Vincent's Food Reviews
GiorgiPorgi - Los Angeles
Definitely not your typical coffee shop. Read some reviews before going so you're not confused!
I went in on a Saturday, and for a small shop it was relatively busy. Just one barista (Giorgi, the owner, came in later) making drinks for all the customers. You find a spot by the bar counter and take a seat, and your barista will be with you in the order you came in. Don't bother asking for a menu, because there isn't one. Just wait your turn and enjoy the atmosphere.
When it was finally our turn, our barista came over and asked us simple questions, like if we wanted coffee or tea, hot or iced, whole milk or almond milk, and sweetened or unsweetened. After that, she takes free reign. It's like Omakase at a sushi place, but with coffee! Super cool, and while I'm sure it was purely coincidental, our barista basically read my mind. I wanted an iced coffee drink that was unsweetened and used whole milk, and she made me a shaken, foamy latte. It was only one shot of espresso, but definitely hit the spot.
My friends enjoyed their drinks as well. You can't really come here expecting anything, to be honest. You're not guaranteed to get that cup that is balancing on one side, you can't really choose where to sit (that depends on which seats open up after a party leaves) and the barista pretty much decides what you're drinking. It's such a unique take, and I bet you'd like it here if you're indecisive because there aren't many things to choose from! Also, cash or Venmo. Yeah, Venmo. Hipster.
Come here if you're tired of deciding what to drink. Or if you want to take a picture at a super aesthetic coffee shop. Or if you just wanna try something new! GiorgiPorgi won't be everyone's cup of tea (or coffee in this case) but it's definitely a unique choice.
Sul & Beans - Rowland Heights & Koreatown
(this review is for the Koreatown location, but having been to the Rowland Heights location, essentially everything besides the long lines are the same)
I was precarious about this place, but after trying it, I'm sold.
This seems to be a very hip place to be! Not a fan of the way the chairs and tables are organized, but it's understandable considering the owners probably wanted to maximize the number of seats. I came on a very busy night; the wait extended to outside the store itself. That's not all; there still aren't that many seats in the restaurant, so most of the time you're just waiting to be seated. After you wait to be seated, you've gotta wait in line-- again-- to order.
What they've got here is honestly pretty good though. I don't know how one makes shaved ice so fine, milky and delicious, but they managed to do it here. The price is a bit harder to swallow than the ice, but considering how perfect the presentation is and how satisfying the taste is, it's at least worth a try. I underestimated the portion size on my first visit and got two shaved ice for me and my friend, when we could've easily just shared one.
I've tried the Green Tea Bingsoo, the Fresh Strawberry Bingsoo, the Injeolmi Bingsoo, and the Original Bingsoo. Green Tea Binsoo was my favorite of the four; although it doesn't look it, there was enough matcha for the entire bowl, the red bean was sweet and compliments the matcha taste well, and the mochi on top was.. interesting. If you just chew it by itself, there's a very faint saltiness to it, but with the ice it's great. Chewy without being crazily so.
The fresh strawberry one, as the name implies, is very light and refreshing. The combination of strawberry and milky snow makes for a great pairing. The Injeolmi bingsoo was also good, but I'd say it's a bit of a wild card-- a bit of an acquired taste. It's made up by a generous coating of soybean powder and the same chewy rice cakes. The flavor is very nutty and hearty, so while it's probably the least sweet of the four, it's the heaviest tasting. The Original is purely milky snow plus red bean and rice cake. To my surprise, there's a second layer of red bean after you dig through the initial mountain of snow! With that said, as good as it tastes, it's arguably the least special. A safe choice, but not very unique. The red beans are also very sweet.
Yelpers who love shaved ice, or shaved snow should definitely check this place out! I just hope the wait isn't as crazy the next time I come.
Choppa Ice Cream - Goleta
Surprisingly good Thai-style rolled ice cream in a place I least expected to find it!
The rolled ice cream craze has been around for a while. Not to boast, but I've tried it pretty much as soon as it was available in LA. I wasn't too big of a fan, because it was a bit crumbly, not as creamy, and pretty much purely for aesthetics. This place is different.
You might be intimidated by the amount of people trying this place out, but rest assured because they have a good number of workers at different stations. They know you'd want to record or take a picture of them chopping away at the ice cream, so they call your number and start when you're in front of them.
When rolling the ice cream, sometimes you'd find the employee having trouble getting them to roll properly, but considering how creamy the texture of the ice cream is, it's a worthy tradeoff. Our "performer" was really good (it was only his second day on the job too!) and didn't mess up, but I overhead a couple employees who did and offered to remake the roll to satisfy the customer. So nice!
My friends and I tried "for the 'gram" (combination of strawberry and graham crackers), and "take me 2 paradise" (Thai tea flavored). Both had a very good texture and was sweet without making you feel gross after. I wasn't expecting the Thai tea flavor to be so potent, so props to them for somehow pulling it off. With that said, For the 'gram was our pick. The graham cracker bits not only gave the dessert an even more interesting texture, it also added more volume to the mixture, and thus gave us bigger rolls. The bowl just looked fuller and was truly social media-worthy.
The price is a bit steep, but considering you can easily share one order with at least one other person, the price is reasonable for a good experience. Good job, Choppa, for delivering on good customer service and great taste!
Yup Dduk LA - Koreatown
Yup Dduk La specializes in spicy Korean rice cake. Be prepared to wait, especially during rush hour or weekends, because the store is pretty small and seating is limited. Parking is also cramped, so I would plan ahead and start looking for parking as you approach the store.
I went with one friend, which made the visit a bit pricey, but it's super worth it. My friend and I got set A, which has the rice cake and SUPER well battered and flavored veggie tempura placed around the plate. We also added melted mozzarella cheese, but while it's aesthetically pleasing and seemingly a no-brainer for cheese lovers, I would actually recommend not adding it. The mozzarella cools off super quickly, despite the spicy rice cake being super hot. As a result, it clumps up and doesn't do much to the overall dish. You can save your money and get other add-ons instead.
Besides that, everything else is just delicious. The battered tempura veggies mostly consist of sweet potato (I think) and it soaks up some of the spicy rice cake sauce, adding more kick to the delicacy. The rice cakes are super chewy and just taste "clean," meaning they're not gooey or super starchy. There's a good amount of fish cake in the bowl, even though we opted for the original instead of the version with more fish cake.
Both of us can eat relatively hot stuff, but we started sweating after getting medium spicy. Proceed with caution! The serving size is also super generous. We both ate as if our lives depended on it, but we still had enough to fill a substantially sized takeout container to take home. I'm sure one bowl is more than enough to fill 3 people, granted you're not a monster.
Overall, I can't find much fault in this place! Everything you can potentially complain about, you technically shouldn't... you should know that you signed up for a small restaurant in a small plaza, you know you're looking for carbs, you know you're looking for some spice... even customer service is good! If spicy rice cakes sound remotely enticing to you, you owe it to yourself to give this place a try.
The Pond Ice Cream - Arcadia
All the hype of other bougie, artisanal soft serve with that charcoal cone, without the wait and the ridiculous prices!
I went to a soft serve place of a similar concept in LA literally the day before this. I had to pay for parking, wait in a line that extended past the door, and pay $7 per cone for "meh" flavors and texture. The Pond is located in a relatively mellow neighborhood with parking in the back and in the front of the store, has competitive flavors, a more reasonable price (check in for a free cone!), and isn't ridiculously busy! You get the aesthetics at a fraction of the price and effort. Now that's a deal. Students can come on weekdays for even greater savings!
The store itself is very neat-- very aesthetic, and very clean. We were given the opportunity to try all the flavors, and reminded to check in for that free charcoal cone.
I tried the dole whip flavor, and while I didn't end up getting it, I still liked it. It was creamier and smoother than my expectations, since fruit flavored soft serve usually have a consistency similar to sorbet. The flavor isn't as tart as you might expect either, so if you're looking for super tangy, tart dole whip, this may not be for you. The orange cream is even creamier.
I got the matcha and milk tea swirl, which combines two of my favorite flavors for a (surprise) matcha milk tea flavor. The two flavors don't try to outdo each other, but instead work together quite well. I think this combination works better than the dole whip and orange cream combo.
I would highly recommend giving this place a try!
Red Castle 3 - Rowland Heights
It was really hard for my friends and I to get together; honestly, what a waste of a rare opportunity to meet up. Came in on a Friday night, and there was a wait, as expected. We put our names on the list and waited just outside the door, because there were a lot of people waiting inside. About 20 minutes later, we went in to check on our position on the wait list, only to find that our name has already been crossed out. Didn't even bother calling out the name just outside of the restaurant for the customers waiting outside.
We finally got seated, and our plates are sticky. Poured water in our cups but had to stop halfway because there was stuff stuck on two of the cups. Our server looked miserable, like she desperately wanted to go home. I'm not even a needy customer, but I felt bad asking her for the simplest of things because of her attitude.
Our first round of meats came out, and things started to look positive. Our meats were of pretty good quality, considering the price we paid. We got Menu B, the middle option, for $15.99 per person. The steak was marbled, the brisket was lean. Little did we know, that was the peak of our experience.
A friend dropped his chopsticks and raised his hand up. "There's a lady bug in my salad." Indeed there was. We were a little grossed out, but joked that that's just how fresh the salad was. What's worse than the lady bug was the treatment afterwards. We notified our server, and she grabbed the plate, said sorry, and left. That was it! She didn't even sound sincere at all. Flabbergasted, we flagged down another employee, who delivered a more sincere apology. My friend asked if anything can be done about what happened, and he said the most he can offer is a drink. Asked for Coke, he came back with lemonade. When we told him that's not what we wanted, he took the lemonade back and came back with the Coke.
Not only do I believe a fountain beverage is not enough compensation for an insect in our food, I also believe the least that could've been done is to give us the drink you already brought out incorrectly.
But wait! It gets worse. We didn't get our requested grill change until 10 minutes later, when we flagged down another server. My friend accidentally dripped oil onto her bag and clothes, and seeing this, our original server came by and threw us a towel and walked away. Even the man who gave us the Coke saw this and felt the need to come over and apologize for her behavior.
Oh, but the meat is good, right? No. Subsequent orders of meat saw an exponential decline in quality. Our lean, red brisket turned into slices of fat with probably 25% lean meat, the rest is pure, white fat. The steak we got was ultimately what caused us to give up. It was so tough even though we didn't overcook it that everyone tired out their jaws to the point where we were too tired and sore to eat more. We came into this establishment, well aware we shouldn't be expecting world-class service and quality, considering the price we're paying. But this is just sad.
How disappointing can a place get... If you enjoy being mistreated, do yourself a favor and come here. This one star is mostly because I'm not allowed to give a lower score here, and because the male server at least tried a little.
About the Foodie
I probably shouldn't be too proud of this: During one of my very first interviews, I was asked what motivates me in life. I got nervous, blanked out on the answer I have prepared, and managed to get one word out of me, "Food." My interviewer looked at me, chuckled, and asked for an elaboration. It turns out, in the midst of chaos and internal conflict, the truth comes out.
As I explained to my interviewer, I go to the gym because I want to eat the food I love without feeling too guilty. I essentially go throughout the day thinking what my next meal is going to be, even if I've just finished a meal. One of the reasons why I want a good paying job is so I can travel and eat food from all over the world. I eat to comfort myself when I'm sad, I eat to celebrate. Some people eat to survive, but for me, food is life.
To back up my status as a self-proclaimed foodie, I am currently Yelp Elite for the third consecutive year. I have written about 250 reviews, and taken almost double that amount in photos. Triple the number of reviews I have written, and you get the number of times my reviews have been marked as "Useful, Funny, or Cool". Within a 90-day period, my reviews have been viewed over 40,000 times. Needless to say, I am proud of my achievements and my impact within my community.
As a food lover, as a writer, as an undergraduate seeking a career in marketing, creating a food blog was a no-brainer. Fueled by my passions and armed with my experience, I hope to utilize my presence and voice to create informative, helpful reviews. While I wish I could give a 5-star rating to every restaurant (that would mean every restaurant is amazing and every choice is a good choice), I firmly believe in delivering the truth. Through my unbiased reviews, great restaurants will gain the publicity they deserve, and fellow food lovers won't have to endure a subpar dining experience. Join me as I eat my way around the world!