Satisfying An Appetite [California]

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Luen here~ The highlight of any vacation for me has arrived; the beauty of experiencing scrumptious foods from different regions of the earth, so here it goes.

 

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As I said in my post before [Fun Under The Sun], when we got to Korea Town, we made our way over to Seol & Bean after dinner to eat some shave ice (팥빙수) and toast. The shaved ice portion was shaved so finely that it almost felt as if I were eating a cloud. A rather freezing one at that. The dish on the left is a chestnut flavored one and the right one is a strawberry flavored shaved ice. Both of the dished didn’t contain any red bean (팥), which is what I love, but the way it was concocted it ended up tasting quite yummy. The toast above is actually similar to grilled cheese, except instead of cheese wedged in between, there is rice cake (떡) in between. The rice cake was slightly flavored sweet and gave a gum-like, chewy texture to the sandwich. It was my first time and I LOVED it!

 

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Pictures don’t do justice. Those words are true when it comes to my breakfast in Jinkys. Although the dish doesn’t look that appetizing, I was savoring every bite of the Italian Egg Sandwich and sweet potato fries. If I had to describe this whole dish in one word, it would be this… CRISPY, and when it comes to food, texture is probably the biggest factor that plays a role in my enjoyment of eating.

 

I didn’t get a stellar picture of the donuts, but despite the lack of photos, it won’t stop me from describing how yummy it was. At the Sidecar Doughnuts, they have flavors ranging from Huckleberry, Horchata, Caramel Flan, to other fancy fusions of various nuts, fruits, and chocolates. I am not a donut kind of person; however, after trying the Horchata, Huckleberry, and Caramel Flan, I have been converted to a donut person (for the time being). The winning aspect of the donuts is that they aren’t overwhelmingly sweet like the typical Krispy Kreme donuts. With each bite, my mouth was filled with warmth and soft, delicate dough that felt as if it were baked in a fancy french bakery.

 

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Din Tai Fung is the best opportunity I got for tasting food in California. Since I am Asian, I will live up to the stereotype when I say that eating those dumplings were about the best dish ever. Some background on this restaurant is that it even received a Michelin star. Michelin stars are given by elite tasters that rank superb restaurants around the globe. The most stars you can obtain are 3. To get even 1 star is a huge deal. In the U.S, there are only 9 restaurants that have received a 3 star Michelin ranking (if you want to see which restaurants they are, you can see a list by clicking here.

 

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Veggie Dumplings

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The skin of the dumpling was unbelievably soft and thin enough where it didn’t burst, but complemented the contents within in mass. The veggie dumpling was like biting into a garden of herbs and freshness, almost to the point of pulling a hint of mint. The entire contents inside almost tasted like they weren’t sauteed or flavored, judging by the intense fresh taste.

 

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Similar to smelling coffee beans to obliterate any scent in your nose, Din Tai Fung provides a palm sized plate with soy sauce for the dumplings and ginger that serves as “coffee beans” for the mouth. By eating the ginger, the quick punch gets rid of any previous taste lingering around the mouth. This comes in handy when you are trying many different dumplings and dishes; I found myself eating it as if it were a side dish too.

 

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Chicken dumpling

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Between the two, this was my favorite, because the chicken dumpling was more savory. When I took my first bite, I didn’t just find the chicken to be chewy, but also a warm clear juice cooked within that poured into my mouth too. The liquid had a savory taste yet didn’t feel greasy.

 

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In addition to the dumplings they had a wicked dish of garlic crispy green beans, that is causing me to water in my mouth just thinking about it, and a solid cup of lychee slush. The lychee slush tasted so real that I promise I even felt a fiber from the inner lining of the lychee shell.

 

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Green Tea Gelato, Half Dipped in Dark Chocolate, Walnut Topping, White Chocolate Drizzle

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Another place that my sister took me to (she really went far and beyond in making my time in California memorable/enjoyable) was a food court in Anaheim called The Packing District. In the food court, there are eateries such as ramen, grilled cheese, french fries, drinks, and other fattening yet totally-worth-it booths. For one of those totally-worth-it for my calories is Popbar. At popbar, you are able to pick the flavor and toppings you want for your sweet treat. The steps go a little something like this:

  1. Pick your popsicle flavor (Gelato, Ice Cream, Sorbet)
  2. No dip, half dip, or whole dip in the chocolate of your choice (white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate)
  3. Chose your toppings (almonds, granola, pistachio, walnuts, waffle cone, sprinkles, etc)
  4. Drizzle with any of the chocolates listed

 

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Vanilla Gelato, Half Dipped Dark Chocolate, Pistachio Topping, White Chocolate Drizzle

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The first popbar I got was so cute and delicious that I had to buy a second one. The only difference I would’ve made is to get dark chocolate drizzled all over instead of white chocolate. I guess my mouth was in the routine of saying white chocolate from when I said it for the first bar. Nevertheless, it was cold, refreshing, and totally worth the extra calories.

 

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Left: Strawberry Lemonade // Right: Matcha Boba Tea
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Un-mixed
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Mixed

Even when I felt as if my stomach was going to explode, I pushed myself to get a drink from Mini Monster. At mini monster, they serve cold teas, hot teas, boba teas… basically tea heaven. I decided to get Matcha since I figured that it would be the least sweet, and I was right. For those who aren’t much into the sweet types of drinks, this is a good drink to purchase if you happen to be in the area. Plus, green tea is usually my go-to, or, play-it-safe kind of flavor whenever I got to new bakeries/cafes.

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Shaved ice. That is the one dessert I have been a bit iffy about, because whenever I eat one, either the snow is too chunky or the juice is only concentrated at the bottom, leaving the top a diluted ice berg. The shaved ice at Bahama Buck was the best shaved ice I have had in a while. The ice was finely shaved about the same as the ice for the 팥빙수. In fact, even calling it ice doesn’t sound imaginatively just. The consistency was more like the layers of snow that pile up from each layer of fresh snowflakes falling down. For the juice, I ordered one flavor: watermelon. When they add the juice, there is a tube that they insert from the top to the bottom that pumps in the juice, so that the juice can make its way by filling up from the bottom up. Every area that I scooped the snow, the taste of watermelon was vibrant.

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