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I’m taking it back to the beginning of May. May the 4th to be exact – the day of our engagement photos! I got my hair done at Hairspray Salon in Hillcrest and decided to treat myself to a little lunch. The Lazy Dog is right next to Ulta Beauty and made for a convenient stop before I went to get my makeup done.

I got the soup and half a sandwich. Chicken tortilla. I added avocado to the soup which was an excellent idea. It adds a creamy touch to the yummy soup. There was bits of cheese on top with chunks of chicken and tortillas. Good flavor overall. Very hearty!

For my sandwich, I got the House Club sandwich. It’s got roasted chicken breast, smoked bacon, more avocado, and all of the other fixings like lettuce and tomato. It’s nicely toasted and delicious and I loved the hot french fries (that I got extra on the side) with the sandwich and my soup. A nice break in between my “getting all dressed for my engagement” sessions!

I snapped a photo of myself in the car after getting my makeup done. Snazzy, eh?

Before I get to the photos, I want to show off a little something I made for our engagement photo session.

For our photos, I wanted us to have an Xbox Achievement sign. Jake and I are both gamers and we thought it would be fun to have an “Achievement Unlocked – Got Engaged” sign. I thought maybe I could buy one on Etsy but no one made them. I found various t-shirts on Etsy but that wasn’t what I wanted. I also found a few blog posts about how people made their own sign and I decided to do the same thing. 

I designed the sign in Photoshop and then I had it printed at Mira Mesa Copy Center. I got two copies made. It cost me $1.25 plus tax. 

I got a piece of foam board at the Dollar Tree and after cutting out the prints, I traced it into the foam board and cut it out with my exacto knife. 

After cutting it out, I glued the sign to the foam board. I wanted it to be a bit thicker so it was easier to hold onto. The first one I cut out… was not quite right. I messed up the edges a bit! 

But on the second go, I was able to make it look better. Good thing I got two copies made! I’ll will do this again for after our ceremony and make “Got Married” signs. Or maybe “Obtained a Husband/Wife” signs! 

Now… onto the engagement photos! We had our engagement photos done by our awesome photographer Mel of Goodnickels Photography (FB).

The first part of our photo shoot was at Belmont Park. Jake and I went here on our first date after having lunch at L&L Hawaiian BBQ. 

Here’s our sign in action!

Then we changed locations and when to San Clemente Canyon off of the 52. We did some “normal” photos at the canyon and then did a themed photoshoot.

We’re both fans of the horror comedy Tucker and Dale vs. Evil which is the inspiration for this part of the photo shoot.

A bloody hillbilly engagement shoot! Jake is supposed to be Dale and he’s pretty spot on. I’m supposed to be Tucker but I didn’t want to wear suspenders. I thought the “hero” shirt would be a nice touch along with my “Love” trucker hat.

I got Jake’s hat at the thrift store and used a template to cut the letters out of felt and glued them onto the hat. 

Jake and I thought these photos were hilarious and definitely not the “norm”. We had a blast with the photos and Stacey (my maid of honor) came to help bloody us up for the shoot (thanks, Stacey). I love all of the photos we got and can’t thank Mel enough for the amazing photos! 

The post Engagement Photo Day + Lunch at the Lazy Dog appeared first on This Tasty Life.

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Last month Jake, my parents, and I took a little road trip up to Oakland, CA. One of Jake’s bucket list items is to visit all of the Major League ballparks. A couple of years ago we went to San Francisco and caught a game at AT&T Park, home of the Giants. We tried to do Oakland and San Francisco in the same trip, but they weren’t playing the same weekend. This time we were up here to visit the Oakland Coliseum to see the A’s in action.

Our first meal in Oakland was in Chinatown at a place called Shan Dong Restaurant.

Here are links to the full menu at Shan Dong:

Menu Page 1 | Menu Page 2 | Menu Page 3 | Menu Page 4 | Menu Page 5 | Menu Page 6 | Menu Page 7

We were given hot tea shortly after we sat down at our table. It was Thursday in the early evening and there was no line and the restaurant was maybe 1/4 full. We parked nearby on the street just a few blocks from Shan Dong.

What caught my eye about Shan Dong was that they offer handmade noodles. Noodles are one of my favorite things to order so this was the main reason why I wanted to come here.

When you first walk into Shan Dong, there is a counter to your left. This is where you can watch the ladies make the handmade noodles.

Making Noodles at Shan Dong - YouTube

Here she is cutting up the noodles and pulling them apart. Lots of flour there!

Here’s one of the dishes we ordered with the handmade noodles: the Sesame Paste Noodles [$10.95]. The handmade noodles are $1 extra and totally worth it. This dish is listed as spicy but it’s not really that spicy. You can see a few of the red pepper flakes in the dish in the photo above but I didn’t find it to be too spicy. The sauce stuck really well to the noodles. The noodles are nice and thick and have an excellent chew and consistency to them. The sesame flavor was also really nice and was well mixed with the noodles. So yummy!

We also got the Beef Chow Mein [$10.50 + $1] with Shan Dong’s homemade noodles. Dad originally wanted the Lo Mein but we were told if you want the homemade noodles, you have to get the chow mein. I liked this dish, too. There’s beef strips plus some bok choy in the mix and a nice, light sauce on the noodles. I preferred the sesame a bit more but these were also excellent. I liked the pieces of tender beef mixed in with the scrumptious homemade noodles. I could eat these noodles all the time! 

Dad also order some Crab & Corn soup [$9.50]. I’m not a huge fan of crab, so I only ate a bit of this. It was hot and steamy and I liked the bits of corn in it.  

Since my mom was with us, we definitely had to get a rice dish for her. She picked out the Pork Fried Rice [$9.50]. The pork was cut into slices and were really tender in this yummy dish. There’s plenty of fried egg along with green onion and bits of carrot and peas. The rice was nicely seasoned and a great compliment to our other dishes. 

Jake ordered the Fried Won Ton [$8.50], thinking that it would be won ton strips. We didn’t read the menu closely to see that there was a little “10” next to the item on the menu. I think even if we had noticed we would not have ever expected fried won ton dumplings to show up at the table! It came with a dish of sweet and sour sauce for dipping.

The inside of the fried wontons had a meaty filling (most likely pork). They were crispy and crunchy and the meat inside was nice. The wrapper seemed a little on the thick side and I honestly wasn’t sure if I liked them or not. I would eat them but don’t think I would order them again. Jake was disappointed they weren’t wonton strips since he just wanted something crunchy to munch on.

Mom wanted some seafood with our meal and ordered the Sweet and Sour Shrimp [$11.95]. I thought these were over fried and the batter was very thick on the shrimp. Mostly it tasted like batter instead of shrimp. They were incredibly crispy and very crunchy. Not my favorite dish. 

Our last dish to arrive was the Shan Dong Beef [$12.95]. We thought we were done with the dishes by the time this one arrived to the table; we forgot we had ordered it! This reminded me a lot of the Crispy Beef that we get at home at Wei Wei in La Mesa but with a different kind of sauce. The beef had this crunchy coating on it that I really liked. The sauce was savory with a tiny bit of sweetness to it and the pieces of beef and cut into little chunks. There’s no veggies at all in this dish – all meat, baby! I quite liked this dish, too, and found that I kept picking pieces off of the plate to munch on before I swung the lazy susan away so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat more. 

And speaking of lazy susans, here’s the one at our table with what was left after our meal. You can see that the shrimp didn’t get a lot of love. Though I partially suspect it’s because Jake doesn’t eat shrimp. Ha! 

We boxed up the leftovers to go so my mom could have a little snack later at the hotel, which luckily had a mini fridge and a microwave. 

Thanks to Shan Dong for having such yummy food for our first meal in Oakland! 

Shan Dong Restaurant
328 10th St #101
Oakland, CA 94607

After dinner we went on a little walk through Chinatown.

This cool mural was right next to Shan Dong restaurant. I stared at it for a few minutes, looking at the octopus who was having a meal with a building that was drinking tea. I noticed that there were a ton of murals in and around Oakland, as well as a lot of graffiti. 

On our walk I spied this restaurant with some choice meats hanging in the window. 

We also stopped into a bakery and I noticed these Taiwanese style “ham” burgers with slices of ham in them. I got a kick out of those!

More Oakland posts soon! 

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I should say right off the bat that these Chocolate Caramel Chip Cookies also have BROWNED BUTTER in them. And almonds. But you can easily omit the almonds if you don’t dig nuts. But browned butter! Browned butter is LIFE.

The browned butter adds a distinct nuttiness to the cookies that is totally amazing and life changing. The smell alone is worth the extra effort for this cookies. Trust me on this. 

Plus… it has chocolate chips AND caramel chips. 


I’m not going to write a long winded post about these Chocolate Caramel Chip Cookies. I’m just going to put the recipe right here so you can get on with baking them and having them in your life as soon as possible.

You’re welcome.

Chocolate Caramel Chip Cookies


1 stick unsalted butter
1 stick salted butter
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
2 teaspoons vanilla 
2 ¾ cups all purpose flour 
2 teaspoons cornstarch 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
1 cup caramel baking chips (I use Ghirardelli chips)
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted (optional)


Brown the butter! 

Put the two sticks of butter into a pan on the stove over medium heat. Butter will slowly melt. Keep an eye on it – the butter can burn very quickly! Watch it until the butter starts to bubble on the edges and it will begin to brown. It will start to smell really nutty. Once it browns, turn it off the heat immediately and place into a bowl. Make sure to scrap all of the bits into the bowl. Place in the fridge to chill for 20-25 minutes (or freezer for 15 minutes). You want the butter to completely cool and re-solidify. 


Mix together the dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, salt). Be sure to measure the flour using the “spoon” method (spoon the flour into a measuring cup and level off with a knife to ensure you don’t add extra flour). Set aside.


Place your browned butter into a mixer or mixing bowl. Add sugars. Mix together for 5 minutes until it looks light and fluffy. 

Add eggs, one at a time, to the mix. Add vanilla. 

Add flour mix a little bit at a time until all of the flour has been added. Do not overmix.

Add chocolate chips, caramel chips, and if using, almonds.

Chill the dough for 30 minutes in the fridge.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Prep your baking sheet with parchment paper or baking mats

Use an ice cream scoop to form a ball of dough and place on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart. 

Bake for 14 minutes. 

The cookies will look like they are not quite done but should be brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing. Move to a cooling rack and then DEVOUR COOKIES.


  • While baking the cookies, keep the dough in the fridge. 
  • Do not put the dough onto a HOT baking sheet. Let the baking sheet cool first before you place more dough on. Otherwise the cookies will spread too much.
  • Sprinkle a little bit of kosher salt or sea salt on top of cookie before baking.

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Last week my friend CC of Pink Candles at Ridgemont High came up my way to join me for lunch. Hooray! We decided to visit the new Gaya Gaya Bar & Kitchen, which was previously Sarap. And BEFORE Sarap, it was a South African restaurant called Capetown. It’s gone through a few changes and now Chef DJ Tangalin has taken over the menu and changed the name as well as given the restaurant a little bit of an upgrade.

There are a few booths inside Gaya Gaya and the space’s flow seem to make a bit more sense. The floors were weirdly sticky though? But maybe there was just a spill on the floor near our table… hmmmm.

The first thing we decided to get at Gaya Gaya was the Empanada [$9]. The menu describes it as mushroom adobo duxelle with caramelized onion and a confit garlic aioli. You get three to an order. 

We cut them open and had a bite. The mushrooms are large chunks inside a very thick crust. They definitely have a distinct adobo-vinegar flavor to them. The crust is a bit too thick and CC noticed that the empanada was a bit raw on the inside. If you look closely at the photo, you can see that the dough isn’t cooked all the way and is dripping a little bit. It gave it a floury taste. They remade this dish for us after CC pointed out the raw dough. I had a bit of the newer empanada but still didn’t care for the flavor and the extra thick wrapper. This was the only “miss” of our meal though!

We got a large side of Garlic Rice [$6] to go with our meal. The garlic rice was quite flavorful and you could see lots of bits of fried garlic in the mix. I loved the addition of green onions as well. Yessssss to the extra garlic! 

We ordered two entrees to share and they were both huge! The first entree from Gaya Gaya was the Adobo Fried Chicken [$21] which comes with Ube waffles. 

We learned from the chef himself about the adobo fried chicken. They made regular adobo chicken and then use the adobo sauce to create a batter to dredge the chicken in. 

This is a VERY generous portion with multiple pieces of drumsticks and thighs. The batter is quite light on the chicken and makes a crunchy outer skin. The chicken meat on the inside is really moist and tasty. 

The chicken is paired with the lovely purple hued Ube waffles along with a scoop of purple ube butter. The waffle mosts just tastes like a waffle, the ube flavor isn’t too strong, but the color of it and the butter sure are pretty! 

The second dish we tried at Gaya Gaya was the Crispy Pata [$19]. Crispy pata is a pork leg that involves boiling and then deep frying the pork. It creates this crazy crispy skin on the outside. CC and I weren’t totally sure of the greens on top but we think it was maybe some parsley on top. 

The skin on the crispy pata was SOOOOOO GOOOOOOOD. It reminded me a bit of lechon but not quite as thick skinned. It’s almost like a cross between a really crispy chicken skin – but pork flavored! The meat was tender and flavorful and I really loved this dish. I haven’t had a lot of experience with crispy pata but I sure dug this dish a lot! 

We had plenty of leftovers after our meal and I was able to make a really delicious fried rice using the leftover rice, chicken, and pork (along with some brown rice, egg, light soy sauce and a little sesame oil). 

The chef also told us they were changing the menu that evening so I’ll have to revisit to see what’s new!

Gaya Gaya Bar & Kitchen (Yelp)
7580 Miramar Rd.
San Diego, CA 92126

CC just got back from a trip to Maui and she was nice enough to gift me a few items! One of the items were these yummy Macadamia Nut Shortbread Cookies.

They have a nice flavor and a nice crumble as you eat them. Heck yeah! I’m so grateful for my foodie friends! 

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Bibigo Kitchen is a new “fine-casual” dining restaurant that just opened up in Fashion Valley. I was recently invited to come sample the menu at a media dinner. Jake was my date!

Bibigo Kitchen is located just under the AMC movie theater in Fashion Valley. This is where Boudin used to be.

The space has been transformed in a warm and comforting restaurants with a good amount of seating.

Bibigo Kitchen is a new concept from Bibigo. This is more of a “fine-casual” dining experience. Bibigo also makes products (such as mini chicken & cilantro dumplings that are sold at Costco – I’ve bought them a few times!) and their other “fast-casual” restaurant focuses on crafting your own Bibimbap bowls (there’s a location at UTC). Bibigo Kitchen focuses on grill items, shareable plates, and mandu Korean dumplings.

Drink menu!

And the menu for our media dinner.

I started out by picking this pretty blue tea called Blue Jasmine. It came in this pretty glass pitcher so you could see the tea leaves steep in the water that turned blue. 

There was this tiny dish of crispy sesame honey coated lotus root chips that I looooooooved. They were so light and crunchy and I loved the flavor of sesame and honey on top of the chips. I don’t even know if this is something they offer on their regular dinner or if it was just made for our dinner but damn – I would want to eat these again!

We were given little bowls of kimchi to enjoy as well. I’m not a fan so I didn’t try this.

We did also get these Kimchi Cucumbers which are on the regular menu at Bibigo Kitchen. I was hesitant to try them but after one crunch of a cucumber I was hooked! It’s more like a marinated cucumber or some cucumber salad. There’s a dressing on top of the cucumbers but they stayed fresh and crispy and I quite liked the flavor on them. Also I was afraid they would be spicy since they looked like it was chilis or something but surprise – it wasn’t spicy at all. Hooray! 

Next came the dumplings!

These were the steamed Bibigo Beef & Vegetable Mandu dumplings. They had a good mix of meat with some veggies instead. They were really juicy and steamed just right. 

This is the Mandu Sampler. On the top with the shrimp tails poking out are the Galbi & Shrimp Mandu along with the Korean Galbi and the Galbi & Kimchi Mandu. These were pan fried to get a little crispy edge on them. Jake and I loved the galbi inside of the mandu – though neither of us cared for the one with kimchi, but that’s not surprising since we don’t dig kimchi. I got to have the shrimpy ones to myself! They were delectable! 

The last on the dumplings we tried were the Bibigo Mini Chicken Wontons. These have a similar filling to the mini dumplings I get at Costco but these babies were fried. They have a yummy filling of chicken, cilantro, cabbage, and onion and the crispy edges were well enjoyed by me with that little dipping sauce. Jake said he preferred the steamed dumplings to the fried ones.

We each got to choose our own entree. Jake chose the Beef Bulgogi Plate with Perilla Multi-grains and Grilled Broccolini. Jake adored the bulgogi. The seasoning on it was just right and the beef was incredibly tender and juicy. We didn’t care for the perilla multi-grains – not sure what exactly was in the mix but it looked like a big mix of grains. The flavor was a bit bland on them. 

For my plate, I choose the Crispy Pork Belly with mushroom rice and grilled root vegetables.

The pork was amazing – great flavor, really moist and juicy, with a crisp sear to the slices. 

Though I think my favorite thing was the mushroom rice!! There’s a mix of slices and chopped mushrooms mixed into the buttery rice and well… quite frankly, it made me love rice for once. Oftentimes I find rice to be bland and boring but this rice just made me want to eat more!

The grilled root vegetables had a mix of carrots, lotus root, sweet potato and regular potato. There was a honey like glaze on the veggies that gave them a hint of sweetness. Yum!

At the far end of the table, they did a presentation of the Bibigo Kitchen BBQ Platter. This is a special dish meant for at least two people that comes with short ribs, honey soy fried chicken, pork belly, grilled veggies, and cheese corn! 

We were given a mini BBQ platter to share which was crazy because we were already full. I did sample a little bit of the yummy crispy fried chicken and had like one bite of the cheese corn (which we also both loved – how can you go wrong with fresh sweet corn mixed with cheese?). 

Now while I thought I couldn’t eat another bite, my dessert stomach kicked in once this dessert was placed before us. This is the Injeolmi Tiramisu.

Injeolmi is a Korean rice cake covered with powdered dried beans. In this case, the rice cake has been fried and then covered with the dried beans and placed on top of the tiramisu. The tiramisu doesn’t taste like the traditional espresso tiramisu with lady fingers – this version tasted more like a light, fluffy cheesecake filling! AND I LOVED IT! There’s a light sweetness to it and it’s really creamy, much like a mousse. The fried rice cakes vary in texture. Some of them were slightly chewy, reminding you that they’re rice cakes, while others were completely crunchy. I liked that the texture varied since it gave more contrast to the dessert. 

I ate very single bit of this and I adored it. 

I would come back to Bibigo Kitchen just to get dessert! You really must try this! 

I also had a little coffee to go with my dessert – but not much, since it was in the evening and I wanted to sleep later. But this went to nice with the creamy dreamy tiramisu!

We had our leftovers packaged up for us. There were two of these – one for Jake and one for me.

These are my leftovers and I must say that the leftovers tasted FANTASTIC the next day.

I am seriously IN LOVE with that mushroom rice. I must learn how to make it! 

All in all Jake and I were really impressed (and stuffed to the brim) from our lovely dinner at Bibigo..

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One place I wanted to visit was Koko Head Cafe, run by chef Lee Anne Wong. Lee Anne Wong is the executive chef for Hawaiian Airlines so we definitely heard of her before landing in Oahu. She’s also been on Top Chef and other programs so I knew her name, but I never really watched the show. I wanted to visit because the breakfast menu sounded awesome!

We parked in a nearby lot and prepared for a wait. Luckily we didn’t have to wait too long because two spots opened up at the bar. Score.

Looking at this menu again months later I’m surprised I didn’t order the Dumplings All Day Wong. I bet I really thought about ordering it though.

I loved the mix and variety of items on the menu at Koko Head!


I encouraged Jake to order something new for him and he ended up getting the Breakfast Congee [$12] mostly because I really wanted to try it. The Breakfast Congee is a bowl of hot rice porridge and this version is topped with bacon, Portuguese sausage, ham, a soft poached egg, cheese, scallions, and cinnamon bacon croutons.

The croutons might sound totally weird because they’re sweet… BUT IT WORKED. Everything else is really savory in this dish and that little crunch of sweetness pulled together really well with the mix of meats and wonderfully fragrant rice porridge. Jake was surprised at how much he liked this dish, which when we got home, prompted us to go out and try congee at a few places near his house. 

I decided on getting a skillet! I ordered the Chicky and Eggs [$15] which came with Japanese style fried jidori chicken, French-style scrambled eggs, some pickles that I didn’t eat, crispy rice on the bottom, and a side of some amazingly delicious maple tabasco sauce. 

The eggs were wonderful. Like… I always want scrambled eggs like this now. In fact, I make “French style” scrambled eggs on a regular basis now because it tastes so much better to me. The eggs are fluffy, creamy, and light and amazingly delicious. This is probably where I first had them and then I remember my dad telling me how to make them at home. 

I remember liking the chicken dipped in that sauce. And the crispiness on the rice. But really I liked Jake’s dish a little more than mine. 

I remember as we sat at the bar at Koko Head Cafe, we sat next to a few locals who asked us about where we had eaten so far and they were impressed with the places we hit up already (like Helena’s Hawaiian). We like going to those local places!

I dug that our bill came in this old tin can. We paid the bill and we were off to our next adventure!

Koko Head Cafe
1145c 12th Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816

Just driving through Hawaii is breathtaking. It’s so lush and SO GREEN.

Our next stop was to visit the Byodo-In Temple

It is a non-denominational non-practicing Buddhist temple that sits in the back of a memorial park/cemetery. You drive through the memorial park to the back and the temple is tucked down. 

The template is a smaller scale replica of the over 950-year old Byodo-in Temple in Uji, Japan. It was established in 1968 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. 

It was very peaceful exploring the grounds of the Byodo-in Temple and enjoying the koi pond, seeing the wildlife (black swans, peacocks, cats), and enjoying a little time for reflection. 

After our visit to the Byodo-in Temple, we drove up to the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout. This is a great lookout point that you can easily drive to. There’s a parking lot ($3) and you walk out to the lookout where it is very, very, very windy. 

You can see a great distance away and the view is spectacular. We saw some tour buses stopping off here and we were glad we had our own rental car to take the time we needed to explore! 

After a visit to the lookout, we had a meh lunch with some meh baked goods. 

I’m gonna skip that part and go right to our visit to Modo Donuts inside of Mitsuwa Market.

Modo Donuts was definitely a place I wanted to visit because I had seen these mochi donuts on Instagram and I was dying to try them! 

The base is pretty much the same for all of the donuts. The differences are the toppings! They had so many to choose from and while I wanted to try every single one I stuck to only getting a few flavors. 

Of the three, my favorite was the black sesame though I could see why the cookies & cream was very popular. The honey glaze was also a really nice simple treat!

What I liked about the mochi donuts is that they break off into smaller bite size pieces. I also loved the chewy texture of the mochi donut – it tasted just how I thought it would! 

Oh how I wish there was a location of this place at home – or that someone made mochi donuts here! 

Modo Donuts
2330 Kalakaua Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815

We went back to Waikiki Beach to do some touristy stuff and to look for the spot where Jake used to live.

We wandered around among the sunbathing tourists and popped into one the hotels to enjoy the view of Diamond Head.

And so I could get my Mai Tai. 

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Last week, Jake and I were invited to visit The Butcher’s Cut Steakhouse, a brand new restaurant down in the Gaslamp Quarter. It’s right next door to its sister restaurant, Greystone, which you can see just to the right of this photo! 

The Butcher’s Cut is a more casual version than Greystone, offering a different selection of menu items along with some steakhouse classics. 

Here’s the interior at The Butcher’s Cut. They completed renovated this space and it’s so pretty inside! From the big bar…

To the light fixtures…

To the nooks and crannies of the dining room…

And even the sink in the back next to the restrooms.

In the very back of the dining room, you can peek into their meat locker. And what a fine selection they have in there!

The Butcher’s Cut features a number of drinks on their menu. 

Jake opted to try The Butcher’s Cut Cake which is a combination of coconut rum, Godiva white chocolate liqueur, pineapple juice, and lime zest. I took a sip and I said, “Ohhhh boy, that doesn’t taste like alcohol at all!” It had a sweet flavor to it and the flavor of it really did make me think of a slice of tropical cake. 

Here’s a peek at the full menu at The Butcher’s Cut. It took me forever to decide what to try! Do you think I picked a steak or a regular menu item? Scroll down to see! 

We were given some complimentary bread to start. The bread was warm and crusty and came with this AMAZING dipping sauce that tasted a lot like pesto. We were told one of the waitstaff came up with the recipe and when he walked by, we made sure to let him know that we adored the dipping sauce. It’s the perfect consistency for bread and was so flavorful. I could have just eaten bread and this dipping sauce all night… oh my goodness. I had to stop eating the bread after awhile just so I would have room for the rest of our meal! 

One of the first things we tried was the Honey Peach Glazed Pork Belly with truffled celeriac, brussel sprouts, peach glee, and carrot. This was a THICK piece of pork belly! And boy was it tender! I loved the presentation with the sauce all over the pork belly on top of that bed of celeriac.

The celeriac was really interesting. It kind of looked like mashed potatoes – and it has that consistency – but it’s like eating potatoes…. with a hint of celery flavor as an aftertaste. I quite liked it, actually!

The pork belly was phenomenal and really a great dish to start with. It was tender and juicy. The only thing I wished for was some crispness on the exterior, but… it’s more of a braised dish so I can understand why. I just love crispy stuff! 

We also shared the Tropical Salad which had a mix of mango, citrus, and pear with candied walnuts, organic greens, and a raspberry vinaigrette. Though looking back at our salad, it looks like the walnuts were left off the dish. I remember thinking the salad was on the mushy side due to lots of fruit without the contrast of texture so I wish those walnuts had been in there! Jake liked it anyway and ate what I left on the plate.

I also ordered the Mushroom Toast which comes with wild mushrooms, aged parmesan, chives, tomato, and umbria truffles. There’s a heavy drizzle of balsamic vinegar and some greens thrown on top. The mushroom mixture is cold on top of the toasted bread which was disappointing to me. I was hoping for a warm mushroom mixture on top of the toast and I thought they went a little too heavy on the balsamic.

For my main entree, I did not get a steak at The Butcher’s Cut. I wanted to try something different and I decided to go with the Scallops! The scallops are seared and served with a pea snap puree, oyster mushroom succotash, and topped with a pomegranate coulis.

The scallops were fantastic! The sear was perfect and I loved how sweet and tender each bite of the scallop was. The sauce complimented the scallops really well, highlighting their sweetness. The pea snap puree was also surprising to me. I tend to not love peas, but as a puree I really dug it. This was a winner dish for me! 

I got a Twice Baked Potato on the side. It’s topped with butter, bacon, sour cream, chives, and cheese. The potato inside the skin was really light and fluffy, like a souped up version of mashed potatoes. I loved how creamy the potatoes were and the mix of toppings made this a perfect side dish.

Jake also wanted to try something different and figured he’d go for the one burger dish on the menu – The One Pounder. It is a crazy burger with two 1/2lb. patties (which are made with prime meats) and it’s topped with caramelized onions, provolone cheese, wild mushrooms, avocado, applewood smoked bacon, aioli, and served with a side of salt & pepper beer battered french fries and house made bbq sauce.

Jake ordered it without mushrooms but left the avocado on for me. 

Here’s a close up of the burger… look at the bottom… all of the juices running out! 

The buns are perfectly toasted and OMG the burger patties are SO TENDER. Like insanely juicy crazy good tender! Jake ended up asking what cut of meat they use for the burgers and after having a bite, we were not at all surprised to learn it was made with Prime cuts. The difference is astounding and this is really one of the most flavorful and juiciest burgers we’ve tried.

Jake really, really loved this burger. The more he ate it, the more he loved it and finally declared it is his new favorite burger in town, displacing the Balboa Burger. 

I still really love the Balboa Burger so I’m not ready for that step yet, but it sure is a contender. Jake only ate about 1/3 of it since this sucker is HUGE and saved the rest for another meal.

PS – Fries were good. Jake’s burger really was the winning dish and damn my scallops were good.

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On our way home from Los Angeles, we needed some lunch. We were going to just hit a drive through but I did a quick Google search and I saw we were near a place called Howard’s Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers. I liked the name. It was closeby. We went on a whim.

Howard’s Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers is in a little strip mall near the 405 in Venice. It doesn’t look like much but I did dig the font on the sign. It looked like my kind of spot.

Here’s the menu at Howard’s Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers. They have a selection of burgers along with hot dogs, tacos, and sandwiches. We found out the cook was also the owner. He has owned the spot for 6 years and worked there for 16 years before that. Wow! 

There’s a number of cool old time movie posters on the wall. 

After we ordered our burgers, we noticed this little brochure for going on a “Burger Trek” in LA. 

The restaurants are listed in alphabetical order and Howard’s Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers is in the brochure! I’ve only been to a couple of other spots in this list so it was fun to find out they were listed in here when we came on accident. 

I ordered the namesake menu item – the Famous Bacon & Avocado Burger with everything on it (cheese, lettuce, tomato). We actually both got the “Howard’s Special” which I think was $8.50 (it was on a little chalkboard menu that I forgot to photograph). I got my special with a side of onion rings and some ranch dressing and an iced tea. I’d like to note that they make the iced tea here. They pulled out a pitcher from the fridge to fill my cup. It was unsweetened (my preference) and tasted great! 

Here’s a close up on that famous burger. They use a 1/4 pound patty for the burger which is not frozen. I saw the owner slap a fresh patty right onto the grill which made me happy. The meat is quite juicy and well seasoned. The bacon is nice and crispy and there are a few slices of avocado stacked on the burger. The bun is nicely toasted and I believe there’s mayo but on. The lettuce and tomato were fresh and the cheese nicely melted on the burger. A really simple and excellent burger – I especially loved the crunchy bacon and those fresh slices of creamy avocado on my tasty burger.

The onion rings had a nice simple coating on them and were quite tasty dipped in their ranch dressing. Good, standard, not outstanding, but I still liked them.

With Jake’s meal, he got the french fries and we shared the onion rings and fries between us. These are a big thicker than shoestring, but not quite steak fries. A good thickness on the french fries to keep them crispy and fluffy on the inside. 

Jake also wanted to try a bacon wrapped hot dog. I watched the owner pull out a fresh hot dog and slice of bacon and he wrapped it on the spot and threw it on the grill. The bacon got nice and crispy for the hot dog and make for a yummy dog. The condiments are on the side so you can dress it just the way you like it.

All in all Jake and I quite enjoyed our little unexpected lunch trip to Howard’s Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers. The food is simple, it’s fresh, and clearly made with lots of love and heart. The burgers are excellent and full of flavor and I liked that it was just a little place – not too crowded and full of hype. If we were in the area again, I would definitely want to come back for another one of their tasty burgers.

Howard’s Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers (Yelp | FB)
11127 Venice Blvd # 7,
Los Angeles, CA 90034

The post Howard’s Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers – Los Angeles, CA appeared first on This Tasty Life.

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World Ocean’s Day is here again and Rubio’s will be offering up a free reusable lunch bag this year with any purchase.

This is the snazzy new lunch bag that Rubio’s is giving away. Isn’t it cute? All you have to do is make a purchase and present the coupon any time on Friday, June 7th, 2019 or Saturday, June 8th, 2019 to get a snazzy bag of your own.

What will you be ordering to get that swag? Here’s what my friends and I recently had at a visit to Rubio’s.

Little did I know that my friends would not be partaking in these Chips and Guacamole otherwise I would have just gotten the small order. This is the large order. Am I the only one that would have preferred the guacamole to be on the side? I don’t like it touching the chips. I’m a weirdo.

I ordered the Original Fish Tacos because I love that crispy beer batter coating on the fish. I get the white sauce on the side and ask for no salsa because I find that it makes the fish tacos too soggy for my liking. This way I can add just the right amount of white sauce (less calories) and I top it off with a generous portion of onion and cilantro and a big squeeze of lemon instead of lime. What can I say? I like it how I like it.

Emily got the Salsa Verde Shrimp Tacos and I liked those big slices of avocado in the taco! I’m pretty sure she inhaled these in about a minute. I feel like I looked up from eating my first taco and she was already done with her meal. 

