travel: pasadena’s huntington garden

Huntington Garden is a beautiful spot to visit in Pasadena. They have gorgeous desert plants, as well as Chinese and Japanese gardens that are so beautifully laid out and designed.

travel: 798 Art Zone, beijing (china)

798 Art Zone is located at a defunct military factory in Beijing, and the buildings each have a very unique architectural style reminiscent of both the time in which the military factory was still in use and more modern elements.

college station: yangtuo club

Yangtuo Club is tucked into a small shopping center, so it’s quite easy to miss. They’ve got quite a few options as for what to eat: you can get the dry hot pot for 9.99$/lb — meaning, you can add whatever the heck you want for that price per pound, an all-you-can-eat hot pot buffet, where you can chose the level of spice for the soup base, as well as noodles and fried rice.

recipe: creamy mushroom cauliflower gnocchi

This creamy mushroom cauliflower gnocchi is the perfect recipe to whip up if you’re short on time, if you’re craving something hearty and delicious. It’s creamy, and every bite of the well-flavored, well-seasoned sauce pairs perfectly with the chewy gnocchi. Your kitchen will be smelling like heavenly mushrooms for a good few hours afterwards, though (not a problem, of course).

recipe: steamed brown sugar sponge cake (ma lai gao/马拉糕))

Ma lai gao (马拉糕) is a popular dim sum dessert, alongside the ever-popular salted-egg yolk custard bao. It’s essentially a sponge cake with a beautiful caramel color due to the brown sugar, and because it’s steamed, ma lai gao is a fluffy, soft and gorgeous cake (it will literally spring back if you push down on it!).

recipe: chinese red-braised pork belly

Red-braised pork belly (Chinese: 红烧肉) has been a staple of my childhood diet — and now that I’ve moved out of Texas, it was the first thing that I was determined to learn how to make.

It’s made with a wonderful mix of spices, cooking wine, a soy sauce power duo, and more. What you end up with is soft, melt-in-your mouth pork belly from a two-hour long braising process, and a thick, subtly sweet sauce that’s perfect for drizzling over white rice.

The eco-friendly alternatives of a single serve K-cup

If you’re like me, a coffee a day is a basic necessity.

And oftentimes, the easiest option is to pop a single serve K-cup into the Keurig machine right before you get ready to leave the house, and wait a few minutes as the smell of coffee permeates around you and coffee fills into your reusable cup. 

houston: anonymous cafe review

From late night papers to morning pick-me-ups, the classic cold brew stood there to make sure I was not only awake but also focused and alert. In short, you could say cold brew has been my strongest supporter (sorry Annie!).

So it’s noteworthy for me to say that I have crowned arguably the best cold brew in my new home of Houston, Texas — Anonymous Cafe!

recipe: amber walnuts

Here’s an extremely simple yet delicious lil’ recipe for Amber Walnuts to add a bit of spice and edge to your life! 🙂

recipe: zebra-stripe japanese cotton cheesecake

My mom loves to bake, and she’s frequently sending me photos of her latest creations as I stay in my dorm eating ramen and mac & cheese. *cries* Anyways, this time, she made Zebra Stripe Japanese Cotton Cheesecake, which looks amazingly good, so I thought I’d share it with y’all too!

travel the silk road: meet the people, the art & the lifestyle

Xinjiang was our final stop on the Silk Route, thus concluding our two-week long (pre-covid) trip that began in Xi’an and passed through three uniquely beautiful provinces. But perhaps more interesting than the scenery were the people themselves, a diverse and hospitable group who truly treasured their heritage, and their lifestyles.

recipe: cookie butter brown sugar cookies

As with everyone else this quarantine, I have definitely on a baking rampage this weekend (more like, every weekend): after buying some on-sale cookie butter, I figured I’d try one of the many recipes that involved cookie butter.

The easiest? These cookie butter brown sugar cookies!

travel the silk road: urumqi (xinjiang province)

And now we’re on the last segment of our (pre-covid) trip…welcome to Urumqi, Xinjiang! Now, Xinjiang is the largest province in China, almost 1/6 of the entire country. Additionally, it’s also the most ethnically and culturally diverse area in China. Out of all our stops along the Silk Road, we spent the most time here, yet could only explore a tiny, tiny portion of the province. Hopefully, I’ll be able to visit again later!

Four Easy & Healthy Snacks to Keep You Energized

Although the brunt of summer has passed us, it’s always fun to have an indoor activity to take me away from the extreme Texas heat (that lasts until mid-December…). One of my favorite things to do is to explore new and easy recipes for healthy snacks that I can snack on the rest of the day or after a sweaty workout — and not feel guilty!

to the freshman-year me

Today I start my first day of my PhD program halfway across the country — halfway from my friends, my family, my partner and best friend, and the place I called home for more than 20 years.

I came to UT, to Austin, not knowing really what to expect, but knowing that in four years, I was going to come out older, hopefully smarter, and a bit wiser. Four years later, I’m definitely older, smarter at studying, and I’d like think — a tad wiser too.

austin: salty sow

Salty Sow has quickly become one of our favorite happy hour locations. As they advertise themselves, Salty Sow is an American Gastropub that serves contemporary farmhouse fare located fairly near campus on Manor Road.

travel the silk road: gansu province (part 2)

As we get ready to leave Gansu, it’s inevitable that we pass through the city of Dunhuang, which is a city right on the edge of the province. Strategically located at the crossroads of the ancient Silk Road and the main road leading from India, Dunhuang also controls the entrance into the heart of China.

recipe: quick and easy chinese wonton soup

Wontons are a classic Chinese dumpling variation: instead of like their semi-circle cousins, wontons are made from a square wrapper and usually have less filling (but of course, this just means you can eat more of them in one sitting). They’re literally a soul-warming meal, especially if you eat them alongside the hot soup, with a generous dollop of spicy chili crisps and green onions.

travel the silk road: gansu province (part 1)

Gansu was, to me, the best part of our adventure along the Silk Road. Lying between the Tibetan and the Huangtu plateau, Gansu is incredibly dry (so bring lotion!) yet contains so many treasures that attest to the power, beauty and reputation of China during the days of the Silk Road.

austin: lin’s asian bar + dim sum

Dim sum is a huge part of Chinese (especially Southwest Chinese) culture — there’s early morning dim sum, afternoon dim sum, late night dim sum, so growing up, we were always on the lookout for good dim sum in the area. Here in Austin, there aren’t that many places that have good, authentic dim sum, but fortunately, Lin’s is one of those few.

recipe: softest cinnamon sugar pretzels

This recipe is one of my favorites: it’s my attempt to replicate the famous Auntie Anne’s softest cinnamon sugar pretzels. It’s a pretty simple recipe too — and hopefully will satisfy your cinnamon sugar pretzel needs.

recipe: custardy goat cheese eggs

Goat cheese in eggs – now that just sounds like heresy, doesn’t it? And I’m not gonna lie – this dish is odd at first bite; however, this is a good first impression. Each bite invites you further into the food and you accelerate your curiosity until you’ve destroyed the dish and feel satisfied beyond any initial wonderment.

houston review: razzoo’s cajun cafe

Cajun food plays a big role in the food scene of Texas, but here at HMHS, we haven’t really been able to experience much Cajun food, let alone good Cajun food. This changed when Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe contacted us to try their top menu items. And o my, was it a very pleasant experience with tasty and fun dishes.

travel the silk road: xi’an, the ancient capital of china

Xi’an is known as the ancient capital of China because it is one of the oldest cities in the country, the capital of both the Han and the Tang Dynasty, the starting point of the Silk Road and the home of the burial mounds of many historically important emperors (and one empress). Today, it’s become a historically rich and vibrant city, home to 8 million people.

recipe: perfectly easy blueberry scones

Blueberry scones are the pinnacle of afternoon dessert — soft, crumbly, buttery and just the right amount of sweet.

They’re my favorite to grab at coffee or tea shops, and even better: they’re so simple to make yourself at home!

This fun little recipe is perfect for making eight large scones for a quick breakfast item to go alongside your coffee, or 16 smaller scones to stave off that mid-day hunger.

travel: qingdao & inner mongolia

Qingdao, known as China’s Sailing City, is both a major port and an industrial centre situated right on the east coast of China in Shandong Province (China has thirty provinces — they’re kind of like the states here in the U.S.). In Chinese, Qingdao means “greenish-blue island,” and that description is entirely true.

travel & eats: swiss & italian treats

My three-week long trip (that happened a long time ago!) to Italy & Switzerland introduced me to a few dishes and snacks that I’d like to share with you. While I’m not certain I can provide you any recipes, I promise they’re very good, and that if you have the chance, should definitely go try some! Hope you enjoy the photos as we reminisce of the past — and look forward to the future!

Recipe: The HMHS Breakfast Smoothie

Welcome to another HMHS installment of high-speed breakfast foods. If you’re new here, quick but nutritious breakfast items are a favorite of ours. Because for the person who just doesn’t have time for morning sustenance, they can finally get it. So without further ado, we have the one and only HMHS Breakfast Smoothie!

travel: zürich (switzerland, part III)

After two weeks in Davos, we stopped by Zürich, the capital, for a couple of days. The atmosphere of the two places are polar opposite—one is the bustling capital of the financially-stable nation; the other, a pretty, relaxed small village at the foot of the Alps.

recipe: zongzi (chinese rice dumplings)

Happy Dragon Boat Festival! As the occasion calls for, today we celebrate with zongzi!

Zongzi (also called Chinese sticky rice dumplings) are a traditional Chinese dish, consisting of various fillings wrapped in glutinous rice and cooked in bamboo leaves. As a native Texan, here’s my best analogy: think tamales, except the Chinese version.

travel: more davos (switzerland, part II)

Again, a few summers ago, I got to visit the lovely town of Davos. Davos may sound familiar, as it’s where the annual World Economic Forum is held. But it’s also a quaint, iconic-ly small European town.

recipe: the perfect overnight oats

Overnight oats are an awesome and easy make-ahead breakfast that takes only about five minutes to make. Moreover, it’s packed with fiber and protein to give you not only a tasty meal but also a nutritious breakfast! While this is our favorite recipe, don’t feel pressured to copy it exactly! There are tons of variations for you to try, and we’re looking for some new ones to make as well!

