Wednesday, January 29, 2014


i only did two dinela's this year, first being my previous post & second being esterel at the sofitel hotel

actually, when i made a reservation at esterel for lunch, i did not know that it was located at sofitel because i booked the restaurant purely based on their "good deal" for lunch! so it wasn't until i met up with my friend on sunday afternoon & started getting directions when i realized, "wait...i've been here before when it used to be simon la"
either way, same location doesn't mean same restaurant and i gave it a try! 

esterel calls distinguishes their establishment as french cuisine with mediterranean accent
here is their current dinela menu for esterel & these were our picks:

ahi tuna carpaccio, truffle essence, wild arugula, artichoke chips
winter shaved vegetable salad, apple-star anise vinaigrette
adrian's traditional bouillabaisse, market seafood, tomato-saffron broth, rouille crostini
wild mushroom agnolotti pasta, tuscan kale, caramelized corn, spiced roasted squash
whiskey chocolate cake, peanut butter mousse, spice cider reduction
farmers market blood orange tart, homemade meringue, chamomile

all for $20 each! 
overall, my favorite was the appetizers and it is unfortunate that the meal got disappointing by the dessert because dessert was too sweet to the point where we couldn't touch it after two small bites each...
nevertheless, great deal and good reason to check out a place you haven't been to

once again, dinela will last until 1/31/14/friday so make sure to take a look at the list and check out restaurants you might have been interested in trying or just look for a good deal like myself! 

i am now happilyfull ♥ 
see you on my next adventure!

Monday, January 27, 2014


i used to love going to dinela to try different restaurants for a fraction of cost! 
but whenever i did that, i made sure that i checked their menu before picking a place to go & only went to places that reflected a menu selection from their regular menu

in the recent years, i don't really care for dinela as much simply because 1) i cannot eat all that much 2) i prefer to just order from their regular menu and share dessert (if we are in the mood for dessert) because total cost comes out similarly or 3) i have already tried the restaurants with great deal/great menu on the list

but whether i decide to skip on dinela or not, i like looking through the list of restaurants & check out the menus for places i "might be" interested in
and i did find one i really wanted to try, which was k-zo!
[here is list of participating restaurants for this spring, 2014]

i have heard of k-zo before and because it sounds similar to sushi zo, i was always curious but their menu this year for their dinela was incredible and i knew this was one place i wanted to check out!

k-zo was amazing!
in fact, it's definitely on the top of my list for best dinela experiences i've had so far
i really enjoyed their menu, loved the presentation (omg, their appetizer platter was art), really liked that all those preparing sushi/sashimi were japanese, surprised at the freshness of fish, impressed by their rice quality & thrilled at the price for the quality i was getting and wanted to share as soon as possible so more people could take advantage of checking out this place

"rokuten mori" - 6 mini appetizer on a plate
"ankimo yuzu-miso" -- monkfish liver pate with sweet miso dressing
"wagu beef tataki" -- seared wagu beef with chopped wasabi
"white fish yuzu" -- white fish sashimi spiced with yuzu citrus pepper
"hamachi verde" -- yellowtail sashimi with k-zo's original sweet herb miso sauce
"crispy albacore" -- crispy wonton on albacore sashimi
"oyster on half shell" -- with tosa-zu espuma

sushi assortment
tuna, yellowtail, salmon, white fish, albacore, japanese scallop, unagi nigiri, toro, sea urchin
and popcorn shrimp asparagus cut roll 

k-zo original "purple parfait"
a scoop of vanilla ice cream, red beans, and mochi balls topped with okinawa purple sweet potato sauce

double caramel mousse
caramel mousse layered with caramel sauce, sprinkled with sea salt

all this for $55 + tax & gratuity is really an amazing deal! 
it's not too late for you to run out and enjoy this great meal yourself as dinela will last until 1/31/friday

i am now happilyfull ♥ 
see you on my next adventure!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

LA's chicken and rice

nyc's halal opening in la was THE NEWS in the la foodie world in the past few days!
so...even though i was lazy to drive all the way out to hollywood and wait in line for who knows how long, my friend & i decided to check it out now (which was last night) rather than later...when this news spreads even more!

those i know went on opening night for chicken & rice los angeles truck waited long & those who got there late couldn't even get some because they sold out! so of course...we had to get there earlier to beat the crowd and get there by 7pm because they were opening at 8pm!

