Vietnamese Food – Los Angeles, CA

One of my favorite cuisines is Vietnamese Food. If I am ever feeling under the weather, Pho is the dish I crave most. Color me surprised that we only tried two Vietnamese Restaurants during this trip, although the trip wasn’t all that long. I’ll cover both restaurants in this post.

House Special | $13.49
Pho Kobe Style Beef – Thin Sliced Wagyu Steak Fillet Beef
Com Cha Suon Nuong | $9.49
Grilled Pork Chop and Pork Egg-Custard with Broken Rice

I can’t comment too much on the pho, I got the grilled pork chop dish. It was delicious!

Final meal in California at Pho Hue Oi
Mango Tango | $3.95
black tea with mango, passion fruit coconut jelly
Garlic Noodles with Grilled Jumbo Shrimp | $15.00

Okay, I just realized that I went to two Vietnamese restaurants and didn’t eat pho in either one. What was I thinking? Well if you think I have any regrets, I have none. These garlic noodles with shrimp were so delicious. Mmm…what a send-off of a meal. The drink? Perfect! I really wish I had found this restaurant earlier in the trip because I am sure we would have given it a second visit.

Ong Ga Nae Korean BBQ – Los Angeles, CA

Hands down, one of my favorite meals in California. The service at Ong Ga Nae Korean BBQ started off awful, but I honestly go to Korean restaurants expecting that. Anyway, we were there a bit early. Found street parking luckily so we didn’t have to use valet parking, whew! We were initially served by two males and they did not seem like they liked being waiters, lol. But let me tell you, as our meal progressed, a female waitress came on duty and made up for the entire meal. She was so incredibly sweet and helped us cook all our meats. I was too busy eating and didn’t spend enough time taking pictures…

BAN CHAN LIFE
Special Combo A (serves 2) | $59.99
marinated beef rib, pork belly, chicken bulgogi, prime beef brisket
Yukhoe (Beef Tartare) | $not cheap

I wish I had more details on this. I tried to find it on their menu but it was a picture on their wall and it doesn’t look like it’s part of their printed menu? I have wanted to try this for a long long long time. You don’t really find this dish here because it’s beef tartare. I really wish we had it here, this dish was to die for. It was so much meat but I had to have it. And we couldn’t take it out, understandably, so I really had to try to eat it all. Beautiful beef, korean pear, pine nuts, sesame oil, and may other ingredients. It just came together to make the perfect dish. I certainly didn’t need the other BBQ meats with this dish. I know for next time…maybe a soup and this dish. Ughhh…I wish I could eat this again! Sooner than later!

Disneyland – Los Angeles, CA

What trip to LA is complete without a visit to Disneyland? I’ll let you in on a little secret, this was my first trip to Disneyland. Yes, seriously. I didn’t have much travels as a kid and when we did travel, it was to the homeland, not the mainland. I’ve been to other Disney parks but was excited to check California out! We decided to check out both Disneyland and California Adventure Park…and boy am I glad we did. I didn’t know this beforehand but did you know…Disney celebrates Lunar New Year??

There was a gentleman there writing these on the spot by request! Well not completely by request, you had to choose a character from their list. I chose luck!
Lunar New Year ears. Yes, I bought it. And yes, I took pictures with Mickey and Minnie in their Lunar New Year clothes!
Can’t be a visit to Disney without seeing the castle…oh wait…umm…
Award Wieners – California Adventure Park
Spicy City Dog | $9.79
Cheddar-Jalapeño Sausage topped with Chipotle Crema, Queso Fresco and Pico de Gallo with Filmstrip Fries
A Cheesy Celebration | $9.99
Cheddar Sausage Link with creamy Macaroni and Cheese, Salsa Verde, crumbled spicy Cheese Puffs, and Cheese Curds on a Toasted Bun with Filmstrip Fries

I can only comment on the cheesy celebration because this was my dog. Did I tell you I am lactose intolerant? Was this a good choice? Probably not. I was lured by the cheesiness of it. Was it good? Ehhh…for all the flavors named, it was quite a plain dog. They just threw everything on top and it was all just…empty calories and not worth them either!

Broken Rice – Honolulu, HI

Broken Rice is a fairly new Vietnamese restaurant in Kaimuki. I’ve read some good reviews for this restaurant and was excited to try it! At first I thought we had to make reservations because I expected it to be busy. Honestly, we got there on a Saturday at about 6pm and it was fairly empty. Luckily, they got a few more diners as we were finishing up, whew.

Spring Rolls | $9.00

shrimp, pork, carrots, mushroom, long rice, onions.

Typical spring rolls you find at every Vietnamese restaurant, nothing special but it is delicious!

Crab Fried Rice | $18.00

king crab, pork sausage, egg and green onion

Hmm, starting to realize this is the second fried rice post this week. Haha, but I promise these restaurant visits were spread apart a few weeks. It was good! $18 good? Well not really now that I’ve had the Chengdu Style Fried Rice.

Shaking Beef | $19.00

cubed rib-eye steak, garlic, soy sauce, with house slaw.
Beef Rib Pho | $18.00

beef brisket and beef rib, flat rice noodle.

Okay, I can only comment on the Beef Rib Pho because this was my dish. One caveat, I was sick when I ate here so my taste buds were a bit compromised. I think I would have really enjoyed this pho had I not been sick. They give you two big chunks of beef ribs so it was nice and beefy…a bit too rich and fatty for my tastes since I wasn’t feeling great. You can see the oily soup so that’s my only complaint – if it was a less fatty, this would be fabulous!

Piggy Smalls – Honolulu, HI

Piggy Smalls is the sister restaurant of The Pig and the Lady. They are located in Ward Center, I don’t have much of a summary to give here, let’s get to the pictures and full review!

Snap Pea Limeade | $5.00

I love when restaurants offer great non-alcoholic drinks. I enjoy alcoholic drinks from time to time but generally don’t handle it as well as others. This was a really light and refreshing drink and not too sweet. I enjoyed it!

Breads and Spreads $10.00 (for all)
Smoky Miso Eggplant | Tahini, Yuzu
Truffle Shuffle | Porcini, Black Truffle Sofrito
Roasted Beets | Sour cream, Horseradish

Oh. My. God. Drool…this dish was AMAZING. I enjoyed all three dips immensely. The eggplant dip was great, you could taste the miso, the yuzu and the amazing smokiness. There was a sweetness to this dip and you can’t even tell that this is eggplant!

The roasted beets were great too, I love the taste of fresh beets and the horseradish notes came through but not so strong that my sinuses got cleared, lol.

The favorite of course was the TRUFFLE SHUFFLE. I’m a fool for truffle so this dip was heavenly. The porcini bits mixed with black truffle? If I could have licked the serving dish clean, I would have. I actually I would have but didn’t think of it at the restaurant. Definitely recommend this dish, but if I were to return, I would probably just get the truffle shuffle dip because I loved it so much.

Crispy Pork Belly | $23.00
pickled raisin & caper sauce, creamy grains, citrus braised celery, young herbs

I believe I had this dish during a previous visit months ago but it was somewhat of a different preparation. First, I’m excited to know that even though they make changes to their menu from time to time, they kept this dish on. Perfectly cooked pork belly with a perfect ring of crisp skin. Mmm…so good. The raisin and caper sauce on top complemented it nicely! The grains and herbs were just okay in my opinion.

Crunchy, Sour, Salty, Sweet | $13.00
Add Chopped Steak | $9.00
various raw vegetables, pickled raisins, ricotta salata, green olive & medjool date vinaigrette
Chopped Steak

Here is a instance of where we saw this salad from our neighboring diners and got hooked in by how pretty it looked. They both gave their thumbs up to it so we ordered it…and hefted it up with some chopped steak.

Okay first of all, this salad is chock full of vegetables (well, duh). But…it was full of a variety of radishes and while I enjoy radishes, this was just far too much. There were barely any leafy greens/young herbs so I felt like I just kept chewing on radish after radish after radish after radish, you get the idea. My suggestion would be to add some sliced fresh beets, more greens and some fresh goat cheese…the salad would be far more balanced and more yum!

The chopped steak, I didn’t expect this, was DELICIOUS. I think the waiter said the steak is marinated in some kind of balsamic sauce…I feel like I tasted a type of Worcestershire sauce. Doesn’t matter, the steak was cooked perfectly and was super tender. The savory taste of the steak was great, $9 for this as a side to the salad was a deal. Should ask if they could sell me the steak for $9…lol

Frozen S’mores | $9.00
chocolate sorbet, house made graham crackers, bruleed marshmallow fluff
Jelly Donut Softserve | $8.00
powdered sugar donut custard topped with our seasonal homemade jam (lemon cranberry)

I can only comment on this Jelly Donut Softserve because this was my dessert. Get ready because I was not happy but it was not entirely their fault. I guess I got too excited and didn’t really read this title or description but I expected a jelly donut with the lemon cranberry flavor of the month as the jelly.

Oh boy, I did not expect it to be a donut softserve with the lemon cranberry sauce on top. One thing I didn’t know also is that they add sprinkles. I hate sprinkles. I know, I know. What kind of monster hates sprinkles? Well, that’s me. Never been into it and correct me if I’m wrong, aren’t they not supposed to be chalky? These sprinkles were SO chalky, I couldn’t enjoy it. So it was hard to enjoy this dessert when I had in mind a donut coming my way (my fault) and then getting this. I’m not a huge fan of vanilla type softserve (which I couple this one into) so I gotta give a thumbs down. But…there is a lemon cake on their menu that I do want to try next time so there is always hope!

Chengdu Taste – Honolulu, HI

I am getting a little dizzy with the various name changes of this place already. Didn’t it start as Chengdu and then changed to Mian and now back to Chengdu Taste? Not sure, they are also no longer downstairs…and moved upstairs! It’s okay, I am always down to try some Szechuan food. I tried this restaurant YEARS ago and finally got to try it again last week. And O…M…G…what was I waiting for??

Pork with Garlic Sauce | $10.99

Thinly sliced pork belly drenched in a yummy garlic chili sauce. Tasted great! Great side dish for a big bowl of rice. I would get this again!

Sauteed Tender Chicken with Double Chili | $15.99

Oh boy, did you read this title? I’ll say that the picture in the menu looked more like chilis with a side of chicken but the actual dish is no joke too! Surprisingly not as spicy as I thought it would be or just compared the dishes following this one. Anyway, this is delicious and the chicken is in fact very tender! Would order again.

Mung Bean Jelly Noodle with Chili Sauce | $7.99

Everytime I see this dish on a menu or in videos, I am just automatically drawn to it. I don’t know what it is. The jelly noodles look so delicious (doesn’t help that I just love anything noodle), coupled with the chili oil sauce and all the fixings on top…can we really go wrong? Yes, we can. The first time I had this dish (here at this restaurant in fact!), I remember liking it a lot! This time, I hope it was an off day…but something tasted off. Literally. It tasted like maybe the noodles were turning sour, yes, the whole dish had a very sour taste. I don’t think it was turning bad just yet because I didn’t get sick or anything. Would I give it a try again? Hmm…hard to say. Maybe not at this restaurant.

Wonton with Pepper Sauce (numb-taste) | $10.99

Okay, so…I insisted on getting this wonton dish with the “numb-taste”. I usually get the wontons with the red chili oil sauce which is absolute yum. Did I regret it? Indeed I did. I guess I’m not a big fan of this pepper sauce, it had an interesting taste. Vinegary too. And well, YES, MY WHOLE MOUTH AND LIPS WERE NUMB AND TINGLY. Do you ever wonder about how people figured what is good to eat and not? Like, how did a person think to eat fugu and say…well as long as we clean out some of the innards carefully, we won’t die. How many tries did it take? Why was it okay to keep eating szechuan peppers even though your mouth goes numb, funny stuff huh? Anyway, rambling aside, I would not get this again…lol.

Chengdu Style Fried Rice | $9.99

This dish was a last minute decision because they ran out of another noodle dish we wanted to try…and can I just say HALLELUJAH. If it wasn’t for that, I would never have tried this dish and it was ABSOLUTELY MY FAVORITE DISH OF THE NIGHT. I know, I know…it’s a plate of fried rice. But you guys gotta think, aren’t some of the best dishes out there just the simplest and purest forms of it? This humble little dish of fried rice packed the perfect amount of savory yet in such a simple way. I can’t explain it. I thought maybe it tasted so good due to MSG but I didn’t have the symptoms after eating MSG so maybe not? I immediately looked up the recipe and saw the main ingredient (those little brownish black specks you see) are ya cai. Ya cai is like a preserved mustard cabbage, and you guessed it, I’m going to try to make it. Now, buying the ya cai alone online was $8 so I’m starting to wonder why I don’t just order this dish from them…well, let me live my life. Hahaha, if I don’t succeed, they can always be my back-up. Not that you need to ask, ORDER THIS DISH.

Boiling Point – Los Angeles, CA

Boiling Point is a bit of a trend right now in LA. Hot pot is awesome so I knew we had to try it! It’s a cute concept, each diner gets their very own boiling point. We arrived at a good time, very short wait time. There are so many different options…the restaurant is very dark so it was hard to capture good pictures!

Mala Tri-Beef Hot Soup

Here’s how the dish looks in person. Not exactly the same right? I have to say, I wasn’t a big fan of it. In fact, I traded my dish with my dining companion. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for the mala spices this night? I was not impressed and did not want to return for another meal. Cute idea but I think I prefer Taiwanese hot pots.

Bambu Dessert #10!!!

Here is what made up for the dinner that night. Do you remember Bambu in Hawaii? They were open for a while and specialized in Vietnamese drinks and desserts, I loved them. And I absolutely loved their Dessert #10. I actually customize it and ask for no grass jelly…I’m realizing I only really like the green pandan jelly with the coconut milk. I wonder what kind of looks would be shot at me if I asked for that. Ah…wish we still had one here. I guess I gotta go back to California to get another one…

Ramen Shack Takumiya – Los Angeles, CA

After a long day at Disney (post coming soon!), we wanted to warm ourselves up with some good ‘ole ramen before heading back to the hotel. A lot of restaurants are located in mini strip malls, not something I’m used to but certainly got used to while in California.

Tsukemen
Tonkotsu Ramen – Spicy
Ramen Combination – Spam Musubi (!) and Karaage Chicken (3 pcs)

So how was it? I would say it was pretty okay, but not great. I was excited to get the spam musubi as a side dish because it was like a little bit of home in Cali. The musubi was just alright and I think a bit cold, but it was good enough. I think the meal was good but nothing memorable.

Capital Seafood – Los Angeles, CA

Figures my first real meal in Los Angeles would be Chinese food. Not just any Chinese food, dim sum. I think if asked, I would name dim sum as my favorite food. Then again, when I eat dim sum, I order off the regular menu as well (Seafood Chow Mein, y’all!). We ended up at Capital Seafood in Beverly Hills of all neighborhoods. How fancy are we? Not really. We pulled up in our Nissan Sentra and parked on the street, lol.

Not much to explain, it is the same dim sum dishes we can get here in Hawaii. I definitely prefer the dim sum chefs we have here in Hawaii compared to this place. The food was just okay, a bit pricey but considering the neighborhood, I did expect to be helping them pay rent. Good service, good food (good, not great). If you want some Chinese food in a nice setting, this place is it!

Steamed Minced Beef Ball
Shrimp Har Gao
Boiled Beef Tripe
Minced Beef Rice Noodle
Steamed Pork Dumpling

Heavenly Island Lifestyle – Honolulu, HI

Okay, have you folks ever watched Terrace House? I heard about it before but didn’t really start watching it until late last year when I got access to Netflix again (thanks Kyle, lol). I didn’t know where to start so I started on the Hawaii season, out of order I know, but it was kind of neat to watch them go around to local spots. Oh by the way, Terrace House is a reality show much like the Real World, only Japanese so a bit more classy? Haha, is that the word for it? Well, there’s definitely drama up in Terrace House too.

Anyway, Heavenly Island Lifestyle was one of the spots they frequented so I decided to give them a try while I was in Waikiki. The Yelp reviews look great but as I learned in LA, could mean nothing! They seem to focus on healthy and organic foods, so how was it??

Energy Smooth | $7.50

Delicious! This drink includes acai, strawberries, blueberries, banana, and soy milk and it supposed to be good for antioxidant vitamins & good memory. It tastes great so that’s definitely a plus!

Local Eggs Benedict (w/Salmon & Spinach) | $16.00

Homemade hollandaise sauce with lilikoi butter, poached local eggs served with Okinawa purple potato, fresh local salad, and a wheat muffin

Okay, this dish looks too healthy to be good. I get it. Look at the copious amounts of raw kale on the plate. Does one need so much ruffage? Normally I would say no. This time, I must say yes. I usually equate kale as being tough and hard but this kale was so easy to eat. This is the meal I learned about baby kale and boy oh boy, do I love baby kale. The eggs benedict was cooked perfectly as you can see. The kale salad was wonderful with their own dressing. The Okinawan sweet potato was perfection. A little pricey but worth in my opinion.

Heavenly’s Organic Veggie & Beans Loco Moco | $16.50

100% Big Island Kulana beef, local eggs, local ginger soy glaze, and 10 grain rice with local farm green beans, broccoli, organic carrot, organic lentil beans, and organic black beans

Another winner! Not your typical loco moco, no sir. There is no gravy, it is a ginger soy glaze which tastes like comfort home food. Another great dish, I enjoyed it a lot. The veggies was cooked perfectly along with the grains. I enjoyed this new take on loco moco…and Big Island beef? Shoots! I highly recommend this restaurant! They don’t take reservations (for breakfast) and have a bit of a line…but the line moved along pretty quick while I was there.