Mar’sel

Tina took me out for a belated birthday dinner this weekend at Mar’sel at Terranea. She really is like the older sister I never had, always directing me to many a delicious meals. I missed those days when she would pack me lunch. No more beef noodle soup or Asian sandwiches anymore at work. Anyhoo…

We chose to sit outside for dinner, hoping the clouds would clear and we would be able to see the sunset. No such luck.

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I don’t drink much, so when our server asked us about bubblies and such, I politely declined. Then she offered us mocktails. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone actually offer to make me a mocktail. I liked her.

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Mar’sel, they do good bread. Really good bread. I like a good bread.

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Santa Barbara spot prawns? Umm…if you say so. I don’t like having to peel the shells myself at a nice restaurant.

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Dungeness crab toast. BRIOCHE!

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Bone marrow may not be for everyone, but I love it.

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Roasted duck confit. CONFIT!

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Hangar steak :)

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We were going to skip dessert, but our server brought us salted caramel pudding and cookies. How could we say no?

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Thank you Tina for a wonderful birthday dinner!

Mar’sel

100 Terranea Way

Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275

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Chasing Daisy

My love for the so-called “chick lit” books by English authors is not a recent thing. I have fond memories of when I discovered Sophie Kinsella and Hester Browne. Although I occasionally cry my eye balls out, thank god my flatmate (notice I didn’t say roommate) is usually never around to witness this debacle, I finish almost every book feeling happy and giddy for the happily ever after endings. Recently, I developed an addiction to the works of Paige Toon. I’m not sure if it was the cute pink cover or the fact that the book kept popping up my Goodreads and Amazon recommendation lists, but I finally decided to read “Chasing Daisy” by Paige Toon. A week later, I have read all 8 of her books and both of the short e-books. Now I have to patiently wait for the next book that comes out in late May, that’s more than two months away. *sigh* This may sound a bit weird, but I really want to start using “cuppa” when offering someone tea and “cow” when insulting a particularly b**chy person. I want to try Penguin bars and I also want to let the world know that I am about to toss my trainers in the rubbish, but I don’t think anyone in America will know what I am talking about.

Chasing Daisy

 

 

Sushi Sasabune

My favorite meal in Oahu was dinner at Sushi Sasbune. Casual atmosphere, friendly service and some of the best sushi I’ve ever had. Thank you for taking notes Betty.

Canadian albacore tuna and Japanese blue fin tuna.

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California squid stuffed with Louisiana blue crab.

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Fatty toro and medium toro. I prefer the fatty toro.

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Japanese red snapper and North Carolina halibut.

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Japanese skip jack tuna

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Yellowtail

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Salmon with seaweed

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Hokkaido scallop with green chili

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Oysters three way

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Japanese snow crab

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New Zealand abalone

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Finely chopped toro. Melts in your mouth.

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Alaskan King crab, sashimi grade.

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Uni aka sea urchin

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Sushi Sasabune

1417 S. King St.

Honolulu, HI 96814

(808) 947 -3800

Oahu 2014

Wind + rain = no skydiving. Damn you Oahu and your crappy weather. I understand this is your Winter, but couldn’t you have given us one good morning with sunshine that wasn’t on the day we were leaving? What does a girl have to do to jump out of a plane? Geez. *sigh* I suppose this means Betty and I will  have to plan another trip to Hawaii. Bad weather aside, we still had a lot of fun exploring and eating. See pictures below.

We arrived on Sunday and checked into the Moana Surfrider in Waikiki. The hotel was beautiful, historic, almost like something out of a movie. Although it was consider low season for tourism in Oahu, the place was still bustling with people. I wish housekeeping weren’t so stingy with the hair conditioners and so overly generous with the body wash.

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Our first stop after check-in was Iyasume Musubi. Ever had a spam musubi? No? Why? Because you think spam is gross. Well I think you’re pretty gross. You’re missing out. It’s delicious.

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I ordered mine with egg, bacon and cheese.

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After our musubi stop, we ventured over to the Ala Moana Center, explored Kalakaua Ave a bit, stopped by King’s Village and finally decided to have dinner at HI Steak. The chimichurri was great, but the steak was a bit over done for our taste.

We bumped in Doraemon at King’s Village. Insane right? I know.

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Next time I want to order the chimchichurri with just a side of rice, but I don’t think that’s an option.

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On our way to our first and only hike the next morning, we stopped at Diamond Head Market & Grill for some breakfast. We ordered the loco moco and the salmon and egg on fried rice. Of course we added the sriracha sauce. It’s never too early for sriracha.

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The Diamond Head hike was easier than we had expected. I would’ve taken a picture from the top, but I was distracted by all the mosquitoes that were congregating up there. Oh and we climbed a lot of stairs.

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Whale watching was one of the highlights on our trip. This is the view of the island from the boat. I was surprise that the whales were so close to shore.

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We saw like 10 different whales on this boat trip because it was Betty’s birthday. It was confirmed in the video below even though it only features one whale that you can barely see.

We stopped by Shirokiya for a late lunch.

