burgers

Hache LA

I went to Mick’s Karma Bar for dinner and had a catch session with Christina. I was excited to take her there since it was her first time! I ordered my usual Habanero Burger which they made it a tad a bit spicier than normal. Apparently, they added another pepper to kick it up a notch. Because Christina didn’t want anything spicy, she got the Karma Burger.

The guy who served our food looked really familiar and I had a feeling I knew him. I had to ask him hesitantly, “Are you Mick?” He said, “Yeah!” I knew it was him because he liked my picture of the Habanero Burger on Instagram! I was excited that the owner of Mick’s Karma Bar was active on social media!

I read an article somewhere how there was going to be another opening of Mick’s Karma Bar in Orange County County or Los Angeles. So I asked him about it and he said that he was having a soft opening in two weeks in Silverlake! He invited me to join and I excitedly said I would definitely be there! I gave him my business card and next thing you know, he tweets me about it.


Two weeks later, I brought a bunch of my friends to go to the soft opening. Valet parking was free, food was free, and drinks were free! It was an outdoorsy setting where it was completely packed with a DJ playing some music. There was definitely an LA/Silverlake vibe to Hache LA. The layout of the restaurant was blended really well into the Silverlake community.

Servers were passing out food and drinks so freely. They were serving their classic Strawberry Basil Lemonade and the Karma Burger. They also had a few different kinds of beer to pick from. Though the options were few, it was still nice to know that everything was unlimited and free!

We got our drinks pretty quickly but it probably took an hour to actually get our burgers. There was probably around a hundred people at the soft opening. So they were serving the burgers to those who came first and working their way down to the last people who walked in.

While waiting for our food, we were lucky enough to bump into Mick! He remembered me!  He was so nice to take the time to meet my friends!

Once we got our burgers, we were one big happy family! The wait was all worth it!

After our bellies were filled, we just hung out and enjoyed each other’s company!

Thank you Aaron, Andrea, Derek, Davis, Elaine, Harold, John, Phil, and Sammie for joining me! Hope everyone enjoyed the food! Big thanks to Mick for the invite! I can’t wait for more burgers!


If you’re from Orange County or specifically from Irvine and you’ve never heard of Mick’s Karma Bar, then shame on you! You’re missing out! For more info on Mick’s Karma Bar, check out my post on them! But if you’re in the LA area, make sure to check out Hache LA! You won’t be disappointed with the food and the ambiance there! It’s definitely one hip burger joint in Silverlake.

Mick’s Karma Bar

I am in love with Mick’s Karma Bar. Love is quite a strong word to use but I genuinely do mean it in this case. This restaurant is a tiny burger joint hidden in between corporate buildings in Irvine, California. I like that it’s hidden because it’s like my own little secret but it’s actually not that much of a secret. A lot of people know about it because it’s so darn good! You know it’s a worthy place to check out when Yelp shows 1,300+ reviews with 4.5 stars.

If you want to eat inside the restaurant, make sure you get there at an odd hour because they can probably seat about 12 to 15 people. There are plenty of seats outside, but you probably want to sit inside depending on the weather. The Karma Burger is a popular one on the menu. They’re also known for the Habanero Burger which was awarded in 2012 as the Best Burger in Orange County. Because a burger won an award, I knew I had to try that one out with a side of chunky fries and their popular Strawberry Basil Lemonade. The habanero spread gave a little kick which was enough to want more of that burger! I was tempted to get another Habanero burger because the burger itself had that homey taste to it. It was simple until that habanero spread came through and changed my whole taste buds. Even if you don’t like spicy food, I would still suggest trying out the Habanero Burger. There’s only a hint of spiciness to it so it’s bearable. If you get their fries and a side of their special dipping suace, it’ll help your taste buds simmer down. The Strawberry Basil Lemonade will definitely help you cool down too. It’s refreshing with the sourness to it and I love the pieces of strawberries mixed in with the basil. If you don’t want anything sour, then try their Mojito Iced Tea. It has more of a neutral flavor compared to the lemonade one.

If you’re ever near John Wayne Airport in Orange County, please make time and room for Mick’s Karma Burger! I’m so glad that I don’t work near Mick’s Karma Bar or else, I would be eating there everyday for lunch!

Check out my Mick’s Karma Bar appisode on Tastemade featuring my friends Elaine and Eric! Thanks Elaine for craving Mick’s Karma Bar and thank you Eric for driving us around! Thank you both for joining me on Tastemade appisode!

Downtown Pasadena

The last time I saw Sarah was at her wedding last summer. So we were long overdue to meet up. We randomly video chatted one afternoon when we were both feeling sick, then and there we decided a time, date, and place toreunite with some old friends. She said to meet in Pasadena because it’s a fun place to eat and walk around. I told her I was down! I’ve never really explored there so I was definitely opened to explore a new place.

Surprisingly my drive to Pasadena with Hannah and Elaine was not bad at all. The light traffic took us an hour or less. Because we were ahead of schedule, we got there before Sarah. While we waited for her, we decided to check out the City Hall of Pasadena which looked almost like a Cathedral. We walked around and saw some beautiful scenery in such a small little area.
City Hall

Across from City Hall was an actual cathedral which is opened almost 24/7 for people to pray. I really felt like I was in Europe when I saw the architecture.

Once Sarah arrived in Pasadena, we headed back to the downtown area. Parking is kind of a bust in Pasadena because of the meter situation or just having to pay in general. We somehow found this random hidden parking lot with no attendant. It was really suspicious but we decided to give it a shot since it was cheaper than most of the other parking lots. So basically, we paid $5 rather than $6-8 compared to other places. The weird thing was you deposit your money in this “drop off mailbox” looking thing. The box has slots for each parking space available. We parked in spot #2 so we deposited the $5 in the #2 slot. It was interesting. I took a bunch of pictures to show proof that we paid and that if it was scam, I had evidence of this matter. We deposited our $5 in and walked a block over to Slater’s 50/50 to meet up with Sarah.
Shady money deposit.

Everyone’s been talking about Slater’s 50/50 for awhile and I’ve been meaning to check it out but somehow I haven’t been able to go there. Luckily, Sarah chose this place to eat! She compared this place to The Counter where you can create your own order. Slater’s 50/50 is probably known for their patties to be stuffed with bacon and they’re eccentric creation of burgers such as the Peanut Butter & Jealousy burger.
Slater's 50/50

For appetizer we ordered some regular fries, sweet potato fries, and stuffed macaroni popcorn balls. They were all good! Especially the macaroni popcorn balls. I’ve never had them before nor did I ever know about them! Apparently The Cheesecake Factory makes them too.
Macaroni Popcorn Balls

Hannah, Elaine, and I knew that we were going to eat a lot that day so we had to portion control our meal. So we decided to split our burger into thirds. Yes, it’s possible to split a burger into thirds. Our burger had grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, American cheese, and patty with bacon pieces. I’m so glad that we we shared because our appetizer filled us and the patty was thick!

Sarah got a healthy veggie burger where she replaced the buns with lettuce! Too healthy for me.
Sarah and her too healthy burger.

I wouldn’t mind going back to Slater’s and trying one of their extreme burgers. I’m really curious about the PB & J burger.

We walked around afterwards and went window shopping. All the stores are walking distance. The high end and outdoors shopping experience reminded me of Fashion Island in Newport Beach and Gas Lamp in San Diego. I always like to compare my experience to somewhere else so that you can have a better understanding of what it was like to be there.

We stopped by Lette for some macarons.
Lette

Then headed to a hipster coffee place called Intellegentsia. This place is like Portola Coffee Lab with the hipster vibe but ultimately because of how they make coffee using siphons and those other fancy flasks you see in chemistry labs but for coffee.

I wanted a vanilla latte but they only make lattes which was too hardcore for me. So they said they could make me an iced sweetened latte and that ended up working out perfectly. My friends got some fancy coffee with latte art work done.
Coffee and fancy latte art.

We were at Intellegentsia for quite some time. Probably too long. But it was just so much fun sharing life stories and catching up.
Sarah, Hannah, Elaine at Intellegentsia

Afterwards, we walked around downtown. I’d like to check out 21 Choices next time I’m in Pasadena. That ice cream shop seemed like a popular one.
21 Choices

Sarah showed us how historical old town Pasadena was by taking us to the front door of J Crew. There was tiled work on the ground that said The Owl Drug Co. So back in the day, way before J Crew, that store was actually a drug store. Cool, huh?
The Owl Drug Co.

We went to this one hat store and found a band playing inside! That was definitely a fun experience trying on some old school hats while listening to some live music.

Live Band at the hat store.

Old Town Pasadena has some hidden spots for some good pictures.
Happy picture spot.

When we were done walking around, we took one last picture together and called it a night. The night scenery in Pasadena is as pretty as the day time. Too bad this picture doesn’t capture the beauty of Pasadena because of the random person we asked.

Last group picture.

That whole day and night hanging out with Sarah, Hannah, and Elaine was so much fun! Time flew by so quickly that day. Probably because were just having so much fun. Thanks Sarah for showing us around in Pasadena!