Cris got the Ancho Citrus Shrimp Burrito. She likes to mix it up by asking for the guacamole on the side so she can eat it with her chips. Smart. Too bad I didn’t tell her I got chips and guac for all of us to share. Geez, Mary. 

What’s your go-to item at Rubio’s? I’ll be there ordering up another Original Fish Taco this weekend to get that super cute lunch bag – you can count on that! 

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary gift card to partially cover the cost of this meal. I was not further compensated for this post and all opinions listed here are my own.

The post Tacos, Burritos, and Free Lunch Bags at Rubio’s Coastal Grill appeared first on This Tasty Life.

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Philippe the Original is a spot I heard about a long time ago and just hadn’t tried before. They specialized in French Dipped Sandwiches and I figured this was a good spot to finally try one. Jake and I recently took a short road trip up to LA for food, a Dodgers stadium tour, and to look for suits for him for the wedding! And Philippe the Original was our first stop.

Philippe the Original specializes in French Dipped sandwiches. I love the signs here and I imagine the neon sign looks great lit up at night. 

This is the front counter where you order. There are little signs that say “Open” or “Closed” for the lines. We were there early in the morning on a Saturday (just after 8am) so we didn’t encounter much of a wait. The case at the counter showcases a lot of various pies and desserts they have with other baked goods and cold items. 

I got a kick out of the telephone booths inside. 

From one of the displays showing off a few pins from Philippe the Original’s 100th anniversary in 2008. 

I loved this little bobblehead and the tiny French dipped sandwich! 

Philippe the Original was quite roomy and we found a spot in the back that had a bunch of tiny train cars on display. This is a rotating train museum maintained by The Los Angeles Railroad Heritage Foundation.

We had fun walking around and checking out the displays before we ordered our breakfast. 

I noticed that there was sawdust all over the floor and I wondered why. We didn’t ask anyone but on the website it states that the sawdust “… is a tradition to Philippe’s and is used to help absorb spills to avoid slipping on the concrete floors.”

Before we made the trek up to LA, Jake called and found out Philippe’s starts serving the French dip sandwiches at 8:30am. I tried to get a beef dip and a pastrami dip, but that early in the morning they only had the beef available. Most other fillings are available after 9am (though I didn’t know that at the time). In addition to beef, they also have pork, ham, lamb, turkey, and the previously mentioned pastrami. We decided to get one beef dip [$8.50] and then get something more “breakfast-y”. 

I would also like to note that a cup of coffee is only $0.46 cents. 

We asked for it to be single dipped, but on our receipt it said “double dip”. We asked for it to be on a french roll, since that’s the most traditional type of bread to use. Other breads available are wheat, white, rye, or sourdough. You can get the sandwich as a single dip, double dip or wet. 

Here are the differences:

Single dip = only the top half of the sandwich bread is dipped in jus

Double dip = both the top and bottom halves of the bread are dipped.

Wet = both halves are dipped, and remain in the jus longer than with a double dip.

I say “oh hell no” to “wet”! That sounds like it would just be a mushy mess! 

On our double dip, the bread was definitely moist, but still maintained some of its texture and was not dripping wet. The bread was chewy and tasted terrific with the hot beef inside. Jake wished there was more jus but I thought it had right the right amount without causing it to be too soggy or mushy tasting. We didn’t try their famous mustard since they put the bottles out after we were done eating. I liked it as is with no additional stuff on the sandwich. The meat was juicy, flavorful, and delicious on the French bread. 

I also got a side of potato salad [$1.65]. It had relish in it so I didn’t love it and abandoned it after a few bites. If it didn’t have the relish I would have loved it since it had a good creamy texture to it. But I just don’t like that sweet pickle relish! 

For a more “breakfast-y” option, we chose to get the Biscuits and Gravy [$5.80]. The biscuits tasted like they were made in house and freshly baked. They were crunchy on the outside and light and fluffy in the middle. I liked the the gravy is served on the side so you can dip and put as much gravy as you want on top of your biscuit. 

The gravy has bits of sausage in it and was amazingly good! Just the right thickness and it packed a lot of flavor into the gravy. Yum! 

It was like 9AM but I couldn’t pass up some dessert. I got the Blueberry Pie [$4.90]. I wish they had a list of all of the pies available, which are on the website and I didn’t see before hand. Here’s the list of pie’s at Philippe the Original: high-top apple pie, pineapple, cherry, berry, blueberry, peach, pecan, chocolate cream, coconut cream, pumpkin cream, lemon meringue, banana cream, coconut meringue, pumpkin and custard. The pies are not baked here at Philippe the Originals. They are from Martino’s Bakery. 

The blueberry pie was excellent. The crust was very flaky and the blueberry filling is thick and not super sweet. A perfect slice of pie! 

Philippe the Original
1001 N. Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

The post Philippe the Original – Los Angeles, CA appeared first on This Tasty Life.

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