Shoutfest at The Spoon

Shoutfest at The Spoon

Last week flew right on by! I took the first three days of the week fully off to recover from the marathon and let my muscles, black toe nail, and heel blister rest. I was able to get back into a running groove with some short runs, and actually felt quite refreshed!

Since E was in lab over the weekend (as was I, haha), we decided to convene for a late lunch in Koreatown after finishing up our work. We left around 2pm, but didn’t sit down to eat until about an hour later, since the restaurant we’d thought about visiting was closed for filming…despite there not being any signs/security guards indicating that the restaurant was closed to the public.

Since we were getting quite hungry, Korean-Italian sounded delicious and we immediately walked towards Wilshire/Western.

The Spoon was actually right across from the Paris Baguette I visited back in September after running a 10k in Koreatown. I remember noticing it at the time and thought how cute it looked…I then promptly forgot about it, until coming here now with E.

The Spoon
The Spoon in Koreatown

Inside, the set-up was sleek, yet adorable at the same time. Two adjectives that can only be used to describe a Korean fusion restaurant I suppose…

Menu and inside-of-restaurant peep.
Menu and inside-of-restaurant peep.

We both were unsure about what entree to get, so we decided to get a 10″ pizza and split it.

We waited a while for the pizza to show up, but in the meantime we sipped on some waters and tried to cool off from the brisk walk we had outside under the hot LA sun. It reminded me of how hot it got during the september 10k!

When our pizza arrived, we were more than ready to dig in. E’s a pescatarian, so it was easy to choose a pizza that satisfied both of us—the “Fresh Garden Pizza” was a thin crust pizza with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese cubes, onion, mushroom, zucchini, bell pepper, chopped romaine lettuce (that’s a first for me…), and roman tomato. The pizza was sliced up into ten almost-equivalent slices.

I actually like the crisp, cool touch of the lettuce. The cheese cubes were cute too.

Fresh Garden Vegetabe
Fresh Garden Pizza!!!

After devouring every slice but one, we got a waiter over to prepare the bill. As he turned to walk away, I asked that he split it but then E piped in right away instructing him not to do so. From that point on it was shout-fest between me and her, scaring the poor guy and confusing him as to whether he should split the bill or not.

Ultimately, E won since he said they could only put $10 minimum on a card. Our pizza was $18. So E had her way and pizza was on her—this time 😉

How often do you like going out to eat with friends?

Are your friends willing to split the bill, or is it always a battle when it comes to whose paying?

The Spoon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Avocado Toast

Avocado Toast

Last week was a hectic one, and this week was insane. Thankfully it’s Friday, and my vacation to the PNW is coming up 😉

Since last week was graduation, and we had two people in my lab walk in the ceremony and officially receive their PhDs, everyone has been feeling the stress (and excitement). I would say for me, it’s more stress than excitement, but I’m doing my best to work it out, and work it out with the people that are involved.

Did I mention that I need a vacation?

Snacks leading up to graduation were alright, and featured some new-to-me bars. I tried the NoGii brand for the first time, and Oh Yeah! One’s newest flavor: chocolate birthday cake!

The NoGii super protein bar in chocolate peanut butter flavor had a mild after taste and the chocolate layer seemed filmy, but the chocolate flavor itself was alright.

NoGii Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Crisp Super Protein
NoGii Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Crisp Super Protein

The cookies & creme flavor had a harder texture, but it didn’t have an abnormal aftertaste.

NoGii Cookies & Creme Super Protein Bar
NoGii Cookies & Creme Super Protein Bar

The campus bookstore was fully stocked of Oh Yeah! One’s newest, chocolate birthday cake, and it tasted more like a stick of fudge with sprinkles. Perhaps if it had a cake-like center things would have been more different?

OhYeah! One Bar - Chocolate Birthday Cake
OhYeah! One Bar – Chocolate Birthday Cake

On the Saturday after graduation, one of my lab mates and I attended a series of talks in the afternoon. Prior to the event, we had a light lunch at Dinette, a small but cleanly-designed eating space in the heart of Echo Park.

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Somewhere in Echo Park

Even the umbrellas looked fresh.

