You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘memories’ tag.

time to play

If you follow me on Instagram, then you already know that I purchased a journal/book called “99 Things That Bring Me Joy”. I’ve already finished this journal, & I will say that it was a challenge towards the end. This journal of lists really made me think long & hard for thoughtful & meaningful answers. I didn’t want to just write down the first thing that came to mind, or make up something, or stretch/embellish the truth just to fill a blank page. I actually, genuinely wanted to write real & truthful answers that portrayed the many unique sides of my inner personality. There are some answers to some list topics that made me uncomfortable, but I still wrote down the most honest answer, even if the answers I chose were embarrassing.

The first third of this journal contained pretty straight-forward, soft-pitch topics about things of my childhood that brought back so many fun & interesting memories for me. The first list topic was called “Childhood toys you loved”. Here are my answers…

childhood toys

…But to dive deeper into each item, let me explain here.

care bear graphic

“Cheer Bear” from Care Bears

When I was a child, growing up, all of the kids in my family loved the Care Bears. We loved watching the animated movies & play with all of the toys. I have no idea who’s idea it was to collect all of the Care Bears stuffed toys, but we collected them all as one whole family, & each family member got to pick one of the bears to be their personal mascot. My cousins all assigned my mascot to be Cheer Bear because they knew I loved the color pink, & that bear’s logo was a cutesy rainbow. At that time, in the mid to late 80s, we had two cousins, one boy & one girl, who were still in diapers. So, they were clearly assigned the mascots of Baby Hugs Baby Tugs.

Besides having all of the plastic posable figurines, Play-Doh kits, & stuffed animals, my aunt sewed us each Care Bears mascot pillow toys & baby blankets…except my baby blanket was the only one that wasn’t Care Bears themed. My baby blanket was actually Strawberry Shortcake themed, & it was also sewn by my amazing aunt. I still have my hand-sewn baby blanket to this very day, & keep it well taken care of.

I still remember each of my siblings & cousins would have our own Care Bears stuffed bear, & we would all bring our stuffed toys to family gatherings at our grandmother’s house, which was the central hub for all of our family get-togethers & summer holiday vacations. Whatever happened to my Cheer Bear stuffed animal, I’m not entirely sure. I remember later on in its life a few mysterious brown stains appeared on it, & eventually my mom donated it to some place like the Salvation Army or Good Will, & I never saw that stuffed bear ever again.


f-p camper van

Fisher-Price camper toy

This camper toy was one of my favorite toys when I was a kid. My mom never really allowed me to have too many toys when I was growing up. She didn’t like a messy house, & she was always nagging me to put away my toys. I clearly remember this being one of my most treasured toys because I loved how you could stow everything away into a nice little camper, & then you could take everything out & pop out the camper hood.

I loved making up make-believe stories about these little, creepy Fisher-Price dolls that came with this toy. It gave me hours of entertainment, especially since I was already taking camping trips with my family at that age, & I already understood what it was like to pack everything into your car & go camping. It was, however, very shocking to me as a child when I learned that my mom had given my toy away to another friend’s child, even before I had ever grown out of it.


hello kitty dollhouse

Hello Kitty doll house

This Hello Kitty dollhouse was my all-time favorite childhood toy. I’ve very literally been a fan of Hello Kitty & all of her Sanrio friends since I was a little kid. This dollhouse was one of the very first Hello Kitty toys I ever owned. I loved how you could pack up everything inside the dollhouse, & it had a handle on the top so you could move this toy anywhere around the house. I can’t remember when or where I got it, if it came from one of my uncles back in Japan, or if my parents bought it for me at what was formerly known as Sunshine Station, but now renamed to Sanrio Surprises.

When I was a child, I used to get a lot of my sister’s hand-me-down Sanrio school supplies & toys, so it was always a special treat for me when my parents would take me to the Sunshine Station store to buy my very own Hello Kitty themed toy. My favorite part of this dollhouse was that it had a garage, & you could keep the family car inside of it. I also loved playing with the swing, & I especially loved the gate because when you would open the gate, the little row of flowers would pop up from the fence.

As I got older, I tried my best to keep this dollhouse from being donated or thrown away, always thinking in the back of my mind that I would one day pass this down to my future child. Little did I know that my parents had kept this dollhouse for me, but it had eventually gotten so rotted & disfigured from various rodents & bugs creating nests & chewed up holes, that I had to throw it away. Here is a sad & depressing photo of the aftermath of the ravaging effects of careless neglect.

IMG_4600.jpg


rainbow brite

Rainbow Brite

I can never remember how I ever discovered half of the toys I used to own when I was a child. My memory often fails me. I don’t even remember watching the Rainbow Brite cartoons when I was growing up, & trust me, I watched a ton of TV when I was younger. (My siblings & I were always glued to the TV…especially after the invention of the MTV music channel.)

I was not a fan of dolls or playing with dolls when I was growing up. I went through an extremely short phase of playing with Barbie dolls, but I never had dolls that I would actively play with. Yet somehow I just loved this Rainbow Brite doll so much. I used to imagine wearing her brightly colored, shiny metallic clothes, & have long beautiful hair like the character did.


lego bricks

I mentioned before in a previous blog post that when I was a kid, I once tried to build a fake gun out of my miscellaneous LEGO bricks. Of course, that nefarious weapon never came to be, & I ended up just making an ‘L’ shaped object & only pretended that it was a gun. I was too chicken to actually make things like guns & swords out of my LEGO bricks.

When I was a kid, I had a medium sized bucket of miscellaneous LEGO bricks that had a lid & a handle on it. I remember my mom buying it for me from the Toys ‘R’ Us toy store. I never made anything interesting or useful out of my bricks. I would make simple things like a basic house or try to make a large tower by stacking as many of the bricks together as I could.

The one memory I have about my tub of LEGO bricks that really stands out in my mind is of me playing on the floor of my bedroom, which was covered in a processed-cheese-yellow colored shag carpet from the 1970s. I would dump out my bricks onto the floor & just spend hours making shapes with my bricks. My mom would periodically walk by my bedroom, mostly to check if I was making a huge mess or not, & she would always scold me to put all of my bricks back into the tub, or else she would take them away. I was always careful to make sure every single brick was picked up after I played with them, mostly because I was scared of my mom’s strictness, but also because I didn’t want her to take away &/or give away more of my precious toys.


no photo available stock image.png

When my dad’s brothers were still alive, they would send us care packages from Japan all the time. Whenever we went to visit my aunts & uncles in Japan, they would send us home with lots of snacks & souvenirs. Also, when they would visit our home, they would always bring fun Japanese treats.

I remember an uncle (one of my dad’s older brothers) once stayed at our house, & he brought me this little cooking play set when I was around 6 or 7 years old. I thought it was so much fun & would often play with the set in my backyard by myself. All of my siblings by then were literally twice my age (or more), so they had no interest in playing children’s games with me, & were more focused on hanging out with their friends. I never had a problem entertaining myself, & I thoroughly enjoyed playing with this cooking set.

The cooking set itself was made out of tin & plastic. It came with a little plastic stove top (with little plastic knobs), a mini rice cooker, a tin pan with a rubber fried egg, a mini tin plate & rice bowl, a mini tin spatula, & a plastic pair of chopsticks. I would sit on my backyard deck (weather permitting) & pretend that I was cooking at a restaurant. One thing that I remember the most about this cooking set was that I disliked the nasty chemical-y smell of the rubber fried egg. I also didn’t like that the set rusted so fast. In the end, my mom threw out this toy set since it was rusting.


sylvanian animals

I once knew a girl in my neighborhood who had a complete set of Sylvanian Families dolls & a full dollhouse complete with furniture. At the time, I was super envious of this girl, & every time my mom would take me to visit her house, I would always want to play with her dollhouse & little Sylvanian Families animals. I only had a few animals myself, & was in total awe of this girl’s collection. Oh man, when I was a kid, I wanted to get all of the Sylvanian Families animals, & dollhouse, & all of the dollhouse furniture.

At the time, I only knew that I could get everything in Japan, since the only animals I had were given to me by my aunts & uncles from Japan. Of course, my mom being the strict parent, wouldn’t allow me to get more of these figures, & she definitely did not allow me to get the full dollhouse. First of all, it would’ve been impossible to store such a massive dollhouse in our home with so many living at home. Secondly, the whole setup: dollhouse, figures, & furniture were way too expensive. I loved these cute, flocked animal figures & would often play with them in my Hello Kitty dollhouse.


