Hello Sweet Rice Gardena!

Thai Food is definitely one of my favorite types of cuisines. I love angel wings, pad thai and more. I’ve never ever tried Thai breakfast however and thus I was so excited to hear about Sweet Rice; a new Thai breakfast and dessert spot that recently opened up at Pacific Square in Gardena. (Random Hello Kitty fact: Pacific Square is home to the oldest Sanrio store in the US. ūüėČ ) Sweet Rice also happens to be run by another popular Thai spot in Gardena; Bowl Thai.

I visited Sweet Rice recently and a very pleasant Thai breakfast experience.

First up for my breakfast here was trying out the Jok. Jok is popular in Thailand is a Thai porridge.

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It made by boiling rice until it dissolves and becomes a porridge. At Sweet Rice; they serve it piping hot and it consists of ground pork made into a meatball, century egg, scallions, ginger, crispy noodles, poached egg. They also have patongo a side. Patango is a crispy Chinese donut.

I loved the Jok and am not surprised to see it as one of the most popular dishes at Sweet Rice. The porridge is nicely thick and they put in a lot of ingredients. It had eight tender meatballs. The century egg was also a nice touch!

The other breakfast dish I tried was their Kao Kai Jeow or Thai Omelette.

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Kao Kai Jeow is a common street food in Thailand and here at Sweet Rice; their version is 3 egg omelette with onion, scallions, cilantro.  Customers have the choice of getting it with chicken, pork, shrimp or crab. I chose to get it with chicken.

The omelette was great. It was fluffy with a bit crispiness in some of the edges. It went well with the ketchup and white rice.

Overall I really enjoyed my first ever Thai breakfast experience. Breakfast at Sweet Rice was a “sweet” time.

For more smiles; please see my Yelp review on Sweet Rice.

 

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Hello Steelhead Coffee Torrance!

Steelhead Coffee hits the South Bay!

The popular coffee shop that has two locations in Long Beach and a location in Laguna Hills has now hit Torrance!

There’s nothing like having some freshly brewed artisan coffee to kick off the weekend and that’s just what I did on a fine Friday that marked the end of the work week.

Steelhead Coffee’s location in Torrance is cute and small. It’s located at the lobby of the office of the Daily Breeze Newspaper. With a very minimalistic design, I could definitely see how this would be a great place to simply enjoy a warm cup of coffee.

Their menu consists of drip coffee, cold brew, cortado, lattes and cappuccinos. One can add vanilla, lavender, caramel and chocolate to their drinks too.

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I found their caramel latte to be so smooth. It was not too rich but yet perfect for a slightly sweet kick to start off the morning.

Asidefrom their coffee and tea offerings, Steelhead also offers various pastries from Bakers Kneaded; a wholesale Los Angeles bakery that offers organic whole grain breads and pastries.

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I instantly became a fan of their almond croissant. With its crispy, flaky skin on the outside topped with sliced almonds and almond paste in the inside; this croissant was the perfect pairing for my caramel latte.

The food offerings doesn’t stop however with bread and pastries because there is more at Steelhead Coffee! The Steelhead Kitchen offers a variety of freshly made hot dishes such as congee, avocado bread and even a Steelhead burger!

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I got to try their congee and was amazed at all the wonderful ingredients in the bowl. The rice porridge had fresh persian cucumber, kimchi, sriracha mixed in toasted sesame and soy sauce and topped with soft-boiled egg. ¬†It was definitely one of the most special¬†rice porridges I’ve ever seen or had!

It is no surprise Steelhead Coffee has been such a hit in their first three locations.  From their sweet sips to their savory treats; one is sure to smile and have a an amazing start to the day!

For more smiles; please see my latest Yelp review on Steelhead Coffee Torrance.

Hello Sari-Sari Store LA!

Sari-sari stores are very common in the Philippines. They are small convenience stores that can be found in many neighborhoods. Along the top of the sari-sari stores are displays of various products such as candy, soda and beauty products.

