Turkish Delight!

Turkish Delight!

The semester is coming to a close for most, but I technically don’t become a “fourth year” until after this summer. And this summer is gonna be a doozy with all the work I have planned and have to get done, oh boy.

There’s so many things to do for trip prep and managing work here, I’m proud of myself for not going absolutely crazy and still finding the time to go about my usual daily tasks without worrying too much.

Lab was a necessary task that needed to be addressed on both Saturday and Sunday. E had to come by Saturday morning to help me get into the building since I forgot my set of keys in my desk (lol), but after I finished up, we made plans to have lunch.

She had been mentioning that we check out this Turkish restaurant in Beverly Hills sometime, and I thought it would be perfect to finally do so.

The bus we took that was supposed to drop us off at Beverly Blvd cut its route down by Fairfax near Little Ethiopia, so we ended up walking for another 45 minutes due to construction and having to take the most roundabout way to our destination.

Needless to say, we had rallied up a strong enough appetite to chow down on some mouthwatering Turkish food. Our appetites would be appeased at Cafe Istanbul.

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Cafe Istanbul

It’s hard to believe I passed by this joint without much thought. I used to frequent this street a year and a half ago, visiting the likes of Panera Bread, Creamistry, Momed, and Beverliz Cafe. I had been meaning to come back, but time flew by!

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Pita bread chips and sauce.

Now I was here with E, and I was making the most of this experience. E is Turkish-German, and so she volunteered herself to order in Turkish for the both of us. The servers spoke English, but E wasn’t going to miss out on an opportunity to show off, haha!

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Pita bread and grape leaf rolls

We were served some crisped flat bread with a tomato-based dipping sauce as an appetizer. We also got vegetable dolmas, and for our entree, the Imam Bayildi.

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IMAM BAYILDI ~ Fried whole eggplant, stuffed with onion, tomato, garlic and slowly baked in the oven, served with tzatziki sauce and with pita bread.

Our entree featured three eggplant strips topped with tomato, onion, and pepper. We were able to cut through the soft, chewy boats, and top them on some pita bread after adding some tzatziki.

I thought we were done after this meal, but E insisted that we finish off the right way—with Turkish tea and Kunefe.

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Tea and Kunefe

The tea was a dark crimson liquid served with sugar cubes. It paired well with the soft, sticky dough pastry that is Kunefe. It was like a sticky bun rolled in pistachio grounds. The small, rich dessert was the perfect way to complete the feast. I’m glad I trusted E, haha!

We walked around for a bit, and then departed to commute home. I made a stop at Sprouts for groceries, and decided to pick up a pint of Nada Moo to try later as a night snack.

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Birthday Cake Cookie Dough

I picked out Birthday Cake Cookie Dough, and for my first time trying Nada Moo, I was mad at myself for not trying this fluffy goodness packed in a pint much sooner! Birthday Cake Cookie Dough has a bright white base of fluffy coconut milk-based ice cream, mixed in with thick chocolate chips and sizable pieces of cookie dough. If you are looking for a pint-sized cloud with a varied texture of mix-ins, look no further!

Earlier in the week, I tried some new items I picked up from Trader Joe’s. One of which was one of the three new RX Bar flavors—Mixed Berry!

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RX Bar Mixed Berry

The eye-catching bright pink wrapper was what caught my eyes first, but the taste of the bar was quite interesting. It had the usual density of an RX Bar, but the flavor reminded me of fruity pop rocks, and it really hit the back of the mouth in regards to flavor intensity. Not sure if it’s my favorite, but the bright pink color made it seem like it would match well with a cute pink dress!

The second item was the Birthday Cake Bar from Trader Joe’s! I first saw it on Instagram, and was ecstatic to find it sitting on the shelf with the other chocolate bars ๐Ÿ™‚ !

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Birthday Cake Bar

Sprinkles and cookie crumbs gave the bar its full textured appearance, and the chocolate had a smooth flavor profile. It’s definitely a treat that can’t be missed out on!

Cafe Istanbul Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Race Recap โ€“ Santa Monica-Venice Christmas Run 2016

Race Recap โ€“ Santa Monica-Venice Christmas Run 2016

My last race for this year was one I actually ran two years ago—this time fortunately fared much better in pacing! I also did not have to wake up early in order to have enough time to take a bus or train to get to the race start. I just had to wake up, go out for a “warm-up jog”, and within a half hour I was there!

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Santa all smiles at the race start.

There was no bag check (of course), so there was no place to keep my race shirt, even though I wanted to keep it because it was a long-sleeve and actually pretty cute! The 10k and 5k race starts were staggered so that the 10k race started at 8am. The 5kers had a head start at 7:30am, and so the majority of the runners from that race were done by the time we started.

Santa cheered us on as we dashed across the starting line. I was able to keep a steady pace between 7:40-8:20 throughout the entire run. At first it felt my lungs were burning from the cold air, and my feet also began to feel numb through my socks, but after ~2 miles in, it began to feel easier to stick to a faster pace the rest of the run.

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Bunch of people wondering what to do after the race has finished…and the DJ rockin’ out to his own jamz.

I finished at an average pace of 8:12/mi, and it felt so refreshing! I managed to guzzle down a half a bottle of water, and proceeded to walk by the small number of booths that were present. I also couldn’t help but notice the DJ who was there—he was very much into the music!

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Yay…okay, now I’m bored…

I couldn’t find much in terms of samples and post-race freebies…I even had to pass on some intriguing-looking marshmallows because they contained gelatin ๐Ÿ™

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Why is there gelatin in you?!

Since there was nothing much left for me at this point, I ended up walking from the finish point in Venice back to Santa Monica…really it was only a 25 minute walk, and from the beach, it was another 30 minute walk to lunch.

I actually ended up at a Medditeranean/Lebanese restaurant on Pico—Z Garden.

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I see you…

When I stepped inside, it was as if I stepped inside my best friend’s family’s house. There was a TV playing Arabic music videos and a whole glass counter full of baklava and other Middle Eastern sweet treats.

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Such ample seating!

There was a handful of vegetarian items on the menu, and I decided to get the veggie kebab plate.

The dining area was in a expansive space, but I was their lone diner at the time. A few people came in for take-out orders while I was there though.

My plate came with a generous portion of Lebanese rice, a side salad, smooth, finely-ground hummus, a sour cheese I’m assuming was labne, pickled radishes, and of course my roasted veggies.

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Veggie Kebab Plate—-fit for a vegetarian ready to feast!

ALso had to have pita bread on the side!

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Can’t forget the pita!

I was the ultimate fan of this hummus…and cheese side.

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Hummus (and labne)?

I was finished by noon, and continued my walk home. I immediately did some laundry and organizing before crashing into a two-hour long nap. I didn’t leave the house until later that evening to visit a friend, since she’s moving from LA this week with her lab to a different university. It was bittersweet having to send her off, but I have to say I’m proud of myself for going out on a Saturday night for once. I even stayed out late enough to call for an Uber back home, haha.

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In good time ๐Ÿ™‚

Are you a fan of holiday-themed events?

Z Garden Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Night Out with the Fam

Night Out with the Fam

Over the summer, my family made the move back to Oklahoma, leaving our Nor Cal abode behind. Even though Nor Cal was where I did most of my growing up—elementary through undergrad—my baby/early childhood all took place in the middle of the country…the humble heartland.

It was so nice being able to spend a week full of laughter, company, and of course great food, with my family and our close friends. Yeah, I felt like I had to leave too soon (#responsiblegradstudent), and even though I wasn’t able to spend NYE with them, I’m grateful I was able to spend the most important part of the holiday season with them.

I arrived on Monday evening, and after getting picked up at the airport by my Dad, I was introduced to our new home and had a home-cooked curry stir-fry for dinner. I caught up with my sister since last seeing her during our Thanksgiving break.

On Tuesday, I went for a 6 mile run, and ran some errands with my Dad. For dinner, we ate out as a family at something we all were able to agree upon—Mediterranean food!

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Leena’s Mediterranean Grill ๐Ÿ™‚

The layout was similar to a place my sister and I ate at back in September.

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Menu

At the counter, there is a large menu on the wall, and everything starts out with a variety of hummus. 

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Starts out with the hummus bar.

When you order the veggie plate, you can pile on the plate with anything offered down the line. Start with hummus/babaganoush, add some of the salads, and then rice/grains or pita bread. By the time I reached the cash register, my plate was packed with babaganoush, spicy harissa hummus, fattoush salad, cabbage slaw, tabouli, italian squash, and roasted veggies…with falafel + tahini and pita on the side. 

One note about the pita though…they forgot to give it to us, and by the time we reminded them the second time, we were practically finished with our plates…meaning, what was there to dip the pita in? And the falafel was less than stellar. Even though it has a nice crisp texture, the inside was chewy, dry, and NOT green. When a falafel isn’t green on the inside, I doubt it’s gonna be a good one ๐Ÿ˜› !

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Veggie plate with falafel and pita bread.

But I suppose the plate itself was good enough!

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Veggie plate goodness!

After dinner, we drove by the Rhema Christmas Lights: a grand display of holiday lights that people from all over Oklahoma make the trip to see. We were too lazy to get out of the car, but we enjoyed what we were able to see from the car. 

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Rhema Christmas Lights

When we finally got home, I introduced my sister to the beauty that is edible cookie dough, and we tore into the cookies and cream flavor that I found at a local grocery store while running errands earlier in the day.

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Coming home to cookie dough!

The cookies were perfectly swirled into the cookie dough, and meshed with the dough quite well. This made up for the overwhelming, chunky chocolate chip flavor I had a few days earlier, and hopefully the other flavors left to try will be just as good ๐Ÿ˜‰ . But when I think about it, this flavor may have tasted 10x as good only because I was sharing it with family, haha.

Leena's Mediterranean Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Making Time for Lyfe, Hummus, and Rosewater

Making Time for Lyfe, Hummus, and Rosewater

My weekdays are starting to become busier and busier, and by the time Friday evening rolls around, I want to fall asleep right after eating dinner…at 7:30pm. I’ve (obviously) become much more appreciative of my weekend time, and even though sometimes work manages to squeeze in even on a Saturday and/or Sunday, I always try to have a more “fun” activity be the focus of my weekend days. 

On Saturday, I went up north and a little west after doing some homework in the morning. I combined my grocery shopping trip with a late lunch date (with myself ๐Ÿ˜‰ )at Lyfe Kitchen in Tarzana. 

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I first ate at a Lyfe Kitchen establishment back in September, in Culver City. It was just as sunny and warm as it was in Culver City when I paid a visit to the Tarzana location this time around.

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Everyone was eating outside, so the inside of the restaurant was clean and empty. The counter was filled with a display of fresh juices and drinks.

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After ordering at the counter, I walked around the restaurant to figure out which finely decorated area to take a seat at. There were tables in the back, booths on the side, and of course, outdoor seating. I chose to sit at a high-chair style booth, with a gray backdrop (bottom frame in the below pic):

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It didn’t take too long for my food to arrive, and I was actually surprised with the amount I got, based on my last visit. Last time, I ordered a flatbread that had a crust consistency comparable to that of a thin wafer or nonexistant chip, but the veganthai red curry bowl was actually decent-sized!

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marinated tofu with broccoli, eggplant, peppers, peas, whole grain wheatberries, thai basil

Peas and wheatberries: may not be the first ingredients that come to mind when thinking about Thai food, but they were the better parts of the dish…that, and the generous portion of coconut milk drenching all of the veggies and tofu! And even though it was overall a good portion for lunch, I made sure to wipe the bowl clean and not leave a trace of coconut milk.

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After lunch, I stopped by Whole Foods next door.

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I didn’t buy any groceries for the week here, but I did not stop for some dessert. When I saw an Artic Zero pint from the relatively new ‘chunky’ line, I had to try it!

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Lil’ Bit Chippy was a 300 calorie Artic Zero pint that was all-creamy, and all-chunky thanks to the innumerable amounts of mini chocolate chips tossed in. It was certainly a fun treat to dive into at 4pm, with the sun still beating down and the temperature at an all-time high for the day.

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I then walked for a half hour back to Encino to stop at Vitamin Shoppe and Ralph’s (to actually buy groceries) before heading home. I spent the rest of the evening plowing through stats homework before hitting the hay.

I woke up on Sunday morning around 6AM to clock in a 14 mile long run. I’m grateful for being able to stick with my maintenance goals, but it has been so tough to get out for those long runs without a group to run with or a race to look forward to. Hopefully I can remedy this real soon though!

As a reward for plowing through 14 miles along the same route I normally run on weekends, I made plans to have a late lunch and ice cream at some locations that had exotic items on their menus. Like Saturday, I first spent the late morning/early afternoon reviewing notes and writing up and outline so I could tell myself that hey, I did study this weekend!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ . The real fun started after 2pm though, when I made my way back to downtown and hopped on board the Metro Red Line to get off at the Hollywood/Highland station.

I was taken by surprise though. I always thought Hollywood/Vine was the spot for tourists (and as a result, always wondered why it seemed to be less busy than I thought it would be…), but no…Hollywood/Highland was where the action is at—as I soon found out.

I found myself getting irritated by the slow-walking tourists trying to find their favorite entertainers on the Walk of Fame. It was also a challenge to avoid Elmo, Spider Man, the Tin Man, and Snow White (yes, I guess the pressure of working at Disneyland was getting to her?), but I managed to do so when I finally hit La Brea and was able to walk away from the commotion.

It was a long walk on Sunset, but I saw Aroma Bar & Grill in the distance, and picked up the pace to get to the food faster ๐Ÿ˜›

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It was another sunny LA day, so many diners were already occupied outside on the patio. I kept up with my renegade style, and asked to sit in a booth by the window inside.

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The menu was quite extensive, but I had some time to look through it beforehand, and knew I wanted to go with one of their “old world classics”. The Sabich sounded quite appetizing…

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As per menu ~ Sabich – an exotic breakfast feast with eggplant bakes overnight, served with hummus, red onions, Israeli salad, pickles, and green olives.

The waitress was friendly and helpful, but I realized the whole California drought thing was really kicking in when I had to ask for a glass of water. But when I did though, she offered to include some ice and lemon. Nice touch!

dining options

It took about 15-20 minutes for my food to come to the table, and I was pretty much people-watching through the window until my food was ready. About 5 minutes before the plate came, I actually pulled out my notes to try and get more studying done, but obviously that didn’t work out ๐Ÿ˜‰

 Sorry genetics, had to devote my attention to THIS.
Sorry genetics, had to devote my attention to THIS.

I honestly did not know where to start—everything was overflowing and everything looked scrumptious! I started off by trying the eggs + hummus together since I never have had both foods together before.

I then went on to mix in the eggplant with the hummus, and layer that on the pita bread that was given to me. I tried adding the raw veggies on top, but since they persistently kept falling off, I mixed them in with my delicately-dressed Israeli salad.

aroma cafe sabbich

And as you can see, nothing went to waste.

dontforgetthepita!

I was honestly quite stuffed after finishing off this beautiful platter, but I still was in the mood for some ice cream. Especially since Mashti Malone’s was right around the corner

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Even though it wasn’t located in the most posh of settings, it was a strip mall gem…much like how Doomie’s was!

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Inside, there were baked goods for sale, along with a variety of their trademark exotic flavors in pints.

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The girls behind the counter were really sweet, helpful, and didn’t mind that I took forever to look over each flavor before coming to a decision.

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To try the most interesting combination possible, I chose to get two scoops in a cup of lavender (because of its purple hue) and ginger rosewater (because it just sounds cool). The size of the scoops were generous as well, and my cup was organized so that ginger rosewater was at the bottom and lavender was at the top.

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I think lavender as a flavor tasted like a general vanilla ice cream, but looked attractive because of its color. I could definitely note the ginger in the ginger rosewater though. I was more impressed by the texture—incredibly soft, airy, and fluffy!

So even though my weekdays are starting to become busier and busier (and will probably not reverse in this trend for quite some time…), I’m still making it my priority to keep my weekends both productive and fun. This past week (the week after the weekend highlighted in this post) was packed, but at least I have another fun-filled weekend to look forward to starting tomorrow!

Now go enjoy your weekend! ๐Ÿ™‚

Lyfe Kitchen on Urbanspoon
Aroma Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon Mashti Malone's on Urbanspoon

The Surprise Visit

The Surprise Visit

I originally thought that the weekend before my spring semester classes started would be entrenched in ennui (besides the usual errands of grocery shopping and LA eating adventuresโ€ฆ), but when my cousin and her spouse surprised me with a visit, I was glad to have some different plans to shake up my usual weekend itinerary!

They made their way to my place around 9pm on that Friday, and settled in while we chatted about life and their dayโ€™s trip from the Bay. We had a general idea of what we wanted to do the next day (a visit to the Getty and a meal in Artesia), and then turned in around 11pm.

The next morning, we awoke to cloudy skies and non-stop rain. Despite having to walk outside for some part of our museum trip, we were able to stay dry while strolling through the exhibits at the Getty.

 It was a good thing that the exhibits were inside.
It was a good thing that the exhibits were inside.

Even though it was my second time visiting, I still enjoyed the outing. At least I can now say Iโ€™ve been to the Getty in two extreme weather conditions (my first visit was two and a half years ago on a super hot day in Juneโ€ฆ).

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Regular museum sculptures // WWI exhibit featured artifacts

We spent our time there looking at the featured Reubens (tapestry man!) exhibit (and the day we were there happened to be the last day it would be featured!), the WWI exhibit, and the general open exhibits that displayed sculptures, oil paintings, etc.

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Brochure for the Reubens exhibit.

We could only handle three hours of walking and admiring works of art before we succumbed to our hungry tummies ๐Ÿ˜‰ . My cousin was dying to go to a Gujarati restaurant in Artesia (Little India), and seeing that we had traffic to fight, we decided to get a move on.

We had almost an hour of time to kill in the car, driving at speeds as slow as 15 mph at points, but we eventually made it to Pioneer Boulevard—a place I have come to know from the countless Indian grocery shopping trips my Dad would make during his visits to LA.

I never knew about Rajdhani though, which happened to be on the second floor of a parking garage we always use when visiting the area!

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Given that we left the museum around mid-afternoon in the pouring rain, it was no surprise that we finally ended up at our table around 3:30pm—prime-time for many families taking a food break from running their errands for the week!

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There was just one “item” being served at this time, which was the $14 all-you-can-eat (up to a certain point…) thali special—which is the exact reason why my cousin was especially set on coming here. The set-up was comparable to dim sum, in that waiters would come around with different components of your meal, and refill them upon request.

We started off with a piece of papadum as our appetizer.

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Soon, our five small bowls were filled with daals, stews, and oiled-and-spiced veggies ready to be scooped with rotis/rice/dhokla/puri.

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My favorite was the blend of eggplant, gold and purple potatoes, and peas (top left) // Can’t go wrong with dhokla (bottom left)

I didnโ€™t have dessert, but I โ€œgaveโ€ mine to my cousin, who used it to try the rose ice cream. They also had carrot and besan (almond) halwa.

I found the meal overall to be satisfying and warming (especially on a cold, rainy day), but not necessarily worth driving an hour for. But then again, this is coming from a girl who would spend $$ on vegan fish โ€˜nโ€™ chips ๐Ÿ˜‰ . I was glad that my company fully enjoyed the meal and experience though.

Next on the itinerary were some quick grocery shopping trips, and then a drive back home. We spent the rest of the night watching movies, and then went to sleep at a reasonable hour.

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The next morning, I debated on whether or not I should go for a long run, but since I couldn’t tell if it was raining at the dark hour of 6AM, I decided to get some more shut-eye and (possibly) save the run for later in the day. Cousin and Co. were leaving at noon, so it made sense to spend as much time with them, even if it meant sacrificing a morning run.

Since we did have limited time, we left for SaMo Pier at around 10AM and walked over from a nearby parking lot. Yes, SaMo is becoming quite a regular spot for me, but at least I finally got to go on the ferris wheel, haha.

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Other than getting some good pictures from high up, the ride was nothing spectacular (which I didnโ€™t expect it would be). An hour before they had to finally leave the city, we stopped for a quick lunch-to-go from Aussie Pie Kitchen.

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It would have been nice to sit inside among the signage and wood, but all the seats were taken by people or backpacks waiting for people ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

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So, it was lunches-to-go for us. At least the paper they put the pies in was cute.

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I ended up choosing their veggie-friendly Aussie pie: a โ€˜summer veggieโ€™ pie stuffed with eggplant, green and yellow squash, red bell pepper, onion, and olive tapenade.

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Summer Veggie Pot Pie - eggplant, green and yellow squash, red bell pepper, onion, & olive tapenade

Although we chowed down our pies in the car, we found the 5โ€™โ€™ pie delectable enough to be filling for a brief lunch before bidding good-bye. I was dropped off in Culver City, and headed back home after wishing my family a safe trip home.

Side note: I was still able to squeeze in a long run later in the day ๐Ÿ˜‰

Rajdhani on Urbanspoon Aussie Pie Kitchen on Urbanspoon

LA (+ Friends) Part 2

LA (+ Friends) Part 2

On day 2 of my friends’ visit to LA, I went out for a short 3 miler while I took Friend #2 and Friend #1’s brother over to my apartment complex’s fitness room. My legs felt somewhat sore since I was running in some old shoes (whether I am breaking in new shoes, or wearing out old ones, my legs seem to be sore after either situation…).

We left for Union Station to take the Gold Line out to Pasadena, and made our way over to Intelligentsia Cafe for some pretentious coffee ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Thanks to Google Maps, I led my friends through an alley and so we ended up entering the coffee shop from the back. The entrance already made it seem like we were entering an elite-only club ๐Ÿ˜›

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Once inside, we were amazed by how big the coffee shop actually was.

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One side was an alcoholic side (which was unstationed at the the time we came in, around noon), and of course, the busy coffee/tea/chocolates side which was closer to the actual front entrance.

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We were all scrambling around, and making the frequent customers just looking to get their usual cup for the day feel antsy. My sister, Friend #1, and her brother found seats for us at an empty counter while Friend #2 and I contemplated over what kind of coffee blend we should each order.

 Cute mugs, but a tiny menu!
Cute mugs, but a tiny menu!

I decided on an Ethiopian black coffee with hints of honeysuckle, apricot, and almond butter, while Friend #2 got the Rwandan blend (I forgot what hints of flavor it had…). Our coffees were “supposedly” 12 oz., but they had to put the overflow into containers that looked like they were maple syrup jars! The rest of the gang got a cheeseboard to split.

 I had some of those plump craisins---soooo good :) !
I had some of those plump craisins—soooo good ๐Ÿ™‚ !
ethiopian_and__rwanda
My Ethiopian coffee at the top, and my friend’s Rwandan coffee at the bottom with milk.

I finished all of the coffee in my mug, and part of the “maple syrup jar” coffee, but wasn’t able to drink it all. I could detect the smooth, buttery taste of my blend, but I could only handle so much of the bitterness—perhaps I should have added some more sweetener? They had their own Intelligensia-packaged sweetener (Natvia brand) , and you better believed I took some “for the road” ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

After our coffee break, we headed east on Colorado towards Vroman’s Bookstore since my sister and Friend #1 are major book fanatics. Apparently, it is the oldest bookstore in Southern California…

 The kitty collection at the bookstore!
The kitty collection at the bookstore!

We left the bookstore after a good amount of time had passed. To kill some more time, we went back down the road towards where the majority of the stores were. We made our way (window shopping) through Urban Outfitters, Paper Source, and Madewell before heading over to our dinner stop at Green Earth Vegan Cuisine.

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We were the only group of people at the restaurant around 5pm on a weeknight, but that didn’t bother us. We were hungry, so no shame, haha. 

 Inside Green Earth Vegan Cuisine
Inside Green Earth Vegan Cuisine

For an appetizer, Friend #1 ordered the wontons.

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For her meal, she got one of the burgers—which was so hefty on the lettuce, that I couldn’t tell what the actual burger was.

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I got the Roast Beet Salad, but my favorite part of the dish was the grilled tofu. That, and the beets were the only redeeming qualities of the entire salad. Everything else seemed like it could have been poured in from a bulk bag of salad mix…which I wouldn’t doubt if it was.

Roasted garden beets, organic spring mix, carrots, cucumber, avocado, organic bean sprouts and sunflower shoots, and grilled tofu
Roasted garden beets, organic spring mix, carrots, cucumber, avocado, organic bean sprouts and sunflower shoots, and grilled tofu

Friend #2 got the Three Flavors, particularly for the eggplant. I remember getting a similar dish called the P.E.T. at another vegan restaurant in Pasadena. She wouldn’t stop raving about the eggplant, since she herself has not had success cooking with eggplant…yet ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

Pumpkin, eggplant, tofu, onion, sweet basil, red and green bell pepper, and king oyster mushroom with chefโ€™s sauce 
Pumpkin, eggplant, tofu, onion, sweet basil, red and green bell pepper, and king oyster mushroom with chefโ€™s sauce 

My sister got the Lasagne Di Vendure, which sounded pretty fancy but appeared to be a simple, homestyle-but-healthy kind of plate. She also had a whole bowl of toasted bread on the side. 

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Lasagna with eggplant, zucchini, onion, broccoli, green and red bell pepper served with mashed potatoes and toasted bread (she got a whole bowl, unpictured)

Once dinner was eaten, my crew and I headed back to Memorial Park Station, but along the way, stopped for gelato. We joked about the guy behind the counter who kept insisting on not to get the green tea flavor (for some reason, he kept questioning my friends about their green tea choice!), were entertained by the brass band street performers, and had fun taking selfies on the train. Back at my apartment, we all got cozy in our PJs and watched a movie before falling asleep. Looks like Day 2 was another success, and a memorable one!

