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

January Favorites 2021

Kickin’ off the new year with my January favorites. Lets roll!

$: Thin Mints, Organic Crispy Coconut Rolls

$ Bargain Find

Carne Asada Burrito (Tacos Los Reyes): I’m sure they use lard, but gosh darn it! it tastes so good! If you want authentic Mexican food, Tacos Los Reyes (Yelp Review) in Orange, CA will not disappoint. For $6, I got a carne asada burrito (which I ate for 1.5 meals), chips, and salsa. It’s a steal if you ask me.

Thin Mints (Girl Scout Cookies): I’m confident the vast majority of the internet knows about Girl Scout cookies, but you may not remember when you can get these seasonal munchies! The 2021 Cookie Program ($5 a box) is scheduled to run from January 22 – March 21 and you can get them online here if you don’t have a go-to Girl Scout already.

Organic Crispy Coconut Rolls (Costco): I must be late to the game for these, but these are delicious. They’re sweet, but light and flaky and the price tag doesn’t break the bank. They retail for $7.99 at Costco, but during this month’s January promotion they were $2.50 off for a total of $5.49.

$$ Curry (Marugame), TMS Lip Gloss (The Makeup Shack)

$$ Moderately Priced

Curry Nikutama Udon (Marugame Udon): Japan is a country I’ve been longing to visit and while I likely won’t do international travel this year, Marugame Udon is probably the closest experience I will probably have in experiencing that country. They are an international business with branches all over the world, and six locations in California. I visited the South Coast Plaza branch in Costa Mesa, CA and this cafeteria style foodie spot is a great affordable option. I ordered a large Nikutama $15 and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Lip Gloss (The Makeup Shack): I’ve been a big fan of the curated makeup from The Makeup Shack (IG) in Orange, CA since I started cosplaying. I’ve always loved TMS eyelashes (Review Here) and recently tried some of their other makeup items. Honestly, I’m super impressed with their line of lip glosses. For $8.99, you can add rich colors to your lips that also gives you shine. They work perfectly with my Disney Princess cosplays.

$$$ Corn Garlic Cheese Bread (Calic Bread)

$$$ Splurge

Corn Garlic Cheese Bread (Calic Bread): This Korean Garlic Cream Cheese Bread is not for the faint of heart. It’s ooey-gooey and I’m sure it accounted for my calories for the week. Nevertheless it was worth it. It is a bit of a process to find way to get this, but I outlined some options here. The sourdough loaf itself it $25, but the shipping varies based on where you live.

January’s list definitely has some top contenders for my 2021 Best of List; however, February is going to have an EPIC list, as I’ve already pre-ordered a TON of stuff online. I can’t wait for them to come and share with you. Did you try something amazing this month? Share below!

Until Next Time,

Irene

Devouring Authentic Cheap Tacos in Santa Ana, CA

Over the weekend I was craving for some authentic street tacos and Taqueria Tapatia (Yelp) in Santa Ana, CA was highly recommended by two of my Mexican friends. Located near Santa Ana College this hole-in-the-wall was a poppin’ place at 9pm. Additionally, it was a cash only establishment and 95% of the clientele looked Hispanic so based on my initial observation it was a good sign for it being a legit experience.

Counter

After looking through the menu my friend and I decided to try all their tacos since they were only $1.35 so we grabbed one of each! We did the Al Pastor, Asada (+$.27), Lengua (+$.27), Chorizo (+$.27), Carnitas, Pollo Adobado, Buche, Cabeza, and Birria. After waiting 10 minutes or so the hostess called out our order and the three plates looked so incredibly drool-worthy!

Tacos

I tried a bite of every taco and suffice to say they tasted very authentic. The meats were juicy and the flavors were distinct. I sincerely enjoyed them although I unfortunately had no idea which taco I tried. LOL  However, I do know that I didn’t care for the lengua (beef tongue). I wasn’t a fan of the texture, but all the other tacos were definitely on point and would order again.

What type of taco would you order? Asada? Carnitas? Something else?

 

 

XOXO,

Irene

A Dozen Delicious Tamales Demolished From The Tamale Lady in Chicago, IL

I live in Southern California so I have very high expectations of Mexican food so when I learned that Chicago has a thriving tamale scene I had to see it for myself. After extensive research many reviewers gave high marks to “The Tamale Lady” in Pilsen and raved about her hand-made pockets of joy especially the ones with spicy green sauce. A few even stated that there would be long lines bright and early in the morning and that they were worth the wait.    

Green Chicken (Spicy) and Red Pork (Mild) Tamales

The weather forecasted rain, but since I saw photos of her standing in the snow during the winter months I had no doubt she’d sell her goods in case it poured cats and dogs – and I was right! There was no line at 9am (probably because of the rain and humidity) and she had everything available. I decided to grab a dozen of the tamales with green chicken (spicy) and a half dozen with red pork (mild) to bring back home for my family and friends to enjoy a piece of Chicago. But before packing them up, I took it upon myself to be a guinea pig and taste test one of the red ones. Oh-Em-Gee, it was delicious!! The corn to meat ratio was perfect and the flavor brought everything together cohesively.

Tamale Cart

I recently went to a “must eat” tamale shop in LA recently, and I would rather have the tamales from THIS lady. For $15 a dozen or $1.25 for a single, I would definitely come back and buy more!

Between the two tamales – if you could only have one which would you pick? Red Pork (mild) or Green Chicken (spicy)?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

The Tamale Lady
21ST Pl, Chicago, IL 60608

Hours
Sun – Sat: 7am until they sell out

Eating Homemade El Savadorian Food in South Bend, IN

The global culinary adventures continue on my Midwest Trip! Before heading to Chicago, my friend and I wanted to grab a bite before driving to our next destination. We looked through yelp and found this highly rated mom and pop shop. We’ve tried African in Cleveland, Ohio (Post here) and Lebanese in Detroit, Michigan (Post here), so why not try El Savadorian in South Bend, Indiana? Suffice to say, the food was prepared fresh and cost was dirt cheap!

$7 Special: 3 pupusa’s and a drink

When we plugged in the address into the GPS we were very confused by the address since we were driving by multiple residential areas and there wasn’t a shopping plaza or some type of communal area for people to gather. Finally, we pulled up at what we thought was someone’s house (there was a small sign) and entered.     

The establishment was very bare, but on the far side of the wall there was a beautiful painting of women hand-making some pupusa’s. An elder woman (whom I suspected was the chef, host, and cashier) greeted us at the counter. We each ordered the “Special” and soon we were noming on her freshly made creations. There were three flavors, pork/cheese, bean/cheese, and cheese so we decided to do one of each. These pupusa’s had simple ingredients, but because they were freshly made I thoroughly enjoyed them and for just $7 I’d gladly come back for these cheap eats.

Among the flavors which would you try?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

Girasol
525 N Eddy St., South Bend, IN 46617
(574) 251-0073

Hours
Sun: 12pm – 5pm
Mon: Closed
Tues- Fri: 11am – 7pm
Sat: 11:30am – 6pm 

Starting the day with a Healthy Lebanese’s Breakfast in Garden City, MI

As my friend and I continued our Midwest Travels and headed North from our next stop was Detroit, Michigan. Unfortunately it was raining cats and dogs on our visit so we decided to head towards Dearborun, home to Motor Citie’s very own Henry Ford (yes, of the Ford Car Company). Along the way we decided to check out Al Tayeb Restaurant (Yelp), a Lebanese breakfast shop, and fill our tummies with some warm food. Upon entering we saw a mostly middle eastern clientele and were excited to start our day with an authentic breakfast.

ou

We started the meal with some complimentary tea and glanced around the room to see what other tables ordered. It looked like a family style meal with members ordering a few items to share and while my friend and I were only two people we ordered four items to share. It was way too much food, but the colors and taste were worth it!

Our Spread!!

We were recommended the fool ($7.99) as it was a crowd favorite, along with the Fatteh, cooked chick peas with garlic yogurt and pan fried nuts ($8.99), Hummus ($7.99), and Spicy Potatoes ($5.99). I wasn’t a fan of the fool, but loved making mini pita sandwiches with their fatteh, hummus, and assortment of veggies. It felt light and you could mix and match for different textures and tastes.

