Guest List for a Kamayan Dinner



Kamayan Dinner– Filipino style eating using bare hands instead of utensils.

I am on a serious Filipino food momentum these days. [Our family Thanksgiving lunch definitely helped satisfy my craving issues]. Part of this momentum is likely triggered by all these exciting articles on popular Filipino food trends, up and coming chefs, etc. I also noticed more and more kamayan style dinners popping up all over LA which had me thinking.  If I had the chance to host a dinner with five guests, who would I invite?

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Thanksgiving: A Big, Fat, Filipino Eating Fest

A Filipino rendition of Thanksgiving. This isn’t even the full spread – there’s a whole turkey not pictured that’s on the other side of these dishes.


Thanksgiving is that time of year when we reflect on our lives and count our blessings… which we celebrate by gorging ourselves and engaging in some good ol’ communal gluttony.

Traditional American Thanksgiving fixins include turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and usually some veggie dish that’s coated in some creamy substance that negates any health benefits said veggies might’ve contained.

Filipino-American Thanksgiving fixins (or the ones by my family, at least) include all of that, plus lechon, menudo, pancit, macaroni and cheese, oxtail soup, humba, potatoes au gratin, garlic fried chicken, rice, Filipino spaghetti, a whole lotta other dishes I could never identify but name but have definitely eaten frequently in my life, and not a whole lotta veggies.

How the heck do you tackle this beast of a Thanksgiving spread, you ask? Well, let me give you a brief overview of how it usually goes down in my family.

STEP 1: Oxtail soup. Always go for the oxtail. Lolo Joe makes this out-of-this-world soup made from oxtail, greens, and… actually, I have no idea what’s in it. But the broth and the fall-off-the-bone meat with some rice is definitely my go-to warm-up dish to get things going.

For those unfamiliar, oxtail soup can look a bit scary at first. But trust me: this fall-off-the-bone meat, soaked in a mild broth with greens and rice, is definitely not one dish to miss at the party.

STEP 2: Filipino food plate. Usually, at this point, I’m so pumped to find Filipino food that I go for those dishes first. (I don’t have Filipino food often, so these are the times when I get my fill.) This time, a huge slab of lechon ended up on my plate, so I worked around that by adding just a few other sides like rice, Filipino spaghetti*, lumpia, more oxtail, and some grapes (for color).

*Filipino spaghetti: pasta noodles with sweet, thick red sauce, hot dogs (yes, hot dogs), cheese, and I’m sure loads of sugar somewhere in there. So wrong, it’s right.

Lolo Joe loaded my plate with a massive slab of lechon meat and skin, so that kind of threw a curveball into my overall vision for my first plate, in terms of variety. So I kinda just added some rice, Filipino spaghetti, lumpia, and a little more oxtail and called it a day. Oh, and a few grapes for produce, since veggies aren’t really a thing with Filipino feasts.

STEP 3: Take a break from the savory and dip into the dessert station. I always need a little sweet as an intermission before I resume my usual entree plate program. A few bites of cassava cake, a taste of ube, a tad bit of flan, maybe some fruit, and then I’m good to get back to business.

Tiny sweet bites (Hans and Harry’s fruit strudel, ube, flan, cassava, grapes, and hopia) before I get into my next plate.

STEP 4: Back to the savory plates. Maybe a little more American this time. After my sweet fix, I get back to eating another plate. This time, it’s usually to get into traditional Thanksgiving dishes and maybe more veggies. I have no photo of this because today the lechon overshadowed most of my attempts to eat American, but typically this is the time when I go for the turkey, potatoes, mac and cheese, and maybe look for some veggies or fruit somewhere.

STEP 5: Repeat the process throughout the day. Eating is not a finite activity on these days; with the food on sternos throughout the day, it’s completely normal in this setting to keep eating and nibbling on different dishes. You want gluttony? Come check this scenario out. But this is how we spend our quality time together, and I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll head back to my food-drunk stupor now.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all! Hope you were able to spend it well surrounded by loved ones.

Discover Newport Beach: McDonald’s (?)

McDonald’s located on PCH, Newport Beach


A few storefronts down from the Newport Beach Ferrari dealership on Pacific Coast Highway, one can find a surprisingly tasty and affordable food establishment. This particular restaurant serves breakfast (24 hours even), lunch and dinner. Children love going here. Adults likely secretly love it only because this fast food chain is not exactly known for a healthy menu. What is this magical Newport place I speak of? McDonald’s.

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My Version of the LA Food and Wine Festival

My Version of LA Food and Wine Festival Starts at RiceBar


Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival took place over the weekend right down the street from my apartment. I really did want to buy a ticket (especially because De La Soul was scheduled to perform on Saturday night). However, I just could not get over the ticket price. For the whole week, I went back and forth debating whether I could justify spending anywhere between $115-$175 for one (only 1) night of unlimited wine and food tastings from up and coming to well-known chefs. While I wanted to go, ultimately the practical me figured that for $150 I could create my own fake a$$ version of an LA Food and Wine Festival visiting different restaurants throughout the city for the entire weekend.

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It’s Like Butter Baby

All things butter, including Butter Cookies!


After reading Deo’s post last week, I figured out that I’m a fan of the Faileo diet too. My love of butter really contributes to my success rate. Yesterday, I wanted butter cookies so took a ride down to Little Tokyo just to eat cookies. Not just one either. I purposely got dressed, gassed up my car and drove about a mile to eat a cookie with a recipe that likely calls for 1 cup of butter. Holy cow. One (1) whole cup?

Previously, I dedicated a post to butter. Today, I dedicate a post to an extension of that love- Butter Cookies.

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The Faileo Diet

I’m pretty sure cavemen ate this.


There’s only been one diet that has truly worked for me and that is the faileo diet. What is the faileo diet, you ask? Let me tell you, my modern human friend! It is exactly like being on the paleo diet, except that you’re failing at it. Continue reading “The Faileo Diet”

Filthy McNasty

calm down, hen


This week Aiza, Nina, and I talked about what it was like growing up in an immigrant family. We shared memories of pig roasts and mentioned that some of our family members had chickens as pets. It reminded me of that brief period of time my family also had chickens. Here, I will share that story which I wrote in college back in 2004. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

It was a lovely evening. The stars were out, a warm light breeze ran through the streets, and the pale moonlight made sure they were being peaceful. I had school in the morning but I didn’t bother setting the alarm. I didn’t have to anymore because they would do the job for me. They always did the job for me. Continue reading “Filthy McNasty”

True Confessions of a Food Lover: My Foodar Never Sleeps

adidaf: All Day I Dream About Food. Should I start my own brand?


Anyone who knows me knows that I have this uncanny affinity for food. I hesitate to call myself a “foodie” – I’m not a Yelp Elite member, I’m not the first person to try the hottest new restaurants in L.A., and my favorite places to eat at are the ones where I can enjoy an easy, no-frills, solid meal with friends – but I do admit that my food radar – “foodar”? – is on, well, pretty much all of the time.

So how exactly does this translate into my everyday life? Well, it pretty much comes down to this: my brain is hard-wired to see food everywhere. Typically this is awesome and super entertaining, but there are a few occasions during which having a foodar that never sleeps has led to a minor bout of clumsiness on my part.

Here are a few of those cases.

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Feelin’ 22 / We’re Gettin’ Old(er)

Feelin’ 22… ish. (Also, those lyrics don’t match this image. Wait, is that the point of this song…?)


I have a confession to make: I am not a huge Taylor Swift fan. While she is most certainly not the worst pop star out there – in fact, I commend her ability to make being “adorkable” a thing, and for encouraging young girls and boys to be themselves – I never really did get on board with her saccharine vibe and catchy tunes.

But since T-Swift and I are practically the same age – we’re only about 2.5 weeks apart – there are times when I can actually identify with her lyrics.

(… And now that I read this, that actually might be a bigger confession than the first one. Whoops.)

This past weekend was one of those times.

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Me+Philz = Foreva’

Philz, so glad to finally meet you.


Dear Philz Coffee,

How is that you opened up a location in my DTLA area over a year ago but we just started our relationship in the last few weeks? Yes, I heard all the great rumors and suggestions about your amazing coffee but for some reason I still stayed away. Maybe I couldn’t seem to believe all your hype? Or maybe I am lazy about walking the couple blocks for a small $3+ coffee? Or maybe I was slightly intimidated with fancy/hipster coffee talk? On the real, I’m just a simple woman who utilizes the office Keurig more than anything so this whole pour over coffee thing is completely brand new to me.

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