all we knew was this address & their opening time for yesterday 1/25/14 was 8pm which we found out by calling 
Hollywood & Highland
Los AngelesCA 90028
(323) 572-4646
here it their yelp site : chicken and rice
but because we got there early and there was no line formed by then, we were confused! after asking two different parking lot attendants & calling chickenandricela several times, we ended up forming our own line with few people that were there before us

now that i've been and went through the confusion myself, i can share that the actual street the truck will be at is hawthorn! it is right outside of the parking lot across from mel's drive-in and depending on how many people are there, they picked the location so people can wrap around the corner of hawthorn & highland (so clever!)

if you don't get there too early, you won't miss the scene because there are so many people lined up for this truck & you will see guys/girls in white shirt with chickenandrice logo that resembles the yellow cabs

the truck was to "open" at 8pm but they announced that they were running a little late & after taking a long while to set up their transformer mobile, started the business around 8:20 pm 

i tried to smell the food the whole time while waiting once they started cooking, but maybe because we were one of the first ones, the "delicious smell" was not really there... 

take take your order while you are in line, so make sure you know what you are getting before you get to the front of the line! 

here is the verdict!
obviously they are definitely NOT the halal guys on 53rd & 6th in NYC 

knowing this and being such a fan of the halal guys, i purposely went without too much expectations because i KNEW it would be different
(i highly recommend going without expecting too much for those of you who also have a soft spot for 53rd & 6th)

because of this reason, i was pleasantly surprised when i finally took a bite of the dish after finding a spot for a quick photo-op below before eating 
it was good, just not the same! i wish i had tried "other places" in nyc for "alternative" chicken and rice so i can tell you more in detail

nevertheless, if you are comparing this place to fame 53rd & 6th, everything tastes different
white sauce was completely off with strong garlic flavor & hot sauce didn't even come close because it wasn't hot at all and was sour (my friend mentioned that it was similar to taco bell's hot sauce and i agree)
rice and chicken were similar but again, tasted different 
i never really eat the pita bread and salad but la used spring green mix while nyc used iceberg lettuce

new yorkers say that what made 53rd & 6th halal guys special was their sauces 
well, chicken and rice los angeles has different twist to those sauces

so go with an open mind to try la's version of chicken and rice to enjoy this halal! 
i personally think it was worth it for me to wait 1hr and 20min in line for the truck to be one of the first customers on their 2nd night of opening on top of total drive time being ~3hrs
they also still have $5 promotion for these bowls, which made it worth it

for more information on their opening times and such, you can check out their facebook or twitter 
and be sure to check my facebook page too! 
instagram @happilyfull

i am now happilyfull ♥ 
see you on my next adventure!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

new york's halal aka chicken over rice now opened in la

i am thankful that we have abundant food options here in los angles
one thing i never understood was how we don't have famous halal cart from NYC (or a version similar to it) in la! 

i absolutely love chicken over rice from the halal guys on 53rd & 6th in NYC 
i loved it so much that i had requested friends visiting new york to bring back some for me and did just that when i went to new york last year! yes, buying several chicken over rice, packing them nicely in the containers i brought from la, wrap it with bag over and over so i wouldn't stink up the air plane then put them in the fridge so i can eat it whenever i wanted! 
truth is, as it is with all food, it's never the same when it's not fresh! and halal is definitely not the same eating in the middle of the night on the street ;)

now that i've shared my love for halal...
you can tell how thrilled i was when i read that we will now have something very similar to it in la! 
according to eater, new york's famed chicken & rice just opened in hollywood TODAY! 

Those familiar with the New York-style street meat commonly called halal cart or chicken and rice will soon have a reason to rejoice. Simply dubbed Chicken & Rice , a truck touting the NYC specialty, will debut on January 23 in the parking lot next to Mel's Diner near the corner of Hollywood and Highland.
According to Midtown Lunch, the truck will be operated by the owner of Spice Hollywood Bistro, who has no actual connection to the outlets in NYC (such as Halal Guys) and is simply an homage to the popular street carts in NYC. The format is simple: falafel, lamb or chicken served over a bed of highly seasoned rice, kati roll wrap, or sandwich. A taco and burger option exists, though it's unlikely that many will opt for that unless they're unfamiliar with the concept.
Surely most people will order a simple chicken or lamb combo over rice, then douse it with a mayo-based white sauce and super-spicy hot sauce. The ideal after-drinking street snack.

sure, it's not the original halal guys, but i am thankful that even a similar version is FINALLY in la!
i cannot wait to go check it out myself!!! who wants to join? 

