asia

Chinatown in LA

The morning I got back from Sacramento, I went to my niece’s and nephew’s birthday party without coffee. For some odd reason, I was pretty much feeling strong and awake even though I only got four or five hours of sleep. After the party, I tried to rest at home but was eager to just go out. I realized the travel bug was in me and it was real. It was so real that I had to go somewhere to explore.

With a few friends, we grabbed dinner at In-N-Out and then we were off to a spontaneous trip to LA! I’ve been wanting to check out Chinatown in LA to see the Chinese lanterns lit up and simply to explore the area since I always drive by it whenever I’m in the area.

When my friends and I got there, it was pretty dead. It was nice to have the whole town to ourselves!

Chinatown can easily be explored in less than 30 minutes but we took our time taking pictures and enjoying the bright neon lights. Next time, I’m going to have come here in the afternoon when it’s busy and have some dim sum!

Thanks Chinatown for temporarily curing my travel bug!

Since we were near Little Tokyo, we decided to grab some milk tea from one of my favorite boba shops! I got my usual Brown Sugar Milk Tea which was perfect as always!

We hung out at Ozero for a little bit before heading out to our last adventure!

OC Block Party

I found out through Instagram that there was going to be a OC Block Party aka a night market in Orange County hosted by KTOWN Night Market! They were giving out free tickets to the first 1,000 people so I quickly signed up for one and penciled it into my schedule. General admission is usually five dollars max.

Note to readers: This is a late post, a really late one! But hey, better late than never, right? Right!

Phil, John, Ann and I carpooled over to the Angel Stadium of Anaheim by 7PM. Around that time, the crowd wasn’t too bad. I was a little scared that it would be jam packed to the point where you wouldn’t even be able to move and enjoy the atmosphere. I’ve heard that that happens quite often at these night markets.

When we entered the venue, we saw a lot of food trucks, vendors selling clothes and accessories, carnival games and rides, performances on stage, and of course plenty of booths for food! Some of the lines for food that were extremely long were for the ramen burger, fruity drinks in mason jars, potato twists, and Mexican-Korean fusion food.

We weren’t willing to wait in line for the ramen burger because I heard it’s overrated. Even if it is, I’d like to try it one day when the line isn’t too long at a night market or at the actual restaurant. We started our adventure with a potato twist! It was fresh and well seasoned. It’s surprisingly  addicting to eat! Potato twists are pretty much available at a lot of boba shops. If you want one, I would suggest checking out Lollicup where it’s cheap and good!


Ann was eager to get a drink in a mason jar so we headed over to a food stand called Main Squeeze OC. She shared her lemonade with everyone since it was huge! It was sweet and not too tangy just the way I like it! There were pieces of lychees in there too!

Main Squeeze OC doesn’t actually have a shop that you can stop by to pick up a drink. It seems like they’re only available at food fairs or night markets. Make sure to check out their Facebook or their Twitter to locate them at their next appearance!

As we were walking around, we picked up more food like some sausages and popcorn chicken. I think we inhaled those pretty quickly because they were so good!

If you ever go to these night markets, make sure to not wear your nicest clothes! You’ll definitely smell from all the meat they’re grilling all around the night market!

Just imagine as if you’re going to an all you can eat KBBQ restaurant. What would you wear? Something light so your clothes don’t soak up the smell but also loose so you can eat a lot! That’s how you should dress accordingly to a night market!


Phil got himself a Pork Belly Pocket -Crispy for $5.

For a small pocket, they knew how to stuff it with the pork belly!

It took me awhile to figure out what I wanted because I wanted something easy and clean to eat, affordable, and of course there had to be meat! I ended up going to a Mongolian food stand and picked up two skewers of chicken and pork for $5!

Actually, it wasn’t too easy to eat it because once you’re in the middle of the skewer, it’s kind of hard to take a bite of the meat. It was definitely a challenge that I overcame! I slightly regretted getting these skewers because I was pretty full from the lemonade, potato twists, and all the other snacks we shared. But hey, YOLO!

After eating so much, we walked around and watched some talented people from the Asian American community perform! It was great to have some entertainment though the crowd was a little dead that night. We walked over to the carnival side and it was sadly a little bare. Hardly anyone was playing games or going on the rides. I think everyone was focused on the food!

After hanging out at the OC Block Party for a few hours, we were ready to head out for more food…Don’t judge!

We went over to a fairly new 85 Degrees Cafe in Garden Grove to get some cake for Ann’s birthday! We celebrated her 25th birthday with an awesome strawberry cake!

Happy (now belated) birthday, Ann! I’m thankful that we were able to celebrate your 25th birthday together! Also, thanks Ann, John, and Phil for checking out OC Block Party with me!

Yu Chun Chic Naeng Myun

Oh man, last week’s weather was almost unbearable! I can’t believe it reached over 100 degrees in Orange County! It was so hot that it actually hurt to be outside because of the sunlight beaming so harshly.

When it’s hot, the perfect meal to eat is Korean cold noodles also known as naeng myun in Korean. They’re these chewy buckwheat noodles in this refreshing cold broth with pear, cucumber, boiled egg, and slices of beef. The cold broth is what helps you cool down from the hot weather.

My friends have been telling me to check out a popular cold noodle house in Koreatown called Yu Chun Chic Naeng Myun. They kept telling me how it’s one of a kind and you’ll just want more of it. Yelp rates it with 4 out of 5 stars with more than 400 reviews. With my friends going crazy about this place and those solid ratings, I knew I couldn’t be disappointed.

Some tips to keep in mind about this place.

  1. Cash. The restaurant only accepts cash and bring a little extra for parking.
  2. Parking. It is horrendous. Be ready to just drop your car off at the tiny lot and pay $2 for valet. You can try and look for street parking but you might not have that much luck especially during lunch or dinner time. Whether you’re going to valet or look for street parking, make sure to drop off your friend to put your name on the list.
  3. Time. It’s best if you go to the restaurant at an off hour so you don’t have to wait too long. My friends and I got there right at 6PM on a Friday and probably waited for about 15-20 minutes. Once we were seated, there was suddenly a long line after us.

Here’s a quick clip of how bad the parking lot can get:

Now that we got some of the logistical items out of the way, it’s real talk now. Make sure to try a cup of their broth. It’s a self-served drink. Though it was extremely hot outside and inside the restaurant because the AC wasn’t working, the broth was soothing. The MSG in it just made it all the better. Don’t drink too much of it though because it might fill you up.

For appetizers, you have to get their Kimchi Mandoo (dumplings). I’ve never seen such large dumplings before! They really stuffed the dumplings with a lot of vegetables.

Drum roll.

And now, what we’ve all been waiting for. The naeng myun that everyone has been raving all about. How did I like it? Well! It ended up being ok. Sorry for the let down. It was slightly above average compared to all the cold noodles I’ve tried out there in the world. It was a little more tangy and sweeter which is probably what sets it apart from other ones. Other than that, nothing too exciting. It definitely was perfect for the weather but I wasn’t at the point of addiction like my other friends. They may have hyped it up a little too much.

I’d have to say that the kimchi mandoo was probably better than the naeng myun. Next time I go there, I’m going to try their bibim-naeng myun which is their spicy mixed noodles with vegetables. Now, the bibim-naeng myun looked more appetizing than mine. You pour this cold soup over the spicy noodles and then mix it all around. In general, when you eat bibim-naeng myun, it’s only the noodles, vegetables, and the spicy sauce but this place had this soup for the spicy noodles! There was this soup, I tell you!

I’m getting a little too excited about this soup because I’ve always wondered if it was possible to have bibim-naeng myun in soupy form and this house made it possible. So you can compare this soup to the fish sauce when you’re eating vermicilli at a Vietnamese restaurant. It makes the noodles more refreshing and moist.

Next time, it’s all about the broth, kimchi mandoo and the bibim-naeng myun.

Shout out to Phil and Derek! Thanks you guys for taking me. Big thanks to Phil for driving and for suggesting the kimchi mandoo!

Honey Pig

My mom wanted to take me to a new restaurant that she found with her friend in Irvine. She couldn’t remember the name of it but knew where it was located. So we went to this Korean restaurant that she was raving about because of their stew. Once we got there, I realized it was Honey Pig! I knew Honey Pig had opened “recently” in Irvine but completely forgot about it.

Honey Pig is probably at least a year old. In the afternoon, they have a special lunch menu which is when my mom tried their stew. Unfortunately or fortunately, however you want to take it, when it’s dinner time the menu is all about grilling. So we weren’t able to try out their stew. Next time I will though!

Three big factors set Honey Pig different from other KBBQ restaurants.

One. Honey Pig is not AYCE aka All You Can Eat. They charge you by the plate of meat. Downside is that you’re definitely paying a little more at Honey Pig compared to Gen or Cham Sut Gol where it’s about $20-$25 for unlimited meat. There is a minimum requirement to order two plates of meat no matter how small or big your party may be.

Two. The grill at Honey Pig has an upside down cone shape where it’s slightly tilted so that the oil can be drained from grilling. Other restaurants just have a flat grill.

Three. Vegetables such as spicy bean sprouts, kimchi, and sweet potato are grilled. If you end up not finishing all those vegetables or even the meat, they will put rice on the grill to make fried rice with those leftover vegetables. With that, you have a second serving for dinner! They know how to make your food not go to waste!

This is how Honey Pig works:
1) Grill them vegetables first!

2) Add the meat.

3) Once the meat has been cooked, wrap it in lettuce or rice cake with the grilled vegetables.

4) Once you’re done eating the meat with the wraps, it’s fried rice time! You just eat right off the grill.

5) No food shall go to waste. Upon completion of eating everything, your grill should look pretty spotless.

Two people eating two plates of meat with overload of vegetables and to end it with fried rice is doable but almost painful. So painful that my mom and I went out for ice cream at Baskin Robins to ease the pain from overeating. Downside about Honey Pig is that they don’t provide any fruit or sweets afterwards like other KBBQ restaurants. So we headed to Baskin Robins which it ironically and probably subconsciously made us feel a lot better.

Now, would I go to Honey PIg again? Eh, probably not. It’s just too expensive because we ended up spending a little more than $45 and I don’t like to stuff myself like that. I really do like their concept of twisting the traditional KBBQ.

If you want more information about Honey Pig, check out their Yelp. It’s definitely a great place to check out once if you’ve never tried it before!

Thanks umma (mom in Korea) for taking me out to dinner!

Miho Korean Restaurant

I went on an afternoon date with my mom in Garden Grove. We actually did a few errands together and grabbed lunch at Miho Korean Restaurant. It’s a hole in the wall Korean restaurant in the Korean Town of Garden Grove. My mom likes to come here because they use more natural ingredients rather than adding MSG to make things more flavorful.

We ordered one of my mom’s favorite which is Kalguksu (kahl-gook-sooh). You can say that it’s the Korean version of chicken noodle soup. The difference is that the soup base is a little thicker and there’s different kinds of vegetables in it. It has a few different onions, squash, and potato pieces. Of course, there’s chicken and the noodles itself. It’s a simple meal.

We also ordered Gamjatang(gahm-jah-tahng). It’s a spicy soup with pork ribs topped with a handful of green onions and sesame seeds. Eating spicy Korean food like gamjatang is a love-hate relationship. You hate it because you have to pace yourself when you’re eating it because it’s so hot from being fresh. It’s also spicy hot so it’s hard to eat. But as you’re eating it, you love it because it’s good so you want more of it. The love-hate relationship for it then repeats. It’s a good battle to fight when you’re eating gamjatang.

My mom and I shared the kalguksu and gamjatang. We probably should have ordered just one or the other. Not both! I was more than stuffed after that. I don’t think I ate anything else for the rest of that day.

Thanks Umma (aka mom in Korean) for the date!

Happy New Year!

In the Korean culture,  on new year’s day you are to dress up in a traditional gown called hanbok. You wear this dress so you can do sebae. Sebae (seh-beh) is a way of bowing down to your parents or grandparents and in return they give you pocket money. In addition, you eat dduhk-gook which is a rice cake soup and sometimes there’s dumplings too. Afterwards, you play yunnori which is a traditional Korean game that you play with sticks.  You throw the sticks and depending on how they land determines the winner after some rounds. 

I don’t think I’ve ever done sebae or played yunnori before. I’m pretty Americanized when it comes to Korean traditions. So the only Korean thing I do on new year’s day is eat dduk-gook! Thanks to Mama Yun, she made some fresh and warm dduk-gok with kimchi dumplings!

Traditional Korean New Year's Day Food

Traditional Korean New Year’s Day Food

I hope the new year is filled with many challenges to overcome and grow from. May all 365 days be filled with blessings from above! Happy New Year, friends!

SGV – Round 3

Ok, don’t judge! I know it seems like I go to San Gabriel Valley every other week. I think it’s actually just once a month for now. This time I went with a different crew again. This was especially for Briana since she’s been wanting to go since forever ago. She finally had the time for it, so we decided to explore.

For dinner we went to Newport Tan Cang Restaurant in SGV. It got 4.5 stars out of 1200 reviews. So it was a definite yet to check it out. When we got there, oh man. It was no bueno. Parking lot was tiny and the wait was 2 to 2.5 hours! We barely waited for five minutes. We had to leave immediately because we were starving.

This picture doesn’t show you justice of how crowded the place was. You just had to be there to see.

Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant

Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant

We Yelped another place and found Savoy Kitchen. This place got 4 stars out of 1700 reviews so we were hoping it wouldn’t too crazy like Newport Tan Cang. Luckily, it wasn’t! Well, that was only because our group had 4 people. If it was 5, I’m sure we would’ve waited longer. The seating arrangement is a little odd. The restaurant can probably only fit about 20 people for small groups of 4-5. Outside is for larger groups, but probably only a few large groups.
Savoy

We all shared an appetizer of shrimp egg rolls with a dip of orange sauce. I can’t tell you what the orange sauce is all about but all I can say is that it’s called orange sauce because it’s orange according a waiter there. They were simple and good. You can’t go wrong with them egg rolls much.
Shrimp Egg Rolls

So Savoy is known for their Hainan Chicken and rice. Briana, Josephine and I all got the Hainan Chicken just because all the Yelp reviewers were praising so much about it. Josephine and Briana didn’t seem too fond of the whole plate. I think it was just too plain for them. I on the other hand probably liked it a little more than them but I wasn’t in love with it. I could see why people could be addicted to the Hainan Chicken though. Perhaps the simplicity of the meal of chicken, rice, and sauce, and the affordable price of about $7 makes it all worth it.
Hainan Chicken

The chicken is pretty plain but dipping it in the sauce provided made it a tad better. The sauce gave the rice and chicken together a sweeter taste. I really felt like I could have made the whole meal myself at home. So I’m glad that the meal was about $7.

Would I go to Savoy again? Nah…It was unfortunately a little overrated.

I do want to go to Newport Tan Cang Restaurant again. For the wait to be 2 hours long means that it’s a definite place to check out. Note to future self: Get there late afternoon and grab a number, hang out in SGV, then go back to the restaurant just in time for number to be called for dinner.

To completely end the night at SGV, one must go to Factory Tea Bar where the fun boba life happens. I finally got the chance to sit in the couch area like a cool kid. It made the experience at Factory Tea Bar so much more fun! (Somewhat joking and being serious.) I ordered Honey Green Milk Tea which was good as always. We all shared the brick toast with ice cream and popcorn chicken.
Boba and popcorn chicken.

In the beginning of the night, I rated the the Honey Green Milk Tea as my most favorite, then brick toast, then the popcorn chicken. Everyone thought the popcorn chicken deserved to go before the brick toast. I couldn’t understand why they were thinking that because who honestly hates ice cream and awesome brick toast bread? No one. After some time, I realized the popcorn did deserve to go before the brick toast. The brick toast and ice cream are good but together, it can be too sweet. You might feel a cavity somewhere. Popcorn chicken and Honey Green Milk balance each other out really well.
Famous brick toast with ice cream.

While eating, we played Jenga. It’s such an intense game that I love and hate it.
Jenga

After a few games of Jenga, we called it a night. Thank you friends for the fun-food filled night at SGV.

SGV, we are coming back for you so just to try Newport Tan Cang Restaurant. See you soon, SGV. See you soon!