Purity Vodka x Orrefors

This holiday season, I'm excited to partner up with Purity Vodka and Orrefors! Purity Vodka won 2017 Vodka of the year at a perfect 100 points and is 34 times distilled. The ingredients used to make the vodka are certified organic, and they strive to create an elevated brand that is sophisticated and an experience on its own.

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Orrefors, a Swedish glassware company, uses the highest high quality for their glasses and offer contemporary style and design. Together, Purity Vodka and Orrefors provide the perfect pairing for cocktails during a holiday party or gathering! Wishing you all a happy holiday, and a wonderful start to the New Year!

Cheers! 

Cheers! 

HiHo Cheeseburger

Don't judge a book by its cover. Time has proven this to me in the past, and this time was no exception. I've read so many articles talking about the HiHo Cheeseburger, but upon first glance, the burger looked like any other ordinary burger with shredded lettuce. Since I was given the opportunity to try it out, I hopped onto it and got myself over to Santa Monica! 

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Upon meeting the guys who run the place, I was impressed (yet slightly skeptical) after learning about the background. They were searching for years to find the right farm to source their meat, and they happened to chance upon this New Zealand farm with 100% grass fed, grass finished wagyu beef. The beef is 100% free of antibiotics and hormones, and they had a previous location in Santa Barbara county in Ojai. The owners decided to keep the burger classic and simple with a white bun, American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles. A burger is $6.95 a la carte or it can come with hand cut fries or a side salad.

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My friend and I got one of each combo, and it was a great decision! The fries still had the potato skin on and were nicely fried, and the side salad was light and easy to eat. Now on to the main star of the show, the burger. Upon first bite, my friend and I were pleasantly surprised at the taste of the meat. The HiHo cheeseburger comes with two patties and two cheeses, and it was the perfect amount as it provided an all around great meat taste and quality. The burger tasted like the classic All American burger you've been dreaming of but never had, and the beef was so flavorful and was textured very well. With the simplicity of the side toppings and ingredients, it couldn't have been made better. It was obvious that the meat had substantial quality!

For dessert, we got the key lime and the banana cream pie; another two American classics! Although I recommend trying both as they were very light yet flavorful, my personal favorite was the key lime. It was the perfect finish to the meal as the pie wasn't too heavy but provided a nice, sweet touch to the end of the meal.

Overall, I was very impressed at what HiHo Cheeseburger had to offer! Pictures definitely do not do the burger justice, and it is obvious that the quality shines through. Come here expecting delicious food and a leave with a happy stomach!

Sizzlin' Steak

Sizzlin' Steak is now open in Glendale Galleria! I love a good hot stone bowl, and this particular concept started out in the Philippines. After opening 16 locations there, they decided to branch out and open their first location in the United States in Glendale. 

For my appetizer, I started out with the sizzlin nachos chili cheese. The chili cheese was sizzling hot, and it made a great casual appetizer to share with friends. 

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For the entrees, I got the rib eye steak with vegetables and an added egg and pepper rice, and my friend got the chicken with garlic rice. They also have pasta and salad options! I loved how healthy how my dish was as I got a good portion of vegetables, protein, and a bit of carbs! 

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For dessert, we got the creme cheese brownie a la mode. The sizzling brownie was decadent and rich, and with the contrast of the cold ice cream, it provided a nice complement to the dish.

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Overall, Sizzlin Steak is a great addition to Glendale Galleria across from the original Panda Express! With various healthy dishes to choose from and a build your own option, there is something for everyone whether it be more health concscious or hearty. 

Vinoteca Espresso Cafe & Wine Bar

A few months ago, I got to try out Vinoteca's Espresso Cafe one early morning at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. The #PowerPatio is equipped with wifi, charging ports, and TVs to maximize one's experience while there. The cafe opens daily starting at 6:30 am, so one can come in before work to grab a cup of coffee. With Italian pastries such as their scrumptious Connoncini and roast imported from an Italian family in Seattle, Vinoteca is the perfect place to start the day off! 

After work, Vinoteca is transformed into a modern and sleek wine bar with Italian dishes made for sharing. From various pizzas to different types of crudo, Vinoteca is perfect for after work drinks and food or even a nice dinner with friends or significant other. The wine program is extensive, with sommelier Luca Bruno creating a unique Italian wine experience that showcases the finest examples of classic terroir of Italy. A full bar is also available for those who seek something else. 

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Vinoteca at the Four Seasons has become a versatile and trendy spot that strives for not only a great environment, but also a restaurant with delicious food and drinks. With so much to offer, I'm excited to see how Vinoteca will do in the LA scene! I have yet to check out the wine bar, but hope to soon with a couple of friends! 

