To be honest October wasn’t a great month for discoveries. I’ve been swamped with personal and work responsibilites, so going has been rather limited. The couple of hole-in-the-wall shops that I did visit were very mediocre or bad, and I had a couple of problems with commissions, so this month will highlight my tried and true go-tos!
Spring Rolls (Brodard): When I feel like eating something light and consistently good I always resort to Brodards. I think I’ve been here three times just this month. Based in Fountain Valley, CA this mom n’ pop shop is a local favorite among the Vietnamese community. They did increase their price slightly to 4 pork spring rolls are $10, but it’s well worth the price.
Ready to go meals (Meal Prep Sunday): I’ve been working a lot of long hours in the office since this month is peak college application season and unfortunately, I haven’t been able to meal prep regularly. Regardless, this San Diego, CA delivery service makes healthy organic meals and delivers them to the Southern California area on Sunday morning. Each meal is roughly $12 and I’ve been doing either 5 (lunch) or 10 (lunch & dinner) depending on the week. The flavors are good and I’m glad that I get to eat something different for each meal (versus when I cook I’m eating the same thing for several days). You can check them out here.
The month of November should be much better and I should be able to highlight some amazing hidden gems as I have Norcal roadtrip planned and several spots bookmarked. So stay tuned!
September has been jam packed with work responsibilities and fun. To be honest, I’m kind of exhausted, but I still wanted to leave you with the best of September!
Thrift (Mariners Church Community Thrift): Located in Irvine, CA this charity shop has limited hours of operation but their deals and quality of goods is very high. Everythign was $5 unless it was in the designer boutique section. Read my full review here.
Star Wars Themed Bar (Scum & Villainy Cantina): Scum & Villainy Cantina in Hollywood, CA has been on my bucket-list for a while and I finally had an occasion to visit while in Star Wars apparel (while not required, seemed appropriate). I really liked the decor and whole vibe of the bar. It’s a chill place to hang with your Star Wars friends and is a very welcoming place.
Special Occasion Hairstyle (Guys & Dolls HB): I’m very frugal, when it comes to pampering myself, but I decided to have a professional do my hair for a retro inspired look especially since my hair doesn’t hold curls easily. I made an appointment with Guys & Dolls HB in Huntington Beach, CA for my upcoming Oogie Boogie Bash and I loved how she made me look. Read about my full experience here. I’d been putting long hours at work, and for $75 (plus 20% tip), I think this having a pro give me the glam treatment was worth it!
Honestly, I’ve been doing a lot of prep work for the new school year and upcoming cosplay projects, so I haven’t explored as much as I had in previous months. Regardless, I found three for this month’s favorites. Enjoy!
Thrift (Veteran’s Thrift): I was looking for a few basic items for an upcoming costume and found several very fair priced items at the Veteran’s Thrift Shop in Chula Vista, CA (San Diego). You’ll need to dig, but there were gems to be found! Read more here.
Tom Yum Soup (Phucket Noodle): Most people don’t think to try Thai food in LA Chinatown, but this stall really gave me Thailand vibes with the whole setup. $8 for a filling Tom Yum soup was a way for me to enjoy lunch. Read more here.
Sashimi (Sushi Ota): This San Diego, CA sushi bar has been on my bookmarks for a long time and finally I got to cross it off! I did a omakase ($130), and while everything was tasty, the sashimi was to die for! The raw seafood is definitely worth a visit. Read about my entire experience here and tips here!
Wow! We are more than halfway done with 2022 and I got to experience many firsts in the month of July! I traveled quite extensively that month and my favorites will include gems from London, and Southern California (San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange County)! Please enjoy!
Harry Potter Statue (Harry Potter Statute): Come see the boy who lived immortalized! Located in Leicester Square, London, guests can see a young Harry Potter flying on a broomstick. It’s in a park that’s accessible for everyone and is a cool photo opt! See more here.
Museum (The British Museum): The British Museum in London, UK is enormous and has a very robust collection from all over the world. Entrance is free, and guests can easily spend hours here. Read more here.
Shopping (OC Fair): The OC Fair is one of my favorite things to do in the summer. Entrance fee is $12 and must be done online through Ticketmaster. You can go shopping, look at contest winners and watch shoes (The Alaskan Pig Race is my favorite).
Indian Dinner (Tayyabs): I ate at quite a few Indian restaurants in London, but Tayyabs was my favorite. Their dry meat was so extremely succulent and tender, but everything there was fragrant and delicious. Read more here.