Squid okonomiyaki(?) and takoyaki from Takoyaki Yama-Chan. You don’t like squid? Well I don’t like you much either. I am judging you right now.

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We also ordered a pork katsu from Kimukatsu. What’s so special about this particular katsu? Well the katsu is made from quality pork, sliced thin and stacked into 25 layers. At least that’s what I wrote in my Evernote. Fancy, but the pork was a bit dry. I think they might have a shop in Culver City.

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We had dinner at Alan Wong’s, but I didn’t get a chance to take any pictures. Our whole entire dinner was interrupted by a pair of brand name dropping brothers/doctors from Atlanta. Oh you walked into Ralph Lauren? Big deal. I walked into Louis Vuitton and Burberry!

We had scheduled skydiving for Tuesday morning, but it was canceled due to the bad weather conditions. So we decided to visit Pearl Harbor. Neither of us wanted to take the ferry to the memorial after the short film. I was good at holding back the tears when I visited in high school, but not now. I think I would’ve freaked everyone out if I started balling uncontrollably. Betty probably would’ve smacked me. After Pearl Harbor, we spent the rest of the day walking around Kalakaua Ave. I recommend getting your caffeine boost at Gorilla In The Cafe. Just do it.

I’ve always enjoyed a nice bowl of soup noodles on a gloomy day. Marukame Udon was delicious.

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After a relaxing day of doing absolutely nothing that requires any type of physical exertion, we woke up early the next day so that we can grab breakfast at Nico’s Pier 38 Fish Market, go ATV at Kualoa Ranch and then hopefully do some skydiving in the afternoon. Yea…that last part didn’t happen. The weather was not our friend. So instead we visited the Dole Plantation, had some shaved ice and checked out one of the beaches in the North Shore area.

Betty and I are probably the only two people that would eat octopus and shrimp for breakfast. I didn’t get any pictures of our breakfast. A girl can only do so much while she is eating and driving. For the safety of the citizens of Oahu, I opted not to take any pictures. Yes I know that’s quite considerate of me, but well…I also only have two hands.

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The Renniemobile. I named it 2 seconds ago. She is an all terrain ATV.

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We kept our helmets on the whole time.

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That’s not just any puddle, it’s a footprint.

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There were many deadly land mines. I didn’t step on any.

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A prop left over from some movie. I wasn’t really paying attention to the guide. I was too focused on trying to avoid the deadly land mines aka cow poop.

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Kualoa was beautiful. No mosquitoes either.

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Woohoo for spontaneity. We spotted this truck, did a u-turn and found one of the best meals on our trip. The roasted shrimp and chicken combo from Mike’s Huli Chicken was delicious. We didn’t even Yelp it ahead of time.

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Best coconut banana smoothie ever. We should’ve ordered two.

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I was bug bite free until we got to the Dole plantation. My right hand still itches now.

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Dole Plantation advice #1 – skip the garden tour. Dole Plantation advice #2 – cut through the trees in the maze.

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Matsumoto Shave Ice

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I prefer Taiwanese shaved ice.

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Whoa I just noticed that I have a photo bomber in my beach picture. WTF?

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The best meal we had in Hawaii was at Sushi Sasabune. It was so insanely mind blowing that it gets its own post.

The last meal worth mentioning was breakfast at Boots & Kimo’s in Kailua. The pancakes  with macadamia nut sauce was SO GOOD!

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So that pretty much concludes our first vacation together since Thailand 2004. I hope we don’t have to wait another 1o years to go on another trip together.

Susan & Caleb’s Wedding

I woke up this morning feeling extremely fat and exhausted, and everything hurt. Why? I blame Susan and Caleb. Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending their wedding at Orcutt Ranch in West Hills. I think I may have been a little too excited, ate a bit too much and danced for too many hours. Why did I ask for two racks of ribs instead of one? *sigh* My eyes were obviously way bigger than my stomach. It was a deliciously beautiful wedding. See pics below.

I thought I was going to be late, but I forgot I was supposed to operate on Asian standard time. I think I was a few mins early.

We Made It!!!

Non-alcoholic pre-ceremony refreshments.

Pre Ceremony Drinks

Such clever use of windows or were these doors?

Glass Door

Dalrae was the only bridesmaid I got a good picture of walking down the aisle. Sorry Melissa and Julie.

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The bridesmaids had the prettiest hair.

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Now say “aww”.

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Absolutely love the flowers.

Sand Flowers

Looking good Westwood. Looking good.

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More windows. Go Table 2!!!

Seating Tables

Centerpieces.

Center Pieces

Ready to eat ladies???

Mag and Tracy

Check out this menu! OMG! BBQ and OKRA!!!

Menu

I forgot the mac n cheese? :(

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Dessert table. I should have ate more cake pops.

Dessert Table

Dessert Table 2

Cake cutting. Now say “aww” again.

Cake Cutting

The newly weds sat here during the reception. I was too engrossed with the food to take pictures of them when they were actually sitting here. Oops.

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Ashley was DJ for a bit.

