Unicorn spotted at Candytopia in Santa Monica, CA

Boy it’s been a long time since I’ve lasted blogged. Life gave me some lemons, but I also had some wonderful adventures. My most recent one was super sweet! I was invited by Trip Skyscanner to check out a pop-up shop up in Santa Monica called Candytopia and I definitely give it a 10!

Candytopia Rooms

If you love bright colors and handmade creations this interactive art exhibit is a dream come true. Rooms have fabulous sugary themes and so many wonderful photo opts. I had a blast prancing around letting my imagination run wild and each room came fully stocked with various packaged candy to keep your sugar rush high. My favorite was the full size dark chocolate crunch bar – which I devoured – no regrets O:)

Candy made sculptures and oversized playground 

I felt like a kid in a candy shop and I’m so glad that I got to experience it. Be sure to check it out for yourself if you haven’t done so already – their last day is July 22! Tickets are $30 for adults and $23 for children age 4-12. You can purchase them here. Limit 12 tickets per person.

 

What candy creation would you be most excited to see?

XOXO,
Rockstar
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Tasting Fusion Taiwanese Cuisine at Tru Grits in Anaheim, CA

When I think of Anaheim I think of Mickey Mouse and tourists galore. Rarely, do I think about it being a destination for authentic ethnic food – let alone solid Taiwanese food. Yet, Celebrity Chef Theresa Lin recently debuted some of her signature dishes at Tru Grits so I obviously wanted to taste her creations. Good Taiwanese food outside of Taiwan is hard to come by so I was excitedly try some authentic dishes so close to home

Minced Pork Rice

Located inside the Sheraton Hotel, many guests wouldn’t think twice about a hotel offering tasty ethnic food; however, this branch deviates from that notion and dare I say the flavors are very comparable to a restaurant in Taiwan. The Taiwanese Minced Pork Rice dish ($9) was so simple, but packed with immense flavor and the Free-Range Hainan Quarter chicken ($13) with savory rice and pickled vegetables was so moist and tender. However, the signature tycoon beef short rib ($23) was easily the highlight of the night. When I cut into the meat, it just fell right off the bone and paired with garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus made it a complete meal. The value on this particular dish is very reasonable, without compromising the taste.

Hainan Chicken and Tycoon Short Rib

We ended our meal with some traditional American faire and the bread pudding with ice cream is a must. I’m on a low carb diet for 2018, but this dish is definitely a decadent and wonderful treat. The presentation is wonderful as it’s delivered in a small cask-iron pan, and the taste is equally impressive. Get this and you will not be sorry!

Bread Pudding with Ice Cream 

Orange County isn’t typically known as an authentic Asian cuisine location. I typically drive up to the 626 area for that; however, I’m happy to welcome a great local option that’s just footsteps away from “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Cheers!

Bread pudding is one of my guilty pleasures. What’s yours?

XOXO,

Rockstar

Me, Myself and Irene – 2017 in Review

When I was first thinking about this post I thought to myself – man… I totally bombed the “will write a blog post every-week” goal, I “should” be making more money, I “should” be blah blah blah..  but as I looked through my rolo-dex of photos I realized that I had so many cool moments and while I didn’t meet all the goals I set out – I did achieve quite a bit and “should” remember those! This was definitely the year of “Me, Myself, and Irene” from my “Diary of a Beauty Queen’s Food and Travel Adventures (Instagram)” to opening up to my readers with my alias as @TheGeekyGuide (Instagram) to launching my College Consulting By Yu Youtube channel (website), I’m three people in one!

@yurockstar 2017 highlights

As @yurockstar I finished my term as Miss Taiwanese World Queen and passed the torch (blog entry), and visited so many cool restaurants – the Exchange Restaurant being my favorite this year! (blog entry) – and festivals as media including the LA Food and Wine Festival (blog entry 1; blog entry 2; blog entry 3) where I got to meet Tyler Florence and Brian Malarky. I also got to be a guest on Gordon Ramsay’s “The F Word” and critiqued the competitors dishes.  2017 was also the year when I got to visit San Diego Comic Con (blog entry) for the first time and hear Disney Legend Alan Menkin perform his classic hits at D23 (blog entry)! I also bought an annual pass to Six Flags Magic Mountain (blog entry) and convinced four of my friends to go on roller coasters with me. On a totally random note – I also won a mattress from an Instagram contest through yelp, woot!