Hollywood & Highland
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 572-4646
here it their yelp site : chicken and rice

that's it for today-
from "happilyfull-on-life" 

fresh uni bowl

i've heard somewhere that your taste buds change every seven years
i am not sure if that is scientifically proven as i am not about to research on this topic right now (if i ever do, i will make sure to share!) but i do agree that my taste buds definitely changed end of last year/early this year! 

there are three things i used to "hate" that i actually either "love" or "can tolerate"
1) oyster 2) mango 3) uni aka sea urchin
the word hate is such a strong word and i try to avoid using this word, especially since i now am in the culinary field... nevertheless, i really did dislike those three up until last year! 
i now love and crave oysters & mangoes and actually prefer them over some other food i always liked! 

as far as uni (or sea urchin) goes... it was something i never enjoyed! but it tasted okay to me recently and i have since decided that i am going to "practice" eating uni! which is pretty much what i did last night at maruhide uni club

here is their menu
my pick? it was nigiyaka-bowl with fresh sea urchin, marinated sea urchin, tuna, scallop, salmon roe, salmon, boiled sea urchin, sea cucumber & uni egg omlette which is served with uni miso soup

as it is with any food, fresh ingredient is what makes any meal taste good
this is especially the case for seafood, and maruhide's uni bowl is so fresh that i actually started to really like the creaminess and even slightly sweet taste of uni! i am still going to take a while to enjoy the marinated uni on the right corner, but i have a feeling i will actually get uni-craving in the future! 

we will also have to wait see what other taste bud i will develop overtime! 
i personally hope i can start to like cilantro, but it seems like that might be pushing it for the time being ;)

i am now happilyfull ♥ 
see you on my next adventure!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

[Thrillist] How to pronounce the 16 most confusing food words

when i read how to pronounce the 16 most confusing food words on thrillist, i couldn't help but re-read everything out loud and see whether i've been pronouncing some of these words correctly!

thankfully, i knew how to say most except 5, but wanted to share this pronunciation guide with everyone! 

that's it for today-
from "happilyfull-on-life" 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


spago has always been one of my favorite restaurants because i always enjoyed their food! 
so few months ago when my foodie friends and i decided to have a nice meal but couldn't agree on a restaurant, we decided to head to spago because those who haven't been wanted to try and those who have been thought it was a dependable restaurant with consistent deliciousness! 

when we first got there for a late dinner around 8:45pm, we thought we were ordering a la carte....well, until someone wanted to see what was on the tasting menu and everyone on the table just said "why not" "and if we are doing tasting menu anyway, let's order the one with more courses" 
it was my first time trying spago's tasting menu and wow!!! it sure was fabulous! 

here is a mini description of the restaurant as stated on their website:
Wolfgang Puck and Barbara Lazaroff's legendary, flagship restaurant now features a completely new menu and design. The master chef, along with Executive Chef and Managing Partner Lee Hefter, has re-invented the entire menu with his signature farm to table philosophy, heightening the iconic California cuisine Puck catapulted to stardom. Spago's new design from Waldo Fernandez complements the food with its clean and simple aesthetic, incorporating natural elements to add an organic feel. Spago's co-founder/co-owner Barbara Lazaroff created the original design for Spago in West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Spago continues to set the standard for cuisine, service and style and is consistently recognized as the ultimate in fine dining. Spago is the recipient of the AAA Four Diamond Award and received two stars in The Michelin Guide-Los Angeles edition, one of only three restaurants in the city to win this coveted distinction. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, the restaurant earned the prestigious Wine 

we started our meal with some amuse bouche, delicious compound butter with bread, and of course... two bottles of wine! one of my friend is a wine connoisseur and he always orders the wine for the table but wow, that riesling was really good! 

we then started 8-courses which seemed to be a lot more than just 8 dishes, thanks to a course on the house + few too many amuse-bouches
i wish i can write what i ate in details, but since we decided on the tasting menu without looking at the details & because spago never sent me the menu even when i requested through email, you will just have to enjoy the photos~ 
but our favorite (unanimous) dish was the fish & pumpkin agnolotti with black truffles (which they brought out with protective dome which they opened up at once to give us a nice whiff)
 we also noticed that there was some asian twist in their tasting menu since spago's chef de cuisine is chef tetsu yahagi, 

the dinner lasted well past midnight and my stomach was about to pop by the end of the night but i can highly recommend spago's tasting menu to anyone because it was one of the meals i enjoyed the most! 

another highlight was meeting chef wolfgang puck! i had met him previously and took a photo, but it sure was different when i saw him this time, since it was after i have decided to go to culinary school! i really think he is as successful as he is because he truly cares about his customers and i am so amazed how nice he is whenever i see him! 

i am now happilyfull ♥ 
see you on my next adventure!