Chowing Down on one of the Best All American Classics in Upland, CA

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.

Cheeseburger

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!

Where would you go to feed a picky eater?

 

XOXO,

 

Rockstar

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Biting into Explosive Flavors at the Best Deli – Zunzi’s in Atlanta, Georgia

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.

Menu and Drinks

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!

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The Conquistador with avocado (extra)

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!

What your go to sandwich order?

 

 

XOXO,

 

Rockstar

Sampling Street Snacks at Snack Boxe Bistro in Atlanta, GA

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.

(Front: Beef Laap; Back: Mok Pha and Khao Poon)

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

Khao Poon ($9) Red curry pork vermicelli noodle soup (available weekends only)

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.

What country’s food would you be eager to try?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

 

Roasting and Toasting at the LA Times The Taste Costa Mesa (Sunday)

The Los Angeles Times always puts on a fantastic Tasting Event and the last day in Costa Mesa was no different.  The three day inaugural festival closed out on Sunday and the feel was casual and light-hearted compared to Saturday’s peak attendance (Day 2).

Photos from Sunday’s Taste Event

With the event starting mid-day, I was able to better appreciate the presentation and beauty of all the offerings. I noticed more details of the decor outside of the food tents especially the fruit platter near the OC Fairgrounds Table. There was also a booth that was hand pouring candles and other vendors giving out swag that I missed on Saturday (gardening gloves, t-shirts, hats etc) – so I definitely loaded up! I guess you don’t know what you missed if you didn’t see it! lol

More photos from Sundays Taste Event

One of the highlights of the day was getting to talk to one of the Fashion Editors and discuss current and upcoming trends. Apparently, velvet is really in as is the color ultra violet. He also mentioned that they may do a LA Times Fashion and Food event in the future – how cool would that be?!

What’s your favorite section to read in the news? Food? Fashion? Local? Comment below.

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

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.

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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!

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

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.

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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.

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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?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Taking Over the Taste of Lake Forest and Miguels JR Gift Card Winners Selected!

I don’t frequent the South OC Shop often, so when I was invited to attend the 6th annual Taste of Lake Forest this past Sunday I was curious to see their offering. I saw many soccer type moms with children at this event and the palm trees and bright sunny afternoon made it a fun family event for people of all ages to enjoy. One element of this tasting that’s different from other tastings I’ve attended in the past is how guests play an active role in selecting their favorite restaurant at The Taste of Lake Forest. With a map in one hand and a guide of all the participating restaurants, my guest and I went down the rows to sample each restaurants offerings to see which was our favorite.

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Tastes at the Taste of Lake Forest

There were many familiar restaurants and businesses that participated in the event including: Mimi’s Cafe, Pick Up Stix, and Jamba Juice just to name a few. Yet, my favorite was definitely Tito’s carnitas tacos with cabbage. It was juicy and the the tostado was a good solid base to carry this substantial bite. Miguel JRs was also present at the event, which is the perfect segway to introduce my Gift Card Winners. Drum roll please…. Congratulations Jean L and Lisa! Please email me at yurockstar4life@gmail.com by Friday September 29th to claim your prize!

Didn’t win this time? Don’t worry! I will throw another Miguel’s JR Giftcard giveaway on my Instagram account for another opportunity to win! Pst… there’s a good chance that it may be on Friday *wink wink*

Whats your criteria when judging a food competition?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Celebrating Miguels JR Grand Opening in Huntington Beach Plus GIVEAWAYS!!!

Huntington Beach is one of my favorite cities in Orange County. With the beach just footsteps away the ocean breeze blowing through your hair and people walking around in their favorite sunglasses and rainbow sandals the city evokes the quintessential Southern California lifestyle. Recently, Huntington Beach welcomed a new quick bite diner to Surf City, Miguel’s JR, a casual Mexican restaurant and celebrated Southern California staple. I attended their Grand Opening alongside prominent members of the community to welcome this new business.

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Grand Opening Ceremony and Celebration
The ceremony was an intimate one; however, several city council representatives came to present awards of recognition and to congratulate Miguel’s Jr owner. With 21 locations across Southern California Miguel’s JR roots lie in delivering fresh California Mexican cuisine in an inviting environment. The accessible price-point and counter-to-pickup model makes it an experience for people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy. They have burritos, tacos, various combination plates and breakfast items too! I ordered the Carne Asada Taco Salad and that entree alone could feed several individuals.

I had a great time and want to share the wealth – so I’m throwing a GIVEAWAY!!! through all my social media accounts throughout the month! This week I will give two $10 Giftcards for my blog fans!

To enter (Southern California Residents Only):

  1. Follow http://www.yurockstar.com – top right side of the website on desktop and all the way to the bottom on your mobile device (it’s free!)
  2. Write a comment below on what you’re most excited to try – Taco? Burrito? Quesadilla?

Giveaway will end on 11:59pm Saturday September 23. Winner will be announced on Monday, September 25th.

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

 

Disclosure: Post is sponsored. Opinions and content are my own.

Testing out Timeout Cafe and Bar in Gardena, CA

As a food and travel writer I’m often looking for different locations to enjoy a good meal while working on blog posts – kill two birds with one stone. Haha…. I’m efficient that way 🙂 So when my foodie friend (@foodiejudge on Instagram) invited me to a private media tasting I was curious to see if this cafe could be another remote LA work station for me. The Korean fusion restaurant serves traditional cafe fair, but recently launched a new concept for a day and night crowd.

Intelligentsia Coffee

Like any good cafe, quality coffee is key to a good start. The owner informed me that they had serve Intelligentsia, which is a celebrated coffee brand with distinct robust flavors. They had to purchase special equipment to brew the beans to bring out the flavors, so you know that they’re serious about their product. Be sure to order your coffee black so that you can really taste every note. Mmm… and of course all good cafe had wifi, which worked well for me.

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Food and Beverages at Time Out Cafe

Once everyone arrived, we were treated to their most popular items family-style. If you’re a vegetarian or looking to eat something light their Berry Garden Salad was amazing! Their raspberry vinaigrette dressing topped with avocado feta cheese, strawberries, and blueberries over a bed a mixed greens was not only a beautiful display but tasty as well. On the flip side, if you’re looking anti-veggies their chicken wings brought some heat. And if you’re like Switzerland and fine with both meat and veggies, their sandwiches are solid. I tried the Korean Cheese Steak, Apple Tuna, Pastrami and the later two were my favorite. Apple Tuna is a solid cold sub and the hot pastrami was so mouthwatering. I loved it!

While the restaurant is known for their home-made recipes and secret sauces, they recently got their alcohol license and based on the atmosphere I can definitely see it as a prime spot to cheer on afternoon sporting events.

 

What do you usually get when you go to a cafe?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

The Poke Shack Grand Opening at Beverly Hills 

One of my goals this summer was to eat healthier by incorporating more fruits and vegetables into my diet, and limiting my carb intake. I often found it difficult to do both without sacrificing taste, but with an increase of poke shop poppin’ up, I’m able to accomplish both goals – so when my foodie friend (@Foodiejudge on instagram) invited me to the Poke Shack’s red carpet event to celebrate their Grand Opening I couldn’t say no.

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Look at all the toppings!

The VIP event certainly was a show stopping one complete with a red carpet, live DJ spinning pop tunes, and photographers capturing every moment. I waited in a very short line to order my bowl, and since they’re customizable so you’re bound to have a great meal since you’re picking all the ingredients. I love salmon so I ordered two scoops of that and a scoop of ahi tuna. Both fish choices were really fresh and tasty, and they have an enormous selection of mix-ins and toppings so I definitely loaded up! However, next time I will omit the diced mangos since they tasted a bit unripe.

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Yummy Poke Bowl!

I think one thing that makes this poke spot special is their bamboo rice! I’m cutting traditional white rice out of my diet (as I mentioned above), so this was a nice substitute. My poke server also made a pretty flower design with a radish before handing me my bowl, which I felt like was a nice touch. Overall it’s a solid place to enjoy a healthy meal especially in a posh and sophisticated neighborhood like Beverly Hills.

 

 

What kind of mix-ins do you like in your poke bowl?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar