Linkin Park & Plan Check

My sister is a HUGE Linkin Park fan and first introduced me to their music. So when she told me about the Linkin Park Meal Pack that Plan Check Restaurant was having, I thought….hmmmm…. food and LP?  It was a no brainer.

Plan Check describe their restaurants as “serving modern American comfort food in a small plate format.”  However, if there’s one thing I know about this place, they are far from serving small plates.  Their portions are pretty big and can be shared.  Just take their fried chicken and waffles, for example.

Fried Chicken and Waffles

Fried Chicken and Waffles

Plan Check founder, Terry Heller and LP go way back.  Heller started his career in the music industry, producing and directing music videos for The Black Eyed Peas, Sean Combs and Linkin Park, among many other artists.

Heller’s latest promotion The Linkin Park Meal Pack is inspired by the band’s latest album, “One More Light” which was released on May 19, and includes a 3-course meal with dishes that include heavy Japanese and Korean influences; thanks to LP members Joe Hahn and Mike Shinoda.  

First up on the plan is the Ahi Tuna Tostada appetizer.

Ahi Tuna topped with thinly sliced radish, avocado, cucumber and a Jalapeno Ponzu Sauce

Ahi Tuna topped with thinly sliced radish, avocado, cucumber and a Jalapeno Ponzu Sauce

The main dish titled, “The Heavy”, is a Korean BBQ grilled cheese sandwich, named after the Grammy winning band’s first single on their “One More Light” album and is inspired by Joe Hahn’s Korean ancestry.  The dish features Gochujang braised pork belly, house made pickles, Americanized dashi cheese with parmesan crusted sourdough bread.  The pork was a lot sweeter than I expected and I somehow started craving rice to go with it.  (yes, the Asian in me).  Because the pork was not shredded but rather chopped in tiny squares, it easily fell out of the sandwich and I definitely made a mess in the process.  Needless to say, it was finger licking good.

"The Heavy"

"The Heavy"

Served with the sandwich were fries, topped with pulverized Kimchi seasoning.  I could barely taste the seasoning and it was not spicy at all. I was secretly hoping for a little more kick. 

And last, but definitely not least was DESSERT.  They take their Crullers to a whole new level with their OML (One More Light) Cruller which was smothered with coconut glaze, yuzu air, caramelized pineapple chunks and decorated with an LP chocolate disk. It sounds like sweetness overload, but TRUST ME…. It is far from it.  The combination of the crunchy cruller, airy and light yuzu, and coconut glaze complemented each other nicely and was the perfect amount of sweet. Excuse me sir....may i have another?

the OML (One More Light) Cruller

the OML (One More Light) Cruller

Almost forgot, in addition to the dishes above, the meal also came with a Black Cherry Soda

Black Cherry Soda....half full because I could not wait to drink it, I completely forgot to take a picture beforehand.   

Black Cherry Soda....half full because I could not wait to drink it, I completely forgot to take a picture beforehand.   

As if the 3-course meal wasn’t enough, the plan included a Limited edition Linkin Park T shirt

The Linkin Park Meal Plan costs $39 and is only available for the month of May at all Plan Check locations – Sawtelle, Fairfax, Santa Monica and Los Angeles, which means if you want to take advantage of this deal, it’s time to rush out to a restaurant ASAP. 

For more info on Plan Check, you can head to their website at 

www.plancheck.com

Burnt Crumbs

Burnt.... isn’t exactly the word you’d want to describe your food or restaurant. But that didn’t stop childhood friends and business partners Paul Cao and Minh Pham.  The two co-own restaurants, Burnt Crumbs, Burntzilla, and a food truck called, Burnt Truck, among many of their other food vendors. 

Burnt Truck

Burnt Truck

In 2010, Paul and Minh started their luck in the food truck industry with Burnt Truck and Dogzilla. A few years later, they opened their first brick and mortar restaurant, Burntzilla. This past year, with all the success from their various businesses, they opened Burnt Crumbs in Huntington Beach, at Pacific City in Lot 579 as well as in Irvine at the Los Olivos Center. 

