Lady Birds

Lady Birds

I wasn’t able to hang out with my sis over the holidays, but we were quickly able to make that up last weekend! With the holiday shopping craze out of the way, she didn’t have to work and was able to spend the entire weekend with me.

We met up on Saturday and drove straight to NoHo for lunch. We had tried to eat at Black Bottom Southern Cafe over the summer, but we came on a Sunday (when they are closed), and so they were off our immediate radar for some time. Six months later isn’t too long of a wait, I’d say…

J'eet Yet?
J’eet Yet?

I wouldn’t even call BB a restaurant. The yellow building behind the “J’eet Yet?” billboard was actually a video store, and the actual “restaurant” was a small square order counter.

My sister and I were greeted immediately and were directed toward the laminated menus. We couldn’t decide what to order right away, and despite being a Southern food restaurant, they did have a couple vegetarian and vegan options that sounded delicious.

CA Veggie Bowl
CA SoulVeggie Bowl

I finally decided on the CA Soul Veggie Bowl, which had a cheesy grits base, topped with pickled black eyed peas (Texas Caviar, lol), greens, and fried okra.


My sister got the Portabello “Sliders”, and I joked that it should be in quotes since her sliders looked like a regular sandwich…it wasn’t even served on a mini hamburger bun like you’d expect.

Portabello "Sliders"...
Portabello “Sliders”…

Rather, it was a sandwich made on a Schiacciata (new word of the day!) roll filled with onion, garlic, cheese, pesto, and balsamic glaze. At least she got some crisp sweet potato fried on the side.

We took our time eating (we found seats outside near the back wall of the restaurant) and spent even more time chatting after we finished all of our food. It was weird dining in with take-out boxes, but I guess BB is primarily used to processing to-go orders, explaining the lack of washable dishwear.

After our lunch we decided to check out a movie and we agreed on Lady Bird. I was mainly intrigued by the plot because the protagonist is a high school girl living in the early 2000s in Sacramento. The movie was particularly relatable to us since my sis and I spent most of our lives growing up in Nor Cal, in a city very close to Sacramento. Actually, we unapollegetically call it Suckramento because it really was the most boring place ever, haha! But I will admit that we have a lot of good memories growing up in our small-town city.

We ended up watching the movie in an overpriced theater in Santa Monica, and getting out of the parking garage was a nightmare. Before heading home, we made a quick Target stop in Westwood to pick up some items for a care package my sis is making for her BF. She’s planning to give it to him for Valentine’s Day, basically a box containing all sorts of “care” things he may need but doesn’t have around, like first-aid kit items, cough drops, ibuprofen, etc. When she told me about it, I was literally dying from the cuteness of it all, haha!

Eventually we made it back home but I was dog-tired. Maybe it was sitting in the dark theater, but I just could not keep my eyes open. My sis was skyping her BF and told me the next day that even though she was talking pretty loudly, I was pretty much unconscious. I get serious when it comes to sleep, lol.

The next morning, we agreed to find a coffee shop close by and get some work done. She’s been doing some summer internship research and so I helped her polish off her CV.

Love Coffee Bar
Love Coffee Bar

We parked ourselves at Love Coffee Bar which was a coffee shop I’ve been wanting to check out ever since I moved to SaMo. I’ll admit it was overpriced, but I loved my spiced latte with almond milk.

Spiced Latte Love
Spiced Latte Love

And having Emmy’s Organics Lemon Ginger Coconut Cookies on the side made for a perfect pairing.

Cookies on the side.

My sis had yet another sandwich, but it was that cute, cafe-sized mini baguette sandwich that went well with a huge cup of coffee.

Sunday coffee mornings.
Sunday coffee mornings.

We were working right outside the coffee shop for a while, and surprisingly didn’t get too distracted by the people coming and going…when it came to well-behaved, regal-looking dogs however…that was another story.

Later on we moved inside, and then in the early afternoon decided to walk to another place close by for lunch.

We walked through Santa Monica College to get to good ol’ Pico, in order to cross another place off my foodie list—Grey Block Pizza!

Grey Block Pizza, literally in a gray building.
Grey Block Pizza, literally in a gray building.

To be honest, the interior of the restaurant was quite depressing (I mean, it was gray after all…), but our pizzas weren’t.

Pizza at its finest.
Pizza at its finest.

My sis and I got a 20″ slice each. I’m not sure exactly which veggie-friendly flavors we got, since it was whatever they had on display. Mine had cheese olives, onions, and tomatoes while my sister’s looked to be like a slice with mostly mushroom, onion, and spinach. I was a fan of the crust, which was thinly rolled but, had a sesame seed coating at the edge.

After our bites of pizza, we walked back, and my sister drove me to Sprouts for a quick grocery stop before dropping me off and heading back to the OC.

I was glad to spend the first weekend of the new year with my lady bird 🙂

Grey Block Pizza Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mission Viejo Escape

Mission Viejo Escape

Two weekends ago, I was gifted with the chance to spend a weekend with my sister in her Mission Viejo digs, as well as spend some time with Dad since he was going to be in town soon after for business.

I managed to have two of my undergrad assistants come in to take care of something for me over the weekend, so I would be able to make my visit an overnight one. I left on a Saturday afternoon, and arrived just as my sister was getting off work.

She picked me up from the Metrolink station, and from there, we hunted down dinner at Burger Boss.

Burger Boss, Mission Viejo
Burger Boss, Mission Viejo

My sister had been wanting to check it out, and we got the chance to do so since the location was close by. They actually have a number of locations around the OC. It also happened to be right next to a Creamistry, so you could guess what we had for dessert…

Putting our orders in was harder than it looked...
Putting our orders in was harder than it looked…

When we entered BB, we saw some LCD screens on the wall, as well as an order/paying counter wayyyy up at the front.  We decided to give the LCD screens a shot despite making a fool out of our orders—because the buttons were so hard to press, my sis ended up with four different kinds of cheeses on her veg burger and I ended up with two sauces in my burger bowl, haha!

Everything was aesthetically on point, no doubt about that.
Everything was aesthetically on point, no doubt about that.

I made sure put ALL THE VEGGIES AND FRUIT (pineapple, lol) in my burger bowl, on a bed of spinach. My sis’ burger was definitely not lacking in cheese.

Grilled pineapple and mushrooms <3
Grilled pineapple and mushrooms <3

Like I alluded to earlier in the post, we walked right next door to Creamistry after getting our fill of veggies and protein.

Saturday night at Creamistry, Mission Viejo
Saturday night at Creamistry, Mission Viejo

I was leaning towards ordering a nutella or speculoos flavored liquid nitrogen-based ice cream (per usual), but then my sister pointed out their Halloween special: black ice cream with cookie pieces. I was sold.

Of course, I had to top it off with mochi
Of course, I had to top it off with mochi

My sis, of course, had her beloved chocolate. We had our frozen treats inside instead of taking them to go. It was not surprising that we felt cold afterwards, haha.

My sister was adamant about making the next day a “study day”, since she had some exams coming up. I didn’t mind, since I had data to analyze anyways. The next morning, I met her at a Starbucks after a morning run. I had her bring my laptop and things over in the car, so it worked out perfectly 😛

We spent the morning working on our respective items, and when my sister suggested we get lunch, she didn’t have to tell me twice. To make things simple and local, we drove over to the Veggie Grill in Laguna Niguel.

Veggie Grill, Laguna Niguel
Veggie Grill, Laguna Niguel

I love how VG has seasonal menus—its makes my multiple visits to their various locations all the more worth it 😛

Fall '17 Menu
Fall ’17 Menu

This season’s menu seemed to offer a number of delicious-sounding options. I finally chose to get the Rustic Farm Bowl. My sis stuck to her fave chik’n ranch burger.

Rustic Farm Bowl -
Rustic Farm Bowl – farro, grilled mushrooms, roasted yams, braised cannellini beans, broccoli pesto, roasted tomatoes, red pepper sauce

The angles of the picture make it look like the bowl was a large one, but the contents were petite to my dismay. Still, it was quite filling! Just fibrous veggies doing their job I suppose…

Nature's protein-rich, starch-filled goods.
Nature’s protein-rich, starch-filled goods.

After lunch, we took a long afternoon nap and went out later in the evening to pick up some snacks to have at home so my sis could continue studying. Despite staying within my sister’s home turf and spending most of our time together at our laptops, it was a great weekend getaway for me. Mission Viejo is literally eye candy with its rolling hills and sunshine (although I will say it’s a runner’s nightmare—at least this runner’s nightmare, with all those hills!!)

Veggie Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

So That’s What It’s Called!

So That’s What It’s Called!

The one thing I like about being independent in lab is being able to coordinate my lab schedule with my life schedule—at least for the most part. For the current experiments I’m doing, I had to plan weeks in advance to make sure everything I needed to accomplish was covered, but with a little maneuvering and careful planning, I was able to make myself free sometime within the time frame of my sister’s birthday. It also happened to be a weekend after some of the more time-intensive experiments, and so this “mini break” was much, much needed.

I left LA around 7:30AM by bus, and then transferred on to the train to head up to Fresno. Like my first trip a couple months ago, this train ride was far from anything you’d expect from an amusement park, but at least it got me to my sister 🙂

After picking me up from the station, my sister dropped me off at the dorms while she dashed to class. I took my time settling in and soothing my sore head from a lingering headache.

When she came back, we were both ready for an afternoon tea-esque snack, so we headed out thinking a place called La Boulangerie would be able to satsify us.

After some driving around with a confused GPS, we realized that even though La Boulangerie existed and served French pastries and snacks, it wasn’t the Parisien dessert shop my sister had previously visited and had told me about. She then realized that it was Le Parisien she wanted to go to 😛

Le Parisen front.

We found the right cafe among other establishments in a strip mall, and my eyes immediately latched onto the sugary collection in the display case.

So many sweets to choose from!!

My sister and I had been talking macaroons on the way over, but some of these other beauties were making me change my mind…they even had discount, day old pastries that still looked appealing.

These day-old sweet hearts still look good!

I wasn’t in a jelly-filled, powder-sugared donut mood though…I saw an incredibly looking chocolate tart, and I was sold. My sister got three small pastries, and a vegetarian crepe.

All for ourselves!

We were the only ones in the cafe at the time, so we found a table right in the middle that wasn’t too close to the window or the sun rays coming through them.

A chocolate tart with chocolate ganache to DEVOUR.

My chocolate tart had a swirl of mousse, and a thin layer of chocolate ganache. The crust was hard to cut through, but if I had eaten it as a handhold rather than from top-to-bottom with my fork, I may have appreciated the crust layer more.

Orange, mint chocolate macaroons, and lemon meringue

My sister lover her orange macaroon, but wasn’t much of a fan of her lemon meringue or mint chocolate macaroon. She decided that fruit macaroons > non-fruit macaroons, but I can’t take her word for it until I try a non-fruit macaroon, since I’ve only tried lemon and blueberry flavors so far…

Vegetarian crepe

She did love her vegetarian crepe though, filled with an assortment of colorful vegetables and cheese, all wrapped up in a rectangular thin crepe. I even helped myself to a few bites.

We got back to her dorm a little before five, and though it would be smart to get some homework/reading done before dinner. When we did get in the car again, we blasted the radio and drove off into the sunset…sort of 😉

Friday sunset

We were both craving Mediterranean, and we found out that a new Mediterranean grill had opened up in Clovis just a few weeks ago that was worth checking out.

Ark Mediterranean Grill

The shopping area Ark Mediterannean Grill was housed in was busy for a Friday night, but the restaurant only had a few other patrons besides ourselves. There was a long table with at least a dozen people near the back of the restaurant, I’m assuming all family, and enjoying an evening out together.

There wasn’t much in options for vegetarians other than the falafel plate or a falafel sandwich, so my sister and I both got the plate. We avoided twinning when I chose to have bulgar instead of rice.

The vegetarian-friendly falafel plate

Along with a well-balanced plate of falafel, bulgar, hummus, and cucumber salad, we also got four thin triangles of pita bread and a cup of tahini sauce.

Pita bread and tahini

The inside of the falafel reminded me of a pretty amazing falafel plate I had a few weeks ago in Glendale, but these falafels were on level with the ones of So Cal. And of course, the hummus was exceptional. To be honest, I don’t think you can ever have “bad” hummus unless the chickpeas have spoiled or something 😛

Just like the one I had in Dune…

While picking through the bulgar, I noticed what looked like short, thin noodles mixed in, and I was reminded of what my friend used to eat when were kids. Her mom used to prepare something similar, and I was always fascinated by what it was called. Apparently, after simply Googling the phrase ‘noodles mixed with rice Mediterranean’, I found out it’s called Riz Bil Sh’arieh (or more casually, Lebanese Rice). The key is broken vermicelli noodles 😉

Riz Bil Sh’arieh! So that’s what it’s called!

After this nourishing meal, I felt pumped for the race I was planning to run the next day. Once we got back, I managed to also have some energy to read a few papers before heading to bed, but my sister and I did make some time to laugh out loud during our countless study breaks 😀

Have you ever had Riz Bil Sh’arieh?

Le Parisien Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Not Quite Carrots…Sort of Cookies…

Not Quite Carrots…Sort of Cookies…

Please excuse the awkward title…at least it’s not a boring “4th of July Weekend Part blah blah” 😉

So after my sister and I completed our journey for vegan donuts, our next stop was to the beach! We realized that there was a hurdle in our plans however…since we were all the way up in Northeast LA, it was going to take at least another two hours before we arrived in West LA. Oh boy…

But, we couldn’t let traveling time get in the way of our plans. On the brightside, it would be “another adventure” for us.

We caught the train around 3pm, and transferred to a bus at Union Station. From there, things got hazy since I drifted in and out of sleep on the bus while my sister listened to music. The bus was packed by the time we got off, and we witnessed some crazy passengers saying some crazy things when we were on board. Perhaps it was the 4th of July-induced adrenaline?

We got off in Venice, and decided to walk down to Marina Del Rey where the fireworks were taking place that night. Even though we were complaining about the walking we had to do earlier in the day, this stroll was more pleasant since there was an ocean breeze along with it being overcast.

We walked alongside the path that I remember running on one of my team long runs during marathon training season. It was such a gorgeous sight to see the yachts and boats docked in the water…on a cloudy summer evening.

 Boats docked at Fisherman's Village.
Boats docked at Fisherman’s Village.

We stopped at Fisherman’s Village for some photo-taking, and pondered over whether we should stay and wait for the fireworks then and there, or continue onwards to find something to eat.

 Should we stay here until the sky gets dark? Or go find food?
Should we stay here until the sky gets dark? Or go find food?

We chose to do the latter of course, and though the walk continued to be long, we could not help but enjoy the fantastic views of the water…

 Perfect weather & views.
Perfect weather & views.

We eventually made it to Dockweiler Beach, and walked inland from there to check out the small offering of eateries and cafes. We weren’t craving anything in particular, but we were able to find a cute, veggie-friendly storefront in the middle of a strip mall.

 The Mad Carrot!
The Mad Carrot!

The Mad Carrot looked like any ol’ cafe from the front, but the colors inside were extremely warm and inviting.


They had menu cards at the front, and my eyes were immediately drawn towards the Not-chos.

 Colorful menu!
Colorful menu!

Unfortunately, they were made with turkey chili, and even though I asked if they could be made without the chili, it ended up being more complicated than it should have been. So I settled for the Vegan Sausage.

The Vegan Sausage with a side of tortilla chips.
The Vegan Sausage with a side of tortilla chips.

My sister got the Veggie Melt, which also came with a side of chips…

 This one actually looked pretty good!  :P
This one actually looked pretty good! 😛

Since the cafe was closing early due to the 4th of July festivities, we were given foam to-go boxes. My sis and I found a bench in the strip mall, and ate our meals before walking back to the beach. Both of us agreed that neither of our orders were knock-outs, and that we easily could have whipped something up of that caliber at home. But for the time being, it would do.

By the time we finished eating, we immediately felt weary. We had another two hours or so until the sky would be dark enough for the fireworks show. It felt like it would take an eternity though…

After some back and forth, my sister and I let our inner grannies make the decision to call it a day and head home. I arranged for our ride back with Uber, using a first-time user coupon code for a free ride up to $30! We were glad to be able to be dropped off directly at home. Needless to say, we were exhausted from our jettin’-across-LA-via-public-transit tour!

It was certainly something hot chocolate could fix!


The next morning, we stayed in my apartment until an hour before my sister’s bus was scheduled to leave. After dropping her off at the station, I went by Target to pick up some eggs and a B&J’s pint for later (of course ;)) .

  Hmm...maybe I should have saved my hot chocolate to pair with this...
Hmm…maybe I should have saved my hot chocolate to pair with this…

I was thinking of getting another exclusive flavor, but when I saw Milk & Cookies for the first time ever, I knew I had to try it right away!

 Milk and Cookies pint!!!!
Milk and Cookies pint!!!!

It looked like an ice cream core when I opened it, but it just turned out to be a huge chunk of chocolate chocolate chip cookies. I am not complaining when I say this though!

Once I started making my way through the pint, it was slowly transforming from ice cream to milkshake—a “cookie shake” to be more precise.

The rest of the day, and weekend for that matter, was spent relaxing at home, and going to sleep very early. Sometimes the most fun events in life can make you (happily) exhausted.

If you live in the US, did you celebrate the 4th of July with a fireworks show?

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Pizza and a Movie

Pizza and a Movie

After spending ten straight days running, it felt glorious to sleep in, and not have to worry about getting a mandatory workout in. It was the absolute perfect way to start the three-day Independence Day weekend!

Since my sister was staying with me for a few days, we had tons of fun things planned 😉

The fun began later in the morning, after stopping by lab to check on an experiment. We were out by noon, and proceeded to take the train + bus to WeHo for a scrumptious lunch before hitting the movie theater.

 Enter, EVO Kitchen
Enter, EVO Kitchen

While it wasn’t a completely vegetarian/vegan establishment, EVO Kitchen offered plenty of organic, vegan, and gluten-free options. Many of the menu items could be made meatless upon request however. This was a fact that pleased my sister and I, after taking an extensive amount of time looking at the large offering of pizzas.

 All the pizzas sound amazing. Right before getting our pizzas, the waiter gave us some garlic salt and pepper flakes!
All the pizzas sound amazing. Right before getting our pizzas, the waiter gave us some garlic salt and pepper flakes!

The restaurant itself was small and cozy, with a smattering of booths and small tables + chairs. There was a bar to the right, and from where we were sitting, we could see part of the kitchen and the cooks hard at work!

The cozy interior.

It took a while for our pizzas to arrive (or maybe we were just that hungry?) but when they did, my sister and I split our pizzas in half to share with one another. 😉

On top: the BLEU CHEESE STEAK without steak - mushrooms, onions, marinara, mozzarella and gorgonzola // on bottom: the BBQ CHICKEN without chicken - BBQ sauce, tofu cubes, scallions, onions, soy cheese.
On top: the BLEU CHEESE STEAK without steak – mushrooms, onions, marinara, mozzarella and gorgonzola // on bottom: the BBQ CHICKEN without chicken – BBQ sauce, tofu cubes, scallions, onions, soy cheese.

Out of the two pizzas, the one I ordered [the BLEU CHEESE “STEAK”] was my favorite. I ordered it with multigrain crust, and it came out super crunchy as a result. There was also a mild tang to the marinara, and overall, was perfectly-sized for a lunch portion.

 The chili flakes added a pop of color...and just look at those scallions!
The chili flakes added a pop of color…and just look at those scallions!

The BBQ pizza, from the slices I tried, was good…just not mind-blowing. The BBQ sauce tasted more like ketchup than a spicy BBQ sauce, but at least the tofu cubes were quite chewy and added variety to the toppings.

 BBQ with tofu!!
BBQ with tofu!!

After lunch, we made a semi-made dash for the bus stop to head to The Grove. We wanted to make the 4PM showing of Inside Out, but ended up having to get tickets for the following show at 5:30PM…not because we missed the bus or anything, but rather all of the seats for the 4PM show were reserved. I have never heard of reserved seating for “regular” movies before (plays, yes), nor have I ever had to pay $15 for a movie that was not in 3D.

 A nice looking theater---inside & out (haha...)---but the $15 ticket price? Not so nice...
A nice looking theater—inside & out (haha…)—but the $15 ticket price? Not so nice…

Good thing Inside Out was beyond worth it. The story, concept, characters, and ending were all on point, and I was glad that I was patient enough to wait to see the movie with my sister. After leaving the theater, we couldn’t stop talking about our favorite scenes 🙂

Since it was still sunny and gorgeous outside, my sister and I stayed out longer to get some snacks from Trader Joe’s.

 Festive times at The Grove.
Festive times at The Grove.

It took us an hour or so to get home, but once we got back to my apartment, I made some scrambled eggs on toast for my hungry sister.

 Had to prove to my Dad that I was not starving my sister.  ;)
Had to prove to my Dad that I was not starving my sister. 😉

We stayed up until 11PM (which is unusual for me 😛 ) watching Friends and munching on snacks. It was nice to not have to worry about getting up early again the next day—especially since we had another fun-filled day planned for the 4th!!

Have you seen Inside Out?

How do you like your pizza?

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Fun in Fresno – Part 3

Fun in Fresno – Part 3

Saturday night was without-a-doubt the best part of the trip. We didn’t even need to change our outfits when we got back from our adventures during the day, since a visit to 1920 Tea Station Club was on our minds from the get-go.


This was our answer for “goin’ clubbin'” alright. No alcohol here—just boba tea, fantastical desserts, and strobe lights. Obviously the latter was not from the 1920’s…


Everyone inside was either on a date, or in a group with friends or family. This place was just as much a social club as it was a trendy place to grab some grub.


We found a paper menu near the counter, and had more time to look through it after we got seated. One of their trademark delicacies was a brick toast dessert that was offered in several different ways. My sister was craving a boba milkshake, so she got that as an appetizer of sorts (chocolate of course), while our ‘main course’ would be a honey-flavored brick toast with an assortment of fruit.

We could. not. wait.

My sister’s boba shake was quite the knock-out, and it sort of kept us from thinking about the toast while it was being prepped.

 Hello, delicious.
Hello, delicious.

When our toast cube did arrive, it truly did hold our attention. It was as stunning as a birthday cake topped with scoops of various-flavored ice creams and sparklers—perhaps even more.

honey-toast-with fruit and ice cream

We were enamored by the outside of the brick itself—with a fanfare of fruits at the top and two scoops of ice cream in the back—all of which was drizzled with chocolate! But on the inside, we figured out why it was called brick toast. There were literally columns of toast lined tightly against each other!


We also realized that despite the sweet, honey taste the toast had, it was still dry if eaten by itself. No wonder there was ice cream to help us out in this regard. The ice cream may have quickly melted, but none of it escaped from of us because the toast was able to absorb all of it. Nothing went to waste here!

We drove back to my sister’s apartment close to 10pm, and ‘recuperated’ from that exquisite experience! If you’re going to have a load of carbs before bedtime, make it worth something 😉

On Sunday morning, I traded in my usual long runs for another 6 miler. I needed to save time to pack up for LA, and so cutting the run short was necessary. Once my sister got up and ready, we were out of the dorm by 10AM.

Before grabbing lunch, I got my eyebrows waxed (after way too long, trust me!), and stopped by my long-distance love: Grocery Outlet ♥. I stocked up on some $0.50 Chobani (why can’t it be like this in LA?!) and some produce like onions and zucchini that could easily be tucked into my already over-stuffed rollerboard.

After those necessary but fun errands, we made our last foodie-related stop of my trip at Grilled Chz.


I’ve heard of grilled cheese-focused restaurants popping up here and there, but the décor was over the top and right on theme inside this location!


Even though they had a make-your-own option with lots of toppings and cheeses to choose from, my sister and I kept it real and simple by going with one of the suggestions listed on the menu.


My sister ended up getting the Borderbob, which had pepper jack cheese, fritos, salsa, cilantro lime butter, all inside two slices of crusted white bread. It usually comes with chili, but since it had meat, she was able to get that taken out.


I got the Veggie Chz, which ironically had no veggies whatsoever! It did have sharp cheddar cheese, pitted dates, walnuts, and raisins all mixed in between two slices of crispy and toasty multi-grain bread.


This seriously had to be one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve had in a long time. I know that dried fruits and cheese tend to make a great food pairing, but I never actually thought of it in grilled cheese form! Thankfully these guys did, and I got to experience it!


After our cheesy lunch, we stopped by Kohl’s before driving over to the Amtrak station. I ended up leaving Fresno around 2PM and getting back to my apartment about five hours later—after a train, bus, and Metro Rail ride. Can’t complain, it comes with city life!

I still can’t believe that I saw my sister a week ago from today…this week went by crazy fast, and I have a feeling next week will go by at just the same rate. With classes finishing up and things in lab kicking in, I’m thankful for finding some time to spend with my best friend by blood 🙂

1920 Tea Station on Urbanspoon Grilled Chz on Urbanspoon

Fun in Fresno – Part 2

Fun in Fresno – Part 2

Day 2 of my visit to Fresno to see the darling sis started off great. I woke up at 7AM from a pleasant rest, and went out for a 6 mile run around the perimeter of her campus and nearby residential areas. It was certainly nice to have a change of scenery from my urban street runs to something more rural…even if there really wasn’t much to look at.

I got back from my run, and my sister and I got ready for a full day of eating, shopping, and (maybe) some studying. First thing on the agenda was lunch at Dusty Buns Bistro.

 A gorgeous, sunny Saturday morning. Perfect for taking pictures which was what we did before lunch!
A gorgeous, sunny Saturday morning. Perfect for taking pictures which was what we did before lunch!

The neighborhood that Dusty Buns was located in seemed quiet and peaceful (at least at 11AM in the morning), and we were the first customers of the day to enter.


There was a creative menu display on the wall of the left side of the register, but when I learned about the special of the day—the tofu chili—I decided to go with that. My sister chose to get an apple+brie combo (without bacon).

menuitems on wall

We were excited to put in our orders and try our sandwiches. My sister had the opportunity to try their trademark dusty buns when the food truck stopped by her campus a couple months ago. She had been looking for a chance to visit their brick-and-mortar Fresno location, and obviously I made for the perfect ‘foodie friend’ to go with 😉

But, our visit did come with some complications when our food arrived initially. First, they made the mistake of adding bacon to my sister’s sandwich, and adding chicken to my sandwich which already had tofu. This was slightly frustrating, but our server was able to have the kitchen remake our sandwiches the correct way, so things were A-OK in the end 🙂

 My sister's Le Grilled Cheese - Aged White Cheddar, (no) Applewood Smoked Bacon, and Sliced Apple. Second time's a charm.
My sister’s Le Grilled Cheese – Aged White Cheddar, (no) Applewood Smoked Bacon, and Sliced Apple. Second time’s a charm.
 My Tofu Chili Dusty Bun sandwich!
My Tofu Chili Dusty Bun sandwich!

When we got our correctly-made sandwiches, we truly enjoyed them. The buns were dusty due to the extra coating of flour on top. Toasting the buns made them more crisp, but they still kept a light, soft texture.

There I go again eating my sandwich with a fork, from the inside out!

After our warm and satisfying lunch, we spent the remainder of the morning into the afternoon clothes shopping at Plato’s Closet, Ross, and stores at a nearby mall. It had been a while since I bought any new “regular”/street clothes, and I was able to find some good deals on two pairs of cute pants and a pair of jeans.

We made our way towards dinner around 5PM, again going into downtown to find the elusive Flaco’s—a well-known vegan Mexican food place in Berkeley that was now available in Fresno.

What we weren’t expecting however, was that Flaco’s didn’t have its own building per say…


But rather it was the featured menu inside of a bar called Strummer’s! It was still the real deal, menu and all, it just (oddly) didn’t have its own physical location.


At first we weren’t sure what the deal was, but after confirming that Flaco’s did indeed exist, we made our way inside Strummer’s.


Despite the off-putting dim lighting of the bar (and cigarette smoke coming from the area where happy hour was occurring…), we had a friendly waitress help us with our orders. Her friendly disposition certainly put us at ease.

My sister and I wanted to try the taquitos, so we made it into a plate that included black beans, Spanish rice, green salsa, and chopped salad. We also got nachos to split. We also confirmed with the waitress that yes, everything was vegan meaning it was vegetarian, so that we wouldn’t have another mess-up to deal with similar to what occurred that morning.

Between the time we ordered our food and its arrival to our table, I had enough time to use the restroom and learn the life story of an ex-con/drug dealer who had four kids in his 20s…fun times in Fresno for sure 😛

When our food was ready to eat, we each sample a taquito. The outside shell was certainly fried and crispy, and the soy protein on the inside was quite dry, so having the green salsa to dip it into was a necessity.


The nacho chips were small, but seasoned similar to that of a Doritos chip!


The chips themselves were covered with refried beans and tons of the usual nacho veggies (lettuce, onion, tomato, etc.) + vegan cheese shreds.

Both meals split between two people was just enough to feel satiated but not stuffed. The quality of food—especially from what you’d think would come through the doors of a bar kitchen—was at level with many of the vegan restaurants I’ve visited in LA.

We thanked our waitress many times (and tipped her well) after finishing up. For the rest of the evening, we took a break back at my sister’s dorm, and rested/got some work done before heading out for the real event of the day night…

Dusty Buns Bistro on Urbanspoon

Fun in Fresno – Part 1

Fun in Fresno – Part 1

The highlight of last weekend was seeing my sister again after almost two months. After finding a convenient time that fit both of our schedules, I was able to squeeze in a short trip to her part of town.

The weekend started bright and early at 4AM, when I finished packing up some last minute items and made my way for Union Station. From there, I took an Amtrak Thruway Bus to Bakersfield, and boarded my very first Amtrak train around 10AM.

 View from inside the train (top level!)
View from inside the train (top level!)

I naively thought the ride would zip on by like that of a bullet train, but in reality, it was mostly a mundane trip with not much in terms of scenery. It was Central Valley country after all…

I arrived at the Fresno Amtrak around noon, and found my sister waiting for me. She was cutting it close to making it on time for class, but decided to skip since she could get notes later…plus, she had me to entertain 😉

Actually, once we got to her dorm and I settled in, I went for an afternoon run while she chilled in her room. I was able to (surprisingly) run at a speedy-for-me pace, despite the temperature high of almost 80 degrees! I also made it safely back to the sis’ campus, despite running during times of high traffic, and having a guy start “running” alongside me “as a joke”. At least now I knew which direction of Fresno to avoid 😛

When I got back to the dorm, my sister was eager to show off “her” tea place. A place she often goes to study, and grab a cozy cup of tea to sip on while doing so…


Teazer World Tea Market, at River Park, had an exquisite set-up on the inside:


The counter was hidden by a wall of tea, and the menu had so many choices—hot tea, iced tea, milk tea, black tea, seasonal specials…


My sister chose to get an iced cream tea, and I decided to get a ‘tortoise’ green tea latte. We lined up behind the register, and I admired the canisters of tea, vegan treats, and other novelty items that were decorated alongside the counter.


When we got to the counter, we put in our orders and I also asked for some iced water to drink on the side since it was still pretty hot outside.


There were a lot of seating options, but after seeing that all of the seats were taken up in the back (and cozier) part of the tea house, we found a table back near the counter.

 A cozy area in the back for reading and sipping tea.
A cozy area in the back for reading and sipping tea.

We picked up our drinks, laid down our notes for “studying”, and took a couple sips of our drinks before diving into a conversation. My sister’s Irish strawberry cream iced tea looked adorable with its light pink hue, and my green tea latte cup was decked out with an emerald-colored napkin.


I was actually more surprised that my iced water was served in a mug vs. a regular plastic cup! It had a lovely pattern though.

 My tortoise green tea latte --- smooth, creamy, warm, and flavorful.
My tortoise green tea latte — smooth, creamy, warm, and flavorful.

I used to get the green tea lattes from Starbucks all the time, so it was nice ordering an old favorite from a new place. My sister really enjoyed her cream tea, as it was a new choice for her!

We stayed at Teazer’s until around 5pm, and then started to pack things up so that we could get dinner! When my sister (and friends) are together with me, food is pretty much what dominates the thoughts in our brains 😛

My sister and I wanted to try one of the vegan establishments in downtown Fresno—Loving Hut.


Despite the “interesting” characters we came across on our drive through downtown, I wasn’t taken aback or fearful of our surroundings. It was still bright and sunny outside at 6PM, and I had to convince my sister that the car would be safe parked outside the restaurant 😛

There was patio-seating, but we stepped inside to take a look at the menu and order our meals. There was a strong smell of oil/soy sauce/spicy seasonings that hit our noses as soon as we stepped in.


The menu wasn’t that extensive, so we were able to place our orders pretty quickly. The menu items were pretty cheap as well, with meals costing no more than $10!

 Pastries to the side, and a cart of books for reading while waiting for your meal I guess?
Pastries to the side, and a cart of books for reading while waiting for your meal I guess?

There was no A/C (or electrical fan for that matter), so we were fanning ourselves and trying to keep cool while waiting for our food to come out. When it did, we dined in silence—for the first time since my arrival 😉 !

 Sis got the #8 BBQ special with BBQ seitan "drumsticks", steamed greens, and white rice.
Sis got the #8 BBQ special with BBQ seitan “drumsticks”, steamed greens, and white rice.

I got the Ocean of Love plate (and I accidentally deleted my picture of it—grrr), which came with steamed greens, and seitan shreds that were noodle-like, wrapped up in seaweed and pan-fried in black pepper sauce. I used the veggies to mop up any leftover black pepper sauce, and everything was undeniably so good.

After chowing down on dinner, we drove back to my sister’s dorm and hung out in her room for the rest of the night. We skyped one of our close friends, and filled the room with chatter and laughter. Good thing her suite mates weren’t around, because we were loud and proud of it 😉 . 

I went to sleep around 10pm (like usual…), and despite having to sleep in a sleeping bag on a hard (but carpeted) ground, I slept like a baby and woke up around 7AM on Saturday morning. 

Speaking of which…well, more of that in the next post!

Teazer World Tea Market -- River Park on Urbanspoon Loving Hut on Urbanspoon

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