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.

inside
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!

chips
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!

pita rolls
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.

imam_bayidli
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.

tea-kunefe
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.

nadamoo
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!

mixed_berry
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 🙂 !

birthday-cake
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

Gross & Great

Gross & Great

After finishing up our final rounds of apartment cleaning on Sunday morning, my Dad and I were ready to drop off my keys by noon. It was hard to believe that it was two years ago that I moved into my first apartment, and while there were some things I would miss about it, I was very much looking forward to living in and exploring a new LA neighborhood.

I had to drop into lab even though I was starving, and during this time, my Dad helped to move the remainder of my boxes to my new place. When I finished up two hours later, my Dad was ready to pick me up and was just as hungry as I was! We ended up in Culver City again, checking out another vegan spot in the area.

veganjoint_menu
A hole-in-the-wall kinda place.

The Vegan Joint has been on my list for a while, but it was a little out of the way for me/never really a sole spot of interest to make it a worthwhile trip. And after finally going there, I realized I probably didn’t miss out on anything for not dining there sooner…

veganjointtt
Calming greens?

After getting our table, my Dad and I were given PLENTY of time to look over the menu…and at least ten more times over. I literally had to get up after almost twenty minutes to walk over to the counter and remind the lady who had seated us that we were ready to order. I was pretty hangry at that point so I’m glad I didn’t bite off her head for not coming sooner…

My order was actually not so great. I chose to get the Tofu Larb not truly knowing what it was, and I guess that was a decision that backfired on me. Normally, Larb is a meat-based salad of Laos origin—marinated meat grounds mixed with greens and lemon juice. My tofu version was certainly marinated and over-flowing, but it was far from being an aesthetic, picturesque example of a delicious vegan meal.

tofu_larb
Tofu Larb…so gross

After two bites, I was thinking “eww, why did I pick this??”, but since I was hungry/didn’t want to make a big deal over it, I finished the dish and definitely felt full afterwards (soy protein’s effects I suppose)!

After our very late lunch, my Dad and I drove to my new place to unpack. It took me almost 3 hours to get everything in order and in place. From there, my Dad and I made the long-ish drive to Cerritos for Indian grocery shopping and for a free dinner!

Luna Grill, a fast casual Mediterranean restaurant contacted me a few weeks ago to check out their Cerritos location. I knew that the perfect time to stop by would be when my Dad was in town, since he’s always wanting to go to Cerritos whenever he is in town!

lunagrillfront
Luna Grill entrance

We had dinner close to 8pm, and there were still people inside enjoying large platters of kebabs, rice, and all of those tasty Medi-fixin’s.

lunaaaa
Ordering at the counter. The lamps are beautiful!
luna_grill
Luna Grill in Cerritos Menu ~ Veggie Kabob

My Dad and I were able to enjoy two entrees on the house, and we paid for the grape leaf roll appetizers to share between the both of us.

grapeleaf
Grape leaf rolls

For my entree, I ordered the Veggie Kabob which came with rice, spicy cilantro hummus, pita bread, boiled carrots, and salad.

veggie kebab platter
A gorgeous, full plate and Dad’s salad.

My oh my was this good, and it certainly made up for my disaster of a lunch that day…my Dad loved his crisp, refreshing salad, but was in love with the basmati rice. I had to agree with him, as the rice was so fluffy and flavorful.

After finishing up dinner close to closing time for the restaurant, we were on the road again to our hotel to finally meet up with my sister and our friend. Both of them made the trip down to LA to hang out with me for my birthday, and I was beyond excited to meet them!

If you ever ordered something disgusting from a restaurant before, were you so hungry you ate it or did you remedy the situation?

Vegan Joint Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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