The Exchange Restaurant – New Fushion Mediterranean Concept in DTLA 

When my friend said that he wanted to eat Mediterranean food at a new restaurant in DTLA I was skeptical about driving from the OC for falafels and hummus. Boy was I in for a big surprise. This restaurant is an upscale fusion Israeli cuisine that uses bright and fresh ingredients for their healthy dishes. I’m on a diet, so finding anything that’s both appetizing to look at and to eat ranks top of my list (at least for now – I can be fat for winter 🙂 ).

Restaurant Interior
Upon entering you’ll notice the high ceiling and wood decor. It’s very rustic in nature and the natural lighting made it perfect to snap photos of all the Instagram worthy food and let me tell you the food not only looks but tastes uh-maz-ing.

My favorite dishes were as followed:
1) Pate – oh my gawd, so creamy and light. It just melted in my mouth. It was so luxurious without being overly indulgent. It’s really out of this world and you would be a fool not to order this.
2) Exchange Chraime – Presented in a pan filled with seafood galore swimming in a sea of tomato sauce. The presentation was on pointe, and tasted flavorful as well.

(Left to Right – 1st Row to 2nd): Pate, Exchange Chraime, Sweet Potatoe, and Olive Oil Cake 
3) Sweet Potato – I would hardly think that a vegetable could be a star dish, but this one definitely held it’s own. It’s roasted so it really heightened the root vegetables flavor and made a unique statement in taste. Super delicious!
4) Olive Oil Cake – OMG! I rarely order dessert at a restaurant, but I would definitely order this again and again. The flavor profile of this treat is moist and sweet, but not overly so. The  dollop of cream or whatever was on top paired with the cake perfectly. I’m a believer in desserts now!

img_5288-1Overall, this is a fantastic addition to DTLA. The atmosphere is beautiful, food is delicious and the service was on friendly and accommodating. Whether you’re planning to impress a hot date, discussing business, or going with a group of friends this is an excellent destination to enjoy a great meal with good company.

Which of the dishes would you be most excited to try?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Black, White, and Red all over – 2014 February Outfits and Events

Happy Lunar New Year everyone, albeit late, but better late than never! February has been crazy busy with events galore and all with red themes. So today’s post will feature a few of my favorite ways to wear this “not for the faint” color. Hope you enjoy the post!

Every girl should have a red dress in her closet and this little Betsey Johnson number is one of my favorites – purchased at a trunk show in New York for $20 new (crazy I know!!). It’s a showstopper number and I absolutely love the layered tiers and the crinkled texture of this dress. I paired with piece with pearls and nude heals, making it the ultimate girly ensemble (but with a classic twist). Photographer David Lin did a great job in capturing this dress in all its glory. Check out the rest of his work here.

Yet, a skirt can also be a stand-alone piece as well. I recently wore this beautiful Asian designed lucky skirt at Yelp’s Sweet Social event in downtown Buena Park, CA. I decided to wear it with tights and a slick black blazer to pull the entire look together and keep warm as the event was held outdoors in the Krikorian Metroplex courtyard. The Sweet Social featured local businesses from around the area and yelpers and guests had the privilege to sample various food and beverage items. My favorite items were the dole whip Berrysweet (yelp page) and the salted caramel ice cream made from liquid nitrogen from Poof Ice Cream (yelp page).  Mmm… yummy, delicious dessert indeed! Splendid photobooth was also present and we all enjoyed poising for the camera. It was a great event.

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The next day I attended a Matthew Morrison concert in Costa Mesa, CA. Name not ring a bell? Matthew Morrison is a broadway regular, but most people know him as the High School Choir Teacher – Will Schuester – on Glee. Ah, yes… it all makes sense now. He serenaded the audience with a range of show tunes and blue grass music that was to die for! Such a talented artist and you bet he gave us an incredible performance.

The concert was hosted at Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall (yelp review), so it was definitely a dress to impress type of soiree. As I looked into my closest to find the perfect dress, I pulled out this sparkly Cynthia Steffe number – it screamed “pick me!” so naturally I obliged. I paired it with a white tuxedo blazer from Aidan Mattox that I purchased for less than 1/7th of the original price (retail $350, Loehmanns $50) and my favorite red Revlon lip butter (in the color wild watermelon). I also accessorized my nails with my 1st high-end nail polish purchase from Deborah Lippman‘s glitter line (in the color Ruby Red Slippers) to help add a pop of color. Red is such a statement color and it could easily be one that completes an outfit.

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I love the color red as it symbolizes good fortune and can help anyone exude confidence.

How do you wear the color red?

XOXO

Rockstar

Celebrity Chef Giada De Laurentis Book Signing at Williams Sonoma in Costa Mesa, CA

photo 2I’ve always loved to eat, but I didn’t always love Food Network- now before you come and strangle me on how I could make such an outrageous statement, hear me out! I didn’t grow up with cable television, and I certainly did not know about a station dedicated solely to food. I was young and naive, what can I say?!

It wasn’t until I moved out to New York City for graduate school that I really got exposed to this culture and was drawn into it. On the hours when I couldn’t cram any more book knowledge, I plopped right in front of the TV in our community room and flipped through the channels. I started watching various programs on the Food Network and got hooked. Giada was one of my favorite tv chefs and I especially loved her radiant smile. Her exaggerated enunciation of words is extremely characteristic of her and she just seemed so down-to-earth. I loved her along with her chef buddies Robert Irvine, Bobby Flay, and Alton Brown on “The Next Food Network Star” and “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”

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While these shows were entertaining, I will admit that these chefs helped me momentarily escapes some really difficult moments during graduate school and refocus my energy towards good food and great times. A few years later I relocated back to sunny Southern California and while it’s a far cry from the mecca of eclectic food options in New York, my adventurous spirit still drives me to find some of So Cal’s best finds.

Recently, one of my yelp buddies informed me that Giada was going to be make an appearance at South Coast Plaza to promote her new book. I was ecstatic. This was not my first celebrity chef book signing (I have an autograph of Alton Brown’s Good Eats book!!), but I had no idea what this event was going to be like. I dropped by Williams Sonoma to pre-order my book (approx. $35) and inquired about their past book signings. I was told that though the event started at 1pm, fans start lining up at 8am! Now I wasn’t going duke it out with Giada’s #1 fan, but I’d heard horror stories of fans who came in late and not get to see their idol because the authors were shuffled off to the next book signing gig. Scary thought. Anyways, for my readers interested in participating in a future book tour (William Sonoma does a ton of them!) I decided to compile a short list of tips to help maximize your book signing experience, but minimize your spending. Enjoy!

1) Wear comfortable shoes because you will be standing the entire time.  This can help with bunion prevention and future doctor visits. I’d also advise wearing pants because you may be squatting a lot and doing that in a skirt or dress, just isn’t very lady-like 😛

2) Eat breakfast. Not only will your tummy thank you, but you will be much less inclined to make impulse purchases. While promoting consumerism is a noble cause, we want to minimize impulse purchases when prices are high. Yes, the food at the deli next door may look mouth-watering, but your wallet and stomach will be happy if you go to the event full and fully energized!

3) Bring water. You will want to keep hydrated

4) Bring something that can entertain you for several hours. I was able to write up a few yelp reviews for Portos Bakery (Yelp Review) in Glendale, CA, and Bonerts Slice of Pie (Yelp Review) in Santa Ana, CA. Feel free to check it out 🙂 I saw a few other patrons browse around the mall and came back with bags of goodies. Remember, when you’re bored, you’re more susceptible to impulse buying. Don’t do it!

5) Come early. Not only will you essentially be guaranteed a spot, but many businesses are not open yet and you’d be less likely to engage in impulse shopping.

What other tips would you find helpful to save money in an event like a book signing?

XOXO,

Rockstar

Celebrity Chef Giada De Laurentis Book Signing at Williams Sonoma in Costa Mesa

$6.95 AYCE Lunch Buffet @Vishnu in Irvine, CA

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India is such an exotic country and their food is just as (if not more) intriguing.  The bright colors and different spices make this culture’s food a fest for the eyes and stomach. So when I stumbled upon this little AYCE lunch buffet in Irvine on yelp, I could not have been more ecstatic, although the drive there was an adventure in and of itself! After driving loops around the industrial complex we finally found the restaurant- Vishnu (Yelp Review).  It’s definitely a no frills joint, and we helped ourselves by loading up our sectioned styrofoam plate!

