Bowl of Pho

On rainy days, I always get the craving for a steaming bowl of noodles. Thankfully, Bowl of Pho in Jacksonville FL left me feeling so warm and cozy on this rainy day!

Bowl of Pho entrance
Bowl of Pho entrance

The restaurant has lots of indoor seating, which does get crowded during peak lunch and dinner hours.

Indoor seating
Indoor seating

The Vietnamese egg rolls ($4.50 for 2 rolls) were crispy and crunchy on the outside, and filled with a tasty mix of meat, veggies, and noodles on the inside. I made sure to dunk it in the sauce for extra tangy flavor!

Vietnamese egg rolls
Vietnamese egg rolls

Now that I had my appetizer, I was ready for the pho!

I ordered an extra large sized bowl of pho with rare steak and well-done brisket ($9.95 for X-large), because I am not a fan of tripe or meatballs. The bowl was definitely enormous, but the amount of noodles was actually manageable. For just a dollar more than the large, I would definitely get the X-large.

X-Large pho with rare steak and well-done brisket
X-Large pho with rare steak and well-done brisket

The pho also came with a hefty plate of plate of jalapeños, bean spouts, limes, and mint leaves.

Plate of jalapeños, bean spouts, limes, and mint leaves
Plate of jalapeños, bean spouts, limes, and mint leaves

The thing that blew me away was definitely the broth. I liked how it was flavorful yet clean. It was not overly oily like pho broth can be sometimes. It came with slices of scallion, and I added mint leaves and fresh jalapeños for that extra flavor.

Pho up close with mint leaves and fresh jalapeños
Pho up close with mint leaves and fresh jalapeños

The noodles were also cooked perfectly- thin, tender, and firm.

Overall, I would definitely visit Bowl of Pho again for their affordable prices, fast service, and flavorful broth!

Address: 9902 Old Baymeadows Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32256

Crispy Baguette

Crispy Baguette is located on the first floor of the midtown restaurant area, below Tatu.

Crispy Baguette entrance
Crispy Baguette entrance

The small restaurant has a few tables open in the back and others that were being used as a storage area for containers. They do not have outdoor seating.

Indoor seating
Indoor seating

 The kitchen area was covered up with panels, which makes the front area seem smaller and more cramped. The restaurant also has those sticky floors characteristic of midtown restaurants, and there were some clubbers coming in to use the bathroom from the bar above. Despite all this, the restaurant seemed to be doing well as there was a steady stream of customers.  

Front area
Front area

You place the order at the front, and then wait for your order. Our order took about 40-50 minutes since there were only two workers, so I suggest ordering ahead if you are in a hurry.

True to their name, Crispy Baguette offers a wide range of sandwiches, like the Traditional Vietnamese Cold Cut, Saigon Special Grilled Pork, and even Green Curry Sandwich!

You can get 8 inch (which range from $7-$10) or 12 inch sandwiches (which range from $12-14).

The Saigon Special Grilled Pork Sandwich ($12.49) was filled with grilled carrots, basil, cucumber, green onions, and BBQ pork in a toasted baguette.

Saigon Special Grilled Pork Sandwich
Saigon Special Grilled Pork Sandwich

The carrots did not have the pickled flavor (like the veggies Bánh mì) that I was expecting, but I liked the crispiness of the bread and how the ingredients complimented each other well. The portion was also large as well.

Inside of grilled pork sandwich
Inside of grilled pork sandwich

For the Vietnamese Yellow Coconut Tofu Curry Sandwich ($12.49), they give the toasted baguette separately from the curry. The baguette was not cut in half so it could have been tough to eat, but thankfully we had a knife! I imagined that the sandwich would come filled with the curry, but I actually liked how they gave the baguette separately so that it does not get soggy.

Baguette
Baguette

The curry was savory and slightly sweet, and filled with fried tofu, carrots, zucchini, and cilantro. You can dip the baguette into the curry, or fill the baguette with curry to make a curry sandwich!

Vietnamese yellow coconut curry  with tofu
Vietnamese yellow coconut curry with tofu

They also offer Rice Bowls and Noodle Bowls!

I tried the Thai Spicy Green Curry with Tofu ($12.49). You had to pay $2 extra for Basil Fried Rice, but it was so worth it!

Thai spicy green curry with tofu
Thai spicy green curry with tofu

They give you a huge portion of fried rice, which had a crispy texture. It was very flavorful with scallions, basil, and tiny pieces of egg.

Fried rice
Fried rice

The Thai Green Curry was my favorite part of the meal! The crunchy texture of the fried tofu soaked up the spicy, savory curry perfectly and there were plenty of veggies as well.

I highly recommend the curry and fried rice combo!

They were having a deal for Thai Tea ($1.50), so I tried some as well. It was really good, with a strong flavor and sweetness to it.

Thai tea
Thai tea

Overall, I enjoyed the meal and I am happy to have another option for Thai and Vietnamese cuisine near campus!

Address: 1702 W University Ave E, Gainesville, FL 32603

Suyuk: Korean Pork Belly Slices

I’m trying something a bit different today and posting something I’ve been cooking and loving!

After I saw that they sold whole pork belly chunks at my local grocery store (Publix), I got excited and started to make suyuk at home. Not only is it delicious, but it’s also healthy as it is boiled instead of fried. This recipe was inspired by Big Mama’s recipe on Youtube, as well as some tips from my own mama!

