Pho, Boba + Kpop Debates

You know a restaurant is a hit when you drive to a whole ‘nother city just to eat there again. Originally, we went to Chopstix because my sister was craving bubble tea. But at Chopstix we got so much more than just boba. When we first walked in, the cutest fish tank stood by the door. Instead of fish, though, it held pretty succulents and cacti. Further in, there was a lightbox with the name of the restaurant spelled out.

When we were seated, the party next to us was having a heated debate. They asked us what we thought, “BTS or EXO?” My sister, wearing her Love Yourself Tear t-shirt firmly defended Bangtan Soyeondan. But while I love BTS, I of course had to defend EXO. Honestly, meeting other kpop fans was a great way to start our meal: we debated over the most attractive member of Got7 and Seventeen vs. Wanna One.

Finally, we began to peruse our menus. I settled on Chicken Pho, my dad ordered Shrimp Pho, my mom chose Basil Fried Rice, and my sister selected Beef Bibimbap. And of course we all ordered tea, I chose the Café Mocha Milk Tea with boba.

They make the tea fresh and let me tell you, it’s the best bubble tea I’ve ever had. The Café Mocha had a subtle coffee flavor, but nothing overpowering. It wasn’t too sweet and of course the packaging was adorable.

My pho was pho-nomenal! So warm and flavorful and I was really feeling the ginormous bowl it came in. I also tasted some of my sister’s leftover bibimbap and it was spectacular. The perfect ratio of spiciness and the rice was cooked perfectly.

We all had such a satisfying experience, we actually drove back to Chattanooga to return to Chopstix. This time I ordered Beef Crispy Noodles and Lavender Bubble Tea. At first, I was unsure about the crispy noodles because they were the texture of wontons. I wasn’t convinced that I wanted to eat a huge plate of that texture, but the vegetables and meat were so delicious I couldn’t stop eating even if I had wanted to. Then I figured out that if I mixed the noodles into the broth, they softened to a more preferred texture. The dish was amazing and the leftovers were even better the next day.

My lavender tea was spectacular. It had a definite lavender flavor but it wasn’t medicinal. I honestly love this restaurant so much. From the décor to the service (we had amazing waiters/waitresses’ both times) and of course the food. Everything was perfect and I would fully recommend it!

Stay fly,

~Akilah

What’s a restaurant you’d drive to another city for?

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ATL in 24 Hours: Dumplings & SCAD Shenanigans

My college friend (omg I have one of those now) recently had a birthday so our family and her family traveled to Atlanta to celebrate her birthday with her. We ate good food, broke a few rules, and had an all around great time, all in less than 24 hours.

It started with a trip to Savannah College of Art and Design, which, I must say, has one of the most aesthetic campuses ever. Art is everywhere, and everything is art. Touring the campus, we gushed over the library, sat in the swing seats, and took a bunch of photos.

Then we went to SCAD Pad which is a student, alumni, and faculty coordinated outdoor design space. It reminded me of those houses on HGTV: an interior design buff’s dream.

As we took silly photos in front of the yellow SCAD background and went crazy in the swivel chairs a security guard appeared out of no where.

“I’m guessing you guys are visiting campus.”

“Yes, are we doing something we’re not supposed to?”

“Well, SCAD Pad is only open for special events.”

“Oh! we’re so sorry we didn’t know. I guess we’ll leave now.”

“Yeah, it’s ok, we were watching you on the security cameras.”

So, we were kicked out of SCAD Pad in the nicest possible way… and the security guards probably watch our footage just for fun.

After our illegal but successful tour, we went back into the main building and passed through the security checkpoints (this school has so much security).

The security guard at the entrance asked my sister and I our ages. We replied 16 and 12. Welllllll, turns out we weren’t even supposed to be visiting the school after 5…

Leaving behind the school where we’re probably on a watch list now, we went to Krogg’s Street Market.

What I love about Atlanta is that no matter how many times I visit (and I go there pretty often), I always discover something new and amazing. Krogg’s Street Market was bustling, I could people watch there for hours and still not fully inhale all the culture that exists there. Making the rounds, we attempted to figure out what we wanted to eat: there was sushi, dumplings, pizza, barbecue, sandwiches, Bahn Mi, and any other food you could imagine. I settled on Gu’s Dumplings and I ordered the pork Zhong Dumplings.

The dumplings were the perfect blend of spicy, sweet, and tangy. They were chewy but slightly crispy at the edges and they kind of melted in your mouth. The bubble tea that I ordered to accompany them was amazing too: not overly sweet and with the perfect amount of boba.

Krogg’s was amazing, I’d definitely return…and I’d go back to SCAD for a visit if they let me 😉

Stay fly,

Akilah

Lincoln Square Pancake House // Indy

Recently, I took a vacation with my family to Chicago. It was amazing to be back. Chicago is one of my favorite cities to visit because the art and food scenes are spectacular. But don’t think that there aren’t amazing food destinations along the way.

