Puerto Rico {Day 3}

Check out my vlog on my YouTube channel!
Click on the picture to see my vlog:

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Brunch @ La Mallorca

So my friend Iris told us we’d be going to this place for brunch the next day because it has sugar powdered sandwiches. I did not know how I’d feel about mixing my meal with powdered sugar. I mean, I love dessert and sweets. However, I normally keep those two apart from each other. Good thing the place had other things on the menu, so we got a sandwich to share, and then our own meals.

Oddly enough, I did not hate the sandwich. I do not think I would gravitate to it often, but I liked it more than I thought I would. So I would definitely recommend getting this if you’re at Old San Juan. This is something I have never encountered in New York City, and do not see often in New York City, so I am glad that I was able to try this while I was in Puerto Rico.

As for our individual meals that we ordered, as seen in the video, I ordered a “stuffed chicken with plantains” with rice and beans. The chicken was not stuffed with plantains or anything at all, so I’m not really sure why it was called that, but it was delicious. The chicken’s meat came apart so easily. The beans were on point like always. Plantains were also bomb.

I forget what my friends ordered but one of them ordered a Gumbo, which is a stew with rice and meat – so in Asian terms like a congee or if you got a soup and you added the rice to it. It was delicious and definitely a dish that was up my alley. Another thing on the menu that I recommend!

Journey to Casa Bacardí

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We walked over to the pier where we would have to take the ferry to the other part of the island. This was a better method for us because it would be easier to go across the water than to drive around the land and get to Cataño. The ferry was also really cheap, it was 50 cents one way. It also was not a long ferry ride, unlike the one we had to take the next day.
Untitled drawing-12Once we got to the island we took an uber to Casa Bacardí, which was cheaper than taking the taxi. Then we decided on just going on the historical tour because it was the cheapest and you could get a complimentary drink with your Bacardí cup. The other options were the rum tasting tour, which included everything in the historical tour with a rum tasting option. Then the mixology tour included the cup, drink, rum tasting, and an option to mix your own drinks. This option had separate timing options, since you would be taking a class.

As promised in the vlog, here is the reason why the bat is the symbol of Bacardí.

When the family made the distillery, which was originally in Cuba, there were a lot of fruit bats lingering around the distillery. The wife took the bats as a symbol of fortune as it could ward off misfortune, although bats were related to vampires and bad omen. Another reason on how the bats are beneficial to the Bacardís is the fact that they help pollinate the sugar canes that are used to sweeten the alcohol by eating the bugs that would ruin the sugar cane.

Other things that stood out to me during the tour was the amount of details within the distillery tour portion. The actual machine was that was used in Cuba was also in the tour. The tour guide also told us that if they actually wanted to, they could still use the machines, it would just take a while to make it. Another part of the tour that I liked was the rum smelling section. They had each rum in a container with a metal mesh cover so you could get a sniff of each all the products. The video that was used in the tour was a little outdated though, so they should probably update that.

Post Casa Bacardí we went to the beach.

The beach we went to is called Condado and it was BEAUTIFUL. We took an uber from Casa Bacardí to the beach, which did not take that long. The beach had blue crystal clear water that was to die for. There was also a hotel at the beach, so that could be another lodging option for those who are visiting Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico {Day 2}

Watch my vlog on my YouTube channel here: http://bit.ly/2sDci5t

As for day 2, we first went to Fatty’s for brunch/lunch.

I got the Arroz con Pollo (stewed rice with chicken). It was beautiful. We ended up at Fatty’s because the day beforehand, when we were walking around Old San Juan, it was a location that caught our attention. Honestly, we did not know what this place had to offer, but one of my friends said she heard good things about it from others. Trust me. It did not disappoint.
My chicken was cooked really well and it was so easy to take apart. The avocado was also really delicious, as expected from Puerto Rico. I also really liked my rice, which came with beans. The plantains were also amazing. It was a bit crunchy on the outside, but it was all delicious inside.
The service was also really good. They let us know when our food would be coming out and how much longer we needed to wait. Honestly, it only took 10 minutes from the moment we ordered. Even when they said it would take longer to make the rice, we only had to wait 5 minutes. So service was A+

Menu: https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/fattys-san-juan-2?select=URIwE_TnUMoZeuDF_0jUPA
There are more options for dinner.

After eating we headed over to paddle boarding at Lagunda Del Condado.

