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

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

 

 

Cosplaying at the World Premiere of Dark Phoenix at Hollywood, CA

I’m an avid movie goer and average about 5 movies a month; however when I was invited with my x-men cosplay family to attend the World Premiere of Dark Phoenix, I was beyond excited. I didn’t really know what to expect aside from potentially having the opportunity to see some of the cast and see a movie before anyone else. The day was beyond amazing and suffice to say I can now check mark off one of my bucket list items – attend a VIP Screening at the TCL Chinese Theatre!

Shots from the World Premiere

I arrived there with some friends at around 3:30pm to get checked-in for the 6pm red carpet event. There were so many amazing cosplay and I was actually really surprised by how far these cosplayers traveled. One of the Jean Greys few from Ohio with her boyfriend and a genderbend Magneto’s flew all the way from Dublin, Ireland! I sometimes forget that I live in one of the coolest places in the world and only had to drive 2 hours (mostly because of the traffic) to get here. There were ample reporters and press covering the event and you might see me (the only Psylocke there) in a few local and international televised and/or print clips! Some of the media outlets included one from Australia, a Chinese channel, Marvel, Disney etc.

More photos from the Premiere

After the press interviewed a few of the cosplayers and snatched candid footage, the movie cast members arrived! and walked the red carpet. I had the opportunity snap a few selfies with some of the actors including James McAvoy (Professor Xavier), Evan Peters (Quicksilver), and Jessica Chastin (Vuk)  *squeel* and take a group photo of the entire cast before we were moved to the theater to watch the movie!

I really enjoyed the movie and feel that it’s especially important to celebrate all our diverse backgrounds, gifts, and talents. It truly brought people from all corners of the earth and I will treasure this experience forever!

If you could choose your mutant power what would you pick? Obviously I pick psychic!

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Nomming on my favorite healthy, keto, low carb and affordable food in San Gabriel, CA

Sashimi is one of my favorite foods. It’s both healthy and tasty, but often comes with a premium price tag. However, my good friend recommended this uh-mazing fish market – Yama Seafood (Yelp), which serves high quality tuna, salmon, yellowtail etc at a very affordable pricepoint making it the holy trinity meal (Cheap, Healthy, Tasty). As such Yama’s is on my regular circuit of places to eat at when I’m visiting the area.

Salmon, two types of Tuna, and Yellowtail

There’s usually a long line at all peck meal hours (think lunch and dinner time rush) most of the week for Mr. Yama to cut the fish. He’s well known in the Japanese community as being an amazing fishmonger as he takes his time to carefully craft each cut and it’s definitely worth it. I think the two plates of food above was around $60 and super filling for two people.

The quality is very comparable to a $$$ Japanese sushi restaurant, but for a fraction of the cost since you’re not paying for a traditional dinning experience. Personally, I value quality food over a scenic environment, so my friend and I often take the styrofoam plate back to her place to enjoy at home.

Yama Seafood
911 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776

 

Do you enjoy sashimi? What’s your fish of choice?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

Great Scott! What day is it Marty? Visiting Doc Martin’s House in Pasadena, CA

Are you a fan of Back to the Future? Well you’re in luck because Doc Martin’s House actually exists! Officially known as The Gamble House, (4 Westmoreland Place, Pasadena, CA) this beautiful home was designed by architects Charles and Henry Green back in 1908 for David B. Gamble of the Procter & Gamble company.  I had a chance to see it on my trip to Pasadena and it’s definitely very impressive. 

You could take a one hour docent led tour for $15, but I opted to enjoy it from the exterior to admire the details. While many know it as Doc Martin’s house it’s registered as a National Historic Landmark, California Landmark, and museum.

Does anyone else geek out when they see places or things from movies in the flesh? Who’s house would you want to see IRL?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Celebrating Magic and Splendor at the 51st Annual Academy of Magical Arts Awards Show in Hollywood, CA

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending one of the fanciest ceremonies to date – The Academy of Magical Arts (AMA) Award Show.  This black tie event was hosted by the Magic Castle and recognized the contributions of magicians from far and wide. For my readers who are hearing about the Magic Castle for the first time, the Magic Castle is a private club housing magic performances from both local and international guests. Invites are restricted to members, associate members, and their guests; however, tickets for the AMA Awards were sold to the public around February (about two – three weeks before the event) if this black tie event is something you’re interested in attending in the future.

