Capybaras in a Japanese onsen! My once in a lifetime experience!

I LOVE animals – especially capybaras! One of my bucket list items was to go to Japan to pet and feed baby capybaras and to watch them soak in the onsen. I got to do that on my recent trip to Japan. Watch as these ADORABLE furry creatures bathe in a yuzu onsen at Izu Shaboten Park.

Please take a minute to watch this video, and please give it a thumbs up if you enjoyed it (it doesn’t have me in it… only capybaras!) Please also subscribe to see more of my adventures in Japan!

DOTONBORI – THE BEST Street food in Osaka!!

Please join me as I explore DOTONBORI, the BEST place for street food in Osaka. Takoyaki, ramen, gyoza, grilled crab legs,… that place had it all!! Please take a moment to watch my video and see all the yummy things that Osaka has to offer!!

As always, please hit the thumbs up (on the You Tube page) if you enjoyed this video. Please also share with other foodie friends! Don’t forget to subscribe to see more of my adventures in Japan!! Thank you!! 🙂

The Best Brick Toast in CA?

So this week’s vlog topic is brick toast (or honey toast). Who makes your favorite? Shokudo? Please let me know in the comments.

In this video, I review three places that are known for their brick toast in LA, San Diego, and Pasadena. Please excuse the first review as I was sick during my first LA trip in September – the videos (and reviews do get better as the video progresses, I promise!)

Thanks for taking the time to watch and please give it a thumbs up if you enjoyed it and don’t forget to subscribe for more of my foodie adventures!! 🙂

Filipino Food Festival in Eagle Rock, CA

Join me as I explore and eat my way through the very first Filipino Angeleno Food Festival at Eagle Rock Plaza. Patitas, ube ice cream, spam fries (??) and more!
As always, thank you in advance for taking time to watch my video! If you know of any other foodie who might enjoy it, please share. 🙂 Thank you SO MUCH!

New VLOG: The Museum of Ice Cream, Los Angeles

Please join me on my recent tour of the Museum of Ice Cream, in Los Angeles!! Includes the famous Sprinkles Pool, the Banana Room, and more!
If you know anyone else who might be intererested in seeing the Museum, please share this video! Thanks for watching and please give the video (itself) a thumbs up. Don’t forget to subscribe to see more Food-ventures!! Thanks so much!!

My Food-ventures at Smorgasburg LA!

Since I’d been to the Smorgasburgs in NYC, I thought I’d try to see what kind of food was at the Smorgasburg in Los Angeles. Watch to see what kind of amazing food I found there!! Lobster fries?? AHHH! 
Thanks for watching, and please, if you enjoyed this video, give it a thumbs up and share with your other Foodie friends!! Coming up soon,… my adventures at the Museum of Ice Cream in LA and at the Filipino Food Festival in Eagle Rock!! Stay tuned! 🙂

Best Chinese Moon Cake in Honolulu – Just in time for Mid-Autumn Festival (Oct 4th)

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The Chinese celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival (or Moon Cake Festival) on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month – which falls this year on October 4th! Traditionally, moon cakes were given as sacrifices to the moon during the Mid-Autumn Festival, however, more recently, moon cakes are made and sold in celebration during this time of year. People give moon cakes to relatives, friends, and business associates as a way to wish them prosperity and long life.

I went around Chinatown this week to find the best places to get moon cakes to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival this Wednesday and I learned a lot, not only about the history of the moon cake, but also about the people who make them.

 

Elvin’s Bakery – (TAPG Rating: A+)
http://elvinsbakery.com/

If there is a prettier moon cake out there, I haven’t seen it. Elvin’s moon cakes are not only the best looking, but they’re the best tasting as well. Hidden in a small strip mall in Kapalama, Elvin’s Bakery makes their own moon cakes fresh, but only sells them around the mid-Autumn Festival. They have flavors such as: red bean, lotus paste, taro, mung bean paste, 5 nut & ham, squash, and all those varieties with egg yolk.

 

I tried both the red bean and the lotus paste cakes and they were DELICIOUS! The filling was smooth and dense and was really tasty without being too sweet. The texture was what was wonderful. They used smooth bean paste and the filling just seemed to melt over my tongue as I ate it. The lotus paste was probably the best – it had a very subtle flavor, wasn’t too sweet and had a richness to it. The outside crust was light and had a great taste and as stated above, was probably the prettiest moon cake I’ve seen. Elvin’s moon cakes are HUGE and come wrapped in a pretty plastic – and each one ranges in price from about $5.50 to $6.50 for one. They also sell mini moon cakes as well.

 

One of the things I liked the most was speaking with the owners there – they told me some of the history of the moon cake and told me that the older generation only likes the 5 nut and ham – to them, that is the true moon cake. They very generously offered me a sample of their 5 nut moon cake and it was delicious! It had a rich, nutty taste to it and a little bit of savoriness from the ham, but it was, by far, the best tasting 5 nut moon cake that I ever tasted. The owner went on to mention that those of our generation tend to prefer the lotus paste or the red bean, but the traditional moon cake is the 5 nut. Elvin’s may be a little out of the way in Kapalama, but they are definitely worth the trip if you are looking for quality moon cake!!

 

Lotus Market – (TAPG Rating: A)
https://www.facebook.com/downtown.hawaii/

Lotus Market is a rather new little market around the corner from Water Drop Vegetarian House on Alakea St, across the street from my office. I spoke with one of the owners who makes her moon cakes fresh in a variety of flavors: red bean, black sesame, green tea, and lotus seed. They also have what they call ICE Moon Cakes which are served cold and the outside is made of mochi. They let me have a sample of some and it was delicious!!

 

The filling was sweet and tasty – the red bean was made with the textured bean mix (or what the Japanese call Tsubuan – which just means that the beans are left whole in the mixture and not pureed until they are smooth like other red bean pastes.) The outside crust was pleasantly chewy and sweet. The moon cake itself was cute in size and came in a set of 4 for about $9.99. The good thing about the smaller size and 4 pack is that you can try a variety of flavors all at once!

Probably the nicest thing about Lotus Market was the people who work there. They were friendly, very helpful, and they definitely take pride in their work. I got such wonderful service there that I think I’ll go back to buy a set of 4 Ice Moon Cakes before the 4th!

 

U Choice – (TAPG Rating: B)
https://www.yelp.com/biz/u-choice-in-honolulu

 

U Choice is one of the few places that make moon cake year round (most only make it seasonally available during the mid-Autumn Festival season.) Their moon cake is smaller in size and they only make one flavor… red bean. Their filling is of the coarse bean style (as opposed to the smooth) and their crust outside is on the soft side, not really flaky and not chewy, but tasty nonetheless. Their moon cakes run about $1.25 each and are a good way to get your moon cake fix during the off season!

 

Sing Cheong Yuan – (TAPG Rating: A-)
https://www.yelp.com/biz/sing-cheong-yuan-bakery-honolulu-2

Sing Cheong Yuan probably has the widest selection of moon cake. Their entire bottom display case (and a few spaces on their side displays) are dedicated to moon cakes during this season! They have flavors such as: black sugar, 5 nut and ham, lotus seed, melon, plus all those flavors with egg yolk. Two moon cakes from Sing Cheong Yuan would run you about $12.

 

I tried the black sugar and the 5 nut & ham cakes. The moon cakes were HUGE and VERY heavy! The bean paste in the black sugar cake was smooth and almost silky in texture and was a great deal sweeter than a lot of the others that I tried. The 5 nut was very rich in flavor and had a deep nutty flavor – I could see and taste walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pepitas. The filling also had a little savoriness to it from the ham. Sing Cheong Yuan is a very good place to get a wide variety of very traditional moon cakes.

 

Ba-Le – (TAPG Rating: B)
https://www.yelp.com/biz/ba-le-sandwich-shop-honolulu-9

 

Ba-Le makes their moon cakes year round and their cakes are probably the most different from any others I have tried. They are smaller in size and golden on the outside and filled with fruits and coconut. Each one runs about $2.50.

The thing that makes these moon cakes different is the crust – it’s very flaky, unlike the others. The inside is sweet from all the fruits, but also has a bit of savoriness to it, which is nice. If you are looking for something a little different, Ba-Le is a pretty good option.

 

Bread House Bakery – (TAPG Rating: B+)
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bread-House/674171529263043

Bread House Bakery is just steps away from Sing Cheong Yuan and has a variety of pastries in large plastic cases. I was pleasantly surprised that they made moon cakes as well. Their moon cakes are large in size and come in pretty gold containers. They have red bean moon cakes and also mango (Oooooh!) Each one will run you about $4.50.

 

The thing about Bread House Bakery is that the outside crust is much thicker than most moon cakes I’ve tried, but it had the best taste! The crust is probably the best part of this moon cake – it’s a little sweet and VERY tasty and could be a pastry on its own! I tried the red bean (the nice lady there only told me about the mango after I had purchased my red bean – maybe next time!) and the filling is of the textured, coarse bean style and on its own didn’t seem to be sweetened or altered at all. The moon cake as a whole was HUGE, but not as dense as Sing Cheong Yuan. Still a very good cake with a VERY good crust!

 

So there you have my moon cake tasting results – just in time for the mid-Autumn Festival this Wednesday (Oct 4th!) So, what I’d love to know is… have you ever tried moon cake before? If so, do you have a favorite? Please let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear about it!!

 

Note: All photos taken by Sheri (aka Tiny Asian Pastry Girl)

 

 

 

Back To School Fun Fair for Linapuni Elementary School

This video is of the wonderful service project that I was fortunate enough to be involved with. We hosted a Back-to-School Fun Fair for the students of Linapuni Elementary School. The children there ranged in age from 3 – 6 or 7 and it was such a rewarding experience to see the smiles on their faces and to see them have fun!

Special thanks to:
Victor Tom
Danny Cheng
First Hawaiian Bank

For allowing us to be a part of this very special event! #FirstHawaiianBankCommunityCare #FHBCommunityCare

As always, thank you for watching and please take a moment to give the video a thumbs up and subscribe. 🙂

Day 1 in Los Angeles…

This video was of my first day in LA over the Labor Day weekend. I try the famous slut at Eggslut, Johnnie’s Pastrami, battle LA/San Diego traffic to see Sunset Boulevard at Moonlight Amphitheatre, AND witness the Burbank fires across the street from my hotel! Whew! What a first day! My apologies, as I was feeling extremely under the weather the entire trip!