A Fooding I Will Go (Part 2)

I clearly ate a lot while I was in So Cal over my extended weekend, but there’s definitely more where that all came from.

Sunday

After my race on Sunday, I chugged three bottles of fluids and ate a banana while I waited for my hunger to kick in. Joyce and I weren’t really craving much of anything, so we headed out to Trader Joe’s and McDonalds. (We’re finally getting Trader Joe’s in Colorado! ahhhhhhh!)

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I didn’t photograph any of this stuff, but I picked up a Mango Chicken cold noodle dish, some dried mangos, pumpkin butter, and wasabi flavored almonds. From good ol’ Micky D’s we got their new chicken bites and an order of fries. It was glorious.

We showered, lounged around, and then said our goodbyes. Kim had to head back down to San Diego and Ngoc headed out to watch the Super Bowl. Jennifer, Joyce, and I were headed up to L.A. to meet my aunt, uncle and cousins for dinner at Park’s BBQ in Koreatown.

Park’s BBQ is a popular Korean bbq restaurant, which they make evident with the photos of famous people dining there. My uncle put in several orders of beef (didn’t pay attention to which cut he ordered) and their house specialty beef rib meat.

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I was pretty freakin hungry by this point, so I only took a picture of the latter end of our meal. If you’ve never done Korean bbq, you order raw meats that you or the server cooks on a special grill that is built into your table. The meats are served with a variety of Korean side dishes and are wrapped using either lettuce + rice or thin-cut rice cake sheets.

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To round out the meal, he also ordered their 된장 찌개 (doenjang jjigae- fermented bean paste stew) and 김치 찌개(kimchi jjigae- kimchi stew).

IMG_8123This is the bean paste soup.

The doenjang jjigae was by far my favorite because it was perfectly cooked. When the waiter brought out the kimchi jjigae, he accidentally set it on another dish, so the (literally) boiling hot broth poured all over his hand. The entire table was so shocked that we couldn’t even say anything, and he was so incredibly professional and didn’t even flinch as he reset it on a more level surface, all while it was still pouring onto his hand. My uncle was in the middle of pouring beer into a glass when this happened, and he was so shocked that the beer overflowed and poured into his rice. The waiter was a champ and came back about five minutes later to continue serving the table, bandaged hand and all. He shook it off like it was nothing, but I’m pretty sure he has at least a second degree burn 😦

Monday

Joyce and I got up early to take Jennifer to work and do some last-minute things before I had to take Joyce to the airport. On the agenda: shopping at 3rd Street Promenade, day drinking on Santa Monica Pier, and more Korean food in K-Town.

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Shopping proved to be a rather big failure because we were both feeling bloated from the weekend of major eating, so we ended up doing some quality eye-shopping instead.

Afterwards, we walked onto the Pier and grabbed a table at Mariasol Mexican Restaurant, located on the furthest end of the Pier just over the ocean. We each ordered a sangria and munched on chips and salsa.

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This is precisely when I realized I had lost my cell phone. Joyce’s cell phone had already died, so we had no other choice but to walk around looking for it. We chugged our sangrias, speedily paid our tab, and speed-walked back to the Promenade where we had it narrowed down to three stores. Luckily, it was at the first store we checked. Apparently, running a half marathon killed whatever extra brain cells I had left.

We decided that was enough of Santa Monica and headed back to Koreatown to hit up KyoChon chicken. They’re known for their crispy, hot chicken wings.

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They took forever to come out and were just okay. I will give them credit though because the hot and spicy wings were actually hot. Joyce’s lips were on fire for a good 30 minutes.

To cool down, we walked across the street to Haus Dessert Boutique for some 팥빙수 (pat bing soo), which is a Korean shaved ice dessert.

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I’ve had way better shaved ice at other places in L.A., so we were both rather disappointed, but at least it looked pretty!

After making a quick stop at Paris Baguette, a Korean bakery, for some yummy pastries, we ended up at the Koreatown Galleria’s food court. Joyce had a major hankering for Korean street food, and we didn’t know where else to go. We picked a place called Cham Cham Cham and ended up with a feast.

We got the 김밥 (kimbap), which resembles a Korean “sushi” roll. Generally speaking, all of the ingredients are always fully cooked and usually include various veggies, fried egg, and a meat. Ours were made with SPAM.

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Then we got 순대 (soondae) aka blood sausage. If unusual animal parts freak you out, you would probably be better off not knowing what this is made of. It’s pig intestines stuffed with noodles and dried blood. As a kid, I didn’t know what was inside and loved it. When I found out, I nearly vomited, decided that I had already eaten a gazillion of these and loved them, so I continued eating them. They truly are tasty and variations of it are eaten in cultures all over the world.

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We finished off with 오댕국 (odeng gook), a fish cake soup. It’s a light broth filled with fish cakes and veggies, and Joyce had been craving it all weekend long. I somehow forgot to take a picture, so here’s a generic photo.

