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

The elusive “White Rabbit” found at Smorgasburg in Los Angeles, CA

Ever since Chinese New Year there’s been some a ton of buzz about the Wanderlust Creamery‘s White Rabbit flavored Ice Cream. The Foodbeast and Wanderlust collaboration (Primary Article) essentially broke the internet as nostalgia filled the minds of Chinese and Chinese Americans and curiosity peaked for Asians and non-Asians alike. Originally intended as a special edition flavor for the month of February, this highly coveted flavor may have a permanent home with the Los Angeles based ice cream shop and I got a chance to taste it on Sunday at their Smorgasburg LA pop-up shop in Los Angeles, CA.

Flavors at Smorgasburg LA

When this flavor first came out the lines resembled that of lines at San Diego Comic Con, yet people were willing to wait for a taste of their childhood. Thankfully, that was not the case for me as I stood behind 5 or so people and was able to lick my artisan scoop in no-time. The flavor is light and resembles that of an Asian inspired Vanilla profile. It definitely brought me back to my childhood.

Ube and White Rabbit Ice Cream

At $5 a scoop and $2 extra for a cone, this tasty treat is definitely a splurge, but it’s always fun to see exotic flavors incorporated into ice cream form.

How long would you be willing to wait to try this delectable flavor?

 

 

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!

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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

 

Not a game, but a hunt – Alita Experience at Los Angeles, CA

Does it bother you that I’m not completely human? — Alita. Over the weekend a few of my friends decided to head to “The Alita Experience“, a pop-up escape room that portrayed Iron City and other key movie scenes. We had a 4pm reservation and shortly after checking in we were joined by another guest to make up the robust yellow team.

Directions

Once inside we were directed to personalize our badge and head toward The Kansas, the local bar, until escorted to the main play arena. There were 5 other teams (with differing size makeup) and we were instructed to play at the different stations which gave us tasks to complete in order to earn “credits”. Some stations were more athletic oriented and others related to recalling trivia from the movie, and some tasks tested how quickly we could finish an assignment.

Me in robot gear

After completing the various stations we were directed at the end to place bets for Motor ball. Our team performed admirably and even took home the highest team score! We were awarded a priceless coin at the end and directed to the gift shop, which featured various robot gear.

In the movie Alita was willing to give up her heart, her most prizes possession? What item is most valuable to you?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

On a Roll with “Tasty Food to Go” in Long Beach, CA

Generous portions and an affordable price-point makes Cheap Eats one of my favorite cuisines as it’s good for both the tummy and wallet. I recently discovered this little hole-in-the-wall called “Tasty Food to Go” (2015 E 10th St, Long Beach, CA 90804) and loved everything about it except for the parking – the parking is atrocious, but definitely worth the fight for good eats!

Pad See Ew ($8.75 plus tax)

Recognized by the OC Weekly and Yelps Top 100 Places to Eat 2017 Edition I had high expectations for this restaurant. On the outside the restaurant is a no frills joint with an exposed kitchen and couple of high top counter space for patrons to nibble on their food, but as you enter you can smell all the aromatics making your stomach hunger for just a bite.

Menu and seating area

Most guests called in their order, but since it was my first visit I decided to see all their options and ask for recommendations. They make all their items to order and the portions are definitely abundant. My friend and I ordered the Pad See Ew and Crispy Pork and the former was a homerun. I think the crispy pork was a tad over fried in the 2nd entree, but the flavors on the sauce were dynamite! Another customer who was awaiting her order mentioned ordering the papaya salad prepared the traditional way as a must get – so I guess I know what I’ll be getting on my next visit!

Where do you go to get take-out?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Hogs and Kisses from Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, CA

It’s the Year of the Pig and it is lit at the Hsi Lai Temple (3456 Glenmark Dr, Hacienda Heights, CA). Decked out in all things Red and Gold the usually calm and serene Buddhist Temple is a site to see during the weeks of the Lunar New Year. There’s various lanterns strung throughout the temple, and an assortment of pig and zodiac displays for tourists to photograph and enjoy. While I’m not Buddhist I can appreciate the festive and celebratory decorations and the sanctuary is free for all to roam around. My friend also informed me that the temple has a very affordable vegetarian buffet for $8 that’s open to the public. I came after a late dinner, so I’ll definitely need to come back to check it out and hopefully be inspired by other vegetarian options to incorporate into my diet. After all 2019 is the year for a healthy body, mind, and soul.

What kind of changes are you making in 2019?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

From the Big Screen to the Big Office – Learning About President Ronald Reagan Legacy on and off screen in Simi Valley, CA

During my Atlanta Trip in 2018, I applied for an Annual Presidential Library Membership with the mindset of visiting several POTUS museums in 2019. I learned a lot about Jimmy Carter’s presidency (Jimmy Carter Post) when I was in the Peach State and now that I’m back in SoCal my friends and I took a short roadtrip to learn all about Ronald Reagan’s Presidency in Simi Valley, CA.

Oval Office Replica and Air Force 1!

This museum is located on top of a mountain and overlooks the valley. The view is quite spectacular and while the setting is very picturesque, the museum facility is very interactive and engaging. There were tons of short movie clips, physical artifacts, and they even have an Air Force 1 and guests could step inside and see what it’s like to ride like a VIP.

Exhibits

Reagan is probably best known as the actor turned president; however, he was one of three presidents (at that time) to serve 2 terms and is best known for helping to end the Cold War with the Soviet Union! I don’t think I could ever do something as brave as that, but I’d want people to know me as the adventurer who shared the world’s best hidden gems.

How would you want to be remembered?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Devouring Ugly Delicious Seafood Endorsed by Jonathan Gold in Pomona, CA

Mexican food and Socal are synonymous with one another, and some of the best are found in dingy hole-in-the-wall restaurants. During my Anime Los Angeles Trip (ALA Cosplay Post, ALA Ribbon Trading, ALA My Hero Academia Panel), I had the opportunity to try a variety of restaurants including amazing Indian food at Ashirwad the Blessings and one of the best burgers at Daddy O’s Rockin Cafe, but my favorite restaurant on that trip was Mariscos Jalisco in Pomona, CA. If you love seafood you’re in for a real treat!

Botana ($21) and Taco ($2.25)

With a 5 star review average on Yelp and listed on Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurant, I wanted to see if it’s as amazing as the reviews. With a shabby exterior, you would most certainly drive by and not think twice about going in; however, my motto in “Never Judge a Book By it’s Cover” is one that I always stand by. So, My friend and I shared the Botana ($21) a box of ceviche that included abalone, squid, fish, shrimp, and avocado with chips on the side as well as their famous deep fried tacos. The ceviche ingredients were very simple, but tasted very fresh and I devoured that taco instantly.

Tostado Menu

The Botana has the most variety of seafood, but if you’re dining here alone they offer personal size tostada’s with different combinations of seafood. This hole-in-the-wall restaurant truly is a gem and with 2 trucks and 2 brick and mortar stores.

  1. Mariscos Jalisco  – 3040 E Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90023 (Boyle Heights)
  2. Mariscos Jalisco  – 753 E Holt Ave, Pomona, 91767
  3. Mariscos Jalisco (truck) – E 10th St and Towne Ave, Los Angeles CA 90021
  4. Mariscos Jalisco (truck ) – S Figueroa St and 140th Street, Los Angeles CA

I’d totally make this my go-to taco shop if I lived closer, where do you go to curb your Mexican cravings?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

How much is that loaf in the window? Trying the Inland Empires Best Banana Bread

I love finding hidden gems whenever I travel and after some extensive research I found this business that sells homemade biscotti and award winning banana bread! Recognized as a neighborhood favorite Linda, The Biscotti Lady, is a retired healthcare provider turned entrepreneur with some serious baking skills.

Wall Motivation

On my visit I made sure to go bright and early at 8am to see the assortment. There were muffins, biscottis, loafs of banana bread with and without walnuts (also chocolate chip option available), and ample samples of all her products for guests to try. I really loved the banana bread and bought 3 loafs ($5 a piece) as they were super moist and had that homemade (not mass produced) feel. While the products are certainly worth a visit, I especially love Linda’s business approach. She bakes and opens shop part-time to keep the spirit of her hobby alive and doesn’t allow the business to consume and blind her from all the other things she enjoys like traveling.

Banana Bread Options

If you’re interested to see one of Inland Empires best kept secret you can follow her on The Biscotti Lady’s Facebook to see her schedule. For 2019 Linda informed me that she’ll opens at least once a month on Saturday morning and that she’s open for business TOMORROW (2/2) from 8am – 2pm (PST) or while supplies last. Pick up a loaf or two from 1102 N Euclid Ave, Ontario, CA 91762) If you’re looking to bring home a winner for Superbowl Sunday I think the honey jalapeno cheddar cheese cornbread muffins would be a hit!

What are you eating/bringing this Sunday for the Supperbowl?

XOXO,

 

Rockstar