Harry Potter Backstage Tour (Warner Brothers Studio Tour London): Tickets for the WB Studio Tour London were a nightmare to get (and I’m not sure if it’s because they limited the number of timed tickets or if everyone just wants to go on vacation – probably a combination of both), but it was worth it (!!!) since it was my favorite memory on my entire London trip. There were a couple of interactive experiences, and I just loved reading about the details about the sets and seeing props/costumes etc. On my visit they opened up a new Mandrakes Greenhouse Exhibit which had great photo/video opportunities. Tickets were £49.50 (Roughly 60ish USD with tax for a single adult) If you’re a Potterhead you HAVE to come visit – but I recommend if you’re able to making those reservations at least 6 months out. See full review here.
Disney themed party (D23 Afternoon Mixer): The D23 Afternoon Mixer at the Punchbowl Social in San Diego was so much fun! It’s an annual two hour event held during San Diego Comic Con (with different themes each year). Attendees enjoy games, food, and character meet n greets. Admission was $30 per person, but you must be a D23 Gold Member to attend. Watch TikTok Video here and see more IG photos here.
Ethiopian Food (Fresh Ethiopian Food): Inglewood, CA has really great ethnic food and Fresh Ethiopian Food was no exception. The Veggie Platter is $17 for one, $34 for two and Lamb Tibs $18.99 (one portion). Really delicious and aromatic food for a reasonable price. Click here for more info.
Theater Performance (Harry Potter & The Cursed Child): Watching Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was a huge splurge as tickets were £199 (roughly 241.75 USD) for Orchestra 12 rows back; however, you must know that you’re watching two shows (so it’s an all day event). The special effects and the way they utilized the stage was really cool, and I enjoyed the storyline. Read all my tips here.
Tea Time (The Ritz London): If you want to experience the glitz and glamor of high society book yourself a tea time at the Ritz London. It’s hard to convey into words how regal and exquisite the experience is but I definitely think it’s worth checking out. Tea time was £67 per person (roughly 95 USD). Read full review here.
Tea & Souvenirs (Fortnum & Mason):No trip to the UK would be complete without buying tea fit for a queen. Fortnum & Mason has been serving her royal highness and the royal family for quite some time so picking up a few cannisters is a must. There are two locations, and I’ve gone to both twice each actually and definitely spent money there. Read more here.
The month of August will likely have more local OC, LA favorites as I’ll be returning to work.
I know this is long past overdue but I promise you this post is well worth the wait! In the month of June I travelled across the pond and visited five different cities around the United Kingdom. This post took me so long in part because 1) I visited a ton of restaurants, shops, and sites and was trying to remember where I went AND pick my favorites and 2) I was still jetlagged lol
Nevertheless, I’ve come up with my favorites for this month. There’s ONE London favorites and the rest really are the best of the best in the UK. My July Favorites will include many MANY more London favorites, but without further adu please enjoy!
Thrift (Cats Protection – Newcastle upon Tyne Charity Shop): I’ve been to my fair share of thrift shops and among the many shops I visited in the UK, Cats Protection had the best selection of ready to wear apparel at very reasonable prices. I bought my new favorite black wool coat (£10), 2 dresses (1 for £4 and the other £8), a necklace (I think £4), and a Pusheen bag (£2.5). All proceeds benefit cat rescue, education, and protection. Read more here.
Harry Potter Scenes (Durham Cathedral): If you consider yourself a Potterhead this is a MUST visit Durham Cathedral! They filmed several courtyard scenes from the early movies and you truly will feel like you’re a student at Hogwarts. Admission is free, but guests may donate £5. Read more here.
Thrift (Save The Children Charity Shop): One of the nicest looking thrift shops I’ve ever visited is this mid-sized store in Clifton Village (Bristol), UK. They carry many designer and mid-high range items and honestly, you’d never know that you were at a charity shop. All proceeds benefits Save The Children, which is a cause I can stand behind. I bought this fuchsia pink dress for £20 and I absolutely love it! Read more here.
Sight Seeing (Stonehenge): I’m pretty sure no one can argue Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England taking a coveted spot in this month’s favorites. Admission is £24, and definitely worth every penny. I mean this is a piece of history that dates back to 3000 BC to 2000 BC. Get more info here.
Indian Food (Nutmeg Bristol): Fantastic curry with bold dynamic flavors and fluffy naan bread. The atmosphere at Nutmeg is equally as vibrant. The Sharabi Jhinga (Shrimp Curry) was £22 and Garlic Naan was £3.50. Click here for more.
Dinner (Six): To be fair work treated me here, but I loved everything about this restaurant. Located in New Castle, UK, Six is a fine dining establishment that rests at the top of a building. It has glass windows everywhere which gives you the most magnificent view of the river and city. The food was also beautifully presented and delicious. You can read more about my experience here.
2 Michelin Star Dinner (Da Terra): My friend and I decided that we were going to treat ourselves to a really extravagant meal in London to celebrate our survival of the school year. After extensive research I picked Da Terra and this restaurant gave me the best meal of my life. At £189 per person, this omakase experience is not cheap; however, considering the four hour experience and over 30 unique items presented (all of which I loved) and the fact that I did not leave hungry makes this a more than worthy awardee for my June favorites. I wrote more extensively about my experience here on yelp and posted many photos (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) on IG. Maybe one day I’ll do a dedicated post on the dishes Chef Rafael presented in a future post.
July will most likely be late as well, but I can tell you that that post will be crammed with favorites!
May has been extremely busy in terms of work (with wrapping up the school year) and play, but there were many highlights. Enjoy this month’s favorites!
Convention (Comic Con Revolution): Comic Con Revolution is nice mid-sized convention with a good number of fee-based celebrity meet-n-greets and nerd shopping. They usually have their convention during this time of year based on their celebrity guest appearances I usually attend. Tickets are usually $30 a day (adult), but I was able to find it for a little less than $20 on Goldstar.
BBQ (Calhoun’s Texas Barbeque): BBQ for two for $30, yes ma’am! Calhoun’s Texas Barbeque is a small hole in the wall in Murietta, CA with a loyal fanbase. The baked beans with brisket is money as is the baby back ribs. See my full review here.
Midori Matcha (L’Moon Creamery): Strawberry Matcha drinks are now one of my fav combinations, and L’moon Creamery in Upland, CA does a great job in crafting this beautiful and tasty drink. For about $6 you’ll instantly cool down. Read more here.
Falafel Bowl (Sababa Falafel Shop): I wanted something healthy after a long day at the convention. Anaheim, CA is known for Mediterranean food and Sababa Falafel Shop was a fantastic find. $10.99 bowl of misc veggies, seasoned rice, and sauces, (hummus + $1) plus falafel was a perfect way to end the day. Read my entire review here.
Roasted Duck (Ji Rong Peking Duck): If you’re treating extended family or clients to an authentic dinner that’s more presentable than many Chinese restaurants Ji Rong is a good choice. For $85 you’ll need to preorder (at least the week of) you’ll get a beautifully carved duck, all the accouterments, and tortillas to wrap it up. Delish! Located in Rosemead, CA this small mom and pop shop certainly has a showstopper entree.
Convention (Star Wars Celebration): I’ve gone to my fair share of Socal conventions for the past several years and back in 2020 I was slated to attend a new one (or at least new to me) in Anaheim – but alas Covid happened so we all had to wait. Regardless, Star Wars Celebration is a four day event with special announcements, celebrity meet-n-greets, fan panels, some of the best cosplays I’ve ever seen, and TONS of merch! I bought a 4 day badge for $199 (1 day $75) for the event (May 26-29, 2022), and boy there’s definitely a ton to see and do! Getting to see the Mandalorian Costume/Set Exhibit was by far my favorite followed by the Obi-Wan Kenobi Premiere and meeting Anthony Daniels (C-3PO Actor). It’ll be in London, UK in 2023, but if you love this Space Western this is a convention that shouldn’t be missed! I unfortunately, can’t go next year but if it returns to LA, OC or SD I’d be open to attend again!
Hope you all enjoyed my May favorites! I will be traveling to various cities in the United Kingdom so I can’t wait to share my finds. *Note: I can 100% guarantee you that my June favorites will be late, ha! But they’ll be worth it I promise!!
I know, I know… I am beyond late for last month’s Favorites, but April was crazy and I’ll just leave it at that. Here are my favorite discoveries last month – enjoy!
Mochissant & Goat Cheese Croissant (Rolling Out): Rolling Out is a one man shop in San Francisco that’s most known for their Mochi- Croissants! The owner invented this concepted and was granted a trademark for his creation. It’s really an interesting concept and for $2.75 a piece, I think it’s a worthwhile try. He also sells other baked goods including the Goat Cheese Croissant $3.75 which was delicious. Read about my full experience here.
Mochi Donuts (Mochill Mochi Donut): The Cherry Blossom Festival was happening during my visit to SF’s Japantown and Mochill was selling a box of 6 mochi donuts for $15. Patrons could choose whatever glaze flavor, but we decided to do one of each to try them all. My favorites were the matcha and fruity pebble. I really like the bouncy texture and these all tasted really fresh. Two thumbs up! Read more about my experience here.
Duck Banh Mi (Cafe Bunn Mi): I’ve eaten a lot of banh mi’s in my lifetime, but the Duck Banh Mi at Cafe Bunn Mi definitely wins for elevated comfort food. Located in the heart of San Francisco, this hipster joint serves up made to order banh mi’s. For $13.04 it’s pricey, but the duck meat is just so incredibly juicy and succulent, and paired with the fluffy baguette and tangy slaw it was a masterpiece. *Chefs Kiss* Read more yelp reviews here.
Thrift Shop (Goodwill – San Francisco): It’s always a hit of miss when you go thrift shopping, but this particular Goodwill in San Francisco has a LOT of really cool things. At least at the time of my visit they had a good number of vintage and maybe items that might have been used as costumes or theater performances. Prices are more moderate/high range for thrift shopping, but I will definitely be back since their inventory looked pretty unique.
Tapas (La Mar Cebicheria Peruana): Wow! The setting at La Mar is very impressive as it has a beautiful view of the bay. Thankfully, my friend and I got reservations at this San Francisco establishment as it was a poppin’ place! We tried their San Francisco Restaurant Week Menu ($75 Dinner) and we got to try a little bit of everything. The Roquitas (Rock Shrimp wrapped with crisp squid ink tempura) was my absolute favorite (which is on their regular menu for $26) followed by the peruvian chocolate mousse. If you’re looking to impress clients or a date, this place will definitely help you up your game!
April Favorites were mostly in the Bay Area but stay tuned for May and June! May will have some gems in the Riverside/SD area and June hopefully will have many London discoveries (eeee!!)
I’ll be honest I forgot about March, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t find some amazing things! Come check them out below!
Dragonfruit lemonade (Healthy Juice): I’ve walked past this fruit cart several times when I visited LA Chinatown and thought to try them out. They allow guests to sample their beverages and mix them up! I decided on a dragon fruit and lemonade/chia seed concoction and it was so refreshing! I think regular was $4 and large was $5 – which is a steal considering they use all fresh fruit! You can check out their IG here.
Coats (Salvation Army): Among the chain thrift stores Salvation Army is one of my favorites as the prices are reasonable. For some reason I don’t typically frequent this Huntington Beach, CA location and it has a 2 star yelp rating, but on my recent visit I scored two coats for $10 each (they were having a random 50% all clothes deal that day). One is by the brand Miss Sixty and the other is a Cole Hann Wind Breaker. Total score! This is the location I visited.
$$ Moderately Priced
Chicken Burger w/ Mushroom & Cheese + Fries (World Cafe): I’ve never had Persian/Iranian food so when I saw this perfect five star rating on yelp I wanted to see if this small mom n’ pop joint in Glendale, CA lived up to the hype. It definitely did and aside from the food being incredibly flavorful they’re open late and on Sundays (which is super rare). For the burger and fries it was about $10. Read my full review here.
No splurges this month lol
March was super busy with work and activities so my finding were more sparse; however, I know that for April’s entry there will have a TON of hidden gems as I have many bookmarks to checkoff for my birth-month!
Wow! This is the latest I’ve ever been with a monthly favorite – so sorry for the delay! February just flew by. Nevertheless, I got to experience some delish eats so I’m happy to share them! Enjoy !
Mochi (Shuei-Do Manju Shop): Authentic Japanese confectionary treats are always a fav of mine and the Butter Mochi at Shuei-Do Manju Shop in San Jose, CA was a star treat! A piece is $2 and most people will get a tray of at least 4, 6, 8 (or more). Check out my full review here.
$$ Moderately Priced
Fusion Breads (Bake Sum): Carbs are my weakness and the baked creations from Bake Sum, in Oakland, CA fed into my gluttony. They sell both sweet and savory breads, which individual servings in the $5 range. There was already a line, before the bakery opened so you know they’re good. See which breads were my favorites here.
