Vietnamese Food @ Quan Hy Restaurant | Westminster, CA

for those of you who don’t know, there is a little section of the oc called little saigon (pretty much garden grove and westminster). there is a huge vietnamese-american population here. obviously that means that most (90%) of my family lives here… so i came/still come to this area quite often.

one of my favorite places to eat in this area is quan hy restaurant. so when this restaurant and brodard chateau and brodard (non-fancy) opened up…everyone’s mind was blown. (yes i speak for everyone in the community. hah!) the opening of these restaurants was a huge step for vietnamese cuisine in general. there was only one “nice” vietnamese restaurant in la when i was growing up (crustacean in beverly hills but even that isnt traditional every day vietnamese food).

these two restaurants stood out from the rest of the hole-in-the-wall joints in this neighborhood:

  • great interior design: open space with modern furniture. clean. beautiful.
  • one signature vietnamese dish

their popularity has spread all throughout the oc and into la. these restaurants are featured on numerous magazines, food reviews, etc. little saigon, in my opinion, has since then come a long way. lots of new, modern restaurants are now opening up with the same business plan… and i love it.

anywho, enough of my personal awe of these two restaurants…onto the food!

quan hy is known for their banh beo (small steamed rice pancake). it is white and usually is topped with shrimp, scallions, crispy fried shallots and served with fish sauce. basically. it’s amazeballs.

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we ordered the banh beo ($6) with shredded shrimp as one of our three appetizers (three people, three appetizers. aggressive). again, this is their signature dish so i would highly recommend it! comes in little dishes so it is great for sharing. make sure you eat it with the fish sauce. dont wimp out and neglect to add the fish sauce. it will be dry and pretty much not good. fish sauce makes it great! (i can drink it. ew, i know)

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next appetizer: goi mit ($10). jackfruit salad mixed with shrimp and pork and served with chips. goi is another favorite. what is goi? think a hybrid of salad and coleslaw. there are so many kinds of goi. it can be made with cabbage, lotus roots, mango, etc. i actually tried to make a simple one once (just once). anywho. this one is made with jackfruit. i love everything about this salad. so tasty. light. crunchy. great salad for a hot day.

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third app: banh it ram ($7). think potsticker stuffed with mushrooms, pork and shrimp…all of which lays on a crunchy rice cake. the potsticker is thick…mochi texture. the crunchy rice cake was a nice touch if you get sick of chewing the mochi blob on top. this my mom’s favorite thing to eat btw. oh, and you eat it with fish sauce.

main dishes: my dad got the xoi ga quan hy ($10). translation: sweet sticky rice (in this case fried) with chicken…”quan hy” style. you dip this is a soy sauce-like sauce (yeah, i dont know what’s really in it). it is delicious. i like the sweet sticky rice. note that the chicken will have bones. dont expect white meat (this is not the place for that). since this is fried sticky rice and fried chicken…it isnt going to be the lightest thing on the menu. full disclosure: i dont usually order this since i love noodles. good thing my dad is an adventurous man and usually gets different dishes so that i can taste it and photograph it. so supportive.

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my mom ordered: mi quang ($8.50). yellow noodles with shrimp, pork, veggies, and come chips. surprisingly, this is a very night dish. i love it. noodles are fresh and its delicious! i think this actually has a tomato base. so good.

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so i get bun cha gio thit nuong ($9). translation: grilled pork and crab shrimp egg rolls served over rice vermicelli noodles and lots of veggies. this is another light dish to order on a hot day.

why do i like it? (i) the grilled pork here is great (marinated with lemongrass). (ii) egg rolls are traditional and uber tasty. but make sure you eat it right away since it will get soggy if it just sits there. (iii) i love the veggies. bean sprouts, cucumbers, daikon and carrots, mint, lettuce, etc.

also, please (i) do not eat this dry and (ii) mix your bowl up. you must add the fish sauce (do you see the trend in vietnamese cuisine? fish sauce is a must). i actually ask for extra fish sauce since i like it to be on the soupy side.

