Wednesday, October 18, 2017

When friends visit LA

The LA quintessential spicy tuna on crispy rice - Catch
My lifelong bestie Shannon was in town this past weekend, and what that means is that we spent the fast few days gorging ourselves around town. It was her first time ever in Los Angeles, so in addition to bringing her for a walk down Hollywood and whipping up homemade acai bowls, we did some necessary hiking. beaching, and Asian feasting. 

The thing about LA that you have to accept is that if it's delicious or hip or Instagrammable or has high internet ratings, there will be a line. It takes some getting used to (like the lack of parking), but you just got to tough it out and enjoy the company you're with. 

Here are my snippet reviews of the foods we savored over the weekend: 

Catch LA (8715 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood) - Apparently this is the rooftop bar to be seen at. Honestly, there's no real view in LA unless it's the ocean, so it really is just to be dining al fresco without the LA traffic ruining your vibe. It's a beautifully floral (though half are fake, a la LA style) adorned space inside and out, so I see why the celebrities love it here. We ate the most beautiful and reasonably priced fruit platter ever, the LA classic spicy tuna tartare on crispy rice, truffled sashimi, and vegan crispy cauliflower. The lobster mac and cheese was also delicious, albeit not too cheesy. Will definitely come back for the nighttime vibes. 

Leo's Tacos (2400 W Pico Blvd, Koreatown / various locations) - Shannon got her first taste of taco trucks at one my go-to's. Delicious, much needed al pastor, cabeza, and lengua tacos after a night out of waiting in line to get into clubs. Such is the LA life. 

Little Sister (1131 Manhattan Ave, Manhattan Beach) - Had to have some fusion because we are in LA, so had some southeast Asian inspired cuisine at the end of our beach day. Ate some deliciously skewered baby octopus, fresh summer rolls, and loved that so many of the dishes had so many fresh veggies and herbs incorporated. Only complaint was the pea sprouts were too tart. 

Master Ha (1147 S Western Ave, Koreatown) - my Ktown pick for people that only know KBBQ. It's a great intro to a lot of other delicious Korean delicacies that aren't barbecue. They have a menu with only a handful of options, so you know it's legit. We got the boiled beef on a stone plate, raw crab with rice, and suh long tang (ox bone soup). I've only ever had Han Bat's suh long tang, which is very cleansing. Master Ha's was extremely milky and rich, which makes it a bit suspect, but all delicious nonetheless. Will do it again. 

Oomasa (100 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, Little Tokyo) - Came here because everywhere else had a ridiculous wait and this one was only a short wait. Luckily got seated at the sushi bar, where we promptly ordered a sashimi platter, nigiri, and rolls. Everything was fresh and great quality, but the fish on the sushi was just a touch too cold. More points than Hama Sushi, where the chef definitely overdid it with the wasabi. 

Republique (624 South La Brea Ave, La Brea) - This is my go-to brunch spot for when people visit from out of town. The food is solid, the ambiance is perfect for a weekend morning, and the pastries are on point. They have all the essentials - juices, smoothies, mushroom toast, shakshuka, fried rice, yogurt granola bowl, pork belly sausage egg sandwich, and more. The menu is confusingly diverse, which makes make the ordering experience both a blessing and a curse. I recommend trying their creme brulee bomboloni and cardamom sticky bun. Skip the chicken and biscuit with gravy - boy do I miss the south.

Rosenthal Wine Bar & Patio (18741 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu) - After a light hike, we were all ready for some refreshing wine. We stopped by the nearest wine spot and got to try some local white wine. The patio was packed and popping, but with a 2 person per bottle minimum, I'm not surprised. 

Somi Somi (621 S Manhattan Pl #208-A, Koreatown) - I talk about fish ice cream a bit too often, and it always so weird, but it's legit. Take traditional taiyaki and fill it with soft serve, and there you have it. Fish ice cream. You can choose a base of traditional red bean or custard or nutella. They soft serve flavors are revolving, but I always end up getting matcha/milk with classic red bean filling. I hate that I'm writing this, but it's very Instagrammable. There will be a ridiculous line on weekend evenings. 

Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle (2057 Sawtelle Blvd, Sawtelle) - There's always a line, but we got there after the lunch rush, so we got seated pretty quickly. They specialize in tsukemen, which is dipping ramen. They serve it with lime, giving it an extra tang. It was actually my first time having it, and it was delicious. So were the plentiful char siu slices in their ramen. The winner was their perfectly runny soft boiled egg! 

$15 fruit platters do not get better than this - Catch 

Labyrinth at Tuna Canyon

Check out the runny yolks doe - Tsujita 
The spider roll and sashimi combination - Oomasa

Not as delicious as it looks - Republique

Autumn Roll - Little Sister

My favorite combination - Oomasa

Manhattan Beach sunset

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

All about eggs + Linda's egg toast

I love eggs. Fried, scrambled, sunny side up, frambled, omelet, soft boiled, baked... I eat them all. It's my first choice in breakfast food and the first food my mom taught me to cook.

In recent years, we've been getting a lot of mixed health messages about this nutritious food. Eggs are very nutritionally dense and balanced. They come at 70 calories, 6 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat. They also contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants important for muscle, growth, and eye health. I eat eggs about 2-3 times a week.

Here's a collection of eggspert snaps of some eggcelent egg moments. Enjoy the visuals and be sure to try my egg toast recipe!

