Hello LA West Elite Event Pajama Party at Jinky’s Cafe!

It’s a Monday night and I’m all dressed up in Hello Kitty pajamas….but I’m not at home ;) instead I’m at Jinky’s Cafe for the LA West Yelp Elite Event Pajama Party!

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Jinky’s Cafe is a cute little place offering breakfast all day. What better way to enjoy breakfast but then in pajamas. ;) On Monday night, Jinky’s Cafe’s Santa Monica location had a special pajama party for LA West Yelp Elite squad. I was one of the lucky to attend.

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Many of the Yelpers chose to get a taste of Jinky’s popular mimosas but I chose to get a cup of their freshly ground coffee. Coffee and breakfast is always a great combination and their cup of joe was the perfect partner for the treats we got to try at this event.

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We were served a plate with french garden omelette, coconut flaky french toast and red velvet pancakes. It was a nice trio of some their popular dishes. The french garden omelette consisted of fluffy egg whites with zucchini and tomatoes and boursin cheese. The soft creamy cheese and the fresh veggies made for a very nice omelette. The coconut flaky french toast had coconut flakes, strawberries, blueberries and powdered sugar all on top of egg bread. The coconut definitely made this french toast unique. Out of all the three the red velvet pancakes were my favorite. It had sprinkles of powder sugar and swirls of mascarpone frosting. The red velvet pancakes were deliciously decadent, soft and sweet.

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Aside from the triple treat dish that we were served, we also got to try various samples of Jinky’s gourmet chili at this event. Jinky’s has over twenty different gourmet chili dishes of various flavors and spices. The first chili that we got to try was the Boston Turkey. It’s a tomato- free chili with lean ground turkey and chili pepper puree. I liked the little chunks of chili pepper that brought an extra kick to the sweet chili.

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The other chili we got to sample was the Himalayan Beef. This chili had ground beef, garlic, ginger, Serrano and Kashimiri chilies and Indian spices. This was lot spicier than the Boston Turkey. Even with just a small taste, the intensity and hotness came out.

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We definitely got a nice breakfast spread this night with all the things we tried. Unfortunately we didn’t to try some of their other offerings like some other Yelpers that night but from what we did try it was definitely breakfast bliss for my friends and I!

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For more smiles, please see my recent Yelp review on the LA West Elite Event Pajama Party at Jinky’s Cafe.

Hello Japanese Tapas & Karaoke!

For this blog post, I share with you the recipe on how to have a fun Friday ;) !

Step 1.) Start the evening off with dinner with friends at good restaurant!

Fun Friday started off for me with a delicious dinner with good friends at Azabu. Azabu is a cute and intimate Japanese/Asian Fusion wine bistro in the South Bay.

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Step 2.) Eat, drink and be merry!

Azabu’s menu consists of various tapas, pastas, salads and curry entrees. They also have an extensive drink menu that includes Pellegrino, green tea, shochus and various California, Italian and French wines. Our host’s recommendation paring for this night was the Flor De Campo, a white chardonnay from Santa Barbara County. Flor De Campo has a very citrus and tropical fruit flavor base.

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Step 3.) Try a variety of different plates!

To start the culinary adventures for the night, my friends and I got several different dishes from the tapas menu.

One of the first dishes served was the edamame. The crispy, small green soybeans sprinkled with a little bit of salt is always a nice little starter.

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The next tapas treat was sautéed mushrooms in garlic butter. This dish was one of my favorites of the night. The mushrooms came out in a sizzling little skillet. The mushrooms were flavorful, juicy and perfectly soft and tender.

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My friends really liked the sautéed octopus and potatoes. I’m not a fan of seafood so I skipped the octopus part (I only deal with octopus for hockey games, hehe ;) ) but I did try the potatoes which were delightfully soft.

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My tapas pick for the night was the cheese omelette with demi-glaze sauce. I loved this golden, fluffy omelette that was filled with cheese. The demi-glaze sauce was rich and gave an extra depth of flavor and complexity to the eggs.

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Step 4.) Pick a fulfilling and exquisite entree!

For my main entree, I chose a carbonara pasta. This was a lovely dish filled with delicate pasta noodles that were topped with egg and creamy and cheesy white sauce.

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One of my friends chose to get the pork cutlet curry with slaw and white rice. This was a very nice looking plate and the pork cutlet pieces came out fresh and crispy. If I were eating meat, I think this would have been my choice ;)

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Someone also got tomato pizza topping with bacon and shrimp. I was impressed with the large chunks of bacon and shrimp topping on the crispy crust.

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Step 5.) End a good meal with some good dessert!

There were two desserts on the menu: pudding and ice cream!

I chose to get the pudding. It was caramel pudding that was very similar to a flan. It was soft and sweet and the caramel sauce made for a nice, saucy base.

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My friends got the chocolate ice cream. It was classic and simple treat!

