A different kind of energy II

WELL, I fell into a food coma after just re-viewing those photos in that last post. And I surmise that it’ll happen again after this one because the food pic continues.

Let’s see, where did I leave off? oh yes, after a perky cup of organic, locally roasted coffee at Flipnotics (their website is so quintessential Austin, it makes me smile) and FlipHappy (I just noticed the theme there), we were just in time for Sushi-A-Go-Go. Yes, raw fish from a trailer.

Coming from Hawaii where grade A sushi is bountiful, I did not have high expectations. Whenever Austinites, or Texans for that matter, say that their sushi is ‘good,’ I smile the same smile as when someone in Hawaii say we have ‘good’ Mexican food. Although the man sitting inside the trailer does familiarly Japanese, I was still skeptical, especially on this 95+ degree day…

We ordered the spooky roll (spicy tuna, avocado, salmon over the rice), the summertime roll (shrimp tempura, spicy tuna mix, avocado, spicy go-go sauce& tempura crunchy on the top), and a special–one with ika (squid), ume (dried pickled plum) and shiso leaf (perilla; annual herb in the mint family)–my favorite combination of flavors. First bite into the spooky roll, my eyes got big, my instinctive reaction to taste buds happiness. The rice was fresh, the fish was fresh with firm texture, the taste was clean. Had we put the rolls on a fancy plate, you’d believe it came from a very decent sushi-ya. The only imperfection is the ubiquitous mayo concoction over the rolls. I’m a sushi purist, the simpler the flavors the better. But I still deem it another trailer success!

The next wheel over from Sushi-A-Go-Go was Sno Beach Hawaiian Shaved Ice. Cyn had wanted it since the night before but I was not ready. First of all, if you’re going to call it Hawaiian, you’d have to do it right and drop the grammar. There’s no ‘d’ in shave ice; it’s not a past action, its Hawaiian time (and grammar). And as a loyal Waiola customer, all other shave ice is second tier. But since Cyn, who has also had the real deal assured me that Sno Beach has Waiola-grade ice, I agreed to give it a try.

It did live up to Waiola’s level of silky smooth ice. My usual flavor combo at Waiola is green tea and milk, here I had a sweeter combo per Cyn’s recommendation of almond and wedding cake with creme added on top. I still don’t know what wedding cake flavor is, but it tasted good. And at $2.50, it’s the perfect palate cleanser.

By then the blazing Texas sun was directly overhead, perfect time to go back into the cool water. We paddled for nearly two hours working up another appetite for more. There were so many people also paddling, kayaking, canoeing, tubing. Leisure does it.

We returned to Torchy’s once again because of the alleged best queso in the world. It’s quite a claim so we have to see for ourselves.

It’s their green chili queso topped with guacamole, queso fresco, cilantro and diablo sauce. I don’t know if it’s the best queso in the world, but it is surely the best queso I’ve had. And you didn’t think we stopped there, did ya?

From top to bottom:

Dirty Sanchez–Scrambled eggs with guacamole, fried poblano chili, escabeche carrots, and shredded cheese served on a flour tortilla with our poblano ranch sauce.

Brushfire–Jamaican jerk chicken, grilled jalapenos, mango, Sour cream, and cilantro served on a flour tortilla with our Diablo sauce.

Don’t remember what the third is.

Baja Shrimp–Hand battered shrimp fried with cooked cabbage slaw, topped with pickled onions & jalapenos, queso fresco, cilantro and a lime wedge. Served on tortilla of choice and our creamy chipotle sauce.

Two words: DAMN GOOD.

Trailer food is great. And Austin is great largely because of it. There are many other trailers still waiting to be sampled: hot dogs, pizzas, burgers, cupcakes, bbq, you name it.



a different kind of energy

Some times what you didn’t even know you’re looking for is just right around the corner.

Since I am in the market for a new city, I have a list of ‘must haves’ that I am assessing each place with. A thriving classical music scene, close to New York City, job opportunities, walking city, public transportation, runner and bicyclist friendly, active lifestyle (mountains and bodies of water nearby), earth-friendly, farmers markets, fantastic food scene, eclectic cultures–not too much to ask for in one place, right?

A few cities encompass parts of my wish list, Philly being one of them. This weekend, I had a chance to hop over to Austin from Houston. I thought it was just a chance to stand up paddle (SUP) while away from Hawaii, but little did I know that I was about to leave Texas and find much of what I want.

After a nearly three hour drive and a speeding ticket, Cyn and I arrived in Austin at about 8pm. Sky still lit, we went looking for food (of course). We decided that the flourishing trailer food scene in Austin would be this trip’s theme. So first up, South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery.

We got tacos from Torchy’s Damn Good Tacos and a frozen hot chocolate from The Holy Cacao. The tacos were truly damn good. I got the green chile pork, and Cyn got the seared ahi. Tasty.

Our love for progressive eating prompted us to move on to the next set of trailers. After circling downtown Austin, where a few other well-known trailers are supposed to be, we twittered, googled, and called to find what is to be the reigning BEST taco I have tasted.

TaKorea‘s (smart name) pork katsu taco with curried vinaigrette and kimchee puree. This unassuming looking taco is by far the tastiest little bite I have ever chomped into. The breading is crunchy yet there’s plenty of tasty meat underneath. The sweetness of the meat perfectly balances the tang from the vinaigrette highlighted by the slight heat from the very mild kim chee puree. I was speechless until I heard myself ordering another one. My thumb was up the entire time I was trying to tell the guy that he’s got that taco down. I went to sleep smiling that night.


