Dice Poke was having their grand opening weekend, and I had the opportunity to come sample the menu one week earlier. I liked that there were simple menu options for proteins, with the option to sear them. They had toppings I loved, such as salmon skin, taro chips, and seasonal fruit! Their menu also had drinks that were really yummy and unique, such as the White Rose Milk Tea and Caramel Green Tea. There were so many options that we couldn’t go wrong with what we chose!
2) Halfsies Doughnuts (Tustin, CA)
Halfsies Doughnuts was also another business that opened recently, with a unique concept, too: build-your-own doughnuts! There were honestly way too many possibilities there. We decided to create some fruity doughnuts and some dessert-themed doughnuts. It was fun seeing how much the very patient employees could put onto each doughnut. No matter what we created, the doughnuts were very picture-worthy!
Milk+T, a self-serve boba truck in Los Angeles, was celebrating their one-year anniversary with a big party! The event was held in an outdoor venue with food trucks, a DJ, and a photo booth! It was such an inspiration to get to know the two women who started this truck, and to hear their story and witness all that they had accomplished in the past year. We received a sample voucher as well as had the opportunity to purchase from the different food vendors, including Norigami Tacos, Churro Boss, Buddy Pops, Fliquor Bean, Yobo Soju, Shake Ramen, and last but not least, Milk+T! I particularly enjoyed the build your own boba station on Milk+T’s truck. The customers chose the type of drink they wanted, got a glass to put in any toppings they wanted, and handed the glass back to the staff so they could create the rest of the drink! I loved this concept and would be sure to stop by the next time I see the truck!
Yummi is a new social app for foodies, and they invited influencers to come hear a presentation from the founder, Pete Wong, about the new app as well as enjoy a tasting menu at Kato. The app had already been available for iPhone users, and would be available for Android users soon, but it seemed like it would be a fun and interactive way to share pictures and opinions about restaurants with your friends. From what I gathered from this presentation, it would be a way for people to log their restaurant experiences by date. People can also see where their friends have eaten based on their current location. The menu at Kato was so different than anything I have ever tried. The tasting menu featured: Amberjack and Squid Ink Muffin; Tuna and Beet Tartare; Grilled Hamachi; Ocean Trout; Grilled Short Rib; Seafood Porridge; and Buttermilk Pudding with Rose Ice.
Cookie Monster was having their grand opening celebration and I visited the day before to check out the store and its awesome wall art. What stood out to me was their wonderful colored ice cream cones and their many choices of flavors! We tried different flavors of ice cream in both the cereal cone and their monster cone (colored cone). The marshmallow monster, unfortunately, kept falling down, but it was very cute! The staff member who helped us out wanted to offer us more ice cream, but we were getting full, so we decided to try their drinks instead. I think we got a good variety! The drinks pictured are: Strawberry Hibiscus, Hangar 24 and The 50/50.
After we left Cookie Monster, we headed over to Square Bar Cafe! We had plenty of ice cream at Cookie Monster, but we wanted to try their newest items that were featured on Square Bar Cafe's instagram page. We got drinks in their new Double Cups and got to try the holiday-themed bagel! What I loved was that they had different types of cream cheese to choose from; we got the birthday cake cream cheese. The other menu items were very much similar to those at Cookie Monster, but I was happy to have visited both spots in one day!
We had the opportunity to try some Indian cuisine through Blaze PR! Normally when I eat Indian food, I would eat it in a buffet setting, so it was nice to enjoy it in an upscale setting. I absolutely loved the decor and cozy atmosphere in the restaurant. It was a full house; many patrons were dining in or ordering take-out while we were there. We started with my go-to drinks: Mango Lassi and Chai Tea. We tried multiple items from their extensive menu! A few highlights from the appetizers and entrees included: Shrimp Pakoras, Achari Tandoori Mushrooms, Dahi Sev Puri, Chicken Tikka Masala, Coconut Lamb Curry, and Mozzarella and Roasted Pine Nuts Naan. That was my first time trying naan that had mozzarella cheese in it! Everything was delicious and so savory. We finished our meal with Traditional Rice Pudding and Fig and Almond Kulfi (ice cream).
