Friday, February 28, 2014


Here Are The L.A. Restaurants That Made Yelp's Top 100 List

Photo of the Porto's breakfast sandwich by LA & OC Foodventures via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr
There are so many listicles and best-of pieces out there in the food world that it's hard to keep track of what's what. (Not hating; we make them too.) But one of the scene's most controversial yet useful review sites, Yelp, has released their data on what are the country's top restaurants.
It's a populist list, to be sure.
Porto's, the famous Cuban Bakery in Burbank and Glendale, comes in above critically acclaimed Alinea in Chicago. Ricky's Fish Tacos and Joe's Falafel, both of which which we admittedly love, also made the top 25. Also on the list are the original Bludso's in Compton, Urasawa, and one of our favorite vegetarian restaurants, Vinh Loi Tofu.
Data gurus at Yelp compiled a list using star ratings and number of reviews to reveal which spots are most popular in the Yelp community.
Here's who made the cut:
1. Da Poke Shack, Kailua-Kona, HI
2. Paseo, Seattle, WA
3. Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue, Kansas City, KS
4. The Cinnamon Snail, New York, NY
5. Porto's Bakery, Burbank, CA
6. Dametra Cafe, Carmel by the Sea, CA
7. Alinea, Chicago, IL
8. Franklin Barbecue, Austin, TX
9. Gary Danko, San Francisco, CA
10. Joe’s Falafel, Los Angeles, CA
11. Sushi Izakaya Gaku, Honolulu, HI
12. Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs, Denver, CO
13. Oscar’s Mexican Seafood, San Diego, CA
14. Coop’s West Texas Barbeque, Lemon Grove, CA
15. Tacos El Gordo, Chula Vista, CA
16. Cheese Board Pizza, Berkeley, CA
17. Ricky’s Fish Tacos, Los Angeles, CA
18. Ono Seafood, Honolulu, HI
19. Bogart’s Smoke House, Saint Louis, MO
20. Bakery Nouveau, Seattle, WA
21. Baguette Cafe, Las Vegas, NV
22. Eleven Madison Park, New York, NY
23. T-Deli, San Diego, CA
24. Built to Grill, Portland, OR
25. Alforon, San Diego, CA
26. Daniel, New York, NY
27. Hot Doug’s, Chicago, IL
28. Sal, Kris, & Charlie’s Deli, Astoria, NY
29. Blues City Deli, Saint Louis, MO
30. The Kitchen Restaurant, Sacramento, CA
31. Cream Pan, Tustin, CA
32. Dave’s Fresh Pasta, Somerville, MA
33. Café Besalu, Seattle, WA
34. The French Laundry, Yountville, CA
35. Turf N' Surf Po Boy, Austin, TX
36. Café Rolle, Sacramento, CA
37. Chama Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse, Downers Grove, IL
38. Yoshino Japanese Deli, Carlsbad, CA
39. Opal Thai Food, Haleiwa, HI
40. Lou’s Cafe, San Francisco, CA
41. Marukame Udon, Honolulu, HI
42. Monell’s Dining & Catering, Nashville, TN
43. Roxie Food Center, San Francisco, CA
44. Graham Avenue Meats And Deli, Brooklyn, NY
45. Le Bernardin, New York, NY
46. El Chato Taco Truck, Los Angeles, CA
47. Mr. Gyros, Seattle, WA
48. The Waffle Window, Portland, OR
49. Per Se, New York, NY
50. Geste Shrimp Truck, Kahului, HI
51. Frostbites Crepes & Frozen Delights, Cypress, CA
52. Sushi Ota, San Diego, CA
53. Arizmendi Bakery, San Francisco, CA
54. Sweet Potato Stall, Santa Clara, CA
55. Gramercy Tavern, New York, NY
56. Peter’s Kettle Corn, Oakland, CA
57. Johnny Pacific, Winnetka, CA
58. El Chilango, Arlington, VA
59. Ike’s Place, San Francisco, CA
60. Fishermen’s Grill, Portland, ME
61. Sabroso! Mexican Grill, Garden Grove, CA
62. District Wine, Long Beach, CA
63. Chama Gaúcha Brazilian Steakhouse, Houston, TX
64. Bludso’s BBQ, Compton, CA
65. Tiki Juice Bar, Anaheim, CA
66. Wally’s Cafe, Emeryville, CA
67. Vinh Loi Tofu, Reseda, CA
68. Mama D’s Italian Kitchen, Newport Beach, CA
69. Los Andes Restaurant, Providence, RI
70. Little Luca Sandwich Shop & Deli, South San Francisco, CA
71. Pho 95, Denver, CO
72. Garbo’s Grill, Key West, FL
73. Ono Tacos, Lahaina, HI
74. Mattern Sausage & Deli, Orange, CA
75. The Market Grill, Monrovia, CA
76. Urasawa, Beverly Hills, CA
77. Dat Cajun Guy, Haleiwa, HI
78. Los Agaves, Santa Barbara, CA
79. Outlaws Cafe, Van Nuys, CA
80. Gus’s World Famous Hot & Spicy Chicken, Memphis, TN
81. Short Leash Dogs Food Truck, Phoenix, AZ
82. Pono Market, Kapaa, HI
83. Wafels & Dinges, New York, NY
84. Bell Street Farm, Los Alamos, CA
85. Uchiko, Austin, TX
86. Little Deli & Pizzeria, Austin, TX
87. Kokkari Estiatorio, San Francisco, CA
88. Kang Hodong Baekjeong, Los Angeles, CA
89. Komi, Washington, DC
90. Stuff I Eat, Inglewood, CA
91. Taste of Ethiopia, Pflugerville, TX
92. Hy Mart Sandwiches, North Hollywood, CA
93. The Codmother Fish and Chips, San Francisco, CA
94. Mastro’s Steakhouse, Beverly Hills, CA
95. Sushi Sasabune, Honolulu, HI
96. Bern’s Steak House, Tampa, FL
97. Postino Arcadia, Phoenix, AZ
98. Pappy’s Smokehouse, Saint Louis, MO
99. Uchi, Austin, TX
100. Zia Gourmet Pizza, San Diego, CA

