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darling-def

I recently read a book where one of the main characters was British. It made me swoon every time I heard this gent use this word “dahh-ling” as a term of endearment toward the person he loves. During my brief time spent in London, I was hoping I’d hear this word being used by a local Londoner, somebody, anybody…but alas, I was unsuccessful on that front. I’d still like to hear this absolutely adorable word being spoken by a Brit in person, rather than on TV or in a movie.

So, this word is my chosen favorite word at the moment. Whenever I hear/read this word, I can’t help but think of actress Zsa-Zsa Gabor. I just loved it every time I heard her say this word on the popular classic TV show Green Acres. When I was a kid, I used to watch repeats of Green Acres (as well as many other “oldies”) on the Nick-At-Nite channel, where they’d always show re-runs of classic TV shows from the 50s, 60s, & 70s.

I don’t know why I was so drawn to watching these older TV shows, but I just loved Zsa-Zsa Gabor & her sister Eva Gabor. Those two actresses somehow reminded me of my maternal grandmother…all of them done up in their finest clothes, with their hair perfectly coiffed, all while wearing their best jewels. Also, the theme song to the Green Acres show pretty much summed up my parents’ relationship in one catchy theme song. My mom loved to live the big city life wearing fashionable clothes & her best jewelry, while my dad liked to get down & dirty in the garden. My dad, having spent many years living in Texas, admired farm/ranch living. He could never really live on a farm or ranch himself, but he always dreamed of it. You know, my dad always loved the cowboy way of life. My mom on the other hand, was a city girl that didn’t really love the outdoors, but she tolerated it for the sake of my dad. So this show kind of reminded me of my parents a little bit, but the main actress reminded me a lot of my grandmother.

I just adored the way Zsa-Zsa Gabor would say the word “darling“…as in DAAHHH-LIIING, with a dreamy European accent. As a little kid, I would practice saying this word while looking in the mirror, hoping no one would catch me doing something so silly. To this very day, this word makes my heart flutter. It’s so incredibly romantic & sweet. I feel like I want to incorporate more British slang terms & vocabulary words into my own English vocabulary. I don’t want to come off as a cheesy Anglophile, but I think it would be kind of fun to mix things up a little. I think I might start by using the word “darling” more in my vocabulary. Well, until then, cheers mates!

Today’s song of the day:

“Run for Cover” by The Killers

run for cover

P.S. I’m going to Los Angeles to see The Killers in concert at the Staples Center! But before that, I’m going to another concert in one week to see Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats along with Kings of LeonWoah.

Even as a young child my tastes & interests were pretty much all over the place. I liked things both girls & boys liked. I wasn’t a tomboy by any stretch of the word, but I wasn’t feminine/girly either. I’m not sure how best to describe myself other than to say that my interests were split right down the middle. I can’t say that it had turned me into a balanced person, but it opened my eyes up to new interests. Let’s take a look at what I was into when I was a little tyke.

kid list

  1. One of the first toys I remember playing with as a young child was LEGOs. I remember my mom had bought me a bucket of miscellaneous pieces, & I would sit in my room & build stupid things. Not things like cars or houses like most normal kids. No, that wasn’t me. I clearly remember one time when I built a toy gun. I thought I was being badass & rebellious at that age (I was probably about 6 or 7 then). I was being really secretive about it, & when someone would pass by my room to check on me, I would pretend that I was making alphabet letters or random shapes. I was so scared that one of my siblings would notice I was making a toy gun & tattle tale on me to my mom. After building my toy gun & feeling so smug that I had made a weapon of zero destruction, I quickly took apart all of the pieces to hide the evidence of my not-so-nefarious creation.
  2. When I was a kid I used to be utterly obsessed with the cartoon character Strawberry Shortcake. I loved her, & I wanted to be just like her living in a cute house next to all of my friends with cute fruit-y dessert sounding names. I always hated it when the Peculiar Purple Pieman came to ruin all the fun & happiness. I don’t even remember how I got introduced to Strawberry Shortcake & her sweet friends. All I can remember from my childhood is that I used to own a few VHS tapes of the show & a vinyl record of the Strawberry Shortcake theme song. My aunt even hand sewn a red security blanket for me with a huge Strawberry Shortcake pattern on it. I still have that blanket to this very day, & it looks just as new as the day my aunt gave it to me. I rarely used it as a security blanket. I mostly kept it folded up & tucked away so I wouldn’t get it dirty or worn out. (So typical of me!)
  3. I remember playing with Transformers when I was a little girl. I didn’t own any of the robo-toys myself, but there was a Japanese boy who lived up the street from me who owned a few of the Japanese versions of these awesome toys, & we used to play together while our moms hung out like two chatty 「おばあさん」(Sorry, mom). This boy let me play with his Optimus Prime, while he played with his other much cooler Japanese robo-toys & kaiju toys. I also used to enjoy watching the American cartoon on TV. I didn’t understand, or care to understand, the rivalry between the Autobots & the Decepticons. All I cared about was how cool it was to have a car that morphed into a talking robot friend. By the way, my two favorite characters when I was a kid was 1. Optimus Prime because he was the cool leader, & 2. Bumblebee because he was a small-ish yellow car, & I was a small kid. 
  4. When I was a little kid, we had a male teenage cousin living with us for a couple of years. My cousin was super awesome & cool. He was like a big brother figure to me (aside from my actual brothers), & we used to play together. This cousin used to collect G.I. Joe action figures when he was younger along with MAD Magazine comics. I wanted to play with him & my older siblings, so I got into this line of toys so that we could have a common interest. Of course, I wanted to get all the female action figures, even if they were on the enemy Cobra team. My cousin had tons of these action figures, & I only had one…the lady with the white ski outfit & the removable skiis, which my cousin always reminded me not to loose the skis for my action figure or else he wouldn’t let me play with his G.I. Joe figures anymore. I don’t know why I chose that figure in particular. I just wanted something I could play with alongside my cousin. Did I mention that I also watched this cartoon as well? I used to watch tons of cartoons as a child. My family, especially my generation, revolved around the television set.
  5. My sister’s (biological) dad used to work in the import-export industry, & he used to work with Sanrio, the company that started the Hello Kitty trend. My sister’s dad used to send her a bunch of free Hello Kitty stuff like stationery & toys, & when she got older, she would pass down her stuff to me that she didn’t want. That’s partly how I became utterly obsessed with all things Sanrio. It also helped that my aunts & uncles in Japan would send my dad care packages & include a few Hello Kitty toys for me. I loved watching the Hello Kitty & Friends TV show, & had a few VHS tapes of the movies. Then, when I was in Kindergarten, I met a Japanese girl in my class who had the same interests as I did. She lived in my neighborhood, & our parents became close friends. Since both of our dads were Japanese living in an American suburban neighborhood, they were able to speak Japanese to each other, & that brought our families closer together. This girl quickly became my best friend & our mutual love of all things Hello Kitty strengthend our bond. Even after my friend moved back to Japan in the 3rd grade, our families still keep in touch. 
  6. Go Bots is like the red-headed, black sheep, wannabe, lesser counterpart to TransformersTransformers fans absolutely crush Go Bots to oblivion, & it’s kind of taboo to say you like both toy/cartoon franchises. I liked Go Bots about as much as I liked Transformers. I loved how cars & other vehicles could morph into talking robots. Like I mentioned before, I was super into watching cartoons when I was a kid, so it was only natural that I watched this cartoon as well. I pretty much watched all of the cartoon hit shows.
  7. I really liked Rainbow Brite. I had a Rainbow Brite doll, & I loved braiding her yellow yarn string hair. I also loved her rainbow colored outfit with the pink-ish/blue-ish iridescent colored skirt, & the cute little star tattoo on her cheek (like a little beauty mark). I was into Rainbow Brite around the same time that I discovered the TV show Punky Brewster. I loved how they both wore colorful clothes & went on awesome adventures. I used to play with my Rainbow Brite doll & pretend that she was my little sister.
  8. How did I ever discover Thor, of all characters? This was right around the age when I started to have crushes on boys & was practically infatuated with any male star on TV (like actor Scott Baio when he appeared on Happy Days as Fonzi‘s cousin Chachi). I think I had somewhat of a crush on this beefy, blonde Norse god, but I was mostly envious of Thor’s winged helmet & powerful hammer, which I used to call a mallot (don’t ask me why). I sooo wanted a winged helmet like Thor’s helmet . There’s not much else I can say about why I liked Thor of all the action hero characters from the 80s and so on. I just thought he was super cool, & I kind of wanted long, shiny hair like him.
  9. OK. My love of Care Bears is a whole lot easier to explain. All the kids in my family loved Care Bears. When my siblings, cousins, & I were all younger kids, I’m not sure who decided this, but we were all assigned a specific Care Bears character to be our personal mascot. Mine was Friendship Bear, the bright pink bear with the rainbow 🌈  on its tummy. I loved how cheerful & happy this character was. (I’m like my 9-year old nephew in a lot of ways, mostly because we don’t like sad or negative scenarios. We like happy endings & positive scenes.) When we were all younger, each of us kids had our own Care Bears stuffed animal & toys, & some of my cousins also had Care Bears security blankets & stuffed pillows sewn by my aunt. All of us as kids watched the Care Bears movies & TV shows. We played with all of the posable action figures & Play-Doh putty kits. It just became our “thing”. I’m not sure of the origins & how this all came about, but I remember this Care Bears theme running in our family when we were all young kids.
  10. So, for this explanaition I’m going to lump He-ManShe-Ra together. Yes, they go together anyway since they’re both siblings. However, I will confess that when I was a little kid, I thought He-Man She-Ra were boyfriend & girlfriend. I had no idea until I was a teenager that they were actually brother & sister. When I was little, I pretended that He-Man She-Ra were dating. Well, I ended up scratching that childhood memory once I learned they couldn’t exactly date each other. I loved He-Man sooo much when I was a kid. I guess I had a thing for blonde super heroes because I also really liked He-Man‘s blond hairstyle in this cartoon. The bowl cut reminded me of so many Asian boys that went to my primary school. My favorite Masters of the Universe character had to be Cringer at the time. He was such a wimpy lil’ chicken shit, & I could totally relate to that because when I was 8 years old, I also was way too wimpy & mousy to do anything outside of my comfort zone. (That’s also probably why I loved Scooby-Doo because he was a wimp too.) I also was super in love with She-Ra‘s horse Spirit, but especially when it turned into a rainbow-colored magical unicorn (a.k.a. Swifty). I remember having a He-Man & a She-Ra action figure when I was a kid. I wanted a Battle Cat figure, but my mom said it was too ugly, plus I didn’t like Cringer’s face, so I ended up getting a Swifty figure instead & was so pumped when I could play with it in the bathtub & pretended it was a swan that could swim. Yes, I was a weirdo back when I was a mere 8-years old. (I once also jumped into the bathtub with my socks on when my sister dared me to do it. If anyone tried to dare me to do that now, I would probably scream bloody murder & physically attack that person for even suggesting such an aggregious act of barbarianism.) My most fondest memory of my childhood was one time when I forced my parents to take me to the event center to watch He-Man On Ice. I also made them buy me a light-up plastic He-Man souvenir sword that would say “By the power of Gray Skull…” when you pressed a button on the hilt. I also got one of those souvenir flashlights with the fiberglass strings at the end that spun around when you pressed on the button. Looking back on my childhood now, I can’t even begin to decipher why I wanted to be like He-Man (& not She-Ra). I wanted to be a blonde buff guy with a bowl haircut & a wimpy, chicken shit green tiger sidekick.
  11. Last but not least, I had to say one of my most favorite toys was a pair of expandable plastic roller skates that weren’t even real roller skates at all. They were clip on roller skate wheels that you attached to your shoes & could barely  skate around the concrete patio in your backyard. I found a great commercial on YouTube to show the awesomeness that were Fisher-Price roller skates (a.k.a. “practice skates”).

I would put on these skates every day & ride around in my backyard, pretending I was cool & like I was in an imaginary race with other skaters. I wore these skates out. I was so excited when I found out they were adjustable & I could expand them to fit my growing, yet still small, feet. I wore them until my feet could no longer fit in them. Then my mom gave them away to a lady she knew who had little kids of her own, but couldn’t afford to buy toys like this. When I wore these Fisher-Price roller skates around my backyard, I thought I was so badass doing some sort of extreme sport. That just goes to show how crazy my imagination was, even at such a young age.

You see, even at a small age, I was able to stretch my imagination, even if it was beyond far fetched & dumb. I’ve always said, especially to myself with my own inner thoughts, that I have an overactive imagination. That’s what fuels me to write. It’s what motivated me to start a real blog. Many moons ago, I used to have a failed LiveJournal account. I also tried to start a so-called blog on Facebook when they once had a notes feature. At least on Facebook, I was once able to write 100 consecutie notes in a daily challenge I set for myself. It’s all of these things from when I was a kid that propelled me to where I am today, writing this blog post for you. I hope you enjoy, & this somehow takes you back to when you were a child & gets you to think about what kinds of toys & characters inspired your inner child. Until then, cheers mates!!

Today’s song of the day:

“Wait for the Moment” by Vulfpeck

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Hamburger on wood table ,sun flare filter effect

Yesterday I sort of half-assed celebrated Memorial Day by firing up the grill & cooked Ball Park franks (a.k.a. hot dogs) & hamburgers. You can’t go wrong with traditional hot dogs & hamburgers. I’ve eaten them all of my life, from being in the Girl Scouts & going to scout retreats, to grabbing an expensive bite to eat at the baseball park, to going on yearly camping trips with my family.

It’s been so cussing long since I’ve had a really good hamburger. I can’t even remember the last time I ate a hamburger that made me speechless. Until yesterday. Let me just tell you that I love eating hamburgers (& sandwiches, but that’s a whole other story). I could eat hamburgers almost every single day (right along with sandwiches). Hamburgers give me life~! However, I think I should explain a little more about my love for hamburgers.

If you’ve read my older blog posts, you will already know that I’m kind of a “Plain Jane” when it comes to food. I’m not big on saucy foods, & hamburgers, well…you can probably guess where this is going. I don’t like sauce or spreads on my hamburgers. No mayonnaise. No ketchup. No aioli. No cock sauce (a.k.a. Sriracha hot sauce). I like my hamburgers the old fashioned way, with no frou-frou dressings &/or toppings. Just a regular, plain ol’ hamburger with cheese (yes, I know that’s called a cheeseburger).

I’m not really a fan of those special toppings like bacon, avocado, fried eggs, caramelized onions, & the like. Call me bland & boring. I don’t mind. I know I am. Why can’t I enjoy my hamburger with nothing else except cheese, preferably American or Cheddar, & sliced onions? Ok, sometimes, but not often, I will slip in a few slices of lettuce &/or tomatoes, but that’s about as far as I’ll go in terms of burger toppings. I’d much rather taste the flavor of the patty meat over the overwhelming flavor of extra toppings. Plus, I hate it when you take a bite of your hamburger & all of the unecessary extras fall out from the bottom of the buns, & you gotta scoop up half of your sloppy, messy burger like you’re eating a Chipotle burrito bowl. Just give me a juicy patty, cheese, & onions on a well-toasted brioche bun & I’ll be happy for the rest of my days.

Yesterday was the first time in a long time in which I had a delicious, fresh off the grill, no frills hamburger, & it practically knocked my socks off. I was so much in heaven while eating my burger, I scarfed it down in less than 6 bites. I was enjoying my delicious patty sandwich so much that I didn’t even speak at all, just quietly sat at the kitchen table & proceeded to cry with joy on the inside. I almost wanted to break out into song & dance just to show how happy I was at eating a hamburger. All I can say is that I ended up wolfing down TWO hamburgers without even blinking an eye. No really, I don’t think I even blinked the entire time I ate my hamburgers.

I wish I had taken a photo of my hamburger, but I was too busy enjoying it to bother with my smartphone camera. This is my usual setup for making a delicious hamburger:

  1. bottom bun
  2. beef patty
  3. 1 or 2 slices of cheese (lettuce & tomato is optional)
  4. lots & lots of sliced onion (preferably white onion, but red onion is OK too)
  5. top bun

I don’t mind if I’m eating a hamburger at a restaurant & they put their own sauce on the buns. I am not so picky that I will scrape the sauce off. I will eat the burger with sauce. The only thing I will remove on a restaurant hamburger is the pickles. I do not like pickles whatsoever. I’m sorry, I just can’t even with pickled/fermented vegetables. If I order a hamburger at a restaurant, I’d like to believe that I’m not one of those types of people who ask to have toppings substitued or taken off. I’ll just order the hamburger as listed on the menu. If there’s anything I don’t like on the hamburger, I’ll just discreetly take it off when the hamburger reaches my table. Otherwise, I’ll just eat the restaurant hamburger the way it was served. If I’m at home however, I’ll just eat my hamburgers plain, as shown in the short list above.

Today, I had hamburgers yet again. Jian fired up the grill to cook the remaining beef patties we had leftover from yesterday. We’re leaving for Los Angeles on Thursday, so we’re trying to clean out the refrigerator as much as we can before our weekend trip. To be honest, I did a little happy dance in my head when I ate hamburgers again today. Honestly, I could eat hamburgers again & again for the rest of the week & not be tired of them. As long as I can pile on the mounds & mounds of freshly sliced onions & stack up the cheese inbetween that freshly toasted bun, I will be a happy camper. I can’t wait to indulge in hamburgers again. Until then, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

“I Second That Emotion” by Smoky Robinson & The Miracles

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I never knew I’d fall in love like this. I never knew how closed-minded I was until now. I used to be so set in my ways & opinions. I always stood my ground on my opinion that Tokyo was my most favorite city in the whole world & no other place could come close in comparison. Man, I really proved myself wrong on so many levels during this past trip to London. London completely blew my mind away & has quickly become my new favorite city in the whole world. I know that’s quite a bold statement to make, but I cannot stress enough how much & how strongly I’ve fallen in love with this incredible city!

First things first, I would like to address one small elephant in this blog post. Jian doesn’t do tourist traps or stuffy museums, but he wholeheartedly went for it on this trip. I guess it helped that all of our friends, who at one point in their lives lived in London, strongly encouraged us to take advantage of the free admission at museums & soak up all the rich British history. Another interesting thing I wanted to note, Jian was the one who was most looking forward to eating & exploring all the food options in London, but came back feeling a little disappointed with his food experiences. I, on the other hand, was not expecting too much culinary-wise. I was excited to try a few traditionally British foods like fish & chips & meat pie, but otherwise I was mostly hoping I wouldn’t get sick on this trip since sometimes I can get a sensitive stomach (e.g. my first trip to New York). However, I was the one who ended up having the most fun eating my way around London. I mostly loved all of the food we ate, while Jian had a few critiques here & there.

I wish I had taken a few more food photos, but I’m not one of those exasperating “foodies” (I detest that term) who takes a hundred trendy food selfies at restaurants & food trucks. I can’t stand it when people, especially from my generation, spend more time artfully arranging the food & taking photos than actually enjoying eating the mother cussing food. I will say there was one incident when Jian & I were eating supper at a seafood restaurant, & a group of middle-aged women from Hong Kong were not only behaving obnoxiously but also being downright inconsiderate to the other diners at the nice restaurant by walking around their table taking flash photography (with a creepy plastic toy doll) & talking loudly. Jian was about to turn around & tell these ladies in Cantonese to stop taking photos, but by that time we were nearly done with our dinner & he didn’t want to start a fight with feisty middle-aged Cantonese women who won’t back down from confrontation. Other diners had asked the waiter if he could politely ask the ladies to turn off the flash on their smartphone cameras. These ladies were extremely inconsiderate, & im glad we left before they could annoy us even more.

I truly enjoyed our food experiences in London, even though Jian was disappointed at times. We really got to try a variety of foods which kind of surprised me because I was expecting that we’d eat more pub food, but there were so many culinary choices just around our hotel alone that we had no problems choosing a place to eat. There’s still a lot of food I would love to go back & try, but I think what we had was a goog first time exploration of food.

  • We ate Japanese ramen twice at 2 different places. First at Bone Daddies Ramen Bar, then at Shoryu. Bone Daddies was one of the meals that really let us down. We were not happy with the ramen at all. The broth was bland & the noodles were mediocre. The only part of the ramen I liked was the grilled corn I added to my ramen. Shoryu on the other hand was a hands-down winner. Our friends were seriously pushing us to eat there, so we caved in & took their recommendation & was not disappointed. The ramen chef at Shoryu came directly from Japan to open up his first International restaurant, & it was a success. I have to say though, the hitting of a taiko drum every time someone walked in to the restaurant was a little cheesy. Other than that, the ramen was pretty good.

Hakata-style ramen from Shoryu

  • Sticking to the topic of noodles, we also ate Vietnamese Phở for lunch one day. There is a hip-looking Vietnamese restaurant one block down the street from our hotel, & we passed by it several times before actually eating there. There was one day when Jian was seriously hungover from overly drinking the night before. I was feeling the effects of the alcohol as well, but was by no means hungover. (I don’t know how I managed to avoid a hangover while Jian had a nasty hangover.) All we wanted was a nice, hot plate of comfort food to ease Jian’s hangover symptoms, so we opted for a bowl of Phở. Jian was disappointed with his Bún bò Huế, saying it was too salty, but I thoroughly enjoyed my regular Phở. I’m not really a fan of the Northern Vietnamese thick noodles, but it was a good cure for all the crazy antics we got up to the night before.
  • We also ate traditional pub fare at a place where I forgot the name, but apparently it was located in an historical building that was built from the 1800s. Jian got what he wished for & had the quintessential bangers & mash, while I had a steaming hot chicken pot pie. We washed that down with 2 pints of beer & rested our tired feet after walking all day. The food was hearty & gave us our second wind back so we could head out for a night of bar crawling.
  • We ate fish & chips at a pub (Princess of Wales, I think that’s what the place was called) on one of our first full days in London, right after I recovered from my short allergy spell the day before. We shared a small platter of fish & chips along with a pint of pale ale for him & a pint of cider for me (because I love apples). I love how the cod batter was crispy but didn’t taste greasy. I was nervous before the trip that I’d end up eating too much greasy fried food on this trip, but I was lucky enough to adjust my eating habits.
  • One of our favorite meals was at a restaurant called Blacklock. I would probably call this place a modern chop house, definitely a carnivore’s paradise. We ate so many different types of “chops” at Blacklock, we ended up eating there twice on our trip. Also, the cocktails were only 5£, so there’s that too. The chops were perfectly cooked, & they come in different sizes, so you can eat a variety of meats without stuffing yourself silly. They had small 3oz portions they called “skinny chops” that most diners ordered a platter of them to share, so Jian & I did just that. We had a varietyof beef, lamb, & pork cuts plus a side of beef drippings chips (a.k.a. French fries cooked in beef gristle). The beef drippings chips were by far the best French fries I’ve ever eaten in my life, & I can say that with complete confidence.

 

super yummy menu from Blacklock

  • Who knew that we’d end up eating Scandinavian open-faced sandwiches in London? Well, we also didn’t expect to visit London during one of the country’s most important holidays: Easter. On Easter Sunday, most shops & restaurants were obviously closed, except for a few Sunday Roast places which requires advanced reservations. However, we found one Scandinavian deli, called Scandinavian Kitchen, that was open for lunch, & we wanted to eat something light so we’d have some energy for the day but also an appetite for dinner & supper. The open-faced sandwiches were amazing. I could not believe how much caviar they put on their smoked salmon sandwich!! I mean, they put a heaping dollop of delicious caviar! In America, caviar is extremely expensive. It’s also considered a high society, upper-crust delicacy, not meant for the lower-crust masses. So, when I saw how much caviar this deli used on their extremely inexpensive open-faced sandwiches, I was blown away. Although this was a casual, on-a-whim lunch, this was one of our most memorable meals…props to the caviar!
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example of Scandinavian Kitchen’s open-faced sandwiches courtesy of Yelp.com

  • On our very first day, touching the soils of London, we ate at a restaurant called Mac & Wild. It was very basic British fare, but it was so well made, it was Jian’s most memorable & most favorite meal of our entire trip. We shared a cup of beef broth, which Jian vividly recalls came in an actual mug, & it was a broth made from beef bones & slow cooked for 48 hours. I ordered a grilled polenta dish & Jian ordered a lamb dish,  up it was the cup of beef broth that really made the meal special. I was having really bad allergies that day with a runny, sniffling, stuffed up nose & low energy, so a cup of soup was just the ticket to help me recover faster.

exterior of Mac & Wild

  • Remember when I mentioned those annoying ladies taking personal photos at the seafood restaurant? Well, how about I talk about that seafood restaurant instead? It was called Wright Brothers, & it was the best seafood we’ve had in a long time. I mean based on the value, it was well worth the stuffed bellies & food coma. We paid 59£ for a deluxe seafood platter which included: razor clams, snails w/ shell, mussels, clams, langoustines, shrimp w/ head, oysters, & a whole crab. According to London Yelp standards, this place is supposed to be expensive, like $$$$ (4 dollar signs) expensive, but look. Jian & I are from San Francisco, California where the price of everything is eye-popping expensive, so these prices did not seem that crazy to us. We had a great time feasting on this culinary explosion from the sea. Then, we were just insane enough to order a side of pomme frites (a.k.a. a fancy French term for fries/chips), which we could barely eat because we were already stuffed to the gills. Oh God, I just realized I wrote a lame pun there.
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the deluxe platter (a.k.a. seafood explosion) at Wright Brothers