7) Rose City Pizza (Rosemead, CA)
Rose City Pizza invited us to come try their Elote Pizza. Yes, corn was placed on a pizza! It was a very delicious and unique pizza, and I loved that it had a nice spicy mayo sauce on it! We had fun taking pictures of the pizza outside the restaurant and trying out a few slices. I also ended up buying some pizza and tater tots to bring back to my family afterwards for lunch!
Goc Hanoi Kitchen recently opened and we were able to come try from their awesome menu and help promote their new year deals. The cuisine is authentic Northern Vietnamese cuisine, and the menu consisted of dishes I had never seen at other restaurants. It helped that the physical menu had lots of pictures and a detailed description of each dish! I took pictures of everything we ordered, but I had a few favorites: rolled rice paper with ground pork, fried tofu, ham and egg; grilled mussels with garlic butter; spring roll with grilled ham; steamed clams with basil and lemongrass; clam porridge; and vermicelli soup with fried eggs, white chicken and ham. I loved trying out their drinks too, such as their Seasalt Cream Thai Green Tea and Taro Milk Tea, and Corn Milk. It was such a great feast!
I had seen all the gold foil ice cream pictures and was happy I got an invite to try this place out. The shop was very cute and behind the counter, there was a faucet with Nutella coming out of it, as well as a station where the staff would put gold flakes or gold foil on the ice cream. I made sure to try a cone that came with the gold flakes! I got the Tapstachio cone, in which the cone is lined with Nutella, and after the staff scoops ice cream into it, they coat the ice cream in white chocolate, crushed pistachios, a wafer, and gold flakes. It was such a fun process to watch and it came out beautifully!
Bobalife is a discount card to certain restaurants, cafes and dessert spots throughout Southern California. I was so grateful to get an invite to celebrate their 2017 Bobalife Card Release party held at Belage Gourmet in Garden Grove. We each received the card with the cool new design and those of us who made an early reservation got a goodie bag with lots of promotional items. I enjoyed trying out the pastries and drinks at Belage Gourmet and being part of this celebration. I had the 2016 Bobalife Card and had great use for it whenever I went to buy drinks or snacks, so I cannot wait to use it again in 2017!
11) Nitrolado (Garden Grove, CA)
We stopped by to try out the Let's Catch Up set from one of my favorite dessert spots! The set was so adorable and we were able to customize everything, from the ice cream, to the hot drink, to the toppings. They had multiple options for the theme of the set too, such as a holiday one or a seasonal one, and I thought the Japanese garden-themed one we chose was so cute with the lanterns!
I was surprised to have a tasting in a supermarket but normally I am a big fan of dim sum in supermarkets because of its convenience. I enjoyed the selection of food and drinks they had here. It was such a busy day for the dim sum shop but they still managed to bring out all our food quickly. My favorite items were the siu mai (shrimp and pork dumplings), Hainanese style chicken with rice, and xiao long bao (pork dumplings). I also enjoyed their Vietnamese Iced Coffee and Pennywort Drink! I would definitely stop by when I am grocery shopping in the area next time!
Other December collaborations:
I collaborated with Daniel Wellington to feature their watches on my posts. This was the perfect opportunity for me since I love watches. You may have seen the watch featured in some food posts and you will most likely see the watch appear a few more times in the future. From now until the end of January, my code "NOMSANDBEYOND" gets you 15% off your purchase. They offer deals on bundles and free shipping, and my code works with their other discounts on their website.
I received this bottle from Fix Hot Sauce. Their sauce was so delicious, and in my opinion, spicier than the regular sriracha sauce found in the supermarket. I featured it in a recipe here: http://www.nomsandbeyond.com/recipes/2016/12/25/recipe-honey-sriracha-shrimp
My final collaboration this month was with Wear Status. They knew I would appreciate a food-themed shirt, so I decided to choose this one because I thought it was so funny, especially since pretty much every restaurant I know charges for guacamole! It's a great way to express myself in a comedic way.
This wraps up my recap for the end of 2016. It has been an amazing year full of tasty adventures. 2016 was a special year for me. It was the year I officially became a food blogger and began this blog. I am still learning how to navigate in the world of food blogging but I am excited for what awaits me in 2017! Thanks for reading!