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Dinette

The ordering counter was encased in glass, and there were pastries/savories placed by the display case on the side.

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Such clean windows at the ordering counter
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Behind all those pastries…

The menu was written on a classic blackboard, but I knew I wanted the avocado toast, and it didn’t take much convincing for my friend to order it either 😉

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Menu!

We were able to find an empty table in the patio area as we waited for our names to be called and our toasts to be handed over to us.

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Patio seating…don’t mind that guy’s leg, haha.

My friend’s name was called before mine even though she ordered after me, but they handed her my toast as well.

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Avocado toast with olive oil and chili flakes…

Each toast was placed on branded parchment paper in a baking tray, and spread generously with heapings of avocado, chili flakes, and olive oil drizzle.

Just look at it though…

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I SAID, avocado toast with olive oil and chili flakes…

Once our toasts were eaten and not a crumb was left, we ended up walking in the wrong direction for ten minutes before turning around and heading to the actual event! We stayed in the area until about 4pm, and then took the bus back home since we live in the same general area (and since neither of us have a car!).

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Heading home.

It was a nice break in routine to spend a weekend outing with another person, instead of having yet another solo adventure…and it was even someone from work, which made it more fun in since I got to know them in a more casual setting.

An (avocado) toast—to sharing more weekend outings with acquaintances that slowly become friends 🙂

What is/are your favorite topping(s) for toast?

Dinette Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sweet Tooth Central

Sweet Tooth Central

Sometimes, it can be hard to resist even the smallest of sweet cravings. Saturday was just one of those days I felt like having dessert as my main meal, and even if it was past the “normal” breakfast time frame, pancakes were just calling my name…

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Just a glance at Bea Bea’s menu.

It may have been a length journey traveling to Burbank via public transit (almost two hours!), but when I made it to Bea Bea’s, all seemed right with the world 🙂

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Inside the restaurant.

I made it in an hour before closing at 4pm, and was able to get a table and plenty of time to look at the menu. They had daily specials that sounded appetizing, but I was definitely here for the one and only Matcha Green Tea Monster.

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There’s no room for specials when green tea pancakes are involved!

These green-tea infused pancakes with marscapone, white chocolate chips, and whipped cream were almost too beautiful to eat. I’m not even sure why syrup was given on the side—totally unnecessary, and such a distraction 😉

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How gorgeous is this?!

I tried the marscapone/whipped cream first on its own, and then lathered that all over the pancakes anyway because it was rapidly melting. I doubted the fact that there were white chocolate chips mixed in, but I soon spotted the familiar shape poking through.

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Marscapone, whipped cream, chocolate chips!

Unlike the gargantuan (but delicious up to a certain point) stack of oreo pancakes I had a couple months back, I was able to demolish this stack of pancakes and still have room for another sweet treat. Like a cupcake. A Sprinkles cupcake, yes.

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The pet store next to Bea Bea’s. Couldn’t resist fawning over this adorable cat 🙂

So I was back on the bus, this time off to Glendale to check out the Sprinkles location at Americana at Brand.

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Americana in Glendale

It was 5pm by the time I got there, but it felt like mid-summer, especially with the crowds.

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Right in front of the bus stop!

Unlike the Beverly Hills location, this Sprinkles was styled like a kiosk, with the only seating some outdoor tables close by.

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Ahhofcourse…there is a line -.-

The cupcakes were prominently displayed behind a curved window that followed alongside the queue.

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Lots of choices!

But with a menu in hand with the daily cupcake and ice cream flavors, I knew exactly what my cupcake sundae would consist of.

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Pumpkin cake + caramel ice cream…I think it’s a very good choice indeed 🙂

On a late-September day that felt like mid-July, the only way to bring back the autumn mood was with a pumpkin cupcake and caramel ice cream.

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Side view!

My favorite part of these cupcake sundaes is obviously the top with the frosting and all. Frosting > cake in my opinion 😉

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Happiness in a cup 🙂

I enjoyed my autumn-inducing dessert near the main fountain, since all of the Sprinkles-designated seats were taken. A security officer even took notice of my sweet treat, and paid her compliments 😛 .

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Enjoying the view and outdoors.

Surprisingly, my sugar cravings commenced as I finished the last morsel of my cupcake sundae. I guess I had my fill, and was ready to head back home knowing I was able to successfully appease my sugar cravings.

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Heading home.

No shame in a little sugar indulgence now and then—especially if it’s a Saturday, and if the word cake is involved 🙂 !

Bea Bea's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Skynny on Saturday

The Skynny on Saturday

My Saturdays so far this year have morphed into errand-running days, be it grocery shopping, apartment clean-up, homework catch-up, etc. This was something I had to accept when I was in marathon training, since I knew my Sundays would be completely booked.

Even though I am still keeping my workout schedule the same, and maintaining the long run endurance I’ve built over the past several months by continuing to run long on Sunday mornings (I’m in the process of reverse tapering 😉 ), I want to go back to giving my Saturdays much more ‘appreciation’.

So even though I scheduled an eye appointment and could not get away from getting my grocery shopping for the week done, I still made it a priority to go out and explore…and up to NoHo I went.

Up until this particular Saturday, the furthest station I had been to via the Metro Red Line was Universal/Studio City Station. I even made a trip out to Encino to check out More Than Waffles, but never had I ever reached the most north and terminal point of this line, which was surprising to me since there were at least two places I’ve been meaning to check out in the area!

The first was a small, hole-in-the-wall low-carb-lover’s hidden gem: Lo Carb-U!

SAMSUNG

I first learned about this small warehouse-like shop’s existence when I came upon their website a few years ago. When I learned that they had an actual facility in NoHo, I marked them in my ‘mental list’ of places to check out in LA.

The shop is quite small—and not exactly aesthetically pleasing. It’s basically like a warehouse, but the unique thing is everything is low-carb themed.

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I spent a lot of my time browsing the frozen goods section, and eventually chose to buy a decent-sized loaf of low-carb rye bread and low-carb pizza crust. I do plan to eventually share more details about my experience with these products when I get around to trying them!

lo carb frozen

So yes—technically this is still considered grocery shopping, but I like to think of it as more of a novelty purchase 😛

Anyways…the second site to stake out was a little restaurant I could not avoid being reminded of:

 Looks like that 'cooler-than-me' tomato is stalking me!
Looks like that ‘cooler-than-me’ tomato is stalking me!

Actually, it’s funny that I saw this add for Skynny Kitchen at a bus stop, since I first learned about the restaurant on a poster that was plastered onto a Metro bus!

The restaurant was tucked away behind a Starbucks, but once inside, I was struck by the neon green alien-like lights.

skynny kitchen counter

I took some time to look over the menu, which had just as many vegetarian options as carnivorous choices. There were also plenty of vegan items, or things could be made vegan upon request.

The idea behind Skynny Kitchen is all of the menu items—from appetizers to entrees—are all under 500 calories. The calorie counts for each menu item is listed alongside the name of that specific dish.

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If I had walked into this restaurant years—even several months ago—I would have relied too much on the numbers, and I probably would have ordered something against my cravings based on the number listed. In this moment though, I saw the numbers as a gauge, and chose to honor my cravings. Cravings that just happened to match up with the chili cheese fries they offered 😉 !

FRIEZ

The oven-baked, potato wedge fries came in a brown take-out box, but I ate them inside the restaurant.

interior__

The fries were confirmed to be vegetarian, and were smothered in cheddar cheese and a spicy pinto beans ‘chili’ mix. I attacked these fries with a fork, and unarguably wiped the take-out box clean.

skynnykitchen

Skynny Kitchen also recently opened up a franchise in WeHo, which based on my chili fries, is worth a future visit 😉

So I guess it looks like I’m reclaiming my Saturdays? Or at least I’m making a fair attempt…it is all about balance in the end!

Skynny Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Vegan Oktoberfest

Vegan Oktoberfest

When I took German in high school, my teacher would always recount his favorite Oktoberfest stories around October-time. Since I was in high school during the whole health- food-reform-in-schools situation, we weren’t really “allowed” to have potlucks or parties unless they were “approved”—but my teacher was the kind of guy who always put a spin on things to make things seem educational. I mean, celebrating Oktoberfest in a high school German class makes absolute sense if you think about it (minus the beer). 

Unfortunately, my food options were quite limited being a vegetarian and all. My plate consisted of German cookies, Black Forest cake, and the one thing that had potatoes, and no meat. Based on my plate, you could say I may have not truly celebrated Oktoberfest for what it is, but things do change for the better as time goes on. Options like Vegan Oktoberfest  provide a solution for us plant-based eaters who want to partake in the fun of their meat-eating chums.

It was a bright, sunny day in Santa Monica on the day of the event.

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My legs were already pretty burned out by mid-afternoon. I had run a 10 mile long run in the morning, taken the bus, and bought my weekly stash of Quest bars before heading over to Barnard Way. In other words, my morning was pretty active with all the running and walking I had done. At least I had a legitimate excuse to chow down at the fest 😉 .

When I saw the tents and heard the Bavarian tunes, I knew I was in the right place.

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I just didn’t expect to wait in this incredibly long line.

SAMSUNG

When I finally made it to the back of the line, I was hoping it wouldn’t take too long to get inside.

 Back of the line.
Back of the line.

And fortunately it didn’t, even though we were being teased by the fence.

abehindthesceneslook
Getting a sneak peak…

We were first asked for IDs since it was an alcoholic event (but I purchased the non-drinker’s admission ticket), and then we had to give up our tickets for entry. Beer drinkers got to wear a cool yellow band, but I just got a Chuck E. Cheese-style, puny-looking stamp.

 Welcome to Vegan Oktoberfest...
Welcome to Vegan Oktoberfest…

Once inside, I headed straight toward’s the Sage Vegan Truck. Since I have not visited their brick-and-mortar in Culver City yet, I treated this order as a “preview” of what to expect from their real menu. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t excited to get my hands on vegan fish ‘n’ chips! Fried jackfruit is the secret…

sagevegtruck

$13.14 after tax is a bit pricey for this tray if you ask me, but it wasn’t bad at all. The garlic fries were not that stellar, but the jackfruit made up for it. When you think about it, it does make sense to use it as a substitute for fish, given its flaky, peel-y texture. 

jackfruitfishnchipz
Vegan fish’n’chips with garlic fries, a mayo-type sauce and a sweet tomato sauce.

I sat at a long table, joining other folks who were feasting on other forms of vegan fare (and drinks!).

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After wiping my tray clean, I was on the look-out for my next food to sample. I ended up avoiding the Southern Fried Vegan Truck line, only because the line never died down!

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Before buying anything else, I scoured for freebies, and managed to get a can of this alcohol-free & natural energy drink.

SAMSUNG

I gulped this mango ginger drink down since I felt incredibly thirsty. While it didn’t help the parched feeling in my throat, it was satisfying taste-wise. It was like I was drinking “fake soda” due to the carbonation as well 😛

Beyond Meat had a booth, and along with $1.00 off coupon, gave out vegan Bierocks made with their beef-less crumbles.

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

Tofurky also had a booth set-up, and had their freebies of buttons and coupon books spread out on a table. A lady from behind a curtain was handing out vegan sausage samples.

buttonsamples

After finding my share of free things, I decided that perhaps I could finally allow myself to shell out some more bucks for dessert. One of the dessert trucks had some pretty cool (literally) vegan treats, but they only took cash so that was out. I decided to head back to the Sage truck area, and get myself a scoop of KindKreme in mixed berry.

kindkremeberry

When I handed the cashier my card, he tried swiping it against one of those card readers you attach to an iPhone, but for some reason, it wouldn’t pass through. In the end, he said it was on the house because they were having trouble on their end.

After indulging in my small (but free!) refreshing treat, I was tempted by the vegan baked goods that were displayed and being sold. Babycakes NYC was also present at the fest, but they were selling a limited amount of goods, and you had to purchase them in packs. I ended up visiting their booth neighbor, Life is Sweet Bakeshop, and getting a pumpkin velvet cupcake.

lifeissweetbakeshop_pumpkinvelvetcupcake

It was supposed to cost $4, but again, I was allowed to have it for free since they too were having issues with reading credit cards. While I did feel a little guilty about snagging another “on the house” item, I took it as a lucky gift and took the time to truly enjoy it. The cake was indeed moist, and fit the description of red velvet’s autumn cousin 😉 .

It was around 4:00pm when I decided that I had enough revelry for one day…never mind the fact that I was attending a party later that night. Overall, I found the festivities to be superb even though it was the first time the event was held! It would have been nice if there were more food vendors (and samples!), but I certainly cannot complain about my outcome 😉 

Would you attend an event like Vegan Oktoberfest?

Race Recap: Lucky Run

Race Recap: Lucky Run

Last weekend, I ran in my longest race to-date: a 7 mile run known fondly as the Lucky Run. The run is St. Patrick’s Day themed with the number 7 being the “running” theme, since the race is broken up into a 7k, 7 mile, or “Lucky 13” half. There were even kids fun runs to encourage the love of running in the little ones.

My Saturday morning began around 6:15 am, and I promptly had a cup of masala tea to wake me up. I decided to postpone breakfast until after the run since there would be plenty of post-race samples, and since I wasn’t in the mood to eat anything too heavy before the run. My dad and I left around 7:00am to have enough time to make it to the 8:07 am start time.

Dressed in Green
Dressed in Green

A lot of people were getting into the theme of St. Patrick’s Day and wore green along with their race t-shirts. I dressed for the occasion by total accident, since I wore an old teal workout t-shirt, my UA green and blue pattern running shorts, and my lime green Garmin :P.

Compared to my previous race, which was in the same city as this one, the Lucky Run was definitely more packed. I waited on the sidelines until about 5 min. prior to the start time in order to avoid waiting with the mob, but then I realized it would probably be warmer if I stood in the middle of the crowd and so I made my way to the 10:00/mi corral.

So many....people 0-0
So many….people 0-0

Once we were past the “shuffle zone” (you know, that awkward area when people are shuffling/jogging since their corral is not quite at the start line?), there was a lot more space to settle into a comfortable pace, but I found myself locked behind three tall people running slower than I wanted to go. It was like that for about the first half mile, but I quickly made use of the sidelines and passed those I chose to get in front of.

How to avoid doin' the shuffle? Be uber fast!
How to avoid doin’ the shuffle? Be uber fast!

Miles 2.5-4 were the toughest for me (and usually are always for me when running 5 miles or longer) since I had to mentally motivate myself to get over that 3 mile, or in this case, 3.5 mile hump. The course had us run the on the outskirts of Davis, through parks and clean suburban neighborhoods. There was even a point (around Mile 5 I think) where we had to run around this huge duck pond. It was pretty, from a nature/peaceful angle.

For some reason, I found myself quite annoyed with the people around me in this race. I guess my being “blockaded” situation early on in the race only continued my frustrations. Fortunately, these frustrations went away as the 7kers and the 7 mile/Half runners parted ways, and then when the 7 milers/Half runners parted ways. Not everyone was getting on my nerves though, since it was nice to see people hold up posters or families located at different places along the courses hollering words of encouragement. Even just a little bit of support goes a long way :D.

Finish!
Finish!

According to my watch, I finished at a 9:53/mi pace but I didn’t catch what my official time was. As soon as I made it to the finish line, I grabbed the first water bottle I could find and guzzled half of it. I’m usually not one to feel thirsty during runs (certainly after), but I found myself with lingering thirst throughout the run, which is strange for me.

Zico and PowerBar
Zico and PowerBar

As far as post-race feebies go, I stocked up on some Zico coconut water, some Sport Beans by Jelly Belly, deodorant samples, and three cookie dough-flavored PowerBars. Unlike at the last race, the PowerBar lady was literally rationing out bars, so I was lucky to be able to snag two more than what I would have gotten :P. I also refueled with a berry smoothie sample, and two pieces of bagel.

The goods.
The goods.

This race was not bad, and I didn’t have a case of serious boredom while running, but I don’t think it was too memorable either. One thing is for sure though—I was lucky to stay injury free :)!

What things annoy you about certain races?

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