Adventurously Eating African Food in Cleveland, OH

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.

Seating Area

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.

Chicken, rice, and veggie platter

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.

Kifaya’s Kitchen

3650 W 117th St, Cleveland, OH 4411

Have you tried African food before?

XOXO,

Rockstar

Forgoing the Fork and Knife to eat with my hands in a Kamayan Feast in Covina, CA

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 menu

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 Spread

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

Nova’s Grill 
989 W San Bernardino RdCovina, CA 91722

(626) 316-0595 

Have you tried boodle fight? What did you think?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

 

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

Nomming on my favorite healthy, keto, low carb and affordable food in San Gabriel, CA

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.

Salmon, two types of Tuna, and Yellowtail

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.

Yama Seafood
911 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776

 

Do you enjoy sashimi? What’s your fish of choice?

 

 

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

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

Boy! Oh Boy! Tasting BERRY yummy treats at the Annual Boysenberry Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA

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!

Boysenberry Festival Photos

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!)

More Boysenberry Festival Photos

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?

 

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