After a month of traveling for both work and pleasure, I wanted to share some photos of the good food and great company along the way. I initially planned a trip to go see family in LA, then extended it to visit some of my favorite West coast ladies. My good friend Wendy heard and was quick to suggest doing a video together. I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive due to the amount of time videos take (sadly approaching a 1-year hiatus from my channel), but how could I say no if the talented WLB team was doing most of the work?
After some brainstorming, we decided to do a "From Office to Casual" segment that would play off of our individual interests, and let us style each other in looks that we would probably not put ourselves in. I hope those of you who watched enjoyed the video!
Planning work on the video was made easy over delicious meals. Below Left: Signature ramen from Daikokuya. Portions were generous - I thought 2 people would've been full off of 1 ramen + rice bowl combo. The shredded pork rice bowl was actually quite tasty. I feared it would be that bland dried shredded pork ("rou song") like I had growing up, but it was generous pieces of marinated and seared pork with flavorful rice toppings. The only downside was it felt about 90 degrees inside the little shop with no AC, but even that can't keep me away from a hot bowl of noodles! Right: Korean BBQ at Genwa - the 25 banchans are a meal in themselves!
Below Left: Met up with lovely ladies Kelly and Jen for drinks, ice cream, and playtime with Jen's sweet puppy. Wearing a Target jacket & Coach heels borrowed from Wendy. Right: Behind the scenes at WLB's "studio."
Our trips here are rarely complete without a hearty Dim Sum meal at China Max. It's not exceptional but is always satisfying, so we keep going back to the same place. Any other food recommendations in SD would be appreciated!
San Francisco & Napa:
When my younger brother decided on school in the Bay Area, I was selfishly thrilled that I'd get to come often and enjoy all the good eats. I sent him off proudly then went to visit friends Ping & Tim. We were so lucky to have Ping plan our touring & food itinerary so that not a moment or meal was wasted!
Below: At William Hill Estate winery to get Ping's favorite Chardonnay. This winery was secluded and peaceful, and you could sip your flight outdoors with a view.
Below left: Nick, myself, Sydney, and our gracious hosts Ping and Tim. Right: At V. Sattui Winery, which was a zoo compared to the first one. The tastings were indoors along a lengthy counter, and were a good value at $10 to $15 for a flight of 6. The guy was very generous with pours and kept on whipping out new suggestions for us to try. When he brought out the "smile wine" swiftly followed by the "baby maker," we knew it was time to go! I liked the attached shop where you can sample & pick up charcuterie, cheeses, and fresh loaves of bread for a little picnic to enjoy with your wine.
Left: Both of us in Ping's handmade dresses. I keep trying to convince her to make pieces for sale - each item I've worn and inspected has been of incredible quality (especially for someone who just started sewing this year!). Right: The boys poring over the dim sum menu, making sure we didn't overlook any goodies.
Left: Half portion of Hog Island clam chowder - yummy fresh clams, but extra work! Right: 10-Tacolicious plate
Left: Love playing in the closets of similar-sized friends, especially since my own suitcase was crammed with work clothes for the pairing video. Wearing Ping's DIY-sleeved jacket and Wendy's Express quilted skirt (fit nicely in sz 00). Right: Got to play with SewPetiteGal's darling little Baby E! We were also joined by blog friends Cee, Aubrey, and Elle.
Below left: Twins with the sweet & talented KTR, after getting our Chinese desserts on at Golden Island Cafe. I've never seen so many variations of sago, mango, red bean, tofu, and coconut milk in my life! Right: Our favorite meal in SF, at Izokaya Sozai. The wait for 4 on a weeknight was over an hour, and this dark, grainy photo doesn't do the meal justice. I loved the variety - ramen, yakitori, sushi, and other interesting bites - surprisingly, all of which were done very well.
New York City:
Below left: We ate at quite a few places, but a highlight was trying "dipping" soba noodles for the first time at Cocoron. The liquid sauce stays hot over an open flame, to swish bites of fresh noodles into before they head into your mouth. Once the noodles are gone, the waitress fills the little pots with broth so it becomes a soup. Right: Not the most appetizing photo, but the Kare Kare (Filipino braised oxtail in peanut sauce, served with garlic fried rice) at Maharlika was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I can't wait to go back for their brunch dishes that come with a perfectly fried egg over garlic rice, plus a side of meat or fish.
I wanted to mention that while traveling (haven't yet tried this abroad, but plan to) and also while in Boston, a service that is pretty much indispensable for me is Uber. If you haven't heard of this before, it's a smartphone application that lets you quickly request taxis or private cars from your phone. I started using it almost 1 year ago as a way to get home from work late at night, or during times when an empty cab is pretty much impossible to hail (which is nearly all the time in NYC!). Even though I have a car, I still use Uber now at least once a week because it's become cheaper and more reliable than taxis, and more convenient than driving and parking in the city.
Aspects I love compared to a regular taxi:
- After you enter your location (Step 1 above), it shows you the cars on the road nearby, and lets you know how long the wait is for each type of car (move Step 2 button from left to right for the different "tiers" of cars). I go with UberX for the cheapest option, or SUV if we have more than 4 passengers. I have rarely ever had to wait more than 5 minutes for a car.
- Once you request a car and get assigned to a driver, the photo of the driver, his/her rating (by other customers), and car model pops up, and you can watch on the map as the car drives towards you. No more waiting around for cabs that don't show up b/c they decided to pick up other customers instead.
- I can't count the number of times that taxis have taken me on a "long" route around town. This has not yet happened with Uber, probably because customers get an email receipt drawing the exact route taken, plus drivers get rated by customers after the ride is over.
- The uberX (bargain tier) cars I've rode in have consistently been clean and well-maintained.
- The app charges the fare directly to your card on file after the ride, and rounds down to the nearest dollar. No more fumbling for cash or arguing with a driver who refuses to accept credit cards. There's also an option (before the ride is over) to easily split the fare with friends in your car who also have the app.
I've been such a happy customer that I reached out to the Uber team to see if they could offer a better signup deal for any readers who are interested. I originally signed up with their standard $10 refer-a-friend deal, and they have agreed to an increased $15 new user credit (disclosure - I receive $10 credit just like anyone who refers a friend) if you use code extrapetite at signup. You can enter the code after downloading the app on your phone.