  • Oh I just have to mention my new favorite bake shop called Crosstown Doughnuts!! Once you have a doughnut (I don’t like to say “donut”) from Crosstown, you’ll NEVER go back to Krispy Kreme, or Dunkin, or Voodoo, or Blue Star, or Mr. Holmes ever again. I know that’s an awfully bold statement to make, but I will proclaim it proudly, here & now. I am a huge fan of doughnuts. I’ve been eating them ever since I was a little kid & my mom would bring home a box of a dozen doughnuts from Happy Doughnuts (a former chain shop in the Bay Area). After Krispy Kreme’s popularity skyrocketed, Happy Doughnuts closed a lot of their locations, & I never found a doughnut shop that I liked after that. It wasn’t until I took a trip to Portland, Oregon, when I found a renewed love for doughnuts. No, I did not go to the severely over-hyped Voodoo Doughnuts (just one look at their photos & I knew there’s too much sickly sweetness in their kitschy doughnuts). I went to Blue Star Doughnuts, & I was so surprised at how much I enjoyed eating doughnuts. I was never able to find a comparable doughnut in the California Bay Area since then. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse is pretty close I guess. They do have a good quality doughnut batter, but it wasn’t until I traveled halfway across the country, when this doughnut changed my life forever. So fresh, so delicious, & not overly sweet. I really wanted to eat Crosstown doughnuts everyday for breakfast, but Jian wouldn’t let me, so we only ended up eating there twice. I did, however, manage to stop by there on the day we were leaving & grab 2 more doughnuts to bring back home. Yes, folks. I was so in love with these doughnuts, & so determined, that I hand-carried these 2 doughnuts (one classic glazed & one chocolate truffle) on the plane & brought them home with me. I was so surprised that not only did these doughnuts maintain their shape, but also their freshness. I didn’t eat the doughnuts immediately. I put them in a food saver container & ate them 2 days later. It sounds gross the way I’m describing it, but let me tell you, they were still good days later.
  • Aside from eating whole meals, we also ate many delicious snacks along the way. One such snack that blew our minds came from a Jamón Iberico butcher/deli shop 2 blocks down the street from our hotel called Enrique Tomas Jamon Iberico Shop. Most places in the United States (like an artisanal butcher shop, Spanish restaurant, or even Costco) that offer this fatty, salty, delicious cured ham treat sell a few slivers for nearly an arm & a leg. This specific cured ham charcuterie is muy caro! For example, my brother took my mom to a Spanish restaurant in San Diego for her birthday. He ordered the Jamón Iberico,  & SIX slices cost him $300 USD!! My mom nearly fainted at the price. Costco, the giant American megastore also sells this jamón in a slim, 5oz, shrink wrapped package for $26 USD. On our trip to London, we kept walking past this jamón deli everyday & promising ourselves that we would eat there at least one time before we go home. Jian & I are huge fans of charcuterie meats, especially Jamón Iberico & prosciutto, so it was only a matter of time before we ended up at this place,  which was packed from floor to ceiling with different types of jamón & different cuts lining the display window enticing our senses. One late night we were walking back to our hotel to retire for the evening. Lots of shops had already long since closed & many restaurants were also preparing to call it a night. We were walking by the jamón shop when the guys working there noticed us staring from across the street. They shouted at us to come inside & grab a few slices. I was all for it, but Jian stopped me saying that we shouldn’t bother them if they were closing for the night. The 2 guys said they didn’t mind staying open for us, so we ran across the street to grab a late night snack. We chose a cone of jamón bits, & to our shock, it only cost us 7£!!!! What in the world?! Did we slip into an alternate universe where everything was affordable priced?! We paid for our delicious ham, profusely thanked the gentlemen who were so kind to stay & chat with us for a bit before closing. We brought our special ham back to our hotel, plopped our tired derrières at the Lobby Bar counter & continued our late night with some phenomenal cocktails to pair with our cured treat. Not only because of the extremely affordable price, but also because of its sheer deliciousness, I will never forget this experience for as long as I live.

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

  • Have I ever mentioned how much Jian & I love to drink coffee? We love this artisanal craft roast coffee movement that’s popular right now, but we will also patronize big box chain Starbucks, & if need be will grudgingly drink instant coffee. We wouldn’t call ourselves coffee snobs, even though we hail from San Francisco, one of the epicenters of the artisanal coffee roasting trend. However, we do appreciate a good quality coffee bean roast. Of course some of the best & most memorable/life changing coffee we’ve ever had was in Portland, Oregon. We probably had coffee at least twice a day when we visited Portland. We also bought several bags of beans to bring home. How could you not drink coffee in Portland when you’re right at the heart of the artisanal coffee trend, with the likes of Heart, Barista, Coava, Stumptown, Sterling, & many more of coffee roasting’ greatest hits. We’ve also had some pretty good coffee in Hong Kong at Omotesandō Koffee & The Coffee Academics. We’ve also tried coffee in Japan right at the start of their craft coffee movement at notable places such as: Streamer Coffee, Identity Coffeebar + Gallery, Little Nap Coffee Stand, Be A Good Neighbor. Who knew we’d extend our craft coffee tour in London with some awesome coffee from Soho Grind, TAP Coffee, Caravan Coffee, & shops like Flat White & Kaffeine. Oh man, every morning we looked forward to having breakfast with a hot cuppa joe. Jian’s caffeinated drink of choice is usually a macchiato, & I like to drink lattes, but we both fell in love with flat whites (not necessarily from the shop Flat White). Flat whites are my new favorite espresso drink. My favorite part about drinking coffee in London is that their coffee cup sizes are the exact same as in Asia, especially Japan….small. A regular cup size of take away coffee in London is still slightly smaller than a child/junior/short size in America. I love that because it’s so much more manageable than the average small cup size back home. For example, when I order coffee at Starbucks, I always choose the child size, which they call a short size. I still can never fully finish this cup, & by the time I reach the bottom, the coffee has already become soggy/watered-down & cold. The coffee sizes in London are small enough that you get just the right amount of a caffeine fix to power you through the morning & the spdrink stays hot until you reach the bottom of the cup.
  • One of the last meals we ate before we had to pack up our suitcases & head home was a nice little chain restaurant called Burger & Lobster. From what I’ve heard, this restaurant started in New York City, but they’ve opened a few locations scatered around central London. We ate at the Harvey Nichols department store in the exclusive Belgravia district/neighborhood. Jian ordered the traditional lobster roll, while I went for the more meatier whole lobster. Both of our lobster dishes came with a cup of refreshing mixed greens salad & a side of French fries. The lobster was delicious, & you probably don’t already know this but I am a huge fan of lobster. I mean, it’s my favorite type of seafood. However, I’d definitely say my favorite part of the dish was the super creamy clarified butter sauce that came with my lobster. The eatery gives you a hearty portion in a gravy boat perfect for dipping your lobster meat, or for slathering your entire plate in a fatty, buttery gravy. I thoroughly enjoyed eating my whole lobster. It’s my favorite way to enjoy lobster, but I dislike when the shell is too hard to crack. I was having a really difficult time cracking my lobster shell, mostly because the shell, especially the claw, was so thick. It was quite literally as hard as a rock. I was almost tempted to ask for a hammer/mallot, or just place the claw on the floor & smash it with my foot. But…I perservered & kept going. Eventually, after soaking my figertips in clarified butter, I was able to finish my entire lobster from head to tail. If I ever get a chance to go back to New York, I would really like to track down the original chain of Burger & Lobster, if they’re still around in the States.
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photo courtesy of Yelp.com

 

 

I will sum up our London food exploration by saying I had a great time eating my way through London. Jian, however, was quite dissatisfied & unenthused about the food. He felt some of the food we ate was a bit too salty or bland. Not very many dishes wowed him, except for the bone broth soup from Mac & Wild & possibly the seafood platter from Wright Brothers. Let me just say in Jian’s defense, that he’s not a picky eater, but he is hard to impress. I, on the other hand, am a picky eater, but I’m not hard to impress, usually. I went on this trip with the preconceived idea that I would not find very many things that I would like to eat. I was putting doubts in my own mind, making myself think that there would be a lot of weird or exotic food that maybe Jian would want to try, but I would not be interested in. That was not the case, at all. I pretty much loved all the things we ate (except for the Bone Daddies ramen). There are a few places, like Yauatcha, The Breakfast Club, The Duck & Rice, & Blanchette for example, that I’d like to go back & try.

Stay tuned for more of my London vacation blog! This food exploration was only the begining… Until then, cheers mates!

Today’s song of the day:

“Friendship (Is A Small Boat In The Storm) by Chicano Batman

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I once read this quote somewhere. Perhaps in a magazine, or a book, or on the Internet. I’m not quite sure anymore. I’ve had a grainy, low quality photo of this quote saved on my smartphone photo library for quite a few years, & it’s always intrigued & fascinated me. I don’t know much about the explorer Jacques Cousteau, only whatever minor facts I’ve learned through pop culture references & the ever-popular movie The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (starring actors Bill Murray & Jeff Goldblum, with music by Seu Jorge).

Even though I am not a fan of the ocean, or the sea, or much of any body of water…except bath water, I fell in love with this quote. When I first read this quote, my first impression was that I thought the quote was about selfishness. The more I read this quote (to myself), the more I began to understand its meaning, & I now feel as though this quote fits the meaning behind this blog.

If I have an opportunity to lead any sort of life…not just an extraordinary one…but any sort of life I can feel proud of, then why not share it? Why should I keep it to myself? That’s one of the reasons why I started to write a blog in the first place. I want to share bits & pieces of myself with anyone who is willing to listen (or read, for that matter). I am not too concerned about the content of my blog posts. I’m not setting up my blog to be some insightful, radical view of the world. I’m writing my blog to share my tiny little bubble with the rest of the world. So, I’ve decided to share this quote with whoever’s reading this, & I say…DON’T KEEP THINGS TO YOURSELF. Cheers.

Today’s song of the day:

“Headlight” by MONKEY MAJIK

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