Walking into downtown Los Angeles’¬†Grand Central Market, I spot Sari-Sari Store.¬†Just like in the Philippines there are several displays of common household products and consumables. Unlike the sari-sari stores in the Philippines, however, these products are not for sale. Instead what is for sale is a variety of rice bowls and that is because Sari-Sari Store at Grand Central Market is not a small market but instead a wonderful restaurant.

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Sari-Sari Store is a Filipino rice bowl stall conceptualized by Chef Margarita Manzke with business partner and husband Walter Manzke. If Chef Margarita Manzke and Walter Manzke sound familiar that is because they are the brains behind two other wonderful Los Angeles based restaurants, Republique and Petty Cash. They also are the owners of Philippines based bakery, Wildflour.

The idea behind Sari-Sari Store mainly came from Chef Margarita Manzke who was born and raised in the Philippines. She was exposed to the restaurant life early as her parents owned White Rock Resort, a hotel and restaurant just outside Manila. ¬†Chef Marge wanted to bring to this Sari-Sari Store restaurant something “small, colorful, and casual” just like the real sari-sari stores. Every thing from the restaurant’s look to the menu is inspired by Chef Marge’s Filipino heritage.

The word “sari-sari” in the Filipino language, Tagalog essentially means “variety” and a variety is indeed found in the menu here. There is a variety of different Silog bowls; with silog meaning “singang” (garlic rice) + “itlog” (egg). The rice bowls offered included Filipino comfort food such as Arroz Caldo (rice porridge) and Filipino favorites like Lechon Kawali (crispy pork belly). They occasionally have specials as well such as Bistek Tagalog;¬†the classic beef steak dish.

The day I went, I was fortunate to find one of my favorite Filipino dishes as one of the specials of the day. This was the Beef Tapa.

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Sari-Sari Store’s Beef Tapa bowl had marinated short ribs, garlic rice and pickled Fresno chiles.¬†Served with the garlicky fried rice and sunny side up eggs, this beef tapa truly made my day. It was tender and full of flavor. ¬†The tapa was marinated, to perfection, with just the right combination of soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, garlic, and pepper.

The other rice bowl that hit our table that day was one of the more traditional dishes folks associate with the Philippines; adobo.

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Sari-Sari Store’s take on adobo is a Adobo Fried Rice bowl. It has Mary’s organic chicken, garlic rice, pickled chiles and fried egg. The chicken at Republique is one of the most popular dishes and it was nice to see it incorporated here Filipino style.

Now speaking of Republique; at that restaurant Chef Marge’s speciality is the pastries. It is therefore not surprising ¬†that Sari-Sari Store’s menu has some amazing desserts. She has not one but two regular sweets on the menu via the halo-halo and buko pie. I could not pass up on trying the buko pie as it is one of Los Angeles’ times top rated desserts.

It is no wonder Jonathan Gold of Los Angeles Times loves this dessert. It is truly one of the best pies I’ve had. ¬†The buko pie consists of coconut, coconut and more coconut. Fittingly so as “Buko” means “young coconut” in Tagalog. All of this meaty coconut is mixed into wonderfully soft custard that is on top of Chef Marge’s famous pie crust. (It’s the same pie crust that is typically only found at Republique!). I’m still drooling as I think about this dessert. My only regret is I only bought one slice! Hehe.
Sari-Sari Store at Grand Central Market is not a convenience store. It is instead a lovely Filipino stall where you can have some hearty and delicious Filipino rice bowls and the best buko pie in town!
For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Sari-Sari Store

Hello Brunch at Restoration Kitchen and Wine!

Blessings and Brunch!

Happy Easter Hello Kitty Foodies! Easter is more than just eggs and candy. It is also about peace, love, family and friends. For this easter not only my tummy full but my heart as well as I got to enjoy a wonderful brunch with my mom at  Restoration Kitchen and Wine in Old Torrance, California.

The brunch menu at Restoration Kitchen and Wine just arrived this February. When I heard they were offering brunch, I knew I had to check it out. I had previously dined for dinner at Restoration Kitchen and Wine and was utterly delighted with their savory dishes. I knew brunch would nonetheless be equal in excellence.

Signature dishes on their brunch menu include classics such as french toast, corned beef hash and steak and eggs. There also some special Restoration dishes named after their wonderful staff such as Becca’s Scramble with 3 eggs, sausage, tomatoes, kale, cheddar cheese and multi grain toast ¬†(named after their Kitchen manager,¬†Rebecca Foley)¬†and Wes’ Turkey Sandwich with yuzu mayo, sprouts and multi grain bread (named after co-owner¬†Wesley Takiguchi). Though primarily breakfast egg dishes do appear on their brunch menu; they do have several items also seen on their dinner menu such as their Furikake Fries, Wild Mushroom Flatbread and Slow Roasted Beet Salad. ¬†For my Easter Brunch, I chose to do a mix of their brunch items and some of their dinner dishes.

Easter brunch started off with an order of their Furikake Fries.

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The Furikake Fries are sprinkled with nori komi furikake. The seasoning of mixed sesame seeds and crunchy seaweed bits was definitely a nice touch. The fries were crisp and had great flavor. It also came with a wonderful side of wasabi aioli. The wasabi aioli was unique, tasty and great for dipping. It had subtle wasabi flavor but enough to give a different kick to the aioli.

The fries were a great starter to what followed next. The brunch menu’s savory dish selection is excellent and one is in for a treat with any of their items.

Their signature selection includes different hash dishes.

There is the Corned Beef Hash.

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This hearty dish consists of corned beef, carrots, cabbage, onions and potatoes topped with a sunny side egg. It also comes with multi-grain toast. Who says corned beef is just for St. Patty’s day?

The other hash dish on the menu is the Short Rib Hash.

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The Short Rib Hash is definitely my new brunch favorite. The short rib was perfectly tender and meaty and went well with the butternut squash, green onions, tomatoes and potatoes that it came with. Similar to the corned beef hash, it was also topped with a sunny side egg and accompanied with a multi-grain toast.

For meat lovers, the classic Steak and Eggs on the menu would be the perfect choice.

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Restoration Kitchen and Wine’s Steak and Eggs comes with an 8 oz choice NY steak, two eggs, breakfast potatoes and multi-grain toast. Dinner for breakfast or breakfast for dinner? This is one very fulfilling dish!

From Furkiake Fries to Short Rib Hash and NY Steak and Egg, our tummies sure were full but so were our hearts!

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Each savory dish almost made us too full for dessert but who can pass up a new sweet dish on the menu.

Their Strawberry Shortcake just recently hit the menu and it is a must try for every one who has a sweet tooth.

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This delightful dessert has house made honey biscuits topped with lemon cream, fresh strawberries, vanilla ice cream. Each bite was pure heaven.

It was a wonderful morning to spend Easter brunch at Restoration Kitchen and Wine. Blessings and brunch; I could not ask for more on this beautiful day.

Hello Painter’s Tape!

Painter’s Tape, the newest neighborhood restaurant in Gardena has very simple instructions for customers walking in. They are as follows: 1) Show up with fun people. 2) Visit the cashier to order a refreshing beverage and couple dishes each to share with the fun people. 3) Eat, drink and be merry. 4) Leave happy, sleep well, repeat steps 1-3.

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Even without the instructions however, I already knew that I would come out of here as one happy Hello Kitty Foodie from Painter’s Tape because of several reasons. The first reason being I was recommended here by my friends from another favorite restaurant of mine;¬†Chubby Rice. Joe and Chef Linda Lau of Chubby Rice are food connoisseurs that I trust and respect and I knew any restaurant they like, would be top-notch. Owner of Painter’s Tape and chef¬†¬†Atsushi Takatsuki, happens to also be a chef alum of Manhattan Beach Post just like Chef Linda. Chef Atsushi was once chef de cuisine of Chef David LeFevre‚Äôs¬†fabulous beach city restaurant.

I also knew I would like Painter’s Tape because I found the inspiration behind the restaurant name so heartwarming and wonderful. Chef Atsushi grew up in Gardena and his father ran a commercial¬†painting business in Gardena for 40 years. The restaurant’s name is a tribute to his father and to his hometown! Being someone who also is very close to the South bay and a true Daddy’s girl; I love the background story behind Painter’s Tape.

With all the above being, said I was already quite happy walking into Painter’s Tape with even no instructions ;). Little did I know that the smile on my face would get even bigger after trying their food. ūüėČ

Painter’s Tape specializes in modern American cuisine. The menu consists of three sections: breads and sandies, eggs and potatoes and vegetables. It’s a tapas style and perfect for enjoying with friends and family.

Our meal here started off with Painter’s Tape’s Potatoes Bravas.

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I’ve always been a fan of potato dishes but this dish has to be one of the most unique potato dishes I’ve ever had. It’s a mix of soft potatoes and potato chips topped with paprika, garlic mayo and a soft egg. Poking the egg yolk and letting it mix in the potatoes was true happiness and yumminess. It has a bit of spice to it and I just loved the mixture of flavors.

Next dish was the Stewed Organic Rice.

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This dish is also not your ordinary (porridge) dish. It is tomato and chicken bone broth topped with egg yolk and crispy things! It is an egg-cellent dish that is very flavorful. The yolk when mixed with the porridge gives the perfect texture for one hearty dish.

After trying something from both the Eggs and Potatoes section and the Vegetables section; it was time to try something from Painter’s Tape’s Bread and Sandies section.

We first tried the Shabu Shabu Steak Bun.

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My family and I are quite fond of the Japanese¬†nabemono hotpot dish of thinly sliced meat and vegetables boiled in water; but never did we anticipate having shabu shabu as a sandwich! Painter’s Tape makes shabu shabu sandwich a reality. The Shabu Shabu Steak bun has the thinly sliced meat, worcestershire sauce, tomato confit and spice shake all in one. The seasoning of this sandwich is simply divine.

The other item that we tried from the Breads and Sandies section was the Japanese curry and cheddar donut.

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This donut came fresh from the kitchen and upon slicing the donut delicious curry and cheddar came oozing out.

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Similar to the Shabu Shabu Steak bun, this was very pleasing to the palate. The curry just had the right tone of hot Asian spices. The cheddar mixed in with the curry made for a very creamy and smooth filling!

Last but not least, we tried their Texas toast.

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The Texas toast was toasted just right and had perfectly crisp edges! I loved the topping of honey and condensed milk. It made for just the sweetest ending to this fabulous meal.

Painter’s Tape had very simple instructions for their customers and after dining here I can say; those instructions are on point! Definitely come with fun people. (A meal with family is always wonderful). Definitely order a couple of dishes (I assure you will love each and every dish you try). Lastly you will definitely leave happy (I left with a smile on my face). Thank you Painter’s Tape! Painter’s Tape, the newest neighborhood restaurant in Gardena; it truly is nice to see you in the neighborhood ;).

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For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Painter’s Tape

Hello Kitty Foodie Meets err Eats Gudetama!

I have a confession to make…I have a new crush. He’s not one you’d think would normally be my type. He’s lazy, unmotivated and always feels blah. Nevertheless he’s a cutie and he’s captured my heart. Who exactly is my new crush…well it’s no other than Gudetama, the lazy egg, Sanrio’s newest character!

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At the end of October, I happily wrote a post about the upcoming collaboration between Plan Check Kitchen and Bar and Sanrio where Plan Check would be offering a special menu featuring Gudetama. Ever since I wrote that blog post, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the day I would get to try this special menu featuring the oh so cute Gudetama. I fully intended to eat my crush up! Haha.

The happy day finally came recently when I visited Plan Check Kitchen and Bar Downtown.

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Just walking up to the restaurant I saw a lot of Gudetama love!

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The lazy egg definitely took over Plan Check. He was everywhere!

I saw Gudetama just lying around (He’s probably contemplating his fate of being eaten by his many fans! Haha!)

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I saw him cracking jokes! (He’s probably trying to make the best of his fate of being eaten by laughing! It’s always better to laugh than cry!) ūüėú

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I even saw good ol’ Gudetama inside the restaurant watching all his fans who came to eat him! ūüėČ

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I apparently am not the only one with a crush on this lazy egg because there sure were a lot of people at Plan Check Kitchen and Bar ordering the specially developed Gudetama-inspired menu.

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I was all decked out in Hello Kitty gear that day but the server knew instantly that I was there for Gudetama and she quickly took my order.

Soon enough I was presented the first egg-licious delight via a orange-ginger egg cream soda.

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On top of this drink is white foam that is made from egg whites. The color of the soda is nice sunny color that looks like yolk. This is a drink that ginger fans would enjoy because I tasted the hint of ginger right from the start. The orange gives a nice citrus flavor that balances out the ginger but ginger is definitely what is prominent in this drink. It is different and unique, just like Gudetama!

The next item that was the served was the appetizer for this multi-course meal. The starter consists of crispy blanket egg, soy sauce egg, spicy pork belly sausage and miso aioli.

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I loved this appetizer right from the start. The golden brown panko crust on the outside was perfectly crisp! The miso aioli was all around.

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Slicing into it, I could just hear the crunch! Once sliced, I loved the layers of egg and spicy pork belly sausage. This dish¬†is supposed to represent Gudetama, sleeping in a crispy warm blanket.¬†Sorry to disturb your sleep, Gudetama but I was hungry and you were too delicious not to eat up! ūüėČ

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Next up after the starter is the main course consisting of two beef sliders with sunny fried quail egg, cheese two ways, bacon two ways, ketchup leather and hot sauce.

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These sliders have to be the cutest sliders I have ever seen. The sunny fried quail egg has Gudetama’s face.

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I’m going to admit, I was a little sad staring at that face. It was almost as if Gudetama was saying “Don’t eat me, I am your cutie crush.”

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I felt a slight sadness slicing into my slider (and gasp saying goodbye to my egg friend) but my sadness was soon surpassed with delight because the sliders were delicious. Plan Check is famous for their burgers and these sliders is a good indication of why. The meat in the sliders were prepared just right. The beef was perfectly cooked and the bacon was crispy. The cheese and ketchup leather brought lots of flavor. There was hot sauce but the spice was subtle. These sliders were very fulfilling.

Last but definitely not least to this multi-course meal was the dessert. The dessert set consisted of chocolate custard pudding and an apricot thumbprint cookie.

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The apricot thumbprint cookie looks like a Gudetama over easy egg. This cute egg looking cookie was my favorite of the two desserts. It had a nice shortbread flavor and the apricot in the middle was a sweet touch.

The chocolate pudding though was not far behind this cookie in terms of making an impression on me. I simply adored the Gudetama design on top. It reminded me of coffee foam art. I found myself actually going around the design and eating around the corners first. Any one who loves chocolate will like this because the pudding was full of rich chocolate creaminess.

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It was truly a pleasure for this Hello Kitty Foodie to meet err eat Gudetama! Gudetama makes me smile and this lazy egg will always be in my heart err on my sleeve (since my my meal came with an exclusive Gudetama Plan Check t-shirt).

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For more smiles, please see my recent Yelp review on Plan Check Kitchen and Bar.

Hello Fluffy Omelette!


I was recently watching a show on The Filipino Channel called Kris TV. In the episode that I was watching, the host Kris Aquino and her guests visted the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I was fascinated with the part of the episode where the chef demonstrated how to make what he called a “fluffy omelette.” The video above is the attempt in my kitchen this morning of making the “fluffy omelette.” This blog post is dedicated to the fun and creative way of making of a fluffy omelette.

Similar to the start of making any kind of omelette, the first step here is to crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk the egg mixture in the bowl. However instead of simply pouring the egg mixture into a frying pan, the chef from Le Cordon Bleu had a different technique. He used a strainer to pour the egg mixture through and lower it into the pot. I tried this technique this morning.

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The moment the egg was poured through the strainer and hit the pot, it automatically puffed. I liked how it formed and shaped like a fluffy cloud.

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I really liked the end result. It was a nice, light, fluffy and soft omelette with some crispy outer edges like tempura.

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It was perfectly puffy and oh so fluffy. Who knew that a simple techinique of running the egg through a strainer versus just pouring it into a pan and frying would make a difference. Fluffy omelette made my morning and put a smile on my face . ūüôā

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