We first went to Marshall’s before going to paddle boarding because I needed to get flip-flops and the others wanted more summer things like hats, sun glasses, etc. From Marshall’s, we took an Uber to the paddle boarding location. We had passed over this location when we were driving from the airport to our Airbnb location. Our taxi driver had told us that this location was popular for paddle boarding, which we had seen people doing that day, so we definitely had to go back.
On the day we went, it was a bit cloudy but that was perfect because we were not about to get ourselves burned. This also made the weather bearable and a bit breezy. I believe it was $20-$25 for 2 hours and they provided us with everything, even a life vest. The person who was at the paddle boarding place was also really helpful and told us what to do like how to stand, how to paddle, and where it was shallow – cause this girl cannot swim and was not about to go in for a dive that day. Nonetheless, I was still able to go all around the lake AND stand on the paddle board. ACHIEVEMENTS. Post this, we were also given water for free. Again, service is A+

More about Uber:

Puerto Rico in Old San Juan and the main island area does have Uber, which will be the main mode of transportation. There are places like Vieques, which does not have Uber (this is day 3!)
Some of the Uber drivers do speak English, and can offer some travel tips and places to go. For the most part, the Uber drivers are pretty nice and do their best to help out. All of our Uber drivers were awesome.

Dinner at Vaca Brava

First off, I loved the guy in front – so shout out to him!

Second, we ate a meal like no other. It was meat, next to meat, next to meat, on French fries, with a bit of grass on the side. The whole thing was beautiful. The meat that it came with were chicken, ribs, and steak. Everything was cooked really well and I could not have asked for a better meal. We were also offered the mushroom sauce, and there were also other sauces that the meal came with as well. I can’t remember them right now, but just believe me when I say it was really good. This definitely is a meal for 3 to 5 people, unless you want a challenge and chow that down yourself.
There were also other really good things on the menu that the neighboring tables had gotten that I was peeping at while eating my own delicious meal – cause that’s what I do. There was a meal that came in this wooden bowl, that kind of looks like one of those pots that you mash things in. Not really sure what was in it, but it seemed to be a really popular dish in Puerto Rico.

After dinner, we walked around the area and stopped at a few souvenir stores and the open area that had a market.

Some things I saw that were interesting in the shops and the market area was the artworks. They all had pretty similar pieces, but there were a few that I was contemplating on buying and bringing back because it just screamed Puerto Rico. There were also shot glasses in the shops that I was also thinking of buying, but there was a local supermarket nearby that sold them for cheaper so I bought it there instead.
One of the shops also had a whole section of cat items – like statues, postcards, mats, etc. This was due to the fact that Puerto Rico has a high population of street cats. The merchandise was an attempt to help these cats with a facility other than the streets. Thus, some of the money would go to an organization that would help these cats out. When we go out around Old San Juan, we definitely did see a lot of strays. For the most part, they are harmless and are used to humans. I can’t imagine them getting violent, unless you are approaching them. So just let them be.

That is it for day 2 in Puerto Rico. Make sure to check out my video for a better depiction of everything, and day 3 will be posted soon!

Puerto Rico {Day 1}

Watch my vlog here on my YouTube channel: http://bit.ly/2sRZVWc

Airbnb:

My friend Iris, who is also in the vlog, booked an Airbnb location in Old San Juan that was right next to the water. So the view was spectacular every morning. We also got that salty breeze so no air conditioner was needed. In the video, around the 0:12 mark is when you can see our Airbnb view.
The Airbnb we booked was called La Capitana – I’m having difficulty finding the exact listing. But, on my attempt on trying to look for it, I found other places in Old San Juan that has an Oceanview for a similar price.

Taxi Upon Arrival:

What amazed me about the taxi service after getting off the plane – which I did not touch upon at all in the vlog, is that there was a systematic order for how people could get a ride. Post landing, we lined up outside the airport and was asked how many people were in our party and we were given a piece of paper that stated the amount of people in the party, where we were going, and how much we would have to pay. We gave that slip of paper to the taxi driver when it was out turn, and everything worked our perfectly. Honestly, after flying and landing countless times in other countries, getting ripped off from a taxi was one of my biggest concerns. However, everything was very set and organized. We also asked the workers within the airport about pricing and everyone was on the same page. So either they were trained really well, or that’s just how things are. I’m choosing to believe that that’s just how things are.
This was just the start of me realizing how much Puerto Rico treats and caters to tourists. Cause there are a lot of us. Unlike New York City, my beloved hometown, and China, my kinda-motherland, people are not really out there to rip you off in Puerto Rico. So definitely a safe travel destination!

Los Yeyos:

This was the first place we went to cause we were starving children! Plus, I’m a foodie so I was extremely excited to try out Puerto Rican cuisine – this was the beginning of my profound love for Puerto Rican food. At Los Yeyos we got the
1) Shrimp Mofongo : mofongo is a dish with deep fried plantains that are mashed together –  every place does it differently, so you’ll definitely find a mofongo that you’ll like. Don’t give up!
2) Coconut Shrimp with fried plantains : thinking about this dish is making me hungry and salivate all over again. I’m also weak when it comes to coconut, and I guess that’s my Burmese side coming out. The fish was in a coconut sauce, but it was extremely savory and a bit salty, not creamy coconut at all. The fish also melted in your mouth! A must order at this location.
3) Beef Steak with onions, rice, and beans : I don’t think anyone can go wrong with a beef steak. It was also seasoned right and not hard to chew at all. This was my go to dish in Puerto Rico.
**We also got a regular mojito and a passion fruit mojito. I’m a big mojito lover and it definitely did not disappoint. They also had mango and/or papaya flavored mojito, even though I didn’t try it, I believe they’re worth a try.

Casa Cortés ChocoBar:

After dinner you always gotta have dessert. This place was BOMB. Everything they had incorporated some kind of chocolate. You can hear my friend in the video talking about the chocolate martini – I did not show it in the video, but it was delicious. Definitely a bit scary because you can taste the alcohol, but it was so good. You could have 3 or 4 more of those drinks and probably pass out because you were fooled.
They also had sandwiches and pastries that had chocolate. So you could have definitely had an actually meal here if you wanted. It would definitely be more on the pricer end and might not fill you up as much as compared to a regular restaurant, but you do you.

The dessert I got from the menu was a lava cake with vanilla bean ice cream on the side. It was soooo good and decadent. Plus, did you all see the gold sprinkled on my dessert in the video?! It was boujee af. If you have tasted Spot Dessert’s lava cake, its pretty much like that without the matcha. The chocolate was not as runny – it could be because they baked it for a little longer, or the cake was shorter so it did not have a lot of running chocolate. None the less, it was delicious. The vanilla ice cream was A+ Definitely had a good amount of vanilla bean in the ice cream, and I love vanilla bean ice cream with dessert.

Blue Ribbon Friend Chicken – #cluckyeah

So New York City is known for their burgers from Shake Shack, but could there be competition in town??

This is Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken – located in New York City and also in Las Vegas. I honestly just learned about them through Instagram explore. Of course, me being the food lover that I am, Instagram decided to share this account with me. I was attracted to their burger posts and I knew that I had to try it when I went back to NYC – I might have been studying abroad in China at the time or away at college.

I got The Blue Ribbon with a side of small fries. Honestly, it is not too different from other burgers – definitely no where like Shake Shack because Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken uses only chicken, whereas Shake Shack uses beef. The fries were also nothing special. However, what I did like about this restaurant is the environment and feel. It gives off this southern feel, making it feel homey. This place is also really clean and well lit (lighting-wise) so it feels like a fast food joint for the family. I also really liked the array of sauces they had on the table, giving you the option to build whatever flavor you want.

Definitely a place to try out if you are in the city and is looking for a good burger joint that is not too crowded or mainstream like Shake Shack – not saying the Shake Shack is not worth trying out if you come to New York City. However, if you are into restaurants or food places that are not well known, this is a good place to hit up.

Ice Cream Rolls: 10 Below Edition.

The hype has finally toned down, so the wait is no longer out the door.

Ice Cream Rolls: literally ice cream that are rolled, and usually decorated with whatever topping you desire. AKA stir-fried ice cream.

The way they do this is by adding cream, and the flavor: matcha powder, fruit, etc … to the cream that is on this machine. This machine is cold so that the cream mixture can develop into the “ice cream” texture. The person making your ice cream roll would have to mix and spread this mixture often (usually takes 5 minutes) for the consistency to form.

Enough of that … onto the taste and important stuff.

The ice cream roll featured in this post is from 10 Below. This ice cream roll joint gained popularity and all of Chinatown jumped on to the ice cream roll trend.

Honestly do not remember what I got exactly in this picture – but it was my first time. These ice cream rolls – and this is also true about other ice cream roll joints in the city, is that it is light yet creamy because you’re only catching a thin layer of ice cream each scoop. The flavors are also highly customizable to your likings – it is literally whatever you want with cream. Thus, making it the perfect dessert for those who like to get creative without getting into a food coma. Most places also allows the customers to get as many toppings as they want. What saddens me about 10 Below is that they do not have mochi (rice cakes) – ice cream with mochi is literally the perfect combination. Thus, for this reason, 10 Below is not my favorite ice cream roll spot. But it still is a really good place to go to since it is one of the OGs (original gangsters – the classic and the grand daddy) of ice cream rolls.

Other ice cream roll spots that I enjoy are:
1) Juicy Spot (actually prefer over 10 Below)
2) Penguin Ice Cream
3) Minus Celsius

Vietnamese bites in Itaewon

Learn some Korean: Itaewon: 이태원 (pronounced ee-tae-won)

Itaewon (이태원) is a district in Seoul, South Korea that is popular for foreigners. It is Seoul’s international stub hub. You can find a huge array international goodies here such as Vietnamese food, Thai food, American franchises, Turkish food, Middle Eastern food, Italian, and the list goes on. What is surprising is that if you are trying to get Korean food in this area, it is generally more expensive than if you were getting Korean food from outside the Itaewon (이태원) district. **Eating tip: do not get Korean food while in Itaewon (이태원) to save yourself some bucks.

For me personally, I avoided going to Itaewon (이태원) because – although I am a foreigner in South Korea, I did not want to interact with other foreigners in Korea. Me and my friends never really explored Itaewon (이태원), but we wanted to make sure that we hit up all of Seoul. So we came to see what was up in the area, found that there was nothing much other than food (sorry if this offends anyone!), and went searching for a good restaurant.

We came by this Vietnamese restaurant called Le Saigon. **History fact: Saigon is the old name of the current Ho Chi Minh City. The main reason why I wanted to come here was because I wanted to compare the Vietnamese food here in South Korea and the Vietnamese food in NYC. Hint hint: I have never eaten Pho from Vietnam, so what’s my say on what authenticity is? NONE.

I ended up ordering a bowl of Pho and shared spring rolls with my friends. Let’s start with the spring rolls. It was crispy and good, however, it was lacking in filling. The spring rolls I have tasted in my local Vietnamese restaurants in NYC usually has more flavor (a little bit more kick), and more meat filling. This was also pretty expensive. I think each spring roll was $1.5 ~₩1,500. Thus, the spring rolls were not worth the price I paid.

Now, for the main dish, Pho. The broth was hands down the same in flavor as I have tasted in any Vietnamese restaurant. The noodles were a bit different. The ones that my local Vietnamese restaurants use was a slightly skinnier vermicelli noodle, whereas, the one used at Le Saigon was flatter. I did not really like this because the noodles had a little bit more starch than I was used to, so it made each bite a little more bland. They also went a little cheap on meat (cheap meaning not generous). Usually, I would be offered three kinds of meat, and definitely more than what I got in Korea. I think the Pho cost ₩10,000~$10 and that is more expensive than in NYC. So, sadly, it was another dish that was not worth the money.

It did come with the beansprouts, peppers, and a lime wedge that could be added based on your own preference. There were also the sauces, hot sauce and hoisin sauce on the side.

Overall, you can say that I was a bit disappointed. And I can say that this will be the typical Pho you will get while in South Korea, whether at this restaurant or other small franchises and restaurants.

Korean Chinese Food – For when you don’t want American Chinese food.

I did a recent post about Korean Chinese food and featured 짬(Jjam)뽕(Ppong) – a spicy seafood soup and noodle dish.

As for this post, I went to eat Korean Chinese food, or Northern Chinese food, in NYC. The restaurant I went to is called Hyo Dong Gak. This restaurant is located on 35th street and is close by to Korea town and shopping. I ended up going here because I bought a Groupon voucher and decided to head over with my family to see what was up.

Starting from the upper left hand corner of the picture, we ordered 짬(Jjam)뽕(Ppong) and it was the standard 짬(Jjam)뽕(Ppong). It was at a right level of spiciness. The noodles were thick – not udon size, and chewy. They gave a good amount of seafood to go along with the soup and noodles – I was scared that they were gonna be cheap with the seafood, but nope, they did well. They didn’t give me a lil octopus like the one in Korea, but it was still a good amount of seafood.

The upper right hand corner features 짜(Jja)장(Jang)면(Myeon), which is a noodle dish with black bean paste. Often times it just has onions and meat in the sauce, but I find that most restaurants barely give meat and only a hefty portion of onions. Or in the replacement of meat, diced potatoes. However, this restaurant was a bit more generous. It still did not give a huge serving of meat, but it gave a nice handful of meat in the huge serving. Plus, the meat were also not minced – I hate minced meat, unless in dishes like Mapo Tofu. A side note with 짜(Jja)장(Jang)면(Myeon), you have to mix the dish once it arrives because if you don’t, the noodles will stick to each other and you end up with a clump of noodles that are separate from the sauce.

The bottom pictures feature two different styles of dumplings, or in Korean 만(Man)두(Du). The ones on the left are steamed and the one on the right are fried dumplings. I find that many Americans (I’m Burmese and Chinese American, so I did not know of this before) call fried dumplings “potstickers.” The name makes sense to me now that I have made fried dumplings and they have stuck to the pot. Anywho. These are the two types of 만(Man)두(Du) listed on their menu, and I believe they do have meat in them. My mom personally liked the fried dumplings better because she loves anything fried, but I liked both. I think I would go towards the steamed dumplings more only because the other dishes can be a bit much in flavor so having steamed dumplings tones down the heaviness from the other dishes.

I have to say, the portions of each of the dishes were HUGE. So it definitely does well if you are planning to go “family style” (sharing each dish with the whole table) when coming here. Plus, the prices are super reasonable for the price you are paying.