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The selection was diverse with curries and other traditional Indian dishes. I’m embarrassed to say that my knowledge for Indian cuisine is rather limited, but I do know that each dish had it’s own distinct flavors and that the variety was incredible for a whopping $6.95 a person. I can’t even imagine how this is profitable considering the selection and how time-consuming it is to make all the items.  I’ve been told that certain dishes take more than 5 hours to prepare, as it needs to simmer to allow the flavors to meld into one another.

I inquired with the owner about his business and was informed that it had only been opened for three months (!!!) but that he’d been in the catering business for well over 15 years. He’s done events as far as Reno, NV and the Bay Area, so I imagine that’s he’s your guy if you want an authentic Indian feast in the Golden State (and surrounding bordering states).  The restaurant is only open Monday-Friday from 10:30-2:30 since evenings and weekends are reserved for catering gigs. Ah! It’s all coming together now.

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Lucky for me this little shop is not too far away. Muahaha… delicious food for a fraction of the cost, although, I am curious about his catering options. So if you’re in the market for authentic Indian, Vishnu’s Restaurant and Catering’s got you covered.

What’s your favorite lunch special spot?

XOXO

Irene

Sushi Lunch Special @Hashigo Sushi in Huntington Beach, CA

IMG_0742Sushi is one of those food items that is so simple and so wonderful. Unfortunately, many of the quality sushi restaurants are also an arm and a leg, which is definitely not a sexy characteristic. But alas, a fair compromise for quality and price could only lead to one thing- lunch special, horray!

I discovered Hashigo Sushi (Yelp Review) through a fervent search on Yelp and let me tell you this little sushi shop was NOT an easy find. But after discovering it nested right in the corner between the Java Cafe and the Bank of America, I knew that this was going to be legit. But to my surprise, this literally hole-in-the-wall, was ultra elegant and super chic. Completely caught me by surprise and I was actually nervous on whether a lunch special here would even be a worthwhile investigation… it was, but I’ve definitely been in situations where the restaurant appearance and food taste did not share the same caliber of excellence.  Yeah… not fun, but not the case for Hasigo Sushi!   Image

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I sampled the three cut roll special, complete with miso soup and salad for $10. It was a very filling meal and the presentation was impeccable.  This is definitely the type of restaurant I would take colleagues or prospective clients to impress. Everything was just awesome and if you’re in the Huntington Beach area, this restaurant is definitely worth checking out!

What’s your favorite sushi lunch spot?

XOXO

Rockstar

8 Course Yelp Elite Tasting @Yori Modern Japanese Restaurant W/ Yelp OC & Friends

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Tantalizing Menu!

I confess that I have been spoiled rotten with opportunities to sample some of Orange County’s best. As I had mentioned in my previous post that I was invited to a Pre-Grand Opening for Yori Modern Japanese Restaurant (Yelp Review) in Brea, CA. It was such an amazing event, though I’m easy to please if free food is involved. 🙂

Usually on these events we are given the opportunity to bring a +1, but on this occasion our Community Manager, Ryan, pushed us outside our comfort zone and assigned us to tables to make new foodie friends. Shout-out to my table buddies Minh D, Sarah S, and Quynh P and to all my old Yelp friends Minerva, Rodney, Steve, and Craig.  But let’s move on to why you’re really here- to see all the food porn!. Yum!

We started off with a Mango Ceviche and Shrimp Dumplings to kick off our feast. Mind you the first dish was to die for and I highly recommend diners to order this appetizer. So incredibly refreshing and the perfect dish to cool down on a hot summer day.  Following these dishes included the Grilled Asparagus, Heart Attack, Udon Salad (my next favorite dish!), Tofus Burger, Seafoodyaki Roll, and Cod Misoyaki all of which had excellent presentation and were presented to us promptly.  

UPDATE: WordPress is proving to be more difficult than I am willing to deal with today. So on today’s post I am going to upload all the beautiful photos of all the dishes. Once I become more comfortable with formatting I will further infuse my passion for photographer and journalism together. Sorry loves!

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What food item are you looking most forward to trying this summer?

XOXO,

Rockstar