@thegeekyguide 2017 highlights

To be honest, I was kind of a closet cosplayer and nervous about cosplaying one of my childhood idols. The live action Wonder Woman movie debuted earlier this year and I felt very conscientious about wearing a corset, let alone portray such an iconic character. I was selected as one of Game Spot’s Best DC Cosplay at SDCC  and WonderCon, and featured on the LA Time’s “Why Cosplay as Wonder Woman” video. But more importantly, I loved when kids came up to me to ask for a photo opt – just to see them smile made me feel that that 2 hours it took to do my hair and make-up all the worthwhile.

I also debuted Chun Li this year and was invited to join a Street Fighter group! Everyone does such a great job in portraying their character, and they inspired me to revisit and brush-up on my martial arts and dance techniques. I also upgraded some of my Sailor Mars uniform and had a blast with various photoshoots with the Sailor Scouts and Tuxedo Mask! I’ve made so many awesome friends through cosplay and it’s always awesome to see familiar faces portraying different heros and villians.

@Yucollege/ College Consulting By Yu Video Thumbnails

And yes, if you can believe it this was also the year that I decided to share my counseling knowledge through youtube. It’s been on my heart for a while so I finally bit the bullet and launched the channel:  College Consulting Youtube Channel (Instagram). I created 10 videos ranging from Survive a School Shooting to the Common App Tutorial, and boy you can definitely see improvements from video 1-10. There’s still much work to be done, and my goal next year is to do 40 more! Won’t you come and watch? (youtube link) 😉

I’ve learned that no matter what goal you’ve set yourself up for that if you didn’t meet it today, tomorrow is always a new day. My Resolution is to make each day count. What’s yours?

XOXO,
Rockstar

Getting the latest scoop at the 2nd Annual Sino-US Cultural Industry Summit at the Beverly Hilton

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to attend the 2nd Annual Sino-US Cultural Industry Summit at the historic Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. This non-profit organization and industry event brought restaurateurs and media alike to gain insight on the future of the culinary industry. Topics such as “Culinary Industry Trends,” “Cooking in LA’s Melting Pot” and the “Culture of Sharing” were shared in three collaborative panel discussions.

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Panel Members: Lulu Powers, Alexis Readinger, and Theresa Lin

Guests checked-in bright and early on Sunday and were greeted with a spread of finger food and drinks. We then migrated to the main ballroom and listened to different members of the restaurant community on their perspective of how the cultural landscape evolved. Powerhouse Theresa Lin (Julia Child of Taiwan), Alexis Readinger (Hospitality designer), and Celebrity Chef to the stars Lulu Powers (Will Smith, Madonna, and POTUS Bill Clinton) spoke about their experiences and gave advices to other aspiring women on how to build an empire.

Panel Members: Amir Vahdani, Adam Fleishman, and Hannah An; Chef Nguyen Tran of Starry Kitchen and me

In another panel CEO of Umami, Hannah An of The District by Hannah An, and Director of Food/Beverage of Four Seasons explained how they utilize this new wave of marketing techniques and as well as the latest food trend to see for 2018. Both plant-based menus as well as a resurgence comfort food (such as fried chicken, milk shakes, home-made pho etc.) but with a twist, were heavily emphasized in this panel discussion as were a growth in fast fine dinning establishments – restaurants that give you a gourmet meal without the formal dinning experience.

What home-made type of comfort food would you be most excited to try when dining out? I’d love to see how restaurants will replicated BBQ shortribs!

