Monday, May 18, 2009

Movin' on!

I have moved!!!!

Look me up at:!


Monday, January 19, 2009

Red Bean Milk Ice Bars by Wei Chuan

That's right. This is an Asian product that you can actually find in the United States!!!!!

Mind you, Wei Chuan (the company that makes this Popsicle also makes them in taro flavored, peanut, green bean, and more. They also create fabulous frozen dumplings and wontons. Basically, they are life savers)

I figured there were PLENTY of people already reviewing "healthy foods," energy bars, frozen meals, blah blah blah...but have you ever walked down the Asian grocery store isle and wondered...hmmmm is the green tea mochi tastier than the red bean? Would trader Joe's have the same thing...cheaper??? muhaha. Because I HAVE. I encourage anyone who already reviews Asian products purchased from their US grocery store to leave me a comment so I can make better decisions the next time I go!

Here I go.
Every box comes with 4 individually wrapped yummy ice bars/Popsicles

I literally tore open the plastic wrap and stuffed the Popsicle into my mouth and gave it 1 great suck. It was heaven in my mouth. Incredibly, this ice pop that was sweet and milky enough so that you felt like it wasn't too watery nor too rich. When I finished this treat, I was actually satisfied. Sometimes I get the feeling that I want another Popsicle after the first one because I'm just not satisfied. Nothing like that in this case. :) yippeee!
As you can see, the Popsicle is made up of two solid components. You have the big, whole chunks of sweet red beans criss-crossed with those green jelly objects. Those are what the Asians called "ju luo" - I like to call it Chinese jelly, which has a consistency slightly more chewy than jello itself. According to wikipedia, this is actually called Nata de Coco and has origins in the Philippines. (see below) Thus, the texture varies between soft (red beans), chewy (nata), and just melt-in-your-mouth bliss!

Now for the health conscious, here is the nutritional label. **Update** According to Joe (see comments) the calories don't add up...the bar may have up to 180 calories!
90 Calories a pop. 9 grams of fat. 21g carbs. 3g protein.
The top 3 ingredients are: filtered water, red beans, red bean paste.

Grocery store: Hmart in Niles, IL
Product: Wei Chuan Red Bean (adzuki bean) milk ice bar
Price: $2.09 and worth every penny

: 8/10
Pros: Totally worth the calories. A great sweet treat and intro to red bean. 1 treat hits the spot.
Cons: Ummm it may be a little sweet for most Asians...perfect for me. The nata de coco can put people off if you're not expecting its chewiness or you prefer not having to work your jaws for a Popsicle.

Details: This is a red bean soup/paste. It is basically cooked red beans with sugar and can be used for many dessert fillings (like mochi). All Asians somehow make use of this wonderful bean!
Nata de CoCo - According to wikipedia, this is "a chewy, translucent, jelly-like food product produced by the bacterial fermentation of coconut water. Nata de coco is most commonly sweetened as a candy or dessert, and can accompany many things including pickles, drinks, ice cream, puddings and fruit mixes. The product originates from the Philippines."

Now go buy some red bean treats!! :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

R.J. Grunts

One of President Obama's top 5 Chicago restaurants (up there with Spiaggia) and now one of MY favorite "value-for-money" restaurants in Chicago, I proclaim RJ Grunts a true WINNER!!!!

Picture from
Known for their voluptuous burgers, milk & malt shakes (they can make it alcoholic if you like it that way), how about a coffee with bailey's at brunch? There's temperature soup (meaning you pay $ for a bowl of soup depending on the temperature that day! When I went, there was homemade chicken noodle soup and butternut squash) Or you could opt for the salad bar buffet, which includes soups and fresh fruit, crackers and many homemade specialty salad concoctions. This place is more than just a burger joint/diner deal, all you have to do is go to their SUPER fun website, read the menu, and you'll realize that this is a one-stop spot for all your Sunday brunch, lunch, dinner cravings!!!

Overall: I loved their menu selection, great prices, fantastic service, homemade & fresh foods, and comfortable family-friendly atmosphere!!! This is a sure place to go if I'm craving an all-you-can eat salad bar (it even comes with all you can eat home-made soups AND giant fresh berries of all sorts for dessert)

Taste: 4
Plating: 3
Originality: 4
Value: 4
Ambiance: 3.5

Although the scores don't do 'em justice, adventurous diners ready for a casual relaxing meal would adore this place. :)
The Salad bar buffet - $10.95
Loving: The FRESHness of the veggies (despite it being January); The variety of ready-made salad concoctions - including tuna pasta salad, tabouleh, basalmic mushrooms, egg salad, and even chopped liver!! It comes free with all-you-can drink hot soups and a huge fresh fruit selection.
Second Thoughts: Curious why they have choc chip cream cheese in the salad bar...

Below are 2 of my personal salad bar creations. I had LITERALLY 5 rounds of soup and salads.

Grunt Burger $9.50
with bleu cheese and fried onions; served with homecut fries, a pickle, and coleslaw
Nick likes: The fries of course!
Apparently, the burger was...not STELLAR, but not bad at all. It was merely, a "good burger" - it hit the spot.

Mocha Milkshake $3.95
They can make this drinks with frozen yogurt too!
YUM. Exactly what you expect. A rich and creamy, cold and satisfying drink!

At the end of our lunch, a man suddenly appeared at our table with a dish! He said he'd overheard we were first-time patrons at RJ Grunts so first-timers are given a hot home-baked chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice-cream over the top! WHAT MORE CAN YOU AS FOR??? (sorry for the glare in the pic)

Other items on the menu: Veggie burger, Portobello burger, Vintage tuna sandwich, Steak teri sandwich, Baby back ribs, Old hickory chicken, RJ's Famous Chili, and even Quesadilla's. :)

Highly recommended!! I'm going to be a regular there if only I lived closer!!

2056 N Lincoln Park W, Chicago 60614
At W Dickens Ave

Phone: 773-929-5363
Fax: 773-929-8134

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fox & Obel Cafe

After receiving a rave review from a friend, Nick & I decided we wanted to try out the Fox & Obel Cafe just 2 blocks down the street from us on 411 E Illinois for Sunday brunch.

Overall impression? We weren't impressed, but it "wasn't bad"

Here, I want to introduce the new Lucky Taste Buds rating system. As most of us have learned from the current economy - numbers matter. Inspired by Iron Chef's rating system, I've added "value" and "ambiance." Rated on a scale from 1-5 with 5 being highest, 3 would be considered average.

Taste: 3
Plating: 3
Originality: 3 (no surprises here)
Value: 2 (you could find better deals for sure)
Ambiance: 3

Grilled Flank Steak Salad $11.99
Cooked to medium rare and chilled, roasted poblano, grilled corn, black beans,
queso fresco, red onion, tortilla strips, tomato and cilantro lime dressing
Pros: The light and refreshing lime dressing
Cons: Mainly a giant bowl of leaves. Very little corn & bean mix. Mainly tortilla strips that dominated the bowl. Poor value for money I would say.

Salmon Burger $11.99
Soy glazed Atlantic salmon, mizuna lettuce, red and yellow bell pepper, red
onion and wasabi mayonnaise on sesame brioche
Pros: The yummy soy glaze & buttery toasted bun. Nick liked the fries, apparently it tasted like the fries they serve over at McD's.
Cons: Sadly, the salmon patty was disappointing. Not only was it dry on the inside and rather flavorless, the outside was strangely crunchy (i.e. Drying out after being pan-fried). Nick and I felt like we could make a better salmon patty using canned salmon, which we're positive was what Fox & Obel used to create our burger.

For the menu, hit up:

Fox & Obel Cafe
401 E Illinois
Chicago, IL 60611
Tel: 312 410 7301

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

The quest for soft and chewy cookies is a long one...full of trial and error, but lots of fun & excitement when you hit jackpot. Here's a recipe I'm gonna share that was adapted from's "Award winning chocolate chip cookies" (that aren't award winning until you add the one extra step) hehehe

  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour + 1 tablespoon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix (Feel free to switch in flavors)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I like the WholeFoods chips!)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar.
  4. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended.
  5. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.
  6. Cover dough and refrigerate for up to 45 minutes. (We get impatient and skip to 20 minutes)
  7. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  8. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown. DO NOT OVERBAKE!!!!!
  9. Take out and let cool for about 5 minutes before digging in. :)

THE secret to soft and chewy cookies lies in how much moisture is in the dough AFTER you bake it. If you like your cookies softer, you gotta make sure you do the following:
1) Add an extra tablespoon or two of flour
2) Refrigerate your dough!

The scientific explanation behind this is just so you can have moisture sealed INSIDE the cookie (aka it's a little under-done compared to the outside).


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!

With an EXCLAMATION mark! Voted #4 Best Fine Dining by (and I'm sure up there according to other rankings), Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba was THE New years eve dinner choice by The BF and I this year. Visit: for more information.

Overall, our experience was fabulous! Hip decorations, attentive waiter, and fast food service was definitely a plus. We ordered a lot of food, and all of them were served in a way that was creative and fun - exactly what we wanted! Without further due, let me take you through our little 2 hour journey to conclude the last meal of 2008!!!!

Cheers! Here's half a pitcher of passionfruit sangria to kick off the night

We started off with just one cold tapa...
Citrus Cured Salmon on Cucumber Toast
Almost tasteless salmon slices (thumbs down for that) served with buttered toasty bread that are covered in shredded bits of cucumber flesh. It all came with a dollop of sour cream in the middle.
Likes: VERY refreshing, palate-cleansing dish; Unique and colorful
Dislikes: Lack of flavor from pretty much all of the ingredients, this was The BF's least favorite

Sea Scallops with Raisins, Couscous, & Pinenuts
Likes: The BF's favorite dish! Flavorful, sweet couscous flavors highlighted the fresh scallops
Dislikes: Scallops were a tad salty, just a tad

Grilled Squid olive oil & garlic
Likes: The strong grilled flavors of the squid itself and the crunchy tentacles!
Dislikes: I have nothing to complain about, perhaps it was a tiny bit oily for my palate

Baked Crab & Shrimp Dip piqiullo peppers, cheese
A pretty self-explanatory dish...definitely VERY cheesy, and the BF complained about not being able to find any crab. I can't comment on this dish since I'm not a fan of cheese. :P

Garlic Shrimp olive oil, chili flakes
Likes: My favorite dish because of the crispy fried garlic and green aioli sauce. YUM!
Dislikes: The shrimps were drenched in oil - I mean...covered head to tail

Chicken Toro Brochetas
Chicken skewer dangling above a plateful of toasted bread, caramelized onions, grilled potato pieces and a baked tomato. All served with a tartar sauce.
This picture does NOT do this dish justice. I LOVED the tender chicken skewer pieces. They went perfectly with the onions! I also devoured the tomato before the BF knew it existed. Oooops!!!

Roasted Salmon artichoke and fennel confit
Unfortunately, this earned a TWO THUMBS DOWN from the both of us. The salmon was too fishy and the confit just didn't go well with the fish AT ALL. Cafe B..maybe try reformulating the recipe? Like...season your fish?

FINALLY, the dessert menu.

Since this was our first visit, dessert was on the house! Yippee!!

Banana caramalized and vanilla ice-cream Mango sorbet
Both were YUMMY but not blow-your-socks-off yummy.
We were just happy we got free dessert!

Following our new years eve dinner, we went home and played 2 hours of Rockband while drinking sparkling wine until 2009. YEAHHHH.

The verdict? Highly recommended restaurant, but know what to order! You may be pleasantly surprised if you keep an open mind, but don't be upset if things are too oily. With that, I give you a happy diners picture of The BF and I. Happy 2009!!!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Traditional, Homey Century Egg & Soft Tofu

For people who have never heard of a Century, aka hundred/thousand-year-old egg, this recipe might sound a little..."shady", but for those who love the egg, certain dishes just wouldn't be complete without it.

Introducing the egg himself. Simply a preserved duck egg (or sometimes chicken or quail egg). NOT a century old, NOT black because it's been a couch potato for too long, but because it was buried in a mixture of salt, clay, ash, lime, and rice ( for a few weeks or even months.

Century Egg & Shredded Pork Congee
My favorite Cantonese comfort food - all it is is just rice, pork, and egg boiled in a pot until the mixture gets thick and flavorful.

The result is a flavorful black egg, sometimes with a runny yolk (which my mom loves, though it grosses me out) that takes a couple tries before first-timers fall in love with it.

THE Century Egg & Soft Tofu Dish
Takes 5 minutes to make!
  • 1 box of soft tofu, cubed
  • 2 Century Eggs, chopped into a size you desire
  • Sesame oil (1 tsp)
  • Oyster sauce (2 tbs)
  • Sweet Soy Sauce (1 tbs)
  • Japanese furukake (sprinkled on top) *optional
  • Spring Onions (chopped) *optional
  1. Simply cube the tofu in dish
  2. Place diced egg on top
  3. drizzle all the sauces in any order you desire on top
  4. garnish with furukake
  5. ENJOY!!!
My favorite thing about this dish is that you can switch up the quantity of sauce you put in, you can even use dumpling sauce in it (which is delicious) and it will still turn out amazing.

ANY real Chinese person will think you're the real deal if you truly appreciate this dish.