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!
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:)
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 themhere. Limit 12 tickets per person.
What candy creation would you be most excited to see?
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
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.
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!
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?
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!
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!
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.
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to attend the 2nd Annual Sino-US Cultural Industry Summitat 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.
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.
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!
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! They 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?
P.S. I reached 1000 subscribers on my Instagram and am throwing a $25 gift card contest! Enter here.
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!They 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.Overall 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?
As a foodie I refuse to eat bad food, let alone expensive convention food. But with long lines, and long days it’s often hard to go too long without eating, and packing snacks/lunch is not only economical, but also healthy. At the time I was dieting for my Wonder Woman cosplay, so my choices leaned more on the nutritious side. I meal prepped the night before and packed roasted chicken, sautéed spinach, and quinoa in my tupperware for lunch. I usually ate out for dinner.
But if bringing your own lunch is too much of a hassel consider these snack items to munch on while you’re in line – you kill two birds with one stone and you won’t be hangry 😛 So here’s my list of food to bring to any convention. For convenience I buy in bulk at Costco
Packaged Seaweed – Seaweed has great health benefits is low in calories, and is low in calories. It helps curb my craving for something salty and it’s packs nicely in my bag. I usually get the 10 pack at Costco
Clementines – Easy to peel and sweet to eat. You can bring them as is, but I usually peel two cuties and put them in a tupperware for easy access and nom on them during the day. They’re always popular and you’ll make a lot of friends in line. Who can resist?
Figgin Fruit – At first I was skeptical about these snacks, because the last healthy bag that I bought tasted just that – healthy, yuck! But this brand is actually pretty tasty. It’s kind of like one of those bars, but in a bite sized circle form. At Costco they sell the Fig, Blueberry, and Acai flavor in a blue bag. I usually grab a handful and put them my tupperware or bag.
Meiji Hello Panda Chococlate Creme Filled Cookie – To be honest, I bought these because they were on sale at Costco, but it’s the perfect portion to curb my sweet tooth and they’re individually packaged so extremely convenient as well!
Ready Snack (carrots, grapes, cheese, and pretzel) – This was beyond convenient.
What do you bring for snacks when going out? If you’re going to LA Comic Con this weekend be sure to say hi! Chun Li (Friday), Wonder Woman (Saturday), and Sailor Mars (Sunday)
When Harry Potterland officially made their debut at Universal Studios Hollywood I was beyond excited and couldn’t grab a season annual pass fast enough. After many butterbeers and attempts at perfecting my spells (I probably shouldn’t quit my day-job :P), I’ve often have worked up an enormous appetite. Thankfully, on the Citywalk there’s a great restaurant that will fill your tummy with plenty of protein options.
Samba Brazilian BBQ Steakhouse (1000 Universal Studios Blvd, Universal City, CA 91608) is a chain restaurant with tons of protein options fit for the hungriest carnivore. Conveniently located near the parking structure, tourists and locals alike can enjoy bold flavors of your favorite cuts right in front of you. While many restaurant bring you a steak plate, the servers at this establishment come around with a stick of meat and carve you a slice right in front of you. Talk about service!
They have all sorts of meat options ranging from top Sirloin to tri-tip, to bacon-wrapped chicken, to pork lion and pork ribs – though the lamb was my favorite. They also have a salad bar to pair with your meat options, and pairing the savory steak with plantains is a great contrast of textures and flavors! Additionally, there’s samba performers that come to entertain guests. So, if you’re looking for a cool spot to chow down, Samba will fit the bill.
When I lived in Glendale I use to visit Eagle Rock frequently. Highland Theater (Yelp) played new movie release for $5 movies on Tuesdays/Wednesday and my friend and I would often eat at Folliero’s (Yelp) afterwards. However, the surrounding area lacked authentic East Asian options and I often found myself driving 30-45 minutes away to Monterrey Park or San Gabriel when I craved Chinese food or drinks. *cries* Recently Eagle Rock welcomed Bobalicious (Yelp), a bubble tea shop, that serves refreshing drinks at affordable prices.
The shop is located in an unassuming strip mall, but once you enter you’ll be floored by the enormous teddy bear and bright pink decor. I decided to order a strawberry yogurt drink with agar and found it to be a great sweet treat. I also took a sip of my friend’s cucumber drink with boba, and loved how light and refreshing it was. The size of the beverage is almost twice that of a typical boba tea shop and for $4 is a bargain. They also serve snacks in containers that fit on top of your drink, which makes it convenient should you need to grab and go. However, if you decide to sit and chat with some friends at their shop their taste in music is on point. There were playing 90s music on my visit and everything on their playlist reminded me of the good ole days.
When I first started attending tastings I remembered the Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival setting the bar of how all food festivals should be – refined and elegant, but casual and relaxed, all while highlighting the dishes as the stars of the show. I remembered each bite bringing together a myriad of bright fresh ingredients with complex flavors. This festival has since become a household name and this year’s increase in guest attendees reflects it’s popularity. I had the opportunity to attend the event again this year and the culinary lineup for 2017 was equally spectacular.
During Sunday’s tasting my plus one and I enjoyed the finer things in life and indulged in so many delicious tastes. Many of Southern California’s most esteemed fined dinning establishments were present including Pelican Grill and Bar, Red O-Restaurant, and Alexander’s Steakhouse just to name a few and there was an abundance of seafood and steak options. If you love wine there’s not better place to sample so many different varieties, though I fancied the Kentucky Straight from Duke Bourbon. There was also a cooking demonstration by Top Chef contestants Chef Amar Santana and Katsuji Tanabe and viewers had an opportunity to sample their version of arroz con pollo. It was hilarious to see those two banter back and forth.
If you love seafood and steak, this event harmoniously brings two of my favorite proteins together with class and style. While many vendors offered them prepared in a variety of manners – marinated with secret ingredients, roasted, fried, my favorite dish was the Baja cocktail served in a tin-can from A&O Kitchen and Bar. It was simple, but the large chunks of charred squid and shrimp paired with the creaminess of the avocado on a crunchy tortilla chip just made it a perfect afternoon bite. It reminded me how good squid tastes and how infrequent I eat it.
If you could have a festival featuring your favorite protein exclusively what would you choose?