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

Seeing the official Justice League cast at San Diego Comic Convention

I grew up watching Bruce Timm’s Justice League animated series and could not be more excited about a live-action movie. So, when I successfully got San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) tickets as a first time attendee (Read my first impressions here) I was beyond thrilled that the Justice League cast planned to do a fan autograph signing during the convention. While I knew that it was going to be near impossible to get their autograph, I  made it a top priority to snap some shots of the entire cast at the DC booth – even though I faced several roadblocks. It didn’t say anywhere on the program when they were going to do the autograph session and staff members were quite hush hush on the details.  Attending SDCC on Saturday July 22nd was beyond crazy. There were crowds of people and swarms of fans left and right. And of course there was a DC meetup so I made sure to dress up as Amazon Princess herself – Wonder Woman! I got to meet some incredible cosplayers and was interviewed by LA Times (here). They asked, “Why cosplay as Wonder Woman” and I was lucky enough to be one of the Wonder Women featured!     img_6372-1After the DC shoot, I heard rumors that the Justice League autograph signing was going to happen in the late afternoon. Because I so desperately wanted to snap a few shots, I waited in the DC booth with 300 or so other fans just to try to get a glimpse. I felt like a can of sardines, but it was incredible when they finally came out. They also dropped a new trailer moments before the actors came out and it was very apparent that the Man of Steel will not be absent in this film.

Which villain do you suspect will make an appearance in the live action movie? I’m hoping for Dark Side!

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

 

Day 2 – Wonder Woman rallies the Justice League at LA Comic Con

I can’t believe that the Justice League movie is coming out this week! (!!!!) I already reserved my movie tickets to watch it on Thursday night, but to celebrate I’m going to dedicate this week’s blog posts with all things Justice League – yay!!! So today’s post will be a throwback to when I cosplayed as Wonder Woman at LA Comic Con.

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DC Photoshoot and Cosplay Contest 

Saturday, October October 28th was epic on a number of fronts! It was the day when all San Diego Comic Con returning attendees entered the lottery to purchases badges (I’ll be returning! Yay!!) and the entertainment lineup at LA Comic Con was beyond amazing! My friends and I made sure to allocate enough time to get a wristband to watch a private Black Eyed Peas Concert and see Dwayne Johnson, more commonly known as The Rock! And of course we kept our eyes opened to recruit Justice League mini shoots! img_6342There were tons of guests dressed for Saturdays event and a designated DC meet-up outside the convention center. I got to hang-out with various members of the Justice League and strike some fierce poses with gang. Everyone was so nice and it’s great to see all the characters brought to life. I especially loved all the kids cosplays! The Batmans and Flashes were adorable!

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Stan Lee & Black Eyed Peas; Dwayne Johnson; DC Photoshoot; Cosplay Contest 

After the DC photoshoot my friends headed towards the main stage to catch a glimpse of the A-list celebrities. Stan Lee made an appearance when the entire Black Eyed Peas came up to talk about their new Alternate Reality Comic Book vision and “The Rock” one man act was a great closer for the evening. Afterwards my friends and I migrated to the Nova theater to see a front row seat at the Black Eyed Peas concert – but that’s story for another blog entry.

I think you all know who’s my favorite Justice League member, but who’s yours?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

 

Veterans Day Celebration at Hero’s Hall in Costa Mesa, CA

This past Saturday I attended the “Salute to Veteran’s” community event held at the OC Fair Grounds in Costa Mesa, CA. The fun family friendly gathering had a great turnout and there was live music and entertainment, bounce houses and free food for veterans. Additionally there were 70+ booths with information on services for veterans including employment opportunities, health screening among other resources.img_6235Many veterans attended the event with their spouses and kids and I made sure to shake their hands to thank them for their service. Yet, not all servicemen and women were fortunate to attend,  so I made a thank you card at one of the vendor booth stations as a small gesture to thank thank for their service. img_6236I had a great time looking at all the military vehicles and see our military men and women united with their families, but the moment that stood out to me the most was when I entered Hero’s Hall. There were so many powerful images and it reminded me on the sacrifices men and women make every day so that we can live freely.  Thank you for your service and may God bless you.