Mini Cheesecake Poppers (Charlie’s Cheesecake Works): Honestly, I’m not a huge cheesecake person as they’re often super dense and sugary – not these! The dessert from Charlie’s Cheesecakes Works, in San Jose, CA are super light, fluffy and it has that “not too sweet” flavor to it. He’s got tons of flavors and a sampler pack ($15.50) which has a dozen 1oz bites is pretty much perfect. Read more here.
Pork Katsu Curry (Champion’s Curry): I pretty much eat ramen exclusively when I go to LA Little Tokyo, CA; however, on this occasion I visited Champion’s Curry and was actually really impressed. The Pork Katsu was moist and the curry has a little bit of a kick (more like spices that enhance the flavor, not burn your mouth spicy). It’s definitely a great place to bring large group. Read more here.
Pickled Veggies & Rice Bowl (Cultured Pickle Shop): I don’t know too much about pickled veggies other than it’s good for your gut health, but if you’re up for an educational and unique experience come visit Cultured Pickle Shop in Berkeley, CA on the weekends. For $22 they put together an assortment of pickled veggies over rice for patrons to try their different products. Very healthy and it was a great way to try food prepared in this fashion! Read about my entire experience here.
Native American Food (Wahpepah’s Kitchen): If you want to be a part of a movement that supports tribal traditions and empowers women Wahpepah’s Kitchen, in Oakland, CA needs to be on your list. It was really awesome to hear everyone share stories about where the food comes from and the food was very earthly. Appetizers and entrees ranged from $5-$20, but I guarantee you you’ll probably want to try multiple items. Read my extensive review here.
I’ll be honest my belly and wallet had a very indulgent 2021, so to help thin out the gut and plump up my bank account I’m taking a different approach to this month’s spending. I’ll be cooking more and dining out a lot less so that I can be in more aware of what I’m eating, and hopefully save some money *fingers crossed*. Nevertheless, I still want to support small businesses so I’ll be highlighting my finds from farmers markets and grocery stores! Come check out this month’s favorites!
Festival (Downtown Riverside Lunar New Year Festival): Free family friendly event to enjoy live entertainment, shopping, and food. This annual event is held in Downtown Riverside near the Old Mission Inn. Read all about it here.
$$ Moderately Priced
Cactus Honey (Palo Alto): Although the name would suggest that the product is from Northern California, it’s actually based in Mira Loma, CA (Riverside area). However, I found this 16oz jar at the Goldenwest College Weekend Swampmeet in Huntington Beach, CA for $10 and it’s wonderful. It’s quite creamy and has a nice floral sweet flavor. Honestly, this is such a unique and tasty buy! They also sell at several places throughout socal. See list here.
Pistachio and Fig Kefir Yogurt (Bonjoyr Kefir Yogurt): My mom said this tasted like ice cream lol. I bought one small tub from the Certified Farmers Market in Alhambra to enjoy and basically finished it in two sittings. $5 for a tub or 5 for $20. Check out their Facebook page for a list of the farmers market that they participate in.
Decorative Candle (The Charming Suds): As I browsed several aisles at the Goldenwest College Swap meet in Hungtington Beach, CA I found this booth with many handmade soaps and candle products with very aromatic scents. I picked up this beautiful succulent themed one ($20) and plan to gift it. Many items ranged from $3-$20. The owner attends the GWC swamp meet every Sunday but also does online orders here.
Eggs (La Bahn Ranch): La Bahn participates in a number of farmers market but I decided to visit their warehouse in Santa Ana, CA, which is open daily (10am-4pm weekdays or 8am-4pm weekends) except for Wednesdays. I definitely felt lost when I drove up and parked in their very small lot; however, I saw some workers in the back and asked if this was where I could buy eggs. Sure enough they did and my brown eggs had the most beautiful orange yolk. $6 a carton is a splurge for me but boy was it a treat! Check out their IG or FB page for more info.
Sashimi Grade Scallops (Yama Seafood): I think $1.95 a scallop seems pricey, but holy cow these are ultra plump and sweet. You can get as many or as few as you like from Yama Seafood Market in Alhambra, CA and enjoy as is (just let it defrost a bit as it’s flash frozen). I cannot wait to go back! Read about what else I ordered here.