LAMILL Coffee Roasting Tour & Cupping Experience

Last week, I received the chance to attend and learn more about the roasting process at LAMILL Coffee! Their warehouse and office is located in Alhambra, and everything from the receipt of the beans to the packaging occurs here. 

Process: Farmer > Milling > Transport > Roasting > Coffee Shop > Barista 

LAMILL gets most of their beans from Central and South America, and each bag comes as heavy as 130 lbs to 150 lbs. The beans are a light greenish brown before roasting, and it had a earthy scent that smelled subtly like vegetables. There is a natural protective coating covering the beans called parchment, and after it is dried in the sun, the outer coating is removed and placed into bags to be shipped to the LAMILL warehouse. 

The beans are then placed in a bucket elevator (below photo) which holds up to 132 lbs of beans. The elevator shoots the beans up through a shaft and takes the beans to a 60 kilo drum roaster that continually rotates over 400 degrees (420 for a dark roast). Every couple minutes, the roasters look and smell the coffee to make heated adjustments as time affects acidity. There is also a roast tracker that tracks every roast that they've had for quality purposes. For example, a longer roast would result in a chocolate caramel like smell, whereas a lighter roast is more lemon-y and citrus-y.

During the roasting process, air is incinerated and exits clear with no smoke. There is also a chaff byproduct that flakes off during the roasting process which is shown in the photos below. As the beans roast, you can hear crackling which indicates the moisture building up as well as the steam pressure. Sounds almost like popcorn popping in the microwave but more distinct! The crackling is used as a time marker at what stage the beans are at! 

For small batch coffee, a smaller roaster (12 kilos) is used, and it can hold up to only 26 lbs at a time. The more expensive coffee is roasted here. The lightest roast can be as fast as 10 minutes, and the darkest roast will take up to 17 minutes. 

After the beans are roasted, it is packaged into smaller pound bags and ready to ship! 

After watching the roasting process, we were taken to the cupping room to try the different types of beans! We received a light, medium, and dark roast to try. This part was super interesting as the process is extremely different from how normal coffee is brewed! At this part, John, the director of coffee, taught us the appropriate way to brew. 

After grinding the beans, he used filtered water at 195-205 degrees to brew the coffee. Distilled water has no taste, and hard mineral la water is no good as there are too many minerals. At 204 degrees, co2 is forced out by the water, and crusting occurs.

We were then taught how to "slurp" the coffee- you take a spoon and after breaking the crust, you slurp in the small sip of coffee to get the full flavor all throughout your mouth. The louder the slurp, the better! We repeated this process for every roast after cleaning our spoon in the water cups!

My favorite ended up being the light roast as it was more vibrant and citrus in flavor. I had such a fun and educational time learning about the roasting process and the various beans! Thank you John and LAMILL Coffee for giving us a roasting tour and showing us how to cup! 

Kavalan Tasting @ Lock & Key

Back again for another tasting! This time around, Kavalan was the highlight of the night. Kavalan is a Taiwanese distillery owned by King Car Group, and they have won numerous awards for their whisky. Tonight, we got to try the Concertmaster Port Cask Finish, the King Car Conductor Single Malt Whisky, the Ex-Bourbon Oak Single Malt Whisky, and the Sherry Oak Single Malt Whisky.

Since it was a Taiwanese Whiskey, Chef Cyndi Tran decided to pair the whisky with Taiwanese fusion food! For the first bites, we got homemade scallion pancake with braised beef, cucumber, hoisin, pickled carrot, and garlic oil to go with our Kavalan Concertmaster. 

Our first course consisted of a Sprouted Mung Bean Salad with shrimp, pickled eggplant, watermelon radish, tomatoes, spinach, baby celery, crispy shallots, and chili passion fruit vinaigrette. To pair with, we had the King Car Conductor. In my opinion, it is hard to pair a light appetizer such as a salad with a whisky, but I enjoyed both the dish and the whisky! 

For our entree, we had the roasted beef tenderloin with stir fried long beans, baby bok choy, carrots, bean sprouts, sesame, black bean, hoisin sauce, and citrus coriander glaze. This was my favorite course of the meal- the meat was so juicy and flavorful! This was paired with the Kavalan ex-Bourbon Oak, which basically means that this whisky was put into old bourbon barrels. Loved the pairing of these two! 

Last but not least, we had a Taiwanese Sponge Cake with lemon mango curd, papaya mousse, lychee and plut, and spiced peanut brittle. This was my friend's favorite course, and it was delicious with the Kavalan Sherry Oak. We both enjoyed the Sherry Oak the best as it had a nice light fruity taste! 

Another fantastic dinner and tasting hosted by Lock & Key! I love how they are able to appropriate the event to the specific types of whiskey they offer. I did not expect Lock & Key to host a Taiwanese dinner, and I love their versatility! Thanks again Lock & Key for hosting, and hopefully I will be back soon! :)

Menu for reference 

Menu for reference 

Public School 213's New Spring/ Summer Menu

Public School 213 has always been a local hangout spot for me for drinks and snacks, and I was excited to try their new spring/ summer menu! New additions include a grilled watermelon & heirloom tomato stack, pizza di verdure, and meatballs & linguine. They have a huge selection of beers on tap, and I had The Earl of Juniper, an earl grey infused jin with lavender and lemon that was delectable. 

We started out with the grilled watermelon & heirloom tomato stack that was topped with feta, balsamic, and marcona almonds. This dish had the best textures! Both the watermelon and the tomato was super juicy, but the tomato was more soft and spongey whereas the watermelon was crisp and light. The contrast of the two really complemented each other well, and the almonds was just the cherry to the dish. Obsessed with this combination- I need more of this in my life! 

The Pizza di Verdure with zucchini, arrabbiata angry sauce, caramelized onions, basil, goat cheese, truffle oil, and lemon gremolata was next, and the combination was delicious. Lots of intertwining flavors and textures throughout, and I really liked the subtle hint of truffle oil in the pizza! 

Last but not least, the Meatballs & Linguine included the arrabbiata angry sauce, rapini, grana padano, and basil. This was the favorite of the table as the sauce had a spicy kick to it from the arrabbiata angry sauce. The linguine was cooked perfectly, and the meatballs were so flavorful and juicy! I was super impressed with this dish.

We had a great time at Public School 213, and I'm so glad we finally got to try the food! The overall theme of "school" with composition books, "incomplete" to go boxes, and school tables is so cute! Love how they have seasonal items so that the menu is always changing! 

Bruichladdich Tasting @ Lock & Key

This past Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending the Bruichladdich Tasting at Lock & Key. The tasting is paired with four different courses, with an introduction to each course by ambassador Alex Goode as well as Chef Cyndi Tran. The event was hosted in the patio of Lock & Key, and the decor was gorgeous! 

Drinks were served at the bar as well as tray passed appetizers, and we got the gin & tonic and strawberry mule to start. The smoked trout salad on cheddar brioche was divine, and we had to indulge in seconds and thirds! 

First Course-

Bruichladdich Scottish Barley paired with Smokey Bacon Vinaigrette and Grilled Asparagus Salad

The Scottish barley was my favorite of the four, and it was crisp and light to the taste. The salad was also a nice refresher to the meal, and I loved how the chef paired it with crispy salmon skin and soft boiled egg. Great textures in this course overall. 

Second Course-

Bruichladdich Islay Barley Rockside Farm paired with Kunamoto Oyster

This was another fantastic whiskey we tasted, and Alex educated us on the roots of this Islay Barley. The smokiness of the whiskey made the Kunamoto oyster taste like a summer barbecue of oysters on the grill! 

Third Course-

Port Charlotte Scottish Barley paired with Paned Seared Scottish Salmon

The whiskey got more peaty as the tasting went on, and this one was nice and smokey. At 40 ppm, it is considered one of the more peatier of the whiskies. The salmon served as a nice contrast to the Port Charlotte, and it was delicious!

Fourth Course-

Octomore 7.1 paired with Butter Scotch Cream Cheese Tarlette

The grand finale of the Octomore 7.1 which happened to be the peatiest whiskey in the world at 208 ppm. Lagavulin and Laphroaig were only around 120 ppm, which is moderate in comparison. The cheese tarlette was a nice sweet offset to the Octomore, and I loved the crust and the overall textures and taste. 

The Bruichladdich tasting was a fantastic evening of delicious whiskey and fantastic food. We had a wonderful evening learning more about Bruichladdich whiskey and its origins, and I am glad to have been able to try the world's peatiest whiskey! Thank you Lock & Key for inviting us out!  

Bondi Harvest

Bondi Harvest, a popular breakfast & lunch cafe based in Australia, has opened its first location in the USA! Created by Guy Turland and Mark Alston, the two have a popular Youtube channel, cooking book, and cafes in Australia. The name Bondi Harvest comes from Sydney's most famous stretch of sand called Bondi Beach, where there is a strong breakfast cafe culture in that area. Since Guy has always had a strong connection to the ocean, it was only fair that his cafe embodies it! 

The cafe itself is super cute and hip, and there's seating inside and outside on the patio. We ordered the fried egg sandwich, the three tartines (sweet halloumi, avo toast, and wild mushroom), as well as the Bondi breakfast. Acai bowls were unfortunately sold out, so we got the On the Green and Mango Madness smoothie. 

Avo Toast, smashed avocado, smoked paprika, sea salt, evoo- This toast was simple yet delectable. The flavors were very prominent especially since avocado is more on the muted side, and it was yummy! 

Wild Mushrooms, tabasco kale, ricotta, almonds- I love how the ricotta really added to the toast! Great textures overall with the nuts and the various ingredients, and this toast was my favorite of the three!

Sweet Halloumi, avocado, lemon, pistachio dukkah and grilled halloumi, raw wildflower honey- I've actually never had halloumi cheese, and I liked how it was grilled for texture! The honey added an overall subtle sweetness to it, and this one was also delicious! 

Fried Egg Sandwich, bacon, avocado, hot sauce, aioli, aged parmesan, tomato- this may or may not be the best fried egg sandwich I've ever had! I still think about this sandwich to this day... and am so impressed at how perfect it was! Definitely a must order! 

Bondi Breakfast- two eggs, bacon, roasted tomato, avocado, mushrooms, sourdough toast- This dish was more than just your average breakfast dish! We loved the presentation and the taste of everything. We were too full by this point, so we actually boxed this one togo. 

The On the Green (kale, spinach, avocado, coconut water, apple juice, lemon, mango pulp) and Mango Madness (frozen mango, turmeric, cinammon, coconut cream) smoothies were super healthy tasting. The smoothies were more viscous, and had a nice texture overall. 

During our brunch,we also got to meet Guy Turland himself, and he left me with an impressionable quote, "Restaurant is just a place to eat, while a cafe is a community." This is so true in so many ways- people always hang out and bond at cafes while a patron goes to a restaurant to eat. The whole vision behind Bondi Harvest is so clearly seen at this cafe, and it's amazing to see how far Bondi Harvest has come! 

Le Petit Paris

Le Petit Paris is a beautiful French restaurant that seats over 300 tables in on setting. I have visited once on their grand opening day, and I was excited to return to see what changes have been made! My friends and I came in during lunch time, and the decor was gorgeous as always. The high vaulted ceilings with chandeliers make it the perfect date spot or a great time with friends, and they even have a live DJ at night on the weekends playing disco and French house! 

After sitting, we started out with some drinks and appetizers. We got a homemade crostini with cream cheese truffle topped with pesto sauce that is included with every table. This was addicting to me as I love anything cream cheese! For appetizers, we got the foie gras, sea bass ceviche, and white and green asparagus with a hollandaise sauce. I loved the foie gras as it was creamy and decadent, and a hint of sweet always pairs well with the foie. The sea bass ceviche was very refreshing and light, and I loved the textures of salsa added so it wasn't al soft. Our friend was vegan, and she really enjoyed her asparagus! Perfect start to our meal!  

Next up- the white truffle pizza. We had actually requested this one as it looked AMAZING, and it was definitely up to par! Instead of using regular cheese, Chef Jeremie uses a mixture of cheese and cream cheese which made it super creamy! They are also very generous with the white truffle, and this literally tasted like the pizza of my dreams! I have included two photos, as one is not enough! 

For entrees, we got the Saffron Scallops Risotto with peas and chorizo, Vegetables Linguini (vegan), and the "Le Petit Paris" Signature Cheeseburger with bacon and french fries. First of all, let me state that French people does fries best! Makes sense as it's called French fries... but we were obsessed with these fries! We could not stop eating it even though we were extremely full, and the fries were super crispy on the outside yet steaming hot and soft on the inside. On to the actual food- the risotto was delectable! The scallops were perfectly seared, and the risotto had a nice mixture of saffron in it. The vegetable linguini was tossed in a light oil sauce which was divine! Last but not least, the cheeseburger. Juicy, succulent meat with cheese oozing everywhere... Life cannot get any better. At this point, we were way too full, so we had to take some food home. 

We did end up taking a few photos of the dessert as they were so cute, but we were way too full for dessert as we ate so much! Thank you Chef Jeremie as well as the rest of restaurant for the hospitality, we had a fantastic time at Le Petit Paris! Can't wait to return~

Ultimate Umami Burger Nine Course Tasting Menu

9 drinks, 8 burgers, and 3 sides? Challenge accepted! The ultimate Umami tasting menu is not for the weak, and the four of us went for it head on! The tasting menu is meant to be shared family style between four people for a $95 total (so around $25 per person). With that, each person eats a total of two burgers and sides, which is extremely reasonable once you divide up the prices! Not only that, you also get to try almost all of their burgers on the menu! I would also recommend the beverage pairing at $175 total for 4 ($44 per person)- for $19 more, you get 9 rounds of various drinks to sip and savor. 

We started out with their sides: thin fries, sweet potato fries, and tempura onion rings. These dishes were served with their house made sauces: diablo sauce, jalapeno ranch, garlic aioli, and house umami ketchup. The array of sauces were delicious- we could not stop dipping our sides into the different flavors! My personal favorite was the house umami ketchup which had a hint of truffle in it as well as the diablo sauce as I love my spice! The garlic aioli was also a favorite of the table. The fries were crispy and soft in the right places, and the malt liquor batter of the tempura onion rings was perfection! We got a real sugar Mountain Dew to pair with these sides which tasted so much better than the regular Mountain Dew you get in stores! 

First burger: Truffle burger with truffled aioli, house truffle cheese, truffle glaze. The first bite was heavenly, and I loved how the cheese oozed out of the burger! We were still starving at this point, so this burger was devoured in seconds. This burger was paired with the Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout; stouts are typically dark and bitter and this was no exception. I am personally not a fan of stouts, but I can see how it paired with the burger well!  

The Manly burger with house beer cheddar cheese, bacon, lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, and Umami house ketchup mustard spread was next, and this was just my type! It did feel manly indeed, and this was one of my favorites especially with the drink pairing! Of course, you can't be a man without a maple bacon old fashioned which was tasty. 

Burger three and still going strong! The Ahi Tuna burger with seared ahi tuna patty, daikon, sprouts, crushed avocado, gingered carrots, wasabi flake, and wasabi tartar was a light and refreshing burger compared to the first two. The carrot added a nice crunch complement to the ahi, and the fish was fresh! This burger was paired with the Victory Golden Monkey (all the way to the right in the photo below). This beer was lighter than the stout which I found perfect for this burger! 

The Hatch burger with roasted hatch chiles, house cali cheese, and roasted garlic aioli had a nice kick to it! It reminded me of a Mexican fusion burger but even better. This was paired with the Velvet Mule which included Tito's Handmade Vodka, velvet falernum, fresh lime juice, ginger beer, bitters, and mint. The drink was another highlight of the meal- I love how they added a touch of velvet to it! At this point, we all devoured one burger each and we were starting to slow down. 

Turkey anyone? The Greenbird burger with turkey patty, crushed avocado, green cheese, butter lettuce, sprouts, and green goddess was my friend's go to burger when she visits Umami, and I can see why! This is her healthy alternative, and I've never had such a yummy turkey patty! Add avocado and cheese- it's a win for me! This burger was paired with a light and crisp white wine, the 2014 Laurenz Gruner Vetliner. 

Really starting to slow down at this point... the Cali burger with butter lettuce, roasted tomato, carmelized onions, house spread, and house cali cheese was a blur to me. We were starting to question our life decisions, which was uncanny timing for the Spicy Mezcalrita with Lunazul blanco tequila, pomegranate liqueur infused with cucumber and serrano pepper, fresh juices topped with Xicaru Mezcal and Cointreau foam. The drink had a kick to it, and it woke us up out of our daze! 

Time for a throwback.. to another burger! The Throwback burger with two 3.5 oz seared beef patties, white cheddar cheese, miso mustard, Umami house ketchup, soy pickles, and minced onions was my favorite hands down! The two patties were so succulent and just dripping in juice.. Even though I was stuffed, I finished my portion! My mouth is watering talking about this.... the burger was paired with real sugar Pepsi (not pictured) which was fitting! 

Last but not least, the famous Umami burger with parmesan frico, shiitake mushroom, roasted tomato, carmelized onions, and Umami house ketchup. We were completely done from the Throwback burger, so we ended up taking this one to go. This was paired with the 2013 Seghesio Zinfandel (not pictured).

We ended up almost finishing two burgers, which is pretty impressive in my opinion as the tasting lasted around 2 hours (more reason for the food to settle in). Truth be told, we weren't able to finish our beers, but I definitely finished all of the other drinks! My friends and I had a wonderful experience with the tasting menu, and I'm so glad I got to try basically every burger at Umami as I would not have tried them otherwise! Thank you Umami for having us, this meal is definitely one for the books! 

Tasting Menu for Reference 

Tasting Menu for Reference 

Cava Grill

1073 Broxton Ave
Los AngelesCA 90024

If only this spot opened up before I graduated UCLA... I would have come here everyday! Cava Grill is originally from Washington DC, and after multiple shops in the east coast, they finally made their way to Cali! They do have a more formal restaurant in the east coast, and Cava Grill is their casual version of their main restaurant. They do use sustainable and healthy ingredients, and are expanding to have their products such as hummus and harissa in grocery stores! 

The style is very similar to Chiptole where it is make it yourself- but instead of Mexican food, it's Mediterranean. The restaurant is huge- lots of tables but the line does get long. In the beginning, you choose your base of wrap, bowl, or salad, then you choose up to three dips or spreads! After your protein, you can choose as many toppings and dressings as you would like to top off your base! 

I decided to get a wrap with half regular and lamb meatball and tzatziki, hummus, harissa (spicy) for the spreads. For the toppings, I picked and chose my favorites, and the ingredients were so fresh and tasty. The spicy harissa sauce was the highlight of my meal, and the melange of the toppings made for the perfect wrap!

They also have a wide variety of drinks so I would definitely invest in a cup! I tried their lavender lemonade, a strawberry one, and their apple cinnamon drink. Got so bloated from trying the yummy flavors!

I was so impressed at how delicious my wrap was- I can see Cava Grill becoming the new Chiptole of Mediterranean food! Service was fast and efficient, and everyone knows what they're doing. I need to try their bowls next- hopefully they will open a location closer to me as they are doing things right here!

Ox & Son

1534 Montana Ave

Santa Monica, CA 90403

Decided to give this spot another chance as the food was delicious, and this visit surpassed my expectations by far! Upon walking in, the hostess was very welcoming, and we were seated immediately at our table. After studying the menu, we decided to order a bunch of dishes to share as well as a giant berry punch bowl! The punch bowl serves four to six, and since we had five people, it was the perfect size for us. 

The punch bowl was fruity, light, and refreshing, and our table could not stop drinking it! They are also extremely generous with fruit, and there were a ton of giant strawberries everywhere which was the icing to the cake. 

Baked Avocado and Eggs, smoked salmon, aged white cheddar, pickled onion, arugula- this tasted as beautiful as it looked! You can't go wrong with avocado, eggs, and smoked salmon, and this was no exception. 

Banh Mi Breakfast Bowl, coconut black sticky rice, pickled vegetables, poached egg, pork sausage, cilantro, jalapeño, cucumber- this was better than I remembered! Mixing everything created the perfect combination of spicy and savory, and I was really impressed at the ingredients they used to create this dish. This is definitely a MUST ORDER! 

Just Breakfast, two eggs, spiced potatoes, bacon or sausage, bread & jam- I personally did not try this, but it is your staple breakfast dish! My friend enjoyed it though.

Oysters- we got a half dozen of Kusshi oysters, and of course they were sweet and super fresh! Kusshi is one of my favorites as they are smaller and sweeter than the usual oyster. I loved how they displayed the oysters; the tabasco came in a dropper and it also came with a variety of sauces.

Bucatini Pasta & Sweet Pork Sausage, 8 hour tomato sauce, pork sausage, basil, parmesan- this was DELICIOUS especially since Ox & Son isn't a pasta spot. The bucatini was cooked perfectly, and they added a little bit of crisp on top to add texture. Yum! 

Avocado Heirloom Tomato Toast, pecorino, pumpkin seeds, radish- add a fried egg on top for even more deliciousness! Presentation of the toast was so pretty, and it was yummy! Definitely a great option if you don't know what to order. We actually didn't see it on the menu until later as it was in the sandwich section.

Kale & Preserved Lemon Salad, kale, radicchio, onion, cucumber, heirloom tomatoes, pecorino cheese, buttermilk lemon herb dressing- this salad was crisp and refreshing! I actually could not stop eating this even though I am not a big fan of kale salad. 

Prime Beef Tartare, truffled egg, soy, onion, apple, sesame brioche- I love a good steak tartare, and this was divine! The meat was marinated well, and the hint of truffle just sealed the deal for me. Presentation is cute as well! 

Uni & Eggs, soft egg, sea urchin, black bread- I finally got to try this dish, and it was delightful! Uni and eggs pair well together, and it was a softer dish.

Fresh House Cut Kennebec Fries, spicy ketchup, lime aioli- I love thick cut fries, and this one was seasoned and fried perfectly! Great side to complement the main dishes. 

For dessert, we decided to share the churros and the butterscotch coffee cake. The coffee cake was by far the favorite of the table- love the meringue crisp they utilize in their dessert! 

My friends and I had the most amazing lunch here, and this time around, our server was fantastic! He was gracious, accommodating, and friendly, and he definitely took care of us. I'm so happy I returned!

Napa Valley Grille Re-Opening

1100 Glendon Ave Ste 100
Los AngelesCA 90024

Commemorating their 15th year anniversary, Napa Valley Grille has re-opened their doors after a $2 million renovation. The entire restaurant has been remodeled including the interior dining room, private event space, and outdoor furniture with earth tone colors. Upon entering the restaurant, we were very impressed at the tall ceilings and the cavernous like rooms. There are multiple dining rooms perfect for a private event space, and they even added a private room encased with wine storage!

Napa Valley Grille also introduced Chef Adrian Vela as their new executive head chef. He has worked under chefs such as Joel Robuchon and Charlie Palmer, and brings with him a seasonal menu using local ingredients while keeping to the classic California cuisine that the restaurant offers. After sitting in one of the smaller rooms, we decided to order a couple appetizers to start as well as a glass of wine.

Wagyu Meatballs, beef, pancetta, fried green tomato, fresh herbs, romesco- Meatballs are always a fantastic choice, and this was no exception. The tomato was plump and juicy, and the crust was nice and crispy on the outside. It served as a great complement to the meatballs, and the marinara sauce was thick and creamy. 

Oven Roasted Mussels, crispy pancetta, sweet onions, charred tomato, Chardonnay- the mussel broth was amazing, and we could not stop dipping the bread in it! The sauce had a subtle smokey taste and was bursting of flavor. 

Roasted Vegetable Flatbread, brussels sprouts, heirloom carrots, cauliflower, garlic, corn, herbs- The crust was thin and crispy, and we loved the toppings! Everything tasted great together; it was a very Californian appetizer to start. 

For the entrees, we got the Chef's special lobster ravioli and the Steelhead trout. The house-made lobster ravioli with shrimp, chervil, and watermelon salad as my favorite from the night! The inside was stuffed with lobster, and the chilled watermelon shrimp salad was the perfect pairing to the ravioli. The bearnaise sauce that was fantastic as well as it added a light citrus taste to the overall dish. 

The steelhead trout with roasted asparagus, Meyer lemon risotto, harissa, and micro sorrel was a solid dish; the fish was tender and the risotto was nice and creamy. 

For dessert, we got the Butterscotch Bread Pudding as it was highly recommended as well as the Chocolate Pot De Creme. I have a giant sweet tooth, and the Butterscotch Bread Pudding was perfect for me! The marshmallows were toasted to perfection and the chocolate crisp was a great contrast to the soft bread pudding. I drenched my bread pudding in the brown sugar sauce, and it was yummy! 

The Chocolate Pot de Creme was smooth and creamy, and even though it was viscous, the chocolate flavor was on the lighter side! The pistachio biscotti paired really well with the chocolate.

We had a fantastic night at Napa Valley Grille; the restaurant was gorgeous! I used to pass by this restaurant back when I was at UCLA, and the renovations have really transformed the restaurant! Thanks for having us- so glad Napa Valley Grille is back! Like them on Facebook or follow them on Instagram to keep up to date with their opening~ 

Mondo Taco

2200 Colorado Ave

Santa Monica, CA 90404

Mondo Taco used to be located in mid LA, but they moved to a newer and bigger location in Santa Monica! Today, they are featuring 34 unique and modern tacos that you can order, and these tacos are divided into three categories: crawl, grow, and swim. Crawl consists of the meats, grow includes the vegetarian tacos, and of course swim is the seafood! Since everything looked amazing, we decided to order a large variety to share amongst the four of us. Ask for their three spicy sauces- they have the ghost pepper sauce which will burn your tongue if you're into that. I really enjoyed the other two as they really spiced up the tacos! 

We also got guac, salsa, and chips as well as agua frescas to drink! The guac was so good we actually ordered another one.. and we finished both. They offer pineapple and watermelon agua frescas which was super refreshing.Since we ordered a lot, I am only going to highlight my favorites. 

Tokyo Shrimp- Tempura Shrimp, Avocado, Spicy Mayo- tempura + taco + avocado all in one!? This was my favorite of everything we tried! 

Crispy Fish- Blackened Shrimp, Onions, Garlic Mayo- I love crispy fish tacos, and this was no exception. Simple yet bomb!

Bayou Fish- Grilled Cajun Fish, Jambalaya, Cajun Aioli- they are really killing it with the fishes- another fantastic combo to try. 

Viet Yum- Grilled Shrimp, Cabbage, Lime, Chili Sesame oil- this was very fusion tasting, and I liked how they created their vietnamese style taco. Love the crunchy texture that the cabbage added!

Yo Adrian- Rib Eye, peppers, onions, mushrooms, provolone- I love a good philly cheese steak, and that in a taco was extremely appealing to me. My friends didnt like it as it was melted provolone in a taco, but I loved it! So this may be based more on preference.

We also got the blueberry panna cotta which was surprisingly delicious! We were extremely full but managed to finish all of it as we could not stop taking bites. 

Although the tacos are pricer, you do pay for tacos you can't get anywhere else! The service also surpassed my expectations- I was extremely impressed when I got up to refill my drink and the guy offered to do it for me. Mind you- this is an order at the counter and take a number type of restaurant. Overall, this restaurant deserves a five stars based on originality, taste, service, and presentation. My friends and I had different tastes so we did like some more than others, but we generally liked all of the tacos. Definitely try out the different tacos and figure out what you like!

Lamill Coffee

1636 Silver Lake Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Three words. Salted caramel latte! I don't even drink coffee but this is definitely a must order. Lamill Coffee is very well known as they distribute their beans to numerous stores, and this shop is their only location that serves food. They do have one in Alhambra that serves strictly coffee, but my friends and I wanted to eat so we came in to check out their brunch!

We ended up liking everything on the menu, and ordered way too much food. We got all three toasts (avocado, smoked salmon, ricotta), as well as the salmon eggs benedict, grilled cheese and tomato soup, an omelette, and two pastries. Of course, we got mimoas as brunch is never complete without mimosas! They offered a grapefruit mimosa which I thought was unique, and although it was sour, it was a delicious start of my meal! 

The pastries were first to come we got the jalapeno cheese biscuit and the mushroom muffin. Both of them were scrumptious; the biscuit had bits of cheese over it and was nicely toasted! The muffin was warm and soft, and the inside had a generous portion of mushrooms. Yum!

On to the toasts- these were perfect in terms of presentation and taste! The avocado toast was paired with radish and onions which was was a nice crunchy complement to the soft avocado. Add a poached egg to complete this dish! This ended up being my friend's favorite of the brunch.

The smoked salmon was a delicious toast as well- very even serving of cream cheese, capers, and salmon. I took this home and ate it for dinner in the end.

I really liked the ricotta toast- they add walnuts, honey, and strawberries on top. The combination of everything was divine, and I could not stop eating it even though I was stuffed! 

You can't go wrong with the eggs benedict or the grilled cheese/tomato soup, and this spot was no exception. The yolk was runny for the benedict, the grilled cheese was toasted, and the tomato soup was creamy and hearty. My friend really liked her mushroom omelette (she made it all egg whites) as well. 

To finish, my friend had a salted caramel latte that we fell in love with! This was the best ending to our meal- you have to try it for yourself! I also got a lavender lemonade which I really liked as it had the perfect balance of lavender flavor and lemonade. I'm obsessed with brunch, and this restaurant has only fueled this current phase!

Groundwork Coffee Larchmont

139 1/2 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Did you know Groundwork Coffee has a full brunch menu!? My friends and I came in on a weekday and decided to have brunch here as everything on the menu looked amazing! Only a few of their locations have brunch, and the Larchmont one ended up being one of them! We ended up ordering a bunch of options to share, and everything we had was delightful.

Truffle & Sprout Avocado with salad- this was the table favorite and we ended up ordering extra since we kept fighting for the pieces! They come in six pieces on toasted French bread, and the avocado had a subtle hint of truffle which was yummy.

Green Goddess grilled cheese with pesto, avocado, provolone cheese, and goat cheese- we did not like goat cheese so we substituted it out for gouda cheese, and it was bomb. One of the better grilled cheeses I've had for sure!

Parma prosciutto wrapped in arugula, organic eggs, bread- this one was super cute as the poached egg was hidden underneath the prosciutto. Nice combo as you can't really go wrong with prosciutto and eggs! 

Tuna poke bowl- super random to have at a coffee shop but it was surprisingly really fresh and marinated well! I would totally order this again. haha.


French toast- I believe the toast was crusted with sugar which added a nice texture, and I thought that this was definitely one of the better French toasts I've had! They're really generous on fruit as well. 

We also got the vegan fakin' bacon burrito and the poached eggs on avocado with egg, and although I did not try it, my friends really enjoyed their dishes! The dishes that came out were delightful, and I was impressed at how well everything was made. Order at the counter and they will bring out the food for you. So happy I came here- I couldn't have had a better brunch with my friends!