Life in America is an ube cheesecake


Seeing family is like chancing upon a Fil-Am ube cheesecake at Cafe 86 in Pasadena. Sometimes it’s there, and some days you see ube leche flan cupcake, like this week, I was able to touch base with Ericke, and two days later, with my beautiful cousin Samantha, who celebrated her birthday last week. Failed to attend any of her 3 parties ‘coz I was working that weekend. God, please create another weekend for those who work so others can have their weekends always.


Ericke’s office is in Pasadena, so she’s tried the new Asian fusion Fig Sprout that specializes in roasted chicken. I regret I didn’t take 1/2 ‘coz it was truly so delicious with the mint sauce and herbed rice. I am not a fan of chicken, but this one’s rare, like saying I have so much respect for El Pollo Loco. Ericke had Coco Pasta, very Asian with coconut cream, lemongrass, and so good that it was telling me to have my own full serving.


Before working another long weekend shift, had one more spontaneous date with Samantha at Market Provisions, a quaint restaurant in the LA Fairfax District near her office in Beverly Hills, and then she dropped me off to go walking down Rodeo Drive.


In my head debating whether to get rigatoni with crab and shrimps or linguini with lobster. Happy I listened to the waiter.


Life is an ube cheesecake, enjoy it when it’s there.

Enjoy life before it melts


Got into a fight before the holidays ‘coz my friend looked dazed after that last big lunch at Baroo, and we missed the stop going to the ice cream place, which meant I had to go on a month-long hibernation without getting my ice cream fix.

Yeah, ice cream is the happiness you can buy that won’t make you go broke. It’s actually better than sex.

And at Gresescent you can have a multiple orgasmic bouquet of different flavors. So I had a cone filled up with lychee rose, blackberry mint mojito, lemon bar, salted caramel buttercake, and rosemary toffee — how does that sound? I-scream’ed lychee rose!


Spent two days-off to go to Quenelle, in Burbank, trying to have funnel cake ice cream sandwich, available only on Wednesdays, at a certain time of the day, but wasn’t really lucky in love. Got to try a scoop of Hot Cheetos, though. But the revelation was the cheesecake ice cream bar. Had a twosome.

At Saffron and Rose, in Westwood, where I had the signature saffron pistachio, ice cream in Middle Eastern flavors is all organic, and very dense, which I enjoy more.


One of my most memorable ice cream flavors in LA is amaretto from Eatalian Café.

The Grom gelato shop, at the Dolby Theater on Hollywood Blvd., proved to be less than a tourist trap. I got my money’s worth. Not content with just gelato, I also tried their refreshing fruit granitas.


Filipino ice cream is well-represented in LA, and ube is honored at Wanderlust Creamery, which specializes in travel-inspired artisanal ice cream flavors.


I’ve had an awful lot of ice cream in Los Angeles. Some were uninteresting, some were too sweet, some were not worth the hype, some were too fancy, but there are those that keep haunting me like I keep going back to Sonny’s Amazing Italian Ices and Creams for balsamic strawberry, maple pecan and salted caramel, Bennett’s for cabernet sauvignon sorbet, Coolhaus for Thai iced tea (oh, Netflix with cheddar popcorn and Doritos nacho notes was suprisingly good), and Scoops has very interestingly unique flavors like Korean creator Tim Kai has already created more than a thousand flavors that were featured in their shops over the years. But it’s always a good idea to have Häagen-Dazs or Thrifty Vanilla and Baskins-Robbins Old-Fashioned Butter Pecan in the fridge.


‘Coz I can relate to very Asian flavors, but nowadays, Asian feels are becoming more and more universal, I can appreciate flavors like plum, or mango and sticky rice, or Thai iced tea, or cocoa curry coco, or ginger whatever, but I swear by Tamashii Ramen House’s red bean ice cream, wherever it was made.

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There’s a current trend for making simple soft-serve ice cream into Instagram-worthy subjects. A whole lot of Korean and Japanese style ice cream are being introduced like the taiyaki with a fish-shaped waffle cone, the cotton candy-covered ice cream, and the powder-dusted cremia.


Ta-da! Buko ice cream that is presented like traditional Filipino buko ice candy is a hit at Rice Bar on 7th St. in DTLA.


Worth mentioning, the cassata Milanese at Spumante Restaurant on Magnolia Blvd. at the Noho Arts District was ambrosial.

An awesome find, Mateo’s Ice Cream and fruit bars, in Culver City, satisfied the Mexican in me. Had too much tamarindo popsicles there.


Well, after all is said and done, if I’d be asked to pick an ice cream flavor to be my lawfully wedded husband, then it has to be Salt ‘n Straw’s masterfully crafted black olive brittle and goat cheese, with the perfect texture and all the right ingredients.


Tomorrow, I’m ending my hibernation, and back to eating what makes me happy.

LA from my POV


Only until I was able to confidently hop on a train to go to Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA), and take the bus without really looking at the bus app anymore, that I was able to fully enjoy exploring the hidden gems of the city. I have company on Thursdays, but otherwise, it’s a better idea to have your own loose schedule, making room for randonimity.

I have my favorite spots like I’d want to go back to over and over again, and share it with friends.

The Last Bookstore on Spring St. is walkable from my other fave places like the Grand Central Market.


The Los Angeles Arts District is for someone who doesn’t mind walking blocks of old warehouses converted to galleries, hip bars and cafes and trendy boutiques. If Instagrammable settings are your thing, then you should be hawk-eyed for catchy street art.


Hipsterdom Silver Lake also happens to be a foodie heaven. Too many options, but so far liking Pine and Crane for Taiwanese food, Millie’s breakfast plates, El Cochinito for Cuban homestyle cooking,  kitschy Thai restaurant Night + Market Song, Milk for desserts, and on the border of East Hollywood, there’s Sqirl which I never tire of. If you eat only organic, you will love the weekend market.


Not your ordinary vintage shops abound in this neighbornood.


Any Chinatown in the world is interesting, but what makes the Los Angeles Chinatown more interesting is the fact that the Far East Plaza, which used to house Chinese cultural art and traditional products, has opened its doors to an insane hodgepodge of globally liked dishes, like there’s a good ramen spot, a Chego, which creates modern Korean rice bowls, a banh mi and pho place, a bao house owned by actor Eddie Huang (they have the best coffin bao!), an inexpensive but fantastic Chinese restaurant, Scoops with the most original ice cream flavors, the newly opened contemporary Filipino Lasa, not to forget Howlin’ Ray’s which has an impossible long line always.


Not far from the Far East Plaza are great dim sum restaurants like Ocean Seafood (if you find the San Gabriel Valley out of the way).


The Grand Central Market. Yes, the iconic 1917 Grand Central Market is better than ever, what with the new Los Angeles food culture. And then mixing the old with the new makes the experience more evocative.


The long line leading to Eggslut is still there. I always get the Fairfax with avocado and bacon add-ons. Sari-Sari Store is good news to Filipino food lovers. Liking the sisig bowl, super nakaka-nostalgia.

A lot of food for the soul here.


Right across the Grand Central Market is the Bradbury Building, a living proof of stellar historical preservation. If it looks familiar to you, it is because it was used as filming location to scenes in the original Blade Runner.


Something I enjoyed was tracking down the Camera Obscura that gives a pinhole view of the Santa Monica beach.


Discovering the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine on Sunset Blvd. in Pacific Palisades was serendipity. So Zen, it is a place to forget all your worries, or just be away from the urban wild.

I like spending my time in museums. I love LACMA where Picasso made me cry. And The Broad was so much fun. Across The Broad is the Disney Concert Hall.


They say the best thing about LA is Koreatown. If you like Korean food you will definitely agree, but there’s more than Kbbq and bibimbap and jap chae here. The busiest Boiling Crab is in Ktown. It’s also home to Sun Nong Dan, which serves the best sullungtang bone broth and cheesy galbi jjim. I swear by Cassell’s Hamburgers at the Hotel Normandie. And the best bingsoo, to me, is at Anko. Wako Donkasu, for its  cold soba and pork katsu, is another personal fave. I’m having an affair with a Korean hairstylist. I buy my green tea here, and checking out the latest in Kbeauty is therapeutic.


I’ve never enjoyed Los Angeles like this before.

From my throne to yours

Happy Mother's Day!Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers on earth!

Photographed by Melanie de Leon.
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