Wednesday, December 28, 2016

For those in the know, a common fun Japanese snack is the Tokyo Banana! The first time I ever heard about it, I thought it was a frozen banana.  It's actually a banana cream inside a moist cake.
The cutest things are the packaging! I've seen the caramel ones with giraffe spots and now they have the hearts all over.  Leave it to the Japanese people to make everything super cute! It's almost too cute to eat! 😋

Friday, December 16, 2016

This is my first time back to Taiwan since I was 5 years old and I was super excited at all the possibilities! Needless to say I brought empty suitcases and filled them up to the brim before coming back! lol One of the places that I was most excited to visit was 7 Eleven as I heard it was completely different from what the US offered. There is literally one of these or another chain that is 24/7 every block or half block in Taipei, Taiwan.
I was happy to find out that there was one DIRECTLY across from my hotel and needless to say I was there every day at least once or more. The one thing that I was looking forward to the most was getting my fill on Yakult! I HATE that the US charges a ridiculous CRV on those tiny @$$ bottles, which cannot be recycled! I would be okay with the charge if you could actually recycle it. In Taiwan, there is no such thing as CRV and the drink is so cheap. It's only 8 NT and it was worth it! I probably drank over 30 of those suckers in the short week I was there lol.
The 7 Eleven also offers a variety of prepared foods and what I loved was the onigiris! Cheap and tasty. They are offered as combo meals too, but I didn't quite like the drinks so I just started buying them individually. The onigiris run about 25 NT, which is less than $1! Oh how I already miss Taiwan! lol My favorite flavor was the wasabi salmon.
Each store may offer a slightly different choice. Some offered tea eggs or odens, which was nice. You can purchase a wide variety of snacks and drinks. There are some great instant noodles that you can buy and immediately add hot water to and eat on the spot.
The fun part is you are 'rewarded' for shopping there. They have monthly programs of special items that you can purchase at a discount price once you collect enough stickers. Somehow in the short time we were there, we collected enough stickers and ended up trading it in 4 times to collect the item. Of course all the desirable items like the cute blanket and footwarmer were sold out everywhere, but we still chose something fun. Be sure to check out the 7 Elevens if you've never been to Taiwan. I already miss them! =9
7 Eleven
Lane 107, Linsen N Rd, Zhongshan District 
Taipei City, Taiwan 104

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cauldron Ice Cream is a fun place to try if you like Creamistry and egg waffles.  They have some unique combination of flavors but the most fun is having your ice cream served in a egg waffle cone that they call a "puffle".  The first time I came here I ordered the Earl grey lavender flavored ice cream and was a bit let down
This time around I brought Ms. Lin Guide and decided to give it another try as well as show her what a "puffle" is lol.  The batter for the egg waffle has improved from the first time I had it.  For our flavors we chose S'mores, mainly because it had a torched marshmallow on top.  How can you say no to that?  =D  It comes with chocolate ice cream and graham cracker crumbles.

For the second cone we decided to try the Sea Salted Caramel Crunch, caramel ice cream with bits of pretzel and sea salt.  This was nice and light, which did not overpower the puffle.  All in all we had fun and the puffle was nice and hot.  Honestly, the best part was the puffle.  The ice creams are just so-so but it is a fun place to hang out with pals or take people who've never been so they can try it out.

Cauldron Ice Cream
1421 W MacArthur Boulevard, Suite F
Santa Ana, CA 92704
Cauldron Ice Cream Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

