Sunday, November 20, 2011

Off the Grid 11/11

Hope everyone enjoyed 11/11! Did you make a wish at 11/11/11 11:11 am or pm? ^_^

As the chill starts to settle in the Bay Area, comfort foods and the holiday spirit make me all the more merrier! Last Friday, the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco hosted a winter fireworks show and a "Disney on Ice: Toy Story 3" performance! Unfortunately, we missed both events when we arrived at the scene (heard the fireworks while trying to find parking), but we were able to catch a glimpse of the Toy Story characters and take a good look around the Embarcadero Center's Christmas decor. The neighbor Hyatt Regency hosted a Christmas music celebration as well!

The Embarcadero Center buildings light up for the winter holidays 2011!
The Disney on Ice Toy Story 3 cast posing for the cameras... wish they were posing for me! =p
Crowded in Hyatt. One of the perks of being petite is not being able to see  over everyone's heads =p
After leaving Embarcadero, we headed to Fort Mason for the final 2011 Off the Grid food truck party! :) I was so excited to finally attend this event, because I usually have to work during fun events like this! With 20 or so food trucks/vendors, there were so many different yummy foods to try!!

1st stop: Sataysified

And were we sataysified! They displayed their combo specialties on their front table, which looked very appetizing! We ordered the pork combo plate, which is two pork satay skewers drizzled with peanut sauce, salad and jasmine rice. The satay was very savory, juicy, meaty and tender! The grilled crust with the complementary robust peanut sauce was the icing on the cake; we couldn't help but savor the combination of sweet and savory tastes as we bit off the skewers! The salad dressing was also very earthy and tasted similar to tamarind sauce, which tasted great while eating the satay. And of course, jasmine rice was provided to bland out your tastebuds from the savory items! I was only disappointed in the rice, but that's because I'm a picky rice eater =p!

2nd stop: Creme Brulee Cart

When we saw the Creme Brulee Cart, we quickly got in line while eating our satay to order creme brulee to go! Creme brulee is by far my absolutely favoritest dessert (notice the "test" in favoritest? I've tested many! haha), so I was excited to try their traditional vanilla bean and their "yes please," which is nutella and strawberries creme brulee. We brought them home to try, and they maintained their shape and freshness pretty well! I enjoy cracking the caramelized sugar layer, and its crispy sugar and creamy custard combination  is very palatable and delicious! I was surprised to taste the mildly sweet taste of the "yes please," because I was afraid that it might be overly sugary in taste. I was very wrong; it tasted just like what Nutella should taste like with small bits of strawberries! A great sweet and tart combination!

3rd stop: KoJa Kitchen

Beauty of the KoJa we ate :) in all its digital picture glory!
Love the wrapping, ready to chomp down! :)
This food truck was love at first sight. Their menu featured 3 different types of Koja (bbq beef w/ grilled onions, bbq chicken with grilled pineapple, and vegan patty w/ pineapple), which are gourmet bbq sliders with rice cakes, lettuce, sriracha and bbq sauces and topped with sesame seeds! This was a 3-S item for sure, and I could not finish this by myself; it was definitely very tasty and filling!

Beautiful display of Kamikaze Fries; looks like a perfect appetizer
Clearly this picture doesn't do this food justice... you're just going to have to imagine how good it tastes!
Of course, you can't step away from KoJa Kitchen without trying their famed Kamikaze fries! Criss-cut fries have been my favorite fries since primary school, so I was excited to see this menu item! They're topped with Korean bbq beef, green onion and kimchi, their signature sauce and Japanese mayo! They were another 3-S item, and probably our most favorite item from the food truck party!

Warning: Eating both KoJa and Kamikaze fries is very very filling, so I recommend sharing or choosing one to eat instead! =p

4th stop: Senor Sisig

Lumpia makes me nostalgic of post-cross country race eating! After one of our Saturday invitationals, a couple friends and I would buy lumpia from a food stand. :) This lumpia tastes just like how it used to taste! Small crispy rolls with savory pork and cabbage filling inside, with a sweet chili sauce for dipping!

Thank you OTG for putting up a great food truck party! I look forward to future food truck parties in 2012!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Game Review: Restaurant City

For active Facebook users, you're probably invited to play or have played this game. If not, you're just not very popular.

Screenshot from the Restaurant City Facebook app

My restaurant's colorful storefront. How often can you find the Eiffel Tower, Cupid, kissing fish, Ariel, a baby chick, and a gingerbread man all welcoming you from one place? Exactly...
I was invited to add this app quite a couple times during my last quarter in college, but I refused to join until after I graduate. Why? Because I know I would love to play it every chance I got to be in front of the computer, and I procrastinate enough already. I saw my boyfriend play, and it was hard to tear myself off the screen. Instantly hooked.

If you ever wanted to design your very own restaurant, learn and level up recipes for your menu, and manage your cooks and waitstaff, look no further than Restaurant City. The perks of playing include being able to hire any of your Facebook friends as a cook, waiter, or janitor (optional bartender if applicable), designing your own restaurant, and choosing what recipes you would like to learn and level up. For Facebook apps like this, it's very easy to play when you have other Facebook friends who are playing with you, so you can help gift each other items (you can gift items and request items from your friends), visit each other's restaurants to give a friendly hand and possibly unlock a crate in which you share items (examples include getting rid of a sleeping bear, penguins, and skunks in the restaurant), and trade items. By having Facebook friends who also play Restaurant City, it makes it easier to learn recipes and complete the game's challenges.

Current restaurant set-up :)
The unique quality about Restaurant City is that unlike other restaurant games, you can "set it and forget it" (do you know where that comes from? lol)! Once you open the restaurant for customers, your employees do everything automatically, just like Sims! The restaurant can essentially be open for 24/7, the longer you set it to be opened, the higher your spending cost. So opening your restaurant for 1 hr is not as costly as opening your restaurant for 6 hrs, for example. After your restaurant completes the time, the exact same time also counts down for you to collect your 2000 gourmet points bonus (so if you open your restaurant for 1/2 hr, you also have a 1/2 hr time window after it ends to collect the bonus). Earning as many gourmet points as possible helps your restaurant level up! The current highest level a restaurant can be is 90.

There are many special stations that you can earn while playing Restaurant City. I currently use the Coffee Bar, Lounge Bar, Karaoke Bar, Gourmet BBQ Grill, and Sushi Bar! Other stations you can earn are their Smoothie Station, Pizzeria, and Bowling Alley. Their current newest station is their Candy Shop. Playing these stations require unlocking special recipes that help develop different parts of the station and/or include perks, like upgrading your popularity level or letting you hire another employee. There are also activity arcades you can buy for customers' self-use. I am currently using the cupcake icing arcade, cookie making arcade, golden harp, magic raincloud, solid gold wishing well, and the Independence picnic arcade. Both of these add more coins for your spending pleasure.

Another final tip: If you want to ensure that you have the highest popularity for your restaurant (the higher the popularity, the more customers will go into your restaurant, the more sales you'll gain), decrease the distance the waiters need to travel between the cooks/drinks stations and the customer! This works very well especially when you're just starting out the game, because you don't have that many employees you can hire (it adds on as you level up). I used to do island stations where my waiters would only need to move 1-4 spaces to serve the customers. Waiters need to not only serve the dishes to the customers, but they also need to clean up after them quickly for new customers!

This was so long ago, I can't believe it! This was before my restaurant needed to serve drinks :)
Have you tried playing RC before? What do you think of the game; any improvements do you think should be made? Personally, I wish that with their multi layout capability, they allow you to use your entire inventory (instead of needing to take stuff out of your first layout for your second layout). I also wish you could get rid of a tile (like how you press Crtl in Sims) instead of needing to replace the tile with another tile (it doesn't work out well, especially in the al fresco area).

Also, have you tried the illusion or stacking tips to make your restaurant more 3d? I haven't tried this myself, but I would love to try the gondola ride with the bridge!

All in all, I really enjoy playing this fun community game and I hope you get to experience its fun as well!

See my entry for the RC's Menu Competition:
And entry for RC's Restaurant of the Year Competition:

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Save Your Appetite: Prevent Foodborne Illness

Last week, I experienced my worst kind of food poisoning in my life... and it was from a hospital cafeteria. Having volunteered for the hospital for over a year and working almost a year in this hospital, I have eaten many breakfasts, lunches and snacks from the cafeteria. Unfortunately, I had extreme headaches, nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting during work, while resting in my car and in my bathroom. All from eating an egg/mushroom/onion cheese quesadilla for breakfast.

Foodborne illnesses occur so frequently (76 mil cases yearly!) either by poor hygiene, improper temperature/storage, cross-contamination, infected produce, undercooked poultry and meats, infected eggs and unpasteurized dairy products. If the bacteria overcomes your immune defense, the infection may potentially do more than just the common symptoms, even leading to death. Since I haven't heard of any cases from contaminated foods or foodborne illnesses from other cafeteria customers, the probability of poor hygiene as the reason for my illness is very high.

Fortunately, these factors may be prevented in the following ways (adapted from

1) Wash your hands.

Washing your hands is very important before handling foods, ready to eat or cook, and between dirty tasks (i.e. touching garbage, handling raw foods). Use hot, soapy water for 20 seconds (sing "Happy Birthday" or "Happy Unbirthday" twice), and be sure to wash thoroughly. If you're long-haired like me, I prefer tying my hair up so I don't find the need to brush my hair away from my face. Also, avoid touching your face, clothes or other items that are not clean cooking tools. Use clean towels to dry your hands, so be also sure to wash your towels often.

2) Wash your cooking tools and cooking surfaces.

Think of your cooking tools as your extra hands that handle foods, so they need to be pre-washed. If I haven't used the tools in awhile, it's always safe to wash them again just to make sure they're clean. Also, make sure that your pots, pans, cutting boards and counter-tops are clean. When your cooking environment and you are clean, the food will stay clean!

3) Use separate surfaces for produce and meats.

To prevent cross-contamination, use separate cutting boards when chopping your produce and raw meats. Or if you only have one cutting board, be sure to wash it in hot soapy water in between the foods. Of course, also use separate tools when handling the raw products (i.e. knives, spatulas). Other surfaces may be bowls or plates.

4) Cook food to appropriate temperatures.

Potential harmful microbes in foods do not survive when foods are cooked to the proper temperatures. The internal temperature of cooked foods vary, but the general temperature should be 165 F. I learned this sadly by eating a defrosted, unheated Costco Chicken Bake during college... never again. My hot food needs to have steam rising from the surface for me to feel safe to eat it now. :)

5) Refrigerate leftover food immediately to below 40 F.

Refrigerate leftover food within 2 hours of being made in order to avoid the food "danger zone" of possible microbe infection, 1 hour during summer weather. I learned this one by eating a spam musubi lunch box multiple times throughout the day while on my high school senior trip to Hawaii, in hot weather and without any refrigeration whatsoever. Nausea and vomiting ensued, and I couldn't touch spam for quite several years afterwards.

6) Pay attention to use-by dates.

Some foods have longer shelf life than others, so it's important to refer to the use-by dates to make sure that the foods are still safe to eat. It's an everyday challenge, but it's necessary to eat what you currently have, with shorter shelf life items being the higher priority in order to maximize your intake of foods you're buying, thus reducing food cost and waste.

By preventing foodborne illnesses, we save our appetite and maintain a healthy future. :)

For helping spread the word about the importance of home food safety, I was entered into a drawing for a $15 Starbucks gift card and an iPad through Summertime Food Smarts, a contest run by the American Dietetic Association and ConAgra Foods' Home Food Safety program. Home Food Safety is dedicated to raising consumer awareness about the seriousness of foodborne illness and providing solutions for easily and safely handling foods. Learn more at

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sweet Brown Sugar & Champagne Infused Whole Chicken w/ Soy Balsamic Vinaigrette

Sounds complicated? Surprisingly, it has been the cheapest, least time consuming, easiest and most delicious (in the sweet and savory variety) meal to make!

While strolling around a local Safeway to grocery shop (one of my favorite hobbies), my boyfriend and I found Foster Farms Whole Young Chicken on sale for $4. Yes, four dollars for a whole chicken; cheaper than my favorite Subway's Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sub, cheaper than my favorite Rigatoni's Chicken Pesto & Pine Nuts Fettucine, ... you get the idea. The back of the package showcased their Simmered Chinese Chicken recipe, which inspired my personal take on this recipe:


1 whole chicken
Drizzle olive oil


1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
1/4 cup champagne
1 tbsp Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute (Onion, Black Pepper, Celery Seed, Cayenne Pepper, Parsley, Basil, Marjoram, Bay Leaf, Oregano, Thyme, Savory, Rosemary, Cumin, Mustard, Coriander, Garlic, Carrot, Orange Peel, Tomato Granules, Lemon Juice Powder, Oil of Lemon, Citric Acid)

After braising in the sweet soy balsamic vinaigrette, the finished product, ta-da!~

1. Rinse chicken (remove giblets) & dry well.
2. Heat oil in a large & deep saute pan or stock pot; brown chicken evenly on all sides and corners. Time to dance the chicken! :)
3. Mix together the sauce ingredients to your tastebuds' liking. Pour the sauce over the chicken so that the sauce covers most of the chicken, about 3/4ths way. (I actually had to make double the sauce because we used a wok instead of a standard pot, so depending on what you use, you might need to make more sauce!)
4. Adjust the dial of your stovetop so that the sauce is simmering, and turn over the chicken as needed to make sure it cooks even and thoroughly.
5. After simmering for about 15-20 mins, test the doneness of the chicken (no translucent flesh, no leaky blood). When it has passed the test, the chicken is ready to be chopped and served! :)

Isn't my boyfriend a great butcher? :)
The simmered sauce left in the wok was also a great accompaniment to the braised, oh so juicy and tender chicken! The variety of flavors from the sauce were amazing; there was the sweet brown sugar, crisp champagne flavor, savory soy sauce, tart balsamic vinaigrette and spice medley of the 21 Seasoning Salute that created this delicious meal.

Give this dish a try and let me know what you think! Feel free to share your whole chicken recipes as well!