The Tequila of L’Scorpion

In ancient Chinese folklore, the scorpion was believed to be one of the Five Poisons, which were five creatures that could cause great harm to people, especially during the summer months.  The first of these five were the snake, centipede and scorpion.  The last two would either be the toad, lizard, spider, or tiger depending on the source of the information.  But all of the sources agree on the first three.  During that era, it was believed that special amulets would protect the wearer from these so-called troublemakers.  It was more likely, however, that these little fiends were probably attracted to the cool environment of buildings from the harsh summer heat, hence why they would cause mischief more so in summer.   The Chinese were not the only ones to notice these  pests.  In Lebanon, The Temple of Eshmun is an ancient sanctuary devoted to the Phoenician God of Healing.  One of the only remaining frescoes on these ruins depicts a snake, centipede, scorpion, and crab, all symbolic of injury and illness.   In modern times, while the scorpion can still cause trouble,  it has redeemed itself in a variety of ways.  Medicinally, scorpion venom has been used in many applications, such as in the treatment for brain cancer,  in dermatological use, and as a pain reliever.  Of course, there is one scorpion that I find to be highly beneficial, and that is tequila serving one known as L’Scorpion.

My friend Katherine and I came here the other night for an incredible tequila tasting, and we were both quite impressed.  The lounge is nestled among costume stores and restaurants on Hollywood Boulevard, not too far from Hollywood and Highland.  I love the elaborate metalwork on the bar and glass doors.  Shades of vibrant red throughout, from the outside awning to the booths upholstery in back, add passion and warmth to the environment, as does the sensual lighting.

Lanterns and sconces, as well as a vintage tin-tiled ceiling are the prime examples of the metal in the space.  I love when buildings incorporate brick into their design, be it natural brick or brick veneer.  Here it  adds a beautiful and stylish earth element to the setting, which acts a bridge between the fire and metal elements.   The curvature of the metalwork adds a much-needed water element to the area, with the rectangular shapes of the bar and the very room itself symbolizing the final element, wood.  Even though it is made of metal, I would also venture to stay that the stripper pole in the rear of the lounge is another example of wood energy feeding fire – or as creative energy feeding passion.  It’s discretely displayed, while still being very attainable to all the patrons – should the mood strike them to use it.  Neither Katherine nor I felt the inclination.  The enormously high ceilings – I’m estimating them to be about eighteen feet high – also assist in a good flow of chi throughout the environment.

Four different tequilas were served to us, ranching from mescal (with an actual scorpion inside the bottle) to a nine months aged tequila.  All of them were good, but my favorite by far was the third option provided by Don Julio – which happens to be my favorite brand of tequila.

Guacamole with Chips – A generous portion of guacamole was served to us on a large platter, with strips of white corn tortilla chips.   L’Scorpion’s guacamole has a sting to it, with fresh green jalapenos added to the party.  Zesty and sensational;  I loved it!

Carnitas Tacos – We each got two carnitas tacos, and they were incredible.  The carnitas was some of the best I’ve ever had.  A small mound of refried beans accompanied the dish.  I added some to my tacos, and it was perfect!  I also like the modern presentation of the tacos on rectangular plates.

Flan – I feel all flan should be consumed by candlelight.  Light-as-air, this was the ideal addition to the meal.   It was impressive on its own, but when paired with the tequila, it was overwhelmingly  good.

In addition to their abundant tequila selection, L’Scorpion also offers a choice drink menu.  I went with their Jalapeno Margarita, because I like it spicy and full of yang energy.  On the rocks with salt and limes, this was a refreshing and strong libation.  The jalapeno in it offered just enough of a slap to get one’s attention.  I may get it just a little spicier next time, just to see how it is.   Katherine ordered the Paloma, which consists of tequila and Squirt soda mixed together with fresh lime juice.  Unbeknownst to me, it is quite popular to mix Squirt and tequila together in various parts of Mexico.  Citrus is the main forerunner of tastes in this beverage.    Intriguing.

As it’s located in the heart of Hollywood, parking can be a difficult task.  I would suggest bringing cash for one of the paid lots.  Another option is to take the metro and exit at Hollywood and Highland.  I did this and then walked the two short blocks to the bar.  Just remember the subway closes around midnight.  If you are going for a more mellow, yin mood, I would advise  going early in the evening when they open at 6:00.  However, if you want more of a lively, yang mood, go later in the evening after 10:00.  L’Scorpion will definitely needle its way into heart and soul – but don’t worry.  The perfect inoculation is more tequila.

L’Scorpion Tequila Bar

6679 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA 90028

951 250-3800

Hours:  Sunday – Friday  6:00 pm – 2:00 am,  Saturday 1:30pm – 2:00 am

http://lscorpion.com/

Raphael: An Artist Studio

The color yellow in feng shui is an alluring example of the earth element, introducing a vibrant cheerfulness to any environment.  Some color researchers feel that this shade can  strengthen one’s immune system, confidence, and well-being.     For feng shui guidelines, it is best used in living rooms, kitchens, dining areas, and entry halls.   Yellow can work for other areas, too, but it depends on which pigment is selected for which location.  A primary yellow, for instance, would be much too yang in its energies for a bedroom; the occupant would have trouble sleeping and could become agitated.  But a pale yellow would work well for rest and rejuvenation.  Yellow can also bring a glowing fire element into a space, depending on the hue.  The luminosity of the various yellows in the painting above adds depth and sensuality to the piece without the effort of  reds or purples.   It also brings a brightness to the restaurant hallway in which it resides.   Be it citrine, amber, or goldenrod, the color yellow makes a valuable  impact to one’s surroundings.