Guests were dressed to the nines and started checking in at 5pm. We were all greeted with the evening’s program book and escorted down the property to the event. Hor D’oeuvres were passed around and guests were welcomed to the self-serve buffet table which featured steak, salmon, roasted veggies, butternut squash ravioli, among other things. The ceremony began around 7pm and announced nominees and winners for various categories. Some of the guests in attendance included and Paul Reubens (Pee Wee Herman) and actress Bai Ling (The Crow).

The ceremony concluded at 9pm and guests were invited to enjoy the after party inside the Magic Castle. There were special performances in the various showrooms, a photo-booth, and complimentary desserts passed around. It was dare I say a magical evening and one for the books!

Have you been to the Magic Castle?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Makin’ It Work at FIDM’s Educator Day in Los Angeles, CA

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to spend the day learning about FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise), a premiere institute of higher learning for the creatives. I began the day at their Orange County campus then took a charter bus with other educators to their main campus in Los Angeles. The day was a packed one and, everyone and I mean EVERYONE (students, staff, visitors) was very stylish and dressed to impress. I was eager to say the least on what lie ahead.    

When we arrived at the LA location the FIDM staff gave us a personal tour of the facility and showcased a number of influential designers, including their own alumni Monique Lhillier, a prominent bridal designer based in LA. They also spoke about their eco-friendly fabric options and programs to help student gain real-life experiences. The main campus is also home to a rotating collection of garments and during my visit they had the original costumes from mainstream movies including: Crazy Rich Asians, Aquaman, Black Panther, Mary Poppins and Avengers: Infinity War.      

There were a number of guest speakers highlighting different majors and resources available to students and at the end of the night we were invited to “Debut,” an annual runway showcase to highlight some of the student’s collections. I was beyond impressed and could envision a number of the pieces and collections and felt as if I was a guest for an official fashion line.

If you were to design a collection, what would be your theme? I’d probably do an avante garde evening gowns with superhero color palettes.

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Venturing Beyond LAX and Trying Homemade Vegan Food in Inglewood, CA

I recently came back from a work trip to Michigan and while the food scene consisted of  lots of hearty American cuisine, I came back to California wanting something more light and natural. I found this Ethiopian place near LAX called Emma Habesha Restaurant and I was eager to try a beautiful platter of food filled with herbs and spices. On the outside the restaurant blends in with the building surrounding it and my friend and I actually drove past it (and it’s pretty easy to miss); however, once you enter the building you’ll realize that you’ve stepped into an African oasis.

Decor near the front

The interior of the restaurant had bright colors and while cozy and warm, the intimate setting was great for friends to chow down. The menu consisted of nine main entrees all served with injera – a sourdough spongy flat bread. After thoughtful consideration and seeing another patron enjoy a colorful vegan platter my friend and I were intrigued and decided to order that in addition to a lamb stew that was recommended by the waitress. Neither of us are vegan, but we were excited to eat with our hands and sample many different lentil, beans and vegetable flavor profiles.

Combined entrees

We knew the entrees were made fresh and enjoyed conversing with one another as we waited for our healthy meal. Since it was our first time I think they combined the two into one large platter. The Vegan Agelgil Fitfit (vegeterian plate $12) and Ye Beg Alicha (Lamb stew $13) were both wonderful, though the vegetables were definitely the stars! If you’re looking to incorporate more greens and non-red meat items into your diet the price-point is very reasonable and the flavors are incredible here.

After a long flight, what kind of food do you crave?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

The elusive “White Rabbit” found at Smorgasburg in Los Angeles, CA

Ever since Chinese New Year there’s been some a ton of buzz about the Wanderlust Creamery‘s White Rabbit flavored Ice Cream. The Foodbeast and Wanderlust collaboration (Primary Article) essentially broke the internet as nostalgia filled the minds of Chinese and Chinese Americans and curiosity peaked for Asians and non-Asians alike. Originally intended as a special edition flavor for the month of February, this highly coveted flavor may have a permanent home with the Los Angeles based ice cream shop and I got a chance to taste it on Sunday at their Smorgasburg LA pop-up shop in Los Angeles, CA.

Flavors at Smorgasburg LA

When this flavor first came out the lines resembled that of lines at San Diego Comic Con, yet people were willing to wait for a taste of their childhood. Thankfully, that was not the case for me as I stood behind 5 or so people and was able to lick my artisan scoop in no-time. The flavor is light and resembles that of an Asian inspired Vanilla profile. It definitely brought me back to my childhood.

Ube and White Rabbit Ice Cream

At $5 a scoop and $2 extra for a cone, this tasty treat is definitely a splurge, but it’s always fun to see exotic flavors incorporated into ice cream form.

How long would you be willing to wait to try this delectable flavor?

 

 

XOXO

Rockstar