Quan Hy

  • parking: plenty. this is in a plaza so there is ample free parking.
  • service: quiet but quick. remember that you have to go to the counter in order to pay.
  • ambience: koi fish, bamboo, deep dark wood accents, and lots of vietnamese touches. i love the decor. the restaurant is clean and well ventilated.
  • overall: the prices here at quan hy are extremely reasonably for the amount of food you get and the upscale yet casual surrounding you get to enjoy. love the food here. if you are unsure what to get, go for the sig dishes, you cant go wrong.

Quan Hy Restaurant
9727 Bolsa Ave
Westminster, CA 92683
Category: Vietnamese Food

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By | August 25th, 2013 | Family, Food, Photography, Restaurants | 6 Comments

A.O.C. | Mid-City West, Los Angeles

we love when stella visits la (which is actually pretty often since she’s a norcaler who secretly loves socal) because it means we get to eat 6x a day. we always try to do something “active” when she is here…but we fail every time. every time!

we decided to grab brunch at a.o.c. (it has been on our list for awhile now). what we got:

  • duck confit hash w/ wild mushrooms & poached eggs ($17) – dish that stood out the most.
  • spanish fried chicken & cornmeal waffle w/ jamon butter & maple syrup ($16)
  • meyer lemon french toast with pistachios, strawberries and candied meyer lemon ($15)
  • roast turkey, mozzarella, green harissa, avocado focaccia sandwich ($14)
  • two eggs w/ bacon, fried potatoes & toast ($12)
  • pork belly, peaches, ricotta salata focaccia sandwich ($15)

note that brunch is served until 3pm.

AOC Los Angeles

the duck hash was yummy. duck was moist. the eggs didnt overpower the dish. i really like this dish.

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i got the fried chicken and waffles (cornmeal waffles) based on the recommendation of our waiter. i asked for the syrup and butter on the side since i’m more of savory kinda gal and i didnt know how much i would love drenched waffles. (if i had my way, i would eat waffles with just butter…and if i was feeling a little cray, some lightly sweeten whipped cream). anywho. fried chicken was delicious! the chicken was very moist inside and had a good crunch on the outside.

when you eat the chicken with the cornmeal waffle, you really do need the syrup. it needs the sweet kick. (my bad). ok, so i wasnt a huge fan of the cornmeal waffle. its a strong texture and pretty overpowering. i put some butter on the waffle but couldnt taste it. kyle really liked it though. best fried chicken and waffles? no. (my favorite fried chicken and waffles) decent? yes. get this dish if you are a fan of cornmeal. this was the heaviest of all the dishes we got.

AOC Los Angeles

the turkey focaccia was refreshing and pretty healthy. stella got this sandwich since she had a big eating fest the day before. if you are looking for something light, get this one.

kyle got the pork belly focaccia w/ peaches. the peaches are different but a good different. note that this sandwich is on the sweet side so some people may not like this. we were fans.

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onto the drinks!! this place has a pretty bar… actually the decor of this place is wonderful. lots of natural light. hopefully you get to sit in their patio area…beautiful. white walls with dark wood and arch accents. you will love this place.

getting a res at noon on a sunday was hard. good thing they take walk-ins for their communal table. only con about the communal table is that it is a high table with stools (no back support).

AOC Los Angeles

mimosa with peaches…do it. it is bomb. beer selection was good. obviously they also have a lot of wine selections since this is also known as a wine bar. shout out to our waiter christiaan who is also the mixologist here. thanks for the recs!

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  • service: aoc has great service. friendly and fast.
  • parking: valet ($6) pretty pricey if you ask me. if you are lucky, you will find street parking (metered but free on sunday)
  • ambience: clean. beautiful accents. light and laid back. loved coming here on a sunday.
  • overall: aoc is an amazingly cute place. brunch was good… drinks were great. brunch here is on the little on the expensive side but if you compare it to other brunch places, it’s pretty market. for the two of us, our total was $65 (including tax and tip). we didnt mind though. good food, great company. we cant wait to come here for dinner!

AOC Los Angeles


8700 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Neighborhood: Mid-City West

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By | August 21st, 2013 | Food, Friends, Photography, Restaurants | 6 Comments

Milk Jar Cookies | Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles

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stella came to visit this weekend so that obviously means some food adventures were gonna go down! we went to milk jar cookies on wilshire after sunday brunch at aoc (to be posted later). this place is uber cute. come on, it’s called milk jar cookies. how can it not be cute? if you need a mental picture of what this place will look like, think: pastels, lots of milk jugs, and cookies on milk glass cake stands.

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for the six of us, we got a dozen cookies for $30 (we used a 10% coupon we got for checking in)…$2.50 per cookie is pretty market for cookies these days (go milk jar cookies!). we also got a glass bottle of 2% milk (i mean who eats cookies without milk).

oh, and they proudly serve fosselman’s ice cream… ya know, for those who live for ice cream sandwiches.

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food: 12 cookies. we pretty much got every flavor. cookies worth mentioning:

  • banana split (has chocolate so i did not taste) – this was a big hit. it was still warm and gooey.
  • white chocolate raspberry – this was my favorite. perfectly paired with milk.
  • chocolate raspberry
  • mint chocolate
  • rocky road
  • cinnamon sugar

so these cookies are thick. not you’re average flat cookie. psh. who eats flat cookies when you can have fat ones? all of the cookies were crisp on the outside and so soft on the inside (my favorite kind of cookie). some might find these a little doughy so i get if some people dont become fans but i enjoy them.

cute details:

  • if you decide to get milk with your cookies (obviously a good choice), you get milk glasses with pastel striped paper straws. (the straws you see in every wedding on pinterest)
  • milk jars everywhere (even the lamps)
  • fresh flowers on each table
  • paper flowers

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  • parking: street parking. since it was a sunday, all meters were free. (score)
  • service: guys were nice.
  • overall: we will be coming back to you, milk jar cookies for some cookies and cold milk (obvi). if you are in the area, i would recommend stopping by and checking it out.

Milk Jar Cookies

5466 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Categories: Dessert, Bakery, Coffee & Tea

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By | August 18th, 2013 | Baking, Coffee, Tea, & Bakeries, Dessert, Food, Restaurants | 6 Comments

The Sandwich Smith | Downtown Los Angeles

we were pretty excited when we heard about the sandwich smith opening up in little tokyo.

the food:

i ordered the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich with garlic aioli, lettuce and grilled onions. it was huge and fell apart when I tried to eat it. you could easily just split a sandwich with someone and you would be fine. first bite of my sandwich was good. since there was so much mayo, i got sick of the sandwich pretty fast.

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kyle got a much heavier sandwich on their doughnut bun with the habanero lime dressing. again, it the sandwich was ok…short of amazing. we wish the bun was better. the habanero lime dressing wasn’t too spicy either.

Sandwich Smith | Los Angeles

one thing I would also like to point out is that the sandwich smith operates using the counter ordering style (where there is a sheet of ingredients and you make your own sandwich). this may attract some but deter many others. there wasn’t a special list of sandwiches for you to choose from. i think having a signature sandwich is what keeps people coming back.

Sandwich Smith | Los Angeles

we got the macaroni salad as a side per the recommendation of the cashier. it was tasteless. we had to add salt and pepper (lots of it) in order for it to be decent.

Sandwich Smith | Los Angeles

atmosphere: décor is modern and open. it has so much potential.

Sandwich Smith | Los Angeles Sandwich Smith | Los Angeles

  • parking: this place is at the heart of little tokyo in downtown. if you are lucky, you will find metered street parking (free on sundays). if you are like us, you will have to pay for one of those outdoor parking lots or structures for $5-8. not ideal but its downtown. I wouldn’t expect anything less.
  • service: service was very friendly. it was us and two other people in the restaurant that morning. they were pretty patient with us after we told them it was our first time. they also let us taste a few things before ordering it… we appreciated it.
  • overall: the sandwich smith was okay. sandwiches were decent. to be honest, this it will be hard for this place to compete with places like mendocino farms for the downtown la lunch crowd. the sandwiches here are heavier, moderately priced ($10 a sandwich) and short of outstanding. not to mention, there is great japanese food in little tokyo. so, if you are little tokyo, you probably already have your sights set on ramen, shabu shabu, or sushi. long way of saying…no one should go out of their way to come here and that there is a slim chance we would come back here.

