Monthly Archives: August 2012

Korean Tacos and Hawaiian Food

This is the last week of August, and that means Summer is coming to an end. Students are going back to school, and my new graduate friends are starting their first jobs. As for me, I’m going to Disneyworld this weekend. Off to the most magical place on earth! Look on Sunday for a post about my very magical adventure in Disneyworld. For now, here are some of my summer food adventures in Chicago.

Del Seoul – Lincoln Park, Chicago

Kalbi Korean Taco

I love Korean food, and the concept of a Korean taco, the intertwining of two different cuisines, is just great! This taco was packed with ingredients including the well seasoned and grilled kalbi (Korean BBQ beef short ribs), lettuce and Sirachi sauce which I added. The kalbi was terrific. It was tender, flavorful and juicy. Plus they don’t skimp on the kalbi. Each mouthful of this taco is packed with kalbi. YUM!

Aloha Eats – Lincoln Park, Chicago

Chicken Katsu

I’ve never had Hawaiian food before. It is always quite exciting trying a new cuisine for the first time. Aloha Eats is a Hawaiian eatery with lots of different quick Hawaiian dishes. My friend and I got the small Chicken Katsu. We were surprised when it came out, because the small could definitely feed two people.  Two slices of breaded, fried chicken, 1 scoop of rice and 1 scoop of macaroni salad. The chicken katsu was definitely my favorite. The chicken inside was juicy and moist, and made for a perfect pairing with the crunchy outer exterior. Might have to start planning a trip to Hawaii after this!

Store Front Sign

I love quirky, funny signs. I saw this one while passing by a stationary store. Yes indeed, you should be sorry you are open.

Meiko the Superman (Supercat)

Introducing my dear cat Meiko. She is a four year old short haired domestic house cat. In the afternoons you can find her in the living room windows, basking in the sun. One afternoon I found her stretching her paws after a cat nap. It looked like she was trying to do the Superman, or in this case the Supercat.

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Social Experiments – Living in Ikea, Holding Hands with Strangers, Pretending to be a Celebrity

These are my favorite social experiment videos of guys doing very quirky things. Peculiarly charming videos that put a smile on my face every time I watch them. There’s something about the fantastical amusement, when watching videos of strangers trying to make sense of what these guys are doing. Watching confused, bewildered and shocked faces of regular people just like you and me. Their amused expressions when they learn that a man has moved into Ikea. Their confused faces when a stranger tries to hold their hand. Their delighted appearances upon learning they just met a celebrity (fake celebrity).

Mark Lives in Ikea

I read about Mark’s story back in 2008. Mark’s apartment was being redecorated, so he decided to live in Ikea for a couple of weeks. What a great idea! I mean who wouldn’t want to live in Ikea. With an abundance of bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms and bathrooms Mark could definitely live comfortably here. Watch Mark move into Ikea on his big first day!

Speaking of Ikea there is one scene in the movie 500 Days of Summer where the two main characters play house in Ikea. Wouldn’t it be fun! If the faucet doesn’t work in one kitchen, there’s always another one right next door. If you get bored of your living room, mosey on down to the next one.

Andrew Holds Hands with Strangers

There is nothing like the comfort of holding hands with those you love, but what happens if a stranger surprise attacks you with a holding hand sesh. Either you freak out or embrace the experience. Watch strangers react as Andrew holds their hand while walking down a hallway. I think it would be such a fun social experience to try. Might have to try this in downtown Chicago one day!

Brett Pretends to be a Celebrity in Time Square

For a celebrities you don’t normally recognize (C-list celebrities), you might realize their celebrity status when you see them parading around with body guards and stalker paparazzi. The superficial nature of society is extremely apparent in this video, when you see people gawk over a random guy just because they think he is famous (even though they might not know how or why he’s famous, in this case whether he is famous at all). I love the answers they give about where they have seen Brett Cohen. Why yes he’s in that Spiderman movie. That new single he has out, so great! When in fact, he is just a normal person pretending to be a celebrity.

