LA eats!

I was determined to go to as many foodie spots as I could during this trip.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try out the famed LA trucks like LudoTruck, Vizzi, Kogi, or Buttermilk.  But we still indulged in some tasty eats!

Warning:  Be prepared to drool or eat your fist during this post.  There are quite a few mouth watering food pictures.

First stop?  UMAMI BURGER.  I’ve been wanting to try this place out since Giada mentioned it on an episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate.  They recently opened one in San Francisco, but we haven’t gotten a chance to go to the city to try it yet plus we heard the wait was ridiculous.  Luckily, there are several chains in the LA area including one by our hotel in Santa Monica.  There was a 30 minute wait but the food was SO worth it.  The hubs like it just as much as I did.  Of course, we ordered the Umami Burger because that’s what they’re known for and what Giada was raving about plus we got a Kalbi (Korean Short Rib) Burger.  We split both burgers in half so we could get a good portion to taste, which was a good idea because both burgers were equally scrumptious.  I’m salivating just thinking how juicy and flavorful these burgers are.  I’m going to go as far and say they were better than Good Eats burgers.  YES I SAID IT!

Umami Burger.

Look at that sexy burger.  Umami Burger – Shitake Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, Roasted Tomato, Parmesan Crisp, and Umami Ketchup.

Smushed Potatoes

Kalbi Burger – Kimchi and Onion Strings.  This was one of the specials of the day, so I’m not 100% sure what’s on the burger.  

The last time we went to LA, we completely missed Roscoe’s.  We have no idea what we were thinking!  Of course, we had to stop by this trip.  The chicken was amazing.  Crunchy and juicy!  The waffles, DEELISH, light but had a hint of cinnamon to it.  SO GOOD!!!

Ready to feast!

That’s not an alcoholic beverage.  I read reviews and one of the recommendations other the chicken and waffles was to get their juice blends.  This mixed Lemonade, OJ, and Fruit Punch concoction, called the Eclipse, did not disappoint.

After Roscoe’s we drove up to the Griffith Observatory but didn’t get to walk around like we would have liked to because parking was just a disaster.  We would’ve had to walk 15-20 minutes to get up to the Observatory and I was already a bit tired, so we headed back to the hotel and took a nap.  By the time we woke up, it was too late to get dinner and quite frankly were still full from Roscoe’s.  But we were in the mood for dessert, so we went to the Third Street Promenade and grabbed some gelato at Angelato.

Super happy pregnant woman with her Spumone and Green Tea Gelato. 

The next day we met up with our friends from home that live in LA now.  We met up at Moo Dae Po II, an all you can eat Korean BBQ restaurant.  I’m so happy our friends picked this place because I’ve been trying to get the hubs to go to a restaurant like this in the Bay.  At Korean BBQ restaurants, you typically cook your own food, which the hubs is not a fan of.  The restaurant gives you the marinated meats and you cook them on a grill at your table.  They give you rice and Korean sides to accompany the meal.  I used to go to these types of restaurants a lot when we lived in Japan with my friends and family.  I know some people have their trepidations about paying for a meal they have to cook at a restaurant, but it’s about the eating and conversing experience.  This place’s bulgogi was the BOMB!

After lunch we walked around Melrose Trading Post to look for art and whatever vintage finds, but didn’t have any luck.  So we headed back to Santa Monica and went to the pier, where we stuffed our faces with some funnel cake.  You have to if you’re on the boardwalk!  If not funnel cake then some ice cream or churros, but it was too cold for that.

After the boardwalk, we went to a tapas restaurant for dinner, but didn’t end up eating that much because we were still a bit full from lunch and the funnel cake.

The next day, we stopped by Vanilla Bake Shop on our drive back home to the Bay to try out there cupcakes and macarons.  Their cupcakes are pretty good and they have a decent selection of flavors, but their macaron selection was a bit weak.  They had 6 flavors that were okay, nothing spectacular.  Definitely nothing compared to Laduree.  The flavors were basic and didn’t taste as light as they should.  I should’ve tried ‘Lette Macarons, which I read on Yelp was the place to go in LA, but it was a bit out of the way.

Vanilla Bake Shop mini cupcakes.

Macarons.  I got one of each flavor.  I can’t remember what the flavors are.  

The mini cupcakes we got.  From top, left to right (clockwise):  Banana Chocolate Chip, Grandma’s Recipe (vanilla cake with chocolate frosting), Mint Chocolate, Fluer de Sel, Dark Chocolate, and Red Velvet. 

We stopped by Beverly Hills to try out a crepery, Harajuku Crepe, I read about fellow blogger and YouTube Beauty Guru, Anne’s twitter feed.  I was so estatic that they served crepes in a cone shape like they do in Japan, as opposed to flat on a plate… reminded me a little bit of my childhood.

Green Tea crepe with strawberries, chocolate sauce, and ice cream.  NOM!

Tasty weekend indeed.  I wish I could eat my way through LA… actually every city.

DC Eats!

During my mini trip home, I went into the city (Quick lesson – When someone says DC they mean the actual city OR the DC Metro area which includes Northern Virginia and some of Maryland.  I stay in Northern Virginia) during St. Patrick’s day.  Worst day to come into the city too.  Traffic was awful because of the parade and marathon.  Poor planning on my part.  Anyhow, I went into DC to have an acupuncture session done with my in-law’s doctor.  More about that experience during a future post.  After my acupuncture session, I hopped on the metro and to meet my mom and sister and start our fun weekend adventure.

We went to South Capitol Hill/Eastern Market and had lunch at Spike Mendelsohn’s  Good Stuff Eatery, where you can order the Obama burger, which my sister and mom had.  (My sister and I chuckled over this because my mom is such a Republican.  My mom was not amused, but continued to eat the burger we bought her)  I tried the Blazin’ Barn burger (pictured below), which is a take on a Banh Mi, the Village Fries, and Toasted Marshmallow milkshake.

The burger was good, but I wished it was on better bread.  The bread got a bit soggy.  Perhaps it was because they were so busy that Saturday that the quality suffered.  The fries were tasty, but alas there were soggy also.  😦  But the toasted marshmallow milkshake was DEELISH!

After lunch, we walked to Eastern Market and browsed around.  I lived in DC for almost 4 years and never went to Eastern Market within those 4 years.  Can you believe that?!?  Yes, I was one of those people who didn’t take advantage of the city that I lived in/around.  Yes, I’m that person that complains about tourists (even when I go to SF and I don’t live in the city!).  Plus parking is just a pain!  Anyhow, we strolled around and took a look at the food, jewelry, and antique vendors.  .

I did see a couple of statement necklaces that I was really interested in,  but I wasn’t feeling the prices.  Shopping is so not my thing anymore.

The Capitol.

On our way to the metro to go back to my sister’s apartment, we decided to stop by Starbucks and saw a Food Network sign across the street.  Of course I had to walk up to the window and see what the deal was.  The pastry shop was on Cupcake Wars and had recently won.  I walked into the tiny shop (how fitting with their name “Sweet Lobby“), which was packed.  I figured they won Cupcake Wars and it was packed, then I definitely had to try their desserts.  Of course I got both cupcakes and macarons.  This pregnancy has me constantly craving sweets, but along with that I do crave lots of fruits and vegetables.  🙂  It balances out plus all things in moderation right?

Yummy cupcake display.

LIGHT and AIRY MACARONS L-R:  Vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, caramel, earl gray, and violet vanilla.

CUPCAKES!  Top L-R:  Green velvet, Strawberry champagne, Banana Fosters; Bottom L-R:  Green Tea, Chocolate Hazelnut, and Sticky Toffee.  All so yummy.

Since it was a beautiful day, we sat outside while my sister enjoyed her iced coffee and my mom and I enjoyed our sweet treats.  Starting with the green tea cupcake!  SO GOOD!  My mom really liked it too (she’s hard to please when it comes to sweets)!  Had enough green tea flavor that didn’t over power plus the cake nor the icing were too sweet.  But then again I love most green tea flavored sweets.  Green tea ice cream, green tea sweet bread, green tea lattes, and green tea frappaccinos.  Yes, I have indulged in all of those during this pregnancy.  Again, in moderation and I try to walk as much as I can.

On Sunday, we had lunch with my best friend.  Afterwards, we went to a coffeehouse called Northside Social in Arlington.  My mother in law has raved about Cortado since she went to Spain two years ago (the hubs and I missed out on it while we were there last summer), but they had it at the coffeehouse, so I had to try it.  Before you say me I shouldn’t have caffeine, I ordered a half calf.  I’m allowed to have a little bit of caffeine even if I am pregnant.  AND I don’t have caffeinated drinks that often.  That’s my rational.  I have an excuse for everything right now when it comes to food.  I probably utter the words “But/because I’m pregnant” to my husband 2-3 times a day.  To which he says I’ve used that excuse too many times already that it no longer applies.  Yeah right…

Look at the adorable heart design.  My sister got a cappuccino and had a leaf design in hers.  Too cute!

If I had time, I would’ve tried to have dinner at Jaleo (Jose Andres) or Graffiato (Mike Isabella) or even eaten at a crab shack, like Captain Pell’s, for some blue crabs (even if they aren’t in season).

Do you live in the DC area or have you recently visited DC?  What are your favorite food spots?  Please share!  I’m always trying to find new places to go to.

burger fix

I had this master plan to do some taste testing in the kitchen and make some of my favorite asian dishes into a burger but as I read some blogs I quickly found out that there are burger companies out there that already do this.  Whaah whaah!  I just haven’t came across them yet.

I purchased daikon recently and it was too hot out to make sinigang (sour soup) with it, so I opted to pickle the daikon along with carrots and try my take at banh mi (vietnamese) burgers.  The key to this recipe is the bread.  Bread makes the HUGEST difference with a sandwich and for banh mis you must have baguette, french or brioche or any crusty bread to hold all that filling and flavor.

Banh Mi Burgers

Ingredients

For Nuoc Mam (fish sauce)

1/2 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup hot water
1 thai chili
2 cloves garlic crushed
Juice of 1/2 lime

For pickled daikon and carrots

1/2 lb carrots, peeled and julienned
1/2 lb daikon, peeled julienned
3 cups warm water
3 tablespoons distilled vinegar
2-3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons salt

For burgers
1 lb ground beef or pork or chicken (whichever you’d like)
cilantro
thinly sliced cucumber
mayo
sriracha sauce
brioche/baguette rolls

Directions

You’ll want to pickle the daikon and carrots first as it takes at least an hour to marinate.  Mix water, vinegar, sugar and salt until every thing is dissolved.   Mix the carrots and daikon together and place in a jar or deep container.  Then add the pickled liquid mixture over the carrots and daikon.  For best results, you’ll want to pickle for 3-5 days.  But an hour is just as good.

You’ll want to use the nuoc mam for the burger, so it’s a good idea to make this next.  Combined all the ingredients and chill.

When nuoc mam has chilled, take 2 tablespoons of the sauce and mix with the beef (or meat of your choice).  I say 2 tablespoons because you’re using fish sauce which is salty to begin with and you don’t want to over salt the meat.  To make sure that the burger is properly seasoned, take a small piece of uncooked beef and place it onto the pan or grill until cooked.   Taste the cooked meat to determine if the taste is to your liking.  If you find it bland, add more nuoc mam to the mixture (again cautiously little by little as you don’t want to oversalt the meat).  Once you’re satisfied with the taste, heat your grill or cast iron pan.  Then start forming your burger patties.  The key to having an evenly cooked burger and one that looks like an actual patty as opposed to a tennis ball is to have the center of the patty indented, while the outsides are higher, similar to discs.

Place your burgers onto the grill or pan.  Cook 5-6 minutes on each side, depending on what meat you’re using and how done you’d like your meat.

While the meat is cooking, slice your rolls and gut one side of the roles to pack with filling.  Toast both sides of the role while waiting for the burgers to finish.

To assemble the burger, take the toasted rolls and place mayo on one side of the roll and sriracha on the other (to your liking of course).  Then add pickled veggies on the bottom, sliced cucumber, cooked burger, cilantro and the top roll… or however you want to assemble it.

Enjoy!

Doesn’t that look GOOD?!?

For the leftover nuoc mam and pickled carrots and daikon, you can always make the chicken banh mi or bun thit nuong that I made here.

What gourmet burgers have you made?  Share below.  I’d love to know.