Pineapple and Pearls – Exploring Maryland/DC Series

Yes, I know another restaurant blog. However, since we are pretty busy with life right now, we don’t get to go out and do other stuff. So for our 9th wedding anniversary, A and I decided to go all out and dine at Pineapple and Pearls – a 2 Michelin star restaurant that offers a tasting menu of about 12 courses. And boy was it an experience! Here are my thoughts on it!

Pineapple and Pearls

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What kind of restaurant is it?

It’s labeled “New American” on yelp. But when we went, I don’t feel like it really had a type of cuisine that they focused on. It’s like a fusion of everything.

Where is it?

Pineapple and Pearls is located in DC, Capitol Hill – 715 8th Street SE, Washington DC.

How much is it?

The price has gone up. It’s $325 per person. Bar seating without wine pairing is $225 per person.

I know. I know… it’s a lot! But A has always wanted to try it and when you have a hubby who is a foodie, you gotta splurge once in a while! Enter… Pineapple and Pearls! LOL

You pay when you reserve your spot. So after dinner, there’s no check. You just go on your merry way. If you cancel your reservation more than 5 days before you are supposed to dine, then you can get a full refund. Otherwise, you will lose some money.

Is there Parking?

Street parking. If you want valet, Pineapple and Pearls share a valet contract with other restaurants nearby. So you can also go there, but note that you will walk a block from the valet to the restaurant.

How long is the dining experience?

When we asked one of their staff, they said up to 3 hours. I think we were there around 2 hours and 40 minutes. So make sure you alot some time for that.

Dress code?

Casual, but like not too casual. I believe they said they want you to be comfortable but also dress to impress. I wore a jumpsuit with my leather jacket and A wore a button down long sleeved shirt with dress pants.

Our Experience

Ok, now that I got some of the questions I think you may have asked answered, time to share our experience.

Basically, you walk in to Pineapple and Pearls and you are greeted warmly by the hostess in a rather small, unassuming room. It’s “closed” off to the rest of the restaurant so you don’t see anything going on really.  They give you warm towels to wipe your hands with and then for us, a small cup of tea to taste while waiting.

Chef’s Counter

Once your seats are ready, they lead you through the curtain to your seats. A loves to watch chefs at work, so he chose to reserve our seats at the Chef’s counter – same price as the dining room price. It didn’t disappoint. You literally get to see how the chefs create all the dishes that are put in front of you. They even personalized our seats with a nice “Happy Anniversary” card. =)

Here you are greeted by another person, I’m not sure what they are called at this point. But he or she will be your guide throughout the night, detailing everything you eat and drink. Pineapple and pearls is definitely fancy schmancy in a way that you feel personally taken care of. I mean for the price, I hope you would feel that way!

1st Pairing

Hot Milk Punch and Cocktail Snacks. The hot milk punch is milk washed cognac, citrus and burnt thyme. There were two cocktail snacks. One is a smoked A5 wagyu tallow tart, red onion gelee and rosemary. The other is Peconic Escargot Vol-au-vent, with creamed parsley and Garlic.

These are bite-sized pieces by the way. The pictures make them look huge, but literally, one bite per piece.

They were all delicious though. the cognac was warm and sweet but definitely strong. The tart was savory and light. It’s a nice way to get your taste buds to wake up. The escargot was delicious! Probably my second favorite of the night. Flaky on the outside and full of flavor on the inside. It’s not the “rubbery” type of escargot. It’s a melt in your mouth type of goodness.

2nd Pairing

Toasted Rice Custard with Blood Sausage with burnt caramel and preserved fish peppers. This was paired with Schlenkerl Rauchbier Marzen and Atomized Oloroso Sherry which our “guide” sprayed on top of it.

The custard was pretty good! They were very meticulous with the presentation. I think this was maybe 2 bites. ;-). I don’t really like alcohol too much, so I didn’t quite appreciate this drink. After this, I asked for the non-alcoholic pairing.

3rd Pairing

The next pairing for Pineapple and Pearls was for the next two dishes. A chardonay/savagnin – Domaine de Montbourgeau. My non-alcoholic pairing was celery juice with cucumber and some kind of pepper. Not bad actually. Tasted pretty refreshing.

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Don’t worry… they refilled A’s glass after he finished it ;-).

The dishes that came with it are as follows. Monkfish en Papillote (with Charleston ice cream, mussels and etouffe). Note: Charleston ice cream is a rice dish, NOT ice cream! Go figure! This was probably 3-4 bites. My favorite of the night! Savory and well flavored. The monkfish was flaky and perfectly cooked!

Then the Live scallop Mulle Feuille with fermented kohlrabi and cremini mushroom cream. Also good. Not the fave, but I do love me some scallops! They serve it on a shell. Cute! Oh hmm… I’d say 2-3 bites.

4th Pairing

This next one is Black and White Mole with House Nixtamalized Tortillas with Huitlacoche and black truffle, benne seeds, baking spices and wild rose vinegar. This was paired with Gut Oggau, Theodora, Gruner Veltliner and Welschriesling. While the non-alcoholic pairing was Cilantro, black lime, and cayenne – me likey. For some reason, I didn’t get to take many pics of this pairing. I don’t know why. Oops.

5th Pairing

This pairing is for the next two dishes. A got the Herman Story – ‘On the road’ Grenache, Paso Robles. My non-alcoholic beverage was simply called “Tonico.” I don’t know what it was, but it was delish.

The first dish that came with it was Smoked and Spiced Beef Tongue with fermented malt and horseradish. One bite. This was actually pretty tasty. Then Grilled Roseda Farms Beef Striploin with braised endive with smoked beef heart, cognac, tripe and green peppercorn jus with Parker House rolls. A’s favorite of the whole night. The striploin was probably 2-3 bites and the bread we shared between us about 2-3 bites each.

Clearing the palate

To clear the palate, Pineapple and Pearls gave us a Grapefruit Sorbet with tarragon, chamomile, and Amaro Montenegro (for non- alcoholic, it was with bitter juices).

Last Pairing

For dessert, they gave us Butternut Squash ice cream cake with molasses, squash caramel and toasted seeds. This was paired with Domaine Rousset-Peyraguey, Aither. The non alcoholic pairing was Cranberry and maple in a quite interesting vessel.

Extras

At the end, A ordered some fancy coffee. While we were still seated, they gave us a fancy circular churro, caramel dipped gooseberry (bomb! I need me some gooseberries in my life), and a dark chocolate bon bon with honey and pickeled peppers.

Ending

At the end they gave you an envelope with the menu. They also said that they used to give you something for the next day. However, instead of that, they now make a donation to World Food Program USA that will help provide a meal to a hungry child.

Last Thoughts

All in all, Pineapple and Pearls was a great experience. But unless we become millionaires, it was a great once in a lifetime type of thing for us. Something to check off A’s bucket list. Food is something A and I love to enjoy together and this was something we really liked doing together. I mean you’re literally with whoever you’re eating with for 2.5 to 3 hours… I hope you like whoever you’re spending time with.

 

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!

 

(all gifs are from giphy.com)

Urban Hot Pot – Exploring Maryland

I was trying to refrain from writing about restaurants because I wasn’t sure how helpful it would be with sites already dedicated to restaurant reviews. But I realize that most of the places I go to in Maryland are food places! And well, it is my blog and since I love food so much, then why not share about my experiences! Ergo, Urban Hot Pot. Why start out with this place? Because I just recently went and so it’s fresh in my mind!

What is “HotPot”?

It’s a cooking method that involves boiling/simmering bowl of soup with which you place a variety of foodstuffs in to cook it. I believe it originated in China but I do know a lot of other Asian cultures have their versions of it. It’s basically the Asian version of fondue if you will – except instead of cheese, it’s broth.

Urban Hot Pot

I believe Urban Hot Pot opened early last year (2018) or mid to late 2017. There are many hot pot places in Maryland but I must say that I like Urban Hot Pot’s concept (which I’ll describe more below). The place is so clean, which is nice, because typically, in restaurants where people cook their own food, the place tends to be a little greasy  or at least doesn’t look as swell kept. I don’t know if it’s because this place is new-ish that it feels clean or they are just thorough when they clean it. Either way, I approve of their cleanliness.

Their Concept

Urban Hot Pot is an all you can eat type of restaurant with a rotating conveyor belt where ingredients are put on for your convenience. This is only located in the middle tables though. The tables on the side (as well as the tables in the middle), come with iPads where you can put in your orders. Each person gets their own pot of their choice of broth on top of their own “stove.” Everyone gets up to 2 hours to stuff their faces. Simple enough right??

Basic Info

Lunch: $18.99 per person
Monday – Friday: 12pm – 3pm

Dinner: $25.99 per person
Monday – Thursday: 5pm – 11pm
Friday: 5pm – 12am

Weekend/Holidays: $25.99
Saturday/Holiday: 12pm – 12am
Sunday: 12pm – 11pm

There are some options during dinner that are not available during lunch – hence the price. There are also some things on the menu that you have to pay extra for – including drinks. But to be honest, the ones included in the price are great! No need to get the extra ones unless it’s something you’re really aching to taste =)

The Sauces

Urban Hot Pot has their own sauce bar which include soy sauce, peanut sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, and lots of other sauces you can combine to make your own. My go-to is a combination of soy sauce, sesame oil, and vinegar… but you do you brah, you do you!

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The Extras

There’s also a bar for “sides” and desserts. Urban Hot Pot also has a frozen yogurt machine – a little tip – keep eating the hot pot stuff, the froyo is just ok.

My Thoughts

So I’ve been to Urban Hot Pot a few times and here are some tips as well as pros and cons.

Tips

Urban Hot Pot opens at 12pm. Get there at 11:45am so you can sit right away and pick out the middle booths you want. Otherwise, you may have to wait 2 hours since they give people 2 hours to eat all they can!

If you do get lucky and sit in the middle section, you want the 4 seater… the 6 seater is big but harder to get to the conveyor belt and the iPad (for ordering) located near the conveyor belt.

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The tables that are not in the middle uses iPads to get the orders. Look through the choices. Make sure you scroll left and right as well so you can see all the choices you have.

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Pros

The thing that stands out with Urban Hot Pot is the ordering through iPad. Once you master this, service is pretty good. It’s not only a way to order food, but you can also use the iPad to get more napkins, get some drinks, or if you just need to ask them a question – these options are on the iPad.

The conveyor belt is great because you don’t even have to use the iPad to order stuff. Just wait for whatever you want to come to you, and there you go!

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You get your own bowl of broth in Urban Hot Pot! They fill it up any time you want (within those 2 hours). I know in some places, the bowl is in the middle of the table and people just share the broth. So it’s kind of nice having your own so you can pick what type of broth you want.

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Cons

Urban Hot Pot is probably not the most kid-friendly of places. By “kid” I mean 5 and below. I mean it’s a pot of hot soup  right in front of you. It takes time to “cook” the food and what toddler likes to wait and not touch anything while waiting.

The bigger tables have 1 iPad for the whole crew. So unless someone is ok ordering for everyone the whole dinner, then some people may get frustrated.

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Overall

I do really like this place. I would definitely go here again and again. Give it a go! It’s a good place to try. Also, I love hot pots so I guess this review is biased toward hot pot places. But I truly enjoyed eating here. I took my time and just chugged along.

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Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!

(all gifs are from giphy.com)

Clark’s Elioak Farm – Exploring Maryland

I heard about this place from a friend who lives in Howard County. What peaked my interest was the fact that the artifacts from the “Enchanted Forest” were transferred to Clark’s Elioak Farm. The “Enchanted Forest” was a theme park in Ellicott City but it closed in 1995. The park was untouched for a long time until the current owner allowed the structures to be moved the this farm.

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Clark’s Elioak Farm

Clark’s Elioak Farm is located in Howard County, MD. Its 540 acres are part of the farmland protection programs meaning the land cannot be used for non-farm development. The farm has been owned by the Clark family for seven generations! Pretty cool!

The main attractions for this farm is a petting zoo, the enchanted forest restoration – which includes the pine tree maze, pony rides, train rides and the hay rides. On the weekends, they have Ellicott’s City’s bubble man, Mr. Barry Gibson, who brings bubble magic to the farm. There are also face painters and food vendors on the weekends. Lastly, for the fall lovers out there, a farm cannot be complete without a pumpkin patch! So during the fall, you can bet Clark’s Elioak Farm has that too!

Cost of Admission

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It’s $7.50 per person (free for babies <1 years old). I’m not sure if you think that’s pricey but I think it’s pretty reasonable for what Clark’s Elioak Farm has to offer. We easily spent 3 hours there and could’ve stayed longer if I only had the energy.

The rides also cost money except for the hayride which takes you around the farm and is included in the admission. The Pony ride is $2 per person, the cow ride (not real cows) is $2 per person, and the train ride is $4 per person. I’ll discuss each later.

Petting Zoo

This place is great because it has a lot of animals to see and pet. And ladies and gentlemen, baby goats! Who doesn’t love baby goats?!?!

Ok, that gif above is not from the farm, but I thought it was funny.

Anyway, again, I digress. E and baby bro thoroughly enjoyed watching and petting the animals that they saw. From goats, to sheep, to cows, emus, ponies, and more! E loved feeding the baby goats. She’s usually scared of the bigger goats so it was nice to see her be able to feed the little itty bitty baby goats. Did I mention I love baby goats?

There’s also a tiny little barn that houses chickens and rabbits but there are warnings that they can bite, so petting is not encouraged in this case.

 

Enchanted Forest

Part of the appeal for me is to see the structures that were in the old Enchanted Forest Theme Park! I’m such a kid I know! But the structures are from old fairy tales and it’s just so fun to look at them and imagine yourself in the fairy tales.  They are placed all around the farm and if you’re a big kid like me, it’s fun to seem them placed in different places on the farm!

Pine Tree Maze

Some of the structures from the Enchanted Forest are hidden in the pine tree maze. I believe the original plan was to have people come and cut down these trees for Christmas. However, now that the trees are so big, they are now part of this amazing “maze” with hidden gems from the ol’ theme park. Ok Clark’s Elioak Farm, I see you ;-).

What’s great about this maze is the smell. Pine trees. Yassss Christmas! I mean I know it’s not the holidays yet, but wooooot! The smell of these pine trees is enough to make even scrooges get into the holiday spirit!

I loved this place! I mean, the kids enjoyed it too because of all the stuff they “found” in the forest!

 

The Rides

There are several rides that you or your kids can enjoy at Clark’s Elioak Farm. Some of them are worth it and some of them are up to your preferences. We enjoyed all the rides ourselves. =)

The Hay Ride – included in the admission

So you basically go in a huge truck and it takes you around the farm. It’s a good way to take a break while doing a little “sight seeing.” The great thing about this is that you can go on it as many times as you want. I recommend sitting on different sides of the truck if you go on there twice so that you can see different things while going around the farm.

 

The Train Ride – $4 per person

So, it’s the same exact route as the Hay Ride. Yes, you got that right. BUT if you don’t like “crowded” spaces and you like to see the view of both sides of the vehicle AND your kids LOVE trains, then this is the ride for you! It also comes with tons of “choo choo” sounds which baby bro loved so much.

 

The Cow Ride – $2 per person

For the little ones! If you’re comfortable letting your kids go without you for a couple of minutes, this is the ride for you! ;-). Adults can also sit with their kids, but this ride is specifically made for the little ones. I think baby bro, who is 2, may have been a little scared going by himself, but E saved the day. The ride operator was really nice and let her go without a ticket. Woot!

 

The Pony Ride – $2 per person

It’s literally one of the shortest pony rides ever. But E was insistent and I was in a giving mood. Also, had to give it a go for my readers right?!? eh? eh? haha… E loved it of course, but I may forego this one unless they go around the little “track” like 2-3 times.

 

Extras

The Photo Zone

There’s a “Photo Zone” set up so you can take your little family and pose for pics with a cute little set up. Haha however our little ones weren’t too into it.

The Hay Maze

A little mini maze that for some reason was so much fun for E and baby bro. The hay is low enough so you don’t necessarily have to join your kids inside the maze and still see where they are at. E and baby bro ran around like crazy when they figured out how to get in and out of the maze. The older kids tended to be on top of the hay, so just look out for your little one as they traverse through the maze.  We could’ve stayed in the maze for a while but I wanted to explore some more.

 

Other fun stuff

It’s not every day you get to sit on a tractor. Baby bro loved it so much, I had to pry him off the seat. It also makes for a nice photo op! There are also wooden trains and other fun structures around the farm for kids to play in.  Lastly, they do have a store that I forgot to take a picture of. But they sell lots of locally farmed items. I went ahead and bought their apple butter which is actually pretty good on toast. E even wanted to make apple butter sandwich which she ate and loved as well =).

 

Final Thoughts

We had such a great time at Clark’s Elioak Farm! There is so much to do and see for both kids and adults. I would definitely come here again. I recommend going here in the fall because there is a pumpkin patch for the fam and it’s not so hot. The only shade you’ll really find is n the pine tree maze so if it’s too hot, you may get a little uncomfortable when exploring the farm itself.

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!

(all gifs are from giphy.com)

 

3 Days in San Jose-Bay Area with a Kid

A vacation with kid(s) is not a vacation at all… sort of. Let me preface this by saying we went into this trip knowing that our almost 5 year old girl was coming to this trip. Baby bro stayed with A’s parents because he isn’t quite ready for the travel life yet.  We decided to hit up the San Jose-Bay Area for this particular “vacation.”

Knowing that E was going, A made plans to make sure that all our activities are kid friendly. He wanted to travel further away from the Bay Area but considering we were only there 3 full days, it was better to just stay around the area.

Here’s how we traveled with a toddler and what we did while we were in the Bay Area.

5 Hour Plane Ride

Flying with a toddler is no easy feat. Even though E usually does what she is told, it’s hard to keep toddlers seated for 5-6 hours straight. Even I don’t like to sit for that long.

So we brought toys, snacks and of course the ever magical iPad. At this point of parenting, I choose sanity over shame.

She did pretty well! She went to the bathroom like a bajillion times (ok, just twice) but she was happy playing with her toys and eating her snacks. E even refused the iPad after 15 minutes because girl couldn’t stay seated for so long.

Thankfully she was small enough and careful enough not to touch the seat infront of her. Yes there were two meanies who kept looking back at us but dude, Southwest’s new chairs are so thin now that even me putting my drink in the seat back pocket caused the lady infront of me to give me the stink eye. Like chill out lady, it was one time. I really think she already had the preconception that it was going to be a bad flight because there was a kid behind her. E did not cry, did not talk out loud, and touched the chair infront of her twice when she was getting out of her chair to go to the bathroom. Get a grip people! Sorry you were so perfect as a child. We all bow down to your greatness. *end rant*

Anyway,  after the flight a couple of ladies sitting across from us and behind looked at E and said “what a great little flyer you are!”  I’m petty, so of course I responded a little louder than usual – “oh thank you so much! She tried her very best!” I’m sure I got an eye roll or two from the people in front of us but oh well. Again, after becoming a mom, I have no shame and no chill when it comes to my kids. Don’t mess with mama bear. I won’t do anything bad, but I will be petty. LOL

Getting Used to A Different Time Zone

Ok so the west coast is 3 hours earlier than where I’m from. So naturally I knew that E would have a hard time with the time change. I did let her stay up past her bedtime but she still woke up at 4am the first day we were there.

Don’t stress too much. I slept earlier than my usual time so I could make sure that if she woke up early, I could play with her until A woke up. The man can sleep forever if not woken!

Toys helped here, as well as the iPad, since she can watch a show (usually Team Umizumi – a math show – yes, she’s a nerd) while I get ready for the day.

Another advice I have is to just try to go with the flow. Either you stress about getting home “on time” for their real bedtime at home, or see if he or she can handle it and play it by ear. We chose the latter. She had no problem staying up because girl has major FOMO and would stay awake forever if she could. She then would wake up at 6 am the next day and then 5 am and then 5:30am the last day. Not too bad!

San Francisco/Muir Woods

Brenda’s

The first day there, A, E, and I went to get brunch at Brenda’s in San Francisco. What a lovely place! We came for brunch (so way before the lunch rush) on a Thursday, so we were able to get seated right away. As you enter the place they have a huge blackboard on the right side where people can write their names down when waiting for a table.

The hostess was very nice and politely let us know that everyone has to be present for our party to get seated.

Their signature dish is their beignets – we got the plain, the apple pie flavor, the nutella flavor and one savory one which had crawfish in it. I’d go for the sweet ones over the savory one, but the crawfish wasn’t bad. We also really loved their shrimp and grits. I chose to get an omellette which is nothing to write home about but you know, not bad. We usually don’t get our kids their own stuff and just share with them but hey, it’s vacation for E too, so we got her chicken and biscuits. The chicken was crispy and the biscuit flaky. She approved! The fries were good as well.

I recommend coming here when you visit SF. It’s great!

Muir Woods

After that, we decided to hit up Muir Woods. This park is famous for having a lot of tall Redwood Trees. True story: I told my mom we were going to the Redwood Forests and first thing she says back is “Is that where Robin Hood lives?” Gotta love her! She funny!

This is definitely kid friendly to a point. There are trails that are paved well and is good for parents with strollers. You can also choose different trails that would either go 1/3, 1/2, or a full way around the forest.

We enjoyed walking together and E seemed to like nature more than we thought she would. She walked the whole loop! Be aware that the bathrooms are near the “base camp” so if you have a toddler that you know pees a lot, you may want to put on a diaper on him/her. E didn’t need it this time but you never know!

South Bay Area

Kunjip Restaurant

There are some Korean Restaurants in the San Jose area. Kunjip was recommended to us by a friend who used to live near here. It mostly has soups and 4 meat dishes. We decided to get the soups because we had a pretty heavy brunch.

I’m not sure how I feel about it to be honest. I got the kalbi tang which is a beef rib stew. The difference with this soup and other kalbi tangs that I’ve tasted is the jujube infused broth. I don’t think I like the jujube taste, but if you’re into that, this may be a winner for you. They definitely give a lot of meat and you will be full if you eat it with rice.

We also got the Sulung Tang which is an ox bone soup with white noodles. Typically, you add salt/seasoning to it because the broth doesn’t have a strong taste. So I did that, and it tasted fine after adding the salt. But I definitely still hungry after eating this. So you may want to order something else with this.

Overall it was ok. It’s not my favorite, but the soups aren’t bad and it looks like from other reviews that the meat dishes are also good.

Creamistry

We couldn’t be on vacation and not go to dessert places. Other than the bajillion bubble tea places in the Bay Area, I wanted to try some fancy schmancy ice cream place. So when I saw that this place used liquid nitrogen to make their ice cream, I had to bring E so she could see it.

Overall, the experience was cool. As for the ice cream, I would recommend going for the flavors that are more plain because we got the fruity pebbles, the cheesecake with cheesecake pieces and the taro with mochi. You can choose to have your toppings mixed in or just on top. Both the fruity pebbles and the cheesecake ice creams were pretty overbearing – we had the toppings mixed in. The taro was the tamest flavor and it was pretty good – we had the mochi (which also has a mild flavor) just on top of the ice cream.

The Source

The next day, we started our day by going to “The Source” to get some vegan, organic acai bowl. We so fancy, I know ;-). This place is pretty cool. There’s only 3 little tables inside, and one huge table outside. The fourth wall facing the street is a huge garage type of deal which opens up, opening the front of the store fully.  The decor gives off a cafe type of deal.

The acai bowl is delicious! Lots of fillings and you’ll definitely get full with just one order. The juices are kind of expensive so maybe skip that if you can. We didn’t get their coffee but it looks pretty legit so get at your own risk =).

Happy Hollow Park & Zoo

Since we did travel with E, A found the nearest zoo he could find from where we were staying.  It’s a zoo and amusement park for kids.  I mean what more can you want? Bear in mind that I did say “for kids.”

The zoo isn’t big at all. The largest cats they had was a jaguar I believe and there are not larger animals. You will see capybaras which are totally awesome rodents. Lemurs and other small mammals, tortoise, vultures, and other birds. They do have a petting zoo with overly aggressive goats and really timid sheep.

Another cool thing they had was when E got to meet their resident tarantula and hedgehog. There was a learning session and they told us all about these pretty cool creatures.

After that, E was all about the carousels and the rides. These are included in the price so your kids can ride these rides as many times as they want. That’s a plus for me because if carousel ride admissions these days are esssspensive!

Din Tai Fung

It’s not a vacation unless A gets to satisfy his food cravings. This restaurant has a Michelin Star and is located inside the San Jose Mall. They are famous for their dumplings. So of course, we had to make a trip there.

Although we waited quite a while, a nice tip is that you can “reserve” via yelp and if you get there within 15 min of your yelp reservation, the wait supposedly isn’t as long.

You can see the cooks making the dumplings right at the front. And when you enter, it’s probably the cleanest Chinese Restaurant that I’ve ever been to. The servers are so nice and the place is just very welcoming.

We got a lot of food! Cucumber Salad, 3 orders of soup dumplings (pork, and crab & pork combo), sauteed bokchoy, this peanut noodle dish (I forgot the name of the dish), beef noodle soup, shrimp fried rice, and spicy shrimp wontons.  Ummm yes please.

The difference between this place and other Chinese restaurants is that even after stuffing our faces, we didn’t feel that feeling of heaviness or being overly full. I noticed that these dishes were not as greasy as other Chinese foods and that their ingredients are really fresh. This is something I’d definitely be visiting again when we go back to San Jose.

Sunnyvale Farmers Market

Parking was a nightmare but this Farmers Market is massive compared to anywhere near where I live. Tons of places come and show off their awesome businesses. I fully support this and would totally visit here whenever I can.

San Francisco

PPQ Dungeness Island

Back to San Francisco, we hit up PPQ. We’ve heard such great things about this place and this is the one restaurant I was really excited to try. Seafood is my weakness. I totally wish that crabs were part of my daily meals.

Dungeness crabs are massive! If I were to compare it to how much meat I would get from a #1 male blue crab, I would say it could be about 3-4 times as much meat. We ordered the roasted garlic dungeness crab, the house garlic noodles, and crab meat fried rice.

All three entrees were delicious. The house garlic noodles were very flavorful and the crab meat fried rice definitely did not skimp on the cram meat. The dungeness crabs were also good. However, this east coast, Maryland girl is still all about the blue crabs. The meat of the dungeness crab is not quite as tender as the blue crab but it was still quite delicious. You have to at least give this place a go =).

San Tung Chinese Restaurant

I know… it looks like all we did was eat… but when your husband has an endless appetite, this is what happens. This place is famous for their chicken. We came on a Monday at around 5:45pm and there was already a 1 hour wait.

Even when our names finally got called, the place was packed. It’s almost like a big hole in wall type of place. It’s not clean by any means, but you can tell that people that go here don’t care about that kind of stuff because they know the chicken is that good.

We ordered the chicken and some good ol’ jajangmyun – noodles with black bean sauce. I mean, the thing is I wasn’t blown away by the chicken. It’s good. It’s not a 1 hour wait type of good. But I can tell you that the ja jang myun was bomb. Like legit one of the best that I’ve tasted. Still not a 1 hour wait type of good, but definitely worth a visit.

Bubble Tea

The Bay area is full of bubble tea places. So I went ahead and tried three different ones for each of the 3 full days we had there. Here are the ones I tried.

Teaspoon

Probably my favorite out of the three that we went to. The boba here is lightly sweetened and had the best texture out of the ones we went to. They also had interesting flavors. The ones we got were very refreshing. We got the Creamy Jasmine and House Milk Tea – both with the “less sweet” version.  You can definitely taste the tea in it but it wasn’t overpowering and didn’t have the bitterness taste to it.

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Urban Ritual

We didn’t know where to go in the city so we yelped and this little gem came up in our searches. We all thought it looked interesting so we went ahead and tried it. It wasn’t bad. You can also choose the sweetness level and when I thought mine was too bitter, I was able to bring it back to the baristas and they were able to increase the sweetness level of the drink. The boba was ok.

 

Happy Lemon

Back in San Jose, this one is known for the cap cream on top of the drink. Unfortunately, our was mixed right into our drink so I can’t completely say that I tasted the difference between this and regular milk teas that I’ve bought. The drinks weren’t bad though and the boba was also consistent in its texture.

 

Closing Thoughts

This trip was great in that we got to visit our loved ones and we were able to go to lots of different restaurants and activities. The hardest parts were that E woke up early every morning and then getting her adjusted back to our regular time zone when we got back from the trip.

There wasn’t a day that where we were not tired because E is not the easiest to sleep in the same room with. Yes, traveling with a toddler is definitely not a real vacation. However, I did love having her with us and seeing how excited she was when we would try something new. It’s just a different kind of fun. And I love making these kinds of memories with her and with baby brother in the near future!

Thanks for reading the longest blog ever and have a great rest of the day!

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(All gifs are from giphy.com)

 

10 Step Korean Skin Care Review

Ok so I’ve talked about how my skin has been breaking out like crazy since having my second child. I’ve also reviewed the Clarisonic Mia 2 and how it’s helped a bit with my breakouts. This time, I’m going to talk about the 10 step Korean Skin Care Routine. This was huge for me because how does one review each product if I’m using all of it at the same time?? So I won’t! I’ll just take you through the steps and as a whole, let you know how it worked out for me!

What is the 10 Step Korean Skin Care?

Kbeauty is trending nowadays because most Kpop stars are known for having the smoothest, flawless faces.

However, I do want to stress that I know many Korean friends who have great skin that don’t use Korean skin care. So genes may also have something to do with it.

With that being said, I still wanted to try it because as a mom, I rarely have time to go out and get a facial or go to a spa so this is my way of getting my own relaxation time at night.

The 10 step korean skin care includes: an oil based cleanser, a water based cleanser, an exfoliating scrub (2x a week), a face mask (2x a week), a toner, an essence, a serum, eye cream, lotion, and sunscreen (in the morning).

Yes, that is a lot. The first night I tried it, it took me a total of 20 min (without the mask). The next morning, it was 10 minutes (without the exfoliator, and without the mask). After I was used to the steps it took me 9 minutes at night (plus 5 with exfoliator or plus 20 min with mask), and 6 minutes in the morning. Not bad.

The Products

You can probably buy these things separately. But because I’m a noob and these things are esssspensive, I bought the 10 step korean skin care (for combination skin) pack at SOKO Glam.  Here are the products that they chose for me:

  1. Klavuu Pure Pearlsation Divine Pearl Cleansing Oil (oil-based cleanser): claims to remove makeup and brighten the skin
  2. Neogen Green Tea Real Fresh Foaming Cleanser (water-based cleanser): claims to remove impurities such as sweat and dirt and to brighten, calm and hydrate the skin
  3. Neogen Canadian Clay Pore Cleanser (exfoliator): claims to eliminate sebum, blackheads and dead skin cells
  4. Manefit Bling Bling Hydrogel Mask – Whitening Platinum  (one sheet mask for single-use): claims to give you a radiant glow to leave you with hydrated, supple, and dewy skin
  5. Missha Time Revolution Clear Toner (toner): claims to help encourage cellular turnover to give you a clear, bright, even skin tone
  6. Neogen Real Ferment Micro Essence (essence): claims to have skin plumping benefits and give you glowing, supple skin
  7. Missha Time Revolution Night Repair New Science Activator Ampoule (serum): claims to repair and hydrate skin to give you a luminous smooth, and even-toned skin
  8. Benton Fermentation Eye Cream (eye cream): claims to help repair, hydrate, plump and smooth the skin around the eye
  9. Etude House SoonJung 10 Free Moist Emulsion (moisturizer): claims to give skin deep hydration and increased elasticity, as well as repair skin damage
  10. Missha Mild Essence Sun Milk SPF 50+/PA+++ (sun screen): lightweight sunscreen that won’t leave your face feeling greasy

My Expectations

For me, acne is my biggest issue. But more than that, I also wanted to decrease the appearance of scars and sun spots on my face. I want my face to be brighter and more moisturized. Lastly, I wanted to decrease the appearance of wrinkles on my face, especially around the eyes.

That sounds like a lot but I mean I spent $200 on the set so I mean it better do at least half of what it claims!

The First Day

Here is my face on the first day. As you can see there’s lots of acne scars and lots of sunspots on my face.

Before trying this skin care,  my routine would consist of an oil cleanser, water based cleanser using the clarisonic, toner, lotion, then eucerin cream on the dry spots on my face. My face would feel pretty sticky but since I was going to bed anyway, I didn’t mind.

After the first time trying the products, I didn’t notice any major difference in the way my skin felt except for the fact that my face didn’t feel as sticky or greasy. Note that I still used the clarisonic for the water based cleanser and spot treated one big dry spot on my face with the eucerin cream.

The Next Day

I woke up a little scared because I wasn’t sure if I was going to see any redness or rashes. They say you should test things out on your skin first but I didn’t to that. But I’m a “go big or go home” type of gal so there you go.

Luckily, no breakouts. I did the day skin care routine (double cleanser, toner, essence, serum, eye cream, moisturizer, and sunscreen) and did my makeup as usual. I don’t do foundation and I stopped using the tinted moisturizer last month, but NARS concealer does the trick for me to cover up the pimples and the dark circles around my eye. Yay for make up! I didn’t notice any difference with makeup application after the new skin care routine. I did notice that my skin had a subtle brightness to it.

 

That night though, I did notice that I was breaking out a little on my forehead. I wasn’t too worried though because I read somewhere that every time you change your makeup routine, you could expect some breakouts in the first week or so.

 

After 1 month

Throughout the first month, my skin felt cleaner and more moisturized. I also saw that my skin was brighter (not as dull-looking). However, my main problem – acne – came and went and came back again. I don’t think the products made it worse, but I don’t really think they made it better (acne-wise).

After the 1st month, my skin did look good, however, I wasn’t sure if it was because of my cycle (ya know what I mean ladies ;-)), or because of the products itself. So I kept going into the second month just to see what happened.

After 2 months

So the pictures below show the results after weeks 5, 6, 7, and 8. As you can see, my face definitely looks a lot brighter. I used the same lighting and location each time so it wouldn’t skew my results. I can’t really tell if it took away my dark spots. But I know that the larger dark spots are still there (rows 2 and 3 below).

My biggest issue is still the acne on my forehead. I definitely still have major breakouts on my forehead. Maybe they are not as big, but I have so many little bumps on my forehead! I don’t know which is more annoying!

Overall Assessment

My Expectations

From my expectations, I think this 10 Step Korean skin care routine hit a couple of points. My skin definitely feels more moisturized and as you can see from the pictures, my face is definitely brighter. Not oily-brighter, but just brighter in that I felt like it has some “glow” to it now. As far as wrinkles, the camera can’t pick it up, but I did notice a slight improvement in the fine lines around my eyes. They don’t seem to be as noticeable as before.

However, I think the 10 Step routine also missed a couple of points. I’m not quite sure if my sun spots went away though. I feel like they stayed about the same. My acne… oh man… I wished so bad that it worked. I even tried to switch up the serum between week 6-8 to see if it would help and it looks like it either stayed the same or made it even worse =(.

The Products

Most of the products in the 10 step korean skin care routine I bought, lasted about 1.5 – 2 months. I did the recommended regimen, which is a morning and night routine every day. The eye cream and the essence are what I have tons of leftover – I think they can last 1-1.5 more months. The toner and the oil-based cleanser are what I had to reorder after 5 – 6 weeks. Also, there is only 1 sheet mask. Luckily I had some other sheet masks so I was able to 2 the recommended 2 sheet masks per week. That can get so expensive!

My favorites are the water-based cleanser, the eye cream, and the toner. I felt like the Neogen Green Tea Cleanser was effective in cleaning my face.  The Missha Time Revolution Toner also felt very refreshing and when used with a cotton ball, can pick up the last bits of dirt on your face that the cleansers/clarisonic didn’t get. The Benton Fermentation eye cream is also very soothing and does not feel greasy at all. I really feel like it decreased some of the fine lines around my eyes.

Would I Recommend It?

If you’re skin is not acne-proned and you just want something to brighten your skin and make it more moisturized without breaking you out, then yes go for this 10 step korean skin care routine. But for me, I just wouldn’t pay this much if it didn’t have the effect I wanted it to have. My acne is still a problem and though I did like the brightening effects of this 10 step skincare, I think I will just keep the toner and essence for that purpose.

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Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!

(all gifs are from giphy.com)