Archive for the 'food' Category

#Thanksgiving Dinner Poll: Would you still eat this? 



Menu Mining: Shanghai Pan-Fried Dumplings at Kang Kang Food Court

Originally posted at Blogging.LA

Names can be deceiving and although Kang Kang Food Court has the words “food court” in its name, it’s not like the food court you’ll see at your local mall. But in concept, Kang Kang is like a food court in that it has a huge selection of food– it’s a small restaurant in a shopping center in the SGV with a giant “fast food” menu featuring hundreds of cheap and delicious items from all over Taiwan and various regions of China.

If you come here, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the choices, but I’ll make it simple for you– it’s the Shanghai pan-fried dumplings/buns that this place is really known for. The Shanghai Sheng Jian Bao (上海生煎包) is Kang Kang’s signature dish; you can see patrons chowing down on them at every other table. And as the banner over the doorway proudly proclaims, it was one of the L.A. Times’ Top 10 Recipes of 2009.

These gems are filled with pork, wrapped in a thin dough, pan-fried to perfection and topped with black sesame seeds and green onion. When cooked, the pork filling creates a hot “soup” that fills the inside of the bun. But be warned! Your first instinct may be to take a giant bite into a piping hot dumpling. If you do this, your bun will explode into a hot mess and the inside of your mouth will be instantly scalded! Trust me, I’ve seen it happen. I’ve also been the victim of squirting bun soup juice, so be kind to your fellow eaters and learn the method to eating them so that you don’t lose the soup (the best part!).

The first thing to do is to be careful not to poke a hole in the dumpling while you’re picking it up with your chopsticks. Once you’ve picked up the dumpling, rest it on the spoon (which you’re holding with your other hand) so you can take a small bite on the top of the bun (just enough to make a hole in the dough). Then slowly (carefully) suck the soup out of the dumpling– or if you like to play with your food like I do, up-end the dumpling soup into our soup spoon. The buns are served with a black rice vinegar so after the soup is gone, you can then dip the bun into vinegar and carefully enjoy the rest of the hot dumpling.

It’s kind of ironic that the Shanghai Sheng Jian Bao are not made before 11am at Kang Kang because they are actually a common breakfast food in Shanghai. They’re also often sold as dian xin (點心) (or snacks) and are rarely found as a dish in a main meal in China. But at Kang Kang, they can be the centerpiece of a meal.

My suggestion is to come in, order a combo from the food line (you’ll see when you get there), order the Shanghai pan-fried dumplings at the cashier when you pay for your food and enjoy the combo items while they pan-fry your dumpling goodness. If you can find a table, eat there instead of ordering them to go– the dumplings are better fresh (though they do travel well), and you get tea with your meal if you eat in. A 3-item combo (which comes with rice and soup) + an order of 8 pan-fried dumplings will run you $11. And you’ll probably have leftovers!

And although Kang Kang also does a decent Xiao Long Bao/XLB (小籠包), if you’re here for the pan-fried dumplings, don’t make the mistake of ordering the steamed dumplings which are also sometimes called “Shanghai Dumplings” at other restaurants. (Well, if you’re hungry, you can order both!)

If you have room after all this, check out their shaved ice bar / drink menu. Perfect for hot days in L.A.

Kang Kang Food Court (Pacific Square)
27 E. Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91801

This is a post in Blogging.LA‘s Menu Mining Series.

Buttermilk pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon at Dunhill Cafe

Thanks Lily!

Pecked out on my iPhone. Sorry for any typos.

Uploaded by !!! :: jozjozjoz :: !!! on 27 Apr 09, 9.53AM PDT.

Brunch at RoseWater Cafe

Pecked out on my iPhone. Sorry for any typos.

Uploaded by !!! :: jozjozjoz :: !!! on 25 Apr 09, 9.54AM PDT.

Dinner at Cafe Espanol with some of the 8Asians

Brian, Katherine, Lily and me!

Pecked out on my iPhone. Sorry for any typos.

Uploaded by !!! :: jozjozjoz :: !!! on 24 Apr 09, 5.15PM PDT.

Look what you’re missing!

Carrotcake cheesecake at Junior’s


Pecked out on my iPhone. Sorry for any typos.

Uploaded by !!! :: jozjozjoz :: !!! on 24 Apr 09, 11.05AM PDT.

Roast beef on a roll + house salad at Junior’s

Pecked out on my iPhone. Sorry for any typos.

Uploaded by !!! :: jozjozjoz :: !!! on 24 Apr 09, 11.00AM PDT.

Yelp Review: Little San Salvador Restaurant

Little San Salvador RestaurantI ended up here by accident, but oh what a happy accident!

About a week ago, our washing machine decided to die on us. First we thought we could fix it. Then we realized we couldn’t fix it and decided we were going to find a repairman. In the meantime, we were wearing our clothes for as long as we could possibly bear it and generally hoping we weren’t going to run out of socks and underwear before the repairman could come. Well, I got a referral for a repairman, but he’s not available until Saturday. And I don’t think I can do a Saturday appointment.

So we caved and loaded up all the laundry into the back of the car and went searching for a laundromat. We skipped Lucy’s (even though they were the closest) because we didn’t want to plunk down $3 for a card. Plus, we already had a ton of quarters in tow with us. We needed a coin laundry!

We wandered aimlessly, passing 3 (sketchy looking) laundromats until we found the one a couple of doors down from Little San Salvador. It seemed ok, so as Yoshi got the laundry started, I ended up at LSS to order some take-out.

I was surprised at how bright and clean it was in there! The waitresses don’t speak English, but the menu does have some English translations. In my case, pointing to what I wanted got my order started and speedy!

I ordered 2 pupusas (bean + cheese, pork), beef tacos, and the pork chops. Yum on all 3 counts and all the food was less than $20! It was enough to feed 3 people… and still have leftovers!

I am SO going back there… and NOT when we’re on a laundry run!

Little San Salvador

901 N Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90029

Yoshi made dinner!

Yoshi made dinner!, originally uploaded by !!! :: jozjozjoz :: !!!.

