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!

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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

On a Roll with “Tasty Food to Go” in Long Beach, CA

Generous portions and an affordable price-point makes Cheap Eats one of my favorite cuisines as it’s good for both the tummy and wallet. I recently discovered this little hole-in-the-wall called “Tasty Food to Go” (2015 E 10th St, Long Beach, CA 90804) and loved everything about it except for the parking – the parking is atrocious, but definitely worth the fight for good eats!

Pad See Ew ($8.75 plus tax)

Recognized by the OC Weekly and Yelps Top 100 Places to Eat 2017 Edition I had high expectations for this restaurant. On the outside the restaurant is a no frills joint with an exposed kitchen and couple of high top counter space for patrons to nibble on their food, but as you enter you can smell all the aromatics making your stomach hunger for just a bite.

Menu and seating area

Most guests called in their order, but since it was my first visit I decided to see all their options and ask for recommendations. They make all their items to order and the portions are definitely abundant. My friend and I ordered the Pad See Ew and Crispy Pork and the former was a homerun. I think the crispy pork was a tad over fried in the 2nd entree, but the flavors on the sauce were dynamite! Another customer who was awaiting her order mentioned ordering the papaya salad prepared the traditional way as a must get – so I guess I know what I’ll be getting on my next visit!

Where do you go to get take-out?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Popping some tags on NEW items in Huntington Beach, CA

Over the weekend I decided to check out a few local thrift shops to find some hidden gems. It was cold and dreary, but that didn’t stop me or other thrifters from scoring some major deals. I started my day at the Assistance League in Huntington Beach (Thrift Shop; 8071 Slater Ave # 145, Huntington Beach, CA 92647) and found this new with tags LulaRoe stripped dress for $8! They usually go for $40+ and I also scored a pair of new slacks (not pictured) for $12 (org. $98). I spent more than I usually do when thrifting, but all the proceeds go towards a variety of philanthropic programs, which is a win-win for me! 

LuLuRoe Dress and Banana Republic Jacket with Tags

Next I headed to Cross Roads Trading Company (19021 Beach Blvd, Huntington Beach, CA 92648), which is a for profit thrift shop. They had more trendy, day to day type of outfits available, but I found this Banana Republic Navy Blue Suit jacket for half-off their selling price and for a total of $13 – it even had the original tags that said $113 and fit perfectly on me! Score!!

Perfect Lois Lane Bag!

My last pit stop was at the Salvation Army in Fountain Valley (Yelp Page; 16119 Brookhurst St, Fountain Valley, 92708). This thrift shop has an enormous variety of items ranging from furniture to shoes. Additionally, the pricing is very reasonable and I found this near identical light purple purse to accompany one of my favorite cosplays – Lois Lane. And at $4.50 – it was well worth the splurge.

When you’re window shopping what do you tend to look at? Dresses and jewelry are my favorite!

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

 

Gigantic Japanese Sammy’s for Cheap in Fullerton, CA

Sandwiches are one of the best creations in the whole world and I was beyond excited when I discovered this hidden gem combined my favorite cuisine (Japanese) in one of the greatest lunch-time forms – the sandwich.  I’m surprised that I hadn’t discovered Mr. Katsu (3165 Yorba Linda Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92831) sooner as the price-point is very reasonable and the whole restaurant feel is very up my alley (kawaii and cute kitties galore), yet I’m glad that I did as it’s a fun casual environment to meet up with friends and family.      “Sandwiched” in an unassuming plaza, this small mom and pop shop masterfully builds various katsu creations and if you’re up for an Instagram-worthy and tasty meal get ready! The Habanero Pesto Katsu is their most popular item, but as a certified spice wuss I decided to go for The Original ($9) – with Pork Katsu, Cole Slaw and Katsu Sauce. The sandwich is no joke and thick cut of Texas toast with the crunchy slaw and juicy meat works so harmoniously together.   They also serve potato puffs which are crunchy on the outside and light and airy on the side – a perfect ball of joy, but be careful when eating it. I popped one in my mouth and just realized that it was freshly fried and almost burned my mouth. It’s super tasty otherwise and it also comes with a side dipping sauce.

What sides do you eat with your lunch?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Tasting the Best Banana Pudding West of the Mississippi in Long Beach, CA

At the tail-end of 2018 I had the opportunity to visit the South and sampled a ton of comfort food and decadent desserts and while the Atlanta trip had some truly divine gems (Droolworthy BrunchSublime Donuts, Soulful Supper), I was not impressed with any restaurants Banana Pudding. Thankfully, I found a Mabels Gourmet Pralines (625 Pine Ave, Long Beach, CA 90802) a local mom and pop shop in California that did not disappoint.   While Mabel’s specializes in pralines (and on my visit they sold out) they also highlight their Banana Pudding with the same care and prestige. The pudding is smooth and there’s fresh cut bananas and Nilla wafers in almost every bite. They use fresh quality ingredients and let me tell you the proof is in the pudding! I love supporting small businesses and I hope on my next visit I’ll be able to try the pralines!

Do you have a sweet tooth? What’s your favorite dessert to eat?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Devouring Ugly Delicious Seafood Endorsed by Jonathan Gold in Pomona, CA

Mexican food and Socal are synonymous with one another, and some of the best are found in dingy hole-in-the-wall restaurants. During my Anime Los Angeles Trip (ALA Cosplay Post, ALA Ribbon Trading, ALA My Hero Academia Panel), I had the opportunity to try a variety of restaurants including amazing Indian food at Ashirwad the Blessings and one of the best burgers at Daddy O’s Rockin Cafe, but my favorite restaurant on that trip was Mariscos Jalisco in Pomona, CA. If you love seafood you’re in for a real treat!

Botana ($21) and Taco ($2.25)

With a 5 star review average on Yelp and listed on Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurant, I wanted to see if it’s as amazing as the reviews. With a shabby exterior, you would most certainly drive by and not think twice about going in; however, my motto in “Never Judge a Book By it’s Cover” is one that I always stand by. So, My friend and I shared the Botana ($21) a box of ceviche that included abalone, squid, fish, shrimp, and avocado with chips on the side as well as their famous deep fried tacos. The ceviche ingredients were very simple, but tasted very fresh and I devoured that taco instantly.

Tostado Menu

The Botana has the most variety of seafood, but if you’re dining here alone they offer personal size tostada’s with different combinations of seafood. This hole-in-the-wall restaurant truly is a gem and with 2 trucks and 2 brick and mortar stores.

  1. Mariscos Jalisco  – 3040 E Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90023 (Boyle Heights)
  2. Mariscos Jalisco  – 753 E Holt Ave, Pomona, 91767
  3. Mariscos Jalisco (truck) – E 10th St and Towne Ave, Los Angeles CA 90021
  4. Mariscos Jalisco (truck ) – S Figueroa St and 140th Street, Los Angeles CA

I’d totally make this my go-to taco shop if I lived closer, where do you go to curb your Mexican cravings?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Kicking off 2019 at the Peanuts Celebration at Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA

Like most people I too wanted to diet and exercise more for my new year resolution, yet instead of solely going to the gym more frequently, I decided to purchase a season pass to Knotts Berry Farm as an incentive to increase my steps. At $200 for a Gold Membership, which includes admission to Buena Park theme park and water park, parking, and admission to other Cedar Point theme parks throughout the US it seemed like a no brainer and also a fun way to move more. There’s usually a theme each month and in January and February, Knott’s celebrates your favorite beagle with birthday decor and various photobooth backgrounds.

Sidewinder in Camp Snoopy

It’s been a while since I last visited Snoopy and his friends (at least 10 years), so when I bought this pass I found out that there were several new roller coasters added. Hangtime has a 90 degree drop and Accelerator (my favorite!) launches riders at 82 mph in less than 2.3 seconds.  Sidewinder is a crowd favorite, and while it’s located in Camp Snoopy it spins while you peruse up and down the tracks.    

Since I live relatively close my plan is to go at least once a week after work to put in my steps – one lap around the park then ride an attraction. If coasters aren’t your thing, Voyage to the Iron Reef is a really cool underwater shooting game. On my first visit I waited almost two hours and still felt that it was worth while.

What are some things you’re doing to live a healthier 2019?

XOXO,

Rockstar