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Soon it was time to take Joyce to the airport so that I could pick up Jennifer from work. I wasn’t all that hungry for a full dinner, so Jennifer and I went to get mani/pedis. Even after that, we weren’t starving, but I really wanted Porto’s potato balls again….real bad. So, we went.

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It was glorious! I’m kind of glad we don’t have a Porto’s in Denver because I would get so fat. They’re only 70 cents each! I would literally eat them every single day. Like I said, good thing they’re not here. I also got their mango cheesecake, which was absolutely phenomenal and not too sweet.

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Tuesday

Last day in sunny gloomy California 😦 I had my last breakfast with Jennifer’s family before heading out for the day. I drove up to the UCLA area to chill out at a coffee shop before meeting Kris for lunch. She suggested we go to 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza, and I’m so glad we went!

We started off with their chopped salad of assorted vegetables, cheese and meats in a red wine vinaigrette. So yummy.

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For the pizza, you start with fresh dough and then choose everything that you want to put on your pizza before they cook it in a wood-burning oven. We started with the Margherita base of crushed tomato, fresh mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, olive oil, and basil. To that we added salami, artichokes, and mushrooms.

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It was fantastic and just enough food for the two of us. Before we knew it, Kris had to get back to work, and I had some more time to kill before I had to drop my rental off at the airport. I headed to Massage Therapy Center for an hour-long relaxation break, and I’m so glad I did. I got there early, so I made use of their steam room and showered before settling in for an hour of bliss.

It was the perfect ending to a perfect trip. It was awful leaving 70 degrees and coming home to 15 degrees. Talk about temperature shock lol.

Question of the Day: What’s the most unusual food that you’ve eaten?

Comfort in a Bite-Sized Ball

Hey everyone! Turns out I made the right choice in flying out early because my original flight (scheduled to leave today) was definitely cancelled from the snowstorm. Instead, I woke up to a nice and lax day.

Jennifer and I woke up so that I could take her to work. On the way, we stopped by Starbucks to get some caffeine and food.

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I totally forgot to take a picture of my breakfast, but I got their chicken sausage and egg white wrap, which was a lot yummier than I was expecting.

After dropping her off at work, I drove back to her place to get some work done and go for a run. Can I just say how nice it is to be able to run in a tank top and shorts at 10am??? In February??? I was nervous to run because I hadn’t stuck to my training plan and didn’t run for 3 days.

Well, being at sea level is a helper, but not as awesome as I was hoping for (I was expecting superhuman running ability…haha jk….kind of…). The run didn’t feel completely easy because my legs were heavy, I was getting hot, and I was breathing harder than I’m used to. Now for the good news: I ran several miles at under a 10 min/mile pace! I’ve done that on a treadmill set at a decline, but never during one of my outdoor runs. No wonder I was breathing in a semi-uncomfortable zone!

My legs are feeling more fresh and loose (sounds kind of dirty), and I’m digging the help of extra oxygen no matter how small the difference. Once I got back to take a shower, I literally had streams of sweat pouring off of my face, which promptly turned into rivers once I took my hair out of a ponytail. Yum…sweat.

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It’s a good thing I can clean up nice. Here’s a picture with my new haircut sans curls and post shower. It’s a good thing I shower frequently…

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I went to pick up Jennifer and her friend for lunch afterwards. We went to a Korean restaurant in Fullerton near her work that was just okay, but it temporarily satisfied my desire for Korean food. I’ll  be meeting up my aunt in Koreatown on Sunday for the good stuff 😉

Anyway, let’s rewind back to my post-airport dinner because it was so yummy.

Will Work for Balls…Potato Balls That Is

Jennifer took me to Porto’s Bakery last night because she said their potato balls would steal my heart.

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It was founded by a Cuban couple, so the menu has a good selection of Cuban-style sandwiches and baked goods along with more standard bakery/deli fare.

We started with two potato balls for each of us because Jennifer said that I would not be satisfied with just one.

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She was right.

Oh. My. Yum! To put it simply, they taste like shepherds pie in ball form, but that almost sounds insulting. They’re these deliciously seasoned smashed potatoes stuffed with an amazing meat blend and then fried to a beautiful, golden crisp. I’m in love.

Jennifer got their tuna melt as her main meal, and I went with their steak torta served with a side of fried plantains.

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It was delicious, too! It came with guac, black beans, and the other typical burger fixins, but was beyond a burger. Although I was in love with the sandwich, I really just wanted to eat a platter of the potato balls. For real, they were that good.

Well, Jennifer is almost off work again, and I’m sipping down another cup of coffee before I pick her up from work. We’ve got to head back to the airport to pick up my friend who’s flying in from Utah. Then we’re off to hit the town either in L.A. or Newport Beach. See you tomorrow!

Question of the Day: Should I put on my headphones during my first half or no? I really want to savor the experience, but I don’t know if listening to spectators is enough. Share your thoughts!