Archive for the ‘SoCal’ Category

a birthday surprise

Thank you for reading! I will be posting Thailand/Malaysia photos soon, but until then here are some of my latest reviews, recipes, etc. BONUS: There are photos in this post! Yes, it is very exciting. I am excited. You should see my face right now. So I have decided that SoCal is pretty cool, and I am sorry for ever making the blanket statement that NorCal is better than SoCal. I am willing to bet that some of you never even knew I thought that. I think that is what Berkeley does to a sheltered R.H. kid like me. So this is my tribute to SoCal, specifically the LA area.

mr. pizza factory
I had
been hearing about this place for a while and thought, “I MUST GO!” They have sweet potato stuffed-crust pizza with toppings like bacon, corn, nachos and sour cream. The most popular pizza is the Potato Gold, which is topped with everything one could think to put on a loaded baked potato (and more, one might argue). Mr. Pizza Factory is a chain from Korea which specializes in sweet and savory pizzas. They have normal pizzas, but I think the sweet potato crust is a must if, like me, you like sweet+savory more than either taste alone. One of the pizzas even claims to be “appetizer, entree and dessert all in one.” There are bacon wrapped shrimp on the “crust” — actually a scone, for which they provide jam for dipping. I have yet to try that one. Overall, this place did not disappoint. I liked the music, decor and bathroom sink. If you spend $30+ for a group of 3 (or something like that), you get unlimited access to the salad bar. Being Asian, the waiter let us know that though there was only plate for the three of us, we could share so long as we used the one plate. Nice!

When I worked for Cefiore a few summers ago, I began reading about the yogurt craze. Scoops came up quite often in my research, praised for original and unconventional flavors such as Brown Bread or Black Sesame. Unfortunately for Scoops, I have been spoiled by one too many trips to Ici. (Ah! I just looked at their newly updated website, and I am drooling. I am so sad.) Nothing can beat a freshly made cone rolled in sugar and sealed with chocolate. Nothing. Scoops’s Brown Bread was legit. It tasted like vanilla ice cream swirled with caramel and Grape Nuts cereal. The prices are very reasonable, and the scoops are generous. You can get a refill for about $1.50 (I think). However, the guy at the counter was really unfriendly, and Gelateria Naia has flavors that are just as unique. I am told I came on an off day, and I sure that if the owner had been there, it would have been a more positive experience. So, all in all, Scoops, but I am loyal to Ici. I would not go out of my way to come back. Oh, btw, I do not have a picture of the ice cream because my camera battery died. Thus you get another picture of my delicious pizza. I ate two slices and most of my friend’s crust.

peach cafe
I met up with my old roommates who live in Arcadia, and we checked out Peach Cafe in Monrovia. It was pretty cute. The food was okay and a little pricier than what it is worth. I got the hickory waffle which contains pieces of bacon and maple syrup. It was all right. If I lived in the area I would come for the wifi and hot drinks. My roommate had a white chocolate macchiato, which she enjoyed.

101 cookbooks zucchini bread
I got the recipe from here but did not follow it exactly. Since the original recipe called for 3 eggs, halving it was a bit problematic. I used all-purpose flour, 2 eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, lemon zest and walnuts. My batter was too wet as a result of the two eggs, so I added more flour in and proceeded to overmix the batter. I liked the lemon zest, but I wish I had curry powder and crystallized ginger on hand. Zucchini works with curry, so why not add curry powder to zucchini read? I also like her musing about using coconut oil and Thai curry paste instead of butter and curry powder. I am not so sure about the poppy seeds with this combination of ingredients, however. I think whole-wheat flour would be good here. In summary, I liked it. It did not rise much, but the flavors were good. Plus, the recipe calls for very little oil and sugar. I lined the baking pan with wax paper, and the bread came out easily.

porto’s bakery
Now I get to explain the title of this post. Last Friday afternoon, my friend picked me up from my home, blind-folded me and drove me to a mystery location. Another friend whom I had eaten breakfast with and was still at my house decided to come once she learned of the secret destination. My curiosity piqued and my appetite whet upon hearing the word “tupperware,” I was eager to go. So we drove off, and I wore my pink scarf-turned-blind-fold obligingly if not enthusiastically. I heard various freeways mentioned, giving me a vague idea of where we were. By the time we parked I knew we were near the American at Brand in Glendale. My captor led me by the hand, and I followed gingerly, still blind-folded. Our other friend played photographer as we “posed” under what I was told was the restaurant sign. I still had no clue where I was. When I was finally able to see, I was shocked beyond measure. My dear friend had brought me to Porto’s in Glendale per my last blog request! I was very, very touched. We had lunch there and decided to come back for dessert. Readers, I was delirious with joy. This was way better than Disneyland. I am dead serious. I ran around the restaurant, pressing my face longingly into the glass barriers separating me from euphoria. I asked about the contents of every single enigmatic item and then some. One sympathetic worker I bombarded offered me a sample, and I got to try the Tres Leches cake. It was good, but all I could think about was the famous fruit tart and cheese rolls. I called my mom, bubbling over with excitement and asked her what she wanted. This was the best birthday surprise ever. I felt so loved. Thank you, dear friend. And you too, dear photographer. As for the food, the sandwiches are all right. The cakes, pastries and breads are the real winners. This place is amazing for the following reasons: the prices are ridiculously affordable ($12 for an 8″ fruit tart that would easily cost $25+ at a bourgie Asian bakery, $0.65 for the fresh cheese rolls, $1.50 for creme brulee, etc.); this place is always crowded, ensuring a rapid turnover of fresh bakerty items; there is a loyal following for consistently delicious food; the staff is friendly and accomodating; and there is a mindboggling variety of sweets to choose from. Alongside the delicate cakes and pompous pastries are humble but wholesome breads, muffins and cookies.My head was spinning. I had to sit down to catch my breath. I eventually had to step outside because my head hurt from calculating the possible combinations of things I could purchase based upon a number of factors including cost, freshness, number of family members at home, etc. It was like a cruel word problem. I ended up with five cheese rolls and one fruit tart. When I came home, my dad asked why I only bought five and not two dozen. He vocalized his love of the cheese rolls for the rest of that weekend. I do not have a picture of the cheese rolls or fruit tart because we ate them too quickly. Go to their website. Next time I want to try the shortbread cookies stuffed with dulce de leche as well as the creme brulee, flan, italian cheesecake, tiramisu and some Cuban breads I cannot identity. Please check this place out. They have another location in Burbank, and they are opening a new one in Downey. This place is not overrated. If you ever want to go, I am down to come with!


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