Hello Yelp Elite Event: Yelp’s First Look at Randy’s Donuts

It’s so sweet to be Yelp elite and it truly was a sweet time at the recent Yelp LA Elite event at the newest Randy’s Donuts that just opened up in El Segundo at Apollo Landing.

Randy’s Donuts has been serving delicious donuts since 1962. Everything is made by hand and they even have a special, unique flour that is used just by the store! They’re all about quality and being affordable. They’re world famous for a reason.

Last night, us Yelp LA elites got to be partake in a very special celebration of their new store and we got to taste a variety of the donuts that they’re world-famous for.

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Randy’s Donuts donut menu is split between classic, deluxe, fancy and premium. Classic donuts include  glazed raised, chocolate iced cake and crumb cake.  Deluxe donuts include glazed twist, blueberry cake and maple cruller.  For those who like fancy, there is roasted coconut raised, cinnamon roll and bear claw. Lastly for the ones looking for really unique treat there are the premium donuts. The premium menu has delicious treats like red velvet with ganache and crumbs, fruity pebbles crumb and s’mores raised.

If you’re not drooling already from their extensive donut menu; then you surely will be drooling once you have the El Segundo exclusive Breakfast Donuts! During the event, we were all treated to this unique and special sandwich (and yes, we were all drooling ;).

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Breakfast Donuts are made with glazed donut rolls with maple pepper bacon, all natural sausage, cafe free eggs, hash browns and American cheese. You can even spice it up with siracha or tapatio sauce! It’s the perfect mix of sweet and salty. It was truly intense but truly delicious as well.

Randy’s Donuts El Segundo location is just the start of delicious donuts taking over the foodie world. They will soon have a Downey location, a Hollywood location and even a Manila, Philippines location and Jeju Island, Korea location.  I am so thankful to Yelp LA for this special look of the new Randy’s Donuts in El Segundo.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp Review on Yelp’s First Look at Randy’s Donuts.

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Hello Avenue Italy!

I recently a wonderful birthday dinner at Avenue Italy.

Located in Rancho Palos Verdes is Avenue Italy; a restaurant offering authentic and delicious Italian cuisine by  Chef Mario Zanetti. Chef Mario was previously Lead Chef for La Stada Restaurant in Los Angeles and now he heads up this wonderful restaurant. Avenue Italy is also the sister restaurant of another favorite South Bay place of mine, Yellow Vase.

Having my birthday dinner here was truly a wonderful experience. The place transports you right into the heart of Italy with its beautiful setup and decor as well as their amazing Italian cuisine.

We started off our meal here with  Caprese e melanzane.

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This starter came with three lovely tomatoes stacked with grilled eggplant and fresh mozzarella. It was then topped off with pesto. This simple Italian dish was a perfect first course. The grilled eggplant was nicely grilled and not charred. The spread of pesto was just right and not overwhelming. It gave the right amount of flavor to the dish.

Our second course consisted of the Beet salad

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This salad was one of my favorites of the night. It had mix greens topped with oven roasted beets, candied walnuts, dried cranberries and feta cheese. The dressing was a house balsamic vinaigrette. I am a big fan of beets but in many other restaurants, I have noticed beets tend to be large pieces that end up becoming the star of the plate. Here at Avenue Italy, they made their salad so that the beets would mix perfectly with the other ingredients. Small square beets were mixed in with the candied walnuts and dried cranberries and the feta cheese was sprinkled on top. Together these ingredients made of a sweet lovely salad.

For my main course, I chose to get the waiter’s recommendation, Pollo e prosciutto

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It was chicken rollatini with prosciutto and rosemary and vodka sauce. It was served with seasonal vegetables and roasted yukon potatoes. I originally was afraid that the prosciutto may overpower this dish but it did not at all! In fact there was just slight hint of prosciutto and the chicken was main star of the dish. It was tender and perfectly flavored with the rosemary and vodka sauce. I also loved their flavorful roasted yukon potatoes. This was great dish paired with their white chardonnay.

What’s a birthday without a birthday cake or dessert? Our last dish of the night was Avenue Italy’s tiramisu.

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Tiramisu is a classic Italian dessert and here they really did this Italian delight justice. The coffee-flavoured Italian dessert was delightfully light. Wonderful flavor of cocoa with just the right hint of liqueur-spiked espresso and sweet mascarpone and whipped cream. This was truly a perfect ending to a wonderful birthday dinner.

Avenue Italy was simply lovely and I loved celebrating here.

Hello Kitty Grand Cafe!

Hello Kitty has always been grand and now she’s about to bring supercute to a whole  grand new level via the Hello Kitty Grand Cafe at the Irvine Spectrum!

This September 14, 2018, Hello Kitty Grand Cafe will be opening up at the Irvine Spectrum Center in Irvine, California.