What kind of meal would warm you up on a cold rainy day?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

 

Al Tayeb Restaurant
873 Inkster Rd, Garden City, MI 48135
(734) 237-4606

Hours
Sun – Sat: 8am – 4pm

 

 

 

Enormous Cheap and Delicious Sandwich Lasting Three Meals in North Olmsted, OH

I generally try to refrain from eating theme park food, so I heavily researched local bakeries that were along my route from Cleveland to Cedar Point and found Fragapane Bakery (yelp) as an inexpensive local option. I’d read many positive review, but holy cow! I was not expecting to be blown away by this mom and pop shop. They’re known for their cold subs and while I was expecting a standard subway size sandwich, I was given over a pound of meat that lasted me for three meals! THREE!!!

Fragapane’s North Olmsted Location

They use Boar’s Head products and allow you to sample before making your final selection. I couldn’t decided so I ordered the 3 meat combo (teriyaki ham, corned beef, chicken) and with Provolone cheese and mayo. I’m still amazed at how much meat they gave you – and when my friend and I were eating lunch at Cedar Point several people were eyeing ours subs. For $6.99 I was beyond impressed and know that if I make another trip to Cedar Point from Cleveland, Fragapane will surely be my grab-and-go option!

What meat would you select in your sub?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

Two Locations 
Fragapane Bakery
28625 Lorain Road, North Olmsted, Ohio 44070
(440) 779-6050

Fragapane Bakery
650 Dover Center Rd, Bay Village, OH 44140
(440) 871-6340

Hours
Sun: 6am – 3pm
Mon: Closed
Tues – Fri: 6am – 6pm
Sat: 6am – 3pm 

 

Adventurously Eating African Food in Cleveland, OH

When you think of Cleveland, OH you probably think of the Drew Carey Show and maybe the Ohio State Buckeyes. It’s doubtful to even consider a predominately Caucasian area to be home to authentic mouthwatering African cuisine; however, after extensive research with many positive reviews I was curious to see if Kifaya’s Kitchen’s would truly be a diamond in the rough.

Seating Area

My friend and I finished a day of exploring Garfield’s Memorial (post here) and another iconic landmark that you will get to read bout next week (!!!) and eagerly anticipated our dinner. We drove up to the hole-in-the-wall with some reservations as the exterior evoked a Chinese take-out vibe. Nevertheless the philsophy of “never judge a book by it’s cover” could not be more true here.

Chicken, rice, and veggie platter

The menu was very simple with one page of offerings. We wanted to sample their goat dish; however, they were out so we settled on a chicken platter with rice and vegetables. For $16.10 we were given this massive plate and a side of salad. The charred chicken was a little dry, but the vegetable stew mixture with their rice was money. My friend and I kept scooping spoonfuls into our mouths. It was so delicious I can only imagine how delicious the goat would have tasted, but we did come at the tail end of the night. Overall, this quaint mom and pop shop was a win in my book and I recommend for locals and tourists alike to check ’em out.

Have you tried African food before?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 
Kifaya’s Kitchen
3650 W 117th St, Cleveland, OH 4411
(216) 219-8263

Hours
Sun – Sat: 11am – 9pm 

Forgoing the Fork and Knife to eat with my hands in a Kamayan Feast in Covina, CA

On my Facebook feed I saw video that featured an impressive spread of food laid across several banana leaves. There was rice, meat, fruit among other things and the video made me drool across my keyboard. I inquired about this custom with one of my Filipino friends and he asked if I was interested to partake in Kamayan Feast, also known as the the Boodle Fight. I instantly said yes!!

The menu

The video that I watched was a shop located in Anaheim, but this friend said that Nova’s Grill (Yelp) in Covina (while far) would be an authentic experience as he knew the owner and had visited in the past. And as an added bonus this boodle fight was basically $10 per person (minimum of 8 people). My friend make a reservation for 20 and we easily found friends to join in on the fun. We had two tables and were ready to devour everything!

The Spread

The setup was quite impressive and for this location they gave every participate an entire fish! (!!!). At the center the table shrimp and sig sig (pork belly mixture) were communal offerings and lumpias (egg rolls) were scattered throughout the table. Initially I was hesitant on how to start, but after grabbing with my fingers, tearing pieces, and dipping them in the different mixtures was so much fun! There’s something really satisfying with eating with your hands and not worrying about making a mess. lol

Nova’s Grill 
989 W San Bernardino RdCovina, CA 91722

(626) 316-0595 

Have you tried boodle fight? What did you think?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar