SoCal – Food Trip

ice cream lab swank trips

After San Diego, EJ and I headed towards Long Beach to visit our best friends, Mar and Dianne. Since we go to that area often, I usually write about the places we eat and refer to that general area as SoCal (see post here and here). That’s a pretty general term we use for that area since we live in the Bay.

Anyway, we continued EJs birth-week celebration here and celebrated his actual birthday. No trip for us would be complete if not for the eating out! I admit we do this a lot, but that’s how we like to celebrate and socialize. We are social eaters. Which is one of the reasons I run a lot (not lately though). Here are some places we ate at per Mr Birthday Boy’s request:

85 Degree Bakery
This was the first place we went to after coming from SD. It was getting late and we wanted to go somewhere fast and cheap just to meet up with Mar and Dianne for a little bit. This place is a chain and there are many locations throughout California. Their story of how they thought up this place is pretty cool. I like learning about how business concepts happen. If they can do it, anyone (with money) can do it haha.

EJ always orders the Red Bean Smoothie. I ordered my usual Ice Sea Salt Jasmine Green Tea. The first time I ordered this drink, I had to Google how to drink it haha. Basically the top is like a milky foam cream with salt. The bottom half is tea. My first sip through a straw was bitter and I didn’t like it, which is why I had to Google how to drink it. I had a feeling I wasn’t supposed to shake it, otherwise it would have been sold already mixed together.

So you’re supposed to poke two holes on each end, one to drink and one to vent. Then drink it with some cream and some tea and it mixes in your mouth. It tasted so much better after I found that out! When I finish half, I usually end up mixing it and drinking it through a straw. It’s my favorite drink now!

Since we went pretty late, almost closing, they didn’t have my favorite bread: French Sweet Toast! My Ate Joy told me about this, and ever since the first time I tried it, I’ve loved it. 85 has dozens of bread choices, and if you don’t know which ones you like, you can easily choose one that you don’t like. Try the French Sweet Toast! I’ve never regretted it!

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CoCo Curry House
This was a special request of the Birthday Boy. He lived in Japan for a couple years and he said he used to eat at this restaurant a lot. So when he found out they had one in SoCal, of course he would want to eat here.

He ordered the chicken cutlet. It came with a sliced up cutlet, rice, and slathered in curry. I wasn’t too hungry so I just ordered a curry bread. I dipped my bread pieces in his curry sauce and it was really good, both the bread and the sauce. I tried pieces of his chicken cutlet with rice and that was good also. The plates are served with rice on one half of the plate, the chicken cutlet in the middle, and the sauce on the other half over the half of the chicken cutlet, but if I were ordering for myself, I would ask for the curry sauce on the side since I wouldn’t want the breading on the chicken to get soggy.

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Ice Cream Lab
This place was recommended to us by Mar. The ice cream made with liquid nitrogen. There are some similar places around the Bay Area, like Cryo Cream and Smitten. I’ve only been to Cryo Cream.

Ice Cream Lab is located in Beverly Hills. The shop front is all glass and the inside is very blue. EJ ordered the BuTella – bananas, Nutella ice cream, and an olive oil breadstick. Weird combination, but surprisingly very good! The ice cream machines are out front so you can watch as they make your dessert. They pour a liquid form of the ice cream into the machine and lower it into the bowl. I assume that they blast it with liquid nitrogen and  out comes your ice cream. I like the flavor combinations they offer, but I didn’t like any at the time. Wish they had more to choose from, so I just shared with EJ.

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Sugarfina
This candy store is located very near to Ice Cream Lab. We were drawn in from the “Samples” sign outside. We got some when we walked in and I was IN LOVE. I’m a big fan of snacks, but more so fruit snacks! I love fruit snacks and I ended up buying three from here. Seeing it’s in Beverly Hills, I paid $7 a box for these. I know, I know. Those prices are ridiculous, but I wanted to see what the fuss was about.

My favorite was the Wild Strawberry Fruittini. It was coated with sugar and the consistency was soft to bite through, yet not so chewy. The Apricot Hearts tasted like regular fruit snacks. Very flavorful though, no coating. Peach Bellini reminded me a lot of Trolli Peach O’s.

Final Verdict: I don’t think I would come back here. I’d rather go to Sockerbit.

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Sockerbit
I accidentally found this place through a picture on Instagram. It’s located in West LA near Hollywood. When we walked in, it reminded me a lot of IKEA. Very minimalist decor. I guess that’s how the Swedish do it. I really need to go to Sweden someday, for candy… and to find Alex Skarsgard HAHA

There was a wide variety of sweets: chocolates, hard candies, sour fruit snacks, licorice, etc. I love fruit snacks, and I love sour candies, so those are the main ones I got. The names of the candies are in Swedish, I believe, but the descriptions are in English. The employees were also nice about answering any questions we had since it was our first time there.

I’ll admit, this place is expensive. It’s $12.99/lb, but its only because the candies are free of transfat, have no artificial coloring, and are GMO free. So like all healthy foods, it comes with a price. Candy, in general, isn’t necessarily healthy, but this would be the closest thing to a “healthy candy!”