Freedom isn’t free – how will you thank a vet?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Day 1 – Chun Li takes on LA Comic Con

I’ve been on an enormous cosplay kick these last few months so it shouldn’t be a shock that I spent so many days portraying different characters throughout October. (Click here for more cosplay!) The week and weekend leading up to Halloween was beyond exhausting and I’m still contemplating how I lasted – ha!!  So, my apologies for being MIA on the blog, but lets get right to the good stuff! Here are some photos and reflections from Day 1 (Friday) of LA Comic Con formerly known as Stan Lee Comikaze!   Last year was the first year I attended this convention and for readers who are curious about what a geek convention is like this is a good one to start! It’s no where near as crazy as the famous San Diego Comic Con but there are a good number of vendors and celebrity guest attendees! img_6157-2Friday was a pretty low-key day where guests could focus on shopping and snapping photos of their favorite cosplayers. I dressed up as Chun Li from Street Fighter met up with the adorable Cosplay Parents. I also saw someone dress-up as Jem from Jem and the Holograms and there were a number of girls dressed as Cammy, making the Chun-Li vs. Cammy battle one for the books. It was great to see so many familiar faces at the convention and while my goal was to do all my shopping that day, I took a ton of photos with friends and fans. img_6167On the floor, Hot Topic sold four exclusive LA Comic Con Funko Pops along with other seasonal Pops at their booth. I successfully purchased the last Halloween Town Sora – isn’t he so kawaii?!

If you could pick any character to battle Chun Li would you pick?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

 

Newest healthy fast food trend at Ceviche Gloria  

Customizable healthy fast food is all the rage and with poke places poppin’ up it’s seems that the trend is really catching on. However, there’s a new healthy concept in the mix and I was invited to be among the first foodies to experience the next big thing! LA let’s welcome customizable ceviche bowls at Ceviche Gloria (Yelp)!Similar to poke bowls guest can select from a range of seafood options and mix-in toppings. Yet, unlike poke, which is rice and/or salad based, the seafood portion is substantially more generous and the highlight of the dish. Patrons have the option to add traditional ingredients such as octopus, fish, or shrimp or they can add exotic ones like abalone, and/or scallop – yum!

After the proteins are selected guests can choose various fruits and vegetables. I opted for tomato, mango, pineapple, cucumber, apple, avocado, then added their creamy chipotle sauce, a greek-yogurt based sauce – making it an even healthier alternative. Once all the ingredients were added to a large mixing bowl the chef tossed and moved the ingredients to a perfectly portioned bowl for me to enjoy. The ingredients compliment each other well and the price-point is extremely reasonable – less than $7 – that’s a steal if you ask me! img_6120-2They also serve some amazing fried tacos and bottled beverages imported from Mexico. If you’re a big coke fan you’ll love these bottle as they use real sugar cane sugar. Overall, I had a really great experience and hope that this new concept will flourish and grow. This particular location is based in a marketplace filled with shops galore and in the coming months I can imagine this venue becoming the next hipster invasion. But until that happens, this small hidden hole-in-the-wall restaurant has something for everyone.

Which would you order? A ceviche bowl or deep fried tacos?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

P.S. I reached 1000 subscribers on my Instagram and am throwing a $25 gift card contest! Enter here.

Warming up with Hot Pot at Tokyo Shabu Shabu in Monterey Park, CA

Food brings people together and with the weather cooling down it’s the perfect time to gathering around, and enjoy a warm meal shared among family and friends. Hot pot is one of the best ways to enjoy a roaring broth with protein and vegetables. At Tokyo Shabu Shabu (141 N Atlantic Blvd #100B, Monterey Park, CA) everyone can take charge in cooking their favorite ingredients, and this interactive meal is fun (and healthy) for people of all ages. You just pick up your item, dip it in the soup, mix it with your sauce and pop it in your mouth 🙂 Guests start off with a choice of one of their 16 broths and unlike many shabu shabu places they have some pretty unique flavors. They have everything from traditional Japanese dashi kombu boiling water to spicy kimchi to Tom Yum. I had the opportunity to try four flavors and the yellow curry was my fav – yum!img_6137They also have some really great quality protein including wagyu chuck-eye roll, certified angus beef rib eye, and premium Colorado lamb. And for the non meat eaters they offer a platter of seafood medley.img_6139Overall the meal was very satisfying and I had a great time with my foodie friends as we had an opportunity to try a lot of different items. There are three locations – Monterey Park, Pasadena, and Rowland Heights – spread across Southern California so hungry guests can get their fix for healthy and delicious food. (Bonus: They also offer Happy Hour too!) Eating healthy is one of the top new years resolutions, so why not get a head start and enjoy good company too!

Eating healthier is definitely one of my New Years resolutions – whats yours?

 

Irene Yu