culture

Brodard’s Restaurant

I took my mom out on a date to Brodard Restaurant in Garden Grove. I had to take her here since she has never been! This Vietnamese restaurant is known for their spring rolls. It is mandatory that you order them as appetizer before chowing down on your pho. I repeat, mandatory!

For $7, they will give you 4 rolls or you can get 3 rolls for $5.25. They are called Nem Nöôùng Cuoán aka pork spring rolls. It has grilled pork sausage wrapped in rice paper with lettuce, cucumber, carrots, cilantro, chives, daikon and mint served with house special sauce. That sauce is amaze-sauce. It does not hurt to dunk and drench your spring rolls into it because it is sweet but light in flavor. It is not overwhelming on the palette at all!

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I wasn’t feeling pho that day and I just didn’t want to feel so greasy so I got myself vermicelli with a side of the fish sauce that you pour over. Somehow that fish sauce goes a long way!

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I feel like at all the Vietnamese restaurants I’ve been to, they tend to stuff the vermicelli bowl with a lot of noodles, vegetables, and meat! I even think that I have too much meat left and not enough noodles which is a great thing! With this one, I loved every slurp of the noodles.

I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish the bowl because I was pretty full even from the spring rolls! I couldn’t waste the food and it wasn’t a good idea to take it home because the noodles would get too soggy. So I just had to finish it!

I’ve been to Brodard’s Restaurant numerous times and I have never been disappointed of their food! My mom definitely loved her spring rolls experience. Yelpers love this place as they currently stand with 4 out of 5 stars and with 3500+ reviews! Wew!

Wow, thirty five hundred is a lot. Good for Brodard’s Restaurant!

Side note: Don’t go to Brodard’s Restaurant on Tuesdays because they are closed. My friends and I went there on a Tuesday and found the parking lot surprisingly empty because they were closed. It was one of the most upsetting food adventures ever. You can always go to the fancy one called Brodard Chateau but I would say it’s not worth it. Stick with the regular Brodard’s Restaurant.

After dinner, we walked over to 85 Degrees Bakery within the same plaza. I got myself some bread with chocolate. I don’t even know what kind of bread it was but I saw chocolate chips in them and had to get it instantly. I’ve been loving chocolate chips for some odd reason. Actually, I love sweets in general.

I enjoy taking my mom out to new places and I can’t wait to take her somewhere new again! Any suggestions? Please include dessert or coffee!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eat Pray Love Journey – The Bay

By the time I started looking into flights, I received an email from JetBlue that they were having a 20% discount on all domestic flights for a few days. I knew I had to take advantage of this deal! So on the last day of the deal, I bought a one-way flight from Long Beach Airport to Oakland International Airport for $42.02 including tax! What a steal, right? From SoCal to NorCal, it usually ranges from $60 to $100 for one-way! I tend to find good deals to NorCal through JetBlue.

Side note about myself. I love traveling but I don’t like the process of buying flight tickets or making big purchases on the spot. I’m sure no one really enjoys spending money to travel per se but I’m the type where I can’t buy the ticket right then and there even if it’s a really good deal. I need a lot of time to figure out if it’s worth it and try to figure out logistics, etc. Even if I think I’m ready to purchase it, I’ll look at the screen for awhile and contemplate whether or not to back out last minute before clicking the PAY NOW/SUBMIT/CONFIRM button. I’ll say to myself, “Ok, here I go! I’m going to buy it! I’m going to do it! Wait..should I really do this? Can I get a lifeline? I don’t know what I should do. Ok, no. Ok, wait, yes. I’m going to do it!” It’s quite of an online battle with myself when it comes to situations like these especially when you can’t return or cancel it without a charge.

With this JetBlue deal, I just had to purchase it without a thought. I actually wanted to ask my friends first in the Bay area to see if I can crash at their place before purchasing a ticket but there wasn’t enough time to get a prompt response from them. So I just had to buy the ticket and figure out the logistics later.

