I didn’t really know much about Grand Rapids and as such I did not have high expectations on the food scene. However, to my surprise there were several restaurants that came on my radar. One of them was Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop, a small mom n’ pop restaurant specializing in homemade soups! They rotates twelve made from scratch batches and patrons can choose to enjoy alone or pair them one of their with gourmet sandwiches creations – yum!
The store is certainly eclectic and because the menu changes frequently all soups are written on a chalk board. The descriptions all looked incredible and as a first timer I didn’t know where to start. Luckily everyone is allowed to sample before making a purchase which is awesome since the flavor profiles of each were so different!
I eventually decided to grab a cup of the Reuben (stand alone) and Tomato Saffron to pair it with The Old Goat Sandwich (White Cheddar, pulled Mozzarella, and Rosemary Goat Cheese Spread). It was comfort food, but not super dense that I couldn’t move for the rest of the afternoon. They also have a sister store called The Electric Cheetah, which is more of a traditional sit-down dinning experience with a larger menu (beyond soups and sandwiches), if you were interested and just down the street, but this meal was perfect for what I needed.
While I was trying to stay away from carbs, I felt that my calories were well spent at Uncle Cheetahs.
What would be your cheat meal?
Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop 1133 Wealthy St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
911 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
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!
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!
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?
One of my goals for 2019 was to limit my refined carbs intake and focus on protein and veggies; however it’s been a challenge to find a restaurant that fits a more keto-friendly diet and is also both affordable and tasty. Yet, located less than a mile away from South Coast Plaza, Silva’s Fresh Eatery & Churrascaria (3672 S Bristol St, Santa Ana CA 92704) meets all the criteria and for a very reasonable price!
Nested in a strip mall Silva’s is a casual, but trendy buffet with authentic Brazilian faire and traditional and fusion cocktails. My friend and I ordered a caipirinha – a rum based beverage with lime and fruit and it was very refreshing. We then headed towards the salad bar to check-out their offerings. I loved that they use locally sourced organic veggies and how brightly colored everything was. The turmeric cauliflower and roasted broccoli were very simply prepared, but acted as perfect accompaniments to the protein offerings. I also tried some freshly fried Pao De Queijo (Cheese rolls) and while they weren’t on my “approved” keto-diet list, they were uh-mazing and I have no regrets poppin’ two – they were so, so good!
For meats Silva’s had beef, lamb, sausage, chicken, and salmon – so something for everyone, although I loved how moist and juicy the gaucho style sausage was and the leg of lamb was super tender. My friend and I came for dinner and at $26.95 a person seven days a week, the price is a steal for the variety! If you can come during lunch Monday-Friday the price is $22.95! Many other comparable places charge $50 easily!
Sandwiches are one of the best creations in the whole world and I was beyond excited when I discovered this hidden gem combined my favorite cuisine (Japanese) in one of the greatest lunch-time forms – the sandwich. I’m surprised that I hadn’t discovered Mr. Katsu (3165 Yorba Linda Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92831) sooner as the price-point is very reasonable and the whole restaurant feel is very up my alley (kawaii and cute kitties galore), yet I’m glad that I did as it’s a fun casual environment to meet up with friends and family. “Sandwiched” in an unassuming plaza, this small mom and pop shop masterfully builds various katsu creations and if you’re up for an Instagram-worthy and tasty meal get ready! The Habanero Pesto Katsu is their most popular item, but as a certified spice wuss I decided to go for The Original ($9) – with Pork Katsu, Cole Slaw and Katsu Sauce. The sandwich is no joke and thick cut of Texas toast with the crunchy slaw and juicy meat works so harmoniously together. They also serve potato puffs which are crunchy on the outside and light and airy on the side – a perfect ball of joy, but be careful when eating it. I popped one in my mouth and just realized that it was freshly fried and almost burned my mouth. It’s super tasty otherwise and it also comes with a side dipping sauce.
I love trying new exotic restaurant when I travel and on my recent trip to Pomona I visited Ashiwad The Blessing(post here) and had an amazing experience. Yet, some of my friends aren’t nearly as adventurous so finding a familiar alternative without compromising flavor and taste ranked on top of my list. I found Daddy O’s Rockin Cafe with a perfect 5 star Yelp rating and thought I’d see if this classic diner was going to be a home-run.
The menu was simple and focused on few items as they pride themselves in making their burgers fresh and hand picking their produce daily! Naturally, my friend and I ordered a classic cheeseburger and a side of crinkle cut french fries. The burger was delicious, my friend demolished his and soon after I as well. The cheese was melted perfectly and the patty is cooked medium rare keeping it juicy, but the real star was the bread. Oh lord! That bun was a little denser and chewier which really heightened my eating experience. The owner later informed me that they use a potato bun, which differentiates them from other burger joints.
The diner evoked American charm coupled with the rockin’ burger I definitely get this restaurant two thumbs up!
My friend and I were conversing with some Atlanta locals on their favorite restaurants and one gushed about Zunzi’s, a counter-served eatery highlighting South African inspired sandwiches. The concept seemed foreign to me, but with a Laotian restaurant standing as one of my top picks (Snack Boxe Bistro Post) in Atlanta , I was excited to see what Zunzi was all about.
While the sandwich shop highlights flavors from South Africa, the first brick-and-mortar location started in Savannah, Georgia (about 4 hours away). With an instant cult following, Zunzi branched out with a second location in Atlanta and I was informed that the masses have yet to discover the legendary sandwiches. On my visit, I was able to order within minutes of my arrival. Works for me!
There were 5 sandwich options and my friend and I decided to split one of their most popular one – “The Conquistador” with smashed avocado. To the eye this french bread and chicken sandwich seemed very ordinary, but the “Shit Yeah Sauce” was definitely anything but. It really heightens the sandwich experience and in many ways reminds me of Ike’s Place’s Dirty Secret Sauce. The combination of a slightly crunchy exterior and fluffy interior, with the creamy avocado, and tangy sauce gave so much dimension to the chicken and produce. Everything just worked so well together and my friend commented on how quiet I was during the entire meal. Lol
As of today there are two locations, but the manager of this location informed me that they’re planning to expand and potentially move out west. The establishment is the real deal, and if they open up a location close to work I probably would go here once a week, but you heard it here first!
When I think of Georgia I think of peach pie, fried chicken, and any and all good Southern soul food. Gosh, even the amazing brunch at Hen Mother Cookhouse (Stomach Souvenirs Entry) in Alpharetta would fit the bill. Yet, it’s hard to imagine that Atlanta would be home to one of my favorite ethnic restaurants – Snack Boxe Bistro, a Laotian restaurant focused on street food and one of Atlanta’s newest hot, up and coming restaurant.
I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical about trying Laotian food from a restaurant that seemed so far away from the country, but after hearing so many rave reviews I thought I’d check it out myself. My friend and I ordered the following items.
Mok Pha ($8) Banana leaf wrapped steamed herb fish
Beef Laap ($10) Minced salad with rice powder, kaffir, galanga, chili herbs.
And the verdict…
The Mok Pha was super soft and just melted in your mouth and the Khao Poon, a last minute addition was one of my favorite dish of my Atlanta trip! The were so many different textures and taste profiles that made the soupy noodle dish so complex and delicious. It was a little spicy, a little sweet and all the ingredients just worked so harmoniously. You definitely want to order the Khao Poon if you want an explosion of flavors. I’d love to try the cuisine in the motherland.