Hello Rakkan Ramen Redondo Beach!

After visiting Tokyo late last year, I truly found an appreciation for all things “umami.” What exactly is umami you may ask? Umami is actually one of the five basic senses. The other four being sweet, sour, bitter and salty.  Rakkan Ramen is all about umami and offering dishes that are full of flavor. There’s five locations in Japan; four of which are in Tokyo. No need however to fly all the way to Tokyo however to get a taste of Rakkan Ramen because there are actually three locations in the USA and they are all in Southern California! The three locations are in downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Redondo Beach. The latest one to open is the one in Redondo Beach.

I recently had a chance to visit the Rakkan Ramen in Redondo Beach and my senses were instantly transported back to Tokyo.

My meal here first started off with their Rakkan Buns.

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There are three offerings of Rakkan Buns; pork, chicken and vegetable. My choice was the chicken buns. This starter indeed was a definition of sensory overload. Two steamed buns were filled with crispy chicken, milk, sesame, baby mix greens with teriyaki sauce and mayonnaise.  I loved the melt in your mouth softness of the steamed buns followed by the delightful crisp of the deep-fried chicken. A mix of the mayonnaise and teriyaki sauce was delightfulness to the palate.

After such a savory stater, next on the table was the star of the meal; the ramen. Here at Rakkan Ramen; they have four different types. Amber, Pearl, Garnet and Ruby. The ramen are just as special as the names of the gemstones they are named after.
Amber is their soy sauce ramen and their most popular at Rakkan. Pearl is the salt sauce ramen that uses specially selected Japanese salt and white soy sauce. lt is Rakkan Ramen’s “healthy” ramen. Garnet is the miso ramen that is well-known in Hokkaido. While ruby is the shrimp miso ramen made with shrimp paste and shrimp slowly boiled in olive oil to concentrate the umami flavor.
Upon my visit, I tried the Garnet ramen.

 

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The Garnet uses original blended miso and has vegetable broth, sesame paste, grilled pork, green onion, bamboo shoots and seasoned egg served with thin noodles. I instantly became a fan of the vegetable broth! I love that they used vegetable broth to help keep the dish healthy yet tasty. This in itself makes it a winner in my book. The seasoned egg along with the tender pork were superb. With an addition of their chili sesame oil; this ramen dish made for one hearty meal. The umami flavor was evident throughout the whole meal.

I am very happy to see Rakkan Ramen in Southern California. It’s a little taste of Tokyo here at home.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Rakkan Ramen Redondo Beach.

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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 Newberry Coffee and Tea!

Coffee, Tea and Newberry!

There’s a new place in the South Bay to get a good cup of coffee for cold days  or an iced cold boba for chilly days.  Newberry Coffee and Tea just opened up this January 2019 in Torrance, CA! Newberry Coffee Roasters gets all their coffee beans from Brazil, Columbia, Indonesia, Panama, Guatemala and Hondura and they roast their coffee locally in Los Angeles weekly. Being a big coffee and boba fan, I had to check this place out.

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Since it was a rather warm day in Los Angeles, my eye was on their Favorite Blended menu. Two in particular caught my eye; the Caramel Frappe and the Taro Milk Molly

For those looking for a great day kickstart, the Caramel Frappe is one that I recommend! With espresso,  caramel, coffee jelly and oreo; it’s the perfect blend of coffee and sweet. I liked the hints of caramel within in the espresso. Typically espresso drinks can be a bit too strong for me but here they do it just right.

The Taro Milk Molly has milk, taro, panda boba and custard. This one is a classic boba drink for those who like simple and sweet.

The frappe and molly were just two of the drinks that I enjoyed. They have many more in their Favorite Blended menu but you can also customize and make your own!

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It’s always nice to see a nice new coffee shop. Newberry Coffee and Tea Company hits the spot for when craving some coffee or boba!

For more smiles, please my Yelp Review on Newberry Coffee and Tea Company!

Hello Thai Hub Torrance!

Thai food is one of my favorite types of cuisine and I’m always on the lookout for a good place to find some great Thai dishes. This 2019, there’s a new “hub” in Torrance just for that!  Thai Hub Torrance Street Food and Dessert Cafe just opened up this new year and is quickly becoming a go-to Thai place for those in the South Bay (and beyond).

Thai Hub Torrance says that their love for Thai food is “infinite” and this is evident in the menu consisting of a large variety of Thai dishes. One can find authentic dishes such as  E-Sarn Rice Sausage, Tom Zap Baby Pork Rib soup, Thai Papaya Salad and Ka prow Grounded beef.

A good way to try out their different offerings is through their lunch set. The lunch set is offered daily from 11am through 3:30pm. I’ve found that these are great deal to get a glimpse of their variety.

Their Pad See Ew lunch set is one of my favorites.

