When you think of Cleveland, OH you probably think of the Drew Carey Show and maybe the Ohio State Buckeyes. It’s doubtful to even consider a predominately Caucasian area to be home to authentic mouthwatering African cuisine; however, after extensive research with many positive reviews I was curious to see if Kifaya’s Kitchen’s would truly be a diamond in the rough.
My friend and I finished a day of exploring Garfield’s Memorial (post here) and another iconic landmark that you will get to read bout next week (!!!) and eagerly anticipated our dinner. We drove up to the hole-in-the-wall with some reservations as the exterior evoked a Chinese take-out vibe. Nevertheless the philsophy of “never judge a book by it’s cover” could not be more true here.
The menu was very simple with one page of offerings. We wanted to sample their goat dish; however, they were out so we settled on a chicken platter with rice and vegetables. For $16.10 we were given this massive plate and a side of salad. The charred chicken was a little dry, but the vegetable stew mixture with their rice was money. My friend and I kept scooping spoonfuls into our mouths. It was so delicious I can only imagine how delicious the goat would have tasted, but we did come at the tail end of the night. Overall, this quaint mom and pop shop was a win in my book and I recommend for locals and tourists alike to check ’em out.
On my Facebook feed I saw video that featured an impressive spread of food laid across several banana leaves. There was rice, meat, fruit among other things and the video made me drool across my keyboard. I inquired about this custom with one of my Filipino friends and he asked if I was interested to partake in Kamayan Feast, also known as the the Boodle Fight. I instantly said yes!!
The video that I watched was a shop located in Anaheim, but this friend said that Nova’s Grill (Yelp) in Covina (while far) would be an authentic experience as he knew the owner and had visited in the past. And as an added bonus this boodle fight was basically $10 per person (minimum of 8 people). My friend make a reservation for 20 and we easily found friends to join in on the fun. We had two tables and were ready to devour everything!
The setup was quite impressive and for this location they gave every participate an entire fish! (!!!). At the center the table shrimp and sig sig (pork belly mixture) were communal offerings and lumpias (egg rolls) were scattered throughout the table. Initially I was hesitant on how to start, but after grabbing with my fingers, tearing pieces, and dipping them in the different mixtures was so much fun! There’s something really satisfying with eating with your hands and not worrying about making a mess. lol
989 W San Bernardino RdCovina, CA 91722
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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
Sashimi is one of my favorite foods. It’s both healthy and tasty, but often comes with a premium price tag. However, my good friend recommended this uh-mazing fish market – Yama Seafood (Yelp), which serves high quality tuna, salmon, yellowtail etc at a very affordable pricepoint making it the holy trinity meal (Cheap, Healthy, Tasty). As such Yama’s is on my regular circuit of places to eat at when I’m visiting the area.
There’s usually a long line at all peck meal hours (think lunch and dinner time rush) most of the week for Mr. Yama to cut the fish. He’s well known in the Japanese community as being an amazing fishmonger as he takes his time to carefully craft each cut and it’s definitely worth it. I think the two plates of food above was around $60 and super filling for two people.
The quality is very comparable to a $$$ Japanese sushi restaurant, but for a fraction of the cost since you’re not paying for a traditional dinning experience. Personally, I value quality food over a scenic environment, so my friend and I often take the styrofoam plate back to her place to enjoy at home.
911 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
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 post, Brazillian BBQ post), although they did have vegetarian options it was well worth the calories!
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).
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.
Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending one of the fanciest ceremonies to date – The Academy of Magical Arts (AMA) Award Show. This black tie event was hosted by the Magic Castle and recognized the contributions of magicians from far and wide. For my readers who are hearing about the Magic Castle for the first time, the Magic Castle is a private club housing magic performances from both local and international guests. Invites are restricted to members, associate members, and their guests; however, tickets for the AMA Awards were sold to the public around February (about two – three weeks before the event) if this black tie event is something you’re interested in attending in the future.
Guests were dressed to the nines and started checking in at 5pm. We were all greeted with the evening’s program book and escorted down the property to the event. Hor D’oeuvres were passed around and guests were welcomed to the self-serve buffet table which featured steak, salmon, roasted veggies, butternut squash ravioli, among other things. The ceremony began around 7pm and announced nominees and winners for various categories. Some of the guests in attendance included and Paul Reubens (Pee Wee Herman) and actress Bai Ling (The Crow).
The ceremony concluded at 9pm and guests were invited to enjoy the after party inside the Magic Castle. There were special performances in the various showrooms, a photo-booth, and complimentary desserts passed around. It was dare I say a magical evening and one for the books!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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?
Some of you know that I am a Knott’s Berry Farm Season Pass Holder (Knott’s Celebration Post) and one of the prime reasons for this year’s membership was to check-out the Annual Boysenberry Festival! Photos usually surface during this time of year and the vibrant purple hue paired with unique park food and wine always makes a bold statement, so I took the plunge and wanted to see for myself what the festival was all about. So strap your boots, we’re going for a ride! Yee-ha!
Held in the Spring for a little over a month the Boysenberry Festival features a wide array of seasonal goodies splashed with boysenberry. They have everything from Alligator Fries with Boysenberry Aioli, to Boysenberry Wine, and everything in between. The majority of the seasonal items could be found in Ghost Town, but virtually every part of the park featured some type of Boysenberry treat. I had heard some great things about the Jerk Chicken Wings with Boysenberry BBQ sauce and holy cow that Boysenberry Sauce is MONEY!! I kept dousing my chicken in the sauce and licked my fingers clean. You can buy the sauce in a bottle to take home or check out the Jerk Chicken Stand located Ghostrider. (Pro Tip: Yes the Season Pass Discounts applied for food & drinks – Cha Ching!)
While walking around the park I noticed a few people with mason jars of purple liquid. Initially I thought it was the boysenberry lemonade with basil, but later found that it was the Calico Soda found in the Calico Theater. It’s a Cream Soda with Boysenberry syrup. I don’t typically drink soda, but enjoyed the beverage and would recommend that over the boysenberry lemonade. And! it comes in a reusable container 😀
The festival is coming to an end on April 28 and there’s still so many things to try! Boysenberry Coffee?! Boysenberry Funnel Cake? What would you try?