California

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!

Advertisements

Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink

Once I had a taste of those cronuts from Bakers Donuts, it was time to ice skate! Well first, I had to pack my belongings at Briana’s place since it was my last day in Sacramento. I packed, helped Briana clean up her place, and then off to the next adventure!

Sadly, Briana wasn’t able to ice skate because she had other plans for the night so she dropped me off at my next destination. From there, we said our goodbyes and parted ways. Tear, tear.

Going to Downtown Sacramento to ice skate was like going to Rockefeller Center in New York City because of the outdoorsy feel. Actually, I’ve never been to NYC but I imagine it would be something similar. Coming from SoCal, you don’t see an outdoors ice rink quite often. It’s not a significant attraction to check out nor is it available in SoCal so it was nice to experience a new kind of winter culture in Sacramento.

At the ice rink, I met up with Phil, Jaclyn, and a bunch of other people! To be more specific, I met some new friends who were friends with Jaclyn. Also, Alex and Justin joined in on the fun!

Since we skated on a Friday night, we got a dollar discount on admission fee. We ended up paying $9 each, eight for the admission and a dollar to rent the skates. We skated for a good 2 hours!

The rink was big enough for me to practice my triple axels flawlessly like Yuna Kim. Just kidding, I have no skills in ice skating except moving forward and opening up my arms gracefully like a ballerina.

I don’t know what it is but ice skating around the rink is a lot of fun. Whether you’re skating with your friends or even by yourself, to skate through the cold is ironically fun. Maybe you get a sense of freedom like an eagle soaring through the sky and from that comes out joy perhaps. It’s just liberating to skate in a circle for some odd reason.

I was having so much fun like a little kid that I really didn’t want it to end! But, we had to get going since it was our last night there and we were planning to leave a few hours after ice skating.

Thank you, thank you Briana for taking care of me and showing me your favorites spots in Sacramento! I’m glad that I was able to hang out in Sacramento for more than 24 hours unlike last time! Ok, talk to you on the phone soon!

 

Bakers Donuts

Briana and I were pretty confident that we were done eating for the day. We were stuffed from Bon Mua Vietnamese Restaurant and Vampire Penguin, but it didn’t end just there.

Thanks to Justin there was round two for desserts! He pre-ordered cronuts from Bakers Donuts. Yes, he pre-ordered them a day in advance! They tend to run out so if you want a dozen, make sure to give them a call ahead of time.

I don’t think any of these will disappoint you. I would say come here every day to try something new!

I’ve never seen cronuts so beautiful like these and I’ve never seen so many in a box! If you forgot already, this is how they look like:

My friends, if you’re in the Sacramento area, please treat yourself to one of these cronuts at Bakers Donuts. They have 4.5 stars with 264 reviews on Yelp so how could you say no to them?

I regret not buying a dozen to take home. I should’ve known better. SoCal definitely needs to step up their dessert game! This time in the world of cronuts!

Briana, I’m glad that you were able to try cronuts for the first time from a popular donut shop! Huge thanks to Justin for treating us out to these mouth watering cronuts.

I miss you, Bakers Donuts.

 

 

Vampire Penguin

After Briana, Phil, and I grabbed lunch at Bon Mua Vietnamese Restaurant, you know what we were missing? You got it, dessert! We already had in plan what we were going to get and that was shaved ice on a rainy day!

Anytime I hang out with Phil for a catch up session, somehow he always wants shaved ice. In Orange County, we will usually hit up Class 302 or The Balcony. He said he knew the best place for shaved ice in town. He wanted to take me and Briana to Vampire Penguin. It was conveniently located right behind Bon Mua Vietnamese Restaurant. We walked over to the plaza next door in the rain but the rain wasn’t too bad since it was nice to experience some weather change.

When you enter this little dessert shop, you’ll immediately get the vampire and penguin feel. I have no idea how they came up with the concept but I love it. It’s different and cute!

Before ordering, we were mesmerized by the art of shaved ice. I’ve only seen shaved ice shaped like a hill and it’s usually covered in fruit. At Vampire Penguin, shaved ice is taken to another level. I didn’t know this was possible.

The three of us shared a large Tuxedo for $7 and this is how it turned out.

Dun, dun, dun! How amazingly beautiful is that to the hungry eyes? I was definitely not expecting it to look anything like this. Some of the shaved ice places in SoCal need to step up their game!

Who knew you could turn shaved ice into this? Still mind blowing even after trying this and looking at the pictures.

All you need to know about the actual taste is that it is really the best shaved ice ever like Phil said. Due to my lack of imagination of what shaved ice can be like, I initially doubted Phil’s judgment about Vampire Penguin being the best place for shaved ice.

The shaved ice is so much finer and smoother than Class 302 or The Balcony. Imagine how an angel cake is probably one of the lightest and thinnest in texture compared to any other pastry. Well, that’s how the Tuxedo was like. It was so light and thin because of how fine it was. It wasn’t just plain simple condensed milk but it was chocolate shaved ice with chocolate syrup drizzled around it. It didn’t end just there. It was topped with almonds and there were strawberries and marshmallows on the side.

After our first bite of the Tuxedo, Briana and I declared Phil as Snow King! Congratulations Phil! He deserves this title for showing us the best of the best shaved ice places wherever we go!

If you don’t believe me about how good this place is, check out Yelp! They won’t disappoint you with their solid ratings of 4 stars with more than 500 reviews.

Thanks Briana for the last picture and for suggesting Tuxedo! Thanks Phil for treating us out to Vampire Penguin! I will not forget this. I probably won’t try shaved ice in SoCal knowing that there’s always a better one but in NorCal. Le sigh. I’m glad that we were able to continue the tradition of eating shaved ice when we’re hanging out from SoCal to NorCal! Also, thank you for forcing us to get the large when we thought we wouldn’t have space for it in our bellies. Thanks again, Snow King!

 

Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates

Briana and I have the biggest sweet tooth ever. We take desserts pretty seriously because it’s what brings complete closure to a meal. After Shoki II Ramen House, we went to Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates in downtown Sacramento. Briana was raving about how good their hot chocolate was. I had to try it myself to see what she was talking about.

I got myself their famous hot chocolate for $4. I was thinking about getting a macaron or some other sweets like a slice of cake or pieces of chocolate but I had to pass. I didn’t think my budget allowed me to treat myself to more sweets.

Let’s start analyzing outwards in of the hot chocolate experience. First off, the cup. When you initially look at the cup, you think it’s just a normal cup with a flat base but it’s slightly shaped like a funnel! There’s more hot chocolate than expected!

Also, I loved how the spoon was placed into the handle of the cup. At first, I thought the cup was uniquely designed just so that the spoon could slip right through the handle but I realized you can do that with any cup. The presentation of the hot chocolate was so sophisticated that every detail of it caught me off guard.

Ok, onto the marshmallows. These aren’t ordinary marshmallows from your local grocery store. They are homemade with love and shaped into abnormally large cubes. The marshmallows add a creamy texture to the hot chocolate. They melt pretty quickly so make sure to get your Instagram picture of the hot chocolate immediately!

Finally, now onto the most important part, the actual hot chocolate. There’s only one thing that needs to be said about this drink and that is, it is rich! The chocolate is dark which gives a bittersweet taste to it. The richness can be overwhelming if you’re not a sweet person. (Did you get that? Pun!) Because the drink is heavy with the chocolate and from the marshmallow, you can get pretty full from it like a latte. I was pretty full from it but it was ok because it was perfect for the cold weather that day in Sacramento.

Thanks Briana for taking me to a hip chocolate shop for some fancy hot chocolate!  Thank you also for the close up picture of those marshies and the selfie stick picture at the end! Selfie stick for the win! Whee!

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!

Fiore Market Cafe

I thought I had explored all over Pasadena but I lied to myself. There are actually some hidden gems out in South Pasadena! When I found Fiore Market Cafe, I pretty much fell in love with it immediately. This place currently has 300+ reviews with 4.5 stars on Yelp.

Sarah, Hannah, Catherine and I gathered here for lunch. It’s a quaint little restaurant. You order inside where it has this homey feel to it and they bring the food over to your table. Make sure to get there early to reserve seats as they are very much limited.

I ordered their popular Short Rib Sandwich for $9.25 and it was beautiful!

Beautiful in so many ways. Presentation was beautiful. Of course, the taste was beautiful. The mixed vegetables that gave a refreshing taste perfectly complimented the tender and moist short ribs.

The sandwich was a little messy because of the juice from the dressing but it was worth the mess. It was a beautiful mess.

I definitely would like to come back here for the Short Rib Sandwich again.The ambiance of the restaurant was so relaxing and peaceful especially with the perfect sunny SoCal weather. Thank you to my beautiful friends, Sarah, Hannah and Catherine, for the endless encouraging conversations we had over some good food!