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WHO: 99 Things That Bring Me Joy

WHAT: (19) Your all-time favorite meal, (20) Your go-to snacks


Finally I get to write again after going through a few days without power or mobile phone reception! Yes, I live in Northern California. Yes, I was affected by the mandatory rolling power outages, but, no, I do not live near any of the areas affected by the crazy wildfires. However, since I do live in the Bay Area, we are being affected by the wildfires with all of the smoke & haze blanketing our region from the major wildfire in the Sonoma-wine county area. This past weekend I had no cell signal, no power, but at least we had clean running water. In my city, we were supposed to experience a second rolling power outage this week, but thankfully the mandatory power outages are over. I can now get back to making lists about the foods I like to eat.

Thankfully these next two lists from the 99 Things That Bring Me Joy journal are the last food-related topics in the long line of lists. So, I have decided to squeeze them both into one blog post. Honestly, I don’t even know why I am even bothering to write about these next two food topics; they are so clichéd & redundant. However, because I like to do things in order, like not skipping pages of a book (in this case, a book of lists), I will not skip these two topics.


This next topic wants me to discuss my all-time favorite meal. How am I supposed to choose one favorite meal (of all-time)?! I know I can be real loosey-goosey on this topic & rattle off a small list of my top [Insert Numerical Quantity Here] favorite meals, but it’s difficult for me to even come up with a couple of favorites to throw into a randomized list. Now that I’ve learned to appreciate food flavors & have found a mild interest in cooking, I’ve grown to love many meals & dishes.

There is one meal that comes to mind that is the most memorable, but not exactly my all-time favorite. Whilst my dad was still around, I used to have a yearly birthday tradition of going to dinner with my parents at our favorite well known restaurant, & I would always order the same dish: Maine lobster tail with steamed vegetables & rice pilaf. I ordered this dish every single time we ate at this restaurant (birthday or not), & it became such a tradition for me that everyone in my family associated me & my love for eating lobster. The subject of eating this lobster dish pops up every year around my birthday, which makes it a very memorable & delicious meal.

Then again, I definitely have other non-bougie favorites as well. As for my basic all-time favorite meal, I would have to say it’s a sandwich. I grew up eating sandwiches for lunch when I was bringing brown bag, homemade lunches to school every day. So the sandwich has become a staple food on my overall favorites list. But what type of sandwich do I like best? A turkey, Swiss cheese & avocado sandwich is a tasty treat. I will also stuff a club sandwich into my pie hole (a.k.a. my mouth). I would partake in a warm & crispy reuben sandwich as well.

However, there are three sandwich types that are on my all-time top favorites list.

  1. Avocado & cream cheese on white bread sandwich: Yes, this sounds very fatty & creamy, but it’s also very simple & delicious AF! I can’t even begin to describe how delicious this basic 2 condiment sandwich is, but I just love the pairing of cream cheese & sliced avocados. I discovered this sandwich combo during my college days at a local delicatessen near my house. I once ate this exact sandwich combo every day for one whole week. It sounds disgusting, but it was a fantastic lunch week for me. This sandwich is both healthy (the avocado!) & unhealthy (the cream cheese!), & I don’t get to eat this that often, but when I do, I savor every single bite. I have made this sandwich at home a couple of times, but it’s just not the same as getting one from my local delicatessen.
  2. Roast beef on sourdough bread sandwich: This has to be my top sandwich combination. I will usually order this sandwich combo at whichever eating establishment sells sandwiches if it’s available. My favorite place to grab a roast beef sandwich is at the deli counter inside Whole Foods. When I’m there, I will load up my sandwich with lots of red onions, lots of mixed greens (sometimes I’ll add arugula too), a spread of garlic aioli (which is a fancy-schmancy term for garlic mayo), & extra Swiss cheese. It’s also gotta be on sliced sourdough bread. I’m from the San Francisco (adjacent) region of the Bay Area, so I have to give props to our world famous sourdough bread, & by the way, my go-to cheese in sandwiches is Swiss cheese. I prefer it over gruyere, jack, or cheddar. As you can see, I like to put things in my sandwiches that make my breath stink all day.
  3. French dip sandwich with au jus: This has got to be one of the more messier sandwiches I have ever eaten in my life, but it is totally worth it. I love the simplicity of this sandwich: lots of thinly sliced beef, a French roll, & a hearty bowl of au jus that tastes so good you’ll want to drink it like a soup. Dipping the savory sandwich in the au jus sauce is a must. For a meat lover such as myself, I thoroughly enjoy this meat extravaganza whenever I order this sandwich, but since I am also a “neat freak”, I simultaneously hate it when the dipping sauce drips all over my hands (especially when the roll gets soggy!). One of my favorite places to eat this French dip sandwich is at the world renowned Philippe The Original sandwich shop in Los Angeles, home of the original French dip sandwich recipe. I have only eaten at that shop once, but I am looking forward to eating at that shop again soon. Maybe I can try to convince Jian to take me there again when we visit Los Angeles again for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The next topic is about my go-to snacks. Recently, I have been trying to be more health conscious, so I am trying to not snack so much, especially between meals. However, I am very much like my mother in this category, & we both like to snack on little treats around the house. This is just one habit I cannot give up. It doesn’t help for the fact that my mom loves to buy tons of snack foods, & so we have a huge cupboard filled with crackers, chips/crisps, roasted nuts, a variety of Asian treats, chocolates, & lots of random cookies.

There was a time in recent years where my mom & I were addicted to snacking on roasted sunflower seeds. There was this Chinese brand of roasted sunflower seeds that we really liked & would practically stockpile during our grocery trips. Let me tell you, cracking the shells of sunflower seeds just to get to the teeny-tiny crunchy bit in the center is so mundane & repetitive, but it quickly becomes addictive, especially when you’re sitting in front of the telly with a piping hot cuppa tea or your favorite ice cold beverage.

When I was a kid, I didn’t like to eat candy or very many other junky foods. My favorite things to snack on were apple sauce & fruit strips. My favorite kind of fruit strips were called Fruit Roll-UpsFruit-by-the-Foot. My mom would buy these in bulk at the big box wholesale store, & I would pack one everyday in my lunch bag for school. Like I’ve said before, I was a very boring eater when I was a kid. Oh yeah, & I also loved eating pre-packaged fruit cups then drinking the very bad for you, nothing but high fructose corn syrup, juice in the fruit cup.

These days, with my more refined & matured pallet, I’ve outgrown these childish snacks & have upgraded to more sophisticated snacks like marcona almonds, sea salt & vinegar crisps/chips, & artisan cheeses. I will occasionally indulge in sweeter snacks like cookies (my two favorite brands at the moment are DounsemorBiscoff) & chocolate squares. However, I am trying to be more health conscious, & I am actively trying to not snack so much between meals. I used to snack on little things here & there all the time, & it just made me feel hungrier than if I were to restrict myself from filling my stomach with wasted junk calories.

I think I am doing a pretty good job at restricting myself from snacking in between meals. I am eating better & healthier during my main meals, & it has been curbing my cravings for nibbling on junk food. I have also stopped filling my kitchen pantry with random snacks & junk. It’s hard to transition to this healthier lifestyle, especially for a person like myself who has a major sweet tooth & a ravenous appetite for carb-filled foods, but once you build up a routine, then it just becomes like a natural habit to stay away from the junky snacks.

have gone back to eating fruit strips again, but I don’t buy the big box labels with the high sugar content anymore. I have learned to look at the labels & read the ingredients. I try to buy the brands that contain less sugar & more natural/organic ingredients, & even though I have gone back to buying one of my childhood favorite treats, I have noticed that I don’t reach for it as often as I used to. Those snacks are still there in my pantry cupboard, but I am not constantly reaching for it, which I take as a small sign of positive progress.

So, there you have it. I have concluded my blog posts about food. Even though I have talked so much about favorite foods & flavors & go-to snacks, I don’t feel that hungry. In fact, I am ready to move on to the next topic. Well, until next time, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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WHO: 99 THINGS THAT BRING ME JOY

WHAT: A COMBINATION OF FLAVORS YOU LOVE


I have not always been a fan of food, or a foodie. I do not even consider myself to be a foodie today. I do enjoy eating good food, more so now than I did as a child, & I do post pictures of certain foods on my Instagram account. However, I do not consider myself to be a foodie or any sort of connoisseur.

When I was a child, I was probably the most pickiest eater you would have ever met. Everything I ate had to be plain & boring; a bowl of white rice, all other food on my plate had to be separate & could not touch the rice. I would eat a bologna & cheese sandwich on plain white bread with no mayo or spread of any kind. Yeah, I was that kid who would eat pasta noodles straight from the strainer, no butter, no sauce.

As I got older, I had been so inexperienced in trying new foods, plus add on that I was a little chickenshit scaredy-cat, which meant that I was still a picky eater. Well, I guess I was more of a stubborn eater, only eating the foods I was familiar with. It was a good thing my mom introduced me to eating different kinds of Chinese food dishes, so I wasn’t completely living on an island of bland & boring foods.

My parents had always tried to introduce me to new cuisines & new food experiences, but I was just too stubborn to get out of my comfort zone. I didn’t travel far from the lemon-butter-garlic-herb-blah-blah-blah flavor categories, but at least by then I was now eating pasta with actual sauces. It wasn’t until I met Jian, & that was when my culinary experience really cracked wide open like an earthquake fault line.

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Image courtesy of: Google Images & Disney Pixar

When Jian & I first met, I was trying so hard to impress him, so I made myself become more culinarily explorative. Jian loved (& still loves) to eat all kinds of foods, & I was desperately trying to win his heart & hand. Therefore, I forced myself to expand my boring food pallet, & it literally changed my life & unfortunately my waistline (no exaggeration). Whenever Jian wanted to try a new restaurant or eat a different type of cuisine, I would always go along with him, & it really opened my eyes to new tastes & flavors that I deprived myself of during those years in my early twenties when I should’ve been more explorative & imaginative in the food category.

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Image courtesy of: Google Images & Disney Pixar

Since having Jian in my life, I’ve gone from eating chicken nuggets & plain french fries to eating foods I can’t even pronounce with Google Translate. I used to consider myself an American-Chinese girl who grew up eating classic American comfort foods (eg. meatloaf, hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, etc.) & the limited Chinese dishes my mom knew how to cook at home (eg. scrambled egg fried rice, rice porridge, steamed ground pork with salt cured duck eggs, etc.). However, Jian changed me & my taste buds, & now I can say that I am a Chinese-American woman who loves Southern Chinese food from Jian’s hometown, & I have stepped out of my Italian-American-Bucca-di-Beppo comfort zone to try foods from so many different regions.

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Image courtesy of: Julia Kuo, Google Images & Disney Pixar

This 99 Things That Bring Me Joy journal has asked me to list a combination of flavors I love. It’s hard to pin down which flavors I love the most, but I’ll try to list a couple of flavors that pop into mind first:

  • Ice Cream on a sugar cone: There’s just no other ice cream cone for me! The plain cone tastes like cardboard, & the waffle cone is just too sweet & turns soggy/soft way too fast.
  • Black Tea with lemon: Sorry, Brits & Hong Kongers (a.k.a. Hongkies). I’m not a tea with milk/cream type of person. I like my black or red tea with lemon. If it’s in iced form, I will sometimes add sugar, but rarely.
  • Yogurt with honey: My favorite types of yogurt are Greek & French. A little dollop of honey sweetens up the plain yogurt better than fruit preserves.
  • Seafood with those oh-so-famous lemon-butter-garlic-herb flavors: As much as I am seriously allergic to shellfish, I still love to eat it (all of it except crab). All I gotta do is pop an allergy pill beforehand & no more seized up throat. I could never stay away from my beloved lobster!
  • Chicken with the Asian garlic-ginger-oil dipping sauce, or the South African peri-peri spicy sauce: Both sauces take your mouth on a permanent vacation to flavor town!

I still won’t eat french fries with ketchup, or a hamburger with whatever restaurant’s special made sauce, but I’m more adventurous in trying new foods now. Some of my current favorite dishes come all the way from France, & one of my favorite Bay Area restaurants serves parts of an animal you wouldn’t even want to think about let alone see on your plate.

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So as I end this blog post, I am reminded of these past couple of days, when I was glued to my bed in the throes of mild food poisoning. It was my own stupidity that led me to get sick from eating improperly cooked food…food that was supposed to be of the heat-in-the-microwave-&-serve variety no less! I have finally regained my appetite after two & a half days of dry heaving & tossing my salad into the porcelain mixing bowl called a toilet. It is now time for me to officially end this post, & satisfy my newly regained ravenous appetite. Until the next meal blog post, cheers!


Oh, & P.S…. I wanted to really end this post with a beautifully delicious illustration drawn by Polish artist Elżbieta Moyski on Tumblr. Please check out her Tumblr page, & show her some love!

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Today’s song of the day:

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Two weekends ago I took a weekend road-trip to Los Angeles for my cousin’s 40th birthday. Jian & I had a blast. We were able to equally split our time with our family, our friends, & take time out for ourselves to spend alone. All in all, it was a good day weekend. (Sorry…I couldn’t resist adding in that infamous Dr. Dre song lyric.)

This might come off as a little bougie to some, but over the weekend, Jian & I ended up staying at two different hotels. For the first leg of our Los Angeles extended weekend, we stayed at a hotel called The Jeremy. The hotel is located in a great location that’s close to all of the things Jian & I like to do when we’re there, but it’s still somewhat close to the area where a majority of my relatives live. We had never stayed at this hotel before, but whenever we travel to L.A., we always hang out around that West Hollywood neighborhood.

The last time we were in L.A., this hotel was still under a ton of construction. It was still under quite a bit of remodeling & reconfiguring during the weeekend we had stayed there. Yet, even though the hotel’s layout was a little confusing during all of the reconfiguring & remodeling of their main lobby, we still had a good experience staying at that hotel. One thing I could not believe was that this hotel (The Jeremy) was the most affordable hotel we could find for that weekend (the second weekend in March). It wasn’t super cheap, but it was still affordable, & typically hotels in the West Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles are expensive no matter what time of the year it is. Here, I’ve included photos of our hotel room. It was super spacious considering it was only the two of us (& we usually share a suitcase on short trips).

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Our main objective while in Los Angeles was to attend my female cousin’s big 40th birthday party. However, we were able to take time out for ourselves to swing by all of our routine L.A. haunts, as well as checking out some new hot spots that Jian discovered while browsing the internet. Jian has a fun time window shopping at his favorite licensed Japanese clothing brand retailers (like UNION Los Angeles, VISVIM Exposition, etc.). At the same time, I have a good time of my own browsing through all the various stationery/office supply/gift shops for lots of cute Japanese branded goods. You know, I feel like since Los Angeles has a larger Japanese population there’s a much higher retail demand for Japanese branded products in those shops, compared to similar shops in the Bay Area city where I live. So, I have a much easier time finding things that catch my interest in the shops down in Los Angeles, & I like that because it saves me from having to plan a big trip abroad back to Japan or Taiwan just to satisfy my meaningless retail hunger.

[I AM JUST GOING TO INSERT A LINK OF MY SHOPPING HAUL HERE BECAUSE YOU DON’T NEED ME TO EXPLAIN IT TWICE.]

Now, as I am typing this blog post & thinking about the layout & format of my post, I am kind of, sort of regretting not taking more pictures of the delicious food we ate during our trip. I’d have a good amount of cool food pics to show you, but I ended up not taking very many photos of what we ate/drank. Part of the reason why is because I get in a lazy rut sometimes & just don’t feel like taking photos of anything, but mostly it’s because Jian has been complaining a lot lately that I spend too much time on my mobile phone taking & editing photos (especially of food & drinks) when we go out.

So, lately I have really been putting in effort to not fiddle around on my phone every three minutes while we’re out & about, especially at restaurants. If I complain about those Insta-posers who take carefully staged/posed photos of their food to get more Instagram ‘likes’, then I shouldn’t contribute to the problem by whipping out my mobile phone everytime I’m about to devour something delicious. Therefore, I’ve got nothing of interest or substance to show you in this section of my post. However, I do have a couple of rare food snapshots from a new seafood joint we discovered for the first time, located in a really cool, up-&-coming hipster shopping district called The Row DTLA. The place was called Rappahannock Oyster Bar, & it was a good Happy Hour spot for both of us to rest our feet & whet our whistles.


Here comes the par-tay! For my cousin’s birthday, her husband first took her out for a fun, intimate dinner near their house. Then, they invited all of their closest friends & family to join them at a rented music recording studio space for a laid back & casual dance party, complete with a bartender slinging simple drinks, catered food, & a really cool DJ spinning some of the best song mixes of both today & yesterday’s hits.

Aside from my cousin, the one person who was living the absolute most bestest life ever was our little 2-year old niece. This little munchkin loves to dance every chance she gets, no matter where she is. As soon as she arrived & heard the loud music, she made a beeline straight for the dance area. She could not stop running around the event space & following her mom everywhere. This girl seriously cannot live without her mom (not even dad can corral this little spitfire). She was the cutest little thing the whole night.

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Yup! That’ s my niece playing the bongos!

Jian & I had so much fun dancing the night away, & Jian actually spent the entire night nursing one margarita, while I was surprisingly chugging beers all night without feeling even one ounce of tipsiness or tiredness like I typically do if I even consume half a bottle of beer on an average day. I had such a blast singing along with most of the songs throughout the night, & Jian kept trying to sneak away to grab snacks at the catered food stand, even though we had a pretty hearty dinner right before going to the party. (I warned him not to eat too much, or else he’d get indigestion when we got back to our hotel, but he didn’t listen…as usual.) By the time we got back to our hotel room, our feet were throbbing, our thighs were feeling tight, & we were both ready to each take a super hot shower to soak our overworked (yet underused) muscles. It was all worth it though, just to see my cousin having the time of her life.


On the very last leg of our whirlwind weekend, we very quickly stayed overnight, for one night only, in my brother & sister’s southern L.A. beach neighborhood. We were both extremely disappointed that we were not able to visit & spend time with my niece & nephew, whom we are both very close to. It would have been great to spend a little time with them, especially when my niece’s birthday is coming up in one week. We knew they would’ve both loved to see us, but we were told that everyone would be busy that weekend, & it would be a huge inconvenience for her if we tried to meet up with the kids.

We had decided to switch hotels on the last days of our trip because we were planning on visiting our best friends who live in Irvine, & we didn’t want to actually stay overnight in Irvine & have to drive back to northern California from so far south. So, we thought spending one night in my siblings’ neighborhood would be a good compromise. It was a good resting point between visiting our friends, & driving home early in the morning. For our hotel choice, we decided to book a room at the same hotel we usually stay at when  we visit my siblings.

The hotel is in an extremely convenient location, approximately a five-minute drive from each of my sibling’s places, & it had recently been remodeled & re-branded under a new name, but still under the Marriott hotel chain. The new hotel name is called WestDrift, & the newly remodeled hotel rooms were roomy & comfortable as well. Surprisingly, our room’s couch was larger at the WestDrift compared to the one at The Jeremy even though this new room we were staying in was smaller, & our new room didn’t have any cheesy, skeezy hotel carpet. Hooray for hardwood floors! Here’s a peek at what our new room looked like.

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We met up with our friends on the last full day of our trip. We love spending quality time with our friends & their fun pets, just hanging out at their house, chilling on their couch & chatting while something Netflix-y is playing on the TV in the background. Our friends took us to one of their favorite sushi spots down in Irvine/Costa Mesa, & it was a cool experience. I mean, I’ve never had a piece of nigiri sushi topped with fresh garlic & a dollop of chili sauce. It was something I never expected from a traditional sushi restaurant, yet it tasted really good.

We definitely ended our trip on a high note by spending quality time with our close friends, & Jian got to bromance with his best friend. It was a great ending to a wonderfully action-packed, yet relaxing weekend. We had so much fun blending family time with personal time, & meeting up with friends from afar. Now is the time for us to buckle down at home & not travel for a while. We’ve got lots of home maintenace projects lined up for the forseeable future, so we’re going to have to put our traveling & big activities on hold temporarily, but that’s okay. We truly enjoy spending quiet time at home too. Until next time, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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