Asian

Bon Mua Vietnamese Restaurant

On my last day in Sacramento, I wanted to eat a warm toasty sandwich on a cold day. I was trying to avoid any Asian food because I had Vietnamese food on my first night. On the second night, I had homemade Korean food at Briana’s place. We made a mixed bowl of vegetables, meat, and rice! In general, I’m honestly not a picky eater but for some odd reason, I just did not want Asian food again even though I eat Asian food everyday in life.

For convenience of location, we ended up going to Bon Mua Vietnamese Restaurant on Stockton Boulevard and met up with Phil there. Briana shared some positive Yelp reviews about this but I wasn’t excited too about it because I just did not want Asian food.

I ordered Briana’s usual, Sample Appetizer. I was reluctant to order an appetizer as my meal but I had to follow Briana because I trust her. I know that she only wants what’s best for me because she is my best frenemy,

This Sample Appetizer had a little bit of everything, hence the name. There were some spicy garlic chicken wings. I personally don’t like to touch food because of how messy it can get and because I’m a germaphobe. But! These wings were worth getting my hands greasy. There was a slight kick from the spiciness, crispy on the outside, tender in the inside, and best of all it was sweet! I was surprised how good these wings were!

I fell in love after my first bite from the spring rolls that had spam in them. I know spam isn’t the best thing for you but it sure does taste good! Luckily, the vegetables evened out the unhealthiness of the spam. I liked how the spam was warm and the vegetables were cold and fresh.

There was also a shrimp spring roll which was stuffed with lettuce and rice noodles.

The egg rolls were probably my least favorite because of how it tasted like any other egg rolls. It was still good but it wasn’t as exciting compared to the other ones.

Make sure to dip the wings and the rolls in the two sauces they provide! Both of the sauces add a subtle sweetness to the whole Sample Appetizer experience.

I would love to find a Vietnamese restaurant that has an appetizer like this in SoCal! I’m sure there are some but I must begin my research soon!

Thanks Briana for taking me here when I had no choice. I’m glad you know the ways of the good places to eat. Phil, thanks for coming out in the rain and eating with us especially on my last day!

Favorite Boba Shops of 2014

Between 2013 and 2014, I think I may have gone overboard with my milk tea craze. In 2013, I discovered my love for milk tea after experiencing it in the 626 area aka San Gabriel Valley aka the home of milk tea.

You’re probably thinking, “What? You’re Asian. How is it that you JUST discovered your love for it?” Well, let’s see… I’ve tried homemade milk tea before at my friend’s house and I wasn’t too much of a fan of it back in high school. That was probably my first and last time ever trying milk tea specifically. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely tried boba drinks before like those fruity slushy ones but I wasn’t a fan of them at all.

Flash forward about 8 years later after my first real milk tea encounter, my life changed. Everything made sense now. I guess my tastebuds had changed but now I understood why people loved milk tea! I too was in love with it and just wanted more! Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I knew I had a problem but didn’t want to fix it. Anywhere I went especially after lunch or dinner with friends, I would do research to see if there were any boba shops nearby for dessert! I grew so curious how all the milk teas tasted at the various boba shops and enjoyed comparing the differences.

After countless boba adventures, this brings me to share with you my favorite boba spots of 2014 in no special order but alphabetically because I have OCD:

1. 7 Leaves

  • Yelp: 4 stars with 1144 reviews
  • Favorite drink: Jasmine Milk Tea
  • This is probably one of the more hip boba places to hang out at in Orange County because of their interior design. A lot of boba shops are more for to-go drinks but here, they want you to hang out with your friends and enjoy your drink!

2. Almond Haus

  • Yelp: 4 stars with 498 reviews
  • Favorite drink: Almond Milk Tea or Hazelnut Iced Coffee
  • One summer, I came here every week for three months in a row and they started to remember me. I know, it was a little embarrassing but the drinks were that good.

3. Cafe Brown 

  • Yelp: 4 stars with 85 reviews
  • Favorite drink: Golden Milk Tea
  • Hidden in the edge of Fullerton, they’re known for their Golden Milk Tea. Once you have a sip of it, you experience an eye opening golden moment. You will not see life the same afterwards.

4. Cha For Tea

  • Yelp: 3.5 stars with 1047 reviews
  • Favorite drink: Honey Green Milk Tea or Mango Green Tea
  • There’s great customer service as they are always willing to make all sorts of adjustments to your drink without additional costs. They’re usually more on the sweeter end compared to other places but there’s nothing wrong with anything being too sweet!

5. Champion Food Co.

  • Yelp: 4 stars with 140 reviews
  • Favorite drink: Milk Tea or Almond Milk Tea
  • This little mom and pop shop was probably the first boba shop that opened up in Irvine. I’d like to consider them the OG of boba in the bubble tea town of Irvine. The bobas here are affordable at $2.50 and it hits the spot!

6. Factory Tea Bar

  • Yelp: 4 stars with 950 reviews
  • Favorite drink: Honey Green Milk Tea or Nom Nom Milk Tea
  • I come here mainly for two reasons, the drinks and the ambiance. This is probably one of the biggest boba places I’ve been to where there’s a lot of tables and couches. Sometimes the place isn’t big enough that there’s a wait to get seated!

7. Ozero

  • Yelp: 4 stars with 529 reviews
  • Favorite drink: Brown Sugar Milk Tea
  • Located in the heart of Little Tokyo, this place is one of my go-to places when I’m in the area. The Brown Sugar Milk Tea is similar to the Cafe Brown’s Golden Milk Tea but it’s just a tad bit bolder and sweeter.

8. Tea Station

  • Yelp: 3.5 stars with 339 reviews
  • Favorite drink: House Special
  • There’s honestly something special about that House Special drink, hence the name. Tea Station is a little more on the pricey end for milk tea but hey, they won’t disappoint you!

I wish I could have given you a list of 10 of my favorite boba places because 10 is more of a wholesome number compared to 8. (This is the OCD in me.) Because I take milk tea pretty seriously, I just don’t think it’s right to add 2 mediocre boba shops just so I can list out 10. So there you go, 8 of my favorite boba places in 2014!

Do you have a favorite boba place in Orange County or LA County area that I didn’t list? If so, feel free to share it with me! Comment below or tweet me! If you end up checking out one of these places, take a picture of it on Instagram and hashtag TinaTalksToday!

Don’t Worry About A Thing

I recently went to one of my favorite boba shops located in San Gabriel Valley, Factory Tea Bar. I’ve been there at least handful of times and I still love it! Check out my posts on my SGV adventures of good food with good company!

So when I went there, there was an amazing chalk artwork of well known figures in the entertainment world which included Bob Marley. I just had to take a picture of him and the microphone stand in front him.

Once I got home, I started listening one of his popular songs on repeat:

This song reminded me of the scene in I Am Legend where Will Smith is alone with his dog and starts singing this song. After reflecting on that scene briefly, I was encouraged to not worry about a thing ’cause every little thing is going to be all right. So my friends, if you’re stressed out and anxious, don’t worry. Every little thing is going to be all right for you too.

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!

Urban Seoul

Urban Seoul is known as the “Korean food truck but at a restaurant”. Many are happy to know that there’s one in Irvine or even in Orange County aside from Hashigo in Costa Mesa. This place is still relatively new, probably a month or two old by now, located right in Diamond Jamboree plaza.
Urban Seoul

I went to Urban Seoul with Jennifer and Phil. They were purposely being awkward as mother and son. Sorry, that was an inside joke. But, can you see the awkwardness in that picture? Hope you can see and feel the awkwardness.
Mother and son.

The restaurant is pretty narrow and small, so beware of crowded space during dinner time.

There, I ordered a Kalbi Burger and it was good! The kalbi (the meat patty) made the burger taste sweet which made it different compared to my usual In-N-Out cheeseburger. I was sad that it came in slider form because I was expecting an actual burger. Two sliders were just not enough for me.
Kalbi Burger

So the three of us shared the Loaded Fries. They’re basically your chili cheese fries but fusion style. It had pork, cheese, jalapenos, and some onions.
Loaded Fries

Phil got the Kimchi Pancake Quesadillas. It obviously had kimchi (spicy cabbage dish), cheese, chicken, melted cheese, wrapped in crispy tortilla!
Kimchi Pancake Quesadilla

Jenn got the Bibibomp. It’s a bowl of rice with mixed vegetables. Rather than using typical Korean spicy sauce, they had a sauce that was a hint spicy and sweet. The sweetness of it made it fusion-y.
Bibibomp.

After eating all that madness, I asked myself like always when trying a new place, “Would I come here again?” The answer was probably not. No doubt was the Kalbi “Burger” good but it was just not filling. The portion and price of the meal ended up being the same as the food trucks. The only differences I found between the a Korean food truck and Urban Seoul were one, I could sit and two, I had to tip.

Before we left, we got a coupon for 15% off on our next meal there. I guess I’m actually going there again before the coupon expires!

Thanks other mother and son for trying Urban Seoul with me!