How meal kits are changing the food industry

As meal kits have risen in popularity throughout the country, they’ve represented a new and convenient option for anyone who might not have the time to cook or even meal prep for the work week. Even for myself, balancing work and school has left me almost little to no time to buy and prepare ingredients, much less cook for the week!

Read more about what using meal kits mean for you — and the environment.

austin dessert review: lick honest ice cream

Never did I ever think I’d try goat cheese flavored ice cream, but I also didn’t know such a flavor would exist, let alone be my favorite. But Lick Honest Ice Creams somehow not only made it possible, but also did the same delicious job with so many other flavors: “Goat Cheese, Thyme & Honey; Dark Chocolate, Olive Oil & Sea Salt; and Tequila Lime Pie.” How could these (weird) flavors be so popular, right? But these flavors put us on cloud nine. Lick’s ice creams are eccentric and eclectic, yet they’re so tasty and have such personality.

austin restaurant review: emmer & rye

Tucked into a cute corner on Rainey St. is Emmer & Rye. You can think of them as a mix between a farm-to-table and dim-sum style restaurant, so the menu is constantly changing.

They’ve taken dim sum (which means little eats in Cantonese) to encompass any sort of small dishes, offered on carts that are pushed around, where waiters will come up and ask if you’re interested in any of the items. Now, I think that’s a phenomenal idea, and a great way to incorporate this fun aspect of southern Chinese cuisine into American cuisine.

austin: sour duck market (and burger galore!)

Sour Duck makes their own artisan bread and pastries; they have their own smokehouse to make their own meats; and they make their own specialty coffee (the Mexicano latte here is sweet and nice, but most of all, just heavenly). And these things aren’t just for dine-in; as a market, Sour Duck is kind of like a special grocery store where you can get nice restaurant quality foods, to eat in or take back to your crib.

recipe: deep-fried stuffed eggplants

In Chinese, 盒子 (hézi) literally translates into box — an edible box, of course. A typical “box” that you’ll see sold as a quick street food item consists of chopped chives and eggs (or some other variation of that) stuffed into a dough “box,” although that box is shaped more like a crescent moon. I like to think of them as the older cousin of dumplings. Both are like savory pocket pies, but hézi usually are larger, have more filling, and a crisper skin.

austin: odd duck

Odd Duck’s menu has complex items that are so eccentric and eclectic. The antelope tataki and smoked chicken nachos are amalganations of not just flavors and unique food items but also cultures. Antelope tataki combines antelope (a unique meat, in my opinion) and the Japanese cooking style of tataki – lightly searing meat. What this unlocks is a reservoir of flavors almost never seen beforehand.

recipe: shrimp pad see ew

Pad see ew translates into “fried with soy sauce,” and that’s basically the foundation for this popular Thai dish. It’s made with a combination of light and dark soy sauce (one for the color, one for the flavor), and is topped with eggs, protein, and Chinese broccoli. As for the star of the show: flat, broad rice noodles.

austin: bakery lorraine

Bakery Lorraine is a cute, aesthetic brunch spot located in the Domain. Known for their pastries, Bakery Lorraine has an array of macarons and other desserts, including croissants, cinnamon rolls, kouign-amann, cheese danish, muffins and bread pudding.

austin: l’oca d’oro

hether it’s a casual or formal occasion, a date with a significant other or a night out with friends, L’oca D’oro really is the place to go.

recipe: turnip cakes

Turnip cakes are a classic at dim-sum restaurants, and have always been my favorite item (I save room for an entire serving for it each time…) While the more appropriate name is radish cake, they are an incredibly savory dish featuring veggies, sausages and rice flour. They’re a bit of a time commitment, but nothing too extreme — block out an hour and a half-ish, and you’ve got yourself some turnip cakes. And paired with some hoisin sauce and Lao Gan Ma chili crisp sauce…well, that’s as good as life gets.

dallas: imoto

Have you guys ever tried a Pan-Asian restaurant? You know, a place that focuses on cuisine from all across Asia? Because I had not until I visited Imoto. And I can say Imoto not only focuses on diverse Asian food but also cares about creating delicious Asian food with a modern spin.

recipe: fluffy chiffon cakes

Chiffon cakes are extremely light and fluffy, combining the texture of angel food cake and the richness of butter cakes. Meringue is folded into the batter to give it that unique texture, and a dash of lemon for the right amount of zest. They make for fun cakes to eat during afternoon tea, so without further ado:

austin: ramen tatsuya

Having started off with ramen on the wrong foot, I now stand before you as a (self-acclaimed) ramen guru with my go-to Ramen Tatsuya orders, tips and tricks.

austin: bird bird biscuit

We’re BIG chicken people: chicken and waffles, chicken and biscuits, just chicken, fried chicken, we love it all. So we’re always on the lookout for more chicken places around town, and when my roommate started raving about this new place called Bird Bird Biscuit, you bet we immediately hopped into our car the next morning for an early brunch.

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