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The Hello Kitty Grand Cafe is the first and only permanent cafe in the U.S. It is sure to bring lots of joy to Hello Kitty fans both here in the US and around the world.

The cafe will feature several amazing Hello Kitty icons, pink decor, cute walls and special one-of-a-kind artworks.

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We’ve all experienced the joy of the Hello Kitty Cafe via the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck, Hello Kitty Cafe Pop-Up Container and Hello Kitty Mini Cafe. Here at the new Hello Kitty Grand Cafe they will offer many of the popular Hello Kitty Cafe menu offerings that we have come to know and love.

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Aside from the popular well-known menu offerings there will be even more! The cafe will have exclusive new menu additions that include made-to-order mini hot donuts (cinnamon sugar; matcha; cookies n’ cream, $6 per cup) and a pick-your-own 4pc set of Sanrio character mini cakes ($15).

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My Melody, Chococat, Tuxedo Sam, Keroppi, Hello Kitty cakes galore await us all!

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There is also a very special surprise at the Hello Kitty Grand Cafe via The Bow Room! The Bow Room is a hidden reservations-only area where guests can enjoy afternoon tea by day, and cocktail service by night.

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The Afternoon Tea Service is $55 per person and is available via reservation only on Wednesdays through Sunday. The yummy and cute menu will have a variety of fresh seasonal fruit, savory tea sandwiches and sweets! There will even be Hello Kitty shaped sugars.

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The tea selection includes a wide array of black, green, oolong, and caffeine-free tea. There will also be a special birthday blend.

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Tea time with Hello Kitty is sure to be a relaxing and lovely.

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Sweet delights include buttermilk scones, mini cupcake, raspberry macarons and chocolate chocolate cake and my favorite Hello Kitty mini cake.

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When night-time hits, The Bow Room at Hello Kitty Grand Cafe will become a cocktail bar for guests aged 21 and over. Reservations are for 5:00 p.m. nightly; Wednesdays through Sunday.

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The assortment of adult libations with a Hello Kitty twist have super cute names such as “You Had Me at Hello,” “Dear Daniel,” “Happy Together,” and “Hello Kit-Tea.”

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A curated wine list ($10 – $63) will also be offered and it will have sparkling wine, champagne, pinot grigio, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and rosè by the glass or bottle. There will also be select by-the-bottle offerings ($35 – $87) that include Hello Kitty Sparking Rosè, Hello Kitty Pinot Grigio, Hello Kitty Prosecco, and Piper Heidsieck Cuvee Brut.

One is sure to have a sweet day and night at Hello Kitty Grand Cafe.

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Hello Kitty Grand Cafe, you had me at Hello…..

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The Hello Kitty Grand Cafe officially opens on Friday, September 14. Reservations are available for The Bow Room can be made at http://reservations.hellokittycafe.com

Hello Converse x Hello Kitty !

Running to the next Hello Kitty Foodie adventure is about to get a whole lot more exciting and cute! Sanrio and Converse  have come together to bring us Converse x Hello Kitty ; a supercute collection of footwear, sportswear and accessories!

The Converse x Hello Kitty  collection will have a special Sanrio design on not just one but three of their classic shoe styles; the the Chuck Taylor All Star, Chuck 70 and One Star.  There will be custom designed graphics and logos as well as a second set of laces with a special Hello Kitty touch! One is sure to fall in love!

There is definitely a cute surprise within each of the shoes in this collection! One of my favorites is the Converse x Hello Kitty Chuck Taylor All Star Clean Lift Canvas Low Top.  i love the all over Hello Kitty print as well as the double-stacked rubber sole for added height (Yay for shorties like me 😉). I also love this shoe’s special detail with the metal bow. Converse purposely put the metal piece on the left side only to represent where Hello Kitty wears her bow 😉.

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Another favorite shoe style of mine is the Converse x Hello Kitty Chuck 70 Canvas High Top. This one is pretty in pink; my favorite color! I love how it has a screen-printed Hello Kitty on the outside as well as a clear outsole with bow print on the bottom of the shoe. There’s even polka dot lining on the inside and a Hello Kitty graphic on toe cap! Talk about lots of kawaii all in one shoe!

Aside from the neat shoe collection, Converse x Hello Kitty will also have a very special  apparel collection that includes a white and red short sleeve Football Tee, a black Pullover Hoodie and a Hello Kitty printed down the sleeve. Aside from apparel there will also be matching adorable accessories such as Phone Pouch for any size phone, with detachable Hello Kitty pins; a Mini Duffle Bag in an all over Hello Kitty print and black/red polka dot Cross Body Bag with Hello Kitty accents.

The Converse x Hello Kitty  sneaker collection will retail between $50 – $100, with sportswear and accessories ranging from $35 for the Cross Body Bag to $75 for the Pullover Hoodie. The collection will launch globally from converse.com, sanrio.com, and select Converse stores and retailers this August 16. Each design is supercute and you’ll sure want to say hello to this collection!

Hello Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Syracuse!

Dinosaurs are often associated with big and bold and thus it just seems appropriate that one of the biggest restaurants as well as one of the boldest in terms of making a name for itself in Syracuse is named Dinosaur Bar-B-Que!

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que first started off in 1983 as an idea among three friends at a motorcycle gathering in Albany, New York. Founder John Stage and his friends wanted to offer good bbq to their fellow bikers and made a mobile concession that they brought to various motorcycle shows, fairs, and festivals throughout the Northeast. Fast forward to 1988, where the mobile concession stand became a full-blown restaurant in downtown Syracuse, New York. Through the years Dinosaur has been making bold waves via being showcased in various magazines and the Food Network. Now Dinosaur Bar-B-Que has eight additional locations: Rochester, New York, Harlem, New York, Troy, New York,Newark, New Jersey, Stamford, Connecticut, Brooklyn, New York, and Buffalo, New York.

Traveling to Syracuse, I knew instantly that I had to try this iconic bbq joint and did not hesitate to go to the original location on one of my nights there. Known for super long waits, I was pleasantly surprised to have no wait when I arrived! (Can we yell success and yay!!) The place was definitely crowded with eager foodies like myself but it didn’t take long for me to start of my savory meal here.

To start off I tried Dinosaur Bar-B-Que’s famous Fried Green Tomatoes.

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The Fried Green Tomatoes come in either 3 pieces or 5 pieces and are served with a side cayenne buttermilk ranch. This was the perfect starter to my meal. I loved the juicy green tomato that was fried to golden perfection. The Pecorino Romano cheese on top was a nice touch and the cayenne buttermilk ranch was a great dipping companion.

For my main meal, I decided to try a variety of some of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que’s best offerings by getting a combo plate.

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My chosen combo plate consisted of St. Louis ribs, chicken wings and bbq brisket with jalapeños along with corn bread, simmered turkey neck collard greens and mashed potatoes. This was one hearty and very fulfilling plate! The St. Louis ribs are dry rubbed and slow smoked and lightly glazed with Dinosaur’s original bbq sauce  It was no surprise to have the meat fall off the St. Louis ribs. Very tender it came off with one flick of my fork. Equal in tenderness was the bbq brisket. The BBQ brisket is also slow-smoked and then hand sliced and flavored with pickled onion & jalapeno relish. It is topped with sliced jalapeno and just has the right amount of spice. The chicken wings were also delightful and had very good flavoring. These chicken wings are spice-rubbed, pit-smoked and grill finished. I loved dipping it with the original BBQ sauce as well as blue cheese dressing. All of the meats went well with the side of collard greens and mashed potatoes.

Dinosaur’s meats are already quite tasty by themselves but if one wants even more flavor; there is a variety of sauces and rubs that you can smother and sprinkle all over.

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Sensuous Slathering is more of their traditional BBQ sauce that has just the right amount of sweet for my palate. The heat starts with the Garlic Chipotle Pepper Sauce and the Mango Tango Habanero Hot Bar-b-que Sauce. Dare if you can handle the heat with the oh so hot Devil’s Duel Habenro Hot Pepper Sauce. Lastly there is the Cajun Foreplay Spice Rub for a little more heat. (How hot can you go?_ 😉

If it does get a lot hot…have no fear because aside from savory meats, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que also has some sweet treats! They’ve got Chocolate Ice Box Pie, Peanut Butter Pie, Dino Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie and Sweet Potato Pecan Pie.

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The Sweet Potato Pecan Pie was my dessert of choice and I fell in love with at first bite. The sweet potato itself was so soft and practically melted in my mouth. I loved the toppings of pecan pie. Both the sweet potato and pecan were the perfect pair for one another.

Just like Dinosaur Bar-B-Que’s namesake of dinosaurs, this place definitely is big and bold in terms of their offerings. Their foundation is fresh, homemade and high quality and as they say they “WFDA” or “We Don’t F** Around.” Big and bold indeed. It was one intense and delicious trip here.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Syracuse.

Hello Joey’s Italian Restaurant!

Whenever I travel, I try to find the best eateries that the town has to offer. My Hello Kitty Foodie adventures wouldn’t be complete without it. On my first night in New York; I’m so happy to say that I found what has to be one of the best Italian restaurants in the town of Syracuse.

Joey’s Italian Restaurant is located in Syracuse, New York at Carrier Circle. They’ve been serving up fine Italian American cuisine since 1982 via two restaurants under one roof. Upstairs lies Pronto Joey’s which offers a casual Italian American fare. Downstairs is Joey’s Classic Italian dining that has a more formal fine dining setting.

I had the pleasure of dining at Joey’s Classic Italian and was mesmerized by the beautiful setting the moment I walked in. With its cherry wood furniture, dim lighting and perfectly set tables; the place is intimate and beautiful.

Their menu is equivalent in exquisiteness and filled with an array of fresh made pastas with veal, beef, poultry and seafood. Each of their sauces is handcrafted right in the heart of New York.

Each meal here starts off with a fresh-baked basket of bread that is accompanied with their housemade garlic butter and an olive oil and balsamic dip.

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Joey’s housemade garlic butter is reason enough to go here as it definitely one of the tastiest garlic butters I have ever had. The velvety butter perfectly melts on the warm bread and is quite addicting. It has just the right hint of garlic to it.

Each pasta speciality also comes with Joey’s house salad.

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The house salad is a delightful starter filled with a good variety of vegetables. There are tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, chick peas and mixed greens. Dressing choices include honey mustard, ranch, raspberry vinagrette, balsamic vinagrette, Caesar and parmesan.

Though one can easily get full with the warm bread and crisp salad; one definitely needs to save room for Joey’s homemade pastas. The pasta menu consists of homemade dishes such as lasagna, cannelloni, ravioli, fettuccine and lasagna. There is also house specialities.

One such house speciality is the Tortellini Carbonara.

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The Tortellini Carbonara has pork and beef filled pasta with sautéed Italian prosciutto. The sauce consists of asiago cheese, egg and cream. It’s one creamy dish and the tortellini will practically melt in your mouth.

Another house speciality is the Chicken Tetrazini.

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The Chicken Tentrazini has Joey’s housemade noodles topped with a breast of chicken sautéed with mushrooms, roasted red peppers and peas. The sauce is a light cream sauce. The mushrooms, red peppers and peas bring so much flavor along with the tender chicken breast. The light cream sauce is just right. This dish is definitely one of my favorites at Joey’s.

Not only are the pasta dishes homemade, the desserts are as well! The sweets menu is equally is an impressive and consists of favorite Italian sweets like tiramisu and cannoli along side classic desserts; carrot cake, cheesecake, citrus cake and creme brûlée.

It is very had to pass on a good creme brûlée and decided to try Joey’s version.

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Joey’s creme brûlée was indeed a wonderful ending to a wonderful dinner. On the bottom of the soft creme brûlée is rich Bailey’s chocolate. This creme brûlée is finished off with fresh cream and a fresh strawberry. The creme brûlée is silky-smooth. The rich Bailey’s chocolate is a sweet surprise and brings another depth to the dessert.

In my quest to find some of the best eateries in town, I think I succeeded in my first night in New York with the charming Joey’s Italian in Syracuse.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Joey’s Italian.

Hello Howlin Ray’s!

Summer is officially here! With temperatures spiking up to 100 degrees plus around LA, we can definitely say the heat is on. It however has been hot at Chinatown’s Far East Plaza since 2015, thanks to Howlin’ Ray’s!

Howlin’ Ray’s originally started out as food truck by a Silver Lake chef Johnny Zone and then in 2015, Johnny and his wife decided to put up shop at Far East Plaza. The rest as many will say his history…hot history.

Lines can be found snaking through the Far East Plaza for hours. It almost seems like everyone in town wants to get their hands on the Nashville Hot Chicken that Howlin Ray’s is all about. How hot do you want your chicken? The spice ranges from country (no heat) to howling’ (can’t touch this 10++).

Hello Kitty Foodie finally met Howlin’ Ray’s recently and I can say the hype is real!

The chicken comes out fresh from the kitchen from a very happy and eager restaurant crew. Watching the Howlin’ Ray’s crew is amazing. They’ve got the teamwork down and their manager Mario can be seen taking the time to say hello to all the foodies.

Chicken offerings are served with white bread and pickles and one can choose from a quarter bird, half bird, skinny jimmy (boneless chicken breast) and wings.

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The fried chicken is piping hot with the skin super crisp and oh so delicious. The chicken itself is tender and practically melts in your mouth. It’s perfect with the soft white bread and pickles that comes with the chicken. Spice level was just right and it definitely was getting hot the afternoon I tried it. 😉 It’s no surprise folks wait for hours for the crunch, the taste and the mouth watering experience.

Howlin’ Ray’s also offers The Sando; their version of the chicken sandwich.

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In between two butter buns is the crispiest boneless breast that is topped with slaw and lots of comeback sauce. Can one say crunch err love at first bite? The boneless chicken breast in this sandwich is amazing. Crispy texture, tender meat; it’s one that you’ll want to come back for over and over. Speaking of come back; the comeback sauce itself is like is lovely treat to foodies. It’s a mayonnaise based sauce with a slight hint of pepper and brings even more flavor to the already tasty sandwich.

Hello flavor! Hello heat! Hello Kitty Foodie loved Howlin’ Ray’s. It’s no wonder the Far East Plaza is so hot! Howlin’ Rays hot.

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For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Howlin’ Rays.