Trying one of Granada Hill’s Best Kept Secret

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.

Lamb Gyro Plate ($12.99)

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!

Cheese Labneh Honey ($3.99?)

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?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Munching at the best Cuban Bakery in Southern California

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.

Enjoying the Portos Steak Torta with a side of Plantains

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.

Famous Potato Balls

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

 

Portos Locations

7640 Beach Blvd | Buena Park CA 90620

8233 Firestone Blvd | Downey CA 90241

315 North Brand Blvd | Glendale CA 91203

3614 West Magnolia Blvd | Burbank CA 91505

584 S. Sunset Ave | West Covina CA 91790

 

What’s your guilty pleasure?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

Walking off 12 lbs at Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA

For 2019 one of my goals was to slim down for my cosplays and while I’ve drastically changed my diet to include more fruits and veggies and consume less refined carbs, a major part of my fitness journey included regular cardio. I decided early on that I would become a Knotts Berry Farm Season Pass Holder (Peanut’s Celebration, Boysenberry Post) 1) because I love roller coasters and planned to take a trip to Cedar Point in Ohio later this summer and 2) since there are no blackout dates, I can go weekly (at the minimum) to walk around the park and increase my steps! The scenery is captivating and seeing physical landmarks pushes me to burn more calories faster, so Win-Win!

I found that for me taking a lap or laps around the park then rewarding myself with a roller coaster ride was a great incentive. It worked especially well after work on the weekday since the lines were very short thereby maximizing my play time at the park. When I’d go on the weekends (or when they had extended weekday evening hours) my friends and I would enjoy the Silent Disco Party or 80s Dance Party and dance to amazing tunes – all while busting a move and slimming down.

What’s your best exercise or diet tip?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Nomming on Glorious Home Cooked Sri Lankan Food with Fast Food Prices

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 postBrazillian BBQ post), although they did have vegetarian options it was well worth the calories!

Options to choose from

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).

Ordered Dishes

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.

Where do you like to eat after a long day?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

The BEST and Updated Birthday Freebie List – 2019 Edition

April is one of my favorite months because it’s my Birth month!! and to top it off many restaurants and businesses offer awesome freebies to celebrate. For two weeks and a half week I redeemed and compiled THE BEST freebies for you to enjoy! Listed in alphabetical order (with hyperlinks!) here are the best 35! Let’s get ready to rumble!!! 😀

AMC (Free Popcorn): AMC Stubs is free to join and you’ll get a free large popcorn. If you’re an AMC A-List or Premiere Member (both are subscription based) you’ll get both a large popcorn ($9.09) and a bonus large drink ($6.29)! Redeemable anytime during your birth month (est. value $15.38)

Arby’s (Free Sandwich with drink purchase): Join Arby’s Insider Program to get a free signature sandwich with a drink purchase. I choose the corned beef reuben ($4.99) and ordered a small fountain drink to qualify. For $2.25 the complete meal was a steal! Must be redeemed within the week of your birthday.

Burntzilla (Free Meal): On the Five Star App Burntzilla (in Irvine) gives patrons a free gold combo which includes a fountain drink, two sliders or mini hot dogs, and a choice of tater tots or french fries. This $10 value must be used a week before your birthday.

From Top to Bottom, Left to Right, : Wienerschnitzel, Arbys, Veggie Grill, Del Taco, Ulta, El Pollo Loco, Luna Grill, and Nothing Bundt Cake

Churned Creamery (Ice Cream): Redeem 1 Free Scoop (through 5 stars) the week before your birthday. I think it expires on your birthday.

Creamistry (Ice Cream):  I believe I signed up at their store for their loyalty program. You get a free Regular Size Ice Cream and it expires within the week of your birthday. (Est value $5.50)

Corner Bakery: (Free Baked Good): This staple never disappoints. Sign up for their eCafe list and the week of your bday you’ll get an email with a special code. I always chose their giant M&M cookie to take home. It expires a week after your birthday. (est. value $1.29?)

Daphnes ($5 off one item): If you sign up for Pita Points loyalty you’ll get $5 to spend on your meal. I picked the Falafel appetizer and paid the difference ($1.07). Expires a month after your birthday

Del Taco (Free Milkshake): Join the Raving Fan Club and the day before you birthday and they’ll send you QR code to redeem a free shake! The coupon expires with 1.5 weeks of your bday. I usually get the strawberry milkshake. Yum! (est. value $3.29)

Denny’s (Free Breakfast Meal): Flash your drivers license the day of your bday to redeem a complimentary grand slam. For my breakfast I picked hash brown, sunny-side up eggs, sausage, and a biscuit. Just be sure to tip! (est. value $9.99)

El Pollo Loco (Free meal!): Join the E-Club and enjoy your choice of “Original Chicken Tostada” or “2 piece fire-grilled chicken meal.” They’ll send you the email on your birthday and ask you to show the code on the El Pollo Loco App.

Flame Broiler (Metro Point): Through the 5 star app, the Flame Broiler in Costa Mesa will give you a bowl of terriyaki beef, chicken or tofu for free. Must be redeemed within 7 days before your birthday, although they may not participate in the future.

From Top to Bottom, Left to Right: Corner Bakery, Hot Topic, Dennys, Flame Broiler, Starbucks, Godiva, and Paderia

Godiva ($10 off purchase): Complimentary $10 for chocolate though they did change their policy and you are no longer able to combine it with other promotions. You can buy three bars of chocolate and pay the difference to use the entire $10 credit.

Habit Grill (Free Burger): Join the CharClub and redeem a free cheeseburger! Expires 3.5 weeks after your birthday (value est. $4.29)

Hot Topic ($5 Birthday Credit): Sign up for Hot Topic’s “Guest List” and earn a $5 Birthday Credit to use within a month of your birthday.  I signed up during my birth month I was also awarded a $5 anniversary credit. During my shopping spree I was able to combine both rewards towards a clearance sale and purchased two Riverdale sport bras for $4.31! Score!! Just be sure to ask the sales associate if there are restrictions during your birth month.

Jamba Juice (Small Smoothie): As a Jamba Insider you can redeem a small smoothie of your choosing. Expires 3.5 weeks from your birthday.

Juice It Up (BOGO Drink): In the Smooth EClub you can choose any drink for this great BOGO. I opted for the Bital Protein Blue Smoothie which tasted awesome and was so photogenic!

Kroft (BOGO Poutine or sandwich): On the 5 star app, you can share two very generously sized poutines. Cheese kurds and french fries? Yes please!

Luna Grill Free Dessert: Sign up for rewards and pick up a free dessert (no purchase necessary!). Expires 10 days after your birthday.

Meet Fresh (Free Mochi): Through the 5 star app you’ll be able to get a sweet treat with toothpicks to share. (est. value $5 )

Makeup Shack ($10 off any Makeup Shack Product): This is a new one that I discovered this year. I absolutely love their fake eyelashes and curated makeup selection. They carry many hard to find brands that I see at the tradeshows as well as their own products. I purchased a new contouring brush and paid the difference. I think about $1.50 or so, and it’s a great brush! You’ll sign up at the store with your phone number!

From Left to Right, Top to Bottom; Jamba Juice, The Makeup Shack, Souplantaion, Togos, Victoria’s Secret/Pink, Mimi’s Cafe, Creamistry

Magnolia Car Wash (Free Car Wash): Valid on your birthday (and I think the day before and after?) and must show id. Be sure to tip! (est value $16.99)

Mimi’s Cafe (Muffin Sundae): Grab a sweet treat at Mimi’s! Expires one week after your birthday and no purchase necessary, although this year I did have some problems with management accepting the email offer because there wasn’t a promo code associated with the email. Tread with caution!

Nothing Bundt Cake (Free Bundlet): Join the E-Club and get a free single serving bundt cake. There are many flavors to choose from and I decided to get the strawberries and cream – yum!

Paderia Bakery (Free Cookie): You may think that redeeming a cookie is no big deal; but this cookie is gigantic and reminds me of Levain Bakery in New York. So ooey and gooey

Pizza Rev (Free Pizza or salad) Sign up for Rev Rewards and you can choose any base including cauliflower (!!!) and add unlimited toppings. It expires a week after your birthday (est value $8.25).

