I love trying new food places. It makes me cry a little that the city/town I am currently living in is essentially a barren desert for good, diverse restaurants compared to SoCal. So over winter break, food was one of my main destinations. May I present to you, my food highlights:
Milk & Honey (2981 Bristol St B6, Costa Mesa, CA 92626) – This is a cute cafe that offers specialty drinks, shaved ice, and some food. On my first visit, we got the M&H special shaved ice (with strawberries, bananas, kiwi & mochi, topped with red azuki bean), but with green tea ice instead of strawberry ice. What’s interesting about this shaved ice is that it has plain frozen yogurt mixed in, creating a happy blend of soft and tart with cold and herb-y. On our second trip, I tried the lavender latte. I don’t like my drinks too sweet; on a sugar level of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the usual), I would pick a 2. The lavender latte was a decent amount of sweet (3.5/5), with a light, refreshing flowery taste.
Sul & Beans (621 S Western Ave #208, Los Angeles, CA 90005) – It is located in Madang Plaza, one of the most popular plazas in all of Koreatown. We ordered the “Injeolmi” Bingsoo. Essentially, injeolmi is a variation of Korean rice cake that is covered is powdered beans, soybean in this case. Unlike most bingsoo, this doesn’t have the signature red beans on top (“Pat” in Korean is red beans). I would pick this soft-as-snow shaved ice over the Icee-like shaved ice at Milk & Honey any day! We also tried the green-tea toast, which has honey (I think) in the middle, almost like a dessert grilled cheese (without the cheese). I really liked that neither of the dishes were too sweet.
Bruxie (180 5th St, Huntington Beach, CA 92648) – This is my second time trying Bruxie, and it was again delicious! While my sister devoured the Buttermilk Fried Chicken (Seasoned Fried Chicken Breast, Chili Honey, Cider Slaw), I sunk my teeth into the California Pesto Chicken (Grilled Chicken, Sonoma Goat Cheese, Arugula Pesto, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Arugul) waffle sandwich. Next time, I want to try the Bacon Avocado Burger. Just thinking about it makes me hungry.
Vientiane Thai Laos (10262 Westminster Ave Garden Grove, CA 92843) – Here, I tried my first Lao dishes with Katie. We had the crispy fried rice, Lao-style (vs. Thai-style) papaya salad, and Lao sausage. If you couldn’t have already guessed from the restaurant name, Lao food is very similar to Thai food (which I love!). What I later learned was that much of Thai food is more soup-like, often incorporating coconut milk, whereas Lao food tends to be dry. Both can be spicy and are based on fish, buffalo meat, pork, poultry and especially herbs.
Din Tai Fung (3333 Bristol St Space 2071 Upper Level Costa Mesa, CA 92626) – Hailed from Taiwan, this place is famous for their steamed dumplings. Also popular is their shrimp and pork wontons with spicy sauce. We ordered the pork Xiao Long Bao (see below), shrimp & pork Shao Mai, and vegetable & pork wontons with spicy sauce. The spicy sauce was out-of-this world good! Unicorn’s blood, my sister declares.
Pictured at the very top is the Hoji-Cha (roasted green tea) soft-serve from Matcha Love (665 Paularino Ave Costa Mesa, CA 92626). I love that it wasn’t overly sweet or heavy. I also tried a Japanese-Italian pasta dish with Jen at Spoon House (1601 W Redondo Beach Blvd, Gardena, CA 90247) and a Poke bowl for the first time at Poke Bar (525 E 1st St, Long Beach, CA 90802). The pasta dish was amazing!