Fisher-Price medical kit

I remember playing with this toy a lot when I was a child. Since I had always been that kid who was always getting sick or going to the doctor’s office, I really loved playing with this medical kit from Fisher-Price. The funny thing is, is that I would use all of these medical toys on myself. I often played by myself at home, since my siblings were all way, way older than I was (& some of them were already getting their driver’s license or going to college). So, I would often play pretend & make up stories/scenarios all by myself.

When I played with this toy set, I spent a lot of time pretending that the stethoscope was actually a walkie-talkie & would talk to myself using the little foam pad. I was fascinated by the way my voice sounded, & would try to make my voice sound like it had an echo. I would also try all sorts of ways to pry open the medicine bottle with my teeny-tiny hands, or use kid scissors, & try to discover what was inside the bottle that gave it a rattling sound when you shook it. Yes, I was a very weird child. I understand this & take full responsibility for my childhood actions.


I had not learned what Playmobil was until I was a much older child (around 10 or 11 years of age). There once was a huge F.A.O. Schwartz toy store in the downtown shopping district in the big city near my house. My dad used to take me there for a special treat. It was there that I had discovered the magical world of those little German plastic figures & their incredibly detailed play sets with larger-than-life dioramas. I had no idea that these toys had already been around for nearly 20 years before I discovered them at the toy store in the early 90s.

I instantly fell in love, probably because these toys were more readily available in the U.S. than the Japanese Sylvanian Families toy sets. My mom was less reluctant to allow me to get the giant Playmobil dollhouse this time around. She actually liked the detail & design of these toy sets & enjoyed watching me build each set. The set that drew my attention the most was the Victorian dollhouse series. I worked my way up the dollhouse by slowly acquiring each room set one-by-one. I never ended up getting the dollhouse.

By the time I saved up enough for the dollhouse, the big F.A.O. Schwartz toy store permanently closed, & no other toy store in my area was selling the dollhouse (or other Playmobil sets at the time). So, I put all of my individual box sets of furniture into a storage box & stowed it away in our home storage closet. As I got older, I grew out of playing with dollhouses, & ended up donating all of my Playmobil sets to a Goodwill donation store.


When I was growing up, no one ever taught me how to ride a bicycle. My parents didn’t know how to ride, & as I mentioned before, my siblings were all in their teenage years & wanting to hang out with their friends rather than stick around to teach me how to ride a bike. So, my mom one day gave me a pair of these training roller skates. I was super stoked to have these skates that I could roll around my backyard with.

These roller skates were probably my most favorite childhood toy from the 80s. They were easy for a little tyke like me to strap on to my shoes, & because I had small feet, I was able to really get good use of this toy. These roller skates were adjustable, so I was able to grow into them for a little while. The best part about these training roller skates was that it was easy for me to learn how to use the brakes/stoppers in the front.

I’ve said in the past that I was a total wimpy, non-adventurous kid when I was growing up. I was too chicken to try anything outside of my comfort zone, & it didn’t help that my parents were extremely overprotective of me, so they also wouldn’t allow me to do some things other kids were doing. These training roller skates were a perfect medium, so I could learn how to be more adventurous, get out of my comfort of hiding inside the house & play outdoors, & actually play with some sportier toys (if you would consider roller skates to be sporty).

I’ve always been enamored with these Fisher-Price toy roller skates, & I think this toy helped push me into learning how to ice skate. When I became a teenager, my mom signed me up for ice skating lessons. I don’t think she was necessarily pushing me to become a competitive skater, but she at least wanted me to take up some sort of sport instead of staying holed up inside the house. I really enjoyed taking those ice skating lessons, even though I was the oldest kid in my beginner’s group. By the time we were learning how to do simple spins & lifting one leg, those little 7-8 year old kids were skating circles around me. I got pretty far in my lessons until I had to quit because my mom re-joined the workforce with a full-time job & could no longer drive me to the rink. I still know a few tips & tricks from my old ice skating lesson days, & I find it still fun to skate. I even bought a pair of $10 dollar rollerblades when I was studying abroad for the summer in China. I’d like to credit these toy skates for stirring up my interest in skating. I never got into riding bicycles, but at least I can skate.


Ok, I have reached the home stretch of this ridiculous blog post. I really enjoy filling out these prompted lists, & I hope this list thing will really help me to open up more to everyone. I’m excited to dive deeper into the more serious list topics, but alas my OCD personality won’t allow me to skip ahead. Until then, cheers mates!

Today’s song of the day by a band that definitely DOES NOT sound anything like David Bowie:

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Advertisements

IMG_5014a.png

When a band offers you a pre-sale link to buy concert tickets, you better work fastThe Killers had a special promotion for their Wonderful Wonderful tour, that if you buy their new album Wonderful Wonderful through their band website, they’ll not only include a free t-shirt, but they’ll also send you a link to pre-sale concert tickets before anyone else. Well, well, well…that website nearly crashed, & all of the pre-sale tickets were sold out! I mean, the concert tour sold out so fast that Jian & I had to buy our tickets through a (trusted) third-party ticket reseller. We were lucky that the third-party ticket prices were only $10 dollars more than the general ticket price(s), give or take, so it all worked out in the end.

We met up with two of our closest mates, who surprisingly have never ever been to a live music concert before. They were also huge fans of The Killers, so they were equally as pumped up as we were. However, they had no idea what they were in store for. Jian & I had to explain a few things about concerts to them, like: why assigned seats are better than standing-room floor seats, or whether to stay for the opening acts or not, or whether to buy the concert goods online or at the concert. That night was one of the most memorable moments in my entire life. I will never forget this experience with my favorite rock band & my best mates. Alright, let me break down the concert for you into sections.


THE BAND STAGE

The stage was a fun throwback to the retro neon signs of the famous Las Vegas strip. At the beginning of the concert, the stage had a minimal abstract appearance, with a wrap-around video screen behind the band & a triangular video screen above the stage. Then from the middle of the concert & all throughout, the stage changed to show neon lit arrows on one side of the stage & a water tower on the other side of the stage. Fun fact: for each city stop on the tour, the band would display the city’s name on the water tower. The concert I went to said “Los Angeles”. Of course everyone wants to know the ultimate answer to which electronic keyboard was Brandon Flowers going to use for this tour? Well, since the main & first single off of the Wonderful Wonderful album was “The Man“, Mr. Flowers had to use his ‘male symbol’ keyboard, while the backup singers had stands with the ‘female symbol’, as you can clearly tell from my photo below.IMG_2940-1.JPG


THE FAN EXPERIENCE

It was so badass & cool when The Killers invited a random fan to play with them on one of their songs. I know a lot of other bands do this at concerts, like Foo Fighters, Blink-182, & Green Day, but this was the first time I got to witness it in person. The band invited a teenage girl named Aelena Gilles to climb up on to the stage & play the drums on the song “For Reasons Unknown“. The crowd went absolutely nuts when she got up on stage. The band jokingly anointed this fan with some actual sand from the Mojave desert, & lent her a pair of plastic Elvis-inspired sunglasses. Let me just say, that this was one of the many highlights from the concert. This teenage girl totally killed it on the drums, & like I said before, the crowd went wild every time the camera would showcase this fan on the video screen. Everyone sang their hearts (& lungs) out & danced along to every song. When the band asked the audience to hold up a light, the entire Staples Center arena nearly erupted in smartphone flashlights. It was so cool to be part of this amazing fan experience. It kind of sucked that they had to replace two of the original band members (Dave KeuningMark Stoermer) with two fill-in band members, but those guys had legit reasons for not going on tour…like going back to college to finish their degree, &/or spending more quality time with their kids before they grow up too fast. The experience was still amazing as ever. They all know how to put on a great show. The last time I saw the full original cast lineup of The Killers was at the Outside Lands Music Festival in San Francisco, back in 2015.


THE “MEAT & POTATOES” A.K.A. THE MUSIC

Since this was the Wonderful Wonderful tour, I was assuming the band was going to play most of the songs from their latest album, but surprisingly they didn’t. They played a great mix of all of their albums, focusing on most of their hit singles (Mr. Brightside, Spaceman, When You Were Young, etc.) & a few throwback gems (Jenny Was a Friend of Mine, Smile Like You Mean It, Andy You’re a Star, etc.). Oh man, the audience got the most pumped up every time the band would play an old school song from their Hot Fuss album. (I can’t believe in a few short years it will mark the 20th anniversary of the Hot Fuss album!) I just fact checked my own personal catalogue of The Killers music, & I just realized that the band practically played an entire set (plus encore) straight from the lineup of their Direct Hits album, minus the songs: Shot At The Night, Miss Atomic Bomb, Just Another Girl, & Be Still. However, you could just replace those missing songs with the new songs from the Wonderful Wonderful album, & you’ve pretty much got the entire setlist for the Los Angeles leg of their concert tour. Here is the complete song lineup for the concert.

IMG_5035.PNG


FINAL THOUGHTS

This concert was one of the most incredible live music shows I’ve ever been to. I love how engaging Brandon Flowers was with the crowd, & the band really knew how to whip the crowd into a frenzy & get us all to chant along to all the songs (I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier!). The band usually plays a cover song from another artist or band, but for this concert tour, they decided to write & perform a spur-of-the-moment song the band wrote just for our city venue. As described by Mr. Flowers himself, the song was written on the road while the band was touring, & the song was titled “L.A. Song” as it was written for the Los Angeles venue, & it was a little tribute song to all of the landmarks of Los Angeles. I’m not sure what The Killers had planned for other cities, but I’m sure it was just as memorable & amazing. With this Wonderful Wonderful concert tour, you really get a strong sense of how proud The Killers are of their Las Vegas, Nevada roots. I mean, Brandon Flowers came back for the band’s encore performance wearing a metallic gold suit! I was so blown away by this concert experience, & I’m sure my lungs felt blown away as well. My throat felt a little sore after all the singing I did to go along with the band. I’m going to end this post with a quote from Brandon Flowers that I’ve fallen in love with. Cheers everyone!

IMG_5033.PNG

Today’s song of the day:


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!
o.jpg

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.
IMG_9969.JPG

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.
o-2.jpg

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:

Calendar

November 2018
S M T W T F S
« Sep    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

Instagram Feed

But first, we cheese. 🧀 🍮 . . . . . . . . . . #CheeseTart #BakeCheeseTart #HoneyLemon #NewFlavorAlert #NOTAnEggTart #dessert #SweetTreat #International #Market #UnionSquare #SoMa #SF #FoodsOfInstagram #CityLife #CityLiving #チーズタルト #チーズ #タルト #TheBearsSchool #LineCamera #FoodieApp @bakecheesetart_usa @bakecheesetart @linecamera_official @foodieapp.official
New blanket alert! Got my new fleece blanket ready for the cold weather ahead... ♨️🛌🧺🧶 . . . . . . . . . . #NewBlanket #FleeceBlanket #blanket #fleece #FullSize #Peanuts #Snoopy #Woodstock #characters #ReadyForWinter #ColdDaysAhead #WarmAndCozy #ILoveSnoopy #Uniqlo #フリース #毛布 #ユ二クロ @uniqlo @uniqlousa @snoopygrams
Look around. The sky is brown. It’s a hazy shade of Autumn. The sun looked like a giant tangerine in the sky. Feeling the side effects from the wildfires in the Butte-NorCal area. Scary times. 🍂 ☀️ 🍊 . . . . . . . . . . #NOFILTER #orange #brown #smog #tangerine #sun #sunshine #NoClouds #Daylight #Daytime #afternoon #LooksLikeNightTime #sky #skyline #haze #hazy #smoky #TwighlightTime #nature #outdoors #outdoor #MyNeighborhood #CrazyNature #SuburbanLife #Suburbs #Autumn #MotherNature #SoScary #MotherNature #MotherNatureIsAMother #SideEffects
It’s a colorful world out there. 💡 . . . . . . . . . . #typography #typeface #font #fonts #sign #signage #design #NeonSign #NeonArt #neon #color #colorful #art #WallArt #CityLife #CityLiving #SoCool #SoMa #FiDi #JacksonSquare #SFO #SF #CA #memories #LineCamera @linecamera_official
Hey Motha Nature...quit Photoshopping the sky! 🌅 . . . . . . . . . . #NOFILTER #ombre #gradient #creamsicle #orange #blue #yellow #pastel #NoClouds #NightSky #evening #twighlight #sky #clouds #TwighlightTime #nature #outdoors #outdoor #MyBackYard #MyNeighborhood #SuburbanLife #Suburbs #Autumn #MotherNature #beautiful #beauty
It’s a medium-rare kind of night. 🥩 . . . . . . . . . . #Steak #TBoneSteak #TBone #MediumRare #16ounce #AteItAll #FinishedIt #BoneMarrow #HollandaiseSauce #ChimichurriSauce #carnivore #MeatLover #Saturday #dinner #supper #HappyHour #Bellota #SoMa #SF #CityLife @bellotasf

Enter your email address to follow this blog & receive notifications.

Join 197 other followers

Member of The Internet Defense League

%d bloggers like this: