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!

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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!

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

Buff Bake Protein Cookie Review

Buff Bake Protein Cookie Review

Disclaimer: I was provided samples from Buff Bake and all opinions are my own.

I’ve had Buff Bake spreads before, but when I tried my first Buff Bake protein cookie, I wasn’t sure what I had put in my mouth…

buffbake_wcpb
I thought a cup of coffee would work well with this Buff Bake WCPB protein cookie, but sadly this cookie was pretty stale 😑… definitely does not have soft status like @lennyandlarrys

I didn’t want to waste it, but as I was eating it I couldn’t help but think I had made a mistake in my choice of a morning snack. I thought I was being adventurous for trying a protein cookie different from the likes of Lenny & Larry’s, but to my disappointment, I regretted not picking up their white chocolate macadamia flavor from the campus bookstore…

I expressed my dissatisfaction on Instagram, and to my surprise, Buff Bake actually reached out with a response to immediately send over some fresh cookies to try! They commented that the cookie I had purchased had an older packaging, and that I needed a proper introduction to their product (okay, so I added the last part, but I’m sure they wanted to redo the first impression…)

They immediately sent over five different cookies in crisp, colorful packaging. I was shocked by how quickly they came too…within two days of their commenting on my Instagram! Oh, which flavor to begin with?!

cookies
The colors just popped out at me!!

Because the snickerdoodle Lenny & Larry’s has my heart, I had to try Buff Bake’s version for comparison’s sake.

snickerdoodle
This Snickerdoodle one immediately became a favorite of mine. To me, it looks more like a dense, puffy cake than a cookie (like one of those Pfeffernusse cookies), but it’s incredibly chewy and has a nice cinnamon/nutmeg aroma to it. Oh, and then there’s the nice addition of a thin glaze on top! I’m glad I got the opportunity to give these cookies-more-like-cakes another shot 😉

I would say the Lenny & Larry’s version is still my favorite (specifically if it comes out dense and chewy in the middle, because sometimes even they come out with fluke cookies…), but Buff Bake’s version was pretty good too. Definitely could see this paired with a glass of hot chocolate—the perfect sitting-by-the-fireplace holiday snack.

I then moved on to the birthday cake flavor. This one came with frosting on the top as well, but only a little in the middle? I don’t have an explanation…

birthday_Cake
I love it when birthday cake-themed foods are colorful, mixed with sprinkles, and come with a generous amount of frosting on top. The birthday cake @buffcake cookie is another dense, puffy cake-like flavor. It had a slight dry flavor (wasn’t as moist as snickerdoodle), but the frosting on top helped to some extent 😀🍰🍪

I’d say my second most favorite was Chocolate Donut.

chocolate_donut
I’m a bit surprised as to how this is not the @buffbake Birthday Cake protein cookie flavor. With frosting and sprinkles like this, this is Chocolate Donut?! Well whatever its name is, I’ll take it 😉🍩🍪 #teamfrosting

If I have to pick between team vanilla or team chocolate, I’d go with vanilla only because I can’t handle dark chocolate or chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. That was the case with Chocolate Chocolate Chip. While it had a dense texture and was full-flavored, it was just too much chocolate. There, I said it.

chocolate-chocolate-chip
There is such a thing as too much chocolate, sorry!

And finally, I gave WCPB another shot. I still found it slightly drier and stiffer compared to the other flavors, but compare to the one I originally had, it fared much better.

WCPB
Alien cookie, 😛

It had a quirky shape and lotsa chocolate chips, but it added character.

Which of these cookie flavors speaks out to you?

A Hiatus from Life

A Hiatus from Life

Last year, I only had the chance to spend one full week with my family over the winter holidays. I had to fly back to LA a few days after Christmas in order to take care of things in lab that were time-sensitive. I spent New Year’s alone, and everything just felt out of place and deserted because others were lucky enough to spend all the time they could with their loved ones—my labmates included, haha.

Fortunately, I have some help this year and so I don’t have to rush back for anything. I am able to spend two whole weeks with my family to completely recharge, rest, run, and relax. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much relief departing LA! Even city girls need their sleep.

This whole week has been full of catching-up, and falling into a routine similar to how things used to be when I lived at home. Mornings have been spent sharing a coffee with my Dad at 7am, and splitting desserts and egg sandwiches at Panera.

re-1
Pecan Braid from Panera Bread

I’ve been able to enjoy the fresh air during runs alongside the Arkansas River.

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Breathing in some cool, crisp air while running by the river.

The flat terrain and cold temperatures have allowed me to run at faster paces without TOO much effort 😉

2
Pleased with my pace on this particular run 🙂

It’s also been nice to have access to a car, and just drive where I need to go. My sis and I went out a few times, just to run some errands, but even those moments have been so freeing! Blasting the radio and driving around town singing in the car with my sis has inevitably resulted in non-stop laughter and a dopamine high.

We’ve been splitting ice cream pints while watching stuff on Netflix, including this Confetti Cake ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s from Wal-Mart. It had a vanilla base, but there were chunks of birthday cake throughout and colorful bead-like sprinkles. I tried to cut the pint in half, but instead we did the safe thing and just scoop out half into a bowl.

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Pint night with the sis gets better when you find a cake-based flavor of ice cream!

I ate what was left in the carton, and that night we started Fuller House.

re-2
Just look at the top of this thing!

We also went out to eat one night with my Dad before watching Moana at a discount price ($4/ticket!). We ended up going to Qdoba since neither of us have ever been, even though they have locations all around the country. 

re-4
First time trying Qdoba…

The set-up reminded me of Freebirds, but the options were limited to what could be found at Chipotle. They didn’t have a veggie protein option though :/

qdoba
So orange + brown in here…

The three of us each got different things. My item was a “naked” burrito bowl with cilantro rice, black beans, greens, onions, tomatoes, corn salsa, hot sauce, and regular salsa.

qdoba_bowl
“Naked” Burrito Bowl

My sister and Dad got three veggie tacos and a veggie burrito respectively. My sis loved her tacos, but since my Dad found a long strand of hair in his burrito mid-way, it made sense that he lost his appetite and had his burrito refunded. I thought my burrito bowl tasted alright, but I felt the rice lacked flavor and overall, wished there was some veggie protein available to add some body to the bowl.

qdoba_food
Dad’s burrito and sister’s tacos.

The week concluded with some holiday dinners/lunches spent with family and friends which I’ll probably touch upon in the next post. We also have a quick trip to Texas planned, and then a few days left in Tulsa before I’ll have to fly back to LA! I’m definitely going to do my best to make the most of every single minute 😉

What’s your favorite part of the last two weeks of the year?

Qdoba Mexican Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pizza Pals

Pizza Pals

I’ve always had a sweet spot in my heart for the month of May—it truly is a month of changes, but the changes are usually hopeful, sometimes with a tinge of nostalgia, and almost always involve connections.

It also is the beginning of “free time” for a lot of people, since students are free to go on vacation (if they aren’t necessarily given a summer break anymore, which is my case!) and usually, people have a more relaxed schedule in general.

Even though my work has not died down in the slightest (actually, I would say it’s increased over the past two weeks and my summer will most certainly be busy), having a boss away for the summer does allow one to be more flexible schedule-wise 😉

And when your flexible schedule meshes with another person’s blogger’s schedule, it’s bound to result in good happenings.

I was able to meet Julianna this past Saturday, and chat with the vibrant lady over some hot, fresh-out-of-the-brick-oven pizza. I’ve been following her blog over the years, reading about her undergrad journey in UCLA from the beginning. She’s graduating soon and heading off the Atlanta, and I couldn’t be more excited for her 🙂 !

We met outside the pizzeria Prova, and thankfully my awkward handshake didn’t scare her off (haha, it’s a habit I developed after grad school interviews two years ago!).

prova (2)
Prova Pizzeria

The enticing menu made us take a while to make a final decision on what to get, but Julianna got one of the tomato sauce-less pizzas with egg on it while I went the same sauce-less route, ordering a mozzarella pizza with artichoke and mushrooms.

Our pizzas were the thin-crust kind, with a really flat center and easy to fold. Seeing the golden yolk on Julianna’s pizza made me second guess my pizza choice, but seeing as though I left nothing but half a piece of one slice’s crust, I’d say I wasn’t too regretful of my pizza combination.

prova (1)
Mozzarella with artichokes & mushrooms 🙂

I always get a bit nervous before blogger meet-ups, but once they happen, I find my nervousness to be a silly feeling. In the few blogger meet-ups I’ve had to-date, I’ve always left each feeling happy that I got to know someone I’ve been following for years in person. Julianna was no exception, and her energetic, positive personality certainly matches how she expresses herself in her blog posts.

prova (3)
Another pic cause it was just that good.

One of the things we asked each other was our favorite dessert, and of course I had to say ice cream. Even though I couldn’t find a certain flavor of Halo Top I thought would be in any of the grocery stores near Prova, I happened to find it the next day close to home, and stayed true to my answer 😉

Halo Top Birthday Cake! It’s been so coveted that only three (!!) pints were left when I stopped by my local grocery on Sunday.

halotopbdaycakeeee (1)
Sprinkles, that’s it?

Would I say it was worth the hype? Probably not…I mean, it had sprinkles and a very creamy vanilla flavor with an iced-cake like texture (if you can imagine that), but it got really old, really quick. I guess putting confetti-colored sprinkles on anything nowadays means it’s a birthday cake :/

halotopbdaycakeeee (2)
The packaging is cute tho.

Do you get nervous before blogger meet-ups or meeting someone for the first time in person?

Are you tired of the birthday cake trend or do you love it?

 

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.

dinette (8)
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
dinette (4)
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 😉

dinette (3)
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.

dinette (5)
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…

dinette (6)
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!).

dinette (7)
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

Springtime Sushi

Springtime Sushi

Is it really already APRIL?! By the way the weather has been acting, it’s pretty real indeed!

Thanks to my tax return, I finally invested in a BedJet, so it looks like a creature from Star Wars is “hiding” under my bed covers…at least I no longer have to worry about participating in A/C Wars with my roommate! I absolutely love this little machine, and the its ability to keep my skin cool throughout the night. Why didn’t I get this sooner when I was going through ED recovery night sweats?!

I also had the urge to let off some steam on Instagram, after being whistled at a couple times last week while running. Some may say it is to be expected when running outdoors in the city, but that is by no means a valid, acceptable reason. I should be able to wear what I want to workout, and not feel ashamed, fearful, or intimidated by others for doing so.

Loving my new BedJet, and still gonna rock my Nike pros!
Loving my new BedJet, and still gonna rock my Nike pros!

Now onto the foodie-things of last weekend. Since I did not have to set one foot into lab over the weekend, I was able to hang out with my roommate on Saturday afternoon. We went to an outdoor music festival, and it was blazing HOT outside. I made the mistake of wearing strappy sandals, taking advantage of the fact I did not have to go into lab, but forgetting that heat + walking + sandals = blisters. UGH.

Jogasaki---my first food truck in LA (besides Waffles de Liege offered at a race I ran in last year...)
Jogasaki—my first food truck in LA (besides Waffles de Liege offered at a race I ran in last year…)

There were food trucks at the venue, and I took it as an opportunity to try my first one (besides the waffle one at a race I went to last year). Jogasaki was the most popular one there, and the only vegetarian dish they had was the veggie burrito.

The truck menu.
The truck menu.

I don’t know why they didn’t just call it a Sushirito though, since the other menu items were variations on the sushirito…

Veggie Burrito---er, Sushirito
Veggie Burrito—er, Sushirito

My sushirito was cylindrical roll of rice, filled with cucumber, avocado, and marinated seaweed, all of which was rolled up in rice paper. My roommate got a grilled cheese and tater tots (and I cannot imagine how she ate that hot food in the blazing hot weather…). We ate our meals on the grass, and then got up afterwards to check out the freebies.

Spring time music, food, and freebies.
Spring time music, food, and freebies.

The live music was pretty lame because there really was no defined set of acts and performers. A couple people got on stage to say “check, check”, and then they reverted to just playing pre-recorded music.

At least the freebies were worth it. I ended up with several shirts, KIND bars, sunglasses, and between my roommate and I, a bouquet of flowers for our apartment.

Free flowers!!
Free flowers!!
Some of dem freebies
Some of dem freebies

On Sunday, I felt the need to go shopping! I ended up going alone to Culver City after my morning long run, and ventured inside the Culver City Mall for the first time. When I lived in NorCal, my local mall got on my nerves after a while because it was pretty much the only place my friends and I would go, but stepping inside the CCM made me remember those good ol’ times and how much I miss those days 😛

I stopped by the Sprouts next to the mall before heading home, and pick up two Enlightened pints that have been all the rage on Instagram.

Those swirls... :D :D :D
Those swirls… 😀 😀 😀

Frozen Hot Cocoa blew me away…probably because the ingredients listed GHEE as an ingredient (which I have never seen as an ice cream ingredient before!!) and the swirls were insanely delicious. Of course I soon got tired of the chocolate, but those swirls!! I topped the pint with a FitElite Birthday Cake bar, which I bought only because a GNC was in the mall and I had not tried this bar flavor yet. I honestly was not a fan, since it tasted like bland vanilla fudge taffy with a smattering of spherical sprinkles :/ .

Frozen Hot Cocoa pint topped with a FitElite Birthday Cake Bar.
Frozen Hot Cocoa pint topped with a FitElite Birthday Cake Bar.
Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Crunch
Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Crunch

Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Crunch on the other hand, made my Monday evening pleasant. After a long day in lab, coming home to this pint mixed with cookie pieces and oatmeal flakes in a caramel base was super comforting. If the other Enlightened ice cream flavors are just as good as these two, I think I’m going to have many worthwhile Sprouts grocery shopping trips in the near future 😉

Have you heard of BedJet?

Would you eat a sushirito?

Jogasaki Sushi Burrito Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hope on a Cloudy Day

Hope on a Cloudy Day

After weekend out in Westwood and a killer 16 miler in the same area the next day (marathon training yet again!), the week that followed was less thrilling.

The days were quite routine, and not made any better by this Oh Yeah! One Birthday Cake flavored bar. It seems to be getting so much hype on social media, but it was just ‘meh’ to me. Yes, it has sprinkles, and yes, it has a sweet scent reminiscent of a vanilla birthday cake candle, but it’s small size didn’t exactly win me over.

 Sprinkles usually makes everything good, but unfortunately this was a pretty sub-par bar...
Sprinkles usually makes everything good, but unfortunately this was a pretty sub-par bar…

Certainly not worth forking up $24.99 over for a box, on sale. Yeah, I’ve paid that much for Quest bars numerous times, but even they don’t appease my taste buds as much anymore…

By the time Friday rolled around, I was ready to get into weekend mode! I celebrated with an unpictured pint of ice cream, and lots of rest (I was in bed by 9pm, and I don’t feel shameful about it at all 😛 ).

On Saturday, I woke up to cloudy skies and took the red line to Studio City after lab. I had a late lunch at this positively healthy place…

 Healthy Organic Positive Eating
Healthy Organic Positive Eating

This place is so calm on the inside. On first glance, it seems as though everyone was at peace here.

 So zen in here.
So zen in here.

I got a chuckle out of the menu!

 Haha, gotta love the menu!
Haha, gotta love the menu!

It took a while to get a waiter over, but after debating myself over a few choices, I decided to go for the vegan pumpkin curry with seitan as my protein, and with a side of brown rice.

My square bowl came out hot and fresh, with the steam still rising and orange broth so bright.

 Vegan pumpkin curry! All the good stuff is in here...
Vegan pumpkin curry! All the good stuff is in here…

The coconut milk tasted perfect, and my melange of peppers, pumpkin, and seitan mixed with the broth nicely.

 Brown rice in the shape of a ♥
Brown rice in the shape of a ♥

I spent the rest of the afternoon walking a few blocks in Studio City. I stopped in Free People, Urban Outfitters, and Brandy Melville, and ended up making a purchase in the latter of the three 😉 . After one final stop at Trader Joe’s, I lugged my coming week’s worth of groceries back on the train.

I may have ended up buying my routine items for my routine meals, but maybe this coming week will be less routine even though my meals may not be!

Are you a fan of thai curry?

H.O.P.E Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Burgers in Chinatown

Burgers in Chinatown

It’s hard to believe that the LA Marathon is about a month and a half away! I bring this up because I’m running it again with my marathon team, and this Sunday marked the day we get back into increasing long run mileage. We did run 20 miles as our longest run prior to the holidays, but now is when things are getting serious 😉

I had to run today’s 14 miles alone since our team is only going to resume group practices next week, but prior to my run, I fueled up in the very best way—even though it wasn’t my birthday!

Muscle Butter Birthday Cake!
Muscle Butter Birthday Cake!

Despite not being a true fan of the glazed donut Muscle Butter flavor, I picked up this jar along with two boxes of birthday cake Lenny & Larry’s cookies since I had a $50 rewards certificate to redeem from Vitamin Shoppe. I found that both combined together is a combination beyond words. Colorful sprinkles go a long way!

For lunch later that day, it was only a short bus drive away to Chinatown for some burgers!

Chinatown's #1 Burger
Chinatown’s #1 Burger

I’ve walked through Chinatown before to get to a race, but besides that, I never set aside time to explore Chinatown itself. Even so, I find the area charming, and one day I’ll devote a day exploring it fully.

Quaint seating area
Quaint seating area

I ordered my burger at the counter, and went for the vegan cheeseburger because why not have an extra cheese slice? I’m not sure if the cheese slice was vegan, but at least it was vegetarian! Once I made my order, I was given my order number and waited until my box of burger and fries was prepared.

When my number was called, I took my In-N-Out style meal over to the seating area.

Vegan cheeseburger and fries
Vegan cheeseburger and fries

It’s funny how it looks like an In-N-Out burger box, since there was another restaurant patron nearby who commented on how Burgerlords was a “more expensive, less tasty” version of In-N-Out. 😛

Vegan cheeseburger with fries.
Vegan cheeseburger with fries.

The burger was soft, and layered with tomato, cheese, onion, and lettuce with a burger tucked in between two buns spread with thousand island dressing. I attacked the fries with a fork, after squeezing some ketchup on top of course! It came with a cute food flag, and at the bottom of the box, I was reminded where I was 😉

Burgerlords in a box.
Burgerlords in a box.

The location is spot-on as well, right in the heart of Old Chinatown where countless stores are aligned. It makes total sense for hungry shoppers to take a break and purchase a burger to quickly eat before hopping over to the next shop. Since it was getting colder, I didn’t stay too long, but like I said, Chinatown is still a spot I plan to explore thoroughly in time 🙂

Ice Cream, Cookies, Donuts, Coffee

Ice Cream, Cookies, Donuts, Coffee

Who wouldn’t want a bowl containing all of the above 😉 ?

I knew that after “dining” on some sub-par salad, dessert had to be beyond exceptional.

Good thing icdc was only a half an hour walk away.

 icdc front --- stands for ice cream, cookies, donuts & coffee
icdc front — stands for ice cream, cookies, donuts & coffee

Apparently this colorful little hole-in-the-wall has been around for quite a while. I recently learned of its existence while surfing through Instagram one day, and bookmarked it for later travels.

 Colorful interior!
Colorful interior!

But the time had come for me to feast on my first ever donut sundae. Trust me, icdc made it a good one.

 Coffee shop essentials.
Coffee shop essentials.

I first picked my donut, then ice cream, which was all topped with whipped cream and my choice of caramel or fudge sauce. I picked caramel to “lighten” things up.

 Ice cream selection and cups/cones.
Ice cream selection and cups/cones.

The employee behind the counter took her time making the masterpiece, carefully scooping a generously-sized portion of mint chip ice cream and balancing it at the center of a vanilla donut with rainbow sprinkles. She then moved towards the cash wrap area, where she topped everything off with whipped cream and a giant swirl of caramel.

Indeed, it was a beauty.

 View from the top!
View from the top!

There was no seating inside, so I carefully carried my sundae outside and enjoyed it while people-watching/grateful for the fact I wasn’t one of the poor drivers stuck in traffic.

 My customized donut sundae ~ vanilla donut with sprinkles + mint chip ice cream + caramel sauce + whipped cream
My customized donut sundae ~ vanilla donut with sprinkles + mint chip ice cream + caramel sauce + whipped cream

I ate the whipped cream first, and then was met with a pleasant surprise by the flavor of the ice cream. It didn’t taste like that sweet, artificial mint stuff you usually find—it had the flavor of mint leaf infused in it or something, because it tasted refreshing and truly minty!

 Mint chip ice cream, actually infused with mint leaf!
Mint chip ice cream, actually infused with mint leaf!

When I finally got to the donut, the outside of it had taken in all of the ice cream meltiness, but it was resistant to the cutting of my knife. After peeling away at it, I found the donut to be quite tasty, and definitely falling under the cake donut category versus the light/fluffy kind I usually come across.

 Hard to cut through with a plastic knife, but so good to eat!
Hard to cut through with a plastic knife, but so good to eat!

icdc—secret code for dreams in a cup 

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

Let’s Get Together

Let’s Get Together

I would definitely go as far as to count last weekend as being one of my more social weekends of the semester. It’s been hard to get together with a lot of my classmates since the beginning of this year—due to things getting busier in our respective labs, other commitments, etc.—but three of my girl friends and I were able to take time out of our busy schedules to meet up for brunch and see a musical at the Cupcake Theater in Hollywood. One of my friends found a Groupon deal about a month beforehand, and we were able to get tickets to see Avenue Q for $16!

So on Saturday morning, I woke up around 7AM (but I felt like I could sleep in, surprisingly!) and got ready. I hopped on board the Metro Expo, then onto the Metro Red, and got off at Hollywood/Vine. The Hollywood Half was underway, and I walked alongside the course as many half marathoners were finishing up. It was the first time I was witnessing a race I wasn’t part of (as a runner OR volunteer), and part of me wanted to jump in, snag a medal, and grab a couple freebies as well 😉

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BUT—I resisted the temptation, since I was hauling a heavy purse, and was wearing denim shorts & converse, which don’t exactly match the description of running gear all to well!!

My friends and I wanted to have brunch before heading over to the theater at 12pm, so we decided to meet up at Eat This Cafe. It opened at 10AM, and being the early bird that I am, I arrived way too early at 9:20AM. Good thing I packed some notes to review to keep me busy for the next 40 or so minutes. I even found a bench in front of the cafe to comfortably sit on while doing so.

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 Fun murals and paintings near the cafe.
Fun murals and paintings near the cafe.

When the restaurant did open up, I waited inside since I couldn’t get a table until our full party showed up. The interior space was quite small, but I love the cool shade of blue painted on the walls. There were plenty of tables (but not for long, as I would soon find out!), and even a more intimate, cozy corner booth.

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My three friends came soon after, and we were all seated at a table by the window. All of us started off with waters, and one of my friends got orange juice while another got a mimosa to start off her day. When she was asked for ID, she gladly handed over her card to the waitress, loving the fact that she looked so young 😉

After looking over the menu, we placed orders for a truffle panini, french toast, corned beef hash, and vegan tofu scramble (can you guess which one was mine 😉 )? We had no problem getting into a conversation, but when one of my friends noticed a familiar face walking outside the window, we all stopped and tried to figure out who she was pointing at. And surprisingly, it happened to be one of the professors we knew from school—dressed in a simple t-shirt and jeans, just strolling around Hollywood like a regular ol’ person. He even stepped inside the cafe for a moment to make change!

Haha…yeah, we know that professors/teachers are like everyone else, but it’s still strange to see them out of context.

So after that happened, our brunch spread soon arrived. It was no problem getting pictures, because all four of us whipped out our phones at the same time to get pictures of our feast.

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Mine was the prettiest though, I must say.

 My gorgeous, healthy, earthy, beautiful vegan scramble.
My gorgeous, healthy, earthy, beautiful vegan scramble.

My scramble was mix of light, chewy tofu pieces, diced peppers, and mostly roasted potatoes. Ketchup was served on the side, and I got full pretty quickly. There is just something so filling about potatoes!

We took out time getting through brunch, and left the cafe close to 11:30AM. Fortunately we were able to find parking, and quickly got in line to get our seats before the show started.

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Cupcake Theater is pretty much the size of a walk-in closet, and due to the bad lighting it was hard to get any pics, but the show itself was well-put together. One of my friends happened to see the show on Broadway, and thought the execution in this production was on par with the one she saw in NYC.

Now, the show itself…some of the themes of the show weren’t exactly PG, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the actors themselves were quite talented. The production/staging crew also did an excellent job with scene changes, lighting, props, etc. So, at least organization-wise, it was a great showing!

My friends and I split up when the show ended around 2PM, and I decided to head down to The Grove to get some grocery shopping done before calling it a day.

After doing some grocery shopping, I stopped to grab a cool dessert before catching the bus home. I’ve been meaning to try the Halo Top Creamery Pints. The store I was at offered all four flavors, but ‘lemon cake’ sounded the most unique and appealing…

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The nutritional stats also looked intriguing. The whole pint has 28 grams of protein and is only 280 calories.

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The texture and flavor were simply amazing. It seriously tasted like a cold and creamy iced lemon cake. There was just enough sweetness to balance out the lemon though, so it was far from being sour!

The rest of the evening was spent catching up on homework (oh statistics…), and getting to sleep early because a long run was in the plans for Sunday morning!

Yes, I’m still making it a priority to keep up with my long run maintenance goals! On Sunday, I got away from the usual DTLA loop I fall into, and instead ran from Culver City Station to Marina Del Rey and back. I had to take a bathroom break at a nearby Ralph’s around mile 8, but was also able to get a cup of water (with ice!!) from Starbucks before making my way back. Running with a plastic cup wasn’t that bad actually!

 Cool down walk after a 15 mile run. It always feels good to finish a long run!!
Cool down walk after a 15 mile run. It always feels good to finish a long run!!

I finished my 15 mile run close to the restaurant I was meeting a friend from my marathon training group at. The restaurant opened at 11AM, and so I patiently waited by the entrance.

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After letting the waitress know I was waiting for a friend, I was seated at a table near the cash register, and given the menu.

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LA Vegan may be a hole-in-the-wall kind of place, where most of the orders end up being take-out by the residents that live in apartments and houses nearby, but they had a variety of items to pick from their menu—everything from burgers to curry.

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When my friend joined me, we sipped on some waters and ended up talking about our marathon experience instead of looking at the menu. The waitress politely reminded us while refilling our waters, but we were quick to both order a curry dish.

I ordered the Spicy Pineapple “Shrimp” Curry, which came with a side of brown rice.

 Soy shrimp, fresh tomatoes, bell peppers, basil and pineapple in coconut milk red curry.
Soy shrimp, fresh tomatoes, bell peppers, basil and pineapple in coconut milk red curry.

I remember trying soy shrimp when I found it at a Grocery Outlet long ago…and being absolutely repulsed by it when I had it with a homemade salad. I didn’t think I could ever be a fan, but this curry helped to change my mind.

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The pineapple chunks were a great addition as well, and added some pleasant sweetness to the already-spicy coconut milk-based red curry.

Since my friend had to run some errands soon after our early lunch, she was able to offer me a ride. I asked if I could be dropped off near a ice cream/cookie place that recently-opened, because I obviously couldn’t pass up my long run dessert 😉 !

C.R.E.A.M. {cookies rule everything around me 🙂 } was where I ended up concluding my lunch, and after all this time knowing of its existence in Nor Cal (and never having the chance to stop by one of those original locations), I had the chance to try out one of their newer franchises.

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For a basic cookie ice cream sandwich (their specialty), you are able to pick two cookies, and a scoop of ice cream to get sandwiched in the middle. Oh, and of course there are toppings and sauces if you wish for that as well.

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The girl behind the counter was ready and willing to help, and even though I felt somewhat rushed when reading through all of the cookie and ice cream choices, I was happy with my ice cream-cookie sandwich choice of snickerdoodle + carnival cookie(s), green tea ice cream, and confetti sprinkles.

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I was able to eat my cookie sandwich conveniently at a table facing the door.

 Just enjoying this beautiful day...
Just enjoying this beautiful day…

The cookies were crispier than I imagined them to be, but the ice cream helped remediate that. The cookies became much more softer, especially in the middle, once in contact with the ice cream.

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Since there are plans to open up a few more C.R.E.A.M. locations, I think it would be difficult not pay these guys a visit a few more times. I think it would also be wise to keep my schedule more open when I make my visits to Nor Cal, and make time to visit the locations that started it all!

Eat This Cafe on Urbanspoon
Cream on Urbanspoon LA Vegan on Urbanspoon

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