Dogzilla Truck

Dogzilla Truck

Burnt Crumbs @ Pacific City, Lot 579 in Huntington Beach, CA

Burnt Crumbs @ Pacific City, Lot 579 in Huntington Beach, CA

Burnt Crumbs is their latest venture where they specialize in gourmet and handcrafted sandwiches that are all, pretty much made from scratch. This includes their vast selection of breads, from rye, sourdough, ciabatta, biscuits, to their meats, hand cut fries and potato chips, and all down to their special mayos and sauces. Also, let’s not forget their special garlic aioli sauce which I’ve begged both Cao and Pham to sell in a jar…yes, it’s THAT GOOD.  If I could, I would spread and dip that aioli on EVERYTHING!  

Crispy Pork Sandwich

Crispy Pork Sandwich

Let’s start with the Crispy Pork Sandwich served on their house ciabatta bread.  The pork shoulder is perfectly cooked, chopped up and mixed into their own version of salsa verde sauce. They definitely stack up the sandwich with plenty of crispy pork and the chili lime mayo they lightly slather on the sandwich adds a nice and refreshing kick to the meal.  The cracklings, or what I call, chicharon (which is also made in-house) tops the sandwich.  I love chicharon so that didn’t last.  I went straight to eating those crispy little things.  They didn’t stand a chance.

11 day Pastrami Sandwich

11 day Pastrami Sandwich

The Pastrami sandwich was one of the best pastramis I’ve tasted in quite some time.  Very moist and tender.  It just melted in my mouth.  I only got a chance to snag a half a sandwich because it turns out, everyone loved it as much as I did.  And we were all racing to grab a piece of it. 

Southern Fried Chicken

Southern Fried Chicken

The Southern Fried Chicken.  Who doesn’t love Fried Chicken? And Gravy?  Burnt Crumbs do not skimp on their ingredients.  They give you a huge piece of Fried Chicken.  It is like a dinner instead of a lunch portion. Their house biscuits are made from scratch and you can tell by how fresh it taste and how soft it feels.  This ALSO melts in your mouth.  That Sriracha Honey sauce is tasty and not too spicy so that it doesn’t override the rest of the flavors in the sandwich.

Spaghetti Grilled Cheese

Spaghetti Grilled Cheese

Spaghetti Grilled Cheese.  First off, the picture does not do this meal justice.  This sandwich is what they’re pretty much known for.  Google or youtube Burnt Crumbs and the first thing that comes up is this sandwich.  It looks and smells amazing! I was so excited to taste it.  I did get an order of the sandwich.  However, after eating the previous 3 meals (and their hand cut fries and hand cut chips) I was completely full!  I was planning on taking it home.  But, one of my other friends beat me to it and walked out with it. Not cool! I’m not even going to complain.  I was going to do the same thing.

Without getting a bite in, what I CAN tell you is that it smelled amazing!  And if the smell means anything, then it’s definitely a must try! The aroma of the garlic, marinara and mozzarella just filled me up.  I was watching others eat it and the cheese just spreads and is oh so gooey.  That’s the sandwich most people seemed to order while I was there. Just writing about it now, my mouth is watering.  Looks like I’m going to have to head back to Burnt Crumbs sooner than I thought.

For those that prefer a lighter, and not so meaty meal, they do have other choices including the PBJ which is a homemade pretzel peanut butter, blueberry jam, and sliced banana sandwich.  They also offer a variety of avocado toasts, salads including a kale, wedge and Caesar.  They also regularly add new items to their menu.  For more info and to check out their latest meals, you can head to their website at www.burntcrumbs.com

In the meantime, check out my visit to Burnt Crumbs below:

 

 

2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

The 33rd annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival kicked off on April 27th with the screening of Justin Lin’s film, “Better Luck Tomorrow”. It’s hard to believe that it was 15 years ago when I first saw this movie.  So much has happened since then, and it’s at the same time, interesting to see that not much has changed.  We can still relate to the characters of the film as well as their storylines.

