Los Angeles is well known for fantastic restaurants at various price-points and the LA Times did a great job to highlight some of the area’s best at their annual LA Times – The Taste event. I along with other foodie friends spend the Labor Day weekend trying different vendors (Friday‘s Post), and was especially excited since Saturday is known to be the day with the highest turnout and arguable the most variety of food.
During this visit my friends and I made it our mission to try every booth at least once and while I loved visiting all the booths, my favorite item that night was the beef brisket that Chef Burt Bakman of Trudy’s Underground BBQ prepared during his Pop-up BBQ demonstration. The fried donut with ice cream from Eatly was my 2nd favorite thing there and hands down the best dessert option. I also had the opportunity to meet Jenn Harris, the new acting editor of the Los Angeles Times Food section and chatted with her on her vision for the year ahead.
LA Times Food Legend Jonathan Gold made an enormous impact on the food community, so it is without a doubt a huge loss for the Los Angeles community when he passed. Yet, his legacy still lives on and the LA Times honored his contribution at this year’s event with a mural and a huge displace of his 5 culinary commandments.
Disneyland is known as the Happiest Place on Earth, but did you know that it’s also home to one of the most exclusive restaurants as well? Yup! Club 33 is a private club with an initiation fee of $40k, $10k annual renewal fee, and a rumored 10 year waitlist! Whew! Talk about exclusive! Thankfully, a friend recently got off the waitlist and I was fortunate enough to get an invite to check it out!
As a first timer I was extremely excited to finally see what this was all about. There were some strict guidelines on what we could photograph so I did my best to abide by the rules while also showcasing some of the details for you to enjoy. Nested right in New Orleans Square my friend and I rang the doorbell and were directed to the garden with a glass of ice cold water and a towel. It was so hot that day, so the gesture was greatly appreciated. We then took an elevator upstairs and were given a tour of the facility before being seated.
The intimate space was certainly very classy and the restaurant rotates its menus seasonally. The Summer 2018 dinner menu was inspired by Italian flavors and guests selected one item from each category: Primi, Insalata e Zuppa, Pasta, Entrata, and Finale, although I opted to forgo the Insalate e Zuppa section and doubled up on the Primi. Service was impeccable and the Sauteed Snow Crab Claws and Ahi Tonnato Carpaccio were the highlights of my meal.
Los Angeles is home to Hollywood stars, year-round summer weather, and some of the country’s best restaurants. So it should come as no surprise that the LA Food and Wine Festival is one of my favorite events to attend (See 2017 post here, here, and here) Not only do they serve from food from world class chefs like Aaron Sanchez and Antonia Lofaso, but over 200 of the best wines and talent rivaling that of the Food Network.
This five day extravaganza gives foodies a wide variety of experiences to indulge in the countries finest and I was lucky enough to attend Sunday’s Lexus Grand Tasting at Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, where I got to stuff my face silly and meet celebrity chef Curtis Stone!! In his station he was shucking oysters for patrons to enjoy, gotta love a man who’s willing to get his hands dirty. 😉
Like many festivals that I’ve attended they were pumpin’ the top 100 music and served a huge variety of bites to sample including fresh sashimi, lobster waffles, macaroons among other fine dining options. However, what really elevates this festival is the fact that they have servers taking your plates away so the environment is always clean and spotless.
If you could have any celebrity chef make you a meal who would you pick? I’d love Alton Brown to make me anything!
The weather has been extremely muggy, and the heat doesn’t make it any better. Yuck! But I guess at the very least that gives me a legitimate reason to savor some sweets treats and Macchiato one of my favorite Taiwanese dessert shops is opening another location in Hacienda Heights (15840 Halliburton Rd, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745)!!! WEE!!! To celebrate they’re giving away some goodies on Saturday August 11th from 11am-12am. See details below!
The First 100 People will get a free drink; Next 100 People will get a BOGO Promotion (Same Drink); and if you miss those they’ll be doing BOG1 50% off all day. EVERYONE will be entered to win a Nintendo Switch! Oh!! I love how that sounds!
They’re known for their Special Potted Plant Milk Tea ($4.50) and you’ve probably seen them all over Instagram or at the night-markets. In essence it’s crushed up Oreo cookies on top, with cream, and your choice of milk tea as the base. Super kawaii and a fun way to enjoy a cool beverage.
Be sure to pair your drink with some noms. These two are my top picks!
*Macchiato Sundae Waffle ($8.75) – Mochi style with strawberries, bananas, blueberries and three scoops of ice cream. Guests do have the option to order it crispy (which is a typical waffle), but the mochi style definitely gives the dish more flair. The chewy texture reminds me a lot of a traditional Chinese dessert and it’s beautifully presented. I ordered this at their Santa Ana location and the quality was consist here too! Loved it!
*Charcoal Waffle ($9.50) – A black waffle with strawberries and bananas paired with vanilla and Nutella ice cream and caramel sauce. I think this item is new because I didn’t recall a black waffle in the past. I wanted to order it as it seemed very Instagram worthy and to my surprise, it tasted really good as well! Photogenic desserts don’t always tasty as good as it looks, but this was the best of both worlds. It has a more cake-like texture with a charcoal aftertaste and goes nicely with the ice cream. Two thumbs up!
What will you be trying this weekend??
Macchiato Grand Opening – August 11th from 11am-12am – 15840 Halliburton Rd, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745
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
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.
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!
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?
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!
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!
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.
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!They 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.Overall 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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. 🙂 When 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! 😀 There 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