There are so many brands of jerky out there and it is a tough market. Many artisanal brands have come out of the woodwork to compete. One brand that I particularly liked at the Winter Fancy Food Show was Perky Jerky. Their presentation was on point!
They made their booth so fun and interactive. The guy wearing the suit was so friendly and funny. I almost felt bad pulling the samples of him... almost! They had a bunch of fun flavors to try. Mine was the Beef BBQ Seoul. The flavors were great. If you like savory and sweet like Korean BBQ then this will definitely be for you. What I love about the product is that the jerky is soft and melts in your mouth. I don't like tough jerkys that will end up cutting the inside of your mouth or is so tough that your jaws get sore. Got to enjoy the jerky and all its flavor! Pick up some Perky Jerky and give it a try.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Ms. Lin Guide and I were down in San Diego for my birthday and my goal as always is to find a fun new place to try.  We found Grater Grilled Cheese Bistro nearby and I was sold as soon as I heard that they offered a Lobster Grilled Cheese Sandwich! Fair warning, Google Maps had some issues finding this place so call them if you get lost.  
Even though the grilled cheese sandwich was not as gooey as I had hoped, but the taste was great.  The lobster grilled cheese sandwich was made with their signature cheese blend, butter fried lobster, crab, and their signature Sierra Nevada pale ale beer chipotle aioli.  I have to say that they use some pretty tasty and hearty cheeses as their base.  If you like sharp cheeses and a stronger flavor, then they are definitely your place.  The lobster grilled cheese had a nice spicy kick to the palate along with the savory melted cheeses.  
All in all it is a pretty solid grilled cheese place.  My lobster grilled cheese was only $11.50 plus tax, which is pretty reasonable.  Of course you don't get that much lobster, but it was still very tasty.  I like that the toast was nice and buttery.  I would definitely come back here if I lived closer.

Grater Grilled Cheese Bistro
909 Grand Avenue 
San Diego, CA, CA 92109
(858) 490-2210
Grater Grilled Cheese Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, September 5, 2016

Looking for something new?  With all the new fads and twists on ice cream, Chelo Creamery offers a fun new style. They also offer gelato, Italian ice, and more but with their own little twists.  I've already been twice and still stick to the Chelos for now as they are fun to watch being made.  
There are not many tables inside and can get busy quite fast, especially if a bunch of people are ordering the Chelo rolls.  They can only make two at a time and it's definitely a fun process to watch.  It really depends on who is your "Chelo master" for how the end product comes out.  Some make really fat and big rolls, while others make it nice and pretty like a pirouette cookie.  
They offer a few fun pre-selected concoction and they were very accommodating with my substitutions.  I was surprised they even offer durian as one of the ingredients but it is only in the Downtown Funk Chelo with Durian and Coconut.  On my first visit, I chose this and substituted every ingredient except the durian! lol They were pretty nice about it and the durian was super tasty! I wish they offered it as one of the create your own ingredients.  Sadly, the picture was not as fun but definitely good to eat. 
The Chelo rolls are velvety smooth.  I like the taro because it is light.  For my 2nd visit, I decided to try the Red Head with Strawberries and Cheesecake.  This time I wanted a cool photo and decided that I would make no substitutions... the picture turned out well but I did not enjoy the taste at all.... =*(  As in life, we can't always have it all.  I would have rather had my random concoction, but the sacrifice was necessary for a good photo O=).
Chelo Creamery 
18558 Gale Ave. #158 
City of Industry, CA 91748 
(626) 965-5817
Chelo Creamery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

If you love the taste of truffles, then you have to try Luke's Organic White Truffle and Sea Salt Potato Chips. The aromatic fragrance will soothe your senses. I couldn't get enough of these at the Winter Fancy Food Show. It definitely is not the easiest product to find in the market but thank goodness to the wide array of online specialty websites that carry this product.

I have had many 'truffled' potato chips but none can hold a candle to the delicate yet sumptuous flavor Luke's has to offer. They really have captured the essence of the white truffle. It's not too overpowering as some of their competitor brands that over salt the chips. I can sit down and eat a whole bag in an instant! Be sure to look for this in the market or pick up a bag online to see for yourself. =D

Monday, July 18, 2016

Many people have been anticipating the Hello Kitty Cafe opening at Irvine Spectrum.  It's literally just a container with a few tables and some sweet treats plus drinks.  Beware : They tend to run out of items quite quickly and the lines can be long.  I even went about 1 hr after they opened and a bunch of items were already out.  My pal really wanted the Birthday Cake and it was sold out.  I wanted the Macarons and of course they were gone too.
Nonetheless there were still other items that I had not tried and decided to do a photo op.  =D  They had the simple Sugar Cookie Bow and Hello Kitty Pop Tart.  I wished they had the other cookie that was Hello Kitty's face, but the bow looked great in selfies around the station. =D  The whole point of coming here is for a trip down memory lane plus photo op!
They have a very limited menu that consists mostly of sweet pastries, coffee, lemonades, and teas.  Even the bags that they give are super cute.  The coffee are nice and strong in flavor.  I have yet to have the teas but they look good too.  So far I have had the Apple Pie with a cute Hello Kitty cutout on top that was not too bad.  Do not order the Strawberry Puff Pastry, there is no Hello Kitty anything on it and it was very bleh! Big mistake =*( The pop tart is decently priced, cute, and actually tastes pretty good.  They only had the mixed berry when we went and it was a good mix of sweet berries encased in a soft pastry shell.
Let's be honest, with the Hello Kitty name on top it is not a surprise that everything here is overpriced.  You are really paying for the cuteness and not for the taste.  That being said... I have been twice and still think it is cute.  One day I will get the two items we went there for.  Purely on the cuteness, I am definitely willing to go back.  If you are not a Hello Kitty/Sanrio fan... then this place is definitely not for you.

Hello Kitty Cafe
670 Spectrum Center Dr.
Irvine, CA 92618

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The photos for Zero Degrees really caught my eyes.  Since Ms. Lin Guide and I was in Rowland Heights for a meal, I had to stop by.  The craze now is to have glass bottles to take home and to reuse if you like.  Recently I bought my own cold press/slow juicer, these bottles really come in handy at home when I am juicing watermelons.  The only gimmick is that the glass bottles hold less liquid compared to their plastic cups, which I thought was a jip for the price you pay...
Hence I bought one bottle and one plastic cup O=D.  One souvenir bottle for each was enough.  They offer a very small menu to choose from with some interesting concoctions.  I decided to try the Matchata (Matcha + Horchata) and Strawberry Mojito.  Don't worry there's no alcohol and for those who wish they served alcohol, sorry!
The Matchata was interesting in taste as you can taste the matcha powder with a strong sweet horchata flavor fighting to be the strongest flavor.  If you like sweet milky drinks, then this is the drink for you.
I had high hopes for the Strawberry Mojito ever since TP's wedding.  The one at Zero Degrees was a little too sour and underflavored for my taste.  I want the strawberry flavor to really pop with the mint.  Their versions was really soda watery and sour... pass!

The best reason to go is to take the beautiful photos! I really loved the wings painted on the wall but it was really hard to take photos because there isn't much space between tables and the wall.  The place was packed and I didn't want to invade other people's space to take my photos.  Hopefully, you, can still enjoy the ones I took.  =D Cheers!

Zero Degrees
17575 Colima Rd
City of Industry, CA 91748
(626) 810-1714

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

My BFF highly raved about the Burger Lounge in San Diego and how her family adores the burgers made with grass-fed beef.  They have expanded and opened up shop in Irvine now.  She said that grass-fed beef would have a different taste and that it is an acquired taste.  I decided to get the Husky Burger with double grass-fed beef, double organic American cheese, pickles, fresh onion, lettuce, tomato, and house-made 1000 island sauce.  For me, I asked for the pickles on the side and for the beef to be medium rare.  I liked that I can choose how well done my beef is cooked because I like it more rare and tender.  The person taking my order did not ask me what type of cheese, but they have two kinds to choose from.  I had to do the Bacon Please! add on.  
All in all the burger was nicely presented and the bacon was bursting out.  The service was very friendly as you seat yourself and they came by often to check on you to see if there was anything else we needed.  As for the burger, I was a little bit let down.  Mine was oozing juice onto the only napkin provided and it was a bit greasy.  I am not the type to get my hands dirty so it irked me a little.  The flavor fell a little flat for me.  The fresh onions over powered the whole taste for me.  I only remember the taste of the bacon and onions.  It's a nice place, but I will unlikely come back any time soon.

Burger Lounge
8553 Irvine Center Dr. 
Irvine, CA 92618 
(949) 450-0440

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Welcome Whole Foods Market to Irvine! This will be their 59 store for their Southern Pacific region.  The doors open officially 9 am on Wednesday, March 16th! The first 300 people there will receive reusable totes and they will have a DJ throughout the day along with fun events.
They will have a new restaurant and bar area called the Irv that will provide delectable treats and drinks.  Here you will find their take of the Bloody Mary called the Chupacabra that will be made freshly juiced vegetables.  Perfect for St. Patrick's Day too!
At the Irv they will offer many refreshing cocktails made with freshly squeezed fruits and vegetables for a refreshing taste.  Patrons are also welcome to purchase the wine and beer from the store and enjoy them in the designated areas.
Feel free to try some of their unique dishes at the Irv.  The Charred Spring Onion, Shrimp, and Hummus Flatbread.  They also offer a beautiful Jalapeño Miso Glazed Halibut.  The Irv will be offering Happy Hour and specials, so be sure to check them out.
One of my favorite stations to stop by is Specialty, where all the fine cheeses can be found.  My new favorite item are the Parmesan Crisps.  They are to die for to snack on or adding it to any burger, pasta, or salad.
On site they will be freshly baking bread, cookies, and pastries.  Some cakes and desserts will be freshly made from local vendors.  The cookies that Whole Foods made were amazing and I love the huge chunks of chocolate chip that just melt in your mouth.
In the Meat and Seafood section, you can get freshly made poke bowls to eat or take home.  They also offer many pre-packed and seasoned fishes that are easy to cook and enjoy.
You can also find many pre-packed marinated meats ready to grill and eat.  I like the variety of flavors that they offer.
Don't forget to check their Whole Body section where they offer top quality facial, beauty, and body care.  Soaptopia has many wonderfully scented soaps! Not only are they visually beautiful, they can double as an air freshener.  The Hippee with patchouli has a great soothing fragrance.  Be sure to check them out!
Wednesday is also the start of Beauty Week and Whole Foods Market will have many products on sale for the new store opening and offer an extra 25% off on top of the sale price! Be sure to stop by and check out all the beauty promotions.  This Friday they will be offering a beauty bag for under $20 filled with their top selling beauty products that are valued at $80.  I may pick up a few just to try out all the great products!
Mark your calendars for tomorrow! March 16th will be the Grand Opening of the Irvine Whole Foods Market! There will be many special store opening sales that can't be missed! I am lucky to have joined the Whole Foods Team recently so I will be able to check out more of their wonderful products.

Whole Foods Market
8525 Irvine Center Drive
Irvine, CA 92618

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Union Market is a smaller version of the Anaheim Packing District and much less crowded.  There are many places to choose from to dine, snack, or pick up dessert.  I will have to admit that I cheated on my best bud as she recommended Crêpe Coop and The Kroft as an excursion for us, but I figured she was busy and went without her.  Of course as fate would have it, she suddenly had time and asked to go two days later.  I was caught cheating lol.
They are more located towards the center near the bar area.  There isn't a lot of space for people to dine in.  They have limited seats so it isn't a great place for big groups.  There are only counters against the walls for patrons to sit.  
The crêpes are made fresh and right in front of you.  They have a few pre-selected combos/flavors for you to choose from or you can create your own.  I am not a big fan of having too many items in my crêpe except nutella, condensed milk, mango, and blueberry.  You can ask them to make the crêpes extra crispy.  My crêpe came out to be $8, which is a little bit on the pricier side.  If you prefer more content in your crêpes, then you should choose from their pre-selected menu as those crêpes are $8.75 and you get a lot more ingredients including ice cream.
Crêpe Coop
2493 Park Ave
Tustin, CA 92782
(714) 259-1136

Monday, February 22, 2016

Tea Bar Metro is my new addiction.  I have been to the Tea Bar Jungle in Rowland Heights many times but recently I really like this location because they have a bunch of innovative concoctions that are quite tasty.  Warning : Their drinks are good but not cheap.  The good this is that they use these super durable cups that are almost like regular cups and they also offer a Yelp check-in for one free large drink upgrade.
Currently my favorite drink is their Orange Passionfruit Green Tea where they use real fresh squeezed orange juice that adds a nice refreshing flavor to the drink.  The Watermelon Slush is made with fresh watermelon and is very refreshing after hot pot or on a hot day.  I tried some of their other concoctions that were a little off for my taste, but interesting combos.  They have a Grapefruit Rose Green Tea and Lala Land Slush, which consists of guava and strawberry slush.  Each drink contains some fresh fruits.  The flavor combos were a little off for me but definitely points for creation! So if you like good tea drinks and are willing to pay the price, I'd definitely come here.  They also offer free wi-fi and have very friendly service.

Tea Bar Metro
18174 Pioneer Blvd 
Artesia, CA 90701 
(562) 865-0888

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