Exploring a New Corner of Garden Grove


Newly opened restaurant Ha Noi Corner, in Garden Grove, is serving up the most authentic Northern Vietnamese cuisine this side of, well, Hanoi. Right off of Garden Grove Blvd., this family owned establishment presents a full menu with recognizable Vietnamese dishes, as well as more specialized regional items, such as deep fried egg fish and grilled escargot. Vietnamese food has become one of my favorite cuisines to explore as of recent. I enjoy phở, búns, and baos as much as the next gal, but it was definitely a nice change of pace to experience some of the more unique dishes that the culture has to offer. Below were some of my favorites from our foodie feast!


Hến xào xúc banh đa: Baby clams chopped with various spices and served with rice crackers. I love dishes that encourage you to eat with your hands. With the rice crackers on the side, this was the perfect opportunity to build my own Vietnamese nachos.


Bánh cuốn thịt chả nướng: Steamed rice paper with Ha Noi grilled pork served with fresh herbs and fish sauce. The grilled pork was flavorful, juicy and the perfect portion size.


Gỏi cuốn nem nướng: Spring Rolls with Grilled Pork. You can never have too many grilled pork rolls in your life. Never ever.


Bánh cuốn thịt bằm: Ground Pork, fried tofu, ham, and a sunny-side-up egg on top of rolled rice paper. I fully believe that you can put an egg on 90% of your meals and it will take it up just one more notch. This dish would’ve been just fine with the meats and tofu on top of the rolled rice paper, but the egg on top made it the perfect small plate of comfort food.


Bún cá rau cần thìa là: Vermicelli soup with fried fish fillets, fish pastry, dill, and water celery. Irene of YuRockstar.com demonstrates her superb noodle pull skills in this photo! I thought that I knew all there was to know about búns, but boy was I wrong! I loved this hot take on the cold noodle dish that I was more familiar with.


Special thanks to my fashionable friend for modeling the House Special Coffee with Sea Salt Cream. In addition to their extensive food menu, you will be overwhelmed by their drink list. They have Vietnamese Iced Coffee, Strawberry Lemonade, a variety of iced and hot teas, and a variety of milk teas with optional add ons, including Honey Boba, Egg Pudding, Jellies, Red Bean, and Aloe Vera.


As you can see from the full spread, this was truly a foodie feast for the record books. We all had a great time learning about each dish, many of us trying something for the first time. Between the wonderful hospitality and numerous dishes to choose from, I will be back.

Speaking of returning, this Saturday and Sunday (January 7th and 8th), the first 100 guests will get a FREE drink. After that, it’ll be a BOGO drink deal for everyone, AND all meals will be 10% OFF! Be sure to LIKE the Goc Ha Noi Corner FB page or Instagram to qualify! See you this weekend!

Cava Grill Invades Irvine

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to preview Cava Grill’s newest location. With locations scattered around the east coast, their Irvine location is now the third in Southern California. I was looking forward to my trip simply based on the menu options and pictures on Instagram. The concept was started by three childhood friends who wanted to present their families’ Greek and Mediterranean culture and cuisine in an approachable fast casual setting; and that is exactly what they have done.


The menu is a build-your-own style with options ranging from pita, to grain bowls, to salads. From there, you add in your dips/spreads of choice, protein, endless toppings, and a dressing. I was overwhelmed with choices in the best way possible. As you can see, there are endless combinations, but ultimately we chose to go with: Grain Bowl with Tzatziki, Hummus, Crazy Feta, Chicken, Seasonal Vegetables, Diced Cucumbers, Tomato+Cucumbers, Kalamata Olives, Cauliflower Quinoa Tabbouleh, Lemon Wedge, and the Lemon Herb Tahini. I imagine you can accomplish the same goal with a different combination, but this was literally heaven in a bowl. There were so many different flavors going on, but somehow they all worked together harmoniously. I have no doubt that the freshness of the ingredients contributes to this. A few standouts from the bowl include their Crazy Feta, which was crazy delicious. The chicken was also some of the best chicken I have ever had in a fast casual restaurant. It was perfectly cooked and seasoned and was the best protein mixed in with their seasonal offering of squash and brussels sprouts. And just when I thought I was satisfied…


We also ordered the Pita with Crazy Feta, Braised Lamb, Spicy Lamb Meatballs, Green Harissa, Cabbage Slaw, Diced Cucumbers, and Kalamata Olives. Between the meatballs, Crazy Feta, and Green Harissa, this was on the spicier side, but not at all overpowering. The lamb was juicy, flavorful, and of great quality; it definitely exceed my expectations of what a fast casual restaurant would offer. All of the ingredients packed a punch and the pita was a very hearty meal in it of itself. And I mean, look at it. Just look at it.

I was very impressed with my experience, from the customer service, to the drink offerings (oh yeah, they have seasonal juices and teas), to the ahhhhh-mazing food. I will definitely drive the extra 10 minutes on the 405 on my lunch break to come here instead of my closer options. I would definitely recommend checking this place out, and keeping an eye on more locations opening up throughout SoCal. This is a great healthy option for a quick bite, and the perfect place to take your pickier friends or those with diet restrictions since the menu is so flexible.

Oh, and did I mention that you can find their most popular dips and spreads at various Whole Foods locations? Yup! They have 8 different flavors of Hummus along with their famous Crazy Feta available to purchase. They will be invading Orange County Whole Foods locations very soon! For more information, visit cavagrill.com.

Nitrolado Debuts New Ice SCream Treats for Halloween

Nitrolado is best known for their Churro Bowls (as seen on BuzzFeed Food), but this month, they are diving head first into the Halloween holiday with treats to die for!


With plenty of decorations in the small space for photo opportunities, they are serving up some seriously spooky flavors. Featuring three new ice cream flavors, Pumpkin Bacon, Lavender Coconut, and Blood Red Velvet, they will be serving these treats in their limited edition Halloween cups starting October 24th at 7PM, and every night after that until All Hallow’s Eve. As you can see, the cups make the treats extra spooky! Even though the mysterious smoke is perfect for a Halloween Instagram post, the best part of this treat is still the ice cream. The Blood Red Velvet with brownie chunks inside is sinfully delicious!

Also, if you show up in costume on October 28th-30th, you will get BOGO 50% off any menu item – the perfect deal for you and a friend.


Special thanks to Hop for the invite, and for showing off Nitrolado’s Strawberry Rose Tea in it’s limited edition Halloween packaging! It matched her vampire costume perfectly! This blood, I mean tea, will be available starting October 24th as well.


For more information, visit www.facebook.com/nitrolado.