Foodie fun at the Los Angeles Times – The Taste (Saturday)

Los Angeles is well known for fantastic restaurants at various price-points and the LA Times did a great job to highlight some of the area’s best at their annual LA Times – The Taste event. I along with other foodie friends spend the Labor Day weekend trying different vendors (Friday‘s Post), and was especially excited since Saturday is known to be the day with the highest turnout and arguable the most variety of food.

Photos from Saturday’s The Taste Event

During this visit my friends and I made it our mission to try every booth at least once and while I loved visiting all the booths, my favorite item that night was the beef brisket that Chef Burt Bakman of Trudy’s Underground BBQ prepared during his Pop-up BBQ demonstration. The fried donut with ice cream from Eatly was my 2nd favorite thing there and hands down the best dessert option. I also had the opportunity to meet Jenn Harris, the new acting editor of the Los Angeles Times Food section and chatted with her on her vision for the year ahead.

More Photos from Saturday’s The Taste Event

LA Times Food Legend Jonathan Gold made an enormous impact on the food community, so it is without a doubt a huge loss for the Los Angeles community when he passed. Yet, his legacy still lives on and the LA Times honored his contribution at this year’s event with a mural and a huge displace of his 5 culinary commandments.

How would you want to be remembered?

 

XOXO,

Irene

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Getting the VIP treatment at Disney’s Exclusive Club 33

Disneyland is known as the Happiest Place on Earth, but did you know that it’s also home to one of the most exclusive restaurants as well? Yup! Club 33 is a private club with an initiation fee of $40k, $10k annual renewal fee, and a rumored 10 year waitlist! Whew! Talk about exclusive! Thankfully, a friend recently got off the waitlist and I was fortunate enough to get an invite to check it out!

Club 33 details

As a first timer I was extremely excited to finally see what this was all about. There were some strict guidelines on what we could photograph so I did my best to abide by the rules while also showcasing some of the details for you to enjoy. Nested right in New Orleans Square my friend and I rang the doorbell and were directed to the garden with a glass of ice cold water and a towel. It was so hot that day, so the gesture was greatly appreciated. We then took an elevator upstairs and were given a tour of the facility before being seated.

5 course meal

The intimate space was certainly very classy and the restaurant rotates its menus seasonally. The Summer 2018 dinner menu was inspired by Italian flavors and guests selected one item from each category: Primi, Insalata e Zuppa, Pasta, Entrata, and Finale, although I opted to forgo the Insalate e Zuppa section and doubled up on the Primi. Service was impeccable and the Sauteed Snow Crab Claws and Ahi Tonnato Carpaccio were the highlights of my meal.

Have you been to the elusive Club 33?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Living it up at the 2018 Lexus Grand Tasting (LA Food and Wine Festival)

Los Angeles is home to Hollywood stars, year-round summer weather, and some of the country’s best restaurants. So it should come as no surprise that the LA Food and Wine Festival is one of my favorite events to attend (See 2017 post here, here, and here) Not only do they serve from food from world class chefs like Aaron Sanchez and Antonia Lofaso, but over 200 of the best wines and talent rivaling that of the Food Network.

Food, Wine, and Friends at the Lexus Grand Tasting

This five day extravaganza gives foodies a wide variety of experiences to indulge in the countries finest and I was lucky enough to attend Sunday’s Lexus Grand Tasting at Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, where I got to stuff my face silly and meet celebrity chef Curtis Stone!! In his station he was shucking oysters for patrons to enjoy, gotta love a man who’s willing to get his hands dirty. 😉

More Sips and Noms at the Festival

Like many festivals that I’ve attended they were pumpin’ the top 100 music and served a huge variety of bites to sample including fresh sashimi, lobster waffles, macaroons among other fine dining options. However, what really elevates this festival is the fact that they have servers taking your plates away so the environment is always clean and spotless.

If you could have any celebrity chef make you a meal who would you pick? I’d love Alton Brown to make me anything!

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Summer Lovin’ at the Pacific Wine and Food Classic

Summer is coming to a close, but I’m incredibly lucky to live in a part of the world where in essential it’s beach season year-round. Pair that with an event that serves fine cuisine and drinks poured with a heavy hand and you’ve got yourself the recipe for an epic party! Thankfully, I was invited again to cover the Pacific Wine and Food Classic at the Newport Dunes and it certainly did not disappoint.

Food and Venue

Held outdoors right along the alcove, this annual event brings together some of Orange County’s finest restaurants and wineries for guests to taste the flavors of summer. More than 60 chefs catered the event using exotic and vibrant ingredients to create colorful and flavorful bites. Both carnivores and vegetarians alike would enjoy the event as there were plenty of diverse options to sample. My favorite was the Ponzu Scallops from Blue Water Grill and the mushroom taco from Taco Rosa. Although Flank Steak with Chimichurri and micro greens over a horseradish mashed potatoes from Texas de Brazil definitely was a highlight as well!

Noms and Sips form the Pacific Wine & Food Classic 

This two day all inclusive event epitomizes California cool. You’ve got a mixed cocktail in one hand the ocean, breeze flowing through your hair, Top 100 music playing in the background and tons of stations to sample creative new and/or signature dishes.

What would you try first? Seafood? Beef? Chicken? Drinks? So many choices!!

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Eating and drinking at the 1st Annual Brunch Life Fest in Long Beach, CA

Earlier this month I partnered with Trip.skyscanner.com to check out Southern California’s newest brunch festival – Brunch Life Fest!! Held outdoors at the Rainbow Lagoon Park in Downtown Long Beach, this one day event allowed everyone to enjoy some fresh beats, booze, and brunch!

Brunch Life Photos

With the sun shining brightly, many guests came dressed the part with floppy hats, sunglasses and hand with a glass of mimosa to complete the look. lol There were tons of bubbly drinks at the event so if you love your booze you won’t go thirsty here. Additionally, there were a number of fun backdrops for you and your brunch crew to strike a pose with your liquid encouragement.

As for food, Mussels and Pearls made some delicious fish tostado and La Traviata was pumpin’ out several different breakfast items including shortrib sammys, fried potatoes, and brussels sprouts! And of course you can’t end any meal without dessert! Sweet Nina’s chocolate chip cookies were so sinfully good.

img_0488As the inaugural event, I think this festival has a lot of potential and hope that next year they’ll invite a greater number of restaurants to come join the fun! One of which must prepare avocado toast! I mean brunch just doesn’t seem complete without this staple.

Whats your must have brunch food item?

XOXO,

Rockstar

Macchiato’s Hacienda Heights Location Grand Opening – Potted Boba Drink!!

The weather has been extremely muggy, and the heat doesn’t make it any better. Yuck! But I guess at the very least that gives me a legitimate reason to savor some sweets treats and Macchiato one of my favorite Taiwanese dessert shops is opening another location in Hacienda Heights  (15840 Halliburton Rd, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745)!!! WEE!!! To celebrate they’re giving away some goodies on Saturday August 11th from 11am-12am. See details below!

Potted Plant Drinks

The First 100 People will get a free drink; Next 100 People will get a BOGO Promotion (Same Drink); and if you miss those they’ll be doing BOG1 50% off all day. EVERYONE will be entered to win a Nintendo Switch! Oh!! I love how that sounds!

Charcoal Waffle and Sundae Waffle

They’re known for their Special Potted Plant Milk Tea ($4.50) and you’ve probably seen them all over Instagram or at the night-markets. In essence it’s crushed up Oreo cookies on top, with cream, and your choice of milk tea as the base. Super kawaii and a fun way to enjoy a cool beverage.

Be sure to pair your drink with some noms. These two are my top picks!

*Macchiato Sundae Waffle ($8.75) – Mochi style with strawberries, bananas, blueberries and three scoops of ice cream. Guests do have the option to order it crispy (which is a typical waffle), but the mochi style definitely gives the dish more flair. The chewy texture reminds me a lot of a traditional Chinese dessert and it’s beautifully presented. I ordered this at their Santa Ana location and the quality was consist here too! Loved it!

*Charcoal Waffle ($9.50) – A black waffle with strawberries and bananas paired with vanilla and Nutella ice cream and caramel sauce. I think this item is new because I didn’t recall a black waffle in the past. I wanted to order it as it seemed very Instagram worthy and to my surprise, it tasted really good as well! Photogenic desserts don’t always tasty as good as it looks, but this was the best of both worlds. It has a more cake-like texture with a charcoal aftertaste and goes nicely with the ice cream. Two thumbs up!

What will you be trying this weekend??

XOXO,

Rockstar

Macchiato Grand Opening – August 11th from 11am-12am – 15840 Halliburton Rd, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745

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

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.

Eating AYCE at Samba Brazilian BBQ Steakhouse in Universal City, CA

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.img_3629

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.

Whats your favorite cut of meat?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar