Tuesday, October 3, 2017

the purple pig

the purple pig
500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
tel312) 464-1744

what was consumed: salt-roasted beets with whipped goat cheese and pistachio butter, pork shoulder with mashed potatoes and puffed farro

chicago is definitely a city for those who like to eat. it's as though there are delicious places to eat on every corner; more specifically, there are famous places to eat around every corner.

as we rushed to make our schedule chicago architecture tour, we passed the purple pig. why did that name sound so familiar? oh yeah. famous. and highly recommended. so, after the tour, we retraced our steps and nabbed seats at the bar, ready to enjoy some delicious dishes. and even though were were on the late side for lunch, there was still a long line of people waiting to be seated. as a result, the mood in the purple pig was lively, busy, and the place smelled delicious.

we opted to share some veggies and some pork (we were still on the "more pork please"-run after a year in pakistan. hahaha). 

while sitting at the bar, we also got a glimpse of some of the other dishes being prepared. the burrata canoli and housemade meatballs in particular caught my attention. can't wait to go back to the purple pig!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

lou malnati's

lou malnati's
439 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654
tel312) 828-9800

what was consumed: chicago style pizza, spinach salad.

a student of mine once gifted me lou malnati's pizza and friend w has been ordering giordano's for super bowl since the mid 2000s. all of this is to say that i am not totally new to the chicago pizza scene; that said, being able to enjoy this deliciousness, fresh, was a treat that everyone should indulge in.

we arrived in chicago late for our weekend in the windy city (my plans to see a taping of npr's "wait wait don't tell me" were CRUSHED as a result of a delayed flight and plane re-routing due to weather). i was a little worried (and would be very hangry) that there wouldn't be an eatery open so late. but fear not! a lovely gentleman at the hotel we stayed at told us that we couldn't come to chicago without eating at one of their institutions: lou malnati's (and, lucky for us, their kitchen closes well past midnight).

upon arrival, we were pleasantly surprised to see that we weren't the only late diners. the large bar, set up in a pretty typical bar/pizzeria style with high tables/stools and booths, was about half filled with folks already enjoying their lou malnati's. i wanted in! 

our server took our order soon after we were seated. she told us that our pizza could take up to 35 minutes (fine by us!) and asked whether we wanted the salad first or with the pizza (first please. we were starving!). but between chatting and drooling over others' meal, the <35 and="" by="" font="" front="" in="" mins="" no="" of="" our="" pizza="" quickly="" time.="" us="" was="" went="">

deep dish chicago pizza is characterized, in addition to the "deep dish" high butter crust (that was even more delicious with the left over ranch from the salad. YUM), by the inverse layering: tomato/sauce on to, toppings in the middle, cheese on the bottom nearest the crust. lou malnati's does a great job with that too as the cheese is plentiful and oozes as you enjoy each delicious bite. and while i wish i had more room for another slice, i only made out with two slices under my belt. YUM.

so, when in chicago, be sure to get yourself to lou malnati's ASAP (or one of their other famious pizzeria's. sorry w, we opted for lou malnati's this time around. we'll have to hit up giordano's for what i hope is a guaranteed re-visit to chicago!). you and your taste buds will be glad you did!


Friday, September 29, 2017


727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012
tel323) 380-8680

what was consumed: chubby pork belly, kung pao noodle bowl

i might have an unhealthy need to support fellow korean americans: i read their books, watch their movies, and eat their food (among other things). but people like roy choi make it easy.

i remember, years ago, standing in line to enjoy kogi tacos (by the time i got a chance, there were already a few trucks, one of which came as far down south as irvine on), where i was one of the last people to order before they cut people off (the line was that long). so happy to follow roy choi's successes and, this time, enjoy chego.
i'd only heard about chego from social media (thank you, instagram!), so i was excited about the thought of finally making a visit.

chego is located inside a small shopping center in chinatown. after a few hours of waiting in line and then enjoying the artwork at 'the broad,' it was an easy drive over, and a delicious one.

we missed lunch hour, so there wasn't a crowd at chego; that said, there was a slow by steady stream of bowls that were coming out of the kitchen (a good sign, right?). we took a quick look at the menu, put in our order, and waited for our bowls to be prepared. once they were ready, we took our bowls and ate at the picnic tables right outside chego's doors.

whether you order rice or noodles, you will not be disappointed. the combination of asian fusion flavors will make your taste buds so happy. we got a healthy serving of the pork belly in our rice bowl which we quickly gobbled up. and while my eyes are always bigger than my stomach, the bowls were definitely filling and a great lunch option. can't wait to go back to chego!!!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

sam woo

sam woo
15333 Culver Dr #720, Irvine, CA 92606
tel949) 262-0688

what was consumed: seafood and other chinese style dishes (shrimp, peiking duck, french style steak cubes, fish in ginger sauce, seafood lettuce wraps, sautéed morning glory)

for me, sam woo has always been a staple for chinese chinese food while in so.cal (as opposed to korean-style chinese food). both the take out as well as the sit-down sections. whether you're looking for some favorites or are wanting something new, sam woo is a solid choice.

i remember the first time i went to sam woo, as a kid, and they brought out the super fresh (ie still alive) shrimp to show you before preparing it. while that was a surprise then, i've since some to see that show as a sign of freshness (right?). so when my aunt wanted to take us here for dinner, i was totally game.

we had an early-ish reservation for dinner and were warmly welcomed and quickly seated upon our arrival. we ordered a series of dishes (including fresh shrimp! shrimp heads fried, the rest steamed. YUM) and were quickly on our way to eating. the fresh seafood, the delicious flavors ... YUM. thanks auntie for a delicious dinner!

Monday, September 25, 2017

kula sushi

kula sushi
2700 Alton Pkwy, Irvine, CA 92606
tel949) 553-0747

what was consumed: sushi-go-round!

have you been to a sushi-go-round? you know, where there's a "conveyor belt" of various dishes; you make your selection by selecting a plate off the belt and you pay per plate. yum. that's what kula sushi offers. additionally, each seat has a touchscreen menu from which you can make a specific request or order things that don't seem to be coming around (e.g. ramen. yes!). the sushi at kula sushi hits the spot and gives diners the opportunity to try a whole bunch of different things without the super high price tag that usually comes with sushi-filled meals. the service at kula is also quick and kind (though the instruction on getting your name on the waitlist caused some confusion - ha!). people will say what they will about sushi-go-rounds, but sometimes it's what hits the spot. so ... let's go!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

85 degrees

85 degrees
2700 Alton Pkwy #123, Irvine, CA 92606
tel(949) 553-8585

what was consumed: asian bakery bread! and salted cream black tea. YUM.

i remember the first time i went to 85 degrees. stacey and i waited in line. for a long time. and when we finally got to the front, we were greeted with glorious, glorious rows of delicious looking (and delicious tasting!) baked goods. you make your selection and the staff will wrap individual selection in little bags (the selection that you're not going to eat immediately, anyway). they're also supposed to be well known for their mocha bread, which they didn't have this time around. sad face. i'm always up for baked goods from 85 degrees. will you please bring me some?

Saturday, September 9, 2017

din tai fung

din tai fung
3333 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626 (inside south coast plaza)
tel714) 549-3388

what was consumed: soup dumplings (both pork and crab), wontons in spicy sauce, shanghai rice cakes with chicken, steamed bok choy, and sea salt black tea to wash it all down

din tai fung in orange county? it is high time! apparently, i'm not the only one to think this way as the line to get on the list to wait for a seat at the south coast plaza location was out the door and around the corner (stacey and i took a chance and got in the significantly shorter "bar seat" line. stacey's a pro and we were sitting in under 30 minutes). funny to think that i've seen this delicious dim sum chain in so many different countries ... but it wasn't until i came home that i got to visit.

once stacey and i sat down, we quickly put in our order. all the soup dumplings please! or at least two orders (one for the each of us, split down the middle). and they were delish. inside each dumpling is some filling accompanied by broth. there is no such thing as taking a bite; you enjoy the entire dumpling as a whole. YUM. we also rounded out the dumpling menu with an order of some veggie dumplings in spicy sauce.

din tai fun also has other options, in case soup dumplings aren't your thing (but they should be. we will have to have a serious chat if they aren't). i'd definitely recommend the shanghai noodles. i love the rice cakes (similar to the kind they use for korean dduk-guk) in a soy sauce-base stir fried up with veggies and meat of your choice. i want to eat this dish (and soup dumplings) FOR-E-VER :P


Thursday, September 7, 2017


611 fifth avenue (in the gaslamp district), san diego, CA 92101
tel: 619) 233-7327

what was consumed: happy hour! shrimp and grits, tuna poke, caesar salad, and their pork belly (not on the happy hour menu, but recommended by lots of folks so we got it. and i'm glad we did! yummmmm)

i'm a sucker for former top chef (the show) chefs. even for ones that appeared on seasons i missed (a good chunk in the middle). so, when searsucker was recommended to us, i pushed for us to check it out. we opted for searsucker's happy hour which featured quite a few drink specials as well as the entire menu. the HH menu is pretty extensive, offering some delicious treats like poke and shrimp and grits. 

per recommendations from yelp, we also ordered the pork belly. imo, it was cooked deliciously and worth paying the full price. i wished i could have had a larger portion, but that's really my eyes speaking not my stomach. bjl thought it a bit to fatty, but that's the part i liked the best (haha).

i'll also say the service and staff at searsucker were excellent and the decor was chic but comfortable. those were definite plusses to our dining experience. thanks searsucker!


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

the crack shack

the crack shack
2266 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
tel619) 795-3299

what was consumed: 5-pieces of delicious fried chicken, classic slaw, and beers!

what a great way to kick off a few nights in san diego: dinner at the crack shack! we read quite a few raves (to include one from a friend of ours), so we were excited to go. and as we were staying in the gaslamp district, we enjoyed the walking along the embarcadero in order to get to the crack shack.

the crack shack offers sandwiches as well as fried chicken (our course). my eyes are bigger than my stomach, so i wanted to order the 10-piece, but the more practical BJL was right in having us order the 5-piece as we also had an order of cole slaw and beer (for him) to include in our eating plan. the chicken was seasoned deliciously, covered in a yummy batter to create a great crisp, and fried to perfection. the crack shack also has a series of sauces that you've gotta try. some of them were a little sweet for my liking (i really wanted to like the kimchee bbq sauce), so i stuck with the buttermilk ranch and baja hot sauce (tried and true favs). the classic cole slaw was on the sweet side as well, but that didn't prevent us from enjoying the entire bowl! 

crack shack, don't worry. we'll be back soon to sample the rest of your menu. yum!

Sunday, September 3, 2017


Beverly Center, Nazimuddin Road, Islamabad, Pakistan
tel: +92 51 846902

what was consumed: lakshmi chowk tawa chicken, pushur baya, chicken achari, mehmoodabadi sabzi, naans, and mango lassis (mango season ftw!)

welcome to the dining scene, nostalgia! i'd read about nostalgia while out of the country, so was happy to try upon my return. and in just a short time, i understand nostalgia has taken the islamabad food scene by storm.

one of the complaints that i'd heard (or heard that there were complaints about) is that desi food wasn't available when going out. i.e., if you want to eat desi food, you go talk to your mom. but what about people like me? or transplants from other places/people who are separated (by distance) from their families? or people who just want to eat desi food all the time, in or out? no matter the reason, i'm glad to see nostalgia out there to feed desi cravings. 

friends and i were anxious to try nostalgia after hearing so much about it. pakistani friends have commented that they enjoyed nostalgia and that it offers unique desi dishes that even they had not heard about or tried before! we're not entirely sure what we ordered (and i'm not entirely sure i remember from looking at the photos). but we definitely left there feeling happy and filled with delicious desi treats.

each of the four ladies in our party picked a dish, to include a variety of flavors, meats, and places of origin. there were a few pieces of bread with each dish, but we definitely appreciated the additional orders of garlic naan (so good!). all of the dishes were similar to other desi dishes i'd had, but with just a little something else. maybe it's the addition of a different spice, a different nut, something. we spent a few minutes trying to figure it out, only to be overwhelmed by our hunger that we quickly moved to chatting about how delicious the food was. what a delicious meal!

and that wraps up my posts from pakistan. it's been an incredible dining year. thanks, islamabad, for your delicious treats!