lunch

SacTown

Eat Pray Love Journey – Day 3 – Sacramento

I woke up early in the morning to get to the Greyhound station in San Jose. Huge thanks to Stacy and Yesie for waking up early to drop me off at 7am!

I was at the station to get a ride from San Jose to Sacramento for my next stop. It was $18.50 for this ride! So I was probably one of the first few people who arrived at the station early. So I just read and played on my iPad until the bus came.

Note to future self: You don’t need to get there an hour before your departure time especially if it’s early in the morning. Maybe get there 30 minutes before departure.

Right when I got inside the bus, I knew that this bus traveled many places with many kinds of people. It just smelled in there in the beginning and I’m sure I blended in with the smell so I couldn’t smell it anymore. I should’ve brought Febreeze. Oh well, next time.

Anyway, the bus had WiFi! I was so surprised how technology has advanced in that way but unfortunately, the WiFi was a little spotty. It wasn’t the best WiFi but hey, better than nothing, right?

So I checked my email and read some more. Then there was a stop in Oakland. I thought that we were picking more people up from Oakland but I quickly realized that they were dropping us off there! I was thinking to myself, “Oh man. I’m back in Oakland. Here we go again…” I was at the Oakland Greyhound station for an hour and time flew by quickly! Luckily, nothing shady happened. Wew!

So then after Oakland, we were finally on our way to Sacramento for an hour and a half drive! There were probably less than 20 people on the bus and the ride was not bad at all. It still smelled but I was just glad to be out of Oakland for my own safety.

Briana, my best frenemy, picked me up from the Sacramento Greyhound Station. By the way, Briana is one of the most punctual friends ever. I’m really thankful to have a friend like her who values time like that! Go Bri!

It was so surreal to see her in SacTown! We talk on the phone quite often so it felt like it was no big deal to see her there but then again, I couldn’t believe that I was visiting her in Sacramento!

Since I arrived in the afternoon, we grabbed lunch at Jack’s Urban Eats in downtown Sacramento. I told Briana that I didn’t care what I did in Sacramento but all I wanted to do was eat as healthy as I could.

This place is like Pluto’s where they make salad in front of you. They currently have 3.5 stars with more than 400 reviews on Yelp. Even though this place may be all about salad, one of their popular items is the garlic fries!

I got the Santa Fe Chicken which is like any other Santa Fe Chicken salad for $10.04. It had grilled chicken, romaine, fire-roasted red bell pepper, jicama, corn, black beans, tomato, tortilla strips, and tequila lime dressing. I don’t know why but I really like Santa Fe Chicken salads. I think it’s because I like how it has soft and crispy textures mixed in.

Jack’s Urban Eats is overall a simple salad and sandwich restaurant. It doesn’t hurt to check this place out but you’re also not missing out on much if you can’t stop by.

We were probably there for a few hours catching up. We tend to talk a lot in person and on the phone. Especially on the phone, we can easily talk for an hour minimum!

So we went over to her place and relaxed. Actually, she had to study for a bit which worked out perfectly because I wanted to work out! Yes, I worked out during my travels and it felt good!

Like I mentioned earlier, I told Briana that I didn’t really care for much what we were going to do. I didn’t Google what to do in Sacramento because I honestly didn’t mind taking it easy since I was only going to be there for a little less than 24 hours.

We did some errands as if we were just hanging out together in Orange County and picked up some food at Kabob Palace. This restaurant is an Afghan restaurant with 4 out of 5 stars and 58 reviews on Yelp. Though it currently has some decent reviews, this place was bare on a Friday night. Actually, the area we were in reminded me of South Orange County where shops close early and the town gets dark and quiet pretty quickly at night.

I enjoyed the chicken kabob I got for $12.95. It wasn’t greasy at all and had some spices to bring out the flavor of the chicken. The bread and the rice that comes with the kabob were pretty darn good. You can easily get addicted to it but I had to have some self control to not have so much carbs.

After dinner, we went over to one of her friend’s place to watch a movie. It was my first time watching any movie in a long time! I’m not much of a movie person unless it’s a documentary. Weird, I know. That’s a whole different story. Anyway, so we watched Insidious. It was fun watching it because I do enjoy scary and thriller movies. At one point though, I knocked out. I’m not sure if it was the loud noise from the movie that made me fall asleep or because I was already tired from traveling or that it was past my bed time. I did wake up just in time to see how it ended! But ugh…I knew there was something wrong with the dad! I just knew it!

It was definitely really late after watching the movie and my contacts were dried out! So we ended our Friday night with a scary movie!

Side note: Scary movies have no affect on me except to make me fall asleep. Just kidding-ish. I enjoy getting scared and don’t get nightmares after watching them. But! When people scream during the movie, it makes me jump out of my seat even though nothing actually happened in the movie. I’m usually pretty calm. And that’s what happened when I watched Insidious. People were screaming and it scared me. The end.

Thanks Briana for picking me up at the station and making it a chill visit!

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The Bay

Eat Pray Love Journey – The Bay – Day 2

For my time in the Bay area, I actually did not plan anything. The only plan was to just go with the flow! I just wanted to hang out with the people there. It’s the people who make NorCal homey.

The first activity we did in the morning was to go hike! Michelle, Yesie, and I drove over to the Almaden Quicksilver Park in San Jose. Yelp gives this park 4.5 stars with 133 reviews!

We started the hike a little late in the morning since we slept in. The hike was tough with the heat creeping in but those uphills made the hike more of a challenge.

I thought those uphills were never going to end but the beautiful view on the way up was never ending!

The view of the fields, clear sky, and trees reminded me of Lion King. Specifically, the first 20 seconds from the clip below:

I should have played The Circle of Life song while I was hiking. I’ll have to do that next time! So after forty minutes of hiking uphill with the scenic view of mother nature, the hike started to get easier. We finished within an hour and fifteen minutes of hiking around this park! We made it alive!

For lunch we headed over to Ike’s, a popular sandwich shop in the Bay area. There, Yesie and I met up with Pastor Sam and his wife for a mini reunion!

Yelp reviews give all Ike’s locations a 4 star! That shows you how good this place is! For sunny SoCal residents, there is one that just opened up in LA!

They have all kinds of unique sandwiches on their menu and they all sound good! I got The 49er which had buffalo wings sauce, cheddar, halal chicken, and honey mustard! I would definitely not mind getting this again!

Isn’t that a beautiful sammich? I wish you could take a bite of this right now because the spread and the halal chicken went perfectly together! This was one thick halal chicken sandwich with a juicy spread! I was so full from one half of the sandwich that I had to save the other half for dinner.

Because we ate so much, the four of us walked around downtown San Jose for a little bit. Then Yesie and I headed over to Santana Row. This a fancy outdoorsy mall in San Jose. I would compare this place to The Grove or The Americana at Brand in LA or Fashion Island in Orange County. There are a bunch of stores and restaurants to check out, and spots to just sit down and relax!

Yesie and I had some real talk here as we waited for more of our friends to join us. I’m always encouraged when I talk to Yesie. She has an optimistic view in life that can easily bring anyone up!

Michelle and Grace joined us for dinner! We all went over to Pluto’s in Santana Row. It’s a make-your-own salad kind of restaurant that is only found in NorCal. For SoCal residents, I’d compare this place to Tender Greens. I didn’t get a plate of salad because I still had my other half from Ike’s but I just got a small plate of vegetables. It’s always good to have some greens in you!

Majority of the different Pluto’s location have 4 stars on Yelp. The one in particular we went to had 3.5 stars with more than 900 Yelp reviews. If you’re craving something clean, this is definitely the right restaurant to check out! Everything is made fresh right in front of you!

Connie joined us in the middle of dinner. It got merrier once she arrived!

The five us here have known each other since 2007! Seven years later, we are big kids who are still able to come together and pick up where we left off!

After a healthy dinner at Pluto’s, we went over to Peet’s for a warm drink on a cold night! Stacy was able to finally join us there! It was more time of fellowship with these girls where we encouraged each other, laughed, and helped Stacy use Instagram on her new iPhone 6!

We ended our night here with a prayer of gratitude and joyfulness! Many thanks to many friends who came out to eat and hang out with me! Thank you to Pastor Sam & Yehee SMN for providing lunch and challenging my faith at Ike’s! Thanks Grace for coming out after work! I’m glad that we were able to have a quick catch up session! Connie! It was good seeing you even for an hour! Thanks for making time for me even for a little bit! Michelle, I’m thankful that you were able to take time off and play with me! Again, thank you so much for picking me up from Millbrae! Stacy, I didn’t think I was going to see you because of your work situation but I’m so glad that we were able to spend the night together! And Yesie, my Yesie! I’m sorry you were stuck with me all day and night but I learned so much from you in such a short amount of time spent with you. Thank you again for opening up your house as always!

 

Spontaneous Road Trip: Day 1

For a few months, Kat and I were talking about exploring and traveling for a few days. We thought about setting time aside to go to the airport and buy the cheapest flight. Somehow that didn’t work out. We then decided on Antelope Canyon in Arizona. That didn’t work out either. Then, finally we decided to go somewhere a little more local, Santa Barbara. The day before our adventure began, we met up to figure out our plans. We looked at hotels, motels, Couch Surfing, and activities in Santa Barbara. Our research wasn’t very successful since it was all last minute. We decided that we would just figure out then and there by downloading traveling apps on our phone. All we knew was that we were going to first stop at State Street because it has seven miles of stores and restaurants to check out!

Next day, we met up at 9AM, picked up some snacks, and were off to Santa Barbara!

It took us about 2.5 hours to get there which wasn’t too bad. The drive there was so scenic and beautiful especially because of the ocean!

Once we found a parking spot on State Street, we were off to the beginning of our seven mile shopping journey.

We first grabbed some food at Savoy Cafe & Deli which had positive reviews on Yelp. It showed 4 stars with 162 reviews. There was so much on the menu and on top of that, there was a salad bar!

I decided to get their popular Turkey Fritter that has been on TV before thanks to Guy Fieri from Food Network.

Kat and I both got the same thing, the turkey Fritter.

It reminded me of the savory Korean pancakes called buchimgae or neon. The fritter had a homey taste to it with the fried batter mixed with turkey and vegetables.

When I’m traveling, I tend to my lose my appetite easily for some odd reasons. So this fritter filled me up perfectly!

Afterwards, we walked over to The French Press to get some coffee for a tiny boost of energy. This coffee shop is pretty small but has a nice feel to it because of the hospitable customer service.

So I got a small Iced Vanilla Latte for $4 or $5. It was a little expensive for me but when you go to a hipster coffee shop like this, lattes are a little more expensive than your normal Starbucks.

We sat outside and relaxed a little bit before actually beginning our shopping excursion.

Actually, we found a historical courthouse nearby that we went to check out. It was so beautiful because of the architecture and the paintings all over. Though it may seem like a museum because the artwork and the many tourists inside, it’s still an actual courthouse!

Can you tell what the picture below is?

It’s a spiraling staircase! I’m in the middle of the spiral where it’s just hallow and took a picture looking up! Pretty cool, huh?

We found a courtroom that is more used as a display for historical reasons. There was a window that was perfect for a dramatic scene in a Korean drama. So Kat graciously took a picture of me in a pensive state as if I’m looking out the window to find the love of my life.

This window was awesome because it had natural sunlight just beaming into the dark courtroom. It was almost breathtaking to see such powerful rays coming into the room.

The courthouse is two or three stories high. On our way to the top, we found this tiled seating area that perfectly matched Kat’s outfit!

We got to the top and was able to see a good view of Santa Barbara.

While we were hanging out at the top floor, we wanted to take a picture. I asked a fellow stranger to take a picture of me and Kat. He respectfully responded with a yes. I thanked him and decided to start up a conversation with him since I enjoy meeting new people! So I asked where he’s from. He said South Korea and I excitedly responded, “I’m Korean!” With a little confused look, he said “Really?” I said yes and said hi to him in Korean. Still in disbelief that I was Korean, he continued to speak in his broken English to me and Kat. I don’t think he believed that I was Korean at all. Oh well but thank you stranger for taking a picture of us!

Afterwards, we finally went shopping. We both got something from Gap because they were having a 40% off sale! On State Street, there’s a lot of stores you’ll recognize from your usual malls but there’s also mom and pop shops where they sell little trinkets and such.

We were pretty tired from walking around for several hours. We sat down for a little bit and tried to figure out the rest of our plans for the day. By this time it was around 5PM and we still didn’t know where we were going to spend the night. I suggested to Kat that we should go to NorCal since we were only 4 hours away. My friend, Aaron, actually suggested it to me before I went on the road trip. He advised that I should maximize my time while I’m traveling since Santa Barbara is pretty close to San Jose and San Francisco. So I brought it up to Kat and she was down to go up north!

I started calling all of my friends (Stacy, Yesie, JennJi, Michelle, P.Sam) in the San Jose area and no one picked up! I told Kat, “Ok, we should just drive up even though no one picked up. Someone is bound to call us by the time we start driving.” So we got to our car and then miraculously Stacy called me back! We asked if we could stay at her place and she said yes without hesitating! We told her that we would see her in 4 or 5 hours.

We went to a Mexican restaurant to grab dinner but noticed it was too expensive so we walked across the street and went to a small burger joint called Chubbies Hamburgers. Cute name, huh? It was pretty cheap and good. I wasn’t expecting anything too fancy. My cheeseburger filled me up and I was content with that!

Once we had our Chubbies cheeseburger, we were off to a San Jose. We only made one stop because we had to take pictures of the open field.

Of course, we took a selfie by the 101 sign before getting back on the road!

We got to San Jose close to midnight! Praise God that the whole drive up north was a safe one and we were able to keep each other awake!

Pokinometry

I need to be honest with everyone about myself. Here we go. I’m not a huge fan of sushi. I know, I know. Please don’t judge me. BUT! I’m slowly starting to like it now mainly because of Pokinometry. Pokinometry is in downtown Anaheim on Harbor Boulevard, located walking distance from Center Street Anaheim. This place has been getting quite a lot of attention as everyone is looking for any sort of place that has poki. Yelp rates Pokinometry 4 out of 5 stars with 838 reviews. The concept of this place is like Chipotle where you go down the line to choose what items you want for your burrito. At Pokinometry, you first pick the main base of your bowl whether it’s rice, chips, or salad. Then, you pick how many scoops of fish you want. A medium size is 3 scoops and for a large is 5 scoops. If you’re indecisive or want variety of fish, you can pick and choose 3 to 5 different kinds of fish. If you only love salmon, then you can have all scoops be salmon. Afterwards, you can choose a ponzu, soy sauce, or a mayo based sauce. Finally, you want to top off your bowl with smelt eggs, onion, or sesame seeds. Then wah-lah. You have a pokibowl!

I surprisingly enjoyed my poki bowl a lot because of how fresh the fish was and the smooth texture of it just melted in my mouth. The medium bowl might look like it’s not enough to fill you up but don’t let the size deceive you. Pokinometry knows how to stuff the bowl with its poki!

I have to say that I prefer a poki bowl over sushi. Pokinometry is more on the affordable end where it’s a little over $10 for a medium bowl compared to eating sushi at a restaurant can cost almost $20 including tax and tip.

Thanks Briana for being my co-host on my Tastemade appisode of Pokinometry and thank you Christian for your assistance on recording!

For more of my Tastemade appisodes, click here!

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!

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!