Pleasantly weary is probably the best way to describe my state of mind at the moment, now that I’m back from Detroit (photos) and in the warmth of the California sun.
In a few hours, I head to the City of Angels for the weekend. Tonight, I’ll check out CHAYA (downtown location). During the summer (Monday – Friday, 4 p.m. to close), they have a special “Japanese Beer Garden” menu out on the back patio.
Chef de Cuisine Kazuya Matsuoka’s special menu includes Yakitori and Kushiyaki Skewers ($2 each, grilled to order on an authentic Yakitori grill set up on the outdoor patio), Bacon Date Skewers, Chicken, Beef Tongue, Short Rib, Shrimp, Shishito Pepper (all $1), Housemade Tofu Sampler ($9), Hokkaido Scallop Miso Gratin ($10), Tofu and Wagyu Beef Sukiyaki (Japanese hot pot, $12), Pork Shabu Shabu and Soba Salad ($9).
As for beverages: pitchers of Kirin Beer ($15), Asahi Dry, Ginga Kogen, Sake Sangria ($8), a variety of sake flights that will change weekly, along with single malt Japanese whiskies.
Man, that Sake Sangria sounds good – I wonder how it compares to the sangria at Alcazar (best in Santa Barbara).
But back to Detroit.
I’m not a car buff – and I won’t pretend to be – but I am a travel writer and I must say – Ford rocks.
In the spirit of full disclosure and to ensure you that I’m not blowing smoke: I drive a Toyota Corolla, not a Focus.
On Thursday morning, I drove an F-150 on a dirt course, drag-raced an Ecoboost, saw a live crash test (which is apparently one of the rarest opportunities to come by), watched cars spin out on flooded concrete to demonstrate a traction system, and drove a Focus around a track like a complete jerk.
Truly an amazing adventure, like a kid in a playground, and I am really grateful to Ford for the opportunity.
That said, the most lasting impression is the initiative Ford is taking within the industry to accommodate our new lifestyles.
The MyFord Sync impressed me with its ability to essentially become your smart phone while you drive. This means you don’t have to endanger yourself by scrolling through your phone on the highway – you can use voice-commands to play Pandora, search your music collection, get directions, find restaurants, make calls, and even text message.
Road trip, anyone?
Oh, remember that glimmer of hope I referenced? Here it is: