August Favorites 2022

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!

$ Bargain

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.  

$$ Moderate

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.  

$$$ Splurge

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!

Until Next Time,

Irene

June Favorites 2022

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!

$: Harry Potter Scenes (Durham Cathedral),Thrift (Cats Protection – Newcastle upon Tyne Charity Shop

$ Bargain

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), Indian Food (Nutmeg Bristol), Sight Seeing (Stonehenge)

$$ Moderate

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.

$$$ Splurge

$$$ 2 Michelin Star Dinner (Da Terra), Dinner (Six)

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!

Until Next Time,

Irene

April Favorites 2022

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)

$ Bargain

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.

$$: Hat & Boots (Goodwill – San Francisco); Duck Banh Mi (Cafe Bunn Mi); Mochi Donuts (Mochill Mochi Donut)

$$ Moderate

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)

$$$ Splurge

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!!)

Until Next Time,

Irene

March Favorites 2022

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), Coats (Salvation Army):

$ Bargain

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

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.

$$$ Splurge

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!

Until Next Time,

Irene

January Favorites 2022

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!

$ Bargain

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.

$$$ Splurge

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.

Which of these look the most interesting to you?

Until Next Time,

Irene

Best of 2021 – Bargains and Splurges List!

It’s that time of year! Judgement day – lol. But in all honesty I traveled up and down California and visited various part of Arizona all of last year to find the best of the best! Come checkout my absolute favorites from 2021!

$ Bargain

Papaya Salad & Coconut Cakes (Mae Ting’s Coconut Cakes): Hands down the best papaya salad ($9)! This little stall in a LA Chinatown parking lot may not look like much but their food really packs a punch. Read more here. It was so good that I went back and had it again and successfully tried their coconut cakes ($6) for a dozen!

Sushi (Sakae Sushi): Authentic, sushi, and take-out aren’t usually words you see together often, but Sakae Sushi in Gardena, CA does just that and for a very reasonable price. They offer 6 different types of sushi for $1.05 – $1.25 a piece (though each piece is double the size of a normal sushi piece) and they packaged your order in the most endearing and convenient manner. It’s been a staple in the community since the 60s and I would love to go back and support this small mom n’ pop shop. Read my tips here.

Roast Pork Entree (New Lun Ting Cafe): The mysterious orange gravy may look off-putting to some, but boy that sauce slathered over a thick cut of roasted pork and rice is beyond amazing. See full review here. For $9.25 you can feed two people with that popular entree. I will DEFINITELY be back for this on my next visit to SF Chinatown.

Thrifted Goods (Society of St Vincent De Paul- Scottsdale): Hands down best thrift shop in Scottsdale, AZ. Everything is very reasonably priced and they have a cool bridal section if you’re in the market. If I come back to Phoenix I will definitely want to make a trip here. Read my complete review here.

$: Papaya Salad & Coconut Cakes (Mae Ting’s Coconut Cakes), Roast Pork Entree (New Lun Ting Cafe), Thrift Shopping (Society of St. Vincent De Paul – Scottsdale), & Sushi (Sakae Sushi)

$$ Moderate

Boba Drink (True Dan): This small 3 chain boba shop serves Taiwanese drinks with a twist. I visited the Burlingame, CA location and tried the “Fresh Milk With Brown Sugar, Crema, and Oreos” with Oat Milk Substitution (+$.50) = $6.50 and wow it was amazing! Honestly, it beat out my 2020 favorite boba drink (see list here), and that’s saying a lot! See my full review of my True Dan experience here.

Salad (Flower Child – Gilbert): I make salad for lunch regularly, but I aspire to make salad like this! The butternut squash and organic pear salad has loads of delicious ingredients including candied pecan, cranberries, ricotta salata and more. The salad by itself is $10.95, but patrons can add a protein for an additional fee. Salmon would be my choice. There are multiple locations and this location is at Gilbert, AZ; read the full review here.

Chicken Soup (Lourdes): I doubt most people would go out of their way for soup, but the chicken soup here at Escondido, CA is definitely worth the drive! For a 32oz bowl ($9.65) you get fresh flour or corn tortilla, slices of avocado, a well seasoned soup that’s perfect for a cold day. Read the full review here.

$$: Chicken Soup (Lourdes), Salad (Flower Child – Gilbert), Boba Drink (True Dan)

$$$ Splurge

Salmon Spinach Cream Udon (Udon Mugizo Mountain View): Among the different types of noodles Udon is probably my favorite. I usually have it with broth however, the Salmon Spinach Cream Udon at Udon Mugizo was definitely a highlight of this month. There are two locations for this restaurant – one in Japantown, CA and one in Mountain View, CA and while It is a bit of splurge for noodles ($18ish a bowl) it’s delicious! See my full review here to see why.

iphone 13 Pro (Apple Store): I’m not a huge tech nerd, but I have been eyeing the 13 pro (1TB) for a while and finally made the splurge ($1499+). To be fair I currently have a 7+ and I was desperately due for an upgrade.