Ingredients:

1 lb pork belly

3 scallions

1 onion

3 garlic cloves

1 Tbsp whole peppercorn or ground pepper

2 cups Korean cooking wine (Put in 1 cup when boiling, and 1 cup for pouring on top later if steaming)

1 Tbsp dwenjang (Korean soy bean paste)

optional: 1 Tbsp coffee grounds, Steamer

Some ingredients for reference
Some ingredients for reference

Dipping Sauce Ingredients:

4 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp chopped onions

1 Tbsp chopped scallion

1 Tbsp chopped serrano pepper (if you want it spicy!) 

Steps:

1. Slice scallions and onion into halves

2.Slice pork belly into thick strips; I personally took the outer layer of skin off as well but you can keep it if you like the skin!

3. Fill a deep pot with water until it reaches ¾ of the pot and boil

4. When the water starts to boil, add all ingredients with pork belly. The cooking wine, dwenjang, and coffee grounds are for getting rid of the pork scent, so these are super important.

5. Boil for at least 50 minutes and try putting a chopstick into the meat to see if it is done

6. If you have a steamer, put it in the pot and put pork belly on it. Make sure the broth below is not touching the pork belly through the steamer; you can remove some broth if needed

7. If you are going to steam the meat, add one cup of cooking wine on top of the pork belly

8. Steam for 30-40 minutes until tender and moist

9. Cut the meat into thin strips; as thin as possible

10. Dip in sauce or ssamjang and enjoy with veggies! I especially recommend pairing it with Korean wasabi radish slices! 

Pork belly with dipping sauce, veggies, kimchi, and wasabi radish slices
Pork belly with dipping sauce, veggies, kimchi, and wasabi radish slices

Prime and Pearl

Prime and Pearl truly offers the best of land and sea!

Located in Celebration Pointe, they have a modern interior with leather seats, wooden tables, and lamps shaped like upside down flowers. They are only open for dinner and do get filled up on the weekends so make sure to get a reservation in advance if you plan to go then.

Prime and Pearl exterior
Prime and Pearl exterior

They have lots of outdoor and indoor seating that are spaced out by a few feet each.  

Prime and Pearl has a classy ambience with jazz music, low lighting, and candles at the table.

Interior
Interior

You can immediately tell that they specialize in steaks, since right when you walk in you are greeted by the steaks chilling in the steak locker.

Steak lockers
Steak lockers

Our waitress Brianna was very friendly and explained how Prime and Pearl prides itself in fresh steak and oysters. As you can see from the extensive menu, they offer many different types of these as well as other options to choose from.

Oyster menu
Oyster menu
Steak menu
Steak menu

They offer free bread before the meal! The bread is circular and had a really interesting texture. It had a crispier outside and a creamy, soft center. It had a French Cruller (yes the donut!) texture inside. The first batch we got was not warm, but thankfully the second batch was freshly baked so it was very warm and soft inside. They also give you regular butter and sweet blueberry butter to compliment the bread.

Free bread and butter
Free bread and butter
Interior of bread
Interior of bread

Because we wanted to try different flavors of oysters, we decided on the Oyster Sampler, ($28.99) which came with 12 oysters consisting of 4 different flavors, lemon, cocktail sauce, and horseradish. The Hollywood was from Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, and had a very clean and crisp finish. This was my personal favorite. The Sweet Jesus was from Hollywood, Maryland and had a citrus finish. It was especially good with the cocktail sauce. The Lucky Limes was from Prince Edward Island, Canada. This one was a bit more salty and citrusy. The White Stone, from North Point, Virginia, tasted the most unique with mushroom and vegetable flavoring and a miso finish. Overall the oysters tasted very fresh- definitely a great start to our meal.

Oysters
Oysters

They also offer house-made crackers with the oyster and I actually highly recommend trying these! I’m normally not a huge fan of saltine crackers, but these were crispy, warm, flaky, and very slightly salty- it almost tasted fried. They were surprisingly very good.

Crackers were surprisingly good!
Crackers were surprisingly good!

Now for the steak!

Before you get the steak, they bring out an assortment of knives, so you can choose which one fits you best.

I chose a big one with a wooden handle
I chose a big one with a wooden handle

I went for the 45-Day Dry Aged 20 oz Bone-In Ribeye ($62). This was my first time trying dry aged steak and I was amazed by how deep the flavor tasted. The steak comes with a bit of mashed potato, and two sprigs of asparagus with some carrots on top.

Ribeye, mashed potato, and asparagus
Ribeye, mashed potato, and asparagus

It had a smoky, grilled crust on the outside and was very juicy and tender on the inside. There were some layers of fat, which definitely added to the juiciness.

Inside of ribeye
Inside of ribeye

I also tried the 45-Day Dry Aged 40 oz Porterhouse ($89). If you are HUNGRY or love steak, then this is the one for you! It was enormous and came cut into pieces for easier eating.

Porterhouse
Porterhouse

One side had a more chewy texture, which was a little harder to chew, while the other side was more lean and tender.

Lean cut (top), chewy cut (bottom)
Lean cut (top), chewy cut (bottom)

This steak also came with the side of mashed potato and asparagus.

All the steak did get a bit heavy after awhile, so I tried it with A1 sauce as well, which added extra flavor. 

Steak sauce
Steak sauce
Dessert menu
Dessert menu

For dessert we had the Vanilla Bean Crème brûlée ($8), which had a piece of fruit, chocolate, and a biscuit on top. This was really delicious and a perfect finish to the meal. It was a big portion for the price and definitely enough to share between two people.

Crème brûlée
Crème brûlée

Overall, I would say Prime and Pearl is a great place to enjoy a classy meal or special date night!

Address: 4949 Celebration Pointe Ave Suite 70, Gainesville, FL 32608

Linda Vista

If you are looking for a fiesta, look no further than Linda Vista!

You immediately get a festive vibe as soon as you step into their colorful interior set up. They have many booths and tables indoors, bar seating, and extensive outdoor seating as well.