My friend, Derek, who is quite of a YOLO-ist recently bought a round trip ticket from LA to South Korea for $600-700. The deal was going on for one day and would be sold out immediately so he bought it right when the deal came out. I asked him, “Shouldn’t you figure out where are you going to stay before buying it? What are you going to do there? Who are you going with?” He just responded, “I’m going to just have to figure that out later!” Sometimes, you don’t need to know everything before you purchase a ticket. You can figure out the logistics afterwards and there’s plenty of ways to play around with your itinerary. In other words, YOLO.

It’s like buying a dress or whatever piece of clothing item. You see a beautiful dress on sale but you don’t know when you’ll wear it. In cases like these, sometimes it’s best to take advantage of the sale and buy the dress because you can always figure out later when you’ll need to wear it. It’ll just come in handy down the line. Hope that made sense. If you’re a guy, replace dress with a necktie…

Ok, so I bought my one-way ticket and it was a huge sigh of relief to get that out of the way. I was messaging a handful of people to see if they could pick me up from the airport and/or if I could crash at their place. This part was the hardest to plan. I wasn’t getting positive responses from my friends because the timing was bad when I was landing there. One thing I figured out was that I spending the night at Yesie’s!

The only question left to answer was, “How am I getting to Yesie’s?” Answer. Michelle! Yay! By the way, Michelle is a great singer, dancer, funny and loving friend. Check out one of her Youtube videos covering one of my favorite songs Giving Up by Ingrid Michaelson:

During my one hour flight from Long Beach to Oakland, I was able to surf the web thanks to JetBlue providing free wifi! I was so surprised by the free wifi that I had to tweet them about it 30,000 feet in the air! They responded to my tweet humorously with a giff!

Here’s the picture that I sent to Jetblue of my surprised look. I need to mention that I was not listening to any music. It looked appropriate to have headphones on for this picture.

 Once I landed in Oakland, I had to meet up with Michelle in Millbrae which was south east of the Bay from where I was. So I took the AirBART which was a $3 bus ride from the airport to the actual BART station in Oakland.

BART stands for Bay Area Rapid Transit aka the train for the Bay area. When the bus dropped us off at the station, you knew you were in Oakland. If you’re ever there, you might see people standing on a bench and dancing to their music or people asking everyone for money. The culture in Oakland is different and can be unsafe especially at night. Luckily, I was there when the sun was still out.

For $5.25, I was on the BART for an hour and a half. It was empty at first and slowly got packed as people were getting off from work. There was a different group of people at each stop on the BART so it was fun to just people watch in that way. Oh but it was also kind of scary. You may encounter a homeless person on the bart where they are talking to themselves in a foul language. You might think that they’re talking to you because you feel so out of place but don’t worry, they’re really just talking to themselves. (That happened to me.)

At one point, I had to transfer to a different bart. As I was waiting for the next bart, I just stood there with my luggage and waited. I scanned around the station to know my surrounding because you know, safety is important. I scanned the area quite a few times that I probably looked a little suspicious. I tried to play it cool but I don’t think it worked because I had this luggage with me. The station was pretty bare. You could probably count that there were less than ten people waiting for the next bart. For some creepy reason, one guy just had to walk so closely next to me! There was plenty of space at the station for him to walk around. He didn’t steal anything from me but I think he was trying to scare me since I just gave off the shady vibe for looking out of place.

Finally when I got to Millbrae, I saw Michelle! She was the first friend I saw on my EPLJ!

We went over to El Palenque Taqueria in San Mateo for some homey Mexican food. They have 4.5 out of 5 stars with 120 reviews on Yelp.

For the past month, I’ve been eating pretty healthy. When I got to El Palenque Taqueria, I told myself, “Ok, I’m going to pick something healthy!” So I got a huge breakfast burrito that had sausage with eggs and salsa. I obviously failed immediately at being healthy but it was worth my $4.64.

I really don’t think you can go wrong with a breakfast burrito. It was so hot and fresh from the grill that I had to wait until it cooled down to eat it. That burrito was so big that I was only able to eat half of it and saved the other half for the next day.

I have no idea why I didn’t think about getting two or three tacos since it’s more proportional to eat but I somehow just thought about getting a burrito or a bigger burrito.

Michelle and I spent a few hours eating and catching up there. We had some real talk at that taqueria! Good times laughing and crying with this girl!

Afterwards, we looked into taking a dance class together. When she used to live in SoCal, she was my dance buddy. She is definitely a better dancer than me! She’s got swag!

For some odd reason, dance classes in NorCal are expensive even for drop-ins! One studio was $25 for a one hour class. After much research, we decided to not take a jazz or hip-hop class. Instead, we listened to Sam Smith’s I’m Not The Only One on repeat:

Then we finally went over to Yesie’s place to spend the night! Whee!

Huge thanks to Michelle for picking me up from the bart station! Also, big thank you to Yesie for opening up your house!

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!

Late Night Dessert

I’ve been hearing about how Magnolia Bakery has the best bread pudding! So Elaine, Derek, and I were all in LA together one late night and went to go check it out. We got there right before they were about to close! Magnolia Bakery has a cottage design to it that gives it a quaint and homey feel. Downside about this cute place is that there aren’t a lot of seating available inside and parking can be a bust.

We ordered a large tub of their popular breading pudding for $6. Because there weren’t a lot of seating available inside, we went outside. Once we sat down and tried a spoon of it, oh man, it was game over. The breading pudding was so much more than what I expected. I knew it was going to be good, but not THAT GOOD!

Everything about the bread pudding made me speechless. We definitely had a moment of silence to enjoy its goodness. The overall flavor of the bread pudding was simple and sweet. Finding pieces of banana and bread within the pudding were pleasant surprises! The only problem I had about it was that there weren’t enough bread and banana. At the end, there was more pudding than bread or banana left. I was still fine with just the pudding though.

I think I could have finished that ‘large’ tub by myself. I’m putting large in quotes because it wasn’t that large.

This bread pudding is perfect for all sorts of occasion. If you’re happy, treat yourself to some bread pudding from Magnolia Bakery. If you just got out of a relationship, then please treat yourself to some bread pudding. It’s a tub of happiness that will put you in a better mood!

After Magnolia Bakery, we went to Saffron and Rose Ice Cream. It’s a Persian ice cream shop which I’ve never tried before. It’s a popular hole in the wall ice cream shop to check out if you’re ever in the Westwood area in LA. Yelp gives them a 4.5 stars out of 5 with almost 600 reviews!

The three of us shared a medium with 3 different flavors. We got the Saffron pistachio, white rose, and green tea. What makes this ice cream shop different compared to others is the texture and its unique flavors. I loved the saffron pistachio because of its light nutty taste and the fact that there were actual pieces of pistachio in there.

The white rose was a unique one in a good way. It definitely had a floral taste which was refreshing. In general, I’m not a fan of dessert or tea that taste flowery because all I think of is potpourri. But! This white rose ice cream gave me hope that not all desserts with a flower name will be like potpourri.

The green tea wasn’t as special as the other two but was still good. It wasn’t as creamy as regular ice cream or gelato.

As we were eating our ice cream, the table next to us who were Persian started talking to us. They were curious about our Korean culture and wanted to learn the language. Luckily, Elaine was there to save me and Derek from saying anything wrong about our culture. So Elaine started teaching one of them the Korean alphabet and I think the guy got it down better than me! Talking to them was a great way to end our late night dessert adventure!

Thanks Elaine and Derek for showing me around some hip dessert places in LA! Next time, let’s start the night early and check out more places. Maybe we’ll have a repeat of Diabes Hang Out.

One Star Pizza & Chicken

I think I was the last person within the Korean community to ever try Korean pizza. What is so special about Korean pizza is that they have pieces of sweet potatoes within the pizza or the crust is filled with it. When I first heard about it, I was shocked that there even such an amazing creation like that!

So the first time I ever tried it was actually in China 3 years ago! How ironic, huh? Then the second time I tried it was 2 years ago in Korea! Somehow, I was never able to try it here in America until recently.

I was able to relive those memories recently with some good company here in Orange County. So Cindy, Josephine, Phil and I went out to One Star Pizza & Chicken in Anaheim for some sweet potato pizza!

We started out with a complimentary salad with thousand island dressing and some sriracha. As you can see in the picture, the salad was topped with corn. Lots of corn. It’s not your traditional American salad but it worked! The sriracha gave the salad a unique kick to it.

Then we had our sweet potato pizza! It was exactly how I remembered it when I tried it in China and in Korea. The blocks of sweet potato brought a subtle sweetness to the pizza. Because of that, we kept wanting more of it. The pizza itself was well stuffed with cheese, meat, and veggies.

We wanted more but after a few slices, we couldn’t take it anymore. We actually got stuffed pretty quickly. At the end of it all, every bite of that pizza was heaven. I was more than satisfied with the whole experience at One Star Pizza & Chicken. Yelp agrees with me too! With 149 reviews, they have 4 out of 5 stars. I wouldn’t mind giving them 4.5 stars because that pizza was too good to be true!

I definitely want to come back here sometime soon for more of that sweet potato pizza! Maybe next time, I will try other popular items like the Bulgogi Pizza or the crust stuffed with sweet potato! Let’s go again Cindy, Jo, and Phil! Thanks for joining me on this!

Anepalco’s Cafe

I met up with Christian for breakfast one last time before he had to go back to the east coast. We met up at Anepalco’s Cafe in Orange which is only a few minutes away from Mainplace Mall. We met up pretty early because I was afraid of the crowd. It seemed like a busy and popular place according to Yelp. Luckily, there wasn’t a crowd at 9AM so we got seated pretty quickly. It’s a small restaurant so it’s probably best to not come in with a big group. Max of going in a group of 4 is probably best.

Front of Anepalco's Cafe

Front of Anepalco’s Cafe

FYI. Parking is a little weird. There’s only one row of parking which is right in front of the restaurant.There’s not a lot of space to park unless you get there early. You can park in the back of the building but it only has a few spots or you can park across the street.

Christian and I both ordered Anepalco’s Chilaquiles. It’s the most popular item on the menu. I was really excited to try the chilaquiles because it’s one of my favorite kind of Mexican food. My best friend, Chelsea, introduced me to chilaquiles for the first time in 2007 when we went to Manzanillo in Mexico. That was when I fell in love with chilaquiles for the rest of my life. But ever since then, I wasn’t able to find anything exactly like the chilaquiles from Manzanillo here in California. I have to say that the Anepalco’s Chilaquiles was pretty close to that from Mexico.

When the waiter brought our food, it was love at first sight. I was amazed by the beauty of its presentation when the food was right in front of me.

Top view of Anepalco's Chilaquiles

Top view of Anepalco’s Chilaquiles

After one immediate bite of it, I felt like I was in love with chilaquiles once again just like back in 2007. The tortilla chips had the perfect texture of not being too crispy or too soft. The chilaquiles was surrounded by this sauce which was a flavorful addition to it, but even without the sauce, the chilaquiles was still so good. It was so good that Christian and I had a moment of silence to embrace the goodness of it.

This was worth my 9 bucks. If you ever crave for chilaquiles, this is the place to go to. If you’ve never tried chilaquiles before, then make sure you try it at Anepalco’s Cafe first, please. Pretty please. By the time we were done eating within an hour, the restaurant was starting to get busy as there was a wait to get seated.

Christian, when you’re back we’ll check this place out again! I’m glad we got to hang out one last time before you leave!

That’s Just Racist

Stacy and I went to Cheesecake Factory one night for dinner. We ordered spinach and cheese dip for appetizer and split an entree. At the end of our meal, we asked for our check. Our waitress did a quick double check to make sure that she was handing us the right receipt. Once she confirmed she said, “Yup, that’s your check.” We then looked at it and this is what we saw…

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Do you see the problem? If not, let me say one word. Asian.

Stacy is Asian. I am Asian.

It was definitely not the right check. We think the waitress gave us this check thinking that we being Asian ordered the Asian Chicken Salad. We weren’t offended. We just laughed it off. We could have said something but decided to not embarrass the waitress. It happens. She was busy. Perhaps I’m justifying her actions but we need to give her a benefit of a doubt.

Pretty funny though, huh?