Hello Matsuri Festival at Mitsuwa Market!

This weekend Mitsuwa Market in Torrance had their annual Matsuri Festival. The Matsuri Festival is a Japanese Festival celebrating Autumn. This festival at Mitsuwa had lots of food for the whole family to enjoy.

Some of the food booths were sponsored by some of the popular Japanese eateries in the South Bay.

Shin-Sen Gumi was offering some of their tasty Yakitori. Choices were Arabiki Sausage, Tsukune (Chicken meatball) or Negima (Chicken thigh and onion).

Tsujita LA was present serving their popular Tonkatsu Ramen. It had tender pork belly (charsiu) with green onions, kikuge and seaweed.

Chinchikurin was present serving their tasty Hiroshima Okonomiyaki. Their Okonomiyaki had 11 layers of green laver, sesame seeds, egg, dried kelp powder and dried bonito powder, batter, noodles, green onions, sliced pork, bean sprouts, cabbage, tempura crisps and Otafuku Okonomiyaki sauce.

After eating some delicious Japanese food; there were lots of Hello Kitty games for the young and young at heart to play. I spotted some cutie Hello Kitty items.

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Matsuri Festival at Mitsuwa Marketplace was a fun and delicious way to welcome this fall season!

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Hello Shiok: Asian Street Food!

Shiok: Asian Slang to express awesome, delicious, very tasty, cool, wow! It conveys a feeling of pleasure, happiness and pure satisfaction.

Shiok also happens to be the name of the new restaurant at Rolling Hills Plaza in Torrance, California. The new eatery is appropriately named as they bring to the South Bay some delightful and tasty eats!

Their menu is inspired by Asia’s legendary markets and among their offerings one can find bao, bahn mi and bowls.

I recently got a special sneak peak and was amazed with their bold and bright flavors.

Their baos are my new favorite!

I love the Cripsy Golden Bao.

The outside is a crisp golden brown bun and inside is steamed pork with egg. This is one tasty triple treat.

The Hot Fried Chicken Bao is another fabulous bao that I really enjoyed.

The Hot Fried Chicken Bao is a steamed bun filled with a gigantic piece of fried chicken smothered in sriracha. The fried chicken is topped with Asian slaw, cilantro and jalapeño. I loved the crisp chicken with a fiery kick. This was very fulfilling.

The Nightmarket Bao is another winner.

This savory bao has a large Kakuni-style braised pork belly topped with Taiwanese relish and roasted peanuts! I love how it has crisp roasted peanuts. It gives a nice, crunchy touch to the bao.

Aside from the baos; Shiok has other delights that are part of their “Cravables” menu.

The Veggie Crunch is a great starter that is perfect for vegetarians!

I have always been a fan of taro and this cravable has taro, yam, tofu, mushrooms in fried rice paper. It’s crunch and love at first bite.

Another good starter is their Shrimp Crisps.

Growing up in an Asian household; shrimp crisps were a favorite snack of mine to bring to school. Shiok’s Shrimp Crisps remind me of me of the delightful chips that were once part of my lunch bag. Shiok makes their own house fried shrimp chips and they are amazing!

All of Shiok’s cravables are great but make sure to save room for some of the entrees.

Shiok’s Signature Bahn Mi is a must try!

I tried the bahn mi with grilled lemongrass steak. The lemongrass steak combined with Bourbon pate, sriracha aioli, Asian slaw, cucumbers, pickled daikon, carrot, papaya and cilantro made for a tasty sandwich. This was paired with some Shrimp Crisps.

I also got to try some of their bowls. First up was the Asian Street Bowl.

For the Asian Street Bowl one can choose their protein. Among the choices are lemongrass steak, spicy satay chicken or soy ginger chicken. The protein then comes with peanut sauce, shallot ginger rice, baby lettuce, street side corn, Asian slaw, cucumbers, pickled daikon, carrot, papaya, cilantro and fried shallots. It’s an explosion of flavors in one healthy bowl.

The second bowl I tried here was the Zen Bowl.

The Zen bowl is a vegetarian delight consisting of bbq pulled jackfruit, coconut ginger chickpeas, shallot ginger rice, streetside corn, Asian slaw, pickled daikon-carrot-papaya, cucumbers, fresh shallots and cilantro. I love how the jackfruit is tender just like shredded chicken. The bowl is wonderfully healthy and truly does bring some zen ;).

Equal in deliciousness to the bowls is their drinks. They’ve got freshly made teas with fruits and boba. For the special private event; they had the Blue Lagoon and Boba Milk Tea.

I loved how colorful the Blue Lagoon was. It made me feel like I was in an Asian tropical island. The colorful blue and green floral tea was pure paradise. It has a refreshing and exquisite flavor.

The boba milk tea was a classic drink with soft honey boba pearls.

Shiok! I truly was saying Shiok by the end of my meal here.

Shiok: Asian Street Food will have it’s soft opening starting September 7, 2018 and they will have their grand opening on September 28, 2018.

For more smiles; please see my Yelp review on Shiok: Asian Street Food!

Hello El Barrio Neighborhood Tacos!

Located on busy Aviation Blvd in Redondo Beach is the equally busy El Barrio Neighborhood Tacos! The taco shop just opened up this summer and officially had it’s grand opening today, September 1. Ever since it’s opening one can see the hustle and bustle of folks coming in and out to enjoy the taqueria.

The brains behind the new eatery are actually two culinary personnel very familiar with the South Bay scene; Ulises Pineda-Alfaro and Jesse Duron. They both work at Umi by Hamasaku, a sushi restaurant located at The Point in El Segundo. Pineda-Alfaro is the chef and Duron is the general manager of the sushi restaurant. Both thought it was time to bring some good tacos to the South Bay and good tacos they indeed brought.

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The menu primarily focuses on eight tacos: Gobernador (shrimp), Carne (mesquite grilled hangar steak), Birria (stewed US Wagyu beef), Al Pastor (split roasted Beelers pork), Pork Belly carnitas (crispy pork belly), Chicken Tinga (Mary’s chicken), Cauliflower con Mole (roasted cauliflower) and Nopal (Roasted cauliflower)

The tacos are all served on housemaid corn tortilla and you can actually see them make the tortillas right there. They are made using masa from heirloom, non-GMO corn raised by a collective of family farms in Oaxaca, sourced through the Sawtelle masa company Masienda. I will have to say these tortillas are the best. Fresh and warm; they’re excellent no matter what meat you choose.

Speaking of meat; each of their meat is perfect topped with sauces or cheeses that truly compliment their flavoring. The Birria; US Wagyu beef brisket comes with oozing tomato salsa emulsion while the Pork Belly Carnitas have tomatillo salsa and cilantro. They’re simply delightfully delicious.

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Aside from tacos they also have Mulitas which are served on two if the housemaid tortillas and come with melted cheese, escabeche and salsa. You can choose one of the eight meat offerings.

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They also have Tortas which are served on artisan Telera roll, shaved lettuce, onion, tomato, guacamole crema, salsa and pickle escabeche. These tortas are gigantic. They’re not only big on size but big on fillings and taste!

No matter whether you want a taco, mulita or torta; you will sure to love this new neighborhood taqueria. The grand opening today is offering 50% off all taco, mulitas and tortas. Adelante on over to El Barrio Neighborhood Tacos!

For more smiles, please my Yelp Review on El Barrio Neighborhood Tacos and check out the El Barrio Neighborhood Tacos website.

Hello Urban Plates Torrance!

This August 12, 2019; Torrance will have the grand opening of Urban Plates; a restaurant that specializes in real food made from scratch. The location is perfectly situated at the newly revamped Del Amo Crossing; that is also home to newest 24 Hour Fitness in the South Bay.

There are various Urban Plates locations in California and Washington DC and with each grand opening they pair with a charitable institution that supports the local community. Urban Plates Torrance paired up with  The Volunteer Center; a local South Bay center that has core programs such as Food for Kids. Food for Kids by The Volunteer Center helps provides low income families in the South Bay with healthy meals over the weekend; helping kids be energized and ready for school on the weekday.

I was so fortunate to be a part of a pre-grand opening celebration this weekend courtesy of Urban Plates Torrance and The Volunteer Center. Not only was this event for a good cause; it truly showcased Urban Plates wonderful scratch made meals. Each dish is made out of some of the best ingredients such as grass-fed beef, sustainably sourced seafood, free-range chicken, and fresh produce.

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The first items I got to try during this sneak peak were some of their seasonal soups. First up was the Green Lentil. The Green Lentil has a nice variety of vegetables and spices. There are carrots, bay leaves, garlic, thyme and paprika. All of the ingredients come together for a nice, flavorful broth. I also tried their Tomato Basil. Here at Urban Plates; I loved that they added some coconut milk along with some pesto to make their tomato soup.

The next dish I tried was from their Greens section. The Greens section of their menu consists of hand tossed salads served with scratch made dressing. My choice of salad was their Asian Chicken Salad. This salad was quite a treat. It had lettuce, arugula, organic carrots, green onions, spicy peanuts, large orange slices, red bell peppers, cilantro, crispy wontons and grilled cage free chicken. The dressing was a spicy peanut dressing. This salad definitely had a unique spicy kick to it. It also had a nice crunchy texture thanks to the crisp lettuce, peanuts and wontons.

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For our main dish; we went with one of their hand carved sandwiches. Each of their sandwiches are served on grilled rustic bread and comes with kettle chips. We got to try the Grilled Grass Fed Steak. This was truly one of the best sandwiches I have ever had. It was so meaty and the steak was wonderfully tender. There was a delicious chimichurri aioli smothered on the bread and the meat was topped off with slow roasted tomatoes. Urban Plates definitely knows how to make a good sandwich!

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Last but not least, I had the Urban Cowgirl Cookie for dessert. This cookie is Urban Plates version of a trail mix cookie and had sunflower seeds, oats, dried cranberries, shredded coconut and a bit of nutmeg and cinnamon. It was one yummy cookie that was a perfect ending to one yummy meal!

I am definitely looking forward to trying out Urban Plates again in the near future. I was impressed with their scratch made meals and I could really taste the freshness. I also was an instant fan because they chose to celebrate their opening with helping out the community via The Volunteer Center. Urban Plates Torrance is a true winner.

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For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Urban Plates Torrance.

Hello 7 Leaves Cafe Torrance!

“Be the change that you want to see in the world.” Gandi’s famous words are around the cups and it appears as well on a “eye chart” decoration at the newly opened 7 Leaves Cafe in Torrance.

7 Leaves Cafe indeed is making a change in the world; the boba world to be exact and I like it! The shop that first originated in Orange County has now hit the South Bay. What makes their drinks so unique is they chop, peel, cook, stir, and press by hand from raw ingredients in order to extract real flavors to use in their drinks.

I love my tea as well as my boba and 7 Leaves Cafe has the quality that I am looking for! My favorites so far include their House Coffee as well as their Mung Bean Tea.

The House Coffee is an authentic Vietnamese style coffee with hazelnut cream while the Mung Bean Tea is jasmine tea with mung bean and pandan leaves. Both drinks are true to their name and the flavor really comes out.

Aside from drinks; 7 Leaves also offers macarons and strawberry croissants! I enjoyed some strawberry croissants with my drink and enjoyed the buttery flaky crust of the croissant and the sweet cream that oozed out from the inside.

7 Leaves is definitely making a change; a good change in bringing quality ingredients to bring out quality food and drinks! I’m happy to see this place now in the South Bay!

For more smiles; please check out my Yelp review on 7 Leaves Cafe Torrance.

Hello Somi Somi Torrance!

“The fish is delish!”

Somi Somi is now in the South Bay! The dessert spot that specializes in the Korean-inspired soft serve in ornate fish-shaped cones is the newest spot to open up at Del Amo Fashion Center.

They recently had their grand opening celebration this Friday, March 22, 2019 and I had the delightful chance to eat some of their delectable desserts!

The menu of Somi Somi consists of Ah-boong and Taiyaki.

Ah-boong is a Korean dessert consisting of soft serve ice cream in a gold-fish shaped waffle cone. Here at Somi Somi customers get to pick an ice cream flavor, a filling and toppings. Among the popular  ice cream flavors are matcha, ube, oreo and black sesame. Fillings include taro, custard and red bean and toppings include sprinkles, graham crackers and cereal treats.

My choice for my Ah-boong was ube and oreo ice cream, with a gold-fish waffle filled with taro and topped off with fruity pebbles, Captain Crunch cereal and graham crackers. This fish was definitely delish!

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The other speciality of Somi Somi is their Taiyaki! Taiyaki is actually a  classic street vendor snack in Japan that consists of a warm fish-shaped cake with red bean filling. Here at Somi Somi however they not only have red bean filling but four other filling flavors; custard, nutella, taro and cheddar.

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The Taiyaki is my favorite because Somi Somi makes them fresh right when you order. I love how the filling oozes out of the warm golden fish. This is my kinda “seafood.”

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Somi Somi at Del Amo Fashion Center is celebrating their grand opening this whole weekend with a special! It is “Buy 1 ahboong and get 1 taiyaki free” till Sunday, March 24, 2019! Hurry on over and see for yourself why “the fish is delish!”

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

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.