In Indianapolis we found a glorious place to stop for breakfast: Lincoln Square Pancake House. When I tell you that this place has the fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever tasted in my entire life, I’m not kidding. The outside edges are slightly crispy and the middle melts away to bliss. They’re buttery but not drenched, they’re golden, they’re soft, in short, they’re heaven.

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Along with the heavenly pancakes, I ordered the German skillet: smoked sausage, farm-fresh scrambled eggs served on potato pancakes with cheddar cheese & homemade sausage gravy. It was delicious. I consider myself pretty picky about gravy, I love it if it’s done right, but if not…I don’t play that. This gravy was bomb. Everything in the dish was seasoned well, but even with the gravy nothing was too salty.

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Not only was the food a win, but our server went above and beyond. She asked us how our food was and listened to our suggestions and took them to the kitchen. She was so attentive and even made some small talk with us. All in all it was a great experience I would recommend you stop by!

Stay fly,

Akilah

 

Brunch in Three Cities

brunch noun \ˈbrənch\ : a meal usually taken late in the morning that combines a late breakfast and an early lunch…or my favorite meal ever created. What’s better than a meal where you can have meat and pancakes, salad and dessert? I’ll wait…

Over the course of the summer I’ve eaten a lot of brunch, partly because I’m sleeping later but mainly because brunch is bomb. So, today I’m excited to share with you my three different brunches from three different cities. Just call me the traveling brunch queen.

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Birmingham: Waffle Works

During a day trip with my church youth group to the Civil Rights Institute, we stopped in this chic little food court on the outskirts of downtown Birmingham. Inside where a plethora of cuisines but I knew as soon as I saw “shrimp and grits waffle” on the menu that this was my brunch destiny. I’m a sucker for shrimp and grits and chicken and waffles so the mixture was made for me. They mix grits into the waffle batter and create this spicy gravy with shrimp and andouille sausage over top. It’s perfection!

Nashville: Biscuit Love

This place is iconic and lots of tourists come here when visiting Nashville but even as a local I’d never been, so on Father’s day we decided to check them out. I’ll admit I was a little bit skeptical because it’s so popular but I was pleasantly surprised. I ordered shrimp and grits (I told you I loved them) and we shared an order of bonuts. First let me talk about the bonuts because they were a blissful little package of biscuit/donuts with lemon marscarpone and blueberry compote. They were fried to perfection and reminded me of bougie fair food, like funnel cake’s rich cousin. The lemon marscarpone kept them from being to sweet and the blueberry compote had pieces of blueberry in it. The shrimp and grits were also amazing, on the menu it was called the “Bill Neal” leave a comment if you know who that is because I don’t. Anyway, they were not your normal shrimp and grits: the mushrooms, green onions, and applewood smoked bacon definitely made sure of that, They were bursting with flavor and the lemon tabasco sauce added a subtle spicy acidity that was amazing. Also props for no lumps in the grits they were completely smooth and creamy, I’d love another bowl right now.

Indianapolis: Yolk

Amazingly enough I did not order shrimp and grits at Yolk (they weren’t on the menu in case you were wondering). But seriously, I was drawn to the “Croque Madame” a grilled ham, turkey, swiss, and Dijon sandwich made on challah french toast and topped with a sunny side up egg. It was amazing! The challah was thick and soft but didn’t overpower the other flavors. Holla for challah! And I love swiss cheese so that was a win. Not only did I have this amazing sandwich, but the staff randomly gave our table an order of cinnamon roll french toast to share. This french toast was heavenly, the cinnamon roll icing was creamy and the french toast itself was cinnamony and light. I would definitely come here again next time I’m in Indy.

Well, that’s the end for now of my traveling brunch adventures. Do you like brunch? Comment down below your favorite brunch foods.

Stay fly,

~Akilah

Travel Diary: Chattanooga in Photos

Earlier this year my grandmother, auntie, baby cousin, sister, mom and I went on a girls’ trip to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday. After much consideration we settled on Chattanooga as our destination. My last trip to Chattanooga was amazing and I knew this one would be also, we had so much fun going through the Tennessee Aquarium together on our first ever all girls’ trip. Without further ado on to the photos!

Stay fly,

~Akilah

Travel Diary: Twin Cities Day 5

As our epic trip in Minneapolis came to a close. I was hit with the mixed feeling of excitment to go home and sadness at leaving an awesome city.

We left extra early in morning to get on the road, our drive was a mixture of some us sleeping, occasional stopping and tons of singing (road trip music is life). I also read a lot, I finished two books: The Sign of the Beaver and Unsigned Hype (a review of Unsigned Hype coming soon.)

Driving or riding always works up an appetite, so we stopped for breakfast at Eggsclusive Cafe in Illinois.

I was enamored with the decor in Eggsclusive, everything followed the theme of eggs. The color pallette was silver and white and the elements largely circular even the menus were round.

My sister and I ordered the fresh squeezed orange juice and strawberry juice, I think it was called The Sunrise, and it was so fresh and sweet, quite tasty.