Miso ramen with kamaboko and hard-boiled egg; steamed broccoli.

Yum! Thanks, Hunny!!!

Pecked out on my iPhone. Sorry for any typos.

Uploaded by !!! :: jozjozjoz :: !!! on 31 Mar 09, 6.08PM PDT.

Gems from my Twitter feed and the IMs which follow

So I promised to write more, so it’s 3am and I’m taking a break from work (yes, work) to write a little something based on some Tweets I posted about dinner last night.

  • Fogo for dinner. Meat overload. Will I get the meat sweats?
  • (2 hours later) No meat sweats to report. But I do SMELL like meat.
  • And then:

  • There was a woman who looked like Thomas Jefferson at Fogo last night. I got yelled at for taking pix. But everyone agreed: she did look like TJ.
  • @MykalBurns: LOL. How could you NOT take pictures. I wouldn’t have yelled; I would’ve encouraged.
    me: I did take a couple, but they were way blurry.
    you had to see her
    it was the combo of what she was wearing and how she had her hair
    I was SO distracted by her all throughout dinner
    Finally someone asked me who/what I was staring at
    and i said, “the lady over there who looks like Thomas Jefferson”
    And they were like “wtf, you are crazy”
    but then they looked and EVERYONE agreed
    She DID look like she came straight out of the American Revolution
    @MykalBurns: How do you know it wasn’t actually Thomas Jefferson? It could happen.
    me: Good point. She was better looking than the cat lady with too much plastic surgery who was sitting on the other side
    @MykalBurns: The ladies with too much plastic surgery creep me out.
    me: Yeah
    she was REALLY bad with huge hair and everything
    It was very bizarre
    Her skin on her arms made her look like she was 50-60
    but her face was cat like all taut and pulled like leather, no wrinkles
    i didn’t take pix of her, though
    she’d have broken my camera
    @MykalBurns: Why do women (and some men) do that to themselves? How can they possibly look in the mirror and think, “Oh, yeah. I look good.”
    me: then the guy at my table who was sitting facing TJ could not stop laughing after i’d pointed her out
    he kept looking at her and laughing
    shaking his head and saying “thomas jefferson”
    @MykalBurns: Do you s’pose if she heard she would know she’s the one who looked like TJ?
    me: I don’t know
    we were sitting about 3 tables away from TJ lady but the cat lady was only 1 table away
    so it was more likely she heard us being catty (hah!) about her
    @MykalBurns: LOL.
    me: i’m horrible when i’m sleep deprived
    and meat laden

    I should make a rule that I am not allowed to IM or blog when I’m this tired and this filled with meat.

    Brussels Sprouts on stalk

    Seen at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market



    “Trick-or-Treat Goodies (our way)” – A slight revision for year five

    One year ago today, I was still in school, working at a different job, and worrying about the health of my then-ailing Grandma.

    Today, I am graduated and staring down student loans, working a new-ish job, and still mourning the loss of my last grandparent 3 months ago. I was able to work from home today so I haven’t left the house, haven’t seen anyone in costumes, nor have I handed out any candy.

    But all that is fine by me. Yoshi and I enjoyed a quiet night in and I have my own Halloween tradition here on my blog and that is to recycle this Halloween story… but this year, with some revisions.

    Earlier this year, I took part in a special Mother’s Day performance at the Pacific Asia Museum called “Chinese American Stories: My Mother” and read this story on-stage. Since it was for Mother’s Day, I re-wrote some of the story to focus a little bit more about my mother and less on Halloween.

    So though it’s the same story as always, it’s a “new and improved version,” dedicated to my Mom.

    To anyone who has read it in previous years, I hope you’ll read it again with fresh eyes. To any first timers, I hope you enjoy.

    Happy Halloween.

    Joz at the pumpkin patch in 1984.  I like how my eyes are closed in this shot.  (How did 20 years go by so quickly?!)When my brother and I were kids, we learned about most American traditions for the first time either on television or in school. Since our parents had come from Taiwan to the United States only a couple of years before I was born, they pretty much learned about American holidays at the same time my brother and I did… and that was usually when I came home from school talking about something I’d learned in class.

    Of all the various American holidays we’d learned about, Halloween was especially exciting because my Mom had fun with “dressing us up.” Although she claimed that she didn’t know how to sew, she always came up with costumes for us… like the year my brother was a cowboy with a little red cowboy hat and matching vest, and I was an Indian squaw complete with feathers in my hair. Having costumes meant that we were sufficiently prepared to go trick-or-treating and to come home with a bag full of candy that we weren’t actually allowed to eat, since it would “rot our teeth out of our mouths.”

    My mother has a background in medicine, having gone to medical school in Japan and then becoming a pharmacist in Taiwan. Although she liked getting us in costumes and taking us trick-or-treating, she never allowed us to eat the candy we brought home because it was full of sugar and artificial flavors and colors. Since we weren’t allowed to eat the candy, the strategy was to take us out early & to give away the candy that we had received earlier in the evening. We didn’t mind having our candy passed back out again; Mom had scared us about the dangers of sugary treats and really, the candy wasn’t important to us… we just loved the costumes and going door-to-door.

    One year, my Mom informed us that our cousins were planning to come to our neighborhood so we could all go trick-or-treating together. We would be going at later time than our usual “early shift.” Since our cousins actually kept their candy, Mom decided that rather than re-distributing the candy my brother and I got via our front door, instead, our lucky cousins would go home with a double-bounty of candy, theirs AND ours! That also meant that Mom would actually have to prepare treats in advance for Dad to pass out while we were trick-or-treating.

    And since I was starting to have neighbor kids in the same classes with me, I started becoming concerned about exactly what candy was being given away at our front door. I still remember the day Mom returned from the supermarket, proudly announcing that she had purchased “the BEST trick-or-treat goodies” for the neighborhood kids. My brother and I excitedly went through the grocery bags but we didn’t find any Smarties, M&Ms, little Snickers bars, or even candy corn.
    “Mom?” I asked, combing through the groceries. “Where are the treats?”
    Continue reading ‘“Trick-or-Treat Goodies (our way)” – A slight revision for year five’

    The Rice Fairy came and I didn’t even notice

    This morning Yoshi woke up and went out the back door to put something on the back porch.

    “Why is there rice outside?”


    I went outside to look and sure enough, there was a 20 lb. bag of rice sitting on our back porch!

    A gift from the Rice Fairy!

    How did that get there!?

    Then I remembered that this past Sunday, my Mom had stopped by to leave me a bunch of stuff while I was working and left some things back there for me… but because the bag of rice was not in the same area where the other stuff was, I somehow missed it.

    Anyway, thanks Rice Fairy… er, I mean MOM!

    (And thanks to Yoshi for finding it!)

    More Mom time

    My Mom had an appointment nearby this afternoon and I invited her over when she finished up. I was working from home, and I was still working when she got here, so I told her she needed to leave me alone (not talk to me while I was on the computer) until I was done with what I was working on.

    She went outside to water the lawn and the neighbor’s garden instead. When she came back inside, I was just about wrapping up work for the day and she had something round and dirty in her hand.

    “I found a quarter!” she exclaimed. “Your neighbor came home and thanked me for watering the garden because she hadn’t done it in so long… and then I found a quarter!”*

    Then she looked at the muddy thing in her hand and she handed it over to Yoshi asking, “Is this a quarter?”


    (Yes, it was a quarter… Mom is up 25 cents!)

    Mom and I hit the road to run a couple of errands… one in K-Town and then I convinced to come with me to check out the (somewhat) new Fresh & Easy neighborhood market in Hollywood with me. I had a $5 off a $20 purchase coupon that was expiring, so I thought I should go and check it out. The store is located just down the street from Hollywood & Highland and at 7pm, there was still a ton of traffic on the roads and it was a pain to get there.

    The store itself was certainly clean: items were fresh and it was easy. But everything seemed pricey; I couldn’t bring myself to spend more than $1 on a small bunch of green onions when I am used to paying a dime or a quarter for a bunch at the Asian supermarket. My Mom said she didn’t need anything, so I said, “Let’s spend $20 on junk food!” which she agreed with surprisingly quickly.

    We ended up buying boysenberry granola (mine… shut up, Efren! I haven’t had granola in ages!), blue tortilla chips (mom’s), peach flavored gummy candy (mine), white tortilla chips (mom’s), chocolate covered espresso beans (mine), a loaf of bread (mom’s), and a can of chili (mine, for yoshi). As I scanned the items (self-check out — which scared my Mom because she’d never done self check-out before), I realized the total was shy of $20… we needed to spend two more dollars to use the $5 coupon! I sent my Mom off to spend $2 more… she came back with ANOTHER bag of white tortilla chips for me.

    Bingo! Total before coupon: $20.56! Final total: $15.56!

    As we were leaving the store, I went to go validate the parking ticket. Except I accidentally stuck the ticket in twice (punched twice) so the validation wasn’t going to scan properly. The Fresh & Easy guy I talked to (boy, that makes him sound really slutty) said, “Oh don’t worry about that. Just show the parking attendant on your way out.” So we headed to the elevator to go down to the parking level our car was parked. My Mom was pushing the cart of junk food and as the elevator doors opened, she started pushing the cart into the elevator ahead of me but stopped abruptly when the girl inside started screaming. My Mom shrieked and jumped backwards into me.

    “What happened?” I asked.

    My Mom looked back into the elevator where a really loud-talking oblivious girl was yelling into her cell phone. “The girl startled me. I thought she was yelling AT ME.”

    We got into the elevator when we realized the girl was just having an incredibly loud and obnoxious conversation on her cell phone. (I wonder if it occurred to her that the reason the person on the other line couldn’t hear her was because SHE WAS IN AN ELEVATOR AND GOING DOWN 3 STORIES TO UNDERGROUND PARKING?!) The girl continued her conversation (loudly and obliviously) until she walked out of the elevator on the same level we were parked.

    “My heart is still beating so fast. That girl scared me!” Mom repeated.

    I started insulting the girl in Chinese under my breath until my Mom gave me a look to stop it.

    At the parking lot entrance, my f-ed up parking ticket wasn’t scanning properly (as predicted). The parking attendant was not amused and threatened to make me pay $6 for parking (we are supposed to get 1 hour of parking validated). No! That would negate my $5 coupon! So I asked him nicely if he could let me out since you could see the validation stamp. He debated for a second and saw the line of cars getting longer behind mine and said, “OK,” as he filled out a sheet of paper and used his super-secret letting people out card to lift the gate. Whoo hoo!

    Anyway, we went back to my place after that and Yoshi was home visiting with our friend T. Mom had to hit the road, so after walking her out, I had a quick dinner and hung out with Yoshi and T for the rest of the evening.

    A couple of days ago, Bossdude had said that he couldn’t write about his life in such detail (in reference to my Memorial Day post). I’m pretty sure the implication was, “OMG, Joz, how can you write about your inane life in such mind-numbingly boring detail?!”

    Maybe because my life is so damn boring now that this is as exciting as it gets?

    *Mandarin is in italics

    Two quick stories.

    It’s 5am and I am supposed to be done with my paper that is due at 6pm tonight. Let’s just say that I’m not done yet, but if I really focus, I should be able to complete it before I have to leave for work 7:45 today.

    So clearly I shouldn’t be blogging.

    But then again, I should have gotten more than an hour and a half of sleep last night, too. Since when do I pay attention to what I should or shouldn’t do, anyway?! (To be fair, I woke up on my own and couldn’t go back to sleep even though I allowed myself a longer nap than that.)

    Oh well. I promised two quick stories.

    STORY #1 (This story is for my personality twin Meeta, who probably has 10 similiar stories she could share)

    This happened on Tuesday afternoon, around lunchtime.

    Despite having packed leftover Thai food for lunch for Tuesday, I was my usual dorky self and left my lunch at home by the front door instead of taking it with me. (I blame it on being late to my doctor’s appointment, which was also my fault.)

    Anyway, by lunchtime, I wasn’t that hungry but I was regretting not having anything to put in my mouth. I hadn’t planned on taking lunch, so I just wanted to go get something quick and come right back. I figured my best chance of not getting into any trouble was to jump in the car, find the nearest drive-thru, grab some grub, and get back to my work ASAP.

    The nearest drive-thru I could find was a Jack in the Crack and so I turned into the (tiny) driveway and was met by a line of cars that wrapped around into the (tiny) parking lot. As I looked in my mirror to see if I could back up and make an escape, a car pulled in behind me and I was trapped. The parking lot was so small, there was really room for one lane of cars, so all the people parking in the lot were now trapped, too.

    “Oh well, hopefully the line moves quickly,” I thought to myself.

    At that moment, this tall, slender man wearing sunglasses and a business casual outfit walked out of the restaurant. He was heading toward the parking lot (which I was now effectively blocking completely) and then he walked toward my car and motioned for me to roll down my window. I assumed he was going to tell me which car was his so I could move out of the way a little.

    Instead, he asked for my number.


    I’ll admit, the guy was kind of cute, but I did not expect him to ask for my number.

    “Sorry,” I sputtered. “I’m married.” (So it’s not technically true, but it might as well be and really, isn’t that the most compassionate lie I could have told him?)

    “Oh,” he replied. He was going to say something else, but I cut him off. “Thanks for asking though, that’s quite flattering, but sorry…”

    “It’s ok,” he smiled at me. “You’re blocking me in, by the way.”

    I looked over at the direction of his car and I played innocent, “Oh? Sorry about that! I’ll get out of the way as soon as the cars ahead of me move.” And then the gods finally shined some luck down on me and the cars started moving. I started rolling up my window and he said, “Bye. See you around.”

    “No, I won’t!” I thought, as I pretended to focus on driving my car forward 5 feet. I saw him pull out of his spot and try to squeeze his car past mine. As he passed me, he waved at me again and I just kind of nodded at him and looked away.

    At least he wasn’t a creep and he was generally nice about it all, but when I told Yoshi about it and how I ABSOLUTELY WAS MINDING MY OWN BUSINESS and not trying to attract any kind of attention to myself, Yoshi just kind of laughed at me… because strangers are constantly coming up and talking to me (usually not hitting on me), and I am always swearing that I didn’t do anything to egg it on.

    The joke is that I’m somehow “receptive” to strangers, but many people have witnessed this happening and I REALLY AM NOT BEHAVING AS IF I ENJOY TALKING TO STRANGERS.

    The consensus is that I’m just a “freak magnet.” And I since I can’t explain it, I can’t really dispute it.

    Lesson learned: No more fast food. (Do you remember the time I went through the drive-thru at Taco Bell?!)

    STORY #2:
    I could tell a much more colorful story about my dinner with EB and how we walked down to the local pizza joint last night and ordered a giant 18″ pizza and how we are plotting our next weekend trip + my graduation party, etc.

    But instead I’m going to gyp you on the second story and give you a condensed version so I can get back to my paper.

    The upshot: I walked out of my house without my keys and we found ourselves locked out. (Ok, technically, *I* locked us both out, but it sounded better the other way.)

    By the time we got back to my house after dinner, EB had most of a giant 18″ pizza in one arm, a bag of candy and other stuff from Rite-Aid in the other arm, and I was sitting on the steps by the front door, desperately emptying out my purse in search of my keys.

    Lucky for us, Yoshi happened to come home moments after I began purging the contents of my purse on to the doorstep. EB hollered out to Yoshi to come help us and open the door and Yoshi took one look at us and said, “Y’all are out of luck. I’m going in through the backdoor.”

    Yoshi did not realize I really didn’t have my keys since it would have been a good assumption that we would have had to drive to go out to dinner. (We DO live in LA, after all…)

    “How is it possible that you lost your keys between the car and the front door?” asked Yoshi.

    “We didn’t drive!!! We walked!!!” I whined.

    Then EB started in on me because before we left the house I had convinced him that the pizza joint was only two blocks away, when it was really 2 blocks one way + almost 3 really, really long blocks the other way. “See? If we had driven instead of walking that whole long way, we would not have this problem,” he pointed out.

    Great. As if having Yoshi to tease me wasn’t enough. Now I’ve got EB and his giant pizza giving me grief, too. And he threatened to punish me by eating the candy he’d bought for me at Rite-Aid. (I pointed out to him that he’s allergic to some of it.)

    Finally Yoshi relented and walked toward us to open the front door (and so I could put everything back inside my purse again).

    And yes, my keys were sitting right by the front door.

    Where I had left my Thai food the day before.

    Perfect, no?

    Crazy weekend

    It’s been a crazy weekend. I definitely did not have any time to rest up as I needed, but I knew that going in…

    On Friday afternoon, I had to be on the Westside to begin a 1-1/2 day “simulation weekend” for school. Basically, there were 5 teams of 6 people who were competing in this computerized simulation where each team was managing a corporation that sold a similar product (in our case it was disposable cameras).

    When my team was formed a few months ago, I became the CEO of our imaginary company. Before this simulation, our team had to write a 15 page paper outlining the strategy of our company and our plans in running it. We came up with a strategy which we all agreed to stick with, no matter what.

    Luckily, my team was filled with amazing people. I ended up having a wonderful time and despite a few bumps and hiccups along the way, we all got along for the most part and weren’t adversarial or argumentative. Evidently, this was unusual as the other teams reported fighting, etc.

    Throughout the two days, but especially on Saturday, our team was visited by 5 different professors (who were acting as members of our Board of Directors) who would come in and question what we were doing.

    Also, between Friday night and Saturday morning, we were given an assignment to come up with two marketing campaigns in a mini-competition to gain a competitive advantage that would be factored into the game. Therefore, I stayed up for most of the night Friday night (I slept for about two hours) working on a campaign which ended up tying for second place. (Yay! Better than nothing!)

    Anyway, by the end of the long day on Saturday, our corporation ended up winning the simulation by a long shot. Out company was in first place by almost every measure. It was a really good feeling to do so well and I have to give credit to my teammates for pulling through in their decisions.

    Other than the temporary pride of winning the simulation, we don’t even get graded on the class (it’s pass/no pass), but it was still cool to win.

    After getting home on Saturday night, I sat down on the couch and fell asleep (fully clothed and with my contacts in again) and didn’t wake up until 7am when I decided it was too cold to be sleeping on the couch and finally went to bed until 10am.

    When I woke up on Sunday, I had a zillion things to do because I had to get my stuff together in order to be out of the house for a couple of days. I recently got my second promotion in 3 months and my new-new boss was coming into Newport Beach from Florida for a week long strategic leadership meeting with my old-new boss (her new boss). My old-new boss said that I should come down and meet my new-new boss for dinner on Sunday and spend the night at the hotel so I could meet with her early in the morning without having to brave traffic. Since tomorrow is a holiday, Yoshi was able to join me and we took a leisurely drive down to OC, stopping briefly at my parents house, and then on down to the hotel.

    We had a late lunch at Fashion Island and then we went back up to the room when I was able to take a quick nap before heading down to have a nice dinner with my new-new boss. We ended up having a lovely dinner at Roy’s, a wonderful “Hawaiian Fusion” restaurant. I had the baby wedge salad to start, then the Classic Trio: Hibachi Grilled Salmon (Citrus Ponzu Sauce), Blackened Island Ahi (Spicy Soy Mustard Buttter, Sizzling Soy Vinaigrette), & Hawaiian Style Misoyaki Butterfish. As if that wasn’t enough, we shared a warm Macadamia & Almond Caramel Tart Baked in a Shortbread Crust served à la Mode.. Yum-my!

    Anyway, after that I had to get a bunch of work done and now that it’s 2am, I’m finally getting a moment to blog about my busy weekend. I knew this was coming, so I am very glad I took Friday morning to visit Grandma in the hospital, especially because it turned out she had moved to a private room to get more care. I guess her condition worsened a bit, so here’s hoping that the weekend has been good to her since I won’t be able to get out there until Tuesday night after class.

    I can’t wait for this semester to end (second week of December). For some reason my workload this term has seemed torturous, but with the Simulation weekend over, that’s a big load off my back. The next couple of weeks are going to be tough and I’m hoping I can squeeze in the time to see Grandma despite it all.

    “Trick-or-Treat Goodies (our way)” – Fourth time around

    It’s almost 6pm, I’m late for class, I’m going to be stuck in traffic, and I haven’t seen a single Halloween costume all day (been stuck at my desk).

    Aside from my Grandma being in the hospital, I’m just not in a Halloween-y mode.

    But it’s becoming a Halloween tradition on my blog to recycle this Halloween story. To anyone who has already read it, I hope you’ll read it again. To any first timers, I hope you enjoy.

    Happy Halloween.

    Joz at the pumpkin patch in 1984.  I like how my eyes are closed in this shot.  (How did 20 years go by so quickly?!)When we were kids, we learned about a lot of American traditions for the first time on television or in school. Since our parents came to the United States only a couple of years before I was born, they learned about American holidays pretty much at the same time my brother and I did.

    Halloween was something fun and exciting because my Mom understood the concept of “dress up” and although she claimed that she didn’t know how to sew, she always came up with costumes for us for Halloween so we could go trick-or-treating and come home with a bag full of candy that we were later not allowed to eat, since it would “rot our teeth out of our mouths.”

    Since we weren’t allowed to eat the candy we got from trick-or-treating, often the strategy was to send us out early & to give away the candy that we had received earlier in the evening. We didn’t mind; that was just the way we did things.

    As we got old enough to go to school (and have neighbor kids in the same classes with us), we began to become concerned about what candy was being given away at our front door. One year, my Mom informed us that our cousins were planning to come to our neighborhood so we could all go trick-or-treating together. Although this was exciting, it also meant that Mom would actually have to prepare treats in advance for my Dad to pass out while we were out.

    I still remember how horrifying it was when Mom returned from the supermarket, proudly announcing that she had purchased “the BEST trick-or-treat goodies” for the neighborhood kids.

    My Bro and I excited went through the grocery bags but we didn’t find any Smarties, M&Ms, candy corn, or little Snickers bars.

    “What? Where? Mom?”
    Continue reading ‘“Trick-or-Treat Goodies (our way)” – Fourth time around’

    Why we should not do potlucks at my company.

    One of our co-workers is deserting us starting a new job soon. I was going to plan a farewell lunch (paid for by the company between 3 different business units), but since I was out of the office last week, I didn’t have a chance to do it before someone else sent a mass email out suggesting a potluck. While I am grateful that this lovely person took charge to coordinate this, this person has not been at the company very long and does not know that WE ARE NOT A POTLUCKING GROUP.

    Not that we are opposed to potlucks; it’s just that people don’t know what to bring… or worse yet, don’t bring anything and then show up. Like most people, I imagine, our group is good at showing up when free food is placed in front of them. Not so good at providing food first, then eating.

    Anyway, on Wednesday, I asked the coordinator what I could bring to the potluck; what everyone else was bringing, etc. She said that a number of people were set to bring all kinds of things, so maybe I could bring a side dish. I asked for a suggestion. She first said “fruit salad” but then changed it to “chips,” knowing that I’m pretty busy. (What?! You don’t think I can make a fruit salad? Ok, I can, but I didn’t really want to.)

    So ok, chips it was.

    I planned to swing by the store on the way to work and was thrilled to find Doritos of all flavors on sale. I bought 3 massive bags in 3 different flavors.

    At noontime (the announced start of the potluck), I brought my assigned bags of chips to the large conference room. There was a guy downstairs who said he was waiting for food. VULTURE! WHERE IS YOUR FOOD!? (I found out later that he meant for a delivery guy coming for food. Oops.)

    Other than that, the conference room was empty. I left my lonely bags of chips at the serving area and then decided to pitch in by setting up plates, napkins, utensils and drinks, even though that was clearly not something I was responsible for.

    After about 5 minutes, one guy showed up with a giant bowl of guacamole. Another guy, a consultant, showed up with a smallish container of pasta salad. Another guy showed up with pita, hummus, and babaganoush (however you spell that). I had heard that one of the 3 business units was pitching in empanadas, another one was going to provide cake. At 12:15, the person organizing the potluck showed up with about 5 dozen empanadas (she was assigned to go pick them up from Empanada’s Place waaaay out on the Westside).

    As you can see, by the time people started converging in the conference room, the potluck consisted of carbs (chips & pita), carbs (pasta salad), carbs (cake), and fried carbs (empanadas).

    And aside from the THREE people who brought non-company provided food (chips, guac, pita), NO ONE ELSE BROUGHT ANYTHING. There were roughly 2 dozen folks standing inside the conference room, waiting for food.

    As I mentioned, there was more food coming. 5 of our CONSULTANTS (not employees) who happened to be from Indian pitched in to order a huge pan of chicken tandoori. Unfortunately, it didn’t arrive until 12:40, after we had all had round one of CARBMANIA. So we all had to go back for round 2 for some chicken. Thank goodness for some real food.

    To recap: 3 employees brought food + 5 consultants ordered food + 1 consultant brought food + company provided deep fried empanadas, cake, and soda + over a dozen “freeloaders” = tummy ache for Friday.

    P.S. – I should also note that I was not told to bring tortilla chips/Doritos. I could have opted to bring potato chips, which would have gone oh-so-wonderfully with the guac.

    Eye am so glad everything is ok.

    Eyelid.  Before.
    Photo of my eyeball + contact courtesy of me, March 31, 2005

    So for a couple of months now, I’ve been having minor vision problems.

    Specifically, I had something floating in my line of vision (looks like a black speck) since June. At first I always thought there were gnats flying around my head; I was constantly swatting at imaginary flying things in front of my face. After a little while, I figured out it was my eyes. I thought it was due to lack of sleep, but since the spot didn’t go away after a few days, I made an appointment with my ophthalmologist to make sure it wasn’t anything scary like a retina detachment.

    Since it was just one floater, I wasn’t too worried and when I went into see my eye doctor, I got seen by a visiting doctor who looked all over and thankfully couldn’t find a retinal tear or, worse yet, a retinal detachment; just the floater. He said that due to my extreme myopia (nearsightedness), this wasn’t too uncommon and that the floater was in my vitreous humor and that more likely than not it would settle over time. I was to return for a follow up in six weeks, but of course, if I experienced any symptoms of a retinal detachment, to call right away.

    Six weeks passed and thankfully, no major changes except I saw some occasional flashes and the floater got bigger (but blurrier). But it didn’t settle. So I went back for my follow up, as directed.

    Since I figured they would dilate my pupils again, this time I got smart and got Yoshi to come with me so I wouldn’t have to drive home with blurry vision.

    This time, the regular ophthalmologist (not a visiting doctor) saw me and right away she said, “Oh look, I see your floater.” But then she got really upset because she saw some something else and some “elevation” which would typically indicate a retinal tear or detachment. She asked me, “Did I see you last time? No way I would have missed this. Did (the other regular doctor see you)?”

    “No!” I said, not wanting the other regular doctor to get in trouble. “The visiting doctor saw me and said everything was ok.” (Incidentally, it was the other doctor’s birthday that day and she had just received a huge arrangement of flowers from her boyfriend. Wouldn’t have been nice for her to get in trouble on her birthday.)

    Now I was getting a little panicked and she said she was going to put a giant contact lens thing in my eye to get a closer look. She was extremely thorough and kept looking and looking for a tear because, as she reminded me, “if it’s a tear, I can zap you right now. I have a laser in the other room.” Yikes! Eye zapping?!??!

    After 25 minutes of looking for the tear, she started to wonder if I’d had a tear or detachment and then (lucky break for me) my eye started healing itself on its own. She said she couldn’t see anything wrong and chances were everything was fine now, but she wanted me to get a second opinion. She called over to the retina specialist doctor she personally went to and got me an appointment for “as soon as you can get there in Friday traffic.” She started yelling at Yoshi “Get directions! I’m getting on the phone so that Joz gets seen today!”

    And out we ran to head over to the L.A. office of Retina-Vitreous Associates Medical Group. (Nice name, eh?)

    So now I’m a little freaked out, even though my doctor had said everything was probably fine. Both my eyes were dilated and I had to wear those ugly “instant sunglasses” (they’re called “slip-in myds”) when we exited the building and headed toward downtown. In my hand, I had a referral form with my information filled out at the top and the reason for the referral: RETINAL DETACHMENT. Zoiks! (I was slightly comforted that my eye doctor said that she was going to write that to “make it sound more dramatic so that I could get seen right away.” But still.)

    When we got to the Retina-Vitreous office, I filled out the paperwork even though I had a hard time seeing. I asked what my appointment time was and the lady behind the counter said, “Your appointment is for ‘As soon as you get here.'” Yikes!

    I waited for a short while and then I had to go for a little intake session. The guy made me do some vision tests (Can you see this?). (I we seeing 20/20 out of my right eye and 20/25 out of my left eye). Then he gave me some numbing drops (which burned) and then took my eye pressure by poking me in the eye with a tonometry device (similar to this Tono-Pen). Surprisingly, getting poked on the eye with this thing didn’t hurt (maybe it was the numbing drops), but then he had to dilate my pupils AGAIN, even though I’d already had them done at my first doctor’s office.

    After sitting around for a while, I got moved to the doctor’s office (I asked Yoshi to wait with me) and Dr Boyer peered into my eyes with a bright light (via the slit lamp). He agreed that my doctor was right to have me come over; he could see the elevation that she saw and said that it was understandable why she thought I might possibly have a detached retina. He said what I had was white-with-pressure (WWP) and white without pressure (WWOP), not a retinal tear or detachment.

    According to Page 83 of Clinical Pathways in Vitreoretinal Disease By Scott M. Steidl, Mary Elizabeth Hartnett:

    White With Pressure, White Without Pressure
    These terms describe geographic areas of whitening in the midperipheral, equatorial, and peripheral retina. During indirect ophthalmoscopy without scleral depression, these areas are described as white without pressure. When a white reflex is detected with scleral depression, it is termed white with pressure.

    All this means that my retina is OK, but I’m still at higher risk for a Giant Retinal Tear, but that as of now, things are ok. I just have to keep my eyes peeled (no pun intended) for any symptoms.

    Thanks to Yoshi for being my chauffeur across town, and also for taking me out to dinner in Little Tokyo afterwards. Thanks also for feeding me guava gelato from Mikawaya. Yum.

    This post was brought to you via Google.

    Thai food + the Prof

    Professor Eric and his beau called up while driving back from Vegas asking if Yoshi and I were free for dinner. Even though we’d made a date to go see a movie, we knew that Eric was going to be traveling for a few weeks, so we decided to go out to dinner with the boys instead.

    Anyway, we had a lot of yummy Thai food at Palms Thai and since Thai Elvis was off for the night, we could actually have dinner conversation.

    The topic turned to crazy things we’ve seen on YouTube, so then Eric came back to our place so we could show each other the videos we’d been talking about.

    (WATCH IN ORDER BELOW; you’ll need about 35-40 minutes to watch all of them in their entirety)

    Of course, there’s the oft-watched Filipino Prisoner “Thriller”

    Then there’s the Algorithm March (with NINJA!) by Pythagoras Switch

    Now that you know what the Algorithm March is, let’s go back to the prisoners in Cebu who will do the WORLD RECORD Algorithm March with almost 1000 inmates:

    What is this Pythagoras Switch thing anyway? It’s a Japanese educational television program. Rube Goldberg devices appear during the beginning, ending, and between each segment and are called Pythagorean Device (ピタゴラ装置, Pitagora Sōchi) in the program. Here is a good compilation of such devices:

    Of course, Eric had mentioned a Daft Punk concert he attended, so we had to share the Daft Hands – Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger:–Nw

    Eric topped that by showing a crazy video called the Battle at Kruger, the wonder of nature at its very best:

    I topped that with a video about an inappropriate office gesture: (Ewwwwwwww! Boys are gross!)

    We ended the night with a Japanese Nike Commercial:

    So anyway, if you’ve watched all that, thanks. And watch out for the people in colored jumpsuits running after you.

    So much happening, yet so little to report.

    Let’s see:

    -Slowly progressing on HP7; should be done before the end of the week. I’m about halfway through now.

    -Mom called this morning around the time I was supposed to be getting ready for work and we talked for 20 min. Last week we had sent her a package and she’d let me know that she received it. I sent her some pictures, mostly old pictures, but a couple of new ones. She said that the one of me and Yoshi (taken in a photo booth a few months ago in Santa Cruz) made her laugh.

    -Work is work. I’m finally starting to feel situated in the new gig even though it’s been more than a month. Usually I fall right in and hit the ground running.

    -Today was Freecycle/Craigslist day. There was a bunch of old furniture I needed to get rid of (this was not my personal furniture). One of the loveseats I gave away (the brown one) belonged to my grandparents. The guy who picked it up couldn’t get over why I was giving away such a nice piece of furniture. It was a nicely made piece of furniture and I was a little sad to get rid of my grandparents’ stuff, but at least it felt good to know it was going to get new life with someone who appreciated it. (If you’re curious about what I gave away, check out the pix on flickr: coffee table, end table/cabinet, brown loveseat, purple and teal loveseat. Actually the coffee table set cleaned up pretty nicely after I took all the junk off of it.) Anyway, I couldn’t believe how many responses I got for all this stuff and the best part was that I knew that this stuff wasn’t just ending up in a landfill & that someone else was going to get use out of it. And everyone who I made appointments with to come pick stuff up showed up on time and followed directions (bring someone to help carry down the stairs). Rawk!

    -Went carb crazy today. Had lunch at Fabiolus today and had an order of Penne alla Siciliana (my favorite). Then for dinner stopped by Noodle World and got two orders of rice noodles to go for me and Yoshi. Also got a frozen Lychee slushee drink, too. Yum.

    -Got my grade for my Business Law class… whoo hoo! An A-! In this case, I am pleased about the A- because knowing the grading scale, it was an uphill battle to even get an A- and an A is damn nearly impossible. (Still upset about the A- in Marketing, though). Unfortunately, getting another A- (instead of an A) drops my GPA down still further to a 3.900. My semester GPA is a horrid 3.700. Yikes! If I had just taken classes with some other professors, I know I would have gotten two solid As. Oh well. That’s life. I’m actually quite glad I didn’t get the B+ in Biz Law, though. I can still say I’ve gotten all As in grad school. (A-s are still As!)

    Here’s to an A day tomorrow! (We are taking a company fieldtrip to the Arclight and watching the Bourne Ultimatum tomorrow afternoon!)

    What makes a headache better?

    Ice cream at the one & only Scoops.

    Today I got Guava & Lychee Sorbet: two of my favorite fruits in one ice cream. It was so good I wanted more.

    I also got Strawberry & Balsamic Vinegar which was more strawberry, less balsamic vinegar.

    I called in sick to work because I didn’t sleep well last night and was feeling bleh all morning. The ice cream was a real pick-me-up.

    I got there when Tai was putting a few flavors out for the evening. I tried the Pineapple & Jackfruit Sorbet and thought seriously about getting another scoop.

    Of course, if I continue eating Scoops at this rate, I will weigh 700 pounds and you will see me next on one of those medical reality shows being interviewed for consideration for gastric bypass surgery.

    Gastric Bypass Reality Show Pyschologist: “Joz, do you know why you are the weight you are today?”

    Joz: “Because I loooooooooooooove Scoops. Yummmmm.”

    Let’s all hope it doesn’t get to that point, shall we?

    Had a wonderful time tonight at the Hollywood Bowl…

    Since we didn’t subscribe to the Hollywood Bowl this year (too much going on; no time for social life or fun) I was expecting that we wouldn’t get up there at all.

    Since I did some volunteer work a few months ago for East West Players (during my Spring Break), I got ahold of 4 free tickets for tonight’s performance at the Bowl: Sarah Chang plays Bruch (Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1).

    Yoshi and I met up with Professor Eric & his lovebug (don’t know how I should to refer to Eric’s sweetie pie) at Hollywood & Highland and then caught the shuttle up to the Bowl. We spread out a blanket and had a nice picnic dinner before catching a great performance of classical music with the L.A. Phil (Brahms: Academic Festival Overture; Schumann: Symphony No. 3, “Rhenish”). The only disappointing thing was that Sarah Chang ONLY played Bruch; nothing else. But at least we got out of there pretty early so I won’t be a total zombie when I go to work tomorrow.

    I have been neglecting my blog but a quick update on school (like you care). I did OK (not great) on my most recent Biz Law quiz on Monday night; just one more to go until a short summer break. I stayed late to talk to my Law prof after class. Despite how poorly I’m doing in class, I really enjoy the lectures and wanted to talk to her about a few topics. The next morning she gave me a call and asked if I would be interested in doing some research for something she’s publishing. I said that I was and have plans to stay late after class on Monday to discuss. (I know, I’m a nerd. Taking on research on my summer break.)

    We (OutOutBlogger and I) spent most of the past week working on our Marketing Plan (a document that was about 65 pages long by the end of it) + the corresponding 50+ slide presentation. Let’s just say that it was a lot of work put together in a short amount of time and I am very, very grateful that OutOutBlogger was on my team. I honestly can’t say the same about the other two team members, though. Luckily, the Marketing class is now officially over and we just await our grades for the Marketing Plan and for the class itself. While I think we put together a great Marketing Plan, I’d been averaging an A- in the class up until this point. I thought that I killer Marketing Plan would secure an A… but that was until I got my final exam result. It was not pretty. I guess the class did not do well as a whole; despite us all getting 20 free bonus points to start with (everyone could choose 10 two point questions not to answer and get automatic credit on the exam), the professor gave everyone another 10% added to their score after he was done scoring everything (because everyone had done so poorly). In other words, a 70% was automatically bumped to an 80%. Let’s just say that after the 10% was added, I barely had a B. So now I don’t know if I got an A in the class; though I hope I did. I really worked my patootie off for that Marketing Plan and hope that the prof realizes it.

    I’m still at the office

    I’m not doing work-work, though. Yeah, I know, it’s almost midnight. But I’m done now, so I’m leaving soon.

    I was so behind in schoolwork, I decided to stay here and take advantage of the quiet and air-conditioning to get some stuff done.

    That, and the new fancy schmancy Keurig premium coffee maker downstairs. It’s actually on loan to us on a trial basis for a few weeks, but if people like it, I bet we will keep it.

    Funny enough, I wrote a paper on the Harvard Business School case study about this product, so it’s really amusing that this machine is at my work. The “trial program” was their strategy in getting into more offices.

    I wonder if it will work here???

    Excitement at work today

    The fire alarm went off (for real, not a drill) on our floor at the office around 5pm today. If it wasn’t for the fact that I had planned to stay late to get stuff done, I’d have totally left at that time.

    The gal in the cube next to mine had a microwave popcorn accident. She tried to tell people that it was a false alarm and that she was really sorry, but since the fire alarm had activated, the floor wardens had to evacuate our floor.

    They were running around screaming at people to leave their desks, “PLEASE EVACUATE THE FLOOR IMMEDIATELY! THIS IS NOT A DRILL!”

    As I was walking toward the stairwell, I saw the guilty party and her friend trying desperately to get the smoke to dissipate.

    As I headed down the stairwell, I decided to stop by the floor below us (where the main receptionist was) to let her know it was a popcorn incident. She was busy fielding phone calls from people panicking about the fire alarm. She already knew it was burnt popcorn, but she had to tell people on our floor that they were instructed to evacuate anyway. Since I was from that floor, she told me I should probably go check in with my floor warden downstairs. This other guy from my floor and I decided to take the elevator (since we were technically on the main floor and the alarm had not been activated there: the doors to the elevators hadn’t been shut off to us).

    The stupid thing about our fire drills is that they tell us to go down a few floors and check in with our floor wardens. (In a real fire, I’d say we should get the heck out of the building and then check in.)

    We went down a few floors in the elevator and the doors popped open: most of the people from my floor were standing on the fire drill floor wondering what to do next. There was no floor warden to be seen anywhere. Then they all pointed at me and said, “HEY! WHY ARE YOU IN THE ELEVATOR! WE ALL WALKED DOWN FIVE FLIGHTS OF STAIRS!” I shrugged them off. We got out on that floor to figure out what to do next.

    I told everyone there (they were from the other side of the building, away from the popcorn smell) what had actually happened and everyone was relieved it wasn’t a real fire. But we still were standing around wondering if it was OK to go back up, especially since there was no floor warden around.

    Then the elevator doors opened and a car full of people from our floor were headed back upstairs, “FALSE ALARM!” someone yelled from inside the crammed elevator. “You can go back upstairs.”

    We caught the next elevator up and were indeed greeted with the smell and smoke from the burnt popcorn. The folks from the other side of the building started running around my side of the building yelling, “WHO’S THE CULPRIT!? WHO BURNT THE POPCORN! SHOW YOURSELF!”

    But the gal who had done it had already left the building. She had been making herself a snack for the ride to go pick her son up from daycare and couldn’t stay late. I had seen her as she was heading toward the elevator she said, “I knew my popcorn was burnt… I shouldn’t have opened the microwave… I should have thrown it away!!!” (haha! I laughed at that!)

    Two hours later (when I was still in the office), she IMed me and asked, “Does it still smell there? I feel so bad.” I told her that it did still smell a bit, but not to feel bad. A similar thing had happened recently on a different floor of our building.

    But if we get our popcorn popping privileges banned, I might get a little peeved.

    Now I’ve got to wash the burnt popcorn smell out of my hair…

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