Cream Puffs (@Puffs_SD): Honestly, these are some of the most beautiful cream puffs I’ve ever seen. I think a traditional flavor of that size costs roughly $2.50 and these are more at $4.33 each (but you need to buy in half dozen or full dozen increments). Nevertheless, the flavors are very unique and I would absolutely buy them again on my next San Diego, CA visit. Learn about the ordering process here.

$$$: Salmon Spinach Cream Udon (Udon Mugizo Mountain View), Cream Puff (@Puffs_SD), iphone13 pro (Apple Store)

These were my absolute favorites last year and I hope you’ll check them out in 2022!! What businesses did you discover and want everyone to know about? Comment below!

Until next time!

Irene

October Favorites 2021

Come check out my favorite finds for this month!

$ Misc things I thrifted at (Assistance League of Huntington Beach)

$ Bargain

Thrift Shop (Assistance League of Huntington Beach): I started thrifting a little more frequently this month as I was in the market for a couple of pieces for my cosplays, some of which I found here. The hours are limited and the store is relatively small; however, I usually find at least one hidden gem, whether it’s clothing, knick knacks, craft material or others. Every Saturday they usually have a 1/2 off sale on whatever designated item which is the section of the store I will visit. Read my entire review here.

$$ Shrimp Tacos (Marisco 4 Viento), San Marcos stay (AirBnB), Chicken Soup (Lourdes)

$$ Moderate

Shrimp Taco (Marisco 4 Vientos): I was doing a photoshoot with friends up in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, CA so naturally I wanted some authentic Mexican fare. They don’t look that photogenic; however, the deep fried shrimp taco ($2.50) is definitely worth getting. Read here to see what else I ate.

Room (AirBnB): When I plan a trip my room/board destination isn’t usually the highlight of a trip; however, this stay in San Marcos was well beyond my expectations. For $84 a night (plus cleaning fee, service fee etc), I was given a comfortable bed, hot shower, breakfast, an amazing outdoor patio view, a private playground (w/ a trampoline), golf course, and a well stocked snack section. Honestly, if I didn’t have my weekend planned out already this would have been an amazing place to just stay in. See stay here.

Chicken Soup (Lourdes): I doubt most people would go out of their way for soup, but the chicken soup here is definitely worth the drive! For a 32oz bowl ($9.65) you get fresh flour or corn tortilla, slices of avocado, a well seasoned soup that’s perfect for a cold day. Read the full review here.

$$$ Jasmine Wig (C80thingamabob)

$$$ Splurge

Jasmine Wig (C80thingamabob): I commissioned this wig from C80thingamabobs (IG) back in July; however, I never got a chance to wear her until Halloween weekend. I was so incredibly impressed with it. It is heavy, but it looks just like the original Disney parks Jasmine wig and I got so many compliments wearing her. The wig was $225 plus shipping, but honestly I felt like a million bucks and a true princess.

Which of these finds are you hoping to try?

Until Next Time,

Irene

September Favorites 2021

Wake me up when September ends…

Welp! It’s now the end of September and time for another round of my monthly favorites! Check them out below!

$: Almond Cookies (Phoenix Bakery), Museum (Chinese American Museum(

$ Bargain

Almond Cookies (Phoenix Bakery): Situated in the heart of Chinatown LA, CA is Phoenix Bakery, which is home to their delicious Almond Cookies. I’ve purchased a double dozen box ($6.95) twice in the same month, which should be saying something! Read all about it here.

Museum (Chinese American Museum): This three story hub offers complimentary admission for all visitors. I thought it was a great exhibit to learn about the Chinese immigrants and their contributions to New Chinatown ironically located in Chinatown LA, CA. Read more here

$$: Mini Taiyaki (Costco), Vegan Burger (Burgerlords)

$$ Moderate

Mini Taiyaki (Costco): I’m usually pretty good about my purchases from Costco in terms of moderation for a particular purchase – that was not the case with Suji’s Taiyaki. I bought four boxes in one week *gasp* But only because it’s not regularly stocked at my Costco (For some odd reason).This 30 count fish shaped dessert found in the freezer section has been in my regular snack rotation since I’ve started using an air fryer. For $10.54 a box I now can experience a taste of Japan in the comfort of my home. If you like crispy dough and cream custard you would love this!

Vegan Burger (Burgerlords): I’m open to trying new food and I really enjoyed my “cheeseburger” here. At $9 a pop, this fast food joint does a good job creating a meat-free option. Read about my experience here.

$$$ Oogie Boogie Bash (Disneys California Adventures)

$$$ Splurge

Oogie Boogie Bash (Disney’s California Adventure): Trick or Treating with villains and dressing up in costume to Disney? Yes please! While this event in Anaheim, California is sold out I enjoyed the character meet-n-greets and definitely stocked up on candy/health snacks from the Trick-or-Treat Trails. Also the lines for rides in DCA were very short! See more photos of the rare character encounters here here.

So Fall is just around the corner, which means lots of pumpkin flavors. Are you a fan or prefer other seasonal flavors?

Until Next Time,

Irene

July Favorites 2021

With more of the US opening up it’s time enjoy the outdoors and patron more small businesses! Here are my July favorites!

$: Sunflower Fields (Hana Fields), Sushi (Sakae Sushi), Ice Cream (Rich Farm Ice Cream)

Bargain $

Ice Cream (Rich Farm Ice Cream): If you have a sweet tooth the homemade ice cream at Rich Farm in Placentia, CA will give you a run for your money. It’s a favorite among locals and they also give very VERY generous servings. A size “small” is $6.50, but honestly the portion is like a size large at most standard shops. This is 1/2 a small that I shared with my friend. See my full review here and recommendations.

Sunflower Fields (Hana Fields): Looking for an affordable activity to do with family and/or friends? Hana Fields located in Costa Mesa, CA is a huge working farm where patrons can enjoy the fields with in the suburbs. Admission is $5 and if you want to cut your own sunflowers it’s $20 for 15 stems. Curious to see what it’s all about? Here’s a video from my recent trip or you can read about it here.

Sushi (Sakae Sushi): Authentic, sushi, and take-out aren’t usually words you see together often, but Sakae Sushi in Gardena, does just that and for a very reasonable price. They offer 6 different types of sushi for $1.05 – $1.25 a piece (though each piece is double the size of a normal sushi piece) and they packaged your order in the most endearing and convenient manner. It’s been a staple in the community since the 60s and I would love to go back and support this small mom n’ pop shop. Read my tips here.

$$: Salad (Money Business Cafe), Mochi (Chikara Mochi), Falafel Plate (Zankou Chicken), Egg Rolls (Thien Loc Food to Go)

Moderate $$

Mochi (Chikara Mochi): I love mochi and the confectionary treats at Chikara Mochi in Gardena is the real deal. Tasty, beautifully crafted and something I would love to gift or be gifted. Most of the mochi were around $2.20 a piece and while the shop is very small, their treats are definitely worth the visit. See my full write up here.

Salad (Monkey Business Cafe): Finding something healthy to eat when you’re out can be a struggle, but if you want to not only eat fresh produce from the Fullerton Arboretum AND support the organization that helps at-risk youth with employable skills this shop kills two birds with one stone. I ordered a strawberry chicken, avocado salad for $13.99 and it was delightful. Monkey Business Cafe is located in Fullerton, CA and to read more click here.

Falafel Plate (Zankou Chicken): I was hoping to find a more plant based meal option and this was one that I hadn’t tried yet. There are a dozen locations in socal, and I visited the newest location in Huntington Beach. The falafel plate was $10.99 and I think I may be a regular here since the price point is very reasonable. Read more here.

Egg Rolls (Thien Loc Food To Go): I wanted to bring something delicious for potluck and figured that everyone loves eggrolls. Located in Garden Grove, CA this mom and pop shop will freshly fry them up for you and for $.65 a piece this is a steal! I ordered 50 for $32.50. This was obviously before I started dieting. Read about my full experience and see my ordering tips here.

$$$ Chinese food (Jiang Nan Spring)

Splurge $$$

Chinese food (Jiang Nan Spring): If you’re looking for a more upscale Chinese restaurant that serves authentic cuisine Jiana Nan Spring in Alhambra, CA is a good option. They were a 2020 Michelin Guide recipient for New Inspector Award and I feel it was certainly well deserved. My party ordered a lot of food on our visit. Read what I ate here.

What do you plan to do this summer?

Until Next Time,

Irene

April Favorites 2021

It’s that time of month – monthly favorites! and for the month of April I visited San Francisco and the surrounding cities during my Spring Break! (!!!) Woo!!! It was much needed.

During that trip I knocked off a few more of my bookmarks and several of them made this month’s favorites! Check out my list below to see who made the cut!

$ Falafel (Falafel Stop), Roast Pork Entree (New Lun Ting Cafe),Japanese Confectionary Treats (Osaka-Ya), Duck Chow Mein (Sam Wo)

$ Bargain

Duck Chow Mein (Sam Wo): This Chinatown SF staple has been serving the community for over 100 years, so they must be doing something right! I ordered the Duck Chow Mein ($9.05) and boy was I in for a surprise. I absolutely loved it. The noodles had a nice chew to it and it can easily feed you for two meals. Read all about it here.

Roast Pork Entree (New Lun Ting Cafe): The mysterious orange gravy may look off-putting to some, but boy that sauce slathered over a thick cut of roasted pork and rice is beyond amazing. See full review here. For $9.25 you can feed two people with that popular entree. I will DEFINITELY be back for this on my next visit to SF Chinatown.

Japanese Confectionary Treats (Osaka-Ya): Osaka-Ya is a Sacramento staple that has served their loyal customers since 1963 and their authentic treats are both beautiful and delicious! They have many different flavor combinations and while I ordered 2 sets of four types in a future visit I will need to order way more! This was by far my favorite stop in Sacramento and the prices were very reasonable although it’s very hard to just pick one: Mochi ($1.50) Manju ($1.60), Flavored Mochi Bites (Box of 12 small bites, $4.75). See my full review here.

Falafel (Falafel Stop): Healthy fast food for a reasonable price. For $7.11 you can get a very nutritious and filling meal. The Falafel in a pita bread, may look small, but it is packed with a lot of ingredients! See my full writeup here.

Thrifting (St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store): There are multiple branches of this charity good store; however the San Mateo location has a great assortment of garments and misc items. See full review here.

$$ Pad See Ew (Bangkok Spice), Boba Drink (True Dan), Beef Wrap (Zen Noodle Bar)

$$ Moderately Priced

Pad See Ew (Bangkok Spice): This Anaheim mom n pop shop is legit! The portions here are enormous and very reasonably priced. An order Pork Pad See Ew was $10.95 and could easily feed you for two meals. See what else I ordered here.

Boba Drink (True Dan): This small 3 chain boba shop serves Taiwanese drinks with a twist. I visited the Burlingame location and tried the “Fresh Milk With Brown Sugar, Crema, and Oreos” with Oat Milk Substitution (+$.50) = $6.50 and wow it was amazing! Honestly, it beat out my 2020 favorite boba drink (see list here), and that’s saying a lot! See my full review of my True Dan experience here.

Shanghainese Food (Zen Noodle Bar): If I want authentic Shanghainese food in the Bay Area Zen Noodle Bar will definitely be my top pick! Their Beef Wrap ($8.96) was amazing (perfect marriage of all flavors) and all the other dishes were solid. For a variety and a party of two I’d recommend three dishes. See what I recommend here.

$$$ Afternoon Tea (Malaya Tea Room), Fruit Flavored Sugar Cane Drinks (Sugarmama), Artisanal Pastries (Baker Doe)

$$$ Splurge

Afternoon Tea (Malaya Tea Room): For about $33 a person, you can enjoy finger sandwiches and an unlimited pot of tea of your choice, in a classy, tropical destination. I tried Butterfly pea for the first time (See Video here) and seeing it change from blue to purple was pretty cool. To see the breakdown of my tea experience click here.

Fruit Flavored Sugar Cane Drinks (Sugarmama): I grew up drinking sugarcane and when I found this home-based small business up in Oakland called Sugarmama, who specialized in fruit flavored sugar cane beverages, I was eager to check her out. At the time she did glass jugs – See my IG post here. Many flavors were in the $30 – $32 a flavor, and a jug can yield 5 cups. I think now you can buy a large jug (since she moved to plastic) for $23-$25 (though Durian is $29). I loved the strawberry sugarcane drink as it was very refreshing! If you’re local to Oakland you can pick up on Wed, Fri, or Sat or for a small fee you can have it delivered within the Bay Area. She also does individual sized drinks ($6-$8), but I thought the jug was great to share!

Artisanal Pastries (Baker Doe): You can get a dozen croissants from Costco for about $5, or you can get one Croissant that’s basically a work of art for $6. I won’t lie it took me three attempts (meaning three different days) to get an order in, since he sells out super fast! You can read my instructions and review on each pastries here. He has a different menu every week, but my writeup will give you some insight on the experience. Honestly, probably the most beautiful and buttery croissants I’ve ever had and if you want to see what all of them look like click here. I ordered two of everything that was available that week and the total came out to around $70ish.

Which of these finds are you hoping to try?

Until Next Time,

Irene