The Fat Cow at The Grove

Christian recently got back from the east coast so it was time for me, Briana, Mark and Christian to reunite. Unfortunately, Briana wasn’t able to join us due to prior engagement. Whenever the four of us hang out though, we like to experience new places or go to our traditional spots.

Somehow for this recent hangout, we weren’t able to figure out where to go. Christian thought about Orange County but I felt that I’ve conquered OC to the point where I haven’t found anything newly exciting just yet. So I suggested LA since there’s always something to do there.

We decided to go to a traditional spot, The Grove. Before Christian moved to the east coast, The Grove was actually the last time we all hung out.

Something new we found at The Grove was Sprinkles! Right by the parking structure is a quick mini Sprinkles stop. You stand in line outside and order right at the window! It was pretty convenient to have it right there by the structure just so that everyone is bound to see the little cupcake shop.

FYI. Follow Sprinkles on Twitter! They have special secret word of the day on Twitter. If you say the word at Sprinkles, they’ll give you a free cupcake! There’s a catch to it, of course. It’s only if the first 25-50 people say it. Be on the look out!

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It’s always a magical night at The Grove. They still had the holiday decorations up, Christmas music playing, and snow too! Ok, it was more like bubbles rather than snow. But still. It was fun walking around in holiday spirit even after Christmas.

After shopping around, we came to a conclusion at 9PM to eat at The Fat Cow which is owned by Chef Gordon Ramsay. We sat out in the cold just so we could have a nice view of the fountain and look cool. Just kidding about looking cool. But we did sit outside in the cold. Luckily, I was sitting by the heated lamp.

The food was a-ok. It’s not a place where I have to go back to. I’m a simple person so I just ordered a Fat Cow Cheeseburger. Nothing special about it. A little dry but it’s because I got it well done. Food was overly priced for its quality. We each probably spent about $17-$25 on our meal. I wouldn’t suggest anyone going there unless you have the time and money. It’s just overly priced because you’re at The Grove and the restaurant is owned by a famous chef.

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We probably should have Yelped before going there but we wanted to try a new spot. According to Yelp, The Fat Cow got 3 out of 5 stars with 194 reviews. I’m not surprised with its 3 stars. The restaurant actually reminds me of Umami Burger with its stamp on the buns and its overly priced burgers.

After trying a new burger place like The Fat Cow, I always come to a conclusion that nothing ever, EVER, beats In-N-Out.

I’m glad the three of us were able to hang out! It was good catching up with you both! Briana, wish you were there but it’s ok, you saved $20 for food.

Umami Burger

Umami Burger has been in Costa Mesa for more than a year or two, but I somehow never got the chance to go there until recently with Stacy. It was her first time also.

Note to self: Parking at The Camp is no bueno.

Since the restaurant was located at The Camp, the restaurant itself was pretty cramped. We waited for several minutes to get seated since it was a little busy during dinner time. The whole layout reminded me of Chipotle with the metal decor and Sprinkles Cupcake from the wooden utensils and plates.


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Stacy and I wanted to try everything on the menu but we decided to share the Umami Burger, the Manly Burger, tempura onion rings and some hidden menu fries. When I first saw all the food we got, I thought to myself, “Uh-oh…portions are small and expensive! I can inhale this in seconds! Hope it’s all worth it.”

We’ll start with the tempura onion rings. The onion rings were nothing that special. I would have to say that the onion rings I tried in Korea were better than the onion rings at Umami. That’s not the point. Finding a distinctive quality of onion rings is challenging because onion rings end up all tasting the same to me. They were definitely greasier than normal and too heavy for my taste.

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The fries we had were one up better than the onion rings. The special sauce they had on top of the fries were simple, yet pleasing to the tongue.

Now the burgers. I ate my Umami burger first which I do and don’t regret doing. I regret eating it first because I liked it more than the Manly Burger. I wish I could’ve saved the best for last. I don’t regret eating it first because I liked it more than the Manly Burger. Makes sense, right? The Umami burger was simple and juicy. I’m not a big eater of eating rare cooked meat but the Umami Burger was an exception.
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The Manly Burger was a tad bit messy since it had thick bacon pieces in the burger. It was not as flavorful as I wanted it to be.

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When it comes down to it, I would pick the Umami Burger over the Manly Burger only because of its simplicity. Surprisingly at the end of our meal, we were stuffed to the max. Just the burgers would have been good enough to eat. The carbs and grease in the fries and rings filled us up too quickly.

At the end of our Umami experience, we told ourselves it’s better to go to In-N-Out. It’s cheap and darn good. Can’t wrong with that at all.

We need to try Myxs for our next burger adventure.