The hours for my seasonal part-time job ramped up so I equally if not even more so busy than usual. My grandma also passed away this month so I had more responsibilities on my plate than usual. Regardless, I was able to enjoy a few indulgences to help me get through the month. Check ’em out!
The Blooms (Diamond Valley Lake): See a sea of beautiful wildflowers in the city of Hemet. Vehicle is $11 and $4 per person to see the blooms. It does get busy so plan to come early! Get more tips here!
Convention(Wondercon): Wondercon is one of my favorite conventions as there’s a great assortment of vendors, cosplays, and panels. It’s the baby brother of SDCC but for $35-$55 a day (or 3 day early bird for $120), it’s affordable and you don’t have to fight over getting a ticket. Learn more here.
Brisket Sandwich (Destination Smokehouse & Eatery): If you love meat you’ll love the BBQ at Destination Smokehouse in Hemet, CA. The Brisket & Cheddar ($14.50) Sando is where it’s at! Drool more here.
Disney themed facial (Fairytale Facials): If you love Disney and you want/need a few hours of pampering this woman owned business in Garden Grove, CA is for you. Treatment ranges from $150-$165 and I liked it so much that I already booked my next appointment. Read more here and see the video here.
2023 sure has been a wild year. I took on a seasonal part-time job (in addition to my full time day job) so I’ve been more occupied than usual to try new places; however, these were my favorites for this month and I hope you’ll check ’em out! Also, better late than never, am I right? lol
Boba Drink (Taty’s Speciality Coffee & Tea): I met up with a friend from out of town and Taty’s in Westminster, CA was a goof half-way point. The environment inside was very conducive to hanging out with friends, and/or working on a laptop with white noise. Boba drinks are roughly $4-$6 and there’s a range of fruity teas, lattes, and smoothie options. My go-to is Brown Sugar and their boba’s had the perfect texture. Read more here.
Hot Stone w/ Octopus, Vegetable & Spicy Sauce – Fried Rice (Gaenali Bon Ga Korean Restaurant): Read more here. I wouldn’t usually order fried rice at a restaurant, but this hole-in-the-wall mom n’ pop shop in Garden Grove, does a legit job and there are nice chunks of octopus in this one. This dish is $22 and definitely one I recommend to share. Read more here.
Bossom (Jong Ro Shul Lung Tang): Garden Grove, CA has some amazing Korean food and the Bossom at Jong Ro Shul Lung Tang is no exception. If you want essentially yummy Korean tacos (Bossom) this is a good spot to enjoy ’em. For roughly $40 this is a great appetizer or meal. Full review here.
I know this is the most late I have ever been with a monthly favorite (especially since this is more than a month late!). 2023 has definitely been kicking my butt, but I didn’t want these finds to not get their spotlight. I hope you still enjoy these recommendations and stay tuned for for Feb Favs!
Black Madonna & Monastery (Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey): Europe is rich with history, and I love seeing historic sites because it’s like you’re stepping back into the past. On my Barcelona trip my favorite attraction was actually an hour outside the city and located on a beautiful mountain top. Visiting the monastery and Black Madonna are free and while it’s a little out of the way I highly recommend visiting it. Click here to read more.
Convention (Anime Impulse, Asian American Expo, etc): I enjoy this Pomona, CA convention event since you can attend 4 different themed conventions for the price of one. Admission is $20 for adults. Read more here.
Calcots & Paella (Taverna El Glop): Everything I tried at Taverna El Glop in Barcelona, Spain was delicious, so much so that I went back three times in one week! One of the highlights was the calcots, which are Catalanian green onions that are blackened and enjoyed during the winter months (late December – February). I also really loved the paella and the black squid ink while it may look strange, was my favorite as it was super flavorful and rich. The rabbit and snail paella was also yummy, but honestly all of paellas are incredible since they’re all made to order. Read in greater detail about my amazing meals here.
Facial (Facial Lounge) : I rarely pamper myself but after a long flight from Barcelona, Spain I decided to try out a custom vegan facial at the Facial Lounge in Costa Mesa. Their original location is in Newport Beach, but parking is more abundant at their second location. A custom vegan facial will set you back around $150 plus tip (so this is definitely a splurge), but my skin felts so hydrated and relaxed. Read about my entire experience here.
Gaudi Exhibit (La Pedrera – Casa Mila) Adult admission was €35 for this Gaudi exhibit in Barcelona, Spain. It’s a bit steep as I think patrons would spend about an hour herel; but it is a really well designed whimsical building. It was one of my favorite Gaudi Exhitis on this trip! Read more here.
Mascarpone & Raspberry Croissant (Pasteleria Hofmann): I enjoy eating croissants, but the mascarpone croissants and raspberry croissants at Pasteleria Hofmann in Barcelona, Spain were out of this world. I went back twice (actually three times but they were closed on New Years Day) and each time there was a line out the door for these baked good. I think it was €7 for one which may seem steep for a croissant but it’s so worth it! Hofmann’s won Best Pastry of Catalonia in 2020, 2021, 2022 and it’s lived up to it’s hype. Read more here.
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!