 

I have been a huge supporter of the LAAPFF for several years and am always thrilled to see which movies will be screening.  The films being showcased are always some of the best and do a wonderful job in representing the talented filmmakers, directors, writers, and actors in our APA community. This year was no different.  

One example of this was Justin Chon’s movie, and Sundance Audience Award winner “Gook” which takes place during the 1992 LA Riots. “Gook” has received numerous positive reviews, including a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.7 rating on IMDB. Samuel Goldwyn also picked up the North American rights for the film, which is scheduled to be released sometime in August. “Gook” is screening at the LAAPFF Orange County on Wednesday, May 10th.

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Justin Chon throughout the years - from his “Twilight” roles to “Seoul Searching” and his other directorial debut movie, “Man Up.”   It’s such a thrill to see him go from talented actor, to director and writer. I cant wait to see what else Justin has in store for us.

I had the opportunity to be a juror for the Shorts Documentary competition; which was also the first time this category was created.  What an honor!  Each of the short documentaries in the competition was told in their own beautiful way. The other jurors and I had a difficult time reaching a decision. 

In the end, The Grand Jury Prize was awarded to Alisa Yang for her documentary, “Please Come Again” which centered on her story and the history of the love hotels in Japan.  After watching the short, I was completely speechless.  “Please Come Again” incorporated only text and visuals of the love hotels and the different meanings each room has held throughout the years.  It was not only a documentary on Alisa’s life, but also used the love hotels as a metaphor for the female body.

The Best Cinematography award was presented to “Forever, Chinatown”.  “Forever, Chinatown” follows the life of 81 year old artist, Frank Wong, who, for the past 40 years has recreated memories of his childhood, living in San Francisco’s Chinatown, through miniature models.  The cinematography for the short captured every intricate detail of the film, including Wong’s touching, nostalgic and some times bittersweet memories, the miniature models he created and was able to lucidly encapsulate the tone of the documentary. 

 

Jennifer Zheng won for Best Director for her documentary “Tough”.  Zheng’s choice in creating an animated documentary was an interesting but well told one.  “Tough” tells the story of a Chinese mother and British born daughter who openly talk as adults for the first time and honestly discuss growing up in their respective backgrounds and the cultural issues they struggled with.

Congratulations to all of the winners.

The Orange County portion of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is still going on until May 11th.  For more information and for tickets on the movies currently screening, you can head to www.vconline.org

 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month - American Cancer Society, Weight Watchers, POPSUGAR Event

I have known one too many family members and friends who have been diagnosed and/or passed away from cancer. Words cannot express how much this angers, frustrates and hurts me -  to see so many people fighting this deadly disease. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and earlier this year, Weight Watchers, along with the American Cancer Society joined together to launch Project LIFT - Live Inspired. Fight Together.  Several days ago, Weight Watchers, in collaboration with POPSUGAR showed their support of the American Cancer Society and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, by organizing a Survivor Dinner in both New York City and Los Angeles.  I felt honored when I was asked to emcee their Los Angeles gala which served to recognize and celebrate Breast Cancer Survivors and also inform the invited guests of Project LIFT.  Project LIFT's goal is to inspire, inform and guide breast cancer survivors to live a healthy life.  

More than 30 years of research has shown that weight gain is a common and persistent problem among breast cancer survivors.  Through Project LIFT, Weight Watchers has been hosting survivors and their friends and family throughout the United States to gather together and tell their stories of support and survival.  In addition, Weight Watchers has created free content that covers recommended nutritional advice, as well as producing Project LIFT merchandise with all profits from the sale benefitting American Cancer Society (to help save lives from breast cancer).  

One of the most touching moments of the night was when Emmy and Golden Globe winner Camryn Manheim, a longtime supporter of Cancer research, shared her story, publicly for the first time, of finding out when she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  There was not a dry eye in the house.  

That night, I met so many women who shared their stories of survivorship.  It was such a beautiful event; filled with so many empowering, uplifting and strong individuals.  It was an honor to be surrounded by them.

If you or someone you know would like more information or help, please head to the following websites:

www.cancer.org

www.weightwatchers.com