Red Robin (Free Meal): I think this is the best deal of them all. A free gourmet beef or chicken burger plus unlimited fries free FREE! No string attached. Just show them your Red Robin’s Rewards Number (est. value $12.19).

Sephora (Makeup): Sign up to be a Beauty Insider and redeem a free beauty of skincare deluxe sample. For the month of April I picked up a jelly cleanser and cream from Drunk Elephant which will be perfect for my upcoming travels!

Souplantation (Free Meal): Join Club Veg and you will receive coupon for a free lunch with drink or a to-go combo #2 which includes a salad plate, two small soup containers, and a bakery bag (est. value $9.99).

Starbucks (Free Drink): On the app you will get a notification your birthday and a beverage must be redeemed on your birthday.  You can get anything and any size. I picked a Venti Strawberry Acai Refresher with coconut milk.

From Left to Right, Top to Bottom; The Kroft, Sephora, Stonefire Grill, Meet Fresh, AMC, The Habit Grill, Pizza Rev, and Burntzilla

Stonefire Grill (Free Dessert): Sign up for the Loyalty Card in person (the website was weird). Provide the phone number you registered with and you get a free dessert with no purchase necessary. You can select from their heavenly cheesecake or incredible carrot cake. I picked the carrot cake which was moist and absolutely delicious! (est. value $3.69)

Togo (Free Sandwich): This a great lunch option that you can take “to-go” Sorry I had to lol. Expires 10 days after your birthday (est value $9.24).

Ulta (Makeup): Sign up for a free makeup sample during your birth month. For my birth month they were giving out Tarte Lip Stains.

Veggie Grill ($5 Credit): They changed it this year to $5 off an item. I bought _________

Victoria’s Secret (Free Panty w/ purchase):  When you create an account they’ll send you a code for free panty with purchase. During my visit I was able to utilize their $10 sports bra deal and pick up a pair of panties.

Wienerschnitzel (Free chili dog):  Score a wiener dog. Expires a week after your birthday (est value $1.99).

 

If your birthday coming up? Did I miss a birthday freebie? What’s the best freebie out there? Comment below!

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

Taking Fresh Healthy Sashimi Bowls To Go in Fullerton, CA

Since starting my health journey I’ve been more intentional on finding restaurants that promoted clean unprocessed ingredients. I found a great breakfast (Blue Bowl Post) as well as a low carb choice (Silvas Fresh Eatery & Churrascaria), and most recently an inexpensive grab and go option! The Good Fish (1957 N Placentia Ave, Fullerton, CA 92831) is a fast casual chiptole-style restaurant where you can customized your healthy bowl to your hearts content, but unlike poke places you get slices of sashimi instead of bits and chunks of fish! Yum!

Customized Order Sheets

Once you enter the restaurant you’ll see a table with pencils and a sheet to customize your meal. I practically checked marked everything on the list as the toppings were unlimited and avocado was not an additional surcharge (unlike many other poke places). They also allowed customers to do half-and-half which included brown rice!

Sashimi Bowls 

I ordered a regular bowl which entitled me to three choices of fish and unlimited toppings. So I chose two portions of salmon sashimi and yellowtail, a ton of toppings, and ponzu sauce. At $11.83 this is a steal! and was perfect to take to go.

When you’re in a rush what heathy food do you go for?

 

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

Colorful pockets of Joy on the Cheap in Granada Hills, CA – Cheat Day Edition!

For the past two months I’ve incorporated healthier foods into my diet and have been very selective on the carbs I’d consume. So when I heard of Hopia, a popular Philippine moon cake-like pastry I crossed my fingers that they’d be worth the calories *SPOILER* (They were!) and with an adorable name like Hopia Like It – it seemed fitting to try it out. NOTE: I didn’t eat the entire dozen, but totally would have!

img_8077
One Dozen Hopias!

The bakery is situated along a busy street in Granada Hills, and patrons would need to find street parking. Once my friend and I found a spot we headed in and were eyeing all the rainbow color of pastries. They had all sorts hopias with different fillings, but I gravitated towards the colorful ones. At a little over a dollar for one or $10 a dozen, I decided to bring a box to a work event and they did not disappoint. Everyone LOVED them! Flaky on the outside and sweet, chewy goodness on the inside.

Hopia Were Here! (Play on words – Hope you were here) tehehe…

Personally I loved the Ube (Purple) and the Buko Pandan (Green), but you really can’t go wrong with any of them. I guess the one downside of this discovery is that it’s so far away from home. There are two Los Angeles locations (below) so if you’re heading towards the Reagan Museum or passing through these little savory or sweet treats will be a hit with anyone at your final destination.

Hopia Like It – Granada Hills
17705 Chatsworth St
Los Angeles, CA 91344
 
Hopia Like It – Winnetka
20171 Saticoy St
Winnetka, CA 91306

 

Which flavor would you be most interested to try? Yellow Mungo (yellow mung bean), Purple Ube, Guava (filled with guava jam), Nutella, Baboy (the original flavor filled with onion & peanuts), Buko Pandan (young coconut and pandan leaves extract)? Comment below!

 

 

XOXO,

 

Rockstar

 
 
 
 

Wandering through the Piñata District and Grubbin’ on Authentic Cheap Street Food

Earlier this month my friends and I tried out the Alita Experience, a pop-up escape room in Los Angeles (see that adventure here!) . However, we arrived at downtown LA a tad earlier than our scheduled reservation and decided to explore the area a bit. As we drove through Olympic and Central we saw what looked like a vibrant and festive street fair. Turns out we were in the Pinata District and even on a Sunday it was poppin!

Pinatas for sale!

We found free street parking and made our way through the district. There were many shops selling various party favors including candy, decor, and of course pinatas! There were also other miscellaneous vendors selling t-shirts and electronics, yet we were most interested in the food carts/stalls!

Tacos and Arepes

There were many stands selling traditional street food and everything smelled soooo amazing. Grandmas were hand-making fresh tortillas, sons and daughters were carving and/or cooking meats and many things were made to order. After browsing though a number of the carts/stalls we decided to dine-in!

Different Stands in the Pinata District

I was most interested in the bean and cheese arepe as I saw the woman mold and create each one. That stand also had a self-serve condiment bar with super fresh guacamole with the pits still in the mortar and pestle bowl and a ton of other toppings to customize your base. Man… with the melted cheese, freshly fried dough and textures of all the toppings it was a perfect meal and for a bargain. I think I spent like $3 and because it was the end of the day and they were getting ready to shut down the owner also threw in a free drink (Many stands were closing shop around 5:00pm)! I got the horchata while my friends got lemonade with chia seeds. Two thumbs up and I will definitely be back for both the food and party supplies!

When a piñata pops what kind of candy do you rush to grab? Krackle and Crunch are my go tos!

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

Breakfast? Snack? Dessert? Nutritious and Delicious Bowls in Huntington Beach, CA

I’ve been on a search to find other healthy options to incorporate into my diet and as of today I’ve found an incredibly fresh ceviche at Mariscos Jalisco and super flavorful vegetarian food at Ashiwad The Blessing.  Unfortunately, both options are more than an hour away from me so when I found Blue Bowl, a nutritious assembly-style bowl joint, minutes away from home I knew I had to check it out.

Small Bowl ($7)

I was picking up some food across the way and noticed the new shop. It was almost closing time and there were a ton of people inside so I decided to check it out – so glad that I did. The set-up is very similar to an assembly-line where you pick your base and your cup is handed off to other people in the line.

Assembly Line Set-up

On this trip I decided to go for a small with a pitaya (aka. Dragon Fruit) base with blue chia and freshly ground almond butter. Toppings are unlimited so I loaded up and was super happy with the result. It’s extremely colorful and tasty! Highly recommended and there are two locations.

ORANGE STORE
417 S. Main Street
Orange, CA 92868

Monday-Friday 7:00am-7:00pm
Saturday 7:00am-6:00pm
[ Closed Sunday ]

 

HUNTINGTON BEACH STORE
18051 Beach Blvd.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

*Soft Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday 10:00am-7:00pm
Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm
[Closed Sunday]

 

What kind of toppings would you put in your bowl? nuts? fruit? honey?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar