SoCal

Day in Downtown LA

I’ve hung out in Downtown LA many times before. There’s so much history, art, culture, and food that I always find something new. Even if I don’t find something new, the old is still good.

What I like the most about going to DTLA aside from the challenges of finding parking and the busy one way streets is going there with my friends. Especially if it’s their first time exploring the area, I love showing them the beauty of DTLA.

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BeeJay, Peter, and I hung out in DTLA before it got too crowded on a Saturday afternoon. We made our first stop at Grand Central Market for brunch. I’ve shared about Grand Central Market on my blog here before. Last time I was here, my friend and I ate at Anna Maria’s. This time we ate at Tacos Tumbras a Tomas. It’s another good spot for Mexican food. On Yelp it has 4.5 stars with more than 650 reviews.

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They were quick to make our food fresh and delicious. We all got something different but I got scrambled eggs with chorizo and a large side of hash brown and tortilla. They gave me so much that I needed help finishing it!

After our hearty Mexican brunch, we had to walk it off. We walked over to The Bradbury Building. This place never gets old. Every time I walk into this place, I’m still amazed by its architecture and I think about the happy ending from the movie 500 Days of Summer. Well, it’s a happy ending depending on how you take it.

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Then we walked a block behind The Bradbury Building and went to The Last Bookstore. We walked through the maze of bookshelves and luckily, we didn’t lose each other!

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The last time I came here, I somehow missed the records section!

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There were so many vinyls with deep history rooted in them. These are music the older generation like our parents or grandparents grew up with. It was these music that set the mood in their living room or set the tone of their generation.

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I love how The Last Bookstore is able to maximize their space with artworks on the wall and broken clocks as planters.

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Even though we made a few stops in DTLA, we actually walked around a lot and got hungry again! To beat the traffic, we drove back down to Orange County and we went over to Hamji Park in Buena Park. They’re known for pork ribs, pork soup, and pork everything.

I’m sad to share with you that on Yelp it only has 3.5 stars with 132 reviews. They are still relatively a new restaurant in the Orange County area so I’m sure people are still learning about the restaurant.

But! In K-town (in LA), they have 4 stars with more than 1100 reviews on Yelp. So you know it’s good. I think the reason why the OC location has a lower rating is because they’re simply new.

Actually that might not be the only reason. My mom has this Korean theory that within the first three months from when a Korean restaurant opens, the service and food are great. They want to prove to the world that they’re awesome which they tend to live up to for at least three months. But! After those three months of the honeymoon stage pass by, my mom believes that the service and food go downhill from there.

I hope this isn’t true for Hamji Park at the OC location because the food has actually been really great for the past five times I have gone.

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I still enjoyed what we got that day after a long day in DTLA! We all shared the ribs and the pork stew with potatoes. It hit the SPOT especially since we were pretty hungry. Look how beautiful the food looks!

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Ok, one thing I do want to share is that I was actually surprised how the food came out pretty quickly. We ate an odd hour like 4 in the afternoon. There were only a few groups there. So I get it, they weren’t busy and so they poured out their heart and soul to make only our food. But!  It just made me think that this was all prepped beforehand and they just reheated the food.

But why was this still so good? I don’t know. Let’s not think about this too much because I do love their food.

Anyway, we ended up leaving Hamji Park with leftovers and feeling happy with a full stomach!

Thanks Peter for driving us around! I’m glad we didn’t get lost on our way to DTLA and back home to OC! Sorry Peter & BeeJay that I left my my DSLR behind that day. Thank you for understanding.

 

 

 

 

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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!

LA Part One: USC Concerto Night

I’m taking a piano class at a community college and my piano instructor invited the class to her performance with the USC Thornton Symphony at the Bovard Auditorium. I was very much impressed by every single piece of music that was performed. First, Joseph Morris, a clarinetist performed Neilsen’s Clarinet Concerto flawlessly. Oh man. I’ve never seen a clarinetist perform like Morris. His musicality was so controlled yet so freely played beautifully. As he performed, you were able to tell he was very much in sync with the music. If you ever have the opportunity to see Morris perform this song or to listen to this song live at a concert, I highly recommend you to take advantage of it. His performance was one where you had to be there experience the difficulty of the piece he played.

Frederich-Olivier Rosselet, a cellist, performed Lutoslawski’s Cello Concerto. Now this piece brought out all kinds of emotions from me and my friends. There was darkness, confusion, terror, and loneliness from this piece. If you closed your eyes and listened to this song, it almost felt like you were hiding from someone who was chasing you or you were trying to run away and somehow ended up getting lost in a pitch black room or a forest at night. You pace back and forth not knowing what to do because all your thoughts are scattered as you’re by yourself in the middle of nowhere.

Playing an open string so gently seemed almost harmless but in this piece, it still carried a bold sense of emotion. Whether you open or close your eyes during a live performance of this piece, I am sure that you will be carried away by your emotions. Even the musician, Rosselet, was so lost in the music because the piece had a heavy character to it that required great technical skills to execute almost effortlessly and beautifully.
Frederich-Olivier Rosselet

The final performance was my piano instructor, Fang-Fang Shi Inouye. From the beginning, you were able to hear easily that the music was composed by Beethoven. Inouye gracefully played Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with great flow of emotion. I was in awe of how she moved across the keyboard effortlessly and so quickly. Though I saw with my own eyes that she was hitting every note, I still could not believe the intensity of her technical skills. Her performance was a great way to end the show as it had an enlightening experience to it.

This concert certainly inspired me to continue playing music as it is an art that challenges the mind and imagination in so many levels. I hope to attend another Conceto Night performed by USC or different symphony sometime soon. It’s really amazing how music can really paint emotions to your ears.
Fang-Fang Shi Inouye

Spontaneous Night to LA

Finally Briana was free from school and work. So we had to have a mandatory hang out. We had dinner at In-N-Out. Then decided spontaneously to go to LA for dessert and to check out Rodeo Drive. We went to Bottega Louie for some fancy shmancy macarons. Since we got there a little after 9PM, all the good macarons were gone. We picked out the ones that they had the least of because we thought that if they have little left for a certain macaron that means a lot of customers got that one. For 5 macarons in a pretty lavendar box we paid a little under $11. A little expensive for me but I thought I’d get some for my family and just for the experience of trying Bottega Louie’s macarons. Bottega Louie is not only a maracon place but a restaurant also. Even though we got there late, the restaurant was pretty darn packed and busy! I’ll check it out one day.

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We took our macarons and off we went to Rodeo Drive. I really wanted to go to Rodeo Drive because on Instagram a blogger who I follow posted up a pretty scenery on Rodeo Drive. I took a screenshot and texted Briana, “Let’s go there!” She said she knew where it was. So then it was a perfect night to go check it out after macaron adventure.

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It was a magical moment when we found the Christmas tree and the lights. We tried to take the picture just like the the Instagrammer but we weren’t as successful as Angelaishere. Even though I don’t know who “Angelaishere” is, thanks to her, Briana and I had a fun time walking around Rodeo Drive at night and taking pretty Christmas light pictures.

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Oh how I love the power of social media. It’s crazy how it works.

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.

Thai Gulf

Earlier this year, I went to a restaurant called Thai Gulf for the first time in Huntington Beach, California. Eating there was probably my most memorable Thai food restaurant experience ever for 3 reasons. One because food was cheap! Because we went during lunch hours on a Saturday, there was a special deal. We paid about $6 for pad thai, rice, soup, and egg roll. Free ice tea drink! Two. Food was simply good. I think because the food wasn’t expensive, it just made the food tastier. Three. The owners of the restaurant provided hospitable customer service. They were funny too.

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We all basically got the same meal deal at Thai Gulf. I don’t know any other Thai Restaurants that can beat that deal.

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I need to pay a $6 visit to Thai Gulf soon. It’s been too long.

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/thai-gulf-huntington-beach

626 Night Market

This weekend in Arcadia, there will be countless booths lined up to sell all kinds of Asian food. It’s time for the festivity of Asian food to begin (soon)! I’ve been eyeing on this event for a month or two. I’m looking forward to see how it turns out! It seems like there will be 40+ vendors there. Be ready to make some choices on what to eat or be ready to eat everything. If you want to know more about this, check out: http://www.626nightmarket.com

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