The Hype: Cafe 86

Ya’ll thought I forgot about The Hype segment, didn’t you?

Fear not. Today, I’m going to review Cafe 86 located in Artesia, CA. (There is a 2nd location in Pasadena.)

This place has been haunting me on Instagram for quite some time now. As a Filipina, there was no way I could resist wanting to try their ube cupcakes with flan on top. LIKE, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

**Now, UBE is a word I’ll be using a lot. For those of you who are confused, it’s basically TARO. You know, the purple stuff.

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The Drinks: I went for the Ube Monster. Did I like it? Well considering I’ve been back twice in the past month, yes. It’s an ube milkshake, blended with chocolate cookie crumble. You can add boba, which I highly recommend. It’s then topped with whipped cream and more cookie crumble. It is extremely close in taste to a cookies and cream milkshake and it’s honestly to die for.

The Treats: I applaud Cafe 86 for having one the most moist cupcakes I’ve ever had. They have a great ube flavor and aren’t overly sweet. The slice of leche flan on top really makes it, but these things are pricey. I can understand why, they probably take a while to make and they only have them available on certain days.

Other dessert options I need to try include the Ube Tres Leches and the Ube Bread Pudding.

The Vibe: This is a cute place to hang out with friends or have dessert while on a date. Their decor features wood paneling, huge comfy couches and workers with smiles.

The Verdict: This place lives up to the hype. As mentioned, I’ve been back a few times already and I don’t see myself stopping soon.

If you try this place out or have already given it a shot, let me know what you thought!

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Festival of Holidays at Disneyland

If you know me, you’ll know that one of my favorite places of all time is Disneyland! img_2272

The food found at Disneyland is OK, but mostly great with notes of nostalgia from your childhood thrown in. If you know of the gems and where to get the most bang for your buck at the parks – you’ve got it made!

‘Tis the season for holiday themed treats! Of course Disneyland (California Adventure Park) comes through with not only a couple specialty items, but an entire festival with rows of kiosks offering not one, but up to 5 or more options each! Here’s what I was able to get through:

Winter Sliderland 

UM – I love sliders, they’re my jam. There were three options at this booth: The Roasted Turkey Slider, Kahlua Pork Slider & a Praline and Bourbon Whoopie Pie. img_2268

Naturally, I tried all three. But don’t worry – I shared with a friend. The Roasted Turkey slider was dressed with gravy and cranberry sauce while the Kahlua Pork slider featured pineapple jam and cider slaw. Both were pretty darn good, but the whoopie pie was what really blew us away. With nutty, sweet pralines and a strong bourbon taste, it was something I would definitely seek out again.

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Praline & Bourbon Whoopie Pie

Abuelita’s Kitchen

After a couple rides, I built up an appetite.

I stopped by Abeulita’s Kitchen for a Chicken Cilantro Tamale topped with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde.

There was more masa than chicken, however the tomatillo salsa had a great kick to it. Also garnished with pico de gallo and sour cream, it really hit the spot.

Good Fortune’s Feast 

At the next kiosk, my partner in crime wanted to try the Adobo Pork Bao.

 

Served with shaved red onion and crispy Garlic Chicharron, this was definitely one of the winners of the day. The fluffy bao bun was like a little snowball filled with juicy pork with the delicious scent of hoisin you could smell from a mile way. The chicharron was a crunchy and unexpected, but welcomed addition.

We ended the night at Treats for Santa with a Warm Bourbon Cider. Props to Disney for the strong drink ;]

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The Festival of Holidays will be going on until January 8th, 2017. 

OC Night Market 2016 Favorites

After several attempts, I finally made it over to the OC Night Market. Here are my favorites from this year and YES – you should go next year. ABSOLUTELY.

The Lowdown: 

Price: Reasonable ($5ish per place, per item). Admission is $5, Parking is $8 at the OC Fairgrounds.

Crowds/Lines: I went on a Friday night. Not too crowded, perfect amount of people.

Food/Drinks: Asian-inspired, novelty type creations. But, yummy. Only alcohol available was Kirin.

Shopping: Eh.

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First stop was Hotato Potato. I walked into the venue and immediately streamlined towards these spiralized potatoes on a stick. Cajun flavored, they were freshly fried and heavily coated with seasoning. Borderline “too salty”, I still devoured the entire stick. Worth it! Also, it pairs perfectly with beer. A great “appetizer” for the night of eating ahead.

Next stop was Squidies! I’ve been eyeing the iconic light bulb drinks on Instagram! They’re just too cute to pass up, and I was curious to try the smoothie itself. At about $7, you get the lighbulb glass, a light-up keychain and the drink of course (I got Mango!). I’d call it a deal. The line was long and they were really pumpin’ ’em out like crazy but I have to give them props for still having icy, cold, real fruit smoothies. At $3 for a refill, I wish I had a chance to go back and try the Lychee flavor. img_1342

Gotta show some love for the filipino booths at the night market. Boy in the Kitchen was serving up Kuya Bombs – Your choice of meat (Chicken Adobo, Kare Kare or Pork Asado) inside a ball of steamed rice then wrapped with a lumpia wrapper and deep fried. GET IN MY MOUTH.

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I wanted to try an item from one of the longest lines there, besides the giant fried squid. I went for some steam buns and WOW, they were as big as my face, authentic, warm and delicious. To end, we hit up Rolling Ice for the Thai rolled ice cream. They start out with milk and the ingredients for the ice cream, and once it’s well mixed, it’s poured onto a cold plate and spread around until frozen. Once it’s solid, they scrape the ice cream in strips with a spatula so that it creates little rolls. Not sure if it’s the look or the actual method, but this ice cream is LEGIT. So tasty, with bits of whatever you got in it. MUST TRY! Here’s a photo of my cookie butter bowl! img_1338There’s always next year, but I’m honestly concerned on how I can wait that long. Did you get to experience the night market? Let me know what you thought and what you tried!

Sliders & Tiki Drinks at Hatch

IMG_1036For anyone that knows me personally, they know how I feel about sliders. I love appetizers, and I love burgers – therefore I’m obsessed with sliders.

My favorite places for sliders are The Pint House, DogHaus and Yard House (because they’re cheap during happy hour and you get three). Well, Hatch has been added to the list. Here’s why:

The Look & Feel: If it’s hipster, chances are I’m going to fan girl over it. Located at Union Market at The District (Tustin), this place is right up my alley. If you haven’t paid a visit to Union Market – you should! Lots of DELICIOUS, trendy food options in there. Hatch is located in the back, look for the sign and go left into a littler corner. IMG_1039The place is small, there’s about 5 booths inside, bar seating and an outside patio. Luckily, I was seated right away. The decor is 1950’s kitchen meets Hawaii. With classic surf songs playing in the back, it really is a treat. Such a pleasant atmosphere!

The Drinks: Who doesn’t love a good tiki drink? I would definitely take advantage of their 13 option cocktail menu instead of having a beer or something. I had a Donn’s Dream: Rum based, with other alcohols mixed together to create amazing-ness. Fruity, not too sweet, lime-y and strong. SO GOOD.

The Food: The deal here is you can choose 2 sliders and get 1/2 a side and a special sauce of your choosing for $14. They also offer Loco Moco for $10. You choose a slider from the following categories: Moo, Oink, Flap, Swim & Sprout. I went for The Hatch – beef patty, fried onions, hatch sauce, and cheddar. A classic approach, but outstanding! My second choice was the Fried Soft Shell Crab – fried crab, tomato, greens and togarashi aioli. This slider had so many textures and flavors within each bite. It’s definitely a must try! So crispy!

I was able to sneak a bite of a few others: Skirt Steak, Tonkatsu, Duck and Fried Oyster. Gotta eat ’em all – go with friends! Their fries are pretty good. I’m not a fan of shoestring fries, but they were crispy which I can appreciate. Oh and the sauces are a great addition, their Sriracha ketchup is a must!

If you happen to give this place a try, invite me.

 

The Hype – Raising Cane’s

Alright everyone, I’m going to start a new segment here on OC Grub. I promised in my first post that I’d let you know if a place was up to the hype or not (in my opinion, obviously). So, let’s start with the ever so popular Raising Cane’s!

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What do you know about Raising Cane’s? Without googling, I know it originated in Louisiana and that their fresh and never frozen fried chicken made it across the US slowly over time. And now, we have a couple locations in OC that have really sent foodies into a frenzy. For weeks all I saw on Instagram were photos of chicken strips and “crack” sauce.

Now, this place was all the rage probably more than a couple months ago. I was on a healthier…diet…at the time but I found myself at Raising Cane’s recently as a treat and decided I still wanted to share my thoughts.

The chicken: IS GOOD. They’re not lying. It’s freshly fried and not frozen. Not greasy, just golden, crispy deliciousness. The amount of seasoning is perfect, and the breading to meat ratio is on point. The best part is that when you take a bite, you see actual chicken, not mystery McNuggets. I will not be comparing Raising Cane’s to Chick-fil-A because you can’t. They’re different entities.

The sauce: IS OK. I’m unapologetically a sauce boss, I love sauces!  Everyone was about to faint over this sauce and to me, it’s not THAT good. It’s tasty, I used two of them LOL, but I expected it to be better. It kind of tastes like ketchup and mayo mixed together with tons of black pepper. Let me know what you think if you give it a try! IMG_1033

The sides: ARE GOOD. The crinkle cut fries were crispy and they’re a good size. The Texas toast was a real treat. It was oddly sweet, but also garlicky which in the end won me over. The coleslaw, I honestly had one bite and didn’t attempt to eat it after that.

The verdict: Raising Cane’s does NOT live up to the hype it received. But it does deserve recognition.

Honestly, I’m going to eat here again so I can’t say that it’s bad when it’s not. However, the hype they received was WAY over the top. This is still fast food, there’s a drive thru! With that said, knowing that I can get quality chicken strips without getting out of my car is dangerous!

 

The Big Cheese

Literally. Thanks to Del Taco!

If you haven’t heard, Del Taco has spruced up their tacos that everyone knows and secretly loves. Now called, The Del Taco, these new tacos are meatier and cheesier! They were nice enough to bring some of their new tacos to the OC Weekly offices during lunch time last week.

In honor of this promotion, they also delivered a 40 lb. edible work of art. WOW. IS THIS REAL LIFE?

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As I chose a taco (or three) out of the brown paper bags, you could immediately tell it’s a little on the heartier side. There’s more freshly grated cheddar cheese, more beef (or turkey, which I LOVE) and they’re crunchier!

Of course, you get the tomatoes and lettuce per usual. And let’s not forget about doubling up on Del Inferno sauce.

If this post made you hungry, and you have $1.39 then I’ll meet you at the drive-thru.

Kitayama – One Night in Japan

Obviously, I’m a foodie. I’d choose food over clothes. That’s mostly because my life depends on it, but I’ve been lucky enough to visit some unforgettable restaurants. I’m adding one to the list today – Kitayama in Newport Beach.

Last night I was invited to a private dinner where myself and a few others were given the opportunity to see what Kitayama has to offer. Hosted by local celeb/restaurant mogul Thomas Pham (look him up!), it was an experience to remember.

At first glance, I was already impressed. Their bar area is pleasing to the eye, but the best part by far had to be the self service beer tap. Here’s how it works: The bartender will give you a wristband in exchange for your ID and will have it registered with your name to keep track of the ounces poured.

KitayamaBeerYou hold your wristband up to the name of the beer you want and when the frame turns green, you’re free to pour! This is a great way to taste the beers before committing to one, or to just not have to commit at all. I tried the Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin, The Belching Beaver Milk with Peanut Butter (reminds me of root beer) and a third which was a tangerine pale ale. I honestly could have stayed in the bar all night, but thankfully, I was able to step away and go on a quick tour of the restaurant.

Kitayama is beautiful and modern, yet traditional. If you have any interest in Japanese culture like I do, you’ll appreciate the look and feel. The waitresses wear kimono, some of the tables are dressed romantically with sheer drapes and they have a beautiful Japanese garden. Kitayama also offers private dining with traditional tatami seating – sans shoes and all.

Alright, let’s get to the part where I have one of the best meals of my life.

First item was the Three Kings Roll. At first it looks like a simple shrimp tempura roll with avocado but the spicy tuna on top and the special sauce they dress it with takes it above and beyond. The next dish was an assortment of sushi including, blue fin tuna, scallop and smoked salmon with yuzu and a type of white fish topped with chopped shishito peppers.

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All of them just melted in your mouth, leaving you wanting more. For entrees, we tried the Sukiyaki Salad with beef and poached egg, the mixed seafood hot pot and the wagyu steak. Of course, all of them were great but the wagyu was absolutely outstanding. By far one of the best bites of beef I’ve ever had and the table agreed.

The fare here is unbelievably fresh and I was told that they use the same supplier as high end sushi restaurants such as, Nobu. The prices here are more reasonable than somewhere like Nobu in my opinion, which is even more reason to check it out. I’m incredibly thankful to have had this experience!

Visit their website here and if you go, let me know your thoughts!