Tokyo Sushi – Dinner in San Jose, California

Tokyo Sushi – Dinner in San Jose, California

Road trippin’ back down to Los Angeles, I arrived in San Jose at dinner time. My friends were still at the graduation ceremony, so I found a shopping plaza with many kinds of asian cuisine restaurants and went looking for food.

Tokyo Sushi in San Jose, California

Tokyo Sushi in San Jose, California

There was Pho, Hot Pots, Hot Wings, Chinese, Thai, and “Tokyo Sushi”. I settled on sushi, and sat at the sushi bar. I ordered a three item Bento Box dinner with teriyaki chicken, tempura mix (shrimp & vegetables), and a California roll. I also added a spicy tuna cut roll, and 2 orders of nigiri sushi (salmon and albacore). The dinner included miso soup, green salad, rice, a pot sticker and fruit. They brought me teriyaki salmon by mistake, so I let them take it back, and they brought me chicken.

Tokyo Sushi - San Jose, CA

Tokyo Sushi – 3 item Bento Box with teriyaki salmon, tempura mix & California roll

Tokyo Sushi - San Jose, CA

Tokyo Sushi – Sushi! Spicy tuna cut roll, salmon and albacore sushi

Tokyo Sushi - San Jose, CA

Tokyo Sushi – Spicy tuna cut roll, salmon and albacore sushi

Tokyo Sushi in San Jose, California

Tokyo Sushi in San Jose, California

The Golden State Warriors were playing basketball and the game was televised, so the restaurant was almost empty. I was alone at the sushi bar for the entire time I was there. The food was good, if not great and I really enjoyed the tempura. The damage was only $40 (with tip included) and I took most of the chicken teriyaki and cut rolls with me and shared the food with my friends at the graduation party later.

The Graduation Party in San Jose

The Graduation Party in San Jose later!

All photos copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel.

Tokyo Sushi1715 Lundy Ave #156 San Jose, CA 

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In-N-Out Urge! National Burger Day!

In honor of National Burger Day here’s a Blog about the “In-N-Out Urge”!

In-N-Out Urge!

In-N-Out Urge!

  1. In-N-Out Burgers, Inc. is a regional chain of fast food restaurants with locations primarily in the American Southwest.
    Founder: Harry Snyder – Founded: 1948, Baldwin Park, CA
    Customer service: 1 (800) 786-1000 – Headquarters: Irvine, CA
In-N-Out Urge!

In-N-Out Urge! Waiting in line to order at the drive-thru……

In-N-Out Urge!

In-N-Out Urge! Waiting in line to order….

At In-N-Out Burger, quality is everything.

In-N-Out Urge!

In-N-Out Urge! – Waiting….waiting…..waiting…..

In-N-Out Urge!

In-N-Out Urge! At last, a Double-Double of my own!

In-N-Out Burger in King City

In-N-Out Urge! Sometimes you have to have two or three.

SPOILER ALERT! WARNING! SPOILER ALERT! WARNING! SPOILER ALERT!


  1. Double-Double
  2. Nutrition Facts with Onion
    Amount Per 330 g
    Calories 520 – 670
  3. % Daily Value*
    Total Fat 41 g 63%
    Saturated fat 18 g 90%
    Trans fat 1 g
    Cholesterol 120 mg 40%
    Sodium 1,440 mg 60%
    Total Carbohydrate 39 g 13%
    Dietary fiber 3 g 12%
    Sugar 10 g
    Protein 37 g 74%
    Vitamin A 20% Vitamin C 15%
    Calcium 35% Iron 30%
    *Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

UPDATE 18 Sept 2015: The new In-N-Out Burger at the Rogue Valley Mall in Medford, the first in Oregon, opened this week. I drove by when I was in town (not open yet) and it was a total tease. Now open 10:30am-1am daily (1:30am on Fridays and Saturdays).

In-N-Out Urge in Medford, Oregon!

In-N-Out Urge in Medford, Oregon!

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Memorial Day 2015 – ROAD TRIP! to Ashland, Oregon pt.1

Memorial Day 2015 – ROAD TRIP! to Ashland, Oregon pt.1

MORE TO COME!

road trip 2015

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May Morning at Ashland Creek in Lithia Park

May Morning at Ashland Creek in Lithia Park

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Ashland Creek in Lithia Park in Ashland Oregon (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Morning in May at Ashland Creek in Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

New BLOG Posted! Sunday (May) Morning (at Ashland Creek) in Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon: http://wp.me/p3dhVM-1yg  (More pics from this walk)

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Luxury! Travel with Style! JoshWillTravel

Luxury! Travel with Style! JoshWillTravel

Party at the Millennium Biltmore (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Party at the Millennium Biltmore (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

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Noise and Air Traffic Complaint (to the FAA) part 2

Noise and Air Traffic Complaint (to the FAA) part 2
Posted on Sunday May 2015

Today SEVEN World War II vintage Fighter Planes heading north and a private Gulfstream Jet without markings heading west and then turning north flew low and LOUD over my house and the neighborhood.

NOTE: I’ve found complaining to the local FAA district office is pointless. There is absolutely no follow up from the FAA bureaucracy beyond sending the complaining party a “form e-mail”. There is too much air traffic over inhabited space in Southern California. The regulations governing air traffic over Los Angeles must be reviewed and rewritten before a significant tragedy (AN AIR DISASTER or CRASH IN A RESIDENTIAL DISTRICT) occurs!

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I am writing to complain about NOISE and AIR TRAFFIC over the SAN FERNANDO VALLEY (Encino) due to low flying airplanes, both commercial and private, and helicopters! In particular, low flying private jets flying into and out of VAN NUYS and SANTA MONICA. Private jets and helicopters, both public and private, pass over my house and neighborhood creating tremendous noise and drowning out all other sound. This happens everyday. It’s time to fix this problem!

Here is a new collection of recent incidents, captured on my iPhone:

Finger of Shame! Low flying helicopter buzzing the neighborhood.

Finger of Shame! Low flying helicopter buzzing the neighborhood.

LAFD helicopter is the loudest and most frequent noise violator!

LAFD helicopter is the loudest and most frequent noise violator!

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Helicopter to the Sun (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Helicopter to the Sun (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

NOTE: These pics are taken from my backyard. I often hear the noise, but by the time I can grab my phone and get outside, the fast moving planes and helicopter have already passed over and out of picture range.

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FOODGASM! OMG Dinner Party at n/naka!

FOODGASM! OMG Dinner Party at n/naka!

One of the most amazing meals I’ve ever eaten. We did the full 13 course dinner with wine and sake pairings. Each dish was a work of art both visually and culinary! BRAVA! BRAVA!

There’s no sign, just the address, on the front of the restaurant. Located on Overland between National and Palms, they have street parking (when available) and valet parking for $7 behind the building.

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N/Naka - 3455 Overland Ave, in Palms (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

n/naka – 3455 Overland Ave, Palms, L.A. (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Inside, the space is clean, quiet and intimate. The focus is all about the fine food and drink.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

The episodic documentary “Chef’s Table” recently released on Netflix features Chef Niki Nakayama “applying the artistic and technical notions of kaiseki to create an ever-evolving seasonal narrative within each meal.”

netflix-11-0407

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Chef Niki Nakayama began her career at Takao. She previously owned Azami Sushi Cafe and Inaka, before opening n/naka four years ago.

“Through a meaningful balance of both traditional and modern techniques, Chef Niki Nakayama is committed to creating a meal that will engage your attention. It’s about enjoying the moment, the current offerings of the season, and ultimately, the food in front of you.”

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n/naka’s Sous Chef and Chef Niki Nakayama prepare fresh uni.