Cool Story: When we walked in, there was a lady set up with a video camera. She approached us and asked if we wanted to be part of her interview. Apparently she was doing a little segment for AOL on Sweetest Day. She asked us some questions and EJ and I got our THREE SECONDS OF FAME – forward to 00:32 to see us =)

Final Verdict: I love the concept of this place and I’m sure I’ll be back here for more delectable delights =)

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Ko Ryo Jung Restaurant
Originally EJ wanted to eat Korean BBQ at JKorean. Main reason was that it was a basic all-you-can-eat KBBQ restaurant. But when we met up with out friends, they said they noticed the service and quality of JKorean has decreased. A couple weeks before, they found out JKorean had new management. So instead, they recommended Ko Ryo.

Walking in, this place looked a lot nicer than JKorean. The booths were spaced efficiently and they had an unlimited salad bar on one side.

When the food came out, they gave complementary tofu soup, and rice is INCLUDED in the price of the meal (unlike JKorean was by order). Also the bachan is located at the salad bar instead of waiting for the waiter to bring it to you or to refill. Salad bar also had an array of different raw veggies to throw on the grill also. We tried the mushrooms and squash with sesame oil and grilled that. It was really good with the meats!

We let our friends order for us, but we mainly had the brisket and bulgogi. Both meats tasted of good quality to me, but I’m not an expert or anything. I just know what tastes good to me, and this place was great! The price of this place is more than JKorean, but it includes a lot more. I think it was money well spent and I would definitely come here again.

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Mitsuwa Marketplace
This is a Japanese grocery store near Dianne’s house that she introduced me to a couple years ago. It’s a grocery store chain, but it also has a food court, a bakery, and some other small shops. We went in for a packaged meal and EJ decided on poke bowls, tuna onigiri, and apple juice.

The poke didn’t compare to PokiNometry, but it was good enough. And every time we go here, EJ gets tuna onigiri. He always gets tuna, since he lived in Japan he said, so he gets that for me too. I was to try something else sometime. Salmon sounds good!

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Furaibo
For dinner, we ate at Furaibo. We let Mar and his wife order, so I had no idea what anything was called and to look all the orders up on Yelp haha. We did more of a family style type of meal, but I’m sure you can get individual orders as well.

Though I didn’t remember what anything was called, I do remember how almost everything tasted! We ordered fried baby halibut, hanpen cheese, and chicken wings.

The fried baby halibut has a horrible name, but it tasted like a good fried fish. No breading, just straight fish. The handpen cheese looked weird to me. I never would have imagined fish and cheese deep fried together. The combination is unique, but the flavor was interesting. I couldn’t eat more than two. Anything deep fried with cheese just fills me up too fast. Good thing I waited to try that last. The chicken wings were what I went for first. They were small and deep fried, like Wing Stop wings, but the sauce tasted more Asian. Not sure what was in it exactly, but soy sauce for sure. We all shared, but I think I ate about 7? The combination of all those fried foods filled me up quick.

(If you’re ever in the Bay near Santa Clara, try 99 Chicken for some AMAZING Asian fried chicken. The pieces are also bigger, like the size of KFC wings, but with a Korean kick! Thank you to Kristal and Kathy Mae for introducing me to that spot!)

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Boiling Point
After Furaibo, we wanted some dessert. We always want dessert after meals. It’s become a “thing” for EJ and I now haha. Even when we think we’re full. (So bad, I know…) This was the closest thing open at the time we were looking was just around the plaza that Furaibo was in.

We came for the macaron sandwiches! Doesn’t come anywhere close to Milk, but close enough. EJ surprisingly passed, but Dianne got a strawberry macaron ice cream sandwich. I got a hokkaido brown sugar konjac “snow cube.” I liked the flavoring, but it seemed like something I can make at home. I probably won’t get that again.

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King’s Hawaiian Restaurant
Right before we headed back to the Bay, we stopped by this restaurant to have a last breakfast with Dianne. EJ loves the King’s Hawaiian Rolls, so we thought this would be a good place to start our day. We got typical Hawaiian breakfast foods: Portuguese sausage, corn beef, and pancakes. The breakfast didn’t really impress me. Since we got back from Maui a couple months ago, no Hawaiian food has compared to what we ate on the island.

What really got my excited was THE BAKERY! If you know me at all by now, you know I love my sweets! There was a wide variety of cakes, donuts, tarts, other delicious sweets, and of course, King’s Hawaiian bread rolls! I asked EJ to choose something we haven’t tried, and he chose Coconut Macadamia Nut bread rolls. We ate half the bag in one sitting once we got home.

I also got some slices to go: Haupia Cake, Mac Nut Cream Pie, and Lilikoi Crunch Cake. Of the three, I loved the Mac Nut Pie the BEST. I wish I got the whole pie instead of just one slice. It somewhat reminded me of the Mac Nut Cheesecake we got at Extraordinary in San Diego. I think I just love macadamia nuts, but not alone. I like them in baked goods and especially in chocolate!

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So this was our SoCal Food Trip! I hope you found some places to add to your itineraries for your next trip. What other places in SoCal so you recommend? I’m always open to new suggestions!

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