Kimbap (Sodam): If you’re looking for an inexpensive, light snack the Fishcake Kimbap at Sodam in Dublin, CA will fit the bill. A tray of the homemade rolls go for around $7.50. Read about my entire experience here.
Baked Catfish Springrolls (Nam Giao Restaurant): Everyone inside this Garden Grove, CA restaurant was Vietnamese so I figured this was a local favorite. My friend and I shared a Medium Catfish (which I think was $40ish), though we probably could have gotten away with a Small, carved the flesh and plopped it into our Vietnamese burrito. Read full review here.
Fried Fish & Clam Chowder (The Codfather): My favorite find during my last minute Vegas trip is The Codfather in Henderson, NV. I ordered the Haddock for $12.50 and it was probably the best fried fish I’ve ever had. The meat was so buttery and the fried exterior has a nice crisp taste to it. Chowder was awesome as well. Read all about it here.
MediterraneanFood (Desert Moon Grill): If you want truly authentic Middle Eastern Food, Desert Moon Grill in Anaheim is some of socal’s best. I ordered a Mix plate which has a little bit of everything for $29.99 and it was devine. Read my full review here.
Blossam (Jangmo): If you want authentic and tasty Korean food, that’s not bbq and tofu, Jangmo in La Palma has some really great traditional comfort dishes. My favorite was the Blossam, which is pork belly and veggies. You eat them like a korean burrito. They’re meant to be an appetizer and shared, but I ate that as my meal lol. I think it’s around $30 for the plate. My full writeup is here.
Hotel (Madonna Inn): I’ve driven by the Madonna Inn sign several times on past roadtrips and decided to spend a night there to check it out. I picked the Wilhelm Tell Room, which has an apple motif and a rock waterfall shower (very very cool). It was $407.47 a night including all the fees. Read all about my experience here.
Smoked Tea Duck (Z & Y Restaurant): Located in SF Chinatown this Michielin recognized Szechuan restaurant has a fabulous duck that you have to try. The bird itself was $28.95 plus an extra $10 for the wrap and condiments. So worth it. See what other things I tried there as well here!
Strawberry Shortcake (Bakery 101): $55 for a 8 inch cake is on the high side for me, but if you’re looking for that not too sweet classy dessert to serve your Asian family and/or friends this will not disappoint. Located in Santa Ana (it’s very closer to South Coast Plaza actually), this Japanese French style bakery has some amazing cake! See my full writeup here.
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!
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.
$$ 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): 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.
Some of you know that I do a forty-day fast each year for Lent. I usually pick eating out as my sacrifice, but this year I wanted to try something different. I decided to give up meat and poultry (which started back on Feb 17th), but I will still eat eggs and seafood. So for this and next month many of my food picks may be vegetarian/pescatarian. But don’t fret, I will never compromise my reviews for the quality of taste and I had some pretty amazing finds to share (both food, art, and fashion). So without further adieu, lets see the Top February picks!
Number Cake (Sweets from Liz): Sweets from Liz (IG) is a home baker in North Orange County who creates custom sweets. I ordered a number of different items including her Micky and Minnie Cocoa bombs, and chocolate covered strawberries, but her Number Cake ($20) was definitely my favorite. The presentation was spot on and everyone in my family loved eating it. The cake was light and the berries were very fresh. I cannot wait for another opportunity to order it! Also, if you live in Orange County she delivers for $3! You can read all about why I was celebrating 8 years here.
Thrifting (Pick of the Litter): I’m quite picky about my thrift shops and “Pick of the Litter” was definitely top dog on my recent thrift adventures. Not only do proceeds benefit the humane society, but I really liked the assortment of curated items they had and the prices were very reasonable. I bought a hair of dress slacks for $2.50 and a gold formal gown for $5. See my full review here.
Fortune Cookies (Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory): I’ve never really liked fortune cookies since they often tasted stale, but these at Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory were freshly made and gave me a completely new outlook on what they were suppose to taste like. They offer a variety of flavors including Sesame, Green Tea, Strawberry, Chocolate, and their original flavor. I loaded up on a bunch of bags (roughly $6ish depending on flavor) to gift family and friends. Suffice to say they were all gobbled up. If you’re in the Bay area you should definitely check them out. They’ve been a huge part of SF Chinatown for the past 57 years! Read the full review here.
$$ Moderately Priced
Chicken Wings (Capital Restaurant): If you love chicken wings the Salt and Pepper Chicken wings from Capital Restaurant in SF Chinatown is the bomb. It is THE place to grab wings, and on my visit EVERYONE included it in their order. See my full review here.
CNY Macarons (Macarons By Natalie): I recently discovered Macarons By Natalie (IG), who is a home baker based in Oakland, CA, who specializes in character macarons. At the time she offered preorders of her Chinese New Year Macarons ($30) and they were adorable! She currently does local pick-up in the Bay area, but maybe one day she’ll do shipping or open up a brick-and-mortar. I stocked her IG stories and the brick and mortar dream is a very definite possibility! She does custom orders, but it looks like her $30 assortment boxes happen during major holidays so St. Patty’s Day and Easter must be next! Want to see what flavors you incorporated with her designs? Read it here.
Laska (Lion Dance Cafe): I’m usually suspicious on a hipster’s take on authentic cuisine, but with lots of praise from various press including the San Francisco Chronicle, Eater SF and more I was very curious to see what the fuss was all about. Lion Dance Cafe is known for their Shaobing sandwich (photo here), but I was blown away by all the complex flavors in their Laska ($16). Order open up on Wednesday for Friday, or Saturday pickup. See my full review here.
Pizza (June’s Pizza): $30 a pie is expensive especially when it’s all vegetarian. However, June’s Pizza (IG) uses the freshest ingredients available that week and honestly I didn’t even notice that it was meatless because it was so flavorful. Every week they have different “special” pies depending on what’s in season. On my trip it was butternut squash, ricotta cheese, and fresh cracked black pepper *drool*. It was so good, and when when I’m not doing a meat-fast I definitely want to go back and try more pies! It is somewhat of a process to get since they only serve 60 pies a day, but worth it! See my cliff notes on how to order and the full review here.
Crab (PPQ Dungeness Island: I haven’t had crab in a long time, but the crustaceans at PPQ Dungeness Island were top notch. At the time of my visit they did offer outdoor dining, but we had to reserve in advance. I want to say it was $60 a crab or market price, but the way they prepared it is definitely worth a visit! The Peppercorn and their signature “roasted” were my favorite, but click here to read the entire review.
Beskar Baby Yoda Doll (BeskarBabyYoda): Beskar Baby Yoda (IG) $249 + $20 Shipping. If you love “the child” Shawn is an incredible artist who really takes it to the next level. He does Baby Mando, Baby Boba-Fett, and Baby Armorer. He’s also working on Jedi Grogu now! You can see my unboxing video here to get a closer look at all the details.