Then I split the chicken cabo skillet with my mom and it was delicious, the only issue was that there were too many jalapenos. The portions are so large here that I could’ve shared my half of the meal.

The rest of our trip home was uneventful and we made it back home after a wonderful trip. I am so thankful for the opportunity to explore a new city!

Stay fly

~Akilah

Travel Diary: Twin Cities Day 4

Day four was our last full day in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Before Church we went to The Good Day Cafe again to have breakfast. This time I got The Crab Cake Eggs Benedict, and shared a chai latte with my mom and sister. Everything was delicious, the hollandaise sauce was delicious and the crab cakes paired well the english muffin.

Because it was Sunday we drove to St. Paul to attend the oldest black baptist church in Minnesota; Pilgrim Baptist. Their choir was amazing full, loud and energetic. They sang a song I love: Faithful is Our God by Hezekiah Walker, they performed it so well.

Afterwards, we went to Truce Juice, a cold-pressed juice shop. I ordered the Charcoal Lemonade after I found out they were out of The Glow Greens. The juice was tasty albeit mad expensive. And the activated charcoal turned my tongue black for a while, which wasn’t fun.

Our last event in Minnesota was a cook out with our extended family. Which was a fantastic time with fabulous food. It was nice meeting some family I’d never met and talking about our time in Minnesota with them.

Later that night my parents picked up some dessert for us at Sprinkles, a little bakery. I didn’t love my cupcake: the cake was a bit dense but I enjoyed the flavor

The day was short so we could get some rest but we had an excellent time.

Stay fly

~Akilah

Travel Diary: Twin Cities Day 3

Day 3 started with breakfast and extended family at The Good Day Cafe. You know the feeling of being at a great restaurant but not ordering the right thing? That’s what happened to me that day. I got The Big Luigi and it was good but I knew I could do better.

I loved the decor at The Good Day Cafe and the service was excellent. If you go ask for Michelle she was our super sweet server, who recommended menu items and even snapped a family photo for us.

Next we went to The Mall of America, which is the biggest mall in the US of A. It has four levels that are about the size of normal malls. We didn’t get to see even a quarter of it but the stores we went to were incredible.

We first went to a tea shop called David’s Tea. It reminded me of Teavana but with a more fun and colorful personality. The teas were named like nail polish colors which I thought was genius.

Then we went to the holy grail of day 3: Marbles The Brain Store. It’s a game store where the games are set out for you to play. They teach you how to play and play with you. We spent a good hour and a half in that store and bought three games: Otrio, quoridor, and Square Up.

Naturally, we worked up an appetite playing games, so we went to Crave in the mall. Crave was a slightly upscale sushi and entree place. I ordered the Jerk Marinated Shrimp Salad. It was delicious and had some serious kick.

Later on we stopped by Ikea, we definitely need one Nashville.

Then a couple hours later we went to My Burger for dinner. I had a love hate relationship with this place because my burger was mediocre the fries were bad but the root beer was the bomb. 

Minneapolis is known for 1919 root beer and though I don’t like root beer I wanted to try it. Root beer is generally too sweet for me, but this root beer changed my life!  It was crisp and sweet yet had a pleasant bite. I highly recommend it.

Stay fly

~Akilah

Travel Diary: Twin Cities Day 1

I’m baaaack! It’s been a while since I posted but that’s because I was on vacation and now I’m back with a 5 day travel diary.

My family and I took a road trip to Minneapolis/St. Paul to visit family and explore the cities. I haven’t been to Mpls since I was two so this time was of course much different.

Day 1

We left at about 3:00 in the morning and drove through Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri and Iowa.

Missouri was beautiful and I took some pictures from the car, not the best quality but they capture the gist of the scenery.

We stopped in Cedar Rapids Iowa to eat lunch at The Lost Cuban. I was impressed with the paintings of old cars on the inside but that’s where my admiration ended.

The service was poor; my mom saw a server drop a piece of meat he was putting on the plate then pick it up and eat it.

And the food was not good. I had the Infidel Sandwich a pressed sandwich with Picadillo and potato sticks. My sandwich was the best out of the foods that my family tried. And it was only mediocre. Cuban food should have some fun flavor and this had basically none.

So after the disappointing lunch at The Lost Cuban we got back in the car. I fell asleep and woke up to a massive storm, thankfully it passed pretty quickly.

We got to Minneapolis at about 7:30 and checked into the hotel: Marriott Minneapolis West.

The hotel was gorgeous and the staff was very friendly. They recommended the restaurant BLVD Kitchen and Bar so that’s where we went for dinner.

The atmosphere was upscale but not ultra fancy. Our server was kind and he let us know that it was happy hour and that some dishes were half off.

I ordered the Mushroom and Arugula flatbread it had shiitake, crimini, button and oyster mushrooms, arugula and truffle cream. It was pretty good, not amazing but tasty.

Day 1 of the trip was fun, but the rest of the days were even better!

Until next time, stay fly friends!

~Akilah

Have you ever been to Minneapolis?