Colorado is known for it’s picture perfect scenery, but when its came to food, I hadn’t the slightest clue as to what to expect. It was my first time visiting this state, so when my coworkers (who were based out in Colorado) made reservations to their favorite German restaurant I figured I’d be in for a treat! And right I was! Upon entering I noticed several awards and accolades and crossed my fingers that Edelweiss Restaurant would be all that and more.
Our party of 20 entered the restaurant and it was truly decked out in an old world fashion. It seemed as if we were were transported to a German square and I had major Pinocchio vibes. There were many wooden furnishings and while the restaurant was spacious it had a cozy warm feel to it. We were seated quite promptly in a long table and menu had many traditional offerings. A singer came by and serenaded to use with his accordion, as we were deciding on what to order.
After thoughtful consideration I ordered the Rahmschnitzel, a breaded boneless pork cutlet sautéed and topped with a mushroom cream sauce, house spatzle, and fresh vegetables, as it came highly recommend. Boy! let me tell you this is definitely not diet food, but considering I almost died on the Manitou Incline (Post here) I felt this dinner was worthy of the calories.I essentially polished off the plate and looking at my coworkers entrees it seemed that everyone enjoyed their meal as well.
Do you have a go-to entree when you eat German food? Schnitzel? Bratwurst? Something else?
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.
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!
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?
Al Tayeb Restaurant 873 Inkster Rd, Garden City, MI 48135 (734) 237-4606
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 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 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
989 W San Bernardino RdCovina, CA 91722
It’s not often that I travel to this part of Los Angeles, but when my friend bragged about this place in great detail I decided to see what it was all about. On Yelp FurnSaj Bakery and Restaurant is one of a few restaurants with a perfect 5 star rating and with over 700 reviews I figure it was certainly worth a trip to see for myself.
The restaurant is situated in a strip mall and while on the outside it looks like any typical shop this casual bakery has a great selection of Lebanese food for all to enjoy. My friend and I shared a lamb gyro plate ($12.99), which included succulent slices of lamb, two sides and saj bread. we could barely finish half and I ordered another cheese bread with honey ($3.99) because I was curious to test it out. There was way too much food, but everything was prepared on the spot so it was all delicious!
For less than $20 and two people can enjoy an affordable and tasty meal with ample leftovers. I can’t wait to come back and try some of the other labneh combinations.
FurnSaj Bakery and Restaurant
11146 Balboa Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 91344
Have you tried Lebanese food? What’s your favorite item?
Carbs are one of my biggest guilty pleasures, so you can imagine when you go on a keto diet and limiting refined carbs has been an enormous struggles. Nevertheless, I do allow myself to indulge in one of my favorite Cuban spots, Portos Bakery every once in a while especially if I work out extra hard. For the past couple of months if I completed 15k- 20k steps at Knotts Berry Farm (Walking off 12lbs post) I would use Portos as a reward for completing the arduous task.
Everything is baked fresh and no matter which location you visit (there’s five) there’s always a massive line of people waiting to select their items. I’ve gotten everything from pastries to sandwiches, to breakfast items to cakes and thoroughly enjoyed them, although my all time favorite item is their fried potato balls! I can never make a visit without eating at least one ball.
Southern California is super blessed with this bakery and the story behind their success truly is a testament to the American Dream. Rosa, the mastermind, immigrated to the United States from Cuba and used her baking skills to support herself and her family. Fast forward a few years and now there are 5 locations spread across Southern California
This post is long overdue, and while I can’t say I’m an expert in Sri Lankan cuisine I know what I like and Rice N Spice (Yelp) has successfully combined mouthwatering profiles at an affordable price-point for all to enjoy. It’s really the best of both worlds, I remember fondly after I had an amazing time at Wondercon (Batman 80th Bday Post, Dark Phoenix Panel Post, Shazam Advanced Screening) I was famished and wanted to end the weekend on a high note with some bold flavors. Rice N Spice did that and while it didn’t follow my traditional Keto diet (Other restaurant alternative: Sashimi Bowl post, Brazillian BBQ post), although they did have vegetarian options it was well worth the calories!
Located about 1.5 miles west from the Anaheim Convention Center, this hole in wall is a small, but clean shop with a buffet set-up similar to an Chinese or Indian fast food joint. You would certainly drive right past it as it’s tucked right in the corner of this no nonsense strip mall, but parking was easy and the hospitality was welcoming.
My friends and I studied the menu carefully and decided on the following: Godamba Roti $11.49 (House-made 1 egg roti and 2 godamba roti served with curry, sambol and choice of protein), Lamprais $11.99 (Rice simmered in brother with boiled-fried egg, eggplant mixed curry, fried shrimp sambol, pineapple curry with chicken, wrapped and baked in a banana leaf), and Kottu $10 (House-made godamba roti mixed with egg, vegetables and chioce of chicken, mutton, or beef curry).
They made my roti fresh and when it came out it was flaky and perfect to dip with the side dishes. My friends who ordered the Lamprais and Kottu were given beautifully presented entrees and all the dishes tasted just as good as it looked, although I think my roti dish was the best 🙂
I’ll definitely be back when I’m attending a convention in Anaheim. The food is plentiful and tasty and I always love supporting mom n’ pop shops.