Tokyo Trip

Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Chinese Lantern Festival! Traditionally, Chinese Lantern Festival is to celebrate the first full moon of the lunar new year. Children play with their lanterns and solve riddles on lanterns in park. People would eat glutinous rice balls and enjoy the family time together. In modern days, it is considered to be the Chinese Valentine’s Day, but people don’t do much to celebrate. Anyhow, enjoy a sweet day with your loved one. Bryan and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day, so we didn’t have any plan. We are more looking forward to the long weekend. ūüôā

And yes, I have been back in town for a week. Sadly, Bryan and I are still recovering from our jet lag. We have been feeling sleepy in the morning, afternoon and night-time. Every time when I almost fall asleep on the couch, Bryan would poke my arm with his finger to keep me awake. By now, I think there are many bruises on my arm. Haha! I think we will be back to normal early next week.

Before arriving in Hong Kong, we also stayed in Tokyo for 5 days. The main goal to Hong Kong was to visit family and friends, and check out Chinese New Year. On the other side, going to Japan was all for sightseeing. We had amazing times in both Hong Kong and Tokyo. With two thousand pictures, Bryan can only go through the Japan ones for now. I will update you all about the Hong Kong trip next time.

Let’s talk about Tokyo. This was Bryan’s first time to Japan. I have only been to Japan when I was a kid, so I didn’t remember anything. Japan is a very beautiful place with very nice and polite people. We felt welcomed. Tokyo is crowded, but everyone follows rules and we always feel safe. It is no doubt a great place for tourists. As a foodie, Tokyo is heaven. There are so many different kinds of food, like sushi, tonkatsu, kaiseki, and teppanyaki. There are always something new every meal. No repeat. And for snacks, wow….. They are really everywhere, especially in train/subway stations. You will never go hungry!

Sensoji Temple

Sensoji Temple

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Hong Kong Snack: Rice Noodle Rolls

Rice noodle rolls is called “pig intestine noodles” with literal¬†translation in Cantonese. The noodles do not contain any pig intestine. It is because of the shape of the noodles. They look like the intestines of a pig. There isn’t much flavors from the noodles themselves. Some of them are made with little dried shrimps and scallions, but mostly, the noodles are plain. It is good to eat the noodles with some sauces, like the sweet soy sauce, sesame sauce, and hoisin sauce. This noodles are usually served as breakfast, brunch, lunch or snack.

Back in high school, I loved to go to lunch in the near neighborhood. In there, I can get my favorite pig intestine noodles from this small general store. Other than selling crackers and drinks, the store also sold some hot food, like fish balls, fried noodles, and Hong Kong style waffle. All this stuff were really cheap, and they were so tasty. This place was one of students’ favorite! Because of that, I tired to walk faster every time ¬†and hoped to bet the crowd to get to the store first. If I got there a bit late, the line would be long.

The other day, I saw the pig intestine noodles in Shun Fat Supermarket. I was so happy, and I bought a package home. The noodles were already cooked, I just had to steam the noodles and made the sauces. The outcome was good. It was almost the same as I can remember. I am glad that Bryan liked them too.

Pig Intestine Noodles

Where can you get the noodles?

Shun Fat Supermarket (1635 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776)

Homemade Iranian Kabab

Iranian food seems to be far out of my region. Back in 5 years ago, this maybe true. But because of Bryan, I have got to know an Iranian family. Bryan has been closed with this family for years. They are one of the nicest people who I have ever met.

Every time when Bryan and I go to visit the Iranian family, we are always welcomed by big hugs and warm kisses on the cheeks. In the living room, there are always all kind of food on the coffee table. Fruit is the most common thing in an Iranian household. Then, you may find some nuts, some candies, and more fruits. And, you just can’t count out the tea. One of the most memorable things in this place has to be the Kabab Koobideh.

Kabab Koobideh is a skewer of ground meat (beef, lamb, or chicken) with minced onions. Depends on your personal choice, you can also add garlic, pepper, or parsley. The ingredients are actually very simple and basic, but the hard part is putting the meat on the flat skewer. Keeping the meat mixture on the skewer is not as easy as it looks. Technically, there is nothing holding the meat on the down side of the flat skewer. A good hard press and little water on hand just help to keep the kabab together. Then, the kabab is being cooked over a grill. When the kabab are done, the Iranian friend puts the lavash bread (flat bread) under the meat. The lavash taste so good with all the meat juice. Kabab is great with white rice and crispy rice bottom. The hot kabab is so juicy and delicious, and there is nothing taste better than this homemade kabab.

One day, I am going have a grill, and then, I can make this at home. Yum…

Ground beef Kababs

Over the grill

Kabab Koobideh with lavash bread

Crispy rice

Where can you get some Kabab Koobideh?

Shaherzad (1422 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024)

Mariner Of The Seas in August

Mariner Of The Seas

Relaxing on the patio

Even though it has been 2 months since the cruise to Mexico, I still can’t stop thinking about the trip. That was one of the most memorable vacation that I have taken in my life. At first, I was not too sure whether we would have a good time or not. I am glad that everything turned out to be wonderful.

Bryan and I went on the Mariner Of The Seas with my parents and my sister. We were all first time cruisers. We had no idea how huge the ship was until we were on it. It is like a whole city on a ship. You can find everything, like movie theater, ice skating range, basketball court, club, casino, rock climbing wall and arcade room. My family is not an active family, but we still found a plenty of things to do. The good thing is that everything is together. There is no driving or traveling around. You can take the elevators or stairs, and you will arrive at your destination in 5 to 15 minutes. Relaxing on a patio with the endless ocean view, it was incredible! No cleaning, no dishwashing, no cooking, no working….. All you need to do is relax, eat, sleep and have fun!

Before getting on the cruise, I have heard people talked about the buffet that you can eat all the time. I personally love buffet, and I thought I would be there all day long. But the buffet really wasn’t as great as I imagined. The food choices were fine, but the flavors were not that excellent. On the other hand, food in the dining rooms were great! I wouldn’t say the food were like in a five-star restaurants, but they were definitely good. We have had ducks, lobsters, filet mignon, escargots, salmon, and shrimps. I can’t say that all the food were tasty. It had its hits and misses, however, for most part, we were all very satisfied. We were all so stuffed every night. And, we still couldn’t resist the extra desserts that our waiter brought us sometimes.

It was a great experience. At the end, my family and I all agree that we should do another cruise in the future. What do I miss the most about the cruise? It has to be the food! The freshly baked breads and muffins… the perfectly cooked duck… the irresistible chocolate cake…. Did I tell you about the unlimited self-served frozen yogurt? Oh my….. We were there 3 times a day!

Please let me know if you are going on a cruise! Count me in!

If you are worried about sea sick, don’t worry too much. I usually get sea sick when traveling on a ship, but I didn’t this time. It did take me half day to get used to the motion in the beginning. After that, I was perfectly fine!

Duck

Chocolate cake

Chips Addiction

Who doesn’t love potato chips? But sometimes, potato chips can be really unhealthy.

Recently, I have found a good bag of tasty potato chips. It is said that the chips were not fried or baked. They pop the potatoes. I don’t know what the technology is, but chips are surely crispy! The chips have no preservatives. On the back of the chip bag, the ingredients list is pretty short. The company says that their chips have no fake colors, no fake flavors, and no grease.

No matter what they say, the chips are really tasty! And, they are definitely less fat! For 20 chips, there is 35 calories from fat, and there is 0 gram of saturated fat. The total calories is about 120.

Popchips

Popchips are good! So far, I have only tried two flavors, barbeque and cheddar. The barbeque is excellent. It is a bit smokey and sweet. Bryan and I both love this flavor a lot. For cheddar, we are not a fan. The cheddar taste is odd. I wouldn’t recommend that. Even though the cheddar wasn’t too good, I would still love to try all the other flavors. I am looking forward to try the original, and the sour cream and onion. If you want some chips today, give Popchips a try! I have seen them in Albertsons, Bristol Farms, and Costco, but I believe they are in most grocery stores.

Barbeque Popchips

Check out Popchips website!

The Bazaar’s Experience

The Bazaar is probably one of the most upscale and trendy restaurant in Los Angeles. It is a Spanish tapas restaurant. Bryan and I are mainly interested about their deconstruct food. Deconstruct food is to reinterpret a classic dish, and recreate into a new form. We are very curious on how the food will look and taste.

Luckily, we got a reservation during Dine LA Week. Dine LA Week happens twice a year. There are set menus and set prices for all the participating restaurants. It is perfect for foodies who like to try out new places without breaking the bank.

The setting of Bazaar is really bazaar. Nothing really matches. Most of the tables and chairs were different. Bryan and I both agreed that we liked the food. Some were very surprising that can blow your mind, like the Philly Cheesesteak and Organized Caesar. These were both deconstruct food, and they were very interesting to look at. Some were very delicious that you never forget, like the Jamon Serrano Fermin with the tomatoes bread. The prosciutto was so yummy, and the bread was refreshing. Some are just fine that you may have it before, like the codfish fritters. I have had similar thing in Portuguese cuisine before. I believe we will go back. There is something that we definitely want to try, like the bagel and lox cone, and the cotton candy foie gras.

Organized Caesar @ The Bazaar

Philly cheesesteak @ The Bazaar

Bunuelos (codfish fritters) @ The Bazaar

Nobo Whole Fruit Tea (berries) @ The Bazaar

The Bazaar (SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills, 465 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048)

Recommend: Philly Cheesesteak, Organized Caesar, Jamon Serrano Fermin

Price: $60 – $80 per person

Lokness’ Rating:¬†‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ

The Trend of Food Truck

In this recent year, food trucks have been popping up everywhere in Los Angeles. The idea of food truck is nothing new. There are many tacos and burritos food trucks existed long before. Most of these food trucks are served as cafeteria for construction sites and factories. The food is usually cheap and simple.

Food truck revolution probably started with Kogi in Los Angeles. Kogi is a Korean fusion truck. They are most famous with their tacos. They are always on the news. And, there are always long lines around their trucks. After that, many other food trucks pop up on the street. There are trucks that sell ice-cream, fries, grilled cheese sandwiches, crepes, cupcakes, dim sum, burgers etc. All these food trucks are nicely decorated. Their food is mostly gourmet.

At first, I found the trucks very exciting and appearing. But some food trucks’ food are not very good. Bryan and I tried the Lomo Arigato¬†truck. They sells Peruvian-Japanese food. The rice was mushy. The meats were dry. For the Takoyaki Tanota Truck, the takoyaki lacked flavors. Other than the food quality, some trucks are definitely over-priced. For example, a cupcake is sold for $3. If that is sold in an actual bakery, it is fine. I understand that rent needs to be paid. If the price of a cupcake in a truck is same as a cupcake in a store, why do I have to buy the cupcake in a truck? Why do you go to a food truck? It is because the food is good and cheap. If the food is not good or cheap, why not just go to a regular restaurant with the proper service and seating?

For the increasing numbers of food trucks on the street, I definitely think there is a need for some kind of sites for the parking. If there are only one or two trucks on a street, that is perfectly ok. However, when there are three, four, five trucks on the same street and they took all the parking spots, that became frustrated and inconvenient for normal drivers.

I don’t hate all the new food trucks. I love Kogi. I think Kogi has really good food, and they deserve the good name. Their food is creative and unique. The short rib tacos are really extraordinary. The Korean spices fries were also very crispy and delicious! But some of the trucks out there are really not that good, and they are just following the trend, and thinking about the money. If you want to eat in a food truck, you should probably do some research and try to pick out a good one.

Kogi Short Rib Tacos @ Alibi Room

Kogi Korean Spices Fries @ Alibi Room

Where can you get Kogi?

Check out Kogi website