Outdoor seating
Outdoor seating
Colorful indoor seating
Colorful indoor seating
Bar seating
Bar seating

One of the biggest perks is also that you get free chips and salsa! They chips were crispy and not too salty, and while the salsa is a bit on the runny side, it was still flavorful.

Free chips and salsa
Free chips and salsa

They have everything from quesadillas, fajitas, steaks, and burritos, as well as a long list of cocktails.

Menu
Menu
Menu continued
Menu continued
Drinks
Drinks

I got the Enchiladas Suizas ($11.90), which came with four enchiladas filled with either steak or chicken (I chose two steak, two chicken), topped with cheese sauce and tomatillo sauce. The Enchiladas were served with a side of guacamole and sour cream.

Enchiladas suizas
Enchiladas suizas

This was a lot of food for a price and I liked how the enchiladas had a good amount of meat! While they were flavorful on their own, I paired it with the house-made hot sauce ($1), which really kicked up the spice level! This hot sauce is extremely spicy, so just be warned!

House-made hot sauce
House-made hot sauce
Steak inside
Steak inside of enchilada
Inside of chicken enchilada
Inside of chicken enchilada

If you want to try a little bit of everything, you can also make your own combo by choosing 3 ($9.50), 4 ($10.50), or 5 ($13.10) items!

My friend enjoyed the Enchiladas with Mexican Rice and Refried Beans.

Enchilada with rice and beans
Enchiladas with rice and beans

Overall, they offered a solid home-style Tex Mex meal and you can get great value for the price. It is a great place to enjoy the festive atmosphere with friends and or family!

Address7070 SW Archer Rd #3102, Gainesville, FL 32608

Teatime Tranquility and Treasures

Tea party, anyone?

I never imagined I would enjoy high tea in Alachua but Tranquility Tea makes it all possible with their impeccable tearoom equipped with a wide range of teas and delicious baked goods!

Entrance and Outdoor Tables
Entrance and Outdoor Tables

You can visit the shop to pick up some goods, or you can reserve high tea for yourself and others!

For high tea, you just need to reserve at least 24 hours in advance either online or through the phone and the owner will give you a call to arrange any details and ask for dietary restrictions. They are very accommodating with any dietary requests you need to make.

Once I walked in I felt like I was transported to another world with the cozy décor and peaceful setting.

How cute is this set up?
How cute is this set up?

There are many tables and some couches set up with table settings and hats that you can wear! They have lots of indoor tables, which are close together, but only three tables were occupied so it did not feel crowded or too loud. They also have two outdoor tables.

We were seated and welcomed by the owner, who is very friendly and gave us some background about himself. He used to be a flight nurse and after surviving a health scare (he showed us a tattoo of his EKG from that day) he decided to open this teashop! He has an amazing collection of tea sets and bakes all of the pastries as well.

Table setting
Table setting
Tea choices
More tea choices!
More tea choices!

We started with two pots of tea for the table: Hibiscus Peach and Masala Chai. The Masala Chai was amazing with a strong flavor and fragrance of chai. The Hibiscus Peach smells fruity and sweet, but the taste was actually not sweet, which I liked.

Afternoon high tea set with Masala Chai tea
Afternoon high tea set with Masala Chai tea

After we finished those two, we also tried the Thai Tea, and the Lychee Rose Green Tea (which is not on the menu, but recommended to us by the owner). The Thai Tea smelled and tasted delicious, but the Lychee Rose tea stole the show for me. I personally love Lychee so I really liked how strongly it smelled and tasted of the fruit. It is a sweeter tea so you might like it if you are into sweet, fruity teas!

Our high tea also came with 3 tiers of food! The bottom layer had chicken salad sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, and cucumber sandwiches.

Egg salad sandwich
Egg salad sandwich

The chicken salad sandwich was my favorite of the bunch, as it had delicious filling with chicken and veggies that was savory and sweet.

The middle tier had two types of scones: Papaya Coconut scones and Raisin scones. The papaya scones were my personal favorite, as they had chunks of papaya and coconut inside; the scones were soft on the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside. I don’t usually like raisins but the raisin scones were also very good. The raisins were on the juicier side, which I enjoyed.

Half of papaya coconut scone
Half of papaya coconut scone

The scones also came with jam and a cream cheese spread- both were delicious!

Jam and cream cheese spread
Jam and cream cheese spread

I liked the scones so much that I ordered 2 more scones (Blueberry and Papaya) to go! The Blueberries in the scones were a bit dry, but I liked how it was packed lots of blueberries. The scones are $3.95 each and definitely worth it.

Blueberry and Papaya scones
Blueberry and Papaya scones

The top tier had little sweet snacks, such as cream puffs, mini éclairs, lemon squares, chocolate petit fours, and strawberry pastries. Although I did not like these as much as the scones, I appreciated how moist the lemon squares and chocolate petit fours were.

Top tier sweets!
Top tier sweets!
Filling inside mini éclairs
Filling inside mini éclairs
Strawberry pastry
Strawberry pastry

The price for afternoon high tea was $21.95 per person, which I found to be very reasonable for the amount of food and tea you get. You can pay with card but keep in mind that you can only pay the tip in cash!

Counter and menu
Counter and menu
You can also grab baked goods to go!
You can also grab baked goods to go!

I definitely Teatime Tranquility & Treasures for your next tea party!

Address: 14521 Main St, Alachua, FL 32615

Local Coffee Shops in Austin, TX!

I’m taking a break from all the food to share some local coffee shops in Austin!

1. Halcyon

Halcyon’s downtown location had such a chill vibe! They are open from 8 AM-2 AM and this versatile coffee bar also hosts concerts and different events.

Halcyon Coffee Bar and Lounge
Halcyon Coffee Bar and Lounge

They offer extensive indoor seating and even outdoor seating.

Indoor seating
Indoor seating
The bar has coffee and alcohol!
The bar has coffee and alcohol!

They also have an extensive list of drinks to choose from, including Vietnamese coffee and tea! I got a Vietnamese coffee and it was super tasty with the perfect splash of sweetness to give me energy to beat the afternoon crash.

Regular Iced coffee (left), Vietnamese iced coffee (right)
Regular Iced coffee (left), Vietnamese iced coffee (right)

I would definitely go back to enjoy their happy hour next time!

Address: 218 West 4th Street, Austin, TX 78701

2. Houndstooth Coffee

Houndstooth is also a great choice for locally sourced coffee! Their name comes from a Scottish legend with houndstooth being one of the first simple plaid patterns that defined regional identities for people of Scotland. It symbolizes their desire for their coffee to become a source of identity celebration as well!

Gorgeous bar
Gorgeous bar

My barista recommended me the House Americano ($3.85) and it was a solid choice! It was very smooth and I like how there was just a little layer of ice (it was the tiny kind too, not the chunks) so it did not get watery over time. If you like the taste of their beans, you can grab a bag of their Tweed coffee!

House Americano
House Americano

The barista was very friendly and the atmosphere was calm. There was plenty of indoor seating and it was pretty quiet during the day so it would be a great place to get some work done. I was grateful for the cool oasis from the Austin heat!

Indoor seating
Indoor seating

They also offered a variety of other bottled drinks and sandwiches that you can carry out as well.

Other drinks and sandwiches
Other drinks and sandwiches

Some Houndstooth locations also serve alcohol, so you can satisfy all of your drinking needs!

Address: 401 Congress Ave #100c, Austin, TX 78701

Uchi

Omakase at Uchi can only be described as an experience to remember!

After I saw raving reviews about the sushi there (some said it was even better than BBQ!), I knew I had to make it a stop on my trip to Austin. Make sure to plan ahead and make reservations a few weeks or as soon as your plans allow, because even though we made reservations a few weeks in advance, there were only a few time options available. If you can’t get in to Uchi, you could also try their sister restaurant Uchiko!

Our reservations were for 4 pm, which is their opening time, and we were one of the first customers to arrive.

Made it to Uchi!
Made it to Uchi!

Once you pass their outdoor waiting area and dining area, which had lots of fans spraying water to provide cooling relief in the heat, you enter the indoor dining area.

Outdoor waiting area with cooling fans
Outdoor waiting area with cooling fans
Outdoor seating
Outdoor seating

The ambience seemed very lively, and there was noticeable excitement in the air even among the staff members as well. Their music was trendy, which complimented the modern interior style, equipped with high ceilings, vibrant walls, wooden seats and tables. Uchi means “house” in Japanese, and the restaurant was made from a refurbished home, but to me their atmosphere seemed more like a large, trendy party room than an intimate, cozy house.

Lively atmosphere!
Lively atmosphere!
Extensive indoor seating but could get crowded
Extensive indoor seating but could get crowded

While there is a lot of indoor seating, the tables are close together back to back so it does get a bit loud.

Since I wanted to taste as many things I could, my friend and I both got the Chef’s Tasting 10 Course Omakase Meal, which is market price and ranged about $100 per person. Omakase, which translates to “I’ll leave it up to you,” means you trust the chef to fill your plate with the best of what they have! Our waitress asked us for any preferences in putting together our meal, so we told her that we did not want white tuna (just a personal preference) and that we wanted to try foie gras, as well as wagyu beef.

Sake social menu
Some of their sushi, specials, and desserts on the menu
Some of their sushi, specials, and desserts on the menu

We started off with some drinks, and for their sake social happy hour (4-6:30 pm daily), their sakes are discounted!

I tried both the cold unfiltered sake (takara nigori) and hot sake (gekkeikan).

The cold sake was sweet, creamy, and tasted like a mix between makgeolli (Korean rice wine) and soju (Korean distilled alcohol). The cold sake is also a fun experience, as it comes in small shot glasses filled to the brim and small wooden boxes, which carry the extra sake. The waitress described how they make it overflow a bit with extra sake to symbolize their abundant welcome to the guests. She suggested sliding the glass on the table to wipe off excess sake and then drinking it. After you finish the sake in the glass, you can drink up the excess by pouring it into the glass. So you basically get a drink and a half!

Cold unfiltered sake
Cold unfiltered sake
Itadakimasu!
Itadakimasu!

The hot sake tasted more like distilled alcohol and was sweeter and stronger than the cold sake. It came in a clay jar, which definitely contained enough sake to split between two or more people!  

Hot sake
Hot sake

After warming my stomach with some sake, I was ready to dive into the meal!

Table setting
Table setting

There are a lot of dishes, so I am numbering them below to make them easier to keep track of. Our waitress was so sweet and gifted us two extra dishes in between our regular omakase so we ended up having a 12 course meal!

1. Oysters with watermelon lime sauce. This dish was a refreshing and clean oyster dish, which was the perfect start to our course. The oysters had diced veggies and melon sprinkled on top, and was a mixture of fruity and slightly salty.

The oysters were presented beautifully!
The oysters looked and tasted beautiful!

2. The fried brussels sprouts in chili sauce had a really interesting mix of flavors. It was smoky with a tangy mustard flavor, and while I expected it to be spicy, it was not at all. I really enjoyed the unique taste and texture of this dish.

Fried brussels sprouts
Fried brussels sprouts

3. For this sushi plate we got the Black snapper (had lime sauce on it), Golden eye snapper (saltier, creamier fish) , and the Tasmanian ocean trout from New Zealand (creamiest, slightly salty, kinda crunchy, good balance of flavors).

Black snapper (bottom right),  Golden eye snapper (left middle), New Zealand tasmanian ocean trout (upper right)
Black snapper (bottom right), Golden eye snapper (left middle), New Zealand tasmanian ocean trout (upper right)

We were instructed to flip the sushi when eating it, so that the fish is on the bottom, and consume it with our hands to get the full experience of flavors. The ocean trout was my favorite of the three, and this dish was also one of my favorites because I loved the simple, yet elegant mix of flavors.

Gotta flip the sushi to enjoy all those flavors!
Gotta flip the sushi to enjoy all those flavors!

One thing that struck me was how sushi and sashimi items were served without soy sauce and ginger because the sauces and toppings are built into the dishes already. 

4. The crispy fried chicken thighs were coated with a kimchi emulsion and paired with pickled veggies (pickles, cauliflower, carrot) on top. This fusion dish had a smoky flavor explosion of kimchi juice with cilantros as well as a creamy kimchi Mayo sauce covering it. As much as I love kimchi, I had never tried it in sauce form on chicken, as I was impressed by the creativity of this dish!

Fried chicken thighs
Fried chicken thighs
Get ready for a flavor explosion!
Get ready for a flavor explosion!

5. Ocean trout sashimi had micro shiso, pickled radish, morning melon on top. It had a fruity sauce, and tasted creamy, minty, and crunchy with the veggies. While I appreciated this dish, I enjoyed the ocean trout more in sushi form in dish #3 because I could enjoy the natural flavor of the fish more.

Ocean trout sashimi
Ocean trout sashimi
Ocean trout sashimi slice
Ocean trout sashimi slice

6. Wagyu beef hot rock! This was such a fun dish. They give you a hot rock and you roast the slices of beef yourself to your liking, and then dip it in ponzu sauce. The meat grilling can be a bit tricky as it sticks to the rock if you leave it for too long, but it’s part of the fun! Wagyu is known for its tenderness and it certainly did not disappoint.

Wagyu beef and the hot rock
Wagyu beef and the hot rock
You can dip the cooked meat in ponzu sauce
You can dip the cooked meat in ponzu sauce

7. This was our first gift from our waitress! It consisted of handrolls filled with grilled romaine, cooked fish. This dish had a strong taste with very vinegary pickled onions, mint, cilantro, rice, and a chewy wrapper covered sesame seeds. The flavor of the fish was a bit overpowering but you could balance it with the creamy and flavorful sauce. 

Handrolls
Handrolls
Handrolls filled with fish and veggies
Handrolls filled with fish and veggies
Handrolls with toppings inside
Handrolls with toppings inside

8. Our second gift from our waitress was Yellowtail sashimi topped with roe, spicy pepper, sweet mandarin orange, and soy sauce on the bottom. Our waitress informed us that this is the most popular dish in the restaurant! I liked the spiciness of the sliced pepper, paired with the firm texture of the roe and the sweet tartness of mandarin orange.

Yellowtail sashimi
Yellowtail sashimi

 9. Next was the Grilled amberjack, which had a creamy corn sauce on top. The fish was a bit tougher and drier than raw fish. The topping was a bit too salty for my taste, but the buttery sauce balances it with creamy corn.

Grilled amberjack
Grilled amberjack
Grilled amberjack piece
Grilled amberjack piece

10. The Blue fin sashimi was topped with watermelon relish and watermelon vinaigrette. It had a sweet and refreshing taste of watermelon and was crunchy with a spicy salsa sauce on the outside.

Blue fin sashimi
Blue fin sashimi
Slice of Blue fin sashimi
Slice of Blue fin sashimi

11. Now for the foie gras sushi! This delicacy was salty and crispy on the outside, extremely creamy and rich on the inside. It was my first time having foie gras and I can definitely see why it is considered one of the world’s most delicious foods.

Foie gras
Foie gras
Foie gras up close!
Foie gras up close!

12. Dessert was the last dish of course! Our dessert was the sweet potato flan with curry ice cream. As a curry lover, I was so excited to try this. The ice cream was mostly sweet with a slight curry taste, sitting on a bed of crunchy ground coffee and tart yellow raisins. The flan was creamy and not overly sweet. This dish can be best described as a deconstructed creme brûlée with ice cream on top.

Sweet potato flan with curry ice cream
Sweet potato flan with curry ice cream
Flan texture was creamy and crunchy!
Flan texture was creamy and crunchy!

If you like exploring different flavors like I do, I highly recommend Uchi’s 10 course meal (which averages out to about $10 per course!) because of the quality of ingredients, creativity of flavors, as well as the level of service! If you would like to try just a few items, I would recommend the ocean trout and foie gras sushi, the wagyu beef, and the sweet potato flan with curry ice cream!

Address801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

Terry Black’s Barbecue

Going to a famous BBQ restaurant during peak lunchtime and in 97 degree weather was risky…but sometimes you gotta risk it for the brisket!

I got there around 11:20 am on a Sunday and there was already a line wrapped around to the back of the restaurant. The line was not surprising, as this place is known for their BBQ! It was very hot and there were a lot of people since it was lunchtime, but at least the line moved pretty fast so I got in after about an hour.

There's the iconic sign!
There’s the iconic sign!

If you are stuck in the back like me, near the parking lots, you will see the BBQ pits and piles of wood while you wait. It is interesting to see them bring in and out the meat but also extremely hot due to the heat from the pits. The line also passes through a beer station, where you can grab a beer to cool off while you wait.

BBQ pits
BBQ pits
Stacks of wood
Stacks of wood

They also have some fun murals to take pictures with while you wait!

Waiting for that BBQ!
Waiting for that BBQ!

When you finally get inside, you are sent through a conveyer belt style system, where you choose your sides, meat, pay for the meal, and then choose a seat.

Sides
Sides
They also sell spices and other merchandise
They also sell spices and other merchandise


At the first station, you choose your sides. I got small containers of potato salad, coleslaw, and cream corn ($3.25 each).
The potato salad is hearty but on the salty side, the coleslaw was crunchy and refreshing when paired with the meat, and the corn was creamy with a touch of spice.

Potato salad
Potato salad
Coleslaw
Coleslaw
Cream corn
Cream corn

The corn bread was sweet, soft, and hefty for its price of $1.

After the sides, you get to choose your meat!

My favorite was the brisket, which had a flavorful smoky crust, a thin layer of fat, and pure meat! They ask if you want a fatty piece or lean piece, and while I chose the lean, I wish I also tried a fatty piece as it is more tender.

Cutting the meat
Cutting the meat
Lean brisket slice
Lean brisket slice

The pork ribs were a bit salty and while it was flavorful, I did not find it very special. They only sold beef ribs by the pound so I could not try it, but I definitely need to go back for it next time!

Brisket (top), sausage (middle), pork ribs (bottom)
Brisket (top), sausage (middle), pork ribs (bottom)

The Jalapeño  Cheddar sausage was really good- crispy on the outside, savory and chewy on the inside.

Inside of Jalapeño Cheddar sausage
Inside of Jalapeño Cheddar sausage

They also have a four different BBQ sauces to dip! I liked the original and spicy BBQ sauces.

BBQ sauces
BBQ sauces

While you do not have an assigned waiter, they do have many staff members making rounds to clean after you are done eating. They were very friendly and efficient with cleaning up in order to make room for more guests. If you have leftovers, they also have lots of containers for you to take some BBQ home!

Indoor seating was packed!
Indoor seating was packed!

After waiting in the heat and all that food, I definitely needed to cool off. Thankfully Barton Springs is just a couple miles away!

Barton Springs
Barton Springs

Overall, Terry Blacks was worth trying for the brisket and I may go back when it is cooler outside to try the beef ribs!

Address: 1003 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704

All About Migas Tacos!

Let’s taco-bout Migas Tacos!

Ever since I recently tried my first Migas taco, a breakfast taco stuffed with eggs and other veggies, I have been hooked!  

1) First stop is Veracruz All Natural.

This restaurant is connected to The LINE hotel and overlooks the Colorado River. You will typically find a line of people waiting to get their tacos.

Their menu was very colorful and it was convenient to see a visual of what ingredients would be in each taco.

Menu mural
Menu mural

After you order, you get a buzzer, which lets you know when to pick up your food.

They have extensive indoor and outdoor seating.

Indoor seating
Indoor seating
Outdoor seating
Outdoor seating
Their bathroom aesthetic was very cool
Their bathroom aesthetic was very cool!

They are known for their Migas tacos, but since I like peppers, I decided to try the Migas Poblanas Taco . For $4.50 , you can get a hefty taco filled with egg, poblano pepper, crushed tortilla chips, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, cheese, and avocado. What made this taco extra tasty was definitely the sauce they give you. The taco comes with a creamy green sauce and a spicy red sauce. The spicy sauce definitely has a kick but it elevated the taco to a whole new level!

Migas Poblanas Taco and sauces
Migas Poblanas Taco and sauces
Inside of the taco
Inside of the taco

I love that the building also has an iconic mural celebrating feminism!

Feminism mural
Feminism mural

I definitely needed to walk off the meal, so I got a nice view of the river at the bridge right across from the restaurant.

Colorado River
Colorado River

Address: 111 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78701

2) Torchy’s also has Migas Tacos!

Their Migas tacos are $3.35 and stuffed with cage free eggs, tortilla strips, green chilies, avocado, pico de gallo, cheese, and tomatillo sauce.

Migas Tacos (South Congress location)
Migas Taco (South Congress location)

Comparing the Torchy’s on South Congress to the location downtown, the egg inside was more scrambled at the South Congress location, while the downtown location made the egg more like an omelet. While the taco tastes fresh and is definitely worth the price, I wish the sauce they gave was a bit more spicy. However, their cheese and veggies did have a fresh taste to them, compared to the grilled veggies on the Migas taco at Veracruz.

Migas Taco (Downtown location)
Migas Taco (Downtown location)
Definitely seems like an omelet taco!
Definitely seems like an omelet taco!

Both Torchy’s locations had extensive seating indoors and outdoors, but there is definitely more outdoor seating at the South Congress location.

Torchy's (Downtown location)
Torchy’s (Downtown location)
Indoor bar at Torchy's (Downtown location)
Indoor bar at Torchy’s (Downtown location)
Torchy's (Downtown location) Indoor seating
Torchy’s (Downtown location) Indoor seating
Torchy's (Downtown location) outdoor seating
Torchy’s (Downtown location) outdoor seating
Torchy's (South Congress location) Indoor seating
Torchy’s (South Congress location) Indoor seating
Torchy's (South Congress location) outdoor seating
Torchy’s (South Congress location) outdoor seating

Torchy’s started in Austin as a small food trailer in 2006, but they have expanded rapidly since, opening locations nationwide. The workers were very friendly, and even delivered the food to your table!

Address (South Congress Location) : 1822 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

Address (downtown location): 110 San Antonio St Unit #120, Austin, TX 78701

While I liked the Veracruz Migas tacos best, you cannot go wrong with any of these locations to fill that taco craving!

What to Eat in Daegu 2021 (Daegu, South Korea)

For those that don’t know, Daegu is my hometown! I lived there for seven years and still go back to visit my parents whenever I can.

Since I was able to spend an extended amount of time there this summer and tried a variety of places, I put together a list of some of the places I was able to try this year!

1) New York Chicken (뉴욕통닭)

Korea is known for its chicken so wherever you go, you will find lots of restaurants that sell and deliver fried chicken. I’ve tried A LOT of chicken while in Korea, but I can confidently say that New York Chicken in Daegu had the best marinated fried chicken.

Unlike most fried chicken establishments, this chicken restaurant does not deliver! In fact, if you want to secure yourself a chicken you will need to call them as soon as they open (at 11:30 AM) and place your order. Don’t be surprised if you wait to call a few hours later and find that they are all sold out for the day. It has happened to me many times.

The restaurant is located in the bustling downtown area in Daegu, and you will have to go there to pick up your order. There is no separate parking lot for the restaurant and no area to stop your car, so you will want to either park in a mall parking lot or walk there.

Restaurant entrance
Restaurant entrance

They do have a few tables, but very limited seating so don’t count on eating there.

They have marinated fried chicken, fried chicken, and marinated braised chicken ranging from 18,000~25,000 Korean won (around $16-23 USD).

Menu and Kitchen
Menu and Kitchen

When you go to pick up your chicken, you will see them busy making and frying chicken!

Prepping the chicken
Prepping the chicken

What differentiates this chicken from others is that this deep fried chicken is particularly crispy (even after a few hours) and the taste of the sauce is the perfect mix of sweet and savory. It is not overly sweet and even has a slightly caramel taste similar to dakgangjeong (sweet crispy fried chicken without bones). The sauce is not overly wet either, so the chicken does not get soggy with sauce. It was also covered with sesame seeds, which gave it a good finish.

 Look at all this chicken!
Look at all this chicken!
Crispiness up close
Crispiness up close

Overall, it was worth the price and even worth driving all the way there to get it if you have some time!

Address: 12 Jong-ro, Dongseongno 3(sam)-ga, Jung-gu, Daegu, South Korea

2) Choi’s M (초이스엠)

This bakery is located in the Palgong Mountain area in Daegu, so it is good to stop by on the way to or back from the mountain!

Cute mascot greeting you at the entrance!
Cute mascot greeting you at the entrance!

There is a lot of indoor seating, but it still gets crowded around peak times on the weekend.

Their red bean is harvested in Korea and made in house!
Their red bean is harvested in Korea and made in house!

They are known for their quality red bean bread, and I highly recommend getting some!

The red bean bread is soft and what makes it so special is that it has chunks of red bean and walnut in it. It was not overly sweet since they highlighted the original taste of the red bean very well.

Red bean bread
Red bean bread

They have a variety of other breads as well. Their Mont Blanc was my second favorite, as it was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside with layers of sweet bread!

Mont Blanc bread
Mont Blanc bread
Inside of Mont Blanc bread
Inside of Mont Blanc bread

Their Bean Bread is a good choice for those who like beans, as it had a variety of beans on the outer part of the dough and was filled with sweet red bean on the inside. 

Bean bread outside
Bean bread outside
Bean bread inside
Bean bread inside

The Chocolate Pie was very sweet and was filled with sweet cream. It was surprisingly softer than it looks and would be good for chocolate lovers.

Chocolate Pie
Chocolate Pie

I also tried their loaf of bread to make toast and it was very soft, but not much different from loaves of bread at other bakeries.

Sandwiches!
Sandwiches!

Address: 105-1 Deokgok-dong, Dong-gu, Daegu, South Korea

3) Pizzeria Lardo (피제리아 라르도)

This Pizzeria is also located in the Palgong Mountain area!

They have a lot of seating indoors (no outdoor seating).

Entrance
Entrance
Tables indoors
Tables indoors

I was not expecting to find such amazing pizza in Daegu, but so glad that I did!

Their Italian style pizza is baked in a wood fired oven. The Tuscan pizza (19,900 Korean won ~$17 USD) had the perfect crispy crust and was packed with Beef pastrami, chunks of garlic, black olives, mushroom, Grana padano cheese, and tomato sauce. The pizza reminded me of the ones I had in Italy.

Tuscan pizza
Tuscan pizza

Their wings are also amazing! Very crispy and flavorful on the outside, juicy on the inside. This is coming from someone who used to live in Buffalo (known for their wings) so you can bet I have some high wing standards.

Wings
Wings

For the green lovers out there, they have a variety of salads, such as the Caprese salad and the House salad.

Caprese salad
Caprese salad
House salad
House salad

The tomato sauce seafood pasta was really flavorful as well with a spicy kick to it! It had lots of fresh shrimp, squid, and veggies, which I enjoyed.

Seafood pasta
Seafood pasta

Their lasagna was less than average, so I do not recommend it.

Lasagna
Lasagna

Address: 824-1 Songjeong-dong, Dong-gu, Daegu, South Korea

4) Hyun Jjamppong (현짬뽕)

This Chinese fusion restaurant is known for their Squid Jjamppong and big portions!

They have many tables inside, but they do not have a parking lot so it was difficult to find street parking. We ended up having to move our car towards the end of our meal. They offer takeout but no delivery.

Entrance
Entrance

Their Squid Jjamppong was definitely the highlight, served with a whole squid on top of the spicy soup. The broth is on the thicker, heavier side, but the squid was tender and the broth was packed with veggies and other seafood like crab.

Squid jjamppong
Squid jjamppong
Jjamppong broth
Jjamppong broth and noodles

The Tangsooyook was crispy and differed from other places in the mountain of onions they packed on top with the sauce. It was sweet the sweeter side, so the onions balanced out the sweetness well.

Tangsooyook
Tangsooyook
Slice of tangsooyook
Slice of tangsooyook

Their Seafood Seafood Jjajangmyeon (black bean noodles) was also very good with lots of seafood, veggies, and cucumbers on top, but other than the seafood it was not too different from other Jjajangmyeon I have tried.

Seafood Jjajangmyun
Seafood Jjajangmyeon

Address: 539-37 Icheon-dong, Nam-gu, Daegu, South Korea

5) Breathing Soondubu (숨쉬는 순두부)

This restaurant specializes in soft tofu, known as soondubu in Korean.

They have a lot of indoor seating, which was full when we went around lunchtime.

Seating
Seating

They make the tofu at the restaurant, and you can see their machinery at the side of the restaurant.

Machinery for tofu
Machinery for tofu

They pride themselves on making fresh tofu daily using beans harvested in Korea, and you can see a detailed diagram of how they make their tofu on the menu!

Diagram of how tofu is made!
Diagram of how tofu is made!

The seafood soft tofu soup was very flavorful and packed with a lot of tofu, but not much seafood. The meal also came with side dishes ranging from marinated soy beans, kimchi, fish cake, seaweed. Although the meal itself was nothing extraordinary, the quality of the tofu made it worth it for me!

Seafood Soondubu with side dishes
Seafood Soondubu with side dishes

Address: 350 Suseong-ro, Suseong 2(i).3(sam)ga-dong, Suseong-gu, Daegu, South Korea

6) Hitto (힛또)

Hitto is located on the 11th floor of Daebaek Plaza mall.

As most mall restaurants in Korea have, they have plastic replicas of all of their dishes so you get a preview of what your dish will look like!

Display of dishes
Display of dishes

As you can see from their motto, “The secret behind their taste is honesty towards people.”

Restaurant motto: "The secret behind their taste is honesty towards people."
Restaurant motto: “The secret behind their taste is honesty towards people.”

They have extensive indoor seating and takeout available (no delivery).

Interior
Interior

The Salmon and Flatfish sushi was very fresh and came with wasabi, as well as a little container of picked garlic and peppers.

Salmon Sushi
Salmon Sushi
Flatfish sushi
Flatfish sushi
We ordered a variety of takeout items!
We ordered a variety of takeout items!

Their Pork Katsu and Shrimp Tempera were extremely crispy and the quality of the meat inside was also fresh. It came with rice, cabbage, and pickled radish.

Rose Katsu
Katsu
Shrimp tempura
Shrimp tempura

Overall, it’s not worth traveling far for, but if you are in the vicinity, it is worth trying!

Address: 214 Daebong 1(il)-dong, Jung-gu, Daegu, South Korea

Hope you enjoyed this extremely long post and the many options available in Daegu!

Puffer Fish Restaurant (Gyeongsan, South Korea)

Puffer fish is a delicacy that I make sure to get whenever I am in Korea!

If you do try it, just make sure to go to a restaurant with a chef licensed in puffer fish cuisine because parts of the fish are lethally poisonous and must be removed by a skilled professional. Bogeo Jap Neun Saram Deul (Translation: People Who Catch Puffer Fish) in Gyeongsan, South Korea is somewhere that I frequently go to get quality puffer fish!

They have extensive seating indoors but no outdoor seating.

Indoor Seating
Indoor Seating

They offer dishes sold separately or different set meals which come with a range of dishes to try.

Set Menus
Set Menus
Other Dishes
Other Dishes

We ordered the B course set which came with all kinds of puffer fish dishes including fried fish, fish bulgogi, marinated fish skin, fried rice, and soup. The price ranged about 108,000 Korean won ~$88 USD for a 4 person meal, which was very reasonable for the amount of food we got.

The set meal comes with side dishes including pickled onions, marinated seaweed, cabbage salad, marinated spinach, sweet potatoes, and mul kimchi (water kimchi)

Side Dishes
Side Dishes

I love puffer fish because of the texture, which is both tender and chewy.

The fried puffer fish is extremely crispy and juicy on the inside. They also give you fried onions and sweet potatoes. You can dip in the soy sauce for extra flavor.

Fried puffer fish, onions, and sweet potato
Fried puffer fish, onions, and sweet potato
Vinegar and Soy sauce
Vinegar and Soy sauce
Soy sauce to dip
I chose soy sauce to dip!
Inside of the fried fish
Inside of the fried fish

The marinated puffer fish skin has a very chewy texture and it very firm. The texture is personally not my favorite, but you would like it if you like chewy textures! The sauce is spicy and tangy.

Marinated puffer fish skin
Marinated puffer fish skin
I enjoyed eating the combo of fish skin and veggies
I enjoyed eating the combo of fish skin and veggies

The puffer fish jjim is marinated and boiled in a spicy sauce and mixed with bean sprouts, and minari. The fish was soft enough to melt in the mouth!

Puffer fish jjim
Puffer fish jjim
The meat is very soft!
The meat is very soft!

The puffer fish bulgogi is pan fried in a spicy sauce and topped with bean sprouts.

Puffer fish bulgogi
Puffer fish bulgogi

It is very spicy but delicious, especially when enjoyed with rice. After you finish most of the fish, they will add rice and seaweed and surround it with egg. The combo of fish bulgogi and fried rice is my personal favorite part of the set meal!

Look at that fried rice!
Look at that fried rice!
Fried rice!
Fried rice!

If you find the other dishes too spicy, you can also enjoy the puffer fish jiri, which is a clear soup with puffer fish, bean sprouts, and minari. The broth is refreshing and is the perfect way to end the meal!

Bokeo jiri
Bokeo jiri
Lots of meat here as well
Lots of meat here as well

Whether or not it’s your first time trying bokeo, I highly recommend Bogeo Jap Neun Saram Deul in Geongsan!

Address: 77 대학로 Gyeongsan-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea