A Yelp 100 Checklist

I’ve got some work to do. This will be my working list. Strikethrough’s mean that I’ve eaten there. Four out of a hundred is not acceptable. I have some work that needs to be done when I visit New York City and San Francisco this summer. Those two cities alone will help to scratch out thirteen of these Yelp hot spots. Looks like visits back to Austin, Seattle, and Los Angeles is in order? Chicago is only represented twice on the list. I’m a little surprised by that.

Without further adieu, here is Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in the United States:

  1. Da Poke Shack, Kailua-Kona, HI
  2. Paseo, Seattle, WA
  3. Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue, Kansas City, KS
  4. The Cinnamon Snail, New York, NY
  5. Porto’s Bakery, Burbank, CA
  6. Dametra Cafe, Carmel by the Sea, CA
  7. Alinea, Chicago, IL
  8. Franklin Barbecue, Austin, TX
  9. Gary Danko, San Francisco, CA
  10. Joe’s Falafel, Los Angeles, CA [Read more…]

Hello Nyan Cat! Rainbow, Rainbow!

Who knew that a a pop tart cat would lead to over 50 million views on YouTube. This age that we live in, unbelievable. And of course, you can help to quench its growth by purchasing a Nyan Cat T-Shirt from Snorg Tees. The shirt is called Cat + Pastry = Rainbow and is available now Snorg Tees for $14.95.

And now some Nyan Cat history. It all stared with a little comic by prguitarman on LOL-COMICS. The comic was then reblogged on Tumblr over 3000 times. And then it led to a viral YouTube video (see below). And as they say, the rest is history.

Via Know Your Meme: On April 5th, 2011, YouTuber saraj00n posted a video titled Nyan Cat[3], using comic artist prguitarman’s Pop Tart Cat animation set to the well-known Japanese Vocaloid song Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya by Japanese artist Daniwell-P looping in the background, Although the song had been originally composed for Hatsune Miku to sing, The version used in the video was of the cover sung by the Utauloid Momo Momone.

Los Angeles Trip Day 5

Day 5 T-Shirt: The Collaborate & Dream Series: Nicolo Nimor/Nick Automatic

Day 5 was the last day of our 2011 Los Angeles trip and we spent most of the time shopping, and you guessed it, eating! Our first shopping destination was Citadel Outlets. We first passed by Citadel on our way to Disneyland a few days prior. Let me tell, this outlet mall stands out because it really does look like a big medieval fortress. While we were there, we did some shopping but not as much as I had expected. I did pick up a few things from Billabong and Quicksilver (I usually stock up on shorts – a staple if you live in Hawaii) like I normally do. Though I was surprised that I left Nike and H&M empty handed. It’s okay, there’s always another time and another trip!

By the time we had finished shopping at Citadel it was midday and we were both quite hungry for some lunch. We decided to hit up a burger joint that had been on our itinerary a few days earlier but had decided to skip. The restaurant is called Umami Burger, and let me tell you, it is not to be missed. The flavors that you will get from these burgers are out-of-this-world good! And the onion rings, so delicious. I had my eyes set on the Triple Pork Burger (fresh ground pork, choriz0, and applewood smoked bacon with manchego cheese & pimenton aioli). Sounds nice and fatty, huh? I know, I was excited too! Unfortunately, they were out. What to do now? Two words: MANLY BURGER. This burger consists of beer-cheddar cheese, smoked salt onion rings, and bacon lardons. Good god did my mouth have an mouthgasm that day. Michelle had the signature Umami Burger and she swears that it was just as delicious. If you like burgers, try this place out!

Once we had our fill of the savory flavors of umami, we decided to do more … shopping! This time, we stopped by a little shop called Japan LA. It’s a small Japanese pop culture shop right off of Melrose Avenue. Think of it as Sanrio plus some. They’ve got a ton of Sanrio trinkets as well as other little Japanese oddities. It’s definitely a fun store. I hear they are nearly ready to move into a new, 4x bigger space, so if you’re into Japanese pop toys then you should definitely pay these guys a visit. One thing that I did notice during my visit to Japan LA were some Seibei goods. There were just a few Seibei tees and tanks left, but they did have the Make Me A Sandwich Dino tee!

You might see a pattern going on for Day 5: shop, eat, shop…so of course the next thing that we did was eat! we finally made it to the world famous Diddy Riese Cookies in Westwood, located near UCLA. Nothing in LA is cheap, except for Diddy Riese Cookies! You can score an awesome homemade ice-cream cookie sandwich for just $1.50. Insane? I’ll have two please! Needless to say, I left with two dozen cookies and my co-workers sure did enjoy them!

Now back to Melrose and back to shopping. This time we hit up a few stores, including Johnny Cupcakes (yes, again), Tokidoki, Urban Outfitters, and Paul Frank. Doesn’t it seem like all of the awesome store are in LA?

And finally, for our final dinner in Los Angeles, we decided to dine at Craft in West LA. Some of you might know Tom Colicchio from Top Chef, well, this is his restaurant. I’d say that Craft is casual fine dining. You don’t need to get too dressed up for it, but you definitely don’t want to walk in with shorts and a T-Shirt. I have to say that our Craft experience was pretty amazing. The food was delicious, the atmosphere was great, and the service was excellent. And although our server did initially forget our sparkling water, when she remembered, she immediately brought it to our table courtesy of the house. They do give you a lot of freebies (not on the menu), while you wait for your main entree, however, I failed to jot down any notes. They even served the both of us a complimentary arugula salad while we waited for our food (she brought it out because she said my chicken would take some time to cook). Ah yes, the chicken. Everything on the menu is ala carte, I ended up getting the Roasted Farm Chicken and Michelle had the Steelhead Salmon & Espelette. For sides we shared some potatoes gratin and broccoli. Thanks to Milk & Eggs Co. for the great suggestion!

Craft marked the ending to quite an eventful trip. We ate really good food every single day and we got to meet Mickey Mouse. Could things have been any better? Maybe. Would I have changed anything about this trip? Nah, it was awesomely perfect.

Fuzzy Ink + Hawaiian Food = Good Times!

One of the best things about running this blog is being able to meet a bunch of different people online on nearly a daily basis. What’s even better is when I get to meet up with some of these awesome people. And what’s even better is when I get to meet up with a person whom I’ve been blogging about for some time now (over 2 years, yikes!).

Lucky me got that chance to hang out with John Paul, the mastermind behind one of favorite indie brands, Fuzzy-Ink. Turns out that he and his lovely lady friend has been here in Hawaii on vacation for the last two weeks, however, because of my Los Angeles trip I wasn’t able to meet up with him earlier. Fortunately, we were able to finally meet up for dinner and chat a bit about Hawaii, food, Duke vs. UNC, and Fuzzy Ink.

Since John hadn’t yet enjoyed the wonders of Hawaiian food, I decided to take him to one of my favorite Hawaiian food restaurants – Ono’s. Now for those of you that don’t speak or understand Hawaiian (which I assume is the bulk of you), “ono” in Hawaiian means delicious. But of course, a lot of Hawaiian food is an acquired taste (as they soon found out) and involves a LOT of pork. I had them order the Kalua Pig and the Laulau (both of my favorites). They also got nice servings of some lomi-lomi salmon, pipikaula, poi, and haupia. I’m pretty sure they enjoyed the Kalua Pig (pork cooked in an underground “imu” for hours; similar to pulled pork) but i think I might have scared John off with the poi (mashed and fermented taro root)! In any case, I hope that they enjoyed it!

I was also stoked when John brought out a couple of gifts for me that travelled with him all the way from Raleigh, North Carolina. He sent me home with a brand new and as yet unreleased Fuzzy Ink shirt, as well as the amazing Fuzzy Ink cookie cutter set! You guys don’t even know how much I’ve been wanting this cookie cutter set. Thanks, John! By the way, if the shirt (Steamboat Mario by Jublin) look familiar, it’s because it was recently featured on Teefury. I Looks like Fuzzy Ink purchased the design and will be selling it soon on their site.

I didn’t have a chance to snap a photo of our food, but this is prett much what we had (minus the poi). Via Selvin Chance.

Steamboat Mario by Jublin, soon to be available at Fuzzy Ink!

Can’t wait to bake some cookies! Thanks for the cookie cutter set, John!

Los Angeles Trip Day 3

Day 3 T-Shirt of Choice: FFB Eleprint by Fur Face Boy

On this day, we visited the happiest place on Earth: Disneyland. I haven’t been to the land of Mickey since I was about 8-9 years old, I can’t exactly remember how old I was. This was Michelle’s first time, so I was pretty excited for her. We had planned to start the day super early, 6 am early, so that we could have enough time to drive to Anaheim and arrive at Disneyland before opening (9 am). That didn’t happen. We woke up at around 9 am, and left our hotel at around 11:00 am. It turned out to be the perfect time to leave.

I’m sure that many of you have been to Disneyland already, so I won’t bore you with every little thing that we did there. However, I would like to point out a few observations.