Friday, February 14, 2014

L.A. Chinatown’s Ultimate Live/Work Compound Hits the Market

The Kim Sing Theatre is a dynamic event space, retail showroom, and private residence in Downtown LA’s burgeoning Chinatown.  The former vaudeville house and movie theater was built in 1926 and completely re-imagined by its owner Willard Ford and XTen Architects.  

 Retaining original details such as bow truss ceilings and the neon theater sign, the site has been modernized into a striking and flexible live/work space with a large kitchen, serving station, and AV room. The center of the old theater has been turned into a soaring outdoor courtyard and features ample space for a full bar, musical entertainment, and a multitude of other corporate functions.

 Property highlights include an industrial-chic, 3,500 square foot, 2-story residential loft.  It features 3 bedrooms and 4 baths, with soaring bow truss ceilings.  The fully self-contained master suite has a separate entrance and includes a loft office and a midnight kitchen.  It has the possibility of serving as a rental unit.  The space also boasts a large private courtyard oasis, 6 retail spaces, and a 2-story showroom/office.

  Over the past several years, the Kim Sing has hosted dozens of events, including functions for BMW, Pepsi, Marvel/Capcom, LG, Netjets, and Creative Mornings, and art exhibitions featuring the works of Brice Marden, Bruce Nauman, and Theo Ehret. The converted space has been used for commercial video and photo shoots as well as weddings, fashion shows, and film screenings.  The Kim Sing’s renovation has garnered features in such media outlets as California Home and Design, Dwell magazine, and on the HGTV cable network. 

The space has potential to be used as a corporate campus, recording studio, film production offices, restaurant and bar, and many other opportunities.

Offer for sale at $4,500,000.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Just listed at La Tour, 10380 Wilshire Boulevard #802

La Tour
10380 Wilshire Boulevard, Residence 802
Offered for Sale at $2,695,000.

La Tour by architect James W, Christensen offers all the comforts of a single-family residence, with the ease of living afforded by a full-service high-rise.  Building amenities include a 24-hour valet and concierge, pool, spa, fitness center, and banquet room.

  • ·         3,190 +/- square feet
  • ·         Northeast corner
  • ·         3 bedrooms
  • ·         3 1/2 baths
  • ·         The master suite offers dual walk-in closets and a luxurious en suite bath
  • ·         3rd bedroom with a separate service entrance
  • ·         High coffered ceilings
  • ·         Floor-to-ceiling windows
  • ·         City and hillside views
  • ·         Integrated sound system
  • ·         Wet bar
  • ·         2 storage spaces
  • ·         Poggenpohl kitchen cabinetry
  • ·         Laundry room with service entry
  • ·         Abundant closet space
  • ·         2 expansive terraces with panoramic views and generous entertaining space
  • ·         One of the most prestigious addresses on the Wilshire Corridor
  • ·         Only 4 units per floor
  • ·         Coveted location just 2 blocks from Beverly Hills

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Top 5 Tricks Unethical Real Estate Agents Use That Cost You Money

By David Kean

As a Beverly Hills-based Realtor representing buyers and sellers for over ten years, I’ve seen it all.  I’d like to pull back the curtain and expose some of the dirty tricks dishonest real estate agents use to line their pockets with unsuspecting homeowners’ money.

Is your real estate agent lining his pockets with your money?

In today’s hot real estate market, inventory is low and competition for available properties is high.  With fewer homes to sell, some real estate agents have resorted to unethical tactics to increase their income.   These deceitful practices usually cost the home seller money because the property will sell for far less than what it is actually worth.  The home also takes a longer time to sell, sometimes months.  While your home should be increasing in value in a hot market, it’s actually declining.

The goal of unethical agents is to keep all the home’s buying and selling commission to themselves.  Traditionally, a seller pays five to six percent as a total commission, which is usually split evenly between the listing agent and the agent resenting the buyer.  Unethical agents will go to extraordinary means to keep the entire commission.  In effect, they’re doubling their income, while your home languishes unsold or sells for under market value.

The trick unethical agents use is to dissuade other agent’s clients’ from making an offer on your home.  The primary way to do that is to keep buyers’ agents and their buyers out.  Here are some common techniques employed by unprincipled agents.

1.            No photos.   Unethical agents will often use just one photo on the multiple listing website.  

Often, the photo will be of extremely low quality – a pixilated view of the exterior or unappealing shot of a messy interior.   Disreputable agents do this so that when other agents or prospective buyers see the property on the internet, it looks so bad they have no desire to see it.  

The listing agent will then go on to hold several open houses, hoping to find a buyer without agent representation.  This way, he or she will find her own buyer for the home.  Some agents go so far as to have beautiful photos of the property on their own realtor website, but they won’t be posted anywhere else on the web. 

2.      Making it nearly impossible for buyers to get a property showing. 

Often, shady listing agents won’t respond to showing requests.  They ignore calls and e-mails from other real estate agents.  They will never be available at the time requested.  The agent may cancel or try to reschedule the appointment at the last minute, often just within an hour of the scheduled time. 

First, this keeps buyers represented by other agents out.  Second, it can cause the frustrated buyer to think their agent is not on the ball.  The buyer will then contact the listing agent directly.  In real estate parlance, this is known as “going direct”.   As the buyer simply wants to see the property, out of frustration he lines up appointments directly with listing agents, not realizing he’s giving up adequate representation on his part.
This two-pronged attack enables the listing agent to double their commission, while reducing other neighborhood agents’ market share.  The unethical agent then becomes the so-called “neighborhood expert”.  The agent’s signs and ads will appear everywhere, and often seems to represent all the buyers and sellers in the area.  The agent becomes the “go-to” guy or gal.  The truth is, they’re flattening home values out of their greed.

3.            No showings without an accepted offer. 

An unscrupulous listing agent will publish that a property can’t be shown until a buyer’s offer has been accepted.   This requires buyers to submit an offer on a home they’ve never seen.  Buyers have to have an extreme measure of faith that they really want the property.  They have to fill out extensive paperwork, put down a deposit of usually three percent of the home’s selling price, and hope that the home meets their needs and doesn’t have some major defect.  Meanwhile, the listing agent happily shows the property to his own prospects without requiring an offer to be submitted.  Using this method, he can represent both sides of the deal and keep all the commission.

4.      Make any offer.  Sounds reasonable enough, doesn’t it?  “Make an offer,” the listing agent says.  Why not?

This subtle technique works as follows:  The listing agent tells potential buyers’ agents and their clients that the property has no offers.  She says to make “any” offer.  This is a hint that there is little interest on the property.  She wants the other agent to think that even a low-ball offer might be accepted. 

The buyer is more than happy to offer a low amount of money.  After all, he will save thousands and get a great deal on the home he loves.  Meanwhile, the listing agent may have her own prospect with a slightly higher offer.  The unethical agent then uses the low offer to convince the seller that her offer is the best he will get and that the seller should take it. 

The listing agent has then accomplished exactly what she wanted.  By comparing her offer to an even lower offer, she has made her low offer look attractive.  All the while, the buyer would have actually offered more but didn’t because he was led to believe that he could have gotten the home at a low-ball price.  It’s classic bait and switch.  Don’t be duped.

5.      Burying an offer. 

 This is one of the most brazen and deceitful techniques used.  This occurs when the listing agent simply does not show all the offers submitted to the seller.   This happens more than one would think.  So despite offering more money than other buyers, filling out all the paperwork, writing a letter saying how much you love the property, putting up an earnest money deposit, the buyer doesn’t have a chance.  Your offer never makes it into the hands of the seller.  The seller has no idea you were interested in the property.  He or she doesn’t know that you would have paid more than the offer he accepts.  This is, of course, a breach of the fiduciary responsibility that an agent holds to his seller.  It is also a breach of the realtor’s code of ethics. 

Unfortunately, these dishonest practices cost home sellers money.  If there are fewer competing offers, the price isn’t bid up as high as it could have been.  Historically, the longer a home sits on the market, the lower its eventual selling price.  Meanwhile, the unethical real estate agent has doubled his or her income and moves on to another unsuspecting client.

So why not go directly through the listing agent?  If the agent is unprincipled enough to cheat his or her own seller, how fair do you think he is going to be to you?  Be aware that the listing agent is hardly ever on the buyer’s side.  Remember, the seller pays the commission, not the buyer.  That’s why it’s extremely important for a buyer to find and stick with an agent he can trust.

These schemes underscore why it’s critical that sellers list with agents who will give them the best representation and not undersell their home.  Sellers should be wary when the only people who are interested in buying their home are represented by the listing agent or one of his associates.  Sellers should take care to ensure that their home is marketed thoroughly and shown at all stages of the selling cycle, from listing agreement, to broker open houses, to public open houses, even after an offer has been accepted.  A listing agent should always be selling and showing your home, up to the point when all contingencies have been removed and escrow is about to close.

When interviewing agents, ask them what percentage of their sales are “dual fiduciary”.  This is when they represented both the buyer and seller.  For ethical agents, the percentage will be fairly low, as they’re interested in selling homes.  They’re not motivated by doubling their commission.

There are many good, ethical agents who are willing to work hard to sell your home.  The majority of real estate agents are honest.  Do your homework and find someone you can trust.