Nestled amidst the bustle of Ventura Boulevard lies an artistic oasis of the cultivated kind known as Raphael.   I came here the other day with my friend Hanh, and was highly impressed.  All of the elements here are beautifully displayed, and the use of color is that of a painter’s palette.   The main dining area of the restaurant is tastefully decorated.  Intriguing art, comfortable seating, and unique light fixtures are some of the striking features here.  One of my favorites was the lavish yellow wall panels.  These golden room dividers help to add a sense of warmth and luxury to the dining experience.   Another item that captivated my attention was a handmade glass light fixture.  With its fiery tints and triangular shapes,  it can act as one’s own personal sun if they sit at this specific table (pictured above).

The outside of Raphael is a stoic stone edifice that masks the style and grandeur that awaits inside – until you see the succulents.  A massive wall of living plants encloses the outdoor terrace dining, adding a rich and lively wood element to the earthen structure.

In contrast to the robust yellows of the dining area, the lounge is hued in shades of blue and green, with wood-paneled walls and squared lighting.  I love the use of  rectangles and squares here, providing a stability while dining.   A medium-sized bar lies directly across.  One aspect here I did not care for – feng shui wise – was the mirrored ceiling, which can be glimpsed in the top left corner of the photo.  Reflective ceilings are considered very high energy, and will cause difficulty in one being able to rest.  However, being that this is a place of business and not a residence, I found this to be a rare exception to the rule.  But no one should hang a mirror over their bed on the ceiling – ever.  In addition to the tawdry tackiness of how it looks,  the occupant of the bed will suffer a variety of problems.  Don’t do it.

And now on to the food!  Raphael is experimenting with their Happy Hour at present, but we sampled their selection of three small plates for $12.00.  The selection of the three items changes daily upon the discretion of the artist, chef Adam Horton.  He combines various Asian cooking elements into his nouveau cuisine.  The three masterpieces above were sublime in both taste and presentation.

  • On the left we have Amberjack lounging about in a pool of delicious curry sauce, with baby carrots.  A coconut puree acted as garnish.  Incredible.
  • In the middle we have tomatoes, burrata cheese and kimchi, served warm under glass.  When I lifted the glass up, smoke billowed out.  Dinner and a show – I love it.  Tasty and tantalizing.
  • On the right we have Wagyu beef accompanied by bacon-onion jam.  The little half egg roll garnish is filled with a mellow bleu cheese.  Mouthwatering.

And below are the other things I sampled:

Savory Martini – A gin based martini with celery bitters, dry vermouth, Parmesan stuffed olives, and a solitary cocktail onion.  I love martinis – especially a Gibson – and this one combined my love for cheese into the concoction.  Also available with vodka.  Decadent and classy.

Roseberry – An ideal summer beverage!  Fresh pressed raspberries, lemon, and gin pool their talents together wonderfully.  Garnished with a sprig of fresh rosemary.  A prime example of yin and yang, with the savoriness of the gin and rosemary, and the sweetness of the fruit.  I love the ruby color of the drink as well.  Addictive.

Ginger Shandy – Ginger beer, vodka, Corona, and liquid ginger perform exquisitely in this lush summer cocktail.   I especially liked the use of yuzu foam across the top, giving it a nice froth.  These are dangerous – I could drink them all day.

Macaroni and Cheese – A small crock of steaming macaroni and cheese.  Comfort food at its finest.   Unlike other versions of this classic, Raphael uses jalapeno juice in the compound, adding a spicy yang element to the entrée.  Hanh and I were only going to share one order, but it was so good we couldn’t resist and enjoyed a second round.  Piping hot and satisfying.

Habanero Tincture
Photo courtesy of H. Nguyen

All of our beverages were created by our bartender, Chris Parke.  A true mixologist, Chris educated us on the ingredients on each drink, as Adam had on the food.  One interesting bit of knowledge I learned was what a tincture is.  In the world of mixology and bartending, a tincture is an essence of something to its most potent form.  Used in some of the libations at Raphael is their own homemade Habanero Tincture.  I sampled only a few drops, and it packed a powerful punch.  I quickly followed it with some water.   I can see how it would be amazing in a food or beverage, though, once it was diluted.  Hanh and Chris were much more courageous than I; they each took a whole shot of the tincture (pictured above).   It gives whole new meaning to the term fire-eater.   On my next visit, I plan on savoring some wine from their choice selection, and perhaps take in the best of all artistic creations:  Dessert.

Raphael, A Dining Experience

11616 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City, CA 91604
818 505-3337

Hours:  Lunch:  Monday – Friday 11:30 – 2:00,  Dinner:  Sunday – Thursday 5:30 – 9:00,  Friday – Saturday 5:30 – 10:00,  Happy Hour:  Tuesday – Friday 5:00 – 7:00

http://raphaelonventura.com/

Note:  Closed Mondays for Dinner, and weekends for Lunch.