Modern Kaiseki ($165 thirteen course – $85 optional wine pairing) per person

A deep exploration of traditional Kaiseki service with modern accents in technique and flavor pairings. Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese multi-course meal consisting of a sequence of dishes, each often small and artistically arranged. It’s a type of art form that balances the taste, texture, appearance, and colors of food. It also refers to the collection of skills and techniques that allow the preparation of such meals.

There is also a vegetarian menu available for $150, but they are not vegan. Ingredients vary based on season and everything is organic and “farm to table” fresh.  Each menu is planned specifically. Guests are consulted on their “Likes & Dislikes” and the menu is confirmed a few days before the reservation.

I’ve been anticipating this dinner since the reservation was confirmed. I watched the “Chef’s Table” episode on Netflix and visited the restaurant’s website. I read the numerous rave reviews and recent interviews with Chef Nakayama regarding her philosophy, style, training and success. After all the hype, I was not disappointed in the least, it was a true “foodie experience”!

The reservation was for Saturday night at 5:30pm (the early seating) and I arrived early, found street parking and waited for the rest of the party to arrive and the restaurant door to open. We were the first guests of the evening and were seated immediately and offered the beer, wine, champagne and sake list.

We chose to add the wine and sake pairings with dinner. If you choose this option, do not plan on driving! Have a designated driver or Uber, Lyft, Taxi or Limosine your way home. In addition to the wine and sake pairings, I ordered a Sapporo beer to enjoy with my food.

Sapporo beer, still water and the “Zen” rock garden centerpiece and place settings:

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Philippe champagne to start the evening and toast the special occasion!

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

First appetizer: oyster with roe, uni, orange and foam sauce.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

NOTE: Not everyone likes oysters, so a second appetizer was graciously substituted.

Second appetizer: Snow crab with roe and pea puree.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Paired with a 2013 white wine

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Seasonal Appetizer course: lobster tempura with spicy aoli, smoky cod on lemon, Tazmanian sea trout sashimi, stuffed squid with crab, quail egg and squid ink.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

The lobster in light tempura with the spicy aoli was “melt in your mouth” incredible. And so was the cod, sea trout and stuffed squid.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Paired with Seijuro Fujitsu cold sake.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Sashimi course: Bonita sashimi with black mustard flower and shiso paste served with a mini yuzo sake.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Soup course: Clam with radish & seaweed in clear Japanese water broth.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Paired with Alsace Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Blanc Les Princes Abbés 2012 white wine.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Sashimi course: toro belly, kampachi yellowtail with cucumber, red snapper, uni on lemon and octopus in a daikon radish slice

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Paired with a really nice tasting sweet cold sake.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Cooked fish course: Delicious “grilled” Branzino with pickled daikon, ginkgo nut and cooked bamboo. I think it was blowtorched to perfection.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Paired with a tasty Hitachino Nest Beer White Ale.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Steamed course: egg, snow crab, shitake mushroom and shiso. Thicker than a soup.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Paired with Pazo Señorans Albariño 2013 white wine.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Special Pasta course: abalone, truffle & spaghetti with garlic butter cream sauce.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Paired with a Sancere 2013 white wine.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Wagyu beef (to die for) on a hot stone – cook to taste with vegetables brussel sprout, purple carrot, asparagus and a beet chip in daikon horseradish sauce and sea salt.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

NOTE: I wanted a whole steak of this A+ Wagyu beef! It was superb.

Paired with a rich Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 red wine.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Sunomono course: firefly squid with cucumber, tomato and seaweed (sorry, pulled it apart before taking the pic) served with a mini yuzo sake.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi course (6 pieces and soup): Toro, makata, Japanese mackerel, sweet shrimp, squid, uni and shrimp head in white miso broth.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! Makata and Toro (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! Japanese Mackerel and Sweet Shrimp (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka!  Squid and Uni (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! Shrimp head in white miso soup (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Paired with Born Gold Junmai Daiginjo cold sake. “Gold has an elegant nose comprised of green apple, sweet rice, plum skin, and peach aromas.”

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dessert course #1: Melon sorbet with icy rose granita. Served with hot green tea in a bowl.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dessert course #2: popcorn ice cream with cookies & cream meringue, lemon drop gelee’, chocolate covered raisin, sugared fennel and caramel sauce. Served with a different hot green tea in a cup.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Birthday Dessert (not mine): green tea pudding with whipped cream and a strawberry.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dessert was paired with an unusual sweet/spicy Hannya cold sake (tasted like a liquer).

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Sake and Wine! They have many choices both by the glass and by the bottle/carafe and the prices are not inexpensive. You can also bring your own wine. There’s a $35 corkage fee and a “limit” of one bottle per every two people in the party.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! Wine and Sake (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! Wine and Sake (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

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FYI – Front page of the Beer, Wine, Champagne and Sake List:

“Without wine, even beautiful cherry blossoms have small attraction”

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

“As to flowers, when half open; as to sake, when a person is half tipsy”

The service was great and the courses were well timed. It’s not a large space and the restaurant is about the food and the dining experience, not the number of people served. Each dish is ART and requires attention to detail in the planning and preparation. Our multi-course dinner from start to finish timed out at about three wonderful hours.

After the meal, Chef Nakayama came to our table and thanked us for coming. She was incredibly sincere and humble when we praised her and the incredible food she created.

BRAVA! BRAVA!

n/naka's Chef Niki Nakayama

n/naka’s Chef Niki Nakayama

n/naka3455 Overland Ave, Palms (Los Angeles)  www.n-naka.com

Reservations are absolutely required. They are currently booked until July!

 

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Happy Mother’s Day! Dinner at Cafe Carolina!

Happy Mother’s Day! Italian Cuisine at Cafe Carolina in the San Fernando Valley.

Cafe Carolina (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Cafe Carolina – Italian Cuisine (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

My brother chose the restaurant for our Mother’s Day celebration. Cafe Carolina (pronounced Caroleeeeena) is a small Italian restaurant on Ventura Blvd. that we’ve driven past but never tried until last night. We had an early reservation at 6pm and by the time we finished the restaurant was full. Everyone was celebrating Mother’s Day and the atmosphere was festive.

Cafe Carolina

Cafe Carolina – Italian Cuisine (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

The decor is simple “no frills”, nice-casual, with art-for-sale on the walls by a local artist.

Cafe Carolina (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Cafe Carolina – Bruschetta (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

On the menu: I enjoyed the Bread with red sauce, Bruschetta, Lasagna (with meat), Tiramisu and a Cream Soda. We also tried the Ravioli and Linguine specials, a Caesar salad, Rigatoni with meat sauce, red/white wine and a Berry Cobbler ala mode’.

Everything was excellent! The pesto sauce on the bruschetta was delicious. My tasty lasagna was made with organic pasta and angus beef. There was only a little red sauce, so the wonderful flavor of the spiced meat and pasta wasn’t smothered in tomato.

Cafe Carolina (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Cafe Carolina – Lasagna with Angus Beef (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

The Ravioli special with beef & cheese was perfectly spiced with nutmeg and herbs.

Cafe Carolina (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Cafe Carolina – Ravioli (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

The linguine special with Italian sausage wasn’t too spicy. The wine was excellent and the pricing by the bottle and the glass was very good!

Cafe Carolina (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Cafe Carolina – Linguine (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

The Tiramisu was billed on the menu as “the best in the valley”, and while that might not be true, it was pretty good.

Cafe Carolina (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Cafe Carolina – Tiramisu! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Cafe Carolina (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Cafe Carolina – Berry Cobbler ala mode’  (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Cafe Carolina –  17934 Ventura Blvd, Encino, CA 91316  www.organiccafecarolina.com/

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Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas!

Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas!

Today, May 4th, 2015, is the last day for the Riviera Hotel & Casino, once one of the finest “carpet joints” in Las Vegas. The hotel and casino will close at noon today…forever.

Riviera Hotel & Casino

Riviera Hotel & Casino

*NOTE: THIS BLOG IS NOT YET COMPLETE BUT I WANTED IT POSTED BEFORE THE RIV ACTUALLY CLOSED. I’LL BE ADDING MORE HISTORY AND MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCES SOON. PLEASE READ AND COMMENT!*

Sixty years ago, when the Riviera opened on April 20, 1955, it was the very first high-rise and the ninth resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

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Liberace was the featured headliner at the resort’s opening and for many years afterward.

4/20/55  L-R James Cashman Sr. and Liberace at Riviera opening

 

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The casino was first proposed by Detroit mobster William Bischoff as the Casa Blanca, and received a gaming license in 1952. Bischoff later withdrew from the project, which was taken over by Miami businessman Samuel Cohen. By March 1955, Cohen, was identified as a member of Miami’s S & G gambling syndicate and was no longer part of the investment group, though rumors persisted that he secretly maintained an involvement. Harpo and Gummo Marx held minority interests in the resort at the time of the opening.

The opening of the new Riviera hotel and casino, along with The Dunes and the Royal Nevada resorts within a month in 1955, was the subject of a famous issue of LIFE magazine asking “Las Vegas – Is Boom Overextended?”

LIFE Magazine 1955: Las Vegas - Is the Boom Over-Extended?

LIFE Magazine 1955: Las Vegas – Is Boom Over-Extended?

The Riviera casino went bankrupt just three months after opening. A group led by Gus Greenbaum took over operation of the property for the Chicago Outfit. Greenbaum started in the rackets with Al Capone and was in charge of the TransAmerican wire service on the west coast for the Chicago mob beginning in 1928. After the Outfit whacked Bugsy Siegel in June of 1947, Greenbaum was appointed the Flamingo Hotel and Casino’s next manager and by 1950, he was managing the Tropicana. Known and respected in the underworld as a reliable source of information on Las Vegas real estate, he had planned to retire to Arizona and initially rejected the offer to run the Riviera, but after his sister-in-law was murdered, he accepted the job. Greenbaum’s womanizing, drug and gambling addictions led to his embezzling from the casino and in December 1958, after refusing to step down and sell his interest in the resort, Greenbaum and his wife were found murdered in their home in Phoenix, Arizona. “That was Meyer’s contract” Johnny Roselli said years later.

Gus Greenbaum - Johnny Roselli - Meyer Lansky

Gus Greenbaum – Johnny Roselli – Meyer Lansky

Sidney Korshak, a lawyer for powerful businessmen, both legitimate and illegitimate, played a major role in the Riviera’s management. His reputation as the Chicago mob’s man in Los Angeles made him one of Hollywood’s most fabled and influential fixers. Korshak was heavily involved with Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters’ west coast operations when organized labor was at the peak of its activity. Law enforcement agencies suspected that he represented the Chicago Outfit’s interest in the Riviera, and was responsible for skimming the casino’s revenue and delivering the proceeds to Chicago.

Riviera Hotel Architectural Rendering

Riviera Hotel Architectural Rendering

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CHICAGO OUTFIT:

The Chicago Mafia began on the South Side Chicago with James “Big Jim” Colosimo. From modest beginnings in the 1890s, Colosimo, who was involved in vice, gambling and labor racketeering, became Chicago’s most powerful gangster during the period before Prohibition. Colosimo was reluctant to pursue the rich opportunities in the liquor trade that Prohibition offered. In May 1920 he was shot and killed in his café reputedly on a contract from Johnny Torrio.

“The Outfit” rose to power under the control of Torrio and Al Capone in the 1920’s during Prohibition. Their criminal activities including loansharking, gambling, prostitution, extortion, political corruption and murder. Following Capone’s conviction for income tax evasion in 1931, the Chicago mob was run by Frank Nitti, who committed suicide in 1943 after being indicted for extortion, and then Paul Ricca and Tony Accardo for over 60 years.

During the 1940s and 1950s, when the national syndicate was dominated by what was called the Big Six, Accardo and Jake Guzik, a trusted advisor and fixer for Capone and the Outfit, flew east weekly to meet with Joe Adonis, Frank Costello, Meyer Lansky and Longy Zwillman.

The Outfit’s biggest moves in the 1950s concerned casino gambling outside of Chicago. Chicago invested in hotels and casinos in Havana, Cuba and later went into Las Vegas in a big way and built the Vegas Strip. By 1961 Chicago had major interests in the Stardust, Riviera, Fremont and Desert Inn. Their Vegas holdings, partly in cooperation with Moe Dalitz, were overseen by Johnny Roselli, while the Teamsters’ Pension Fund provided financing. The Justice Department under Robert Kennedy investigated the Mob dominated Teamsters Union and its national leader Jimmy Hoffa, who was convicted of manipulating the pension fund in 1964.

Around 1957, Tony Accardo turned over the official position as boss of the Chicago Outfit to Sam Giancana, and became Consigliere. Giancana still had to obtain the sanction of Ricca and Accardo for all major business. Around 1966, Giancana was replaced as boss by Sam Battaglia. In 1967, Battaglia was sentenced to 15 years in prison and Giancana was still living in exile in Mexico. Felix Alderisio took over as acting boss in the late 1960s, was convicted of extortion, sent to prison in 1969 and died from natural causes in 1971. Then Jackie Cerone became acting boss. Cerone was convicted on gambling charges in May 1970 and later convicted of skimming $2 million from a Las Vegas casino in 1986 along with Aiuppa, Carl Civella, Angelo LaPietra and Carl DeLuna. Milwaukee organized-crime boss Frank Balistrieri was sentenced to 10-years in prison in the same case in December 1985. Cerone died of natural causes in 1996 six days after his release from prison. He was followed by Gus Alex, Samuel Carlisi and Joseph Aiuppa. Alex died of a heart attack in federal prison in 1992. Carlisi was convicted of racketeering, loansharking, and arson in connection with an illegal gambling business in Chicago in 1996 and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He died there of a heart attack in 1997.

Paul Ricca died in 1972, leaving Tony Accardo as the ultimate authority in the outfit. Giancana was murdered in the basement apartment of his home in Oak Park, Illinois in 1975 after returning from Mexico. The FBI alleged that Aiuppa conspired with Johnny Roselli to kill Giancana because he refused to share his offshore gambling profits from Mexico, but another theory states that Giancana’s murder was connected to the U.S. Senate Church Committee’s investigation into the CIA’s role in the conspiracy to assassinate Castro. Giancana was subpoenaed to testify on his knowledge of alleged government-mafia cooperation just before he was murdered.

In the 1940s Johnny Roselli was involved in the Outfit’s extortion in Hollywood of the motion picture industry. By 1956, he had become the Chicago and Los Angeles mob’s man in Las Vegas. In the early 1960s, Roselli was unknowingly recruited by the CIA. In April 1976 he was called before the Warren Commission to testify about a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. Three months after his first round of testimony the Committee wanted to recall him. Roselli went missing in July and his decomposing body was found  shot, dissected, then stuffed in a 55-gallon steel fuel drum floating near Miami in August 1976. Roselli was killed on Santo Trafficante Jr.’s orders and he would have needed permission from Outfit bosses Accardo and Aiuppa for the murder. Bill Bonanno, the son of mafia boss Joseph Bonanno, claimed in his 1999 memoir, Bound by Honor: A Mafioso’s Story, that he had discussed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy with Roselli and implicated him as the primary hitman in a mafia conspiracy. According to Bonanno, Roselli shot Kennedy from a storm drain on Elm Street.

Joseph Aiuppa was convicted of skimming profits from Las Vegas casinos in 1986 and received 28 years in prison. On January 19, 1996, Aiuppa was released from prison and died of natural causes three days later. In June 1986, Tony “The Ant” Spilotro and his brother Michael were beaten and strangled to death and buried in a cornfield five miles away from Aiuppa property near Morocco, Indiana. It was assumed that the Outfit ordered the murders because of Tony’s misbehavior in Las Vegas. It was also rumored that Aiuppa ordered the executions because he blamed Spilotro for the skimming conviction. In a 2010 interview with Maxim magazine, Tony Spilotro’s son Vincent claimed that the real target was his uncle Michael, and Tony was killed to prevent any revenge.

Tony Accardo bought a home in Palm Springs, California in the late 1970s, flying to Chicago to preside over Outfit “sit-downs” and mediate disputes. He died of heart failure at age 86 in Barrington, Illinois in 1992.

1975

Howard Hughes and Las Vegas:

Howard Hughes began the move into Las Vegas by legitimate operators and large corporations in the 1960s, resulting in the sale of many mob owned casinos. On November 24, Thanksgiving Day in 1966, Hughes arrived in Las Vegas by railroad and moved into the Desert Inn. Hughes bought the Desert Inn in early 1967 and then bought the Castaways, New Frontier, the Landmark and the Sands. He also bought the small Silver Slipper casino only to reposition the hotel’s trademark neon silver slipper, which was visible from Hughes’ bedroom and had been keeping him up at night. Hughes spent at least $300 million on his many properties and real estate in Las Vegas.

The Riviera sold in June 1968 to a group of investors tied to the Parvin-Dohrmann Corp., owner of the Aladdin, Stardust, and Fremont casinos. In 1969, a deal was made to sell the Riviera to the Parvin-Dohrmann Corp. but the sale was blocked by the Gaming Control Board.

Dean Martin was hired in 1969 to perform in the casino’s showroom in exchange for a 10 percent interest in the Riviera. They bought back his shares after Martin left in 1972, because management refused to cut his performance schedule from two shows a night to one.

Dean Martin - The King of Cool!

Dean Martin – The King of Cool!

In 1973, the Riviera was purchased for $60 million by AITS Inc., a Boston-based travel company controlled by Meshulam Riklis and Isidore Becker. The Riviera filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1983. Riklis pledged money to keep the business in operation and appointed Jeffrey Silver as the new CEO to turn the Riviera around. Silver shifted the Riviera’s marketing away from high rollers towards middle and working-class gamblers.

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A Burger King franchise opened in the Riviera in 1983, the first fast-food chain outlet in a Las Vegas casino, inspiring the phrase “Burger King Revolution” which referred to the trend of hotels and casinos targeting middle-class customers.

Riviera Hotel & Casino

Riviera Hotel & Casino

The Riviera underwent an expansion from 1988 to 1990 which went significantly over budget, leading to another Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1991. The resort emerged from bankruptcy in 1993 owned by Riviera Holding Corp.

In 2006, Splash, a traditional Las Vegas showgirl revue, ended an extended run at the Riviera. And in 2009, An Evening at La Cage, featuring female impersonators including Frank Marino as Joan Rivers, ended one of the longest runs in Strip history.

On July 12, 2010, Riviera Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The decline of the Riviera was caused in part by the recession of 2008. The Riviera was once surrounded by the Stardust, New Frontier and Westward Ho which were demolished to make room for construction of the unfinished Fontainebleau and Boyd Gaming’s Echelon Place projects. Under the terms of the bankruptcy reorganization agreement negotiated by Starwood Capital Group and the other secured lenders the property was leased to Paragon Gaming.

In February 2015, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority bought the Riviera hotel and its land for $182.5 million. The hotel will be demolished in the name of progress and the planned expansion of LVCVA’s Las Vegas Global Business District exhibit and meeting center.

"Crazy Girls" at the Riviera Hotel

“Crazy Girls” at the Riviera Hotel (the show and the statue will move to Planet Hollywood)

“Crazy Girls” is immortalized with a bronze sculpture based on a promotional photo for the show at the front of the casino. It was unveiled in 1997 with the phrase No “Ifs”, “Ands” or…. Since then, the thong-clad buttocks have been worn to a shine by visitors rubbing them. Riviera ads with the same photo used to appear on Vegas taxicabs back in the day.

crazy-girls

Vegas Matchbooks! Some are long gone now, some still remain…but for how long?

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

“It’s a sucker’s game. You can’t win out there, you understand. We got the percentages rigged all in our favor. The longer you stay, the more you play, the more chances you got of losing. I don’t let nobody around me who gambles. A couple thousand, okay, but no gambling!” – Chicago Outfit Boss Gus Alex on the subject of Las Vegas Casinos

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Rivera Hotel & Casino

Rivera Hotel & Casino

Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino!

Sign of the Times! Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino!

 

UPDATED JANUARY 7, 2017:
Going through boxes in storage, came across a matched set of Riviera coffee mugs>

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A Matched Set of Riviera Coffee Mugs

 

 

HOUSE OF CHAN Cookbook 1952 & New York City Restaurant

The HOUSE OF CHAN Cookbook from 1952

“Life, like a cookie jar, would soon be empty if you continued to accept the good things it offers and put in no good things in return.”

House of Chan Cookbook by Sou Chan 1952

HOUSE OF CHAN Cookbook by Sou Chan 1952

“Sou Chan, son of a poor Chinese farmer, came to America twenty years ago and found his first job as dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant. Today he owns the famous House of Chan, located in New York but known from coast to coast for its delicious oriental food and for the genial hospitality of its host.”

Sou Chan 1952

Sou Chan 1952

The book in very good condition was a $3 Goodwill Thrift Store find in Medford, Oregon!

Illustrations by Siu Lan Loh

HOUSE OF CHAN Drawings by Siu Lan Loh

See all of Siu Lan Loh’s Cookbook Illustrations
RIGHT CLICK and “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW”>
http://chimericaneyes.blogspot.com/2014/11/siu-lan-lohs-cookbook-illustrations.html

HOUSE OF CHAN Menu from 1962 from the New York Public Library Archives:
(NOTE: A Martini, Manhattan or Daiquiri cost $0.80, yes EIGHTY CENTS!)
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http://menus.nypl.org/menu_pages/54145/explore

Ad from Feb 10, 1975

Ad from Feb 10, 1975

The HOUSE OF CHAN Restaurant was located at 52nd St and 7th Ave in New York City in the space now occupied by Rosie O’Grady’s.

House of Chan sign across the street from Columbia Records

HOUSE OF CHAN Sign across the street from Columbia Records (circled)

From the 1920’s to the 1950’s, 52nd Street between 5th Ave and 7th Ave was known as Swing Street and was home to a dozen of New York City’s best-known jazz clubs.

52nd St in the 50's - "Swing Street" New York City

52nd St in the 50’s – “Swing Street” New York City

That area of northern Times Square was also one of the centers of popular music from the 40’s to the 60’s. It was home to both the Brill Building (1619 B’way) and several other buildings (1650 B’way and 1697 B’way) which were jammed with offices and studios of music publishers and songwriters like Carole King, Leiber and Stroller, and Neil Sedaka.

House of Chan (from the Library of Congress archive)

House of Chan (from the Library of Congress archive) – Bar

House of Chan (from the Library of Congress archive)

House of Chan (from the Library of Congress archive)

House of Chan (from the Library of Congress archive)

House of Chan (from the Library of Congress archive)

House of Chan (from the Library of Congress archive)

House of Chan (from the Library of Congress archive)

House of Chan (from the Library of Congress archive)

House of Chan (from the Library of Congress archive) – main dining room

House of Chan (from the Library of Congress archive)

House of Chan (from the Library of Congress archive) – private dining room

House of Chan Ashtray

House of Chan Ashtray

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