Ashley DJ

I grabbed the wrong party favor, but that’s ok. It’s still cute.

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Ok now one last time say “aww”.  Congratulations Susan and Caleb!

Susan & Caleb

Orcutt Ranch

23600 Roscoe Blvd

West Hills, CA 91304

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

After Miami, Evey and I drove to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando. It was a short 3 hour drive with many many tolls to pay. I think I’ve paid more tolls on this one trip than I have the entire year. I had to pay the toll twice just from our hotel to the airport.

We had decided to stay at the Hard Rock  Hotel, which was located inside Universal Studios. If you stay at one of the hotels within park, your room key will get you an express pass for some of the rides and also early entrance to the parks. FYI – The room was clean, beds were comfy, shower pressure was lacking, and the shampoo/conditioner smelled like grass. The hotel staff was excellent though. Everyone seemed happy and were really helpful.

The hotel had many guitars and stuff displayed all over the place. These belong to Elton John. I want the one on the bottom right.

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Good job Universal. Good job!

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Imagine yourself as that kid. How lucky would you feeling right now?

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Butter beer? Yes please. I like mine frozen. Thank you much!

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In case you were wondering, that’s butterscotch whipped cream on top.

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You have to buy candy from Honeydukes.

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Aside from Harry Potter land, we also stopped by Seuss Landing and…you know…played. Even adults need to have fun sometimes.

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Oh look at all the bright colors! Which way???

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Note to self: start planning 2014 Miami/Orlando trip now.

Miami 2013

Miami started out as a bust. Seriously. I took the red-eye flight from LA because I had fully expected to sleep on the plane. Why? Because I always sleep on the plane. Well…except this time. As if we (Kristen and I) weren’t tired enough, our room was not ready when we arrived at the hotel. Oh Shore Club, you really failed us on this one. Had one of your staff not informed us the day before that we would have no issues with an early check-in, we wouldn’t have been so upset that our room wasn’t available when we got there at the crack of dawn. What is even more irritating was that the front desk told us that the standard check-in time was 3pm. Guess what happened when we came back from lunch at 3:30 and tried to check in to our Oceanview room? We were told it wasn’t ready. It wasn’t ready until 5pm! *sigh* At least the room was clean and they provided their guests with Malin + Goetz products. I think I am going to stay at the SLS next time. Yes, I am quite high maintenance when it comes to hotels.

Our extremely clean room. Is the purple suppose to be art?

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After napping for four hours in our temporary standard room, we ventured out to Cafe Charlotte for lunch. At least Yelp didn’t fail us, the food was great.

Our very first grilled beef empanda.

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Entraña skirt steak. Not a fan of the yucca fries here though.

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After lunch, we walked around a bit and found a cute tree to look at while we ate our coffee & straciatella gelato.

The cute tree.

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After Evey and Joanne arrived, we dressed up a bit and went to dinner at Ola. The restaurant was on the pricier side, but the service, ambiance and food was well worth it. This may be a little silly, but I think one of my favorite dishes was their cheese bread. It was gluten-free too!

I think this was the mixto ceviche with squid ink. I could be wrong, I wasn’t really paying attention. There were way too many ceviche choices on the menu.

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Mystery meatballs. I don’t really care what it was made of because it was delicious.

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Raspado de pato. Duck breast served with crispy rice. I didn’t try the rice so I don’t know if it was really crispy or not. The duck was pretty amazing though.

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Panela Salmon.

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Puerco Asado. Braised pork.

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The next day was my idea of a relaxing vacation. I spent the entire day out on the beach under a huge umbrella, listening to the sound of the ocean and reading on my Kindle. Surprisingly all the food and beverages served on the beach were also quite decent. Expensive, but decent. For dinner, we decided to have Cuban food at Puerto Sagua, which was recommended by practically everyone we talked to about Miami. After the first bite of my Ropa Vieja, I knew why this place was so popular. I think I could eat dinner here every night.

Huge potato balls. I prefer Porto’s.

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Ropa Vieja. Cuban style shredded beef.

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Chuletas De Cerdo Frita. Fried pork chops.

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Friscase de Rabo. Oxtail stew.

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Another spot that was highly recommended was Yardbird. All restaurants should do bacon the way Yardbird does bacon. Fun atmosphere, great service, and delicious food. This was probably the best brunch I had all year.

It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

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Also beautiful, no? The biscuits were delicious. Oh and look at the little jars with the butter and jam. So cute.

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According to Evey, their Mint Julep was awesome. Note to self, ask for Blanton’s.

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I ignored the special and asked for the BLT Benedict Cast Iron Casserole. Yep. I did. It had bacon!!!

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Have you ever seen grits look this gorgeous? Too bad I don’t like grits.

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Mama’s Chicken Biscuits.

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Cox Farm Alabama Char-Grilled Hanger Steak. So good, Kristen was speechless.

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Butter lettuce and grilled mango salad.

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Great company, great beaches, delicious food. I had a blast in Miami. I really hope we can make this an annual trip.