Category Archives: Drinks and Desserts

Sweet Beijing

It was on my last day of Beijing that I tried the ubiquitous yogurt milk and Mongolian yogurt ice cream. Now I need to find a way to import them to Brunei cause I am absolutely hooked!

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On the same day, I tried the Wuyutea matcha soft serve that perpetually attracts a line at its Wangfujing branch. I love the strong powdery matcha taste but my soft serve was half melted by the time I finished snapping a picture of it ūüė¶

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Crazy that I crammed so much sugary stuff in one day but it was a now-or-never situation! The only other sugary stuff I consumed the other day was san xiong di bubble milk tea at Coco’s (Wangfujing) under Izzah’s recommendations. It had tapioca pearls, pudding and red bean, mmm.

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Blue Bottle Baby

Blue Bottle coffee, the beloved baby of many caffeine lovers in San Francisco. After receiving multiple shocked responses from friends who found out I hadn’t tried this famed coffee after nearly four years in the area, I decided that this day had to happen.

New Orleans Iced Coffee @ Blue Bottle, SOMA
New Orleans Iced Coffee

My verdict? I don’t think I’m enough of a coffee connoisseur to appreciate Blue Bottle. My heart has been captured by Philz Coffee – by the refreshing iced mint mojito and the smooth mocha tesora – now and possibly forever.

SF Japantown: Japanese Crepes

When in San Francisco’s Japantown, you have to get yourself a Japanese crepe with gelato if you haven’t already. ¬†The question is, Sophie’s Crepe or Belly Good Cafe?

Green Tea Gelato Crepe @ Sophie’s Crepe, Japantown SF

Honestly, I don’t know. I had gelato crepes from both at too far apart times to be able to recall and compare. All I remember is that¬†they were both different in some aspects but I walked out of the plaza both times an extremely satisfied person. All I can offer are some tips:

Tip One: Save enough space in your stomach for the crepe. Eating a whole crepe after downing an entire bowl of ramen was not a good idea.

Tip Two: Belly Good Cafe makes super kawaii faces on top of the gelato if you consider that a plus (I did!).

Tip Three: Green tea gelato, always.

It still remains one of my big regrets for not having more of these delectable crepes before leaving NorCal so please have them on behalf of me if you can.

On Mission

When it comes to finding good food in San Francisco, Mission has yet to fail me. I have only relatively recently started branching out into the food scene in this part of the city more and here’s my latest scoop:

Humphry Slocombe 

Humphrey Slocombe

On a mission to try one of the city’s most popular ice cream, I made my way to Humphry Slocombe. I shunned the popular Secret Breakfast consisting of cereal and bourbon, and opted for Tahitian vanilla and Blue Bottle Vietnamese coffee instead. The Blue Bottle Vietnamese coffee’s pretty good and will most likely be my flavor of choice if I were to come back again. However, I will probably not because on the Humphry-Slocombe-or-Bi-Rite-Creamery debate, I am definitely leaning more strongly towards Bi-Rite Creamery.

While Humphry Slocombe has more interesting flavors, it was relatively hard for me to find flavors that I really wanted besides the Blue Bottle. Ice cream quality aside, I am also more likely to go to Bi-Rite Creamery because it is a little more accessible for someone without a car and has the beautiful Dolores Park just round the block.

When I think of Mission, I think of Mexican food amongst other things. Pancho Villa Taqueria, a very short walk from the BART station for which I was grateful for, has quite the extensive menu. I was absolutely spoilt for choice and it took us a while to decide on the carne asada nachos and the ceviche taco.

Pancho Villa Taqueria @ 16th Mission

Carne Asada Bowl

¬†The carne asada nachos were great. Gotta love all that guacamole…and cheese and sour cream that went to my hips. So I ordered ceviche taco too without knowing ceviche was, living my illusion as an adventurous eater. Little did I know that raw mashed-up fish is not quite up my alley. To those who like ceviche, you would have probably enjoyed this taco.

Ceviche Taco

For a girl whose main purpose of going to San Francisco is hit the stores in Powell, Mission is kind of out of the way. But if I do so happen to be in San Francisco, and craving for some good Mexican food, and some ice cream too, I may make that extra BART stop. My future mission would also include checking out the Mexican bakeries with their oh-so-colorful pastries, and to revisit Tartine Bakery.

Sugar Rush in New York

New York is a sweet city in the literal sense. With so many bakeries with gorgeous edible displays on their windows, it is hard for any sweet-toothed girl to not fall in love with this place. Here are some of the city’s sweet spots:

1) Lady M
Strongly recommended by friends who have visited the city. Strangely enough, most of the patrons at the time I went were Asians. If you are a least bit lactose intolerant, run away from the mille crepe. Far, far away.

2) Laduree

Nested in Upper East Side, it is easy to see why many girls love Laduree. Not only does Laduree boast of its wide selection of high quality macarons, the store itself has a very quaint and elegant vibe and the packaging is just beautiful.

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Laduree is often compared to another leading macaron manufacturer, Pierre Herme. Having finally had Laduree, I have to say that I am a bigger fan of Pierre Herme. Laduree is possibly overrated and I feel that Chantal Guillon in the San Francisco Bay Area is a strong contender to Laduree.

3) Shake Shack’s Frozen Custard

Good stuff but too sweet for my liking. Just like for the burger, I would not wait half an hour for this.

4) Mo Gelato

This gelato store in Little Italy has the best gelato I have ever had in my life. The gelato was incredibly smooth and light, and the store had so many flavors that I did not know where to start. Pretty pricey but well worth the price for the quality you get. My only complain is that they only let you sample at most two flavors, which makes it nearly impossible to decide which ones to try.

5) Magnolia Bakery

Love the banana bread pudding! I have to admit that it is very sweet though, and that I had to eat only a few scoops at a time, done guiltily for breakfast.

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Here are some other sweet goodies I have seen in the city but dared not eat, especially with the amount of sugar already in my system:

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Whole Foods Flagship Store

Welcome to the first Whole Foods market in America.

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It is so amazing that I had to embarrass myself and be a weirdo, taking pictures of groceries not-so-surreptitiously. Honestly never thought I would reach this stage.

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Overwhelmed by all the choices of nuts and grains and spices.

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I thought the idea of grinding your own peanut butter was very cool so I took a picture of this too.

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You have to admit that a bar in a grocery store is pretty unique and worth taking a picture of…

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I have moved on to a whole new level by taking pictures of raw meat. Gotta admit that raw meat has never looked this good before.

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I went nuts in the bakery section of the supermarket. They had a wide selection of hearty looking bread with some samples in small containers too. I was able to sample their sweet potato bread, jalapeno bread and walnut raisin bread. Their sweet potato bread was good and is something I would consider buying. The jalapeno bread, not really, because I am not used to having my bread spicy.

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I am so ashamed for taking a picture of this but I think it is cool that they have oils and vinegar in metal dispensers.

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One of my favorite sections in the store is their cookie bar.

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I love pistachio in desserts and baked goods so I was tempted to get myself some pistachio shortbread and pistachio cannoli.

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Besides their awesome presentation of groceries in the marketplace, I absolutely love their food stands that serve a variety of food, from barbecue to sushi to gelato. Their two-meat combination with two sides ended up being my lunch and dinner for the day. My meat of choice were moist beef brisket and baby back ribs, with mac and cheese as a side. I also had their pistachio and stracciatella gelato at their gelato bar which was kind of ‘rough’ and heavy for gelato.¬†I had a great dining experience at Whole Foods and my body must hate me right now so I think I am going to go vegetarian for the next week or two.

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Sandwiches and Tacos

The move from California to Texas has been an eye-opening experience so far. The Texan accent and the whole Texas gentleman deal is starting to grow on me but I still get slightly taken aback whenever someone calls me ma’am or when someone holds the door open for me even though I am ten seconds from the door. Taking pictures of food here is also considered very unusual and I should probably exercise some control…

With no homework or midterms to study for on weekends, I have been spending my new found free time foraging for food in this city.One of the first sandwich places I went to was Potbelly Sandwich Shop. I had ‘A Wreck’ sandwich with salami, ham, roast beef, ham and swiss cheese — with hot pepper as a topping of course.

A Wreck @ Potbelly Sandwich Shop

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I love it when my sandwiches are neatly packed so Potbelly gets a thumbs up from me for that. ‘A Wreck’ was a good sandwich but has a little more meat and oil than what I would usually have.

Up the street on Guadalupe is Which Wich, another sandwich store that I did not know existed until I came here. Which Wich has a really cool way of getting their orders from customers. Over here, customers tick off their preferred options on a paper bag and pass it to the cashier. These paper bags are then hung on pegs suspended on a metal wire and slid down the room as they prepare your sandwich.

Tomato and Avocado Sandwich @ Which Wich

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Thumbs up for another neat, non-sloppy sandwich. Love the generous amount of avocado in this sandwich. Between Potbelly and Which Wich, I gotta say that my loyalty lies with Which Wich although the comparison is not exactly fair since I ordered a ‘cleaner’ sandwich in Which Wich.

One of the cool places in Austin is South Congress Avenue, a colorful and eclectic looking street. I have yet to explore the retailers but I did walk past a lot of restaurants including Hopdoddy, a popular burger place where people would line up an hour for. I ended up at a place with a shorter wait but good food nonetheless — Guero’s Taco Bar.

Picadillo and Fish Tacos @ Guero’s Taco Bar

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I chose the picadillo (spicy beef, potatoes and carrots) taco and fish taco with homegrown corn, and they came with a side of rice and beans. I had a hard time holding the tacos because the tortillas got soggy and ripped but this was a hearty meal and the fillings were great nonetheless.

Another great taco place in town is Turf N Surf Po Boy in Downtown Austin. This place is a food stand with a bar adjacent to it where people can watch sports on TV, eat and drink to their hearts’ content. The stand has a ghetto-looking exterior with some items on the menu featured on reused cardboards hung on windowsills. Customers get the option of having their entrees in the form of tacos, po’ boys or salad, and then they can choose to have their seafood fillings either fried, blackened or grilled.

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The tacos were pricey but they were also the largest tacos I have ever had. Each taco literally had a whole mahi-mahi fillet in it and was stuffed with a lot of salad greens, not just your usual coleslaw. They were also went a little crazy with the white sauce (sour cream?). No problem of soggy and fragile tortillas this time but eating these with my hands was still a problem because the tacos were too big. These are probably the most wholesome tacos I have ever had, and did I mention that these tacos were huge?! A great place to go to if you are looking for quantity and good seafood in your tacos.

I popped my Texas tex-mex cherry on my birthday at a place in South Austin called Maria’s Taco Xpress. This place has got to be the hippiest restaurant I have ever been to with its odd and psychedelic displays and live performances. The tacos here are cheap and well worth their price. I ordered the Al Pastor, a favorite raved by many, and while I thought it was good, I think it is confirmed that I am truly not much of a pork person. I do want to come back here and experience their hippy gospel sunday brunch though.

With the temperatures reaching a hundred degrees, there was no way I could get by without having some ice cream to cool myself down at some point. Amy’s ice cream is a local’s favorite (Sandra Bullock’s too) and is supposed to be a must-have in Austin. This place is similar to Cold Stone in the sense that you get to choose your toppings and have them mixed with your ice cream on a cold plate but Amy’s ¬†has a wider range of toppings. Their Mexican Vanilla is their most popular flavor so I went for that as well as chocolate coconut rum.

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Perhaps my taste buds are not trained enough but I could not really distinguish between Mexican vanilla and regular vanilla. I still miss some of the great ice creams in the Bay Area such as those from Bi-Rite creamery and Ici’s, which have more interesting and pleasantly surprising flavors on some days, but Amy’s ice cream will do the job for now!

Austin Food Trucks!

Until two weeks ago, I had failed to realize what phenomenon food trucks are in some cities in the United States. Sure, the Bay Area has its fair share of mobile food trucks but it has got nothing on Austin. Austin has a crazy number of food trucks serving a lot of delectable treats (with quite a lot of fusion food such as Korean tacos). My first food truck experience in Austin was at West Campus — at The Mighty Cone specifically.

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This truck features tortilla  cones filled with a mango-jalapeno coleslaw and chicken / shrimp / avocado crusted in almonds, sesame seeds and chilli flakes, which lends it its crunchiness. The crunch and the mild spiciness and tanginess makes this cone a pretty mighty meal. This is definitely one of my favourite meals in Austin (not that I have had that many to date) and I will be back for sure.

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The Cow Tipping Creamery probably has the most elaborate soft serve in town. Customers get to customize their soft serve and choose from over 20 toppings, or they could go for their signature cones and stackers. They do have a lot of pleasant combinations in some of their signature cones but I simply went for 8 ounces of the good ol’ caramelized banana split, served with caramelized bananas, strawberries, pecans, caramel, whipped cream and Ghirardelli hot fudge. I am a bigger fan of regular ice cream or gelato so I did not go super crazy over this but it is still pretty good for what it is – a soft-serve. Probably the fanciest soft-serve I will ever have.

I had also set my mind to trying out The Halal Guys in Austin, and it is probably safe to say that it is inspired by the famous Halal Guys in New York City. The Halal Guys I went to on West Campus is technically not a food truck but my review is gonna go in this post anyway since it first started out as a food truck or stand.

Combination over Rice

Not wanting to choose between chicken and lamb, I went for both with the Combination over Rice. The meat is covered in an orange spicy sauce which I really like, and a lot of the white yogurt-like sauce. I personally liked the chicken a little more than the lamb although most would probably beg to differ, and I thought there was a little too much of the white sauce which muted — as opposed to accentuate ¬†— the flavours of the meat. I would not mind coming back here for another meal but I would probably request for less generous servings of the white sauce and more of the spicy one.¬†The portion size is quite satisfying but is supposedly pretty small for its price compared to what you get in the big city. Also, I seriously hope this was not 2000 calories as claimed by the internet for the Halal Guys in NYC…

I have started compiling a list of food trucks or stands to check out while in Austin and this is how the list is looking like so far:

  1. ChiLantro BBQ – A Korean-Mexican fusion food truck with food like kimchi fries and spicy pork bulgogi burger.
  2. Via 313 – Detroit-style pizza that has been lauded by many.
  3. Turf N’ Surf Po’ Boy – Mexican and Cajun food stand with po’ boys (which I loved at Brenda’s in San Francisco) and large grilled fish tacos.
  4. Kebabalicious – Pretty self explanatory.
  5. Gourdough’s – Super elaborate doughnuts.
  6. Julie’s Handmade Noodles –¬†Zha jiang mian and beef noodle soup to satisfy my Asian food craving.

Boy, I am going to get fat this summer eating at food trucks, on top of eating stuff like briskets at Rudy’s and tacos and burgers.

When in Diagon Alley

Last spring break, I was able to fulfill one of my lifelong dreams — to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando. As fatuous as this may sound, Harry Potter was essentially weaved into the fabric of my teenage life, analagous to Disney’s profundity on the lives of millions. The joy I felt as I realized my teenage dreams was simply ineffable.

I had the opportunity to try Butterbeer, a beverage sometimes consumed by Harry Potter and his friends whenever they get out of Hogwarts and hit the village Hogsmeade. At Universal, they serve this frozen or regular, and if memory serves me right I had the frozen. Right off the bat, I could tell that this delicious beverage had tons of cream and sugar, and root beer I presume. This drink is a little saccharine for me to quaff but it was definitely a good beverage to have in hand while waiting in long lines. I sipped this throughout the two-hour wait for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which I can confidently declare is the BEST ride I have ever been on.

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I was excited to see Three Broomsticks too, a pub from Harry Potter world. The Three Broomsticks in this park is a real eatery and serves — no surprises — British food. While British food is not my favourite food in the planet, I was still tempted to eat here because it had been a while since I last had fish and chips, or cornish pasties. My friends and I eventually opted for non-theme park food though because we had our fair share in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Speaking of food and Disney World, I am in love with the Iced French Vanilla Float at the Sunshine Tree Terrace! The coffee and rich vanilla ice cream blended very harmoniously, and I actually preferred this float to Butterbeer, much to my friends’ surprise.

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Visited the candy store in Diagon Alley and came across stuffs like Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Botts’ Every Flavour Beans.

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Parfait, my Ben and Jerry’s

I have recently developed an unhealthy addiction for the school’s yogurt parfaits. The layers of sweet vanilla yogurt and heavily sugared granola, topped with blueberries in sweet syrup is just too much to resist for my sweet tooth. Even the thought of 400 calories and 40 grams of sugar in a cup of parfait is not good enough to deter me from reaching out for this when I am upset or just plain greedy. Yogurt parfaits are essentially my tubs of Ben and Jerry’s.

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