1. Parking is super efficient. Seriously, why can’t the parking at my University be as efficient as Disneyland’s?

2. The Monte Cristo Sandwich at The Blue Bayou (New Orleans Square) is heavenly. It’s cheesy, meaty, sweet, and savory. TIP: One sandwich is big enough to split between two people. If you do choose to split, you can pay an extra $12 so that they plate it for two people and they’ll also add sides for each person.

3. Peter Pan’s Flight is way too short.

4. Someone randomly gave us fast passes to Space Mountain, so of course, we took advantage of those tickets. Man, I’m not a roller coaster guy because I nearly hurled on this ride! I’m not too sure how I didn’t end up with a seizure on this ride. The lights were cool though!

5. The 9 pm Fantasma show was a bit meh.

6. The Fireworks show that followed Fantasma was very whoa – it was impressive. TIP: It’s best seen on Mainstreet facing Snow White’s castle.

7. The beignets in New Orleans Square are good (but not as good as the beignet’s you’ll find in New Orleans), especially when paired with hot cocoa.

8. I finally got to ride the Submarine Voyage (since renamed Finding Nemo’s Submarine Voyage) after a 20 year wait! I remember as a kid wanting to go on this ride but no one wanted to go with me. Finally!

9. Favorite Ride? Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Mind. Seeing the big rolling of rock at the end was the icing on the cake.

We ended up leaving Disneyland at … gasp … closing! Neither of us thought that we’d stay until 11 pm. But time really does fly when you’re at Disneyland! The drive back to Los Angeles went by pretty quickly, and at the end of the hour long drive back, we awarded ourselves with a Los Angeles staple: Pink’s Hot Dogs.

By the time we arrived at Pink’s, we were both quite hungry. How hungry? Well to put things into perspective, I ordered a Mulhulland Drive (10 inch hot dog smothered with cheese, bacon and grilled onions), a signature chili dog, and an order of chili cheese fries on the side. The hot dogs were good, but I am not so sure that they were worth the wait in the cold. The next time that I am in LA and have to choose between Pink’s and Wurstküche, I’d probably pay a visit back to Wurstküche.

Threadless + Thermos = Threadmos

It seems that Threadless is experimenting more and more with mediums not related to T-Shirts. First we saw the release of the Threadless themed Griffin iPhone cases, and now the ubiquitous T-Shirt site has hooked up with another big name – Thermos. Now, you’ll be able to find some of your favorite Threadless designs plastered on Thermos branded bottles and lunch bags.

I originally saw these pop on the Threadless 365 Days of Awesome Flickr account, just days before Christmas. I found it a bit weird that they would release such a new product so close to Christmas. I would have definitely bought a couple of these had they been available before I had got all of my Christmas shopping done!

Both the bottles and the lunch bags are priced at $14.95 and are available for purchase exclusively at Target. Yep, that means you can head on down to your local Target store and (hopefully) find a nice stock of Threadless branded Thermos items.

Oven Fresh Dreams: Where Dreams Are Made

You remember my friend Carlos J. EasyBake, right? He not only makes wonderful baked goods, but is also the purveyor of some damn sexy T-Shirts. Carlos has really been pumping out some awesome stuff with the Oven Fresh Dreams “Collaborate & Dream” Series. Oven Fresh Dreams isn’t a clothing brand per se, but OFD does collaborate with some of the best indie designers. You just need to look at his recent collaborations with Reuben Levi of GRITS Apparel, Nick Automatic and Filipino designer Chad Manzo to see how serious OFD really is. The latest OFD shirt is called Gritty Dreams and was a collaboration between a friend that he made while living in Houston, Texas.

“Levi (GRITS designer & owner) & I have been good friends for several months now. We met through mutual friends while I living in Houston. We instantly gained respect for each other during one of my weekly dinner parties. The “Gritty Dreams” collaboration shows the connection between the New York City & Houston lifestyles. It also symbolizes the bond I made with Levi & Houston. We are both dreamers, who know how to keep it trill & you can too!” – Carlos J. Easybake

The Oven Fresh Dreams X GRITS Apparel tee, Gritty Dreams comes in two colorways. The New York Knicks colorway (top) is available at Oven Fresh Dreams for $20, while the Houston Oilers (bottom) colorway is available over at GRITS Apparel for $25.

Below are two sneak peeks at some upcoming Oven Fresh Dreams pieces. The purple Star Wars / Legend of Zelda mashup was designed by Filipino artist Chad Manzo. Below that, is the second Oven Fresh Dreams X Nick Automatic collaboration tee. I’ve got their first collab tee, and trust me when I say that I want version 2.0.

I’ll keep you guys updated and let you all know when these two go on sale. Keep an eye out! Now, go bake stuff.

Sistine: Live and Let Live

You can say that at times I can be pretty jaded by overhyped emails notifying me of a new clothing brand or a just released seasonal line. I get a lot of these emails and most of the time, the hype isn’t worth the product. Sistine, a progressive streetwear and lifestyle brand based out of New York is different. I checked out their site and was blown away by their unique designs. It’s almost as if their T-Shirts deserve to be framed and hung on the wall of an Art Gallery in Manhattan.

Sistine’s winter collection is called Live and Let Live and it features 8 eclectic designs with a splash of pop. Imprint and I Am Not Young Enough To Know Everything are two of my favorites from the winter collection.

Imprint is inspired from Hermann Rorschach’s classic inkblot test. For the most part, I think psychoanalysis is utter bullshit but for some reason I’ve always been fascinated by the Rorschach inkblot test. It’s used by psychoanalysts as a tool to record and analyze a subject’s personality characteristics and emotional functioning using psychological interpretations. I’ve always wondered what I would say if presented with inkblot test.

I Am Not Young Enough To Know Everything is a quote from the great Oscar Wilde. It’s a reminder that the older you get the more you realize just how little you know.

I also have to mention a design from Sistine’s summer release. The shirt is called Stay Hungry Stay Foolish. The quote originally appeared on the back cover of the Whole Earth Catalogue in 1974. It’s memorable to me because Steve Jobs famously referenced this quote in his iconic 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University. Stay Hungry Stay Foolish. I live by those words.

If you love fashion and you dig art then I highly recommend that you checkout the rest of Sistine’s winter line. The shirts are priced on the high end at $36 a piece, but hey, can you really put a price on a well thought out piece of art? Nah, don’t think so.

Toronto/New York Trip Day 3 + 4

Day 3 T-Shirt of Choice: Yeti Kong by Gama-Go

NYC Neighborhoods Visited: JFK Airport, Theater District, Midtown West, and Midtown East.

The third day of our vacation was more of a transition day than anything else. The day started early, very early. We woke up at around 6am and then left the hotel at around 7:30 am and caught the subway to the airport. The nearly 1.5 hour subway ride, really cut into our 9:35 am board time, especially since the trains had to be rerouted. In fact, after all the customs work, we just made it to our terminal with a few minutes to spare before the gate was closed. Whww, disaster averted!

The one hour flight was faster than it would take for us to catch the shuttle from JFK International Airport to our hotel in the Theater District. The shuttle ride was nearly 3 hours long, and at times, it felt like we were going in circles. When we reached Hotel Mela, I was pleasantly surprised to find that we were situated right in the heart of Times Square on 44th street. Times Square is literally a few steps away from our boutique hotel. Awesome!

Having missed breakfast, both me and Michelle were starved. On the recommendation of a few of my Twitter followers, we stopped at the Shake Shack on 44th street (how convenient!). The place was packed to the max. They say that this is the closest thing the East Coast has to In-N-Out. I had the ShakeShack Burger and Michelle had the ‘Shroom Burger. Both were out of this world good. They were both really, really, really good burgers. But at the end of the day, I still have to say that Hodad’s in San Diego is still my favorite burger destination on Earth. Still, a very good burger.

Shake Shack

Shake Shack

After that we ventured around Times Square for a little bit and did some shopping. Michelle found a Sanrio Luxe store and she was engaged for a good 30 minutes. Sanrio, she loves to buy that stuff for her friends.

Bryant Park was filled to the brim with New Yorkers and tourists alike. Every nook and cranny of the park was being utilized for something, from the ping pong table to the carrousel to the petangue area. If I lived in New York, I could absolutely see myself copping a chair, coffee in hand  and reading a book for hours at a time.

Bryant Park

Once we had our fill of Bryant Park, we walked to both the Chrysler Building and then the Empire State Building. There’s something about the art deco design of The Empire State Building that draws me to it. I love the architecture of that building – it’s stunning, much like NYC.

Empire State Building

Before we headed back to Hotel Mela, we stopped by the flagship Macy’s store on 34th Street in Herald’s Square. This is the world’s largest department store, and with 10 extensive floors, I believe it. In fact, the first floor was so large that it alone was overwhelming for the two of us. In fact, overwhelming might be an understatement.

Day 4 T-Shirt of Choice: Easier Said Than Done by Ugmonk

NYC Neighborhoods Visited: Upper West Side, Central Park, Midtown West, Midtown East, Upper East Side, Theater District

We kicked off our morning by stopping at the famed Barney Greengrass for breakfast. This spot came highly recommend by Anthony Bourdain so it was a must visit. Located on the Lower West Side, Barney Greengrass is famous for their sturgeon and salmon, so you know what I had to get for breakfast – sturgeon and salmon! The dish that I ordered featured nice portions of both sturgeon and Nova Scotia salmon as well as big serving of scrambled eggs and a perfectly toasted bagel on the side. Both the sturgeon and the salmon are served cold. I’ve never eaten salmon with eggs for breakfast before, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Coupled with the bagel covered in cream cheese, this unique New York breakfast made for a pleasant surprise. After eating my meal I proclaimed that I could eat this dish every day for breakfast for the rest of my life and be happy.

Barney Greengrass

After the amazing breakfast at Barney Greengrass, we ventured off to explore Central Park. Explore might be an overstatement because Central Park is so large that it is almost impossible to explore its entirety in one visit. So we staked out 5 areas of Central Park that we had to see, including Belvedere Castle, Shakespeare Garden, Graywacke Arch, Bethesda Fountain, and Strawberry Fields. We spent about 3 hours inside of Central Park, but, we were able to see everything we wanted to see, and then some. My favorite area of the park by far was Bethesda Fountain – the size of this Central Park attraction is incredible.

One Million Acts of Kindness

While walking along the Lower West Side we spotted this awesome bus of kindness.

Central Park

That’s me at the top of Belvedere Castle and overlooking Central Park and the Lower East Side.

While exploring Central Park, we went from West to East, and by the end of the park we had reached the busiest area of 5th Avenue. Apple’s flagship glass cube store had an outrageous line outside. For what you ask? The iPhone 4. Yep, nearly a month after its release, people are still standing in crazy lines to get their hands on one. Nuts.

The big piano in FAO Schwartz was another must visit destination, but alas, there were just too many kids clamoring to jump on those giant piano keys. It’s okay though, I had a chance to play chopsticks ala Tom Hanks from Big, the last time I was there.

Leaving 5ht avenue, we made a stop at Dylan’s Candy Box. I’ve never been here before so when I stepped inside this over-the-top candy store, I was blown away. They seriously have every candy you could ever want. And that was just the first floor. I was dumbfounded when I found out that they had two more floors of candy loving goodness. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, Dylan’s Candy Box is a must visit destination in New York City.

Dylan's Candy Box

Just a block from Dylan’s Candy Box was a restaurant that I had been wanting to visit for quite some time, Serendipity 3. Now, I’ve experienced the Serendipity magic once before in Las Vegas, but, there’s nothing like visiting the original. All I wanted was the Frozen Hot Chocolate but we ended up ordering some lunch as well. The Frozen Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate (I changed my mind and went with Peanut Butter instead of straight up chocolate) was amazing. The only thing about Serendipity 3 is the ridiculous wait time. If you do decide to make a stop at Serendipity 3 I recommend that you check in and then venture off to Dylan’s Candy Box to burn some time. But whatever you do, order the Frozen Hot Chocolate.

Serendipity 3

Before I had my Frozen Hot Chocolate, I had a Ftatateeta’s Toast. It was pretty awesome.

Serendipity 3

By the time we finished up at Serendipity 3, it was about 4 pm. We decided to catch a taxi to Rockefeller Center to purchase tickets to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, especially since it was raining and we had done a lot of walking already during the day. We chose the Top of the Rock over the Empire State Building because both me and Michelle checked out the Empire the last time we were each here. After we grabbed our tickets, we headed back to our hotel to rest for a bit and freshen up for the evening.

At this point of the day, my feet were killing me! I can’t tell you how good it feels to kick off my shoes after a long day of walking and trekking. Needless to say, the two hour rest was much needed. Much needed! But there was still a few hours left in the day so we decided to make the best of it. Unfortunately, it started to rain so out came the umbrellas. The first stop was the Top of the Rock. For $20 you get a nice, 360 degree view of New York City, from three different levels. The brightly lit city is definitely something to gawk at. Ironically, the most obvious structure noticeable at the Top of the Rock is the Empire State Building.

Carmine’s was our dinner destination. It’s a family style Italian restaurant with very large portions. Michelle and I ordered the chicken marsala. For dessert, we headed back to the Shake Shack on 44th for the chocolate custard and chocolate shake. Decadence is our middle name.

After dinner we again explored Times Square. At night, Times Square is such a busy beast. Navigating the waves of people and yellow taxis is all part of the experience. And what an experience it has been so far!