atmosphere. The food is a large upgrade compared to most domestic lounges, and offers something for all tastes.

This is a great place to relax before boarding a long flight.

n/naka – Los Angeles

Reservations were already relatively hard to get at n/naka before Chef’s Table, Season One, but after the Niki Nakayama episode aired tables became almost impossible to secure.

Prior to Chef’s Table, reservation calls went directly to the chef’s cell phone, but they were inundated with reservation calls after the episode. They have since gone to an online reservation, which has streamlined things and made things easier I believe. The system isn’t as transparent as Alinea’s reservation system, but is very functional and easy to use. I had read recently that n/naka was the 12th hardest restaurant reservation to secure after the Chef’s Table episode.

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Exterior
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Exterior

The restaurant is very unassuming from the outside. There is no sign indicating that you are in the right place. The only indication is the simple Japanese landscaping surrounding the exterior of the building. The building used to be a day spa.

Upon entering, you enter a simple, but elegant space which is sparsely furnished and very “Japanese”. There is a small bar located to the right where guests can wait to be seated. The restaurant is very small, but there are two small dining rooms.

There is no menu at n/naka. A modern kaiseki menu is served. There are meat and vegetarian options. The restaurant will contact you for any special requests, allergies or modifications that need to be made to dishes.

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Place Setting

The place setting was elegant, minimalist Japanese with a pair of chopsticks on holder and folded napkin, which was on a black lacquered tray.

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Conch

The first course was Conch with yuzu foam, caviar and lemon crème fraiche. The dish was light and airy. I’m not sure what type of wizardry went into this dish, but it tasted like bacon.

The next dish came on a large tray along with two other dishes and consisted egg tofu with snow crab; ceviche; miso eggplant with shishito peppers; Australian shrimp and pickles. The tofu was silky smooth, while the snow crab was meaty and briny. The subtle flavor of the eggplant was given a boost by the bolder flavor of miso. The shishito peppers added a slight touch of heat. The Australian shrimp was sweet and meaty. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of this dish.

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Scallops

The scallops were amazingly tender and sweet. They were also slight chewy, but paired well with the acidity of the tomatoes, bitterness from the herbs, and zap of flavor from the wasabi.

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Miso Soup Presentation
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Lobster Miso Soup

The next dish was a red miso soup with a lobster ball. The soup had a great depth of flavor, while the lobster was just perfectly cooked.

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Sashimi Course

The next course was the sashimi course. It consisted of Ahi, Sculpin, Tako (octopus), Toro, and Kanpachi. The ahi was firm and meaty, yet delicate at the same time. The sculpin was tender and the flavor is very mild. The tako was surprisingly very tender, and had a much milder flavor than any octopus that I have had before. The toro was buttery and full of fine fish fat. Very tender and wonderful sashimi. The kanpachi was tender and delicate and flavor. This was a great variety of textures and tastes in such a small course.

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Foie Gras

The next dish was Foie Gras, Eel and Strawberry in balsamic. The foie gras was cooked to a nice medium rare. The acid from the strawberry cut through the fattiness of the foie. The eel added a meatiness to the dish, and also imparted some sweetness along with the balsamic.

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Black Cod & Mussels

The next dish was Steamed Black Cod and Mussels in a red pepper soup. The black cod was barely cooked through, but was rich and fatty. The mussels were plump and tender. The soup provided additional brininess along with sweetness.

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Abalone & Cod Roe Pasta

The next course is one of their signature dishes. Abalone with Cod Roe Pasta. The pasta was a nice al dente. The abalone was sweet and surprisingly tender. The sauce was both cheesy and salty. This dish was perfect. The only flaw was the portion size was much too small.

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Miyazaki A5 Wagyu Beef

Next up was Miyazaki A5 wagyu beef, with wasabi cream, pumpkin puree, cauliflower, squash, Brussels sprouts, beet chip, Okinawan sea salt, and romaine puree. The wagyu was super tender and fatty. The fat begins to melt in your mouth immediately, while the beef is somewhat dense considering the fat content. For the past 10 years or so, Miyazaki wagyu has won numerous awards, and is considered better than Kobe and Matsuzaka beef. The wasabi cream wasn’t too spice, while the salt gave the beef extra flavor, as if it needed it. The pumpkin was sweet, while the surprise accompaniment was the romaine puree which was sweet and slightly sulfuric.

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Kumamoto Oyster

The intermezzo was next, which was highly unusual. Normally, an intermezzo will be some type of sorbet. The Kumamoto oyster was very tender and briny. It was paired with a cup of Yu sake, which was pretty potent but paired perfectly with the oyster.

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Fig & Cucumber Salad

For the people not eating raw seafood in our party, the intermezzo was a fig and cucumber salad with yuzu dressing.

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Halibut & Black Cod

Next was the sushi course. The Halibut was soft and chewy. Although the fish is very delicate, it does have a slightly earthy note to it. The Black Cod was delicate, tender and oily. It’s called Butter Fish for a reason.

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Ika & Chu Toro

Ika (squid) was meaty, firm and “squeaky”. The ika was tenderized through the thin knife cuts. It had a slightly anise flavor. The Chu Toro was soft and buttery as you would expect.

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Amiebi & Uni

The Amiebi (sweet shrimp) was sweet and tender. The Uni was plentiful. It was sweet and briny. My only complaint with the sushi is that it either contained to much sauce, or wasn’t formed well enough as a couple of pieces just fell apart.

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Miso Soup

The Miso Soup had a strong miso punch. Yuba (tofu skin) was lurking under the surface, and was nice and chewy.

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Soft Shell Crab

The non-raw seafood course consisted of soft shell crab.

A second intermezzo of watermelon sorbet was very light and refreshing. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of this dish.

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Pistachio Dessert

Dessert was then brought out, which consisted of a Pistachio Cannoli, Pistachio Ice Cream, Matcha Caramel Sauce, and a Plum Sauce. The pistachio ice cream was the best version I have ever had. It tasted like real pistachios, not like the fake, overly sweet stuff you get at the store, or even at most ice cream or gelato places. The cannoli was crisp and crunchy. The matcha caramel sauce sounds like a weird combination, but it worked very together. The sweetness of the caramel counterbalanced the bitterness and astringency of the matcha. The plum sauce added an acidic brightness.

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Truffles

A round of truffles was then brought out. It was a nice sweet, and slightly bitter way to finish off a fantastic meal.

Chef Nakayama came out and spoke with guests at each table. She is very nice and humble. She is also scheduled to appear at the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival in mid-October.

Although reservations are somewhat hard to come by, a visit will be well worth the effort.

Maude – Beverly Hills

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Maude

Celebrity chef Curtis Stone opened Maude, an homage to his grandmother, in 2014. The restaurant takes one ingredient per month, and makes that the star of the meal.

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June 2016 Menu

The restaurant is tasting menu only, and will typically serve 9-10 courses.

Unfortunately, Stone is not cooking in the kitchen at the current time as he is overseeing his new project, Gwen, which is scheduled to open in a couple of weeks. Gwen will be a butcher shop and restaurant, and will involve his brother. After a falling out with his original partner, Chad Colby, in how the restaurant would be run and operated, his brother then came on board.

Other than an “M” on the door, there is no signage for the restaurant. Maude is tiny, as it only seats 25 guests. The interior is simply decorated, and looks like your grandmother’s house. Even the some of the plates and dishes have flowery decorations.

Maude’s concept is to take one ingredient and make it the star of the show. June’s ingredient was cherries, so sweet, sour and savory dishes were expected.

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Oat Chip Foie Gras

The meal started with an oat chip and foie gras mousse. The oat chip was nutty and crunchy to offset the creaminess of the mouse. The sliced cherries added an acidic note. This was a great way to start the meal.

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Palmiers

Next palmiers were topped with honey, taleggio cheese and cherry. The palmier was light, airy and crunchy. The honey and taleggio added some sweetness, while the acidity of the cherries cut through the richness of the cheese.

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Cherry “Roll-Up”

The next dish was a cherry “roll-up” with flowers, which had the texture of a pliable gel. There were hints of cherry but not very strong. Underneath was jicama and lovage. The tastes of both are subtle. Overall, this may have been my least favorite dish as it was rather bland.

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Anise Leaves, Porcini Mushrooms

The next dish contained anise leaves with porcini mushrooms. Underneath the leaves were Rainier cherries and abomasum, which is a type of tripe. The tripe was crunchy, and had no real flavor. The cherries paired well with the slight licorice flavor of the anise leaf.

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Marcona Almond Cherry Soup

Next was an Marcona almond, cherry soup. The almonds were used in making almond milk, which still had a bit of texture to it. The sweetness and tartness of the cherries went well with the almonds.

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Agnolotti

Next, was agnolotti with a ham filling, chorizo and radicchio. The pasta was cooked to a nice al dente with a meaty filling. The chorizo added a bit of spice, while the radicchio added some bitterness.

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Smoked Sturgeon

Next was cherry wood smoked sturgeon, which was firm and subtle in flavor. It was paired with cucumbers and angelica, which has a slight bitter taste. The sturgeon remained moist and firm. A very good dish.

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Abalone

Next was abalone with finger limes and Shishito peppers. The abalone was firm, meaty and had that familiar “musky” taste of abalone. The beans and lime helped to cut down on the “funkiness” of the abalone, while the peppers added a slight hint of heat and freshness.

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Squab Breast

Next was squab done two ways. First was seared breast with cherries and beets. The breast had a nice sear to it, but remained medium rare and juicy inside. The beets and cherries helped to offset the slight gameyness of the squab.

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Squab “Pot Pie”
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Squab “Pot Pie”

Part 2 was a squab “pot pie” of sorts. The top was a nice piece of puff pastry that topped a nice and hearty “stew”. The stew was full of flavor and comforting. This dish was a big hit.

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Gaperon Cheese

Next was gaperon cheese, which is a cow’s milk cheese and mild in flavor. It was paired with an olive, caper and cherry tapenade which went well together.

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Frozen Manhattan

An “intermezzo” of a frozen Manhattan was then served. The drink packed quite a little punch when reaching the bottom, as the top was mostly just crushed ice. This was a great little way to wake up your taste buds.

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Clafoutis
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Cherry Ice Cream
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Clafoutis Sauce

For dessert, there was a clafoutis, which was light and airy. It wasn’t as dense as some preparations. It was like a dense but light pancake topped with powdered sugar. Cherries studded the dish and added pockets of sweetness and sourness. The clafoutis was served with a cherry ice cream, which added a nice temperature contrast. A cherry sauce also added another layer of creaminess.

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Petit Fours

The meal ended with petit fours, which again were cherry themed.

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Cherry Scone

For breakfast the following day, we were given a cherry scone. The scone was much flatter in appearance and a slight bit sweeter thanks to being topped with sugar crystals.

Overall, the meal was very good. The only downside to dining at Maude is that portions are very, very small. Dare I say that the portions were smaller than Alinea with roughly half the courses? If you decide to come here, come hungry, but not too hungry.