Sunday Instagram Round-up (Week 1)

Every Sunday, we want to share with our blog community the photos that made the cut on our Instagram feed. You can also follow us at @eatplaychicagola.

Good morning, everyone! It’s been a week and a half since Eat Play Chicago LA went live, and together with Justine and Maeven, we just want to say thank you thank you THANK YOU to everyone who’s been stopping by our blog, Twitter, and Instagram. We truly whole-heartedly appreciate your support.

Every Sunday, we want to share with our blog community the photos that made the cut on our Instagram feed. You can also follow us @eatplaychicagola.

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Thin crust, brick-oven pizza from Big Chef Burgers
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View of the city from the rooftop of Griffith Observatory
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Black sesame soft serve ice cream from ReLeaf
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Refreshing cold drinks while chilling at Newport Beach
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J. Paul Getty Center is a perfect way to spend your day, from exploring the exhibits to laying on the grass outside.
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Asparagus, portabello eggs benedict w/ breakfast potatoes from Brunch Cafe.
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Something different from Jamba Juice: Strawberry-peanut butter-banana smoothie bowl.

Check out our blog and IG for more of our food and travel adventures! (All places and food information can be found on the Eat and Play categories under the Directory menu)

-Jaja

Supper Club Saturday: Gabutto Burger

“I think I found my new favorite burger place…”

​Gabutto Burger – Burgers with Japanese Twists

1410 Golf Road, Rolling Meadows, IL 

Gabutto Burger is no stranger to this area, as it used to reside in the food court within the Mitsuwa Marketplace down the street on Algonquin Road.  It had gathered a following while they were there, and there were many tears shed when it had to close up shop.  Well, here’s a box of Kleenex. Dry up your tears and rejoice, for they have returned.

Their official grand-opening was this past Tuesday, September 6th, but from what I understand, they had a soft opening beforehand. When you walk-in, the music that they play on the overhead sounds like a hybrid of heavy-metal and techno (found out later it was a song by Babymetal – which I may, or may not be listening to as I draft this article). It really brings you back to the DRR-at your-local-arcade days. 

Their signs for the condiments, sodas and spices all have their own anime-type “mascot”. Everything is so kawaii I can hardly contain myself while waiting for my food.  At the counter, before I had a chance to peruse their menu, I noticed that they had their very own t-shirts, buttons and coasters.

On the menu, they mostly feature burgers made from a mix of ground beef and pork (you can get an all-beef burger if you ask).  Each sandwich was fresh and made to order. They also have tofu burgers, chicken wings, the option to make your burger a lettuce wrap, but hey, let’s have the menu do all the talking for us instead…

We ordered the BBQ Pork Rice Burger, Shrimp Burger, Teriyaki Wasabi Burger and the Crabby Burger (not just for crabby people, or so the sign said!) Oh yeah, and a large order of frittes (read: fries) to split amongst us.

The BBQ Pork Rice Burger has BBQ pork, cabbage slaw, and, instead of bread bun, it is a rice bun (basically the BBQ Pork rice bowl as a sandwich). 

The Shrimp Burger was a shrimp patty (almost like a crab cake, but made with shrimp), special mayo and slaw. 

The Teriyaki Wasabi Burger had their original patty (half beef and half pork), wasabi mayo, tomato, lettuce, and tomato.

Finally, the Crabby Burger had a soft shell crab that was tempura battered and fried before sandwiched in a bun with slaw and vinaigrette.   

In other establishments, the condiment that is usually available for fries is ketchup.  Gabutto Burger brought that up a notch and provides, not just one, not just two, but EIGHT different seasonings and spices to dust your frites with.  

In addition, (why, yes, there is more) there are three different type of sauces to either dip or douse your frittes in.  In addition to ketchup, there is spicy mayo and wasabi mayo available.  

No matter which one we took a bite out of the reaction was the same:  Taste bud explosion!  Each sandwich had a good flavor and was not bland.  The sweetness of the teriyaki complemented the heat of the wasabi, and the amount of the wasabi was not too much to overpower the flavor of the entire burger.  The Crabby Burger reminded me of  a Spider Roll.

The frittes seasonings brought up the “umami” factor, especially when combined with their special sauces.  

I wish I had more room in my stomach to try their other offerings, but alas, I must wait another day (maybe then I can try some of their desserts, too!)

At the moment, everything is a la carte, and their burgers start at either $6 or $6.50.  I know, this is more than what any other fast food place offers, but again, they make their sandwiches fresh, not frozen, with every order.  The flavor is also there, even without all their extra condiments.  The atmosphere is great and the people there are very nice.  

We even recommend visiting the bathrooms (even if you don’t have to “go!”)

(From Gabutto Burger, Facebook page)

With me, I don’t mind paying extra money for food, especially if it is delicious and of high quality.  Gabutto Burger meets (and exceeds) these qualifications.  

Therefore, Gabutto Burger – shut up and….

Seriously, though, I think I found my new favorite burger place!

-Maeven (partial photo credit:  Justine)

Gabutto Burger on Facebook & Twitter: (@GabuttoBurger)

Online:  www.GabuttoBurger.com

Dupage Children’s Museum

Every Friday we’ll be posting family fun days. This could go from assorted adventures with little kids in tow to a day of bonding with siblings and parents of all ages.

Located on the outskirts of the lovely Downtown Naperville grounds is a very, very fuchsia wall.

And on the other side of that wall are very, very colorful letters spelling out the name of a very, very enthusiastic domain. DCM is jam packed with things to do.

Continue reading “Dupage Children’s Museum”

Wanderlust Wednesday: Newport Beach

Good morning everyone! Welcome to Eat Play Chicago LA’s Wanderlust Wednesday, where we share with you places we’ve been to or places we wish to visit. Today, I want to show you my favorite place to go to when I want to spend some quiet alone time here in California.

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Good morning everyone! Welcome to Eat Play Chicago LA’s Wanderlust Wednesday, where we share with you places we’ve been to or places we wish to visit. Today, I want to show you my favorite place to go to when I want to spend some quiet alone time here in California.

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If you want to catch the sunrise at the beach but would rather avoid the crowd, Newport Beach Pier is the best place to go. To get there, head south of Balboa boulevard and make a left on 21st street. There is plenty of metered parking inside the area and along the boulevard, but I suggest getting there as early as you can to get a good spot. Most of the restaurants and shops are found on the main road, that is why this beach (compared to other tourist-friendly beaches) is not as crowded. Most of the people tend to occupy the shore to the right of the pier early in the morning, since there are gift and rental shops and restaurants on that side. Parking is also located on that side, so it’s more convenient for people to stay in that area.To the left of the pier is where you can find residential and rental properties. It tends to be more quiet here early in the morning. This is where I usually go to lay out my chair and beach blanket.

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My favorite part is the feeling of community in Newport Beach Pier. Almost all the surfers who frequent that place know each other. I see them greeting each other as they put on their wet suits, yelling across parking spaces and talking about their surf boards. Even the owner and employees of Seaside Donut Bakery know their customers.

My little tradition whenever I drive there before the sun is up is to grab coffee and donuts at the bakery and walk halfway up the pier to my favorite bench spot. There, I sit down and listen to the waves and the birds and enjoy the peace, the quiet, and the calm while I wait to see the sun.

If you want to do some fishing, you can do so right here at the pier. Even before the sun is up, you see fishing poles lined up towards the end of the pier, and the people engaging in conversation while they wait for a catch.

Once the sun is fully up, I go back to my car and grab my chair and blanket so I can pick a spot right along the shore to the left of the pier. Once situated, I dig my feet in the sand, and just spend the rest of my time there people-watching, smiling at all the cute dogs passing by, and reading a book.

I want to share something really cool that I saw when I was there. There was a group of people (a family, maybe?) that were doing sand art just right below the pier. I thought it was so cool and interesting that I went ahead and checked them out on Instagram. Low Tide Aliens (IG: @lowtidealiens) have been giving everyone a smile to whoever has come across their beautiful sand art in Newport Beach.

Check out their art of the day!

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The last time I was here this statue was still being erected. I also noticed that the lifeguard station was named after him. Ben Carlson was a 32-year old Newport Beach lifeguard who drowned during a rescue in 2014. Click here for more information about his story.

Personally, I have never invited a lot of people here during my sunrise trips. But overall, I would definitely recommend going to Newport if you want to go to the beach but want to avoid the crowd.

-Jaja (IG: @theforevertourist)

 

 

Meal Prep Monday: Moussaka-Inspired Pasta

Welcome to my inaugural post for Monday’s weekly meal prep!

Welcome to my inaugural post for Monday’s weekly meal prep!  Full disclosure:  I’m not a trained chef or nutritionist.  However, I do like meals that are not only healthy, but aesthetically pleasing (read: pretty) as well.  (I also like meals that are not-so-healthy, but at least I am attempting to eat healthier!)  I do borrow recipes from books, online and word-of-mouth, and I will source my references.

Truthfully, I have not always meal-prepped for the week.  There will be weeks where I pack a lunch for work and other weeks I will just buy from wherever we end up at.  However, eating the same thing can be boring after a while, and eating out can get quite expensive.  Not to mention, different places may season their food differently than how you may like it.  I wanted to find a “happy medium” where I can have the food that I like each week and (1) not get tired of it; (2) it’s fairly affordable; and (3) it doesn’t take a lot of time.

I hope that, in reading/following this, you will also be inspired to come up with creative meals of your own (and there is nothing wrong with copying what I do either!) Do not be discouraged about cooking – it took me a while to get comfortable with it myself.  Luckily, with resources like Food Network, PBS, and You Tube, anyone would be able harness their “culinary skills.”

So thank you for reading this far, and let’s get started with our weekly meal prep!

When I was with Weight Watchers some years ago, there was a recipe that I liked called “Easy Moussaka” that used ground lamb in tomato sauce and paired with linguine.  I remember liking the recipe and I wanted to re-create it.  It may have been a recipe I got off the member portal for Weight Watchers, because I cannot find it anywhere in my recipe files or in my book collection. The recipe was more of a meat sauce on pasta rather than a casserole.  The closest I could find to the recipe that I remember is this: http://www.skinnykitchen.com/recipes/skinnyfabulous-moussaka-casserole/ but I left out the potatoes (because we have pasta), Alfredo sauce and feta cheese (though, I may experiment with that another time!)  Since I’m putting my spin on this recipe, I will go through it step-by-step.

I had rounded up and prepped all the ingredients as listed under “Ingredients under Moussaka,” minus potatoes.

Such a beautiful eggplant.  Too bad I have to slice it up!

It’s all about the mise en place.

I boiled water in a pot for the pasta.  You can use salt or olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking.

My coworker had mentioned that red lentil pasta had a lot of protein and tasted like actual spaghetti.  I’m a person who likes to try everything, at least, once.

Can you believe that this has 18 g of protein per serving?! Sign-me up!

While the water is heating up, I warmed the olive oil in a large, non-stick pan.  I added the onion and the garlic, and stirred them for a few minutes until golden.

Add the ground beef (lamb, or turkey, whichever you choose).  Cook until browned, for about 5 minutes.  Then drain fat, if needed.  Add the eggplant, oregano, cinnamon, salt and pepper, then simmer.

Confession: I forgot to get the can of diced tomatoes (*gasp*).  I remember at some point, one of the many cooking shows had given alternatives, such as tomato paste.  So if you were wondering why I had tomato paste included in my mise en place that would be why.
See, I can be flexible!

Add the tomatoes (or tomato paste, in my case) and red wine (or you can use chicken stock, too).  Cook, uncovered, until liquid reduces for about a minute.

Getting back to the pasta…
Once the water comes to a boil, cook according to package directions (about 8 to 10 minutes).  Drain.

Divide pasta between the containers for the week.  Next to the pasta, I placed some steamed greens as my vegetable.  Top the pasta with the eggplant and meat sauce.  Pro tip: garnish with shaved parmesan.

There you have it.  I’m sorry we had to make a lot of substitutions from the original recipe.  Sometimes, with cooking, one has to be flexible and improvise.  I will try to find a recipe that we can stick to next time.  Thanks for reading and see you next week!
-Maeven

Supper Club Saturday

“If you thought Izakaya is just part of a swanky name for just another one of the swanky restaurants in Bucktown, you are wrong.”

September 3, 2016

In this segment, Supper Club Saturday, one of us will give a review of a restaurant that we had been to.  Living in cities that offer a plethora of cuisines at our disposal, we just couldn’t help but to share our experiences with all of you!

Izakaya Mita

1960 North Damen

Bucktown, Chicago

If you thought Izakaya is just part of a swanky name for just another one of the swanky restaurants in Bucktown, you are wrong.  As one who has traipsed around Japan and visited its various izakayas, Izakaya Mita instantly brought me back to that place and time, to that first-, second-, or was it fifth sake in Tokyo…? (Ha!)

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I started with a sake flight (because I was pretty indecisive to commit to only one).  The servers are pretty knowledgeable about the sake and what pairs best with your dish selection.  I had started with Takoyaki and Chasu Marinated Pork Belly.

 

Takoyaki – it had a perfect balance of crunch and flavor, without making the insides rubbery.

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Chasu Marinated Pork Belly – so tender and juicy with just the right amount of fat.

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Next was the Okonomiyaki, which was described to me as a savory pancake with cabbage, tempura, eggs, flour and pork belly (read: MAGIC!)

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Followed by their Toshi’s Kyushu-Style Yaki Ramen with pork…

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Can you tell that a way to this girl’s heart is pork?

Tying up the bow on this delectable gift of a meal, was banana tempura with mocha ice cream.

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Over all, Izakaya Mita was not just delicious, but also a taste of how life is in the “Land of the Rising Sun.”

Verdict:

The sake is flowing aplenty + the food is comforting without being too heavy + great service = highly recommended by yours truly, Maeven!

Website: http://www.izakayamita.com

EatPlayChicagoLA is NOW LIVE!!

Welcome, everybody! Thank you for stopping by and checking out EatPlayChicagoLA, a blog and social media collective about places to explore in the Chicago and Los Angeles area. We will also try to cover topics about lifestyle, travel, food, and everything in between – wherever we find ourselves to be. Please feel free to follow our little brainchild, and we hope that you enjoy our content!

Let’s meet the bloggers, shall we?Jaja1

Jaja2

 

Justine1Justine2

Maeven1Maeven2Maeven3

That’s all for now! Thank you again for taking the time to stop by and check out EatPlayChicagoLA. Stay tuned as we bring out more posts about what we are up to.
Follow us on Instagram at Twitter: @eatplaychicagola