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?




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?


Getting the latest scoop at the 2nd Annual Sino-US Cultural Industry Summit at the Beverly Hilton

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to attend the 2nd Annual Sino-US Cultural Industry Summit at 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.

Panel Members: Lulu Powers, Alexis Readinger, and Theresa Lin

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.

Panel Members: Amir Vahdani, Adam Fleishman, and Hannah An; Chef Nguyen Tran of Starry Kitchen and me

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!






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?




P.S. I reached 1000 subscribers on my Instagram and am throwing a $25 gift card contest! Enter here.


Warming up with Hot Pot at Tokyo Shabu Shabu in Monterey Park, CA

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!img_6137They 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.img_6139Overall 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?


Irene Yu


Comic Con Food Survival Guide – Be Efficient and Eat Well

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

My grocery trip for SDCC
  1. 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
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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)




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?





Nibbling at Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival

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.

Snapshots from the event

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.

Seafood and Steak noms

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?





Chowing down tasty noms at the Taste of Santa Ana

Over the weekend I was invited to the Taste of Santa Ana at the lot of MainPlace Mall in Santa Ana. I’d gone to this event in the past, but this year definitely takes the cake in being their best year yet! From the pumpin’ live performances, to the fun giant games spread across the event, to the delicious noms and sips, this event has grown tremendously, and I had a great time. There were over 40 different food and beverage vendors and they all gave enormous portions for patrons to enjoy. There was everything from burgers from Slaters 50/50 to tacos from Wokano and everything in between.

Snapshots from the event 

One thing that made this tasting stand out was the accessible price-point. There were many families at this event and at $25 for general admission, this AYCE extravaganza plus entertainment makes it an easy family-friendly outing for everyone to enjoy. There was so many options and my friends and I confess that I made extra rounds for dessert – The pear tart yogurt from Yogurtland was sinfully addicting as was the Italian ice from Mustache Mike.


Whats your favorite dessert?







Featuring US Foods and Food Fanatics LIVE Anaheim at the Disneyland Hotel 

As a foodie I’ve gone to my fair share of food festivals, but when I was informed about an upcoming industry event I didn’t know quite what to expect. Hosted by US Foods and Food Fanatics LIVE at the Disneyland Hotel, this annual food convention helps individuals from all areas of the food industry to network and get the latest scoop on the hottest trends. Guest were given ample samples of a variety of entrees, desserts, and garnishes, and I was lucky enough to cover the event with a wide grin and stuffed belly – all in the name of journalism of course. 🙂 img_2398When I first entered the venue I was overwhelmed by the layout. At the center there was a culinary demonstrations with industry-leading chefs on the Food Fanatics Stage as well as belly bars for guests to enjoy samples while listening to the lectures. I decided to venture toward the left side of the event and boy did I feel like I hit the jackpot – it was the protein station! 😀 img_2395-1There were refrigerators filled with beautiful meat cuts including: lamb, beef, and pork. I waited in line and saw the chefs cook and slice the meat right in front of me. Stockyards definitely produces premium cuts and on the other side was the seafood section. Salmon, bay scallops, crawfish, you name it and prepared in a variety of ways, fried, steamed… or in the case of oysters raw.

After I stuffed my face with pretty much every type of protein known to man, I explored the right side of the arena and made friends with some of the US Foods staff. I fell in love with Hope’s Cookies – you might have seen then in Boudin Bakery, or Bristol Farms if you’re in California. The cookies were absolutely devine! There was also vegetable dishes, pizza, and the list goes on and on. It’s really quite incredible to have a place where restaurateurs and chefs can collaborate and partner together on creating something new.

What would you be most excited to see on a menu?



P.S. I’m giving away two $10 gift cards for Miguel JRs on my Instagram account. Come enter here