Friday, June 7, 2013

mommy & me week

It's hard to believe my mom's visit was over one month ago. I guess it's a good thing that work keeps me busy; otherwise, I'd probably be spending all my time thinking about how much I miss her! Plus, I've been procrastinating because every time I sit down to write this post. I just end up drooling over all the food pictures, and then I wander off to find something to eat. I won't blame you if you do the same.

As soon as my mom arrived, we were off and running to begin the adventures with whale watching in Dana Point.
Don't mind our messy hair!
We saw two gray whales (a mommy and her calf, just a few weeks old) en route to the feeding grounds in Alaska, along with a small pod of dolphins. We were amazed by how close they were  to shore, but learned that the mother hugs the coast to eliminate two angles of attack from killer whales. Here, they were in about 20-30 ft. of water, but can swim in as little as 5 ft. of water!

The video is really grainy because I was using my point-and-shoot camera, but you can vaguely see little puffs from the whales' and dolphins' blowholes at 0:09, 0:15, and 0:21. Hopefully you can catch glimpses of the whales' backs at 0:25 and 0:30. I know they happen really quickly, but it was so unpredictable to record. Plus, I wanted to soak in the moment with my own two eyes, rather than through a lens.

Next time, I'd like to take my parents on the whale watching tour in Long Beach. The boat there is designed a little differently so if you're lucky enough to spot a huge pod of dolphins, they'll literally be swimming at your feet!

The next morning, after watering the flowers on my balcony...
 ...we had dim sum at Hong Kong Palace, a place my mom had researched and wanted to try. I didn't realize how close I lived to Rowland Heights, and thus began our obsession with all the nearby, unexplored Asian stores.

From siu mai to almond milk tea topped with a pastry puff, it's great to know I can get satisfy my dim sum cravings at a delicious Chinese restaurant just 15 minutes from home.
Later, we watched Matt play with his Sunday night basketball league. Sadly, they didn't win, but we had a lot of fun (ok, maybe I had a little too much fun) cheering his team on.

For dinner, we ate at Gen Korean Bbq. The wait can get pretty brutal on Saturdays, but for a Sunday night, we only had to wait about 20-30 minutes. Plenty of parking, very modern, a couple unique touches like green tea sea salt and daikon wraps, and really tasty!

Monday morning was all about Redondo Beach.

Anyone else think this mini palm tree is as cute as a button?

For lunch, we stopped by Quality Seafood. Live, chilled, grilled, or fried — they have it all!

Two sea urchins, a dozen oysters, and a couple lbs. of Old Bay seasoned crabs. Next time, I'm going to get more clams instead of the crab. Afterwards, we shopped around Ranch 99 and Daiso, a.k.a the 100 yen shop — which means everything is high quality, super cute, and $1.50 unless otherwise marked.

We liked Hong Kong Palace so much that we went back for dinner. They have a special where if you order $30, you get an entree free from the choices of steamed chicken (nope), Peking duck (YEAH), deep fried squab (maybe next time), or steamed shrimp (pass).
I'm always a fan of dau miu, but these were especially delicious because they were served in a shark fin broth, rendering even more tenderness and flavor.

We got home relatively early to download some of my mom's favorite Chinese songs and rest our stomachs for the big day ahead.

And by big, I mean BIG JUICY SOUP DUMPLINGS at Wang Xing Ji in San Gabriel.
Regular xiao long bao (soup dumplings)
 House Golden Crispy Cake
Salt and Pepper Crispy Cake
JUICY PORK AND CRAB BUN. Yup, it's as big as the teapot and comes with a straw to sip every last drop of the steaming hot juices inside.
It was a pretty overcast day which probably made the buns taste a million times better. It took some technique to devour those bad boys without shredding them to pieces, but we managed to flip them into soup bowls.

After buying a bunch of our favorite jerky at Champion Provisions Co., we stopped by Class 302 to cleanse our palates. Normally, one serving feeds up to groups of 4 to 6, but we're all about gluttony so we each got one. And since we went around 4:00, there was absolutely no wait...that can't go uncelebrated, right?!

 Mine: Mango shaved snow with mochi
Mommy's: Green tea shave snow (hers was better)

Quick break at home, and then it was off to Wako Donkasu for the perfect chicken katsu.
Grinding toasted sesame seeds for the katsu sauce
(I'm starting to get really hungry again!!!!!)

Ok, so giant juicy dumplings, check. Giant shave snow, check. Giant strawberry we come!
The Donut Man in Glendora was a bit of a drive, but we had to try it after reading so many praising reviews.
We brought them into my office and definitely impressed (and probably slightly scared) my co-workers. The donut is like a pillowy clamshell for the beastly glazed strawberries.
 Sitting at my desk
Standing at my desk
Hugging at my desk
Posing with my co-worker Kristine. The office calls us "Team Two Tall."

 From left: Tony, David, Scott, Donna

We picked up lunch from Mil Jugos, one of our go-to lunch spots that serves Venezuelan food. Like the name suggests, they serve a variety of fresh juices. One of my favorites is watermelon cantaloupe.
Cachapa con carne mechada (sweet corn pancake filled with shredded beef and cheese)
Pernil arepa (grilled corn bread filled with roasted pork leg)
Pabellón arepa (grilled corn bread filled with shredded flank steak, black beans, and cheese)

Afterwards, we visited Daiso again (except this time in Irvine) and walked around the shopping center.
Check out this blowfish cake from Kiki Bakery!

For dinner, I treated my mom to Cafe Hiro — serving Japanese, Italian, and French fusion cuisine. It's the same place I took Josh for his birthday, and it was just as amazing the second time!
Ahi tuna tartar
My mom and I were crrazzzzyyyy for one of the special starters of the day — Sauteed Mushroom Salad. My mom said she could've enjoyed it as an entree. Light, citrus dressing and lots of assorted mushrooms. Probably one of the best salads I've ever eaten.
Sea urchin spaghetti — another favorite!!
Sea urchin spaghetti with sauteed spinach in a tamari soy sauce (still tasty, but not as creamy and rich as the version above)

For dessert, we waited in line for an hour at M&M Donuts and loaded up on piping hot blueberry donuts.

Thursday morning was spent at East Gourmet Seafood Restaurant in Rosemead. Terrible parking lot, but terrific (and cheap!) dim sum. $1.88 per dish, to be exact. Plus, the lobster yee mein was only $4.99.
After we shopped around some Asian markets, we stopped by the Downtown Fullerton Market, one of the liveliest farmers markets I've ever been to.

I can't believe I didn't take a picture of the wood-fired mushroom and sausage pizza we got from Olive Wood Pizza, but I guess I was too excited to eat it. Last week, I went back with Josh to try the polish sausage and bratwurst at the stand next door, but the pizza is still the best.

We ate dinner at the Lazy Dog Cafe with Leslie, Matt, and Mrs. Wear.
Chef was super excited because....
...he got a special order of grilled chicken, all for himself!!!!
Looks like his craziness rubbed off on me too (photo credits go to Leslie)
He was so well behaved! And luckily, we could let Chef sit in our laps (some of the other Lazy Dog Cafe locations have strict patio rules).

Friday was a full day at Disneyland and California Adventure!!

The morning was off to a great start, complete with some beef skewers and a classic pineapple Dole Whip Float. We rode all our favorites except for Space Mountain which was closed for safety reviews. The highlight of the day was Radiator Springs in the new Cars Land. We lined up for Fast Passes first thing in the morning, and our return time was between 5:50 and 6:50. However, we had planned to take a break around that time to pick Josh up (he took the MCATs that morning), go back to the apartment, freshen up, and return to Disneyland. We left the park around 5:00, got stuck in some traffic, and encountered some issues with parking. By the time we got back into the park, it was 6:37!!! We knew that they'd be sticklers about returning on time, so we did what we had to do — RUN!! Well, it was more like power walking because we didn't want to injure anyone....but still! We were panicking!! But luck was on our side, and we raced (har har har) back to Cars Land at 6:45. Only to realize that the ride was temporarily shut down for repair, ugh! We were so shocked and winded that we had to literally stand there to catch our breaths and laugh at ourselves. And then we went on the Ferris Wheel to calm down some more.

Thankfully, the ride was up and running within an hour. And boy, it was worth the wait!!!!
Leslie and Matt joined us at night for some rides, fireworks, and Fantasmic.
Since we skipped dinner, my mom and I grabbed double doubles from In-N-Out on the way home. Maybe it was because we were super hungry, or because my mom hadn't had a burger in a while — or maybe it's just the magic of In-N-Out — but it was the most perfect post-Disneyland meal.

Sadly, my mom's visit came to an end on Saturday. We stopped by San Gabriel again for some big juicy buns again (but honestly, they tasted the best the first time). And for dinner, we feasted on Wingstop and more In-N-Out Burgers.
After all the fun adventures and tasty treats, it was so hard for me to say goodbye to my Mommy. Chef felt the same way too, but he found comfort in the toy she gave him.

Until next time!! Love you, Mommy!

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