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Step 6.) Simply enjoy the evening with friends!

Aside from the great food, the dinner was filled with good laughter and good conversations. Plenty of smiles are always essential to a good evening ;)

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Step 7.) End the evening with some singing!

What better way to end the night than with some karaoke! Azabu is adjacent to Astro Karaoke. It’s a fun little Japanese karaoke spot with private rooms.

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They have a neat little electronic song selection device filled with numerous English, Japanese and Korean songs. While singing, patrons can enjoy various food and drinks!

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That my friends is the recipe to how to have a fun Friday! It’s a sure fire way to end the night with many happy smiles like we did! :)

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For more smiles, please see my recent Yelp reviews on Azabu and Astro Karaoke :)

Hello Tin Roof Bistro!

One of my favorite local South Bay eateries is Tin Roof Bistro in Manhattan Beach. With it’s pretty mission like architecture and lovely looking interior with neat lightening, this place has always been a fun place. Their menu ranges from simple homestyle classical dishes to unique fusion entrees. I’ve enjoyed coming here with friends to enjoy lunch meals such as their soup and salad combos like their Napa Grilled Cheese, a sandwich filled with swiss cheese, roasted tomatoes, arugula and basil pesto alongside a tomato bisque soup.

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Their pizzas are great too (and $2 off @ their Bocce Hour/happy hour!)
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Just recently, I came to Tin Roof Bistro for my good friend’s Jacklyn birthday. Along with my other friends Marisohl and Mary Ann, we celebrated her birthday with happy conversations, happy times and happy eats.

Our meals started with one of Tin Roof Bistro’s more popular appetizers, the caramelized brussel sprouts. On top of a bruschetta toast were roasted brussels sprouts that were flavored with butter, lemon, garlic, anchovies and capers. The brussels sprouts were nice and crispy. The lemon flavor was the prime seasoning that could be tasted in this dish.

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For my main entree, I chose to get the housemade thin-noodle lasagna. It was a hot and fresh plate full of layers of thin, delicate noodles mixed with spinach, roasted red peppers, eggplant, mozzarella and marinara sauce. I am a big fan of eggplant and so I was very happy to see a lot of eggplant mixed in. It’s a very healthy and hearty dish.

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My friends and I tried various desserts. Mary Ann and Marisohl got the bittersweet chocolate mousse. I found the chocolate base to be on the rich side. This was offset by the sweet pecan brittles and whipped cream on top. Jacklyn got the tapioca with mango sauce and toasted coconut. I liked how the mango flavor was very distinct. My pick was the blueberry ginger pie with oatmeal cookie crust and vanilla ice cream. I liked how there is a slight hint of ginger up front, followed by the sweet ice cream, then the crispy cookie and then the mix of tart berries. It’s a very unique tasting dessert. It’s a hybrid of different flavors. All of their desserts are delicious sweet treats. I also love the cute presentation! They are all put in cute candle like looking cups.

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I was happy to enjoy another lovely meal at Tin Roof Bistro, however what made it even lovelier this time is spending it with some ladies who I’ve been friends with a long time. (I’ve known Jacklyn since I was seven! While Marisohl and Mary Ann, I’ve known since high school and college, respectively). It was nice to catch up with these girls, celebrate Jacklyn’s birthday and enjoy a good meal at one of my favorite Manhattan Beach restaurants!

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For more smiles, please see my Yelp review from my first time to dine at Tin Roof Bistro.

Hello Chipotle Sofritas!

Last month Chipotle rolled out it’s newest offering to several states. Their newest menu item is sofritas. Sofritas is made out of shredded organic tofu braised with chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos and a blend of spices. The name “Sofritas” comes from the word “sofrito,” which means gently fried in Spanish. In Spanish cuisine, a sofrito is a culinary base consisting of combination of sautéed garlic, pepper, onions, tomatoes.

Ever since I heard that Chipotle would be offering this vegan/vegetarian friendly dish, I wanted to try and taste it. It’s the first time in 20 years that Chipotle is added something new to their protein offerings. I was intrigued. Today, I finally did get the chance to check their braised tofu dish.

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Like it’s other menu offerings, you can choose to get a bowl, burrito or a salad. I chose to get a sofritas bowl with brown rice, veggies, cheese, mild salsa and garnished with sour cream. The sofritas itself is very interesting looking, it looks like chorizo. The tofu texture is firm and makes you almost think it is ground beef or ground chicken.

Similarly, tastewise, it is also very un-tofu like. It tastes very much like you are eating ground beef or ground chicken. It is full of flavor and quite spicy. There’s a wonderful combination of slight tangy & slight smokey giving the Chipotle bowl quite a kick that is different from it’s other offerings. The cheese, mild salsa and sour cream offset the spice but in the end you definitely still feel the heat.

Chipotle’s sofritas is a great addition to their menu. It’s something different. It’s a good option for vegetarians and vegans but I have a feeling even meat eaters will like this. :)

Hello Two Guns Espresso!

I have a thing for friendly neighborhood coffee shops. There’s just something special about cute little spots where I can pleasantly sip a good cup of coffee, enjoy a pastry and just relax. When I heard about Two Guns Espresso, I knew that this one coffee shop I had to visit. The day to visit came recently. It was one of those days where I just needed some quiet time and a little break.

I walked in to Two Guns Espresso and found myself in a small and simple coffee shop. After quickly scanning the menu, I chose to get a flat white and a egg muffin pie.

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It was my first time to try a flat white. I will admit that I was intrigued with what a flat white would taste like. It’s a popular coffee drink from Australia and New Zealand that has steamed whole milk over a double shot of espresso and topped with microfoam. It’s very much like a latte. I found the flat white here to be a nice, smooth cup of coffee. It’s slightly bold in taste and definitely gave a kick start to my day. Normally for a flatwhite, the microfoam is swirled into some type of coffee art like hearts or (maybe even a hello kitty shape ;) and so I was somewhat sad mine didn’t really have a design. It was still a good first try for me though of a flat white.

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Along side my flat white, I tried the egg muffin pie. I tried the vegetarian version with asiago cheese, tomato and egg. I really liked the pie base that was similar to a croissant in texture. The hard boiled egg was tasty and the asiago cheese gave a nice flavor. It’s a tasty little treat!

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Two Guns Espresso did a nice job of helping put a little sunshine in my day! Little coffee shops tend to do that for me ;)

For more smiles, please see my recent Yelp review on Two Guns Espresso.

Hello Uncle Bill’s Pancake House!

Fresh air, blue skies, a beautiful view of the ocean and time with good friends. I am blessed! Living and working in a beachside community definitely has it’s perks. I get to enjoy beautiful days constantly. I also get to enjoy the good company of friends at nice beachside eateries. Uncle Bill’s Pancake House is one of those places. Located about a block from the Manhattan Beach Pier, this is one of my favorite places and quite a popular local eatery in the South Bay.

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Just recently, I dined here with one of my good college friends and we were quite overwhelmed with all the delicious and abundant food presented to us. There was a lot of yummy treats and we ended up with a lot of leftovers.

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My breakfast here started out with a delicious drink. I got a Vanilla nut coffee. A freshly brewed cup with a tower of fresh whipped cream was presented to me. It was a very heartwarming drink and perfect of a slightly overcast beach day. The vanilla nut could be tasted at first sip and the whipped cream added a nice extra hint of sweetness.

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For my main entree, I chose to get Mitch’s Scramble. It is a nice breakfast dish consisting of eggs, mild green chilies and cream cheese. It also comes with hashbrown. It is not surprising that this dish won California Egg Commission’s Great Egg Menu award because it is egg-celent. ;) The scramble eggs had a good mix of green chilies. The cream cheese in between was pleasant and gave extra flavor. It was hearty, fulfilling and tasty. The hashbrowns perfectly grilled with a slight crisp.

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Alongside my eggs were their famous pancakes. I chose to get banana pancakes. I loved that there were fresh bananas and lots and lots of nuts. Eating the pancakes reminded me of fresh baked banana bread.

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Eating all of this good food along with enjoying the surround beach area with my friend, made for a great morning! It’s a simple reminder of how fortunate I am. Smile, because I know you too are blessed. Enjoy life :)

For more smiles, please see my recent Yelp review on Uncle Bill’s Pancake House!

Hello homemade tofu sisig!

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Ingredients: firm tofu, red onion, red bell pepper, jalapeño, lemon juice and mayonnaise

One of my favorite Filipino dishes is sisig. It’s a popular entree where various meats are marinated in a sour liquid like vinegar or lemon juice and then seasoned with salt, pepper and other spices. Traditionally this dish is made with pork and various parts of a pig but I honestly I’ve never been a fan of the traditional way. 1.) I don’t like pork. 2.) It seemed very unhealthy. In the past, I’ve really preferred and liked a chicken version of the dish. Now, that it is the Lenten season and I’m on my “no meat for 40 days” journey, I went with trying out a different type of sisig or a vegetarian version made with tofu.

First up for this was to deep fry the small firm tofu cubes until golden brown and crispy.

In a separate pan, the red onion and red bell pepper were sautéed.

The fried tofu and jalapeño were added next and mixed with the sautéed onion and bell peppers.

Lemon juice was added for the seasoning and a little bit of mayonaise was added into the mix.

I like this tofu sisig so much better than the pork version. It eliminates the unhealthy pork and it’s place is the healthier but tasty tofu. I often have a hard time introducing my vegetarian friends to Filipino food, so it’s nice to have options like this that can put a nice, vegetarian twist to a classic Filipino dish.