Hello Shiok: Asian Street Food!

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 Orveganic!

Hello Orveganic!

Located in Lawndale, California is what is a hidden gem in every sense of the word. Orveganic Coffee House and Protein Bar is at the corner of a small dead end street and can easily be missed but missing this place would truly be a sad thing for it is well worth a visit.

Orveganic just opened up this past March 2018 but they are no stranger to offering healthy and tasty treats to the South Bay and beyond. They are the brains behind Healthy Butter; nut butter that can be found in several different Farmers Markets around Southern California. Taking the same kitchen where they produce Healthy Butter; the owners decided to expand and open up Orveganic; a cafe offering organic, plant Based and gluten-free dishes and drinks.

I had the pleasure of coming to this cute cafe and loved it the moment I came in. Chic and comfy are perfect words to describe the interior where they have light oak wood benches and tables. There are colorful pillows along the seating and a good display of their various offerings.

Coffee houses are always my crush and I knew I had to try out one of their coffees. Their coffees have even been chemist tested and there are 0 out of 418 chemicals and pesticides. Each of their drinks are even packed with lots of protein! For my drink choice, I chose to get the Cinnamon Vanilla Maple Latte.

img_1425

The Cinnamon Vanilla Maple Latte was truly a wonderful way to start off my meal here. Warm and nutty; it was packed with healthy goodness.

For the entrees; my friend and I chose two of their more popular dishes; the TexMex Tofu Scramble and the Almond Chardonnay Cheddar Alfredo.

img_1426

The TexMex Tofu has peppercinis grilled tofu with tomatoes, red peppers, onions and garlic. It is topped with avocado seed guacamole and is served alongside warm corn tortillas. I loved the mix of ingredients in this dish. The soft tofu along with the tomatoes, red peppers, onions and garlic were simply wonderful. The avocado seed guacamole was creamy and definitely a nice touch. One can really tell it is healthy and homemade. It really reminded me of home cooking.

The Almond Chardonnay Cheddar Alfredo was my favorite entree of the day! Who knew pasta could be healthy and tasty at the same time. This is not your typical pasta dish and instead something very special. This cheesy and yummy dish consisted of sautéed scallions, mushrooms and garlic mixed with almond mealk, cashew butter, chardonnay cheddar cream cheese sauce all over sorghum and quinoa fusilli. I loved the overall creaminess and taste of “cheese.”

I was quite full after the latte and the entrees; but I’m so glad that I tried one of their desserts! For dessert; they offer mealk shakes, chia pudding, raw jam yogurt and raw ice mealk (their version of ice cream!) I chose to get their raw jam yogurt and it sure was a treat.

img_1427

From the outside; the raw jam yogurt looks simple but inside a pleasant surprise awaits! It is made with cashew cheese yogurt and raw seasonal fruit jam with a hint of maple. I loved the fruitiness that instantly hit the palate. It has a passionfruit taste and was definitely one of the most unique and best desserts I’ve ever had.

This place is truly a gem. Every thing I tried was wonderful and surpassed by expectations. I loved how they’re able to turn in various healthy ingredients into such tasty treats. I was smiling the whole time here 🙂

Small and cute; it can be easy to not spot Organic. This place however is definitely one that Hello Kitty Foodies and friends should check out. From their fresh, hearty and healthy treats; one is sure to smile just like me.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Orveganic.

Hello Sage Bistro: Culver City!

Hello Sage Bistro: Culver City!

Often times I get asked where my favorite spots are around the city. Just recently, I got to try a place that will surely hit the list as a new favorite.

Sage Bistro is a plant-based bistro specializing in vegan and vegetarian cuisine. They have a farm to table concept. Working with local farmers, Sage offers seasonal, organic and local food. There’s three locations for Sage; Echo Park, Pasadena and Culver City.

I recently got to check out the Culver City location; the biggest of all the three Sage branches. This location has a wood fire pizza oven and a full organic bar that offers 25 beers and wines on tap.

Sage’s menu is full of healthy and delicious eats. They have small plates, salads, tacos, tostadas, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, pizza, pretzels, bowls and more.  I got to try two of their items and was instantly impressed with the quality and how they were able to bring out the best of locally sustained and produced food.

The first item I got to try that night was Sage’s Bollywood Bowl.

img_0644

The Bollywood Bowl has yellow lentil daal, eggplant, tomato, potato, onion, corn, edamame, steamed kale that was topped with spicy pickled cabbage, tamarind sauce and mint chutney. It was served with flat bread. Being a big fan of Indian food, I instantly loved this bowl. It had the right spicy kick to it and the flavors mixed together perfectly. Healthy and fulfilling; it was a great start to dinner!

The next item I got to try was the Eggplant Artichoke Parmesan Pizza.

img_0643

I love all dishes with eggplant along with artichoke and thus I was thrilled to see this on the menu! The pizza crust is made out of organic heirloom white flour crust. The crispy crust was topped with marinara, pesto sauce, mozzarella breaded organic eggplant and artichoke hearts and was then drizzled with cashew alfredo. The cashew alfredo was a wonderful touch bringing a unique creaminess to the pizza. It’s a pizza unlike any I’ve ever tried and definitely a winner.

Sage Bistro definitely hits the list of places I am a fan of. Each dish I tried during my visit was phenomenal and I love their concept. It is truly amazing to have food with ingredients from local farmers who are committed to organic pesticide free farming and regenerative agriculture. This farm to table at it’s best and is my new favorite.

For more smiles, please see my recent Yelp review on Sage Bistro: Culver City!

Hello Samosa House El Segundo!

Hello Samosa House El Segundo!

Stepping into the newly opened Samosa House in Plaza El Segundo, I was already quite mesmerized. The floor is adorned with colorful Indian designs and the place was popping with upbeat Bollywood music. There’s a wonderful aroma of spices from the array of hot Indian food on display.  I knew that I was in for a treat at this newly opened place.

Samosa House in El Segundo is the newest branch of a family owned and operated Indian restaurant specializing in Vegetarian and Vegan dishes. Their first restaurant was Bharat Bazaar in Culver City and they’ve since branched out to restaurants in LA, Santa Monica and now El Segundo.

It was hard to choose from their various savory dishes but there was one dish I knew for sure I didn’t want to miss and that was their famous samosas.

img_1043

Samosa House’s samosas were once featured on Food Network’s  “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” and it is not surprising. This was a great start of a meal here. It was crispy pastry filled with mashed potatoes and peas. It was served with tamarind and mint sauces. I loved the crispy edges and the savory ingredients.

After the savory samosa starter, it was time for my main entree! I got a three item combo with charcoal smoked cauliflower, matar paneer and veggie chicken.

img_1060

The charcoal smoked cauliflower had crispy cauliflower in a creamy sauce. I loved the flavor of the cauliflower. The cauliflower  is really distinct because of how it is prepped. It is first marinated and afterwards smoked with a charcoal pot.

The veggie chicken was wonderful as well. The gluten nuggets were so tender. I also was such a fan of the butter sauce in this dish.

The matar paneer was my favorite. This dish was packed with flavors! It had big chunks of paneer in a tomato based sauce. I loved it over the white rice.

Aside from the white rice, the combo plate comes naan and raita or vegan soup.

img_1044

I chose to get garlic naan and had the pleasant surprise of receiving a very large piece of fresh-baked naan. Piping hot and fresh out of the oven, it was wonderful. The garlic flavor simply oozed out of the fresh bread.

Last but not least, I tried Samosa House’s ginger chai.

img_1045

The Indian tea flavored with ginger and spices was so comforting on this somewhat overcast day. It’s slight hint of ginger was just right.

I truly enjoyed every single item I tried here at Samosa House El Segundo.

img_1042

From start to finish, I was a fan. From their famous samosas to their savory dishes and their comforting ginger chai tea; this Hello Kitty Foodie was full of smiles.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Samosa House El Segundo.

Hello Thaipanese!

Hello Thaipanese!

I’ve always been a fan of Thai food and Japanese food. A lot of blog entrees have been dedicated to visiting Japanese and Thai restaurants so just imagine this blogger’s delight when I discovered a restaurant offering both types of cuisine! The newly opened Thaipanese restaurant in Lomita, California specializes in both Japanese and Thai food.

The menu of this place is amazing. They’ve got Japanese specialities such as sushi, teriyaki and ramen and they have Thai dishes such as pad thai and curry. I found their lunch special to be really great because you can get a good mix of Japanese and Thai food. Their lunch specials come with rice, miso soup, house salad and your choice of sushi roll.

Whenever I go to a Thai restaurant, pad thai is a staple dish I must try. For Japanese restaurants, my favorite sushi is the California roll. It was a given that one of the first lunch special combos I would try here at Thaipanese would have both .

img_9417

I liked the pad thai with the slight sweet peanut sauce here. The California rolls were fresh and tasty with a creamy filling of imitation crab.

My other favorite Thai dish is curry! I’m also a big fan of veggie rolls. Here at Thaipanese, they have both.

img_9416

The yellow curry with chicken is spicy and had lots of sauce that was perfect over the white rice. The spicy curry was a good match for the veggie rolls. I liked the crispy veggies and avocado inside the veggie rolls.

I love that Thaipanese offers the best of both the worlds in terms of Thai food and Japanese food. It makes me smile that I can get dishes with both types. If you’re a fan of either Thai food or Japanese food, this is a place that will surely make you smile as well.

Hello Starbucks Secret Menu and Friday Bliss!

Hello Starbucks Secret Menu and Friday Bliss!

I was so excited when I walked into my local Starbucks and saw a new secret menu posted up!

On the secret menu were the yummy flavors of butter pecan, frozen hot chocolate, pistachio, smores and banana split!

IMG_1371.JPG

I could not resist and had to try one of the secret menu drinks. I chose to get the pistachio flavor. It is green tea latte with hazelnut and toffee nut substitutes.

This drink is amazing! It is so aromatic pleasing. The sweet pistachio smell is instant. It looks awesome too with the perfect pistachio like green color. The taste is best of the all because it really does taste like pistachio. It’s got that nutty flavor down.

IMG_1376.JPG

The pistachio drink definitely made my morning but I got another pleasant treat with a free breakfast sandwich! I got the vegetable and fontina go breakfast sandwich! It’s a delightful vegetarian sandwich. It has spinach, sundries tomatoes, caramelized onions and Fontiago cheese on a multigrain ciabatta bun.

IMG_1385.JPG

Hello Kitty Foodie had plenty to smile about today! Happy Friday!

IMG_1370.JPG

Hello Chipotle Sofritas!

Hello Chipotle Sofritas!

Last month Chipotle rolled out it’s newest offering to several states. Their newest menu item is sofritas. Sofritas is made out of shredded organic tofu braised with chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos and a blend of spices. The name “Sofritas” comes from the word “sofrito,” which means gently fried in Spanish. In Spanish cuisine, a sofrito is a culinary base consisting of combination of sautéed garlic, pepper, onions, tomatoes.

Ever since I heard that Chipotle would be offering this vegan/vegetarian friendly dish, I wanted to try and taste it. It’s the first time in 20 years that Chipotle is added something new to their protein offerings. I was intrigued. Today, I finally did get the chance to check their braised tofu dish.

20140328-174909.jpg

Like it’s other menu offerings, you can choose to get a bowl, burrito or a salad. I chose to get a sofritas bowl with brown rice, veggies, cheese, mild salsa and garnished with sour cream. The sofritas itself is very interesting looking, it looks like chorizo. The tofu texture is firm and makes you almost think it is ground beef or ground chicken.

Similarly, tastewise, it is also very un-tofu like. It tastes very much like you are eating ground beef or ground chicken. It is full of flavor and quite spicy. There’s a wonderful combination of slight tangy & slight smokey giving the Chipotle bowl quite a kick that is different from it’s other offerings. The cheese, mild salsa and sour cream offset the spice but in the end you definitely still feel the heat.

Chipotle’s sofritas is a great addition to their menu. It’s something different. It’s a good option for vegetarians and vegans but I have a feeling even meat eaters will like this. 🙂

Hello homemade tofu sisig!

Hello homemade tofu sisig!

20140322-124436.jpg

Ingredients: firm tofu, red onion, red bell pepper, jalapeño, lemon juice and mayonnaise

One of my favorite Filipino dishes is sisig. It’s a popular entree where various meats are marinated in a sour liquid like vinegar or lemon juice and then seasoned with salt, pepper and other spices. Traditionally this dish is made with pork and various parts of a pig but I honestly I’ve never been a fan of the traditional way. 1.) I don’t like pork. 2.) It seemed very unhealthy. In the past, I’ve really preferred and liked a chicken version of the dish. Now, that it is the Lenten season and I’m on my “no meat for 40 days” journey, I went with trying out a different type of sisig or a vegetarian version made with tofu.

First up for this was to deep fry the small firm tofu cubes until golden brown and crispy.

In a separate pan, the red onion and red bell pepper were sautéed.

The fried tofu and jalapeño were added next and mixed with the sautéed onion and bell peppers.

Lemon juice was added for the seasoning and a little bit of mayonaise was added into the mix.

I like this tofu sisig so much better than the pork version. It eliminates the unhealthy pork and it’s place is the healthier but tasty tofu. I often have a hard time introducing my vegetarian friends to Filipino food, so it’s nice to have options like this that can put a nice, vegetarian twist to a classic Filipino dish.

Hello Benihana Vegetarian eats!

Hello Benihana Vegetarian eats!

It’s the Lenten season again and for this Hello Kitty Foodie, it means no meat for 40 days. When this time of year comes around, I always wonder what my options are when dining out. This March, I had a Benihana certificate that I needed to use. I was at first a little worried that dining at Benihana would be a challenge for my Lent vegetarian diet. I was however happy to see that it was no challenge at all. There were plenty of meatless items that I could eat!

The vegetable roll is perfect for vegetarians and for the Lent! I am normally not a sushi eater because I’m not a fan of any kind of seafood. This sushi roll however had no crab meat or salmon that I normally see in sushi. It’s all veggies. It has green leaf, avocado, cucumber, tomato, red cabbage and yamagobo. Yay to no seafood! I think I may have found the perfect sushi for me.

20140308-132405.jpg

Another great non- meat option was the vegetable tempura. I’ve always been a fan of Benihana’s tempura. The vegetable tempura consisted of fried veggies like zucchini, squash, calliflower and carrots. Fresh and hot, the tempura was delicious.

20140308-132414.jpg

Today’s Benihana vegetarian eats is the first of many of my meatless dining adventures during Lent. I was happy to find Benihana’s various vegetarian options. Their non-meat dishes is equally as delicious as my other favorites here. I’m happy to be able to try something beyond my normal order of lunch boats and teppanyaki. Little surprises = a happy little hello kitty foodie.

Hello Veggie Grill Winter Menu!

Hello Veggie Grill Winter Menu!

Love!

Two and a half years ago I got invited to a special pre-grand opening of the Veggie Grill in Torrance by Veggie Grill co-founder Kevin Boylan. I have loved Veggie Grill ever since they first opened their doors. 8 Yelp reviews for the El Segundo location and 3 for the Torrance one, my love for this place is pretty evident.

Within the two and half years though, I’ve pretty much tried almost everything on the menu. My favorites are the Santa Fr Crispy’ Chickin and Thai chickin’ salad. I truly love the old menu but really was hoping for some new stuff! Therefore when it was announced they had some new offerings via a new Winter Menu, I was pretty excited. I was even more excited when I learned that via downloading the new Veggie grill app, one can get a treat for one free Winter Menu item. (After downloading the app, there is a button labeled “love” and from there is a voucher for a free meal!)

Veggie Grill’s new Winter Menu consist of over ten new items that include new sides and starters like mini wraps and Yukon gold fries, new bowls and plates like herb roasted vegetable bowls, quinoa salads and BBQ. These items are great in price, with the mini wraps starting at $3.50. Veggie Grill really worked to have items on this new menu that are more affordable to the everyday consumer.

The other day, I got to try some items from the Winter Menu and redeem my free meal via the app/love button ❤️).

There are two new bowls that are being offered. They have a Bombay Bowl and a Harvest Bowl. Both are filled with herb roasted vegetables. One of the big differences between the bowls lies in their sauces. The Bombay bowl has a cilantro/green curry sauce with coconut milk and the Harvest bowl has a miso gravy. I love curry and was quite intrigued to see how Veggie Grill would fulfill my curry love.

The moment the Bombay Bowl was presented, I instantly did feel some love for this new dish. A bowl with very appetizing looking plating was presented in front of me. It was filled with lots of herb roasted veggies, grains, steamed kale, cannellini beans. It was drizzled with cilantro/green curry sauce with coconut milk and topped with almonds and hemp seeds.

20131214-205554.jpg

The love for this dish did not end however with it’s presentation because taste wise, it was equally as impressive. Crunchy cauliflower, savory kale, crispy almonds and a slightly spicy curry sauce instantly gratified my tastebuds. Aside from the cauliflower, I liked how there was a variety of different herb roasted veggies. There were some turnips, broccoli and mushrooms mixed in there! The cilantro green curry sauce was nice and thick. The touch of coconut milk added creamy texture. It definitely fulfilled my curry cravings. The Bombay Bowl is now added into my list of favorites at Veggie Grill.

The Harvest Bowl is the second new bowl on their menu. It had field roast sausage, herb roasted veggies, super grains, porcini mushroom and topped with miso gravy and hemp seeds. I liked the tender and tasty field roast sausage in this dish! It’s the first sausage offering I’ve tried from Veggie grill. I was also a fan of the soft porcini mushroom!

20140111-121042.jpg

Aside from the bowls, I tried the new BBQ “Steak” sandwich. For my sandwich side, I chose another new offering, the Yukon gold fries.

20131214-205716.jpg

The BBQ “Steak” sandwich was packed with Veggie Steak in tangy BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, chipotle ranch and coleslaw. The Veggie steak was soft and tender. The BBQ sauce added a sweet kick. The coleslaw and chipotle ranch added even more flavor.

The Gold Yukon fries matched the sandwich perfectly. They were thick skinned potatoes. It’s classic old fashioned steak fries. Dipping it into the chipotle ranch gave it a nice touch.

Aside from the Gold Yukon fries, I noticed they now also offer the onion rings as a side! I love how you can now add this to your meal. Their golden brown onion rings have a perfect crisp and a tasty buttery like batter. It will go well with any item on their menu.

20140111-121614.jpg

It’s another visit to Veggie Grill in the books and I love this place even more. The new Winter menu items are amazing and equal the previous entrees in deliciousness. Thank you to Veggie Grill as well for the love they gave with a free entree via the app! Love!