Do you have any favorite social experiment videos? Leave a comment, and share them with me. I would love to watch them!

Finally Got Some Fried Chicken

There were many food adventures this week, but the most memorable was the trek to get some fried chicken. I’ve been craving fried chicken for such a long time, and nothing was going to stop me from getting some. The crispiness of the skin and the moist, juiciness of the meat are too much to resist. Read about my fried chicken adventure and others as well.

Harold’s Chicken Shack – South Loop, Chicago

We tried to go to Harold’s Chicken Shack after a concert in Millennium park. It was around 8PM, and Harold’s doesn’t close till 9PM.  We rushed all the way to Harold’s Chicken Shack ready for some fried chicken. only to be stopped at the entrance by a very large bouncer. Turns out there was a private event at Harold’s Chicken Shack that Friday night. My friends and I were baffled. If you take a look at Harold’s Chicken Shack, pictured above, you too would be surprised to find a private party being hosted there. It looks like your usual fast food joint. Definitely not somewhere you would host a party. There was even a DJ inside with people getting down on the dance floor. Unfortunately we could not get into Harold’s Chicken Shack or the party. Guess we weren’t classy enough for Harold’s Chicken Shack that night. 

After a very unfortunate night of coming back fried chicken-less, we had to go back to fulfill our fried chicken craving. We came here on a weekday afternoon, and thankfully there was no private party going on. The fried chicken was delicious. It was perfectly seasoned and fried. The meat was moist and juicy. Sometimes fried chicken is over fried, so that the meat is dry and the skin is extra crispy. Harold’s Chicken Shack was not like that at all. I’ll need to come back here for more fried chicken soon. Maybe I’ll even get invited to a private event here?

Chicago Curry House – South Loop, Chicago

Garlic Naan

Since we were sadly not invited to that private event at Harold’s Chicken Shack, we decided to go to Chicago Curry House for dinner. We started out with Garlic Naan. This was delicious! A very strong garlic taste. I love garlic. so I thoroughly enjoyed all of it. Good thing I wasn’t on a date, or else I would have reeked of garlic breath!

Chicken Curry

My friend and I split the Chicken Curry. The chicken was extremely tender and pulled apart so easily. I also really enjoyed the curry sauce. Every cuisine has that comfort food, and I can see this dish being the comfort food of Indian cuisine. It tasted very homemade in a good way.

Mitsuwa Marketplace Food Court – Arlington Heights, Illinois

Soy Sauce Ramen

I am a pretty picky ramen eater. In my previous post Slurping Turtle – McKayla Maroney:Not Impressed, I was not  satisfied with the ramen I had. This ramen was so much better. Definitely one of the better bowls of ramen I have had. The broth was flavorful without being overpowering. The pork was tender, flavorful, and really added something special to the dish. The noodles tasted fresh in a springy, chewy type of way. When you bite into the noodles, you can feel the noodles snap in your mouth. A nice bite to every mouthful of ramen noodles.

Green Tea Mousse Cake

No blog post would be complete without a dessert blurb. Recently I’ve had the biggest sweet tooth ever. Once you start eating sweets, there is no going back. We tried this Green Tea Mousse Cake from the bakery in Mitsuwa Marketplace. Since green tea is such a light flavor, sometimes green tea foods taste really weak and barely there. The green tea flavor in this cake was definitely strong. You can tell that it is green tea mousse. My favorite was their white frosting. Just the perfect amount of richness, creaminess, and sweetness. Delish!

Homemade Dumplings and Baos with my Mom

It was a chilly, cloudy Sunday morning. The type of Sunday morning that makes you realize that Summer is inevitably ending whether you like it or not. My mom has been talking about making dumplings and Chinese baos (Chinese buns)  the entire week, and we finally got to make yesterday. It’s been a while since we made our own homemade dumplings and baos, and it was definitely worth all of the hard work.

dumplings with two different types of fillings

The most difficult part of making dumplings and baos is making the filling. You have make sure that the filling you put inside the baos and dumplings is flavorful. Like how the broth makes or breaks a bowl of ramen, the filling makes or break the baos and dumplings. My mom premade the filling beforehand, so it was already cooked when we put it inside baos and dumplings. Pictured on the top right is a combination of ground pork, chives, and shirmp. Pictured on the bottom right is a combination of group pork, green onions, mushroom, and wood ear fungus. Both of the fillings were extremely tasty, but my favorite was the one with chives.

Making the dumplings is not so hard. You buy pre-made oval shaped dumpling skins. You scoop about 2/3 tbs of filling into a dumpling skin. Then rub water on the outer edges of the top half of the skin, and using your fingers bring the two halves of the dumpling skin together to seal off the dumpling. The trick is to seal them tightly or else the filling will spill out when you cook the dumpling.

steamed dumplings

You can either steam, boil, or fry the dumplings. I prefer them steamed, because it retains the flavor of the dumplings without all of the oil that comes with frying. They came out perfectly!

Chinese baos

After making the dumplings we made Chinese baos. It is made with the same fillings as the dumplings. The hardest part in making baos is making the dough. We made the dough from scratch. After trial and error, with adding more water and then more flour, we had the airy, fluffy dough to make our baos. Unlike how you make the dumplings the dough was a little harder to work with, because it was a lot more delicate than the dumpling skin. We had to make sure that the filling was completely encased in the dough or else all the juices and filling would spill out.

steamed Chinese baos

After steaming this was the end result. The bread was slightly chewy on the outside and soft on the inside. The filling made for aromatic baos that were extremely flavorful.

What a wonderful day making dumplings and baos with my mom. I told her next week I want to try to make baked char siu baos (BBQ Pork buns). Let’s hope that comes out as well as these baos and dumplings did!

Leave a comment if you want additional information on how to make the dumplings and baos. You can make large quantities, freeze them, and eat them later on. Dumplings and baos for all!

Whimsical Occurrences with Cupcake ATMs and Dream Engines

Things that are out of the ordinary are amusing, and adds a certain whimsical quality to life. Things that don’t belong, things that are out of place, things that bring fantasy into real life. I think this Dr. Seuss quote is quite fitting.

 “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” – Dr. Seuss

Without fantasy people would view life in black and white. What a lifeless world without excitement, without color, without playfulness. Welcome to the world of whimsy.

Sprinkles Cupcake Vending Machine

Spotted this on the streets near The Water Tower in Chicago. When did Sprinkles Cupcake ATMs become necessary? I guess if you have a late night craving for a Sprinkles cupcake and the store is closed, cupcake ATM to the rescue! The entire idea that you can get cupcakes from a vending machine is strange, but very appealing. I might just have to try one of these ATMs for fun and for the delicious cupcake of course.

ComEd Dream Engine

Dream Engine

While shopping downtown, my sister and I spotted this Dream Engine. What is a Dream Engine you ask? Perhaps a machine to store dreams, to share dreams, to reveal dreams? This Dream Engine is made from an old refrigerator transformed into a dreamlike art work. The viewer turns the handle and peers inside the engine. Inside you see a short stop motion picture animation of a horse galloping. Check out the other fridge artwork here.

House Without Stairs

Second floor entrance slightly out of reach

I guess no one enters the second floor through the front door. Unless people have amazingly high jumping abilities like the Olympian pole vaulters. Imagine if someone was to try to exit the second floor through that exit. A trick door just like in the old school, black and white movies.

Fake Subway Signs in London

Whoever put these up is a genius! Spotting these signs would make a great start to any morning commute. Check out more signs here.

Sandwiches at the Secret Garden

One of my favorite things to do is to go to gardens. There’s something so peaceful about wandering into secret places filled with the aromas and vivid colors of flowers and plants. I like to think of them as secret places, because when I go to gardens I like to wander around without a map. I know that it is not the most efficient way to see the entire garden, but it adds an element of mysteriousness to the adventure. Kind of like the book Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett where a little girl finds the entrance to a hidden garden. Closed off from the rest of the world the secret garden seems so surreal. A place where anything goes, and fairies, unicorns and magic exist. Well to my disappointment no fairy sightings or unicorn encounters at the Chicago Botanic Garden, but there were a lot of breathtaking  views and gorgeous spots perfect for daydreaming. Take a look! 

Chicago Botanic Garden – Glencoe, Illinois

Homemade bread rolls

I baked some bread rolls the day before. It made for an excellent sandwich for our picnic at the garden.

Using the bread rolls I made I had a Turkey Swiss sandwich with edamame hummus from Trader Joe’s, lettuce and raisins.  I discovered in college the wonders of pairing raisins and turkey sandwiches together. The sweetness of the raisins really add a unique element to any ordinary turkey sandwich.

Japanese Gardens

First time seeing a swan up close.

Waterfall Garden

view from on top of the waterfalls. Paradise!

Brand New To Twitter – Twittering Around

click to follow me on twitter!

I just made my Twitter account, and I am quite excited to begin my tweeting adventure. I will be using my Twitter account to do more daily, quick posts about what I’m up to. Perhaps twittering about my sudden dessert craving or tweeting about the new pasta dish I made, or tweetering about the new Ramen place I tried. More foodifying life for all of you guys! Follow me on Twitter!

Vintage Bazaar – Uptown, Chicago

I recently went to a Vintage Bazaar in Uptown Chicago. Lots of old things to look at. I saw lots of very chic things, but didn’t really have any use for them. I tried really hard to find a way to justify buying something, but couldn’t think of any legitimate reason. I didn’t end up getting anything, but looking around at all the various goodies was extremely fun.

outdoor part of the Vintage Bazaar

There were both an outdoor and indoor parts. I really enjoyed looking at around at the outdoor part. Lots of vendors were selling vintage clothes, beautiful jewelry and one of a kind furniture. Some vendors even had trailer homes with more clothes and unique items inside. One of the trailer homes is pictured above. I thought that was super cool!

BEAVER’S Coffee + Donuts food truck

The best thing about outdoor markets are the food trucks! I love food trucks! I love the idea of people making tasty, on the go foods in trucks. The designs on the trucks are always unique and super cute.  Look at the cute beaver eating a donut and holding a cup of coffee. Irresistible! My friend told me BEAVER’S Coffee + Donuts has some heavenly donuts. We had to give it a try.

BEAVER’S Coffee + Donuts – half a dozen mini donuts

These donuts were extremely tiny like the size of Dunkin’ Donuts’ Munchkins. When I first bit into them, they were a lot softer and moister than the other donut holes I have had. Extremely moist with the slight crunch of the fried exterior. It was really delicious!! Pictured from the left to right is the powdered sugar, chocolate, and cinnamon donut holes. My favorite was the powdered sugar. I felt so lucky that day, because right when we were about to order the person told us that this was the last half dozen donuts left. We got there right in time to snatch up the last of these yummy, bite-sized pieces of heavenly goodness. Lucky us!

Puffs of Doom – Chocolate and bacon cream puff

Seems like I am paying more attention to the foods at the bazaar than the actually goods! I just can’t help it. Puffs of Doom had a booth selling mini cream puffs. Puffs of DOOM, what a great name! I got a small chocolate and bacon cream puff pastry. I was so intrigued when the vendor told me it had bits of bacon in the pastry. The bacon pieces were extremely small, so the bacon flavor was very subtle. I thought it was quite an interesting mix of chocolate cream, puff pastry and bacon bits. Wouldn’t say it was my favorite, but definitely worth a try!

inside Aragon theater

The inside portion of the bazaar took place at the Aragon theater. A beautifully decorated theater that reminded of a medieval castle. After shopping around for a bit, my friend and I did some exploring. I loved the intricate detailing on the poles. Wouldn’t it be so grand to host a party here? President Obama did to kick off his election campaign last summer! Maybe next time I can score an invite to that.

Slurping Turtle – Mckayla Maroney: Not Impressed

I recently went to Slurping Turtle to try out the ramen, and I think the term “Mckayla Maroney: Not Impressed” would be appropriate. Mckayla Maroney is a USA gymnast with her specialty being the vault. This term came from the 2012 Olympics – Women’s Gymanastics Vaulting Event when McKayla Maroney fell on her second vault which knocked her from gold medal standing to silver medal standing. When standing on the medal podium to receive her silver medal, she displayed a scowl and tight crossed arms.

With that amazing picture came a wave of “Mckayla Maroney: not impressed” pictures of Mckayla’s face photoshopped in impressive situations.

Mckayla Maroney: not impressed with gold medal winner Usain Bolt AKA the fastest man in the world

Mckayla Maroney: not even impressed with David Beckham

At the end of the day the photoshopped pictures are all in good fun. She truly is an amazing gymnast!

Slurping Turtle – Near North Side, Chicago

Tori Ramen

I came here with high hopes for Slurping Turtle especially since the food blog serious eats said this place had the best ramen in Chicago. Compared to the ramen that I have had in NYC this place just does not compare. In other words Mckayla Maroney: not impressed. The chicken broth was quite flavorful, but extremely lite. A little bit too lite for my liking. The texture of the noodles were good, but it didn’t taste as fresh as the other noodles I’ve had. The toppings that came with the ramen were underwhelming. The chicken tasted like it was just boiled. The poached egg was overcooked, so the yolk was semisolid instead of runny. The broth was excellent, but the other ingredients just didn’t come together to make an excellent  bowl of ramen.

Read my other ramen posts here. From best to worst.

1. Totto Ramen – Totto Chicken Paitan Ramen

2. Ippudo NY – Shiromaru Hakata Classic Ramen

3. Toki Underground – Toki Hakata Classic Ramen

4. Hide-Chan Ramen – Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen

I think I might have a personal preference for broths that are more on the richer side. YUM! I love ramen so much. I can’t wait to try other places.

Happy Hour is the Happiest Hour of the Day

This happy hour came a day too early. I just received my Registered Nurse (RN) license number today, so now I am officially a Registered Nurse. Carmen, RN! Having a license makes things so much more real and that much more official. I can introduce myself as a RN now. Yesterday I went to a happy hour downtown at Devon Seafood Grill with some of my girlfriends. Lots of catching up over delicious drinks and tasty seafood appetizers. Felt like a scene out of Sex and the City where Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha caught up over some drinks and food. Happy hour just sets up such a good atmosphere for catching up with friends. With good food, good drinks, and good company happy hour is truly the happiest hour of the day!

Devon Seafood Grille Happy Hour – Near North Side, Chicago

The happy hour special here starts at 4PM and ends at 7PM. The happy hour specials include $6.50 martinis that are different for everyday of the week. There are $6 and $7 appetizer dishes along with $1 raw oysters. I love seafood, and this happy hour is perfect for any seafood lover.

biscuit/scone

You know how most restaurants serve you complimentary bread, Devon Seafood Grill serves you biscuits. It tasted more like a scone than a biscuit. It wasn’t as flaky and buttery as your average biscuit, but it was still tasty. The waiter served it straight from the baking pan, so you know that it is fresh.

with my Chocolate Martini

I came on Tuesday, so the happy hour martinis were chocolate and espresso martini. I was in a chocolate-y mood, and decided on the chocolate one. It tasted like an extremely milky, alcoholic, cold hot chocolate. The combination of all the flavors together made for a great martini. You can still taste the bite of the vanilla vodka, but combined with the godiva chocolate liqueur, cream, and chocolate syrup it created an adult cold, hot chocolate.

lobster tamale

My friend ordered the lobster tamale, and I got to try a little bit of it. It is more like a corn tamale with lobster sauce over it. I was expecting there to be lobster inside the tamale like any other tamales. It was kind of a disappointment seeing that the lobster was on and not in the tamale. The tamale was pretty good! I loved the sauce that came with the lobster. It tasted like thick lobster bisque. YUM! The combination of the lobster, tamale, and the lobster sauce made for a really great tamale.

Lobster Roll

I ordered the lobster roll. The lobster was just all right. I thought that there could have been better flavoring to bring out the flavors of the lobster. The bun on the other hand was great! It was buttered and perfectly toasted. Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The fries that came with the rolls were excellent as well. Seasoned with what tasted like Old Bay. The fries were fried to perfection. I just wished it came with more fries than a teeny tiny espresso cup packed with fries.

Chipotle Shrimp

My friend said this dish was just mediocre. I don’t think the combination of a cheese sauce with shrimp is that appetizing. I always thought of shrimp as more of a light food that should be paired with light sauces. The Chipotle cheese sauce tasted good, but maybe not the best pairing with shrimp.

I love happy hours! More happy hours to come!

Some Old and Some New Places

When you find something that is good, why not return back. During the past couple of days I’ve been going back to the places I have blogged about in the past. Old doesn’t mean boring. Returning to a place that I’ve been before means a chance to try the other great things that they have that I did not get a chance to before. Check out my returns to some Chi-Town favorites.

Garfield Park Conservatory – East Garfield Park, Chicago

the Labyrinth

I came back here with my family after coming here with my cousins a while ago. This time we brought a picnic lunch to eat outside. Too bad the weather was extremely hot, or else we would have stayed at the park longer. It is a gorgeous park located on the west side of Chicago. A lot closer than the Botanical Gardens, which is all the way in Chicago northern suburbs. Although closer this park, garden is a lot smaller. It is still a great little garden with a wide variety of indoor and outdoor plants.

The outdoor gardens had a pond filled with beautiful aquatic plants. My mom really liked seeing the flowering lotus plants noting that below the dirt is the lotus root. Lotus root, a vegetable, is used in a lot of Chinese cooking especially in soups and stir fry.

This room was such a beautiful room. Kois filled the indoor pond in various sizes and colors.

New Maxwell Street Market – South Loop, Chicago

Chicken Tamales with Salsa Rojo at Tamales Oaxaqueños made two ways

I came here a couple of months ago, and I had to come back. Check out my previous post here. Being outside in a cultural market with delicious Mexican food is truly a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The first stop for food was at Tamales Oaxaqueños. I read from the food blog seriouseats that this place had the best tamales. The one pictured on the top is a tamale cooked in banana leaf rather than the usual corn husk. The one on the bottom is your usual corn husk tamale. This made for a moister and softer tamale compared to the firmer, harder corn husk tamale. Both were really filled with chicken with salsa rojo on the inside. If I had to pick between the two kinds of tamales, one cooked in banana leaves and the other in a corn husk, I would have to pick the banana leaf one. I’ve never had a tamale made this way before, and it was delicious!

Huitlacoche Quesadilla at Rubi’s

This quesadilla is filled with fungus that grows on corn. Being a fungus it tasted like a mushroom quesadilla. With a strong, pungent taste and smell this quesadilla is one of a kind. Quite tasty!

The other thing I love about this market besides the food is the wide variety of random stuff you can find here. There is a lot of junk, but hey one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I bought a $3 used DVD copy of Inception. Can’t wait to rewatch the sci-fi thriller!

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Rehearsal – Millennium Park, Chicago

Chicago Symphony Orchestra rehearsing at Millennium Park

I usually go to the outdoor concerts at the park during the afternoons, but I decided to go check out the rehearsal this day. Usually the front seats are all taken and people grab spots on the lawn in the back during the actual outdoor concerts, but during the rehearsals the seats was practically empty. We got seats all the way in the front, and listened to the orchestra practice The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.