When your fam loves you, they bring bagels from NY when they visit

Kono's Cafe in San Diego have the best and biggest breakfast burritos 

Finally had egg slut's Fairfax sandwich at Grand Central Market in DTLA

Egg baked into a pastry puff from at Julia St's Saturday Crescent City Farmers Market

Homemade breakfast hash made with leftovers from the Pantry in DTLA

Egg sandwiches in Hong Kong are a must! Though the more popular choice is Spam. 

My favorite breakfast of all time at The Grill in the French Quarter:
fried catfish, cheesy grits, and sunny side up eggs


Linda's Egg Toast

1 slice rye bread
4-6 bocconcini balls (or any other form of mozzarella) 
1 egg
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup mixed salad greens, raw 
2 tsp avocado oil
1/4 tsp Cajun spice

1. Top bread with mozzarella and baked in toaster oven at 250F.
2. In a small pan, heat avocado oil. Once oil is boiling, sear cherry tomatoes.
3. Turn heat to low and crack egg into pan. Lightly scramble with Cajun spice then allow to cook. Flip once. 
4. Remove cheese toast from the toaster oven and top with greens, followed by the tomato eggs. 

✓ protein
✓ whole grains 
✓ vegetables
✓ fiber 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

An ode to tacos

I thought I've been eating tacos my entire life, but it really wasn't tacos until I had them in Southern California. Like chicken and rice, taco trucks have this addictive life changing ability. My first stop after anyone lands in LAX after dinner time (including myself) is obviously a taco truck. My favorites are al pastor, cabeza, buche, and lengua. No two trucks or stands do them the same, but they're always absolutely delicious. It's the perfect pit spot and late night stop. Sometimes I'll even have a horchata (milky rice drink), but most times I prefer the jamaica (hibiscus) juice. When will taco trucks become an East Coast thing also? Meat shreds on tortillas with onion, cilantro, avocado sauce, hot sauce, and limes. How can you go wrong? 

Special shout out: Tacos El Gordo in San Diego. Hands down best al pastor I've ever had in my life. And I've had quite a lot since moving out west. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Oahu, Hawai'i

"Best shrimp on the island" - from a local standing behind us in line,
expect to spend at least 2 hours here | Romy's

Last time I went to Hawai'l, I left proclaiming that it was my favorite state in the USA. Ten years later, I have to admit that Hawai'i did not fail to charm me again with its tropical climate, plentiful beaches, and Asian inspired comfort food. Though I didn't swim with sea turtles, walk on volcanoes, coddle sea horses, or island hop this time around, I did get to do a lot more exploring around Oahu. 

In addition to attending my cousin's wedding at Ko Olina, the goal was to do as much around the island outside of Honolulu as possible. I didn't fly all the way from a crowded city to vacation in another city. Surprisingly, my brother and I completed the majority of my ambitious itinerary - meaning we hit up 100% of the food spots I listed and about half the hikes and adventures I planned. Not too bad considering that we were running on full island time. The rainforest hike was way muddier than I expected, Valley of the Temples was one of the most awe inspiring resting grounds I've ever witnessed, and the oceans were just as blue as I remember. Only regrets (kind of, not really): missing the partial eclipse after sunrise on Monday and no rainbows! Next time, though. I know I'll be back again. Aloha! 

Cockroach Cove by Halona Blowhole

First meal and my favorite ahi poke thus far | Ono Seafood

Loved the taro bun at the luau buffet | Paradise Cove

I'll take all the katsu and shrimp tempura musubis | Masa and Joyce

Four Seasons at Ko Olina

Breakfast buffet spread with drip Kona coffee | La Hiki

Manoa Falls

Porkchop lunch special with bomb macaroni salad | He'eia Pier General Store

Byodo In Temple

Fresh fried malasadas - doughnut's breadier cousins | Agnes Portugese Bake Shop

Wedding catered by Honolulu's famous Chef Chai 

Fancy ahi poke with crispy rice crackers | MW Restaurant

Waiting for bullet matcha on the North Shore | Sunrise Shack

Much inspired, will definitely go home and make my own papaya bowls | Sunrise Shack

Pre-paddle boarding breakfast on the beach - we will take all the spam
musubis and papayas please | ABC Stores

Final meal! Loved the butter fish in gravy and watercress | Helena's Hawaiian Food

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Camping and cooking: Yosemite National Park

I moved to the west coast to be closer to the mountains, the national parks, the hikes, and the adventures. Lucky for me, all my transcontinental aspirations are becoming realized thanks to good friends. This past weekend, we road tripped to Yosemite. It is as beautiful and as scenic as all the wallpapers and postcards boast it to be. The pines, the waterfalls, the granite formations were all breathtaking. Even more awe inspiring was the meteor shower. I saw 9 shooting stars and wisps of the milky way! I love falling asleep under the brightness of the moon and waking up surrounded by trees. But it also helps when your tummy is well fed and warm. My buddy Winston has all the gear for all the outdoor activities. For camping, he has a huge cooler, a portable double burner, and a shiny black skillet which all come in real handy for searing pork belly, whipping up fried rice, frying omelets, or toasting up corn bread. And obviously I did not forget to pack plenty of fruits and vegetables (and homemade fig jam). :)

For weekend trips, I definitely recommend putting the time in to prep your foods/meals before arriving at the camp site. Living in Ktown, it's easy for me to grab marinated meats for the crowd. It's delicious, tasty, and all you have to do is sear it over high heat. I also try to pack veggies that don't require much preparation (cucumbers, cherry tomatoes), and if they do require some peeling and chopping (onions, garlic, peppers, etc.), I do it all at home and pack them with me in containers ready to go in the skillet. Same with fruits! Even if it's an apple, it's easier to share if it's already sliced up, so definitely recommend preparing a fruit salad for the trip. Happy camping!