Four Sea Soy Milk King 四海豆漿大王 – Datong District

My first morning in Taipei, I had one thing in mind: having a nice hearty Taiwanese breakfast. Lucky for us, Four Sea Soy Milk King (四海豆漿大王), an unassuming neighborhood breakfast joint, was only a few blocks from our place, nestled in a residential area of Datong District.

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MJ Teahouse

MJ Cafe & Teahouse – Rowland Heights

MJ Cafe and Teahouse is one of San Gabriel Valley’s many Taiwanese style cafes, known for its dizzying variety of tea-infused drinks and its confusing 17 page menu. The chain since expanded, opening up branches as far south as Irvine and as far west as Sawtelle.

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YOUnique Cafe – Monterey Park

Younique Cafe is an uninspiring pun on words but does serve pretty good Chinese cafe food. Back in the 90s, I recall it being a Cantonese-style seafood restaurant. In any case, its menu looks a lot like the typical Hong Kong Western-style cafe’s (akin to American diners), consisting of both more traditional Chinese options and Hong Kong-style Western food. There are a plethora of options to be found.

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Milk tea and grapefruit teas

Black & White – West Covina

Black & White, like many San Gabriel Valley tea shops, is housed in a suburban strip mall off the corner of Nogales and Amar Roads in the leafier part of West Covina. Parking tends to be difficult throughout the day, as the strip mall is also home to a diverse medley of Southeast Asian places, ranging from Filipino to Thai to Indonesian.

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Cong Sao Dessert

Cong Sao Dessert 聰嫂私房甜品 – Causeway Bay

Hong Kong is known for its diverse selection of desserts (甜品, tim ban), especially those that fuse together local Cantonese ingredients with Southeast Asian ones, like coconut milk and sago, the most iconic of which is mango pudding, a very light dessert, made with pureed mangoes, agar, and evaporated milk, and chilled before serving.

After getting a haircut near Times Square, a megamall in Causeway Bay, we headed out to try Cong Sao Dessert, a famous dessert shop just around the corner. After circling Hong Kong’s confusing city blocks, we managed to locate the place. Turns out the address on OpenRice was incorrect.

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A road trip to Solvang

Just wanted to share some snapshots from a family road trip to Solvang. :)

Bustling business at Solvang Restaurant

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Asam laksa

Penang – West Covina

Penang is one of a handful of Malaysian restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley. It’s located off Glendora Ave, in Hong Kong Plaza, an ostentatious strip mall anchored by a big supermarket. Word has it that Penang was first opened and run by a Burmese film actress, Soe Myat Thuzar. Upon divorcing her American husband, she sold the business. Since then, the restaurant has changed hands several times.

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Hoover Cake Shop 豪華餅店 – Kowloon City

Hoover Cake Shop is Alvin’s favorite egg tart bakery in Hong Kong. While we were in Kowloon City to visit his grandma, we seized the opportunity to explore the surrounding area and give Hoover’s egg tarts a shot. And yes, I concur that its egg tarts, made with duck eggs, are world class.

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Joy Hing Roasted Meat 再興燒臘飯店 – Wan Chai

Joy Hing is famous, so famous, in fact, that it passes the Wikipedia benchmark of notability– behold its Wikipedia article [link]. Joy Hing has been around in some shape or form since the tail end of the Qing dynasty. It is an old school food joint, very low-key and unpretentious, serving up Cantonese-style rotisserie meats called siu mei (燒味). And Joy Hing does a wonderful job at living up to its Chinese name, “happy again.”

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Litz – Monterey Park

Litz is an old haunt, a Hong Kong style cafe that primarily serves Chinese-adapted Southeast Asian fare. And by Chinese, I mean less intense and pungent than the original, but still just as tasty. Hey, subtlety has its own charms, no?

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Tim Ho Wan 添好運 – Tai Kok Tsui

Streetside entrance on Hoi Ting Road
At the streetside entrance on Hoi Ting Road

Tim Ho Wan is often billboarded as the world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurant. Its chef-owner, Mak Kwai Pui, is a former head chef of a famous Hong Kong hotel. In 2010, he established the first Tim Ho Wan in Mong Kok, which has since grown into a venerable restaurant chain, with 5 branches in Hong Kong (the most well-known of which is in Sham Shui Po), not to mention other Asian cities, like Singapore and Manila.

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Bun rieu

Nha Trang – San Gabriel

Nha Trang is a Vietnamese restaurant embedded deep inside a narrow strip mall on Valley Blvd., a stone’s throw away from my childhood home in San Gabriel. Nha Trang gets name from a seaside city in South Vietnam, but it’s really just known for 2 kinds of noodle soup: bun bo Hue (originates in central Vietnam) and bun rieu. The place itself is small and cramped. Parking can be difficult. Nonetheless, people are always willing to wait because their noodles are good.

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Mongkok Dim Sum – San Francisco

Mongkok Dim Sum (旺閣點心) is really just for quick pick dim sum. San Francisco has quite a lot of them, more so than LA, places whose sole business model is to serving large-scale to-go dim sum. In LA, dim sum is typically only found at Cantonese or Teochew seafood restaurants. I give Mongkok a lukewarm recommendation, only because it fulfilled its duty: getting us full.

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Australia Dairy Company 澳洲牛奶公司 – Jordan

Australia Dairy Company does not serve Australian fare, let’s get that clear. But over the years, it’s evolved into a venerated Hong Kong institution by staying true to its roots, as a classic cha chaan teng serving fusion Chinese-Western breakfast fare, everything from eggs and toast to macaroni and roast pork slices in soup, the clearest sign of Western culinary influence. As the name implies, it’s also known for its milk products, namely the steamed milk and egg white custards.

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La Boulange de Cole – San Francisco

Our final day in San Francisco, we scoured the Yelp apps on our phones to find a solid breakfast/brunch spot. And I came across La Boulange, a French cafe and bakery chain with branches found throughout San Francisco and the greater Bay area. The closest one to Sunset was at Cole Valley, so we sped of, crossing our fingers that we’d find a parking spot.

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In pursuit of the best flavors out there

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