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The Pad See Ew comes with egg, wonton soup and two chicken wings. The chicken wings happen to be one of their appetizer offerings too! The Thai style breaded chicken wings are scrumptious! Served piping hot, each bite gives a delightful crunch. Not to be outdone is the wonton soup that consists of  fully stuffed chicken and shrimp wontons, tender BBQ pork and bok choy. The star of this lunch set of course however is their  Pad See Ew. The fact rice noodles have a good mix of eggs, Chinese broccoli and chicken.

Another popular lunch set and one that I also really like is their Yellow Curry Chicken.

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Yellow Curry Chicken is a staple in Thai cuisine and here at Thai Hub they really know their curry! The Yellow Curry is full of flavor! There is tender chicken breast, potatoes, onions and carrot. It’s great over the white rice and mixed with hard-boiled eggs that comes with the set. On the side is their Spicy beef Salad. This salad has a bit of kick to it because of the spicy lime dressing. There is grilled beef, cucumber, lemongrass, tomatoes and mint.

I am happy to see this new “hub” for Thai food in Torrance! It’s one amazing new addition to the South Bay this 2019!

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Thai Hub Torrance.

 

Hello Offset Coffee!

“While it may seem small, the ripple effects of small things is extraordinary.”

Hello 2019! The new year is upon us! I am happy to write about a small new coffee shop that is sure to bring extraordinary eats and drinks to many this new year.

Offset Coffee opened up in Torrance, California just this December 27, 2018. The owners are two locals who simply love coffee. They wanted to share their love of coffee via opening up the only multi-roaster coffee shop in the South Bay.

Walking in, I instantly became a fan of the small and simple cafe. It definitely sets an “offset” type of mood from the hustle and bustle of a busy life. Very simple. Very basic. It’s all about taking a breather and simply enjoying the coffee here.

Their menu consists of various coffee delights ranging from drip coffee to cortado and flavored lattes.  Flavored lattes are vanilla, hazelnut and lavender. They also offer cold brews, Mexican cokes and hot chocolate.

Upon my visit here, my mom and I tried the hazelnut latte and cappuccino, respectively.

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The hazelnut latte was simply delightful. It had the right hint of hazelnut flavor in the cup. It was nutty, sweet and creamy and a perfect match to the pastries we would also try on this visit.

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The cappuccino was also great. A perfect starter for the day with it’s rich and bold flavor.

To go along with are cups of coffee, we tried two of their fresh baked pastries. Offset’s pastries are from Bakers Kneaded. Bakers Kneaded bakes daily in Los Angeles organic whole grain breads and pastries from California sourced and grown ingredients.

First up we tried the bombolini.

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Talk about heaven in a bite. These Italian doughnuts are filled with custard that simply melts in the mouth. It is no wonder these sell out almost daily at the shop.

The next pastry we tried was their almond croissants.

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The almond croissants have a buttery, flaky crust topped with powdered sugar and almonds. Inside is a lovely almond paste that is simply perfection.

Trying out Offset Coffee was great way or shall I say an extraordinary way to start the new year.  I cannot wait to have more “offset” days.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Offset Coffee,

Hello Calo Kitchen and Tequila!

Ever since Apollo Landing opened up in El Segundo, I have eagerly awaited for what restaurants would be added to the plaza. They were already home to my favorite Philz Coffee El Segundo and Shake Shack; and I was excited to see what other delights would be coming. I’m happy to say that the new Calo Kitchen that opened up is now on the top of my favorite restaurants ever.

Calo Kitchen just opened up this Fall 2018 and it is already one place that I really love and enjoy dining at. It’s a beautiful two-story restaurant with the bottom floor dedicated to an open kitchen and bar and the second floor dedicated to a more private setting with a view. Not only is the restaurant modern and chic; the service and food is top-notch.

I love anything “From The Grill.” My favorite is  their Short Rib Enchiladas. This is the entree that they have me wanting to come back here again and again.

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The Short Rib Enchiladas are topped crispy onions and home-made creamy short rib sauce. Their short rib sauce truly makes this dish a winner. It brings so much flavor to the dish. I also liked the touch of crispy onions as it brings a nice pleasant crunch to the enchiladas. The short rib inside itself is perfectly tender. This dish comes with rice and their fabulous black beans! (Note: The black beans are also served complimentary with their chips and they are simply to die for. They are made with pork broth and definitely one of the tastiest beans I’ve ever had!)

Another favorite dish of mine is Carmelita’s Ribeye Tacos.

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These are no ordinary tacos! The ribeye comes in small skillet. There are tender strips of ribeye baked over melted cheese, mushrooms, and onions. It comes with your choice of flour or corn tortillas as well as guacamole, rice and beans. It reminds me slightly of a fajitas yet is different because of the melted cheese. It’s tasty, unique and just simply delightful!

The savory dishes are a winner but one shouldn’t pass off the sweets either. Save room for dessert folks!

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The churros here are special. They come with a surprise in the middle and as you bite in, dulce de leche filling oozes out. These hot and crunchy churros are then topped with vanilla ice cream drizzled with chocolate. It’s a dessert lovers dream come true!

Even the cappuccino at Calo Kitchen is amazing.

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The cappuccino has hints of dark chocolate and a perfect way to end a meal here.

Overall Calo Kitchen is one of my favorite places to open up this 2018 and I cannot wait to be here again!

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Calo Kitchen and Tequila.

Hello Manhattan Beach Food Tour!

I am so blessed to be able to call the South Bay home. Beautiful views, sunny weather and pure beach side bliss; what more can a girl ask for? I was thus so thrilled to learn about Manhattan Beach Food Tour, a new tour launching just in time for this summer. In this food tour, visitors go on a culinary journey all over Downtown Manhattan Beach.  Being a foodie and a beach cities girl, I was very happy to be part of the very first tour they had today.

Well known for their world class restaurants; Manhattan Beach is the perfect town to try out some of the best cuisines.

We started off our tour with a visit to Paradise Bowls and had the Gaucho Açaí Bowl.

The Manhattan Beach location is the very first location for Paradise Bowls. It first opened in 2013 in Manhattan Beach by UCSB alumni, Alex Graham and Justin Segal. The Gaucho Bowl is tribute to their UCSB days. Gaucho is the UCSB mascot and this bowl would do any UCSB alum proud. It’s a yummy treat with bananas, strawberries, blueberries, açaí and apple juice. This was the perfect start to a the tour.

Our second stop was Jimmy’s Kouzina. Here we had their delicious Cheese Boat.

This fresh baked cheese boat is a great representative of both the Italian cuisine and Greek cuisine that Jimmy’s is well known for. It is shaped just like a Greek sailboat and is topped with a Casera cheese and Parmesan cheese. Casera cheese is a creamy cheese from Northern Italy. I love how they make their own bread here at this restaurant known for both Greek and Italian delights.

The third stop of the tour Simmzy’s. Here we had one of their most popular dishes, The 15 Minute (but worth the wait) Wings!

This was definitely one of my favorite stops of the tour. The wings are not your ordinary wings and definitely worth the wait ;). They have both a little bit of spice and a little bit of sweet! They’re served with Simmzy’s homemade blue cheese dressing. The Simms restaurants are some of most delicious restaurants in Manhattan Beach and it was great to have Simmzy’s as part of the tour. It was even more special to have a chance to try their famous wings.

For our fourth stop, we went to Rock N’ Fish. Here we got to they their Coconut Crusted Mahi Sliders.

Rock N’ Fish is the first full service restaurant of Manhattan Beach restaurateur Michael Zislis. This restaurant is very popular for their seafood dishes and though it’s not often that I have seafood; I just had to try a dish here. I have to say these mahi sliders were a pleasant surprise and very enjoyable. The crispy mahi mahi was smothered with sweet chili aioli and topped mango slaw and avocado. I loved the mix of flavors.

Our fifth stop was our last savory stop of the day; El Sombrero. Who says tacos are only for Tuesday’s? We got to feast on some of Manhattan Beach’s best tacos today!

When entering El Sombrero; the owner’s first greeting is “Welcome home.” “El Som” as locals fondly call it has been a part of Manhattan Beach since 1975. The simple, hometown feel and traditional Mexican food is something that struck out from the moment I waked in. It really did feel like home and I loved their tacos! We got to try their crispy beef tacos and grilled shrimp tacos. Hearty, meaty beef inside with and crisp shell outside; these beef tacos are some of the best tacos I’ve ever had. The grilled shrimp tacos were also wonderful. These were served with soft, fresh tortillas. It is no wonder this place has been a favorite of locals for so long.

It truly was beautiful day and we had the sweetest ending. Manhattan Beach Food Tour’s last stop was Manhattan Beach Creamery. Here we got to enjoy their Cream’wich.

Manhattan Beach Creamery is the home of the original artisan ice cream sandwich. It’s so fitting we got to try their original Cream’wich. It was the perfect sweet ending for a sunny day and awesome tour. The Cream’wich we had was a delightful ice cream sandwich with two chocolate chip cookies and vanilla ice cream in between. The cookies and ice cream are special to Manhattan Beach Creamery. The cookies are from their Karelia Bakery and the ice cream is freshly made in house.

Though Manhattan Beach Creamery was the official last stop of the day. We actually had a very pleasant surprise at the end when our awesome tour guides, Lauren and Amanda gave us a customized surfboard cookies from Becker’s Bakery.

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The surfboard cookies are Becker’s Bakery’s signature cookies. I was so touched to receive these cookies! They were customized with my name as well as one for my mom; who was my guest for this tour. It was also special because it represented Manhattan Beach so beautifully.

It truly was a special day! I loved bonding with my mom in one of my favorite cities and it was lovely to be a part of the first ever Manhattan Beach Food Tour! The tour really showcased the beauty and diversity that Manhattan Beach has to offer.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Manhattan Beach Food Tours.