How many people out there have birthdays around the holidays?
Both Melo and I have birthdays just after the holiday season. Hers is early January and mine is at the end of December (my mom, brother, nephew, and several cousins also have birthdays in December; it’s a fun month).
This past year, we were actually traveling on New Year’s Eve. We had flown back to the east coast to spend time with my family for Christmas and we flew back to LA on the NYE. We actually landed around 11pm, so we quickly Uber’d to see some local family for the countdown and some pancit (a Filipino or Pinoy noodle tradition) before heading home. I was a little bummed, but in the long run, it was nice to spend a couple of weeks with my family for Christmas. It had been a few years since we were all together for the holidays and we all had a really good time. Unbeknowest to me, however, Melo had been planning a little surprise for me for the weekend (more on that later!).
On Friday the 1st, however, we slept in really late, avoided unpacking our bags, and ended up at Cha Cha Cha in East Hollywood for dinner to celebrate my birthday. This place has been around for a while, and while it was my first time there, Melo had been there before at least a decade ago.
Since it was New Year’s, it was really quiet and not busy at all, which was nice considering we had spent almost all of NYE around hundreds of strangers at three different airports and two different planes. Plus we received extra attentive service which was excellent. Instead of ordering entrees (despite the Yelp check-in deal of a free glass of sangria with an entree), we ordered a few starters that we could share.
The guava and goat cheese quesedilla was good, but I wish it had a just a bit more guava in it. Being half Puerto-Rican, I grew up eating lots of guava-inspired cuisine (yum!) so I was really looking for that sweet and guava taste.
The platano frito plate was delicious! It’s really hard to mess up sweet plantains, but I’ve been in other restaurants where they were either undercooked or severly overcooked bordering on burnt. These were perfect, though; right on point.
The yucca con ajo was really good, too. Again, I’ve been in restaurants where the yucca doesn’t get the time in the kitchen it deserves and it comes out just awful. But these really hit the spot.
Finally, we had the calamari frita. The batter was different from what we were used to with calamari. It was good, however. It was seasoned just right and the calamari tasted really fresh.
We had a great time at Cha Cha Cha celebrating my birthday and the new year. I would highly recommend a visit to this East Hollywood gem.
Happy Capricorn season!!