The Sandwich Smith
362 E 1st St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Neighborhoods: Downtown, Little Tokyo
Cuisine: Sandwiches

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By | August 8th, 2013 | Food, Photography, Restaurants | 0 Comments

FishBar | Manhattan Beach, CA

it has been beautiful weather lately so we decided to go to manhattan beach for our first beach day of the summer! since we don’t hang out in south bay too often…that just means another food adventure for us!

we went to fishbar in manhattan beach for brunch/lunch looking for a light meal (light…yeah right). what we ordered:

seared ahi tuna tacos – recommended by our waitress. this was good. keep in mind that the sauce is a sweet chili kind of sauce…so it is an asian inspired taco. get this if you are looking for something light and tasty.

FishBar Manhattan Beach

new england clam chowder – this one i really enjoyed. one of the best clam chowders I have had (no, really. It rocks and everyone a our table agreed). one of the perks of being married to kyle is that he loves to get clam chowder every where he goes…just like how i like to get the lobster roll everywhere I go. anyway, I have had my fair share of clam chowder… and this is definitely great. tastes great. temperature was great. nothing in it was overpowering (ahem, like bacon). not too thick but not watery (nasty) and there was a decent amount of clams in it. my favorite thing that we got.

FishBar Manhattan Beach

baja fish taco – our friend really enjoyed this. fish was fresh and did not have a ton of batter on it. ja feel? ja definitely feel?

FishBar Manhattan Beach

lobster hash – i didn’t really taste this one since i am not a fan of eggs… but our friend said it was one of his favorite meals. this is one of the heavier items you can order here.

FishBar Manhattan Beach

bloody mary – this was fishbar’s big thing. an award winning bloody mary. yep da bomb. the presentation itself is pretty impressive. It comes with a piece of bacon in it… you know you’ve scored a solid drink if there is bacon in it! you must get this. oh, for happy hour…I know they have a great deal on this. (oh, and that’s goldman)

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lobster roll – (yep) this was good. i thought it was outshined a little bit by the other dishes but kyle actually really liked the lobster roll here.

FishBar Manhattan Beach

french toast bread pudding – to be honest, i don’t know why we got this since we were all stuffed and we had to stay sexy for the beach (that was a joke. there is no sexiness going on up in here). i do enjoy a good bread pudding. was it good? yes. was it the best? no, but it is still good. i’m used to enjoying bread pudding as one hot, solid piece (mushed together?). mushed together is probably not the right word…but this is more like monkey bread where there are distinct pieces of the bread held together by probably butter? this was also on the drier side compared to other bread puddings out there. topped with berries and a sweet sauce, this was a nice dessert to share. note that this is not the best thing for you if you are working on that physic.

FishBar Manhattan Beach

  • atmosphere: fishbar is laid back…like much of the rest of manhattan beach. pretty good amount of tvs at the bar…so I could definitely see myself watching a football game here if I were a local. decent size restaurant. I think you can easily roll in with 6-8…however, since it has a lot of booths, I can see rolling in with more than that…would be somewhat difficult unless you wanted to split up. just pointing it out.
  • parking: a mess. parking in manhattan beach is just always an ordeal. we were on the prowl for a 40 minutes before we found something pretty far away.
  • service: our waitress was pretty amazing. attentive. fast…and funny. spot on with the recommendations. we appreciate it.
  • overall: we had a great time at fishbar. this is a great, laid back seafood restaurant near the beach. perfect for the sunday we went here. good seafood and great service. we will be coming back here.


3801 Highland Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Neighborhood: Manhattan Beach

Cuisine: Seafood

Fishbar on Urbanspoon

By | August 1st, 2013 | Food, Photography, Restaurants | 1 Comment
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