All posts by Justin

world traveler, food blogger.

5 sweet things to try in San Francisco!

San Francisco has no shortage of great desserts and baked goods, so it can be quite an ordeal trying to plan where to go, especially if you’re pressed for time. I’m all for curated lists, so below are 5 suggestions if you’re looking to grab a sweet bite (or drink) in San Francisco!

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5 savory dishes to try in San Francisco

As much as I hate to admit this, I will concede that our neighbors up north do have a pretty respectable vibrant food scene. During the week of Christmas, a few college friends and I drove up to San Francisco and crashed at Rosalie’s family home, which is nestled in Outer Sunset.

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On the journey back home

Two Decembers ago, I returned to Burma for the third time, en route from neighboring Thailand, where my family had spent the bulk of our Christmas holiday.

To be honest, I struggle with writing about Burma. In some ways, I’ve been both blessed and burdened by my upbringing as an American of mixed Burmese and Chinese heritage. (My family is part of the overseas Chinese diaspora, with deep roots in Burma.)

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Kim Chuy – Alhambra

Sometimes all you want is a piping hot bowl of liquid and protein nourishment. And Kim Chuy Restaurant, one of my favorite Teochew noodle soup shops in the San Gabriel Valley, offers just that. It’s become my go-to place for a hearty bowl of noodles and soup.

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BlackBall Taiwanese Dessert – San Gabriel

Given the blistering temperatures of late, I decided to give BlackBall Taiwanese Dessert a try, despite the tepid reviews on Yelp. BlackBall is a Taiwanese dessert chain that markets itself as an ‘healthy’ dessert alternative, with an emphasis on grass jelly desserts and the Taiwanese penchant for QQ, i.e., chewy.

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Rakhine style eats at Yangon’s Min Lan

Min Lan (မင်းလမ်း), perhaps Yangon’s best known seafood restaurant chain, serves amazing and delicious Rakhine-style fare. We paid tribute to this local favorite, dining at the chain’s Sanchaung Township location within hours after landing in Rangoon.

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Throwback Thursday: Spending Winter Solstice in Hong Kong with the Chans

December 22 marks this year’s Winter Solstice. While it’s rarely more than a footnote on Western calendars, Winter Solstice (冬至), the shortest day of the year, is celebrated as a festival by many traditional Chinese families. It’s an occasion for family reunions and practically synonymous with a dessert dish called tangyuan, glutinous rice balls served in a sweetened syrup.

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An almsgiving feast in Yangon

My family’s trip to Burma this past January coincided with my aunt’s and uncle’s. In honor of my grandmother, who passed away 17 years ago, they arranged an almsgiving ceremony at the Tipitaka Monastery in the centre of Yangon. As I’ve said before, the community is interwoven into the fabric of Burmese life. Almsgiving ceremonies, which are really communal feasts, including a donation of alms to the monastery, are just another manifestation of the this generous spirit. And the lunch served was absolutely delicious.

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Rulebook: Eating out in Hong Kong

Some observations I made while dining out in Hong Kong. HK has an awesome food scene, but there were a few adjustments I definitely had to make. So without further ado, here are my top 5 rules for eating out in Hong Kong!
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STREET FOOD 101: Taipei’s Mengjia Night Market

I went to Taipei with the goal of hitting up as many night markets as humanly possible. So our first night in the city, we headed off to the closest one to our hotel, Huaxi Night Market (華西街觀光夜市), which was rather sedated the night we went, with a lot of shuttered shops. So we instead spent a fair amount of time traversing Mengjia Night Market (艋舺夜市) instead. Both are anchored by Longshan Temple, a 16th century Buddhist-Taoist temple located in the middle of Taipei’s oldest district, Wanhua.

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STREET FOOD 101: Taipei’s Shilin Night Market

Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) is a sprawling night market that extends along several streets in the middle of Taipei’s 2nd most populated district of the same name. While it’s widely cited by tourist guides and a great experience overall, if I were pressed for time, I’d pass this one, only because it lacks the signature grittiness of other Taipei night markets. (Food’s still awesome).
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How to eat your way thru LA in 8 hours

A few months ago, our good friend Janet flew back to Socal from Chicago. We picked her up at LAX around noon and immediately proceeded to do what we know best: eat (barring karaoke, of course).

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Late night hankering for mohinga? There’s a place in Yangon.

Mohinga is to the Burmese what menudo may be to the Mexicans. It’s the stuff of life, found all across Burma, in homes, street stalls and in restaurants. As a kid, I regularly ate it for breakfast on weekends (there was no way I was going to school with a potent fishy breath). Over the years, I’ve had countless iterations of mohinga. I’ll tell you this: once you’ve eaten enough bowls of mohinga, you realize that no two persons cook the same recipe–every chef makes the dish their own.

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Legendary pad thai at Bangkok’s Thip Samai

Ever since I booked flights to Bangkok, I had my eyes and stomach set on visiting Thip Samai, perhaps Bangkok’s most famous noodle institution, known for one dish and one dish only: pad thai.

Exterior
Restaurant facade, with the Golden Mount in the background.

Who comes to Thailand to eat pad thai, quite possibly the most pedestrian of Thai dishes anyway? But Thip Samai is outstanding, as evidenced by the huge crowds (locals and foreigners alike) that form every afternoon, even before the restaurant opens its doors.

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The OG ‘khao soi’ at Yangon’s San Pya Daw Kyi

I’m not about to start a feud between Thai and Burmese cuisines. But having been fueled by endless bowls of khao soi* while I was in northern Thailand, I beyond excited to grab a bowl of the ‘original’ Burmese coconut chicken noodle soup, aka on no khauk swe (အုန်းနို့ခေါက်ဆွဲ) when I flew into Burma.

*Khao soi just means ‘noodles’ in Burmese. Khao soi is Thailand’s take on the Burmese coconut chicken noodle soup, and has an intense coconut milk broth, on wheat noodles and a curried protein (chicken or beef).

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