Monday, December 28, 2015

Top 10 Stops on The Road to Hana (Maui, Hawaii)

The Road to Hana, as everyone knows, is the number one thing to do on the island of Maui. The drive is one of the most beautiful drives you'll ever do with plenty of great sights to stop at along the way. You can't make all the stops possible on the Road to Hana in one day, so you need to prioritize! Everyone has their own lists and favorites, but there are my top ten stops on The Road to Hana:

1. Twin Falls (mile marker 2)
When the water flow is too high, the upper part of the falls and trail may be closed, so be warned. Otherwise, a short and easy hike will lead you to a waterfall - the first among many on this road. There are also Porta Potties to the left of the hiking trail, and a fruit stand is ready to sell you juices and freshly cut pineapples near the entrance.

2. Huelo Lookout (between mile marker 4 and 5)
There's a nice ocean view from this lookout, but mainly because you can sit and enjoy the view while you're having your breakfast. There's another stand here serving acai bowls, smoothies, and sugar cane juice.

3. Rainbow Eucalyptus Grove (near mile marker 7)
To call it a "grove" is an overstatement, since the grove only has a few trees, but these rainbow eucalyptus trees are worth seeing (and snapping photos of!)
Rainbow Eucalyptus

4. Keanae Peninsula (mile 16.8)
To get to the Keanae peninsula, you have to turn onto the Keanae Peninsula Road around mile 16.8 - you wont' see if from the Hana Highway itself. I almost missed it but I backtracked to find the banana bread shop and so glad I did!

We even caught a beautiful rainbow from the peninsula.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Come for K BBQ, Stay for Uni and Bone Marrow at Hanjip (Culver City, CA)

There's a hot new Korean BBQ spot in town and it's in Culver City. Hanjip is the new restaurant from restaurateur Stephane Bombet and Chef Chris Oh (from Seoul Sausage).

While Chris Oh is mostly doing traditional Korean BBQ and other Korean dishes, he's elevating the soups and stews using bone marrow stock, perfecting side dishes with unusual ingredients, and using very high quality meats.

Most of the banchans are the traditional ones: kimchi, bean sprouts, fish cakes, and the like. There are pickled perilla leaves to eat with the grilled meat and some super fresh tomatoes, just lightly marinated.
I loved the dried squid probably the best.
You can get dishes a la carte or as a combo at Hanjip, and they use high quality ingredients that you can taste on your first bite of meat. For the pork dishes, you have to try the marinated pork shoulder ($26)

Roasted Cumin Spice Lamb ($22) - with spices similar to what you'll find at Xinjiang restaurants or at Feng Mao.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cute Gifts for Tea Lovers at David's Tea

Last minute shopping? If you still need gifts for the tea lover in your life, then check out the new David's Tea stores in LA and the tea and accessories they offer.

I first discovered David's Tea when I was in Banff and glad that this Canadian tea company has made its way to many cities in the US! They have many fun and festive flavored teas and nice packaging. A lot of their teas are blended with fruits and they have creative flavors like yerba mate with pumpkin and spices for the fall.

Davids Tea just opened two stores in the LA area: one at Village at Topanga in Woodland Hills and another in Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance!

I was sent one of their holiday gift packaging - the Tea for the Tree set, and a porcelain tea mug ($15) - the navy mug with gold berry branch design is festive and perfect for the holiday season.


Tea for the Tree set ($20) comes with four Christmas ornaments, each filled with a different holiday inspired tea like Banana Nut Bread and Snow Day. If you want smaller gifts for more people, each ornament comes with its own gift tag so you can gift them separately! They'd make for a great stocking stuffer as well.
Each ornament comes with enough tea to make 4-5 cups. I personally drink a lot of tea, but it's hard to gift tea at times since they often come in a plain bag. These ornament containers, on the other hand, are so adorable!

If you're shopping for a last minute gift tomorrow at in Woodland Hills or Torrance, be sure to check out these new tea stores!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Taste on Melrose (West Hollywood, CA)

by guest blogger @btsunoda

When the food and ambiance come together, a restaurant becomes a special place. Taste in West Hollywood is cute, hip, and not a pretentious place. Until recently, the only negative on the place was that it was small.

Taste on Melrose recently expanded their restaurant and added a courtyard and an Atrium. The  Zen-like courtyard was built in the rear of the original building which gives diners an al fresco option. 
Owners John Halter and Morten Kaag transformed a small dress shop into a romantic and stylish addition complete with a full bar and kitchen. The Atrium is attractively decorated and equipped with spot lighting which adds to the ambiance. A skylight offers daytime diners some nice indirect lighting.
The Atrium was built to serve different purposes. First, they needed more space added to the original restaurant and having the Atrium can address the overflow. With its own full bar and kitchen, It is also ideal for private parties; it even has a separate entrance.

I was recently hosted for dinner after the Atrium was opened. Our dinner started with the kale and persimmon caesar salad.
This salad was extremely colorful and I thought that the addition of persimmon and garlic married the ingredients nicely. Many chefs offer “seasonal” menus and it’s enjoyable for me to see the winter offerings.

Albacore tuna tataki included avocado, cucumbers, scallion, toasted sesame seeds, shallots with a Jalapeno Soy Citronette. This is a nice small bite starter that would pair with a white French (e.g., their Louis Latour, Montagny) or Pinot Gris wine.
The pear bruschetta with gorgonzola, caramelized onions and walnuts appetizer was very simple and I got addicted to it quickly. I went for seconds on this tasty starter.

One of their signature dishes, the White Truffle Mac and Cheese was served. What I particularly enjoyed about the dish was the inclusion of slivered crimini mushrooms. The buttery taste and the white truffle oil will delight your senses.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Barking Crab (Boston, MA)

Barking Crab is a tourist spot but it's also an institution in Boston's Fort Point. It's a casual seafood spot - in a tent with a view of the water and the city of Boston. With that New England clam shack-like setting and the faux grass in a heated tent, Barking Crab is a meeting place that feels like summer all year long.

Barking Crab
Just like a seafood shack would, drinks are served in plastic cups. Moscow mules, mojitos, and other refreshing drinks are available - they tend on the sweet and strong side.
Barking Crab

Obviously, I had to try the crab at Barking Crab. They offer three types and I chose the one I haven't had before: Bairdi crab ($31)
Barking Crab

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Kaki Lima Pop-Up at KO Pies at The Shipyard

I can't find any Indonesian restaurant in Boston. But at least, there is an Indonesian pop-up called Kaki Lima, put on by Chef Retno Pratiwi who is Indonesian and is serving authentic Indonesian food. Before, her pop-up only happen a couple nights here and there and consists of a prix-fixe menu, but she recently started serving her Indonesian cooking at KO Pies at The Shipyard in East Boston on Monday and Tuesday nights, with an a la carte menu.

That made it much easier for me to go and try her food! I dragged a friend of mine to The Shipyard, a rather suspicious drive to storage and warehouses ("did you bring me here to kill me?") but we finally saw KO Pies.

I started with some Siomay Bandung ($8). The steamed dumplings here are made with shrimp and served with the signature Indonesian peanut sauce and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)

Kaki Lima Boston
The dumplings are a bit small for $8 for 4 pieces but the flavors are spot on!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Gateways Inn and Restaurant in Lenox, MA. Relaxing in The Berkshires.

As part of my reviews of Select Registry, an association of bed and breakfasts, inns, and small hotels in the US, I stayed at Gateways Inn in Lenox, Massachusetts. Back in the Berkshires!

Gateways Inn
Gateways Inn is housed in a building that used to be the summer cottage of Harley Procter of Procter & Gamble and is now an 11-room inn.
Gateways Inn
I stayed in the Rosalind room, adorably decorated in light blue.
Gateways Inn

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Epic Foie Gras Heaven, Au Pied de Cochon (Montreal, Canada)

I had a great foodie trip to Montreal earlier this year, and of course, one of the highlights was the famed Au Pied de Cochon, also affectionately known as PDC. I went there for a foie gras-filled dinner that was unforgettable.

Au Pied de Cochon

To start, combining this rich and delicious favorite of mine with the quintessential Canadian dish was the Foie Gras Poutine ($24, Canadian dollars, obviously)
Au Pied de Cochon
The fries were duck fat fries - crispy and doused in house gravy. Chunks of amazing foie gras and cheese curds made this possibly the best poutine ever.

As if foie gras was not decadent enough, there's the breakfast dish of your dreams: Plogue a Champlain ($29)
Au Pied de Cochon
Buckwheat pancake, Canadian bacon, potato, egg, and foie gras in maple syrup reduction.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hawaii Reviews

Alan Wong's Restaurant
Hiking Diamond Head
Kahala Resort (hotel review)
Tamura's Fine Wine & Liquor

Top 10 Stops on the Road to Hana
Top 7 Eats in Maui

Best Shaved Ice in Kauai
Guide to Cheap Eats in Kauai

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