san diego and seattle

one cool thing about applying to grad school is the chance to visit the schools and their respective cities (sometimes for free!) and get free food. i went to visit scripps for a couple days, and it was fun staying with christina. i didn’t get any pictures of food though. christina and her roommates fed me well though :) and i got a couple free lunches. here is the one picture i took:


more awesome was my completely free trip to seattle (flight+hotel). it my first time visiting there, and i liked the city a lot. i really like flying in planes during the day because then i can see all the clouds and mountains and things below. on the way there:

mountain from airplane

and we got a really great view of downtown seattle as we were flying in:

seattle aerial view

one night the department had a really tasty dinner for us, but i didn’t get to take any pictures. it was delicious BUFFET. the best item was the vegetarian entree, which was this awesome eggplant italian cheesy tomato saucy thing.

anyway, the campus at university of washington is beautiful. everything’s so green and fresh. and it’s my favorite type of greenery. the kind of mountainy, cooler weather green, as opposed to like tropical, warm greens or yellowy field greens. i took a walk around to check it out. first, there was this cute duck that tried to follow me. probably wanted food or something. so i yelled him to discourage his dependence on humans:


lots of flowers were blooming already. there were some huge, fully blooming magnolia trees:


but most notably, all the pink cherry blossoms were blooming across campus.

pretty blossoms

aren’t they awesome? one more picture for good measure:


i also saw this perfect looking camellia:


i also had the chance to see some of the touristy stuff around downtown seattle because dr. and dr. tung + chris (family friends) were super nice and took me around one afternoon. first they took me for delicious seafood at anthony’s. i forgot my camera, but the food was fresh and tasty. we had some tasty clams (a small type special to that area) cooked in butter lemon water that professor tung likes to drink. we also shared some clam chowder, which was also excellent. i had some fish and chips with cole slaw. the tungs told me the halibut is nice and fresh right now so that’s what i got. mmm… fresh fish is so good. anyway, we hit a bunch of the tourist highlights. we went to pike market. the flower stands were really something:

flower stand

fresh and bright and vibrant. i saw lots of people with huge bouquets. i’d love to get flowers of that quality and at that price here. anyway, lots of seafood:

seafood stand

we had a small snack at this chinese bun store. this bun was amazing!

delicious chinese bun

the one pictured is curry beef. i have never had such a fresh, fluffy bun! it was still hot from the oven and the texture was so light and wonderful. by far the best bun i’ve ever had. nothing else comes close. i forgot the name of the place. it’s on the street where pike market is though.

we also went to the space needle:

space needle

it was cloudy that day, but we still had some nice views:

view of downtown seattle

pretty lake:

view from space needle

anyway, on the plane ride back the clouds were so pretty and soft:

pretty clouds

for dinner i picked up more of anthony’s clam chowder at the airport to eat on the plane:

clam chowder

the tungs were telling me earlier that unlike airports like LAX, seatac actually has very affordable food. i think this cup of clam chowder was $2. anthony’s is their favorite place at the airport, but wolfgang puck’s express is also supposed to be pretty tasty. dr. tung also bought me a yummy apple pastry from a french bakery at pike market to snack on during the flight:

apple pastry

seattle was a lot of fun, especially thanks to the tungs. i will definitely go visit again when i get the chance, especially since everyone i met on my visit told me that seattle summers are unbeatable.

hawaii: day 9

we had a pretty full day planned for our last day in hawaii (saturday), and it began with some tasty dim sum with cameron’s parents and their friends kevin and monica. we went to the tiny china town and ate at won kee restaurant:

won kee restaurant

the dim sum was quite tasty. i don’t know if it’s as good as the best dim sum in L.A., but it was very respectable. random assortment #1:

more yummy dim sum

on the above plate there is (clockwise) siu mai (shao mai), a yummy seafood mix wrapped in bean curd, turnip cake, char seu chueng fun (bbq pork in the big white noodle thing), chives and shrimp dumpling, and no mai gai (sticky rice with chicken).
random assortment #2:

yummy dim sum

pictured above is (clockwise) ha gao (shrimp dumpling), pork and other stuff wrapped in bean curd, pork and scallop dumpling, bo lo bao (pineapple bun with custard), char seu bao, egg roll, and in the center some sort of dumpling.

the seafood bean curd thing was something i don’t see at other dim sum places, and it was really tasty! it had this really yummy fish in it. the bo lo bao (my favorite dim sum) was pretty good here, but i like the top part to be a little sweeter and more crumbly. the custard inside was extremely creamy and smooth though.

after that cameron’s parents spent the afternoon driving us around the island.

first stop: national memorial cemetery of the pacific

national memorial cemetery of the pacific

the national memorial cemetery of the pacific is located near the punchbowl, and it’s a memorial for people who served in WWII, the vietnam war, and the korean war. it also contains the courts of the missing, honoring more than 10,000 people from those wars. there’s a large walkway with murals showing some of the major battles, and there’s also a really nice lookout point nearby.


after that, we drove to the dole plantation! pineapple!


the dole plantation is a total tourist trap (but i love it). they have the world’s largest maze, the pineapple express, a plantation garden tour, and plenty of photo opportunities:

happy pineapples

i wanted to go see all the attractions, but they charge admission for everything! :( i didn’t get to go that day, but one day i want to go to the maze! i did buy some stuff at the enormous gift shop. the dole plantation is totally the man in hawaii (like starbucks and microsoft). they even had an informational panel about that:

jim dole: the man

i really wanted to try the dole pineapple softserve but the line was too long. i liked the dole plantation a lot though… pineapples are so happy!

happy plush pineapple

then we kept driving to the north shore to look for the tasty shrimp truck and to get shave ice. we found one of giovanni’s trucks, but it was sold out. :( they said there was another truck farther down the road, but first we got shave ice at aoki’s:

aoki's shave ice

apparently there is a more famous shave ice place nearby, but cameron’s parents said this one is just as good.

shave ice

mr. taketa had the rainbow one, mrs. taketa had mango and some other tropical fruit, cameron had the sunset one, and i had one with blue hawaii (?) and some other tropical flavors with some li hing on top. i also got ice cream and red beans in mine:

mmm... shave ice

mmm… the red bean and ice cream was really good. the ice kept melting though, so we tried to eat it faster, but…

brain freeze!

BRAIN FREEZE!!! (best picture of cameron)

we kept driving after that, and then we saw it…

giovanni's shrimp truck

giovanni’s shrimp truck! this truck sold only one type of shrimp:

garlic shrimp

deliciously fresh and juicy garlic shrimp. even though i wasn’t a huge fan of the way the shrimp was cooked (and swimming in oil), the shrimp itself was very good. they were pretty large, tasted fresh, and had good texture.

after our shrimp stop, we drove around more, stopped at some scenic places, and enjoyed the nice weather.

pretty hawaii

for dinner, we went to yasura for some tasty ramen:


i was craving ramen the whole week we were in hawaii, so i ordered the big bowl that had everything in it:

large bowl of ramen

cameron called it my dream bowl of ramen because it had so many different toppings. corn, hard boiled egg, seaweed, shrimp tempura, pork, chicken katsu, bamboo, napa, bean sprouts, and a couple other types of vegetables. it was all very delicious. the only thing i didn’t like as much was the broth. initially it was okay, but by the end, it was much too salty. this was not like the delicious udon broth i had at jimbo’s. still, it was a very satisfying bowl of ramen.

and speaking of dream bowls of ramen, here’s mine: the broth of jimbo’s with fresh ramen topped with two (or three?) soy sauce/tea eggs, two poached eggs (cooked until the yolk has just solidified), corn, fried fish cake, vegetables, and maybe a slice of pork. mmm… so good.

cameron had the mapo tofu ramen:

mapo tofu ramen

his was not quite as large as mine, but he said it was quite good and not too spicy.


hawaii: day 8

by day 8, cameron was craving some plate lunch so cameron’s dad picked up some yummy stuff from kai’s. cameron had the garlic chicken, which he says is really good at kai’s:

garlic chicken

i tried some. man, that is really garlic-y chicken! it has some nice flavor though. i had the giant plate of chicken katsu:

chicken katsu

for dinner, we went to jimbo, a japanese restaurant specializing in udon.

jimbo udon house

it was pretty crowded when we got there, so we had to wait about 15 minutes for a table. the restaurant is pretty small and the tables are pretty tight together, but it’s a cute little place. i liked it. i ordered the chicken, tempura, and vegetable udon (it looked like the biggest one they had):

delicious udon

it was by far the best bowl of udon i’ve ever had. it might be the best bowl of noodles i’ve ever had. okay, first of all, the udon is homemade so that alone was really tasty. then, all the toppings were really excellent and balanced. there were a few different types of vegetables, all cooked to a good consistency and with good flavor. then the egg was in a poached style with the egg just barely cooked solid. the chicken was also simply cooked but tasty, and there was also a yummy fried fishcake. but the real star of this udon was the broth. i could really tell that they put a lot of care into their broth. the flavors were really rich and deep, full of different vegetable flavors and the perfect amount of seasoning. a lot of places just put in a lot of salt and artificial flavors, so by the end of your bowl, all you taste is that saltiness. i drank this broth down to the last drop because is was so amazingly tasty and well-suited to the udon.

cameron had one of the combos so it had a bowl of udon, a small plate of pickled vegetables, and a bowl of rice and vegetable tempura.

more delicious udon

cameron said his meal was also excellent. later on, we had a snack at ALOHA SUSHI:

kimchi spam roll

cameron and i each had a spam kimchi roll. mmm… it is kind of nasty but so tasty. and of course…

holotta ice cream

my last and final banana ice cream:

banana ice cream

i love you, holotta ice cream :)

hawaii: day 7

on day 7, we went to angelo pietro’s for lunch, where they have a japanese-italian fusion thing going on. last year i had some kind of eggplant and cheese over pasta thing that was delicious, but it didn’t have any japanese flair to it. this year, i decided to try takana (sour pickled vegetable) and sausage pasta:

takana and sausage pasta

cameron had the natto pasta:

natto pasta

so initially, my takana and sausage pasta was really tasty. they had the whole asian thing going on with the shoyu (soy sauce)-based sauce, the dried seaweed, and the takana. but as i continued eating it, i felt kind of bad. it got to be way to salty. i think they should rethink the ratio of shoyu sauce to takana because as is, it becomes kind of overwhelming and unpleasant. in small quantities though, this is pretty good. cameron’s pasta was pretty good, but he thinks the one he makes at home is comparable so it wasn’t like life-changingly good (unlike holotta ice cream). i think next time i will try something with less japanese influence.

pietro’s is actually part of a larger japanese company that sells delicious dressings and marinades. last year when we came with wei and bing, we had the chance to try their raw potato salad with four different kinds of dressings. man, those were tasty! if you live anywhere that sells these dressings, they are excellent!

for dinner, cameron’s aunt gwen took us out for some pho at ???.


i think vietnamese food is just more expensive in hawaii since there is less of a demand. this bowl was $8 i think, but putting aside the cost, it was very tasty.

chi chi dango! it’s fun to say!
chi chi dango

the green ones are melon-flavored, the pink ones are strawberry-flavored, and the white are normal. i still like the white ones best, but the other two were not bad either.

later on cameron and i got hungry again so we went to zippy’s! BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND…

chili moco

CHILI MOCO!!! oh, isn’t she beautiful? rice, one hamburger patty, zippy’s chili, and two eggs over easy… GENIUS.

chili moco close-up

was it delicious? YES.

chili moco

is it going to kill me? PROBABLY

that’s why cameron is supposed to stop me from ever eating one again. but man, it was tasty! the runny egg with that delicious chili was magical. actually, if i had things my way, i would get rid of the hamburger patty, add a couple more eggs, and MORE CHILI!!! good thing there is no zippy’s near caltech.

hawaii: day 6

on day 6, dr. howell from UH came to pick up cameron and i, and then he and some other grad students from his group treated us to dim sum at happy day! it was tasty. mmm… free and delicious.

then cameron got hungry in the afternoon so we went to ALOHA SUSHI at the pearlridge mall.

aloha sushi

aloha sushi is an inexpensive sushi chain in hawaii.

aloha sushi

they had a pretty display with plastic sushi showing the different sushi combinations available:

aloha sushi display

cameron got one of those little boxes:

aloha sushi combo

aloha sushi is good if you want a quick, inexpensive snack.

i bought some more banana ice cream from holotta ice cream :)

holotta banana ice cream

for dinner, we went with cameron’s parents to the harbor pub in waikiki because cameron’s dad had a gift certificate from there. the harbor looked really beautiful:

waikiki harbor

the food turned out to be excellent! we started off with a really tasty greek salad:

greek salad

then we had a half-order of nachos, also very tasty. refried beans and cheese were baked in a little casserole dish and then topped with lettuce, tomatoes, olives, guacamole, and sour cream. it also came with some fresh salsa.


finally, for the main course, we had a large pizza – half tomato and basil, half “harbor special,” which is basically everything (pepperoni, olives, green peppers, mushrooms, ham, onions, and red peppers).


this pizza was seriously delicious. the crust was nice and crispy at the bottom but soft in the middle, the cheese was super melty and stringy, and the sauce was very tomato-ey and smooth. our waitress was very nice too and gave us recommendations on how much to get because initially we ordered way too much food. we ended up with some leftover pizza, and the total cost was really reasonable.