Have you ever had “pretentious” coffee? 

Intelligentsia Cafe on Urbanspoon Green Earth Vegan Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Out of the Way, but Worth It

Out of the Way, but Worth It

I think I started to get frustrated with recent chilly weather LA has been having after the first two days of it. I’ve also started to feel jaded from school—since the semester is winding down and rotations are wrapping it up. It makes sense, but it can be difficult to shake-off when you know you need to study!!

Being able to spend a few days with my Dad when he was in town for business helped to break these mundane routine feelings as of late, and it was just what I needed to freshen my perspective. It was nice to see him even though I would be seeing him again the following week for Thanksgiving break ๐Ÿ™‚

As in previous instances, we only got to get together around evening time since we both had our tasks to fulfill during the day. Since we were staying in the Pasadena area the first night, we decided to check out My Vegan for dinner—voted Pasadena’s best vegan restaurant.

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Strip mall vegan restaurants oftentimes turn out to really be stand-outs, so I had no worries!

myvegan_pas_menu

For a weeknight, it had a fair amount of customers dining-in around 6pm. There was also someone waiting by the door for a take-out order. From the booth, it was easy to get some pictures of the surroundings.

myvegan

To start off, we split a spring roll appetizer, and I knew what I wanted after a quick glance at the entrees and went for the P.E.T.

rice-springrolls-PET
My P.E.T. came with brown rice, and included pumpkin, eggplant, tofu, mushroom, onions, garlic, bell pepper, basil, and chili. The spring rolls were crisp and fresh since they were stuffed with lettuce and wrapped with rice paper. The peanut sauce on the side was great for dipping!

My dad ordered the Green Curry, which included eggplant, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, basil leaves, and of course all of which was swimming in a spicy green curry sauce. Even though he requested that his dish come out milder, it was still too spicy for him.

greencurry

We finished off our meal with some greek yogurt cups from Trader Joe’s nearby, and I promptly went to sleep since I was feeling quite exhausted from my day as a whole.

The next day was one of my on-campus-for-pretty-much-the-whole-day days, but even though I got out of my late afternoon lecture as the sky was turning dark, we made the hour (and then some) trek to Costa Mesa to check out a restaurant that has been on my foodie bucket list since learning about its existence almost two, three years ago!

 The anti-mall in Costa Mesa, at night.
The anti-mall in Costa Mesa, at night.

I was finally approaching Seabirds Kitchen!

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Since it was prime time for dinner, we were lucky to find a seat in a corner booth.

seabirds

The menu selection was current for Fall, and quite overwhelming. I ended up ordering first, while my dad took some time to decide what it is he wanted exactly…and to make sure it wasn’t too spicy!

seabirdsfallmenu

For appetizers, he ordered a carrot ginger lemonade and we split the burnt brussels sprouts.

carrotginger_brusselsprouts
roasted to a crisp and tossed with fried garlic, lime and dijon mustard

I couldn’t wait to dig into my Holy Smokes Bowl when it arrived—as it had the bbq jackfruit Seabirds is famous for!

 brown rice, bbq jackfruit, sautรฉed greens, cauliflower, pickled red onion, coconut bacon, Seabirds sauce and kentucky bbq sauce
brown rice, bbq jackfruit, sautรฉed greens, cauliflower, pickled red onion, coconut bacon, Seabirds sauce and kentucky bbq sauce 

My dad ended up ordering the Butternut Enchiladas, which sounded innocent at first, but then when I pointed out it had roasted pasilla pepper sauce, the appeal of the dish was quickly lost. In my opinion, it looked beautiful in appearance!

 butternut squash, spinach, black bean and mushroom enchiladas with roasted pasilla pepper sauce, almond feta, Seabirds sauce and cilantro. Served with arugula salad and sliced avocado.
butternut squash, spinach, black bean and mushroom enchiladas with roasted pasilla pepper sauce, almond feta, Seabirds sauce and cilantro. Served with arugula salad and sliced avocado.

So even though we had to make an hour-long trek back the next morning, I can’t deny that I felt nourished and content from my meal at Seabird’s. The next day was more of a low-key day anyways, so the return trip didn’t feel too rushed. Sure, it may have been out of the way—just for a restaurant—but it was absolutely worth it ๐Ÿ™‚

My Vegan Restaurant on Urbanspoon Seabirds Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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