The purpose of the trip was to SUP. I admit that I lost focus for a bit there in the midst of taco fever. Waking up early the next morning, we made it to paddling on the hot Texas day at Town Lake. Austin has an entirely different energy from any other Texas city I have been to. My sans coffee body was invigorated merely by the sight of the dozens of runners, bicyclists, kayakers, canoers along and in the lake. Just 165 miles away from the once fattest city in America, Austin is FIT, and there is the smell of sweat and health in the air!

SUP-ing in a lake is not as fun as in the ocean, but there’s certainly a placid serenity to the waveless water. After trying out the free demo given by SUP ATX in the morning, we planned out our day to eat, SUP for another two hours, eat some more. Nearby and still relatively slow, we got in line for some famous pancakes.

As seen on Food Network’s Throwdown, the ladies at FlipHappy Crêpes easily beat out Bobby Flay with their crunchy on the outside, soft but not mushy on the inside crêpes generously filled with savory or sweet ingredients. I had the tarragon mushrooms crêpe with goat cheese, spinach, caramelized onions, and tomatoes. The 15 minutes wait was worth every bite.

The Elders – A Coming of Age

This post is simply to plug my friend’s documentary film project. I have nothing to do with it except donated a very small amount in support of this worthy undertaking. Nathaniel Hansen, an independent film maker currently living in Boston, is working on a documentary film about aging that will take him across the country.


A feature-length documentary, The Elders uses stylized interview portraits of elderly individuals to tell a universal story about life’s most important lessons. Thematically organized around life lessons that reflect a wide range of human emotion and experience, the film seeks to reveal a larger more complex portrait of our shared humanity.

The project is funded through, a site that allows artists to test the viability of their ideas through “crowdfunding.” Nathaniel, like other artists proposing their idea on the site, had a fixed amount of time to raise a predetermined amount of money  to support his endeavor. While I’m sure it was nail-bitingly nerve wrecking for Nathaniel as he watched the clock clicking, it was rather easy for many of his friends, like myself, family, and even strangers to see its value and contribute. At the end of the pledging period, $12,600 was raised through Kickstarter, sending Nathaniel on the road to interview various elderly individuals “to tell a universal story about life’s important lessons.”

To find out more details about this exciting project, or to follow Nathaniel’s journey, please go to The Elders. You can also follow the progress on its facebook page.

Running Efficiency
June 14, 2010, 7:19 pm
Filed under: Life, Running | Tags: ,

I try to exercise three times a day. Exercise my voice, my mind, and my body.  Running is as much a mental training as a physical one. I like to accomplish all three in one run.

Sometimes getting into running shoes alone is an exercise of the mind, discipline of the will, or lack thereof. Or some runs don’t take off until the third mile, when my whole body finally agrees to move in accord. Once physically in motion, it’s a mental game–my favorite part of any run. How far can I go, how to change my stride when my legs feel tired or heavy, how fast can I speed up. And when I find a good rhythm, I start singing, sometimes aloud, most often not. I go through particular piece of music I happen to be working on, using the rhythm of my foot strikes as the tempo of my songs. My favorite song for speed work is Queen of the Night’s aria “Die Hölle Rache” from Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Listen here and you’ll see why it’s a fantastic speed work song. That’s why you’ll almost never find me running with my iPod. I have everything in my head.

Every run refreshes my mind, awakens my senses, sweats out every negative element that is enshrouding my creativity for life. While some runs are inevitably harder than others, I have never come back from a run regretting that I went out in the first place.

June 13, 2010, 1:12 am
Filed under: Cool Stuff | Tags: , , ,

I love a good invention. Who doesn’t?

And having just been to a baseball game and paid $4 for a bottle of Dasani, which is just tap water, I wish there was an alternative.


Introducing BOBBLE REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE–Filter water as you drink.

I saw it at Hills Kitchen in Washington DC earlier this week. My friend Amy already has a green Bobble and highly recommends it; the lady working there said she received one for free to sample the product, so she has unabashedly put it through distress and found it durable. For $10, it should be a good investment.

The bottle is BPA free, it is recommended that the filter be replaced every two months, and the filter is priced at $6.95. I got myself a yellow one to match my sunny disposition (and my moped). I quickly tried it out at the nearest public water fountain I could find. You are instructed to first fill the bottle with water and squeeze it out. Black water comes out in the first few squeezes as the carbon in the filter is rinsed out, then the water runs clear and it’s good to drink. (Well, I’d refilled a new bottle, of course). The result is good tasting water. I was impressed.

Now I can breeze pass security in airports, sport arenas with my modern, chic armor, and no longer have to be bullied into paying ridiculous amounts for tap water.

A pleasant surprise
June 12, 2010, 4:32 pm
Filed under: Life | Tags: ,

I have been living in Hawaii for the past 5 years. I love it and wish that the island chain was a little (actually a lot) closer to the continent because each time I have to get off the rock, it’s a long and expensive plane ride. It’s agonizing to admit that it is time to move on.

It took me quite a while to be mentally ready to move, then it’s WHERE to? I already know that the east coast is where I need to be; it is where opportunities are. But WHERE?

I took an audition in Philadelphia last week, and was very pleasantly surprised by the visit. The only other time I have ever visited the city was years ago when I went with a tour group through DC and Philly. The only thing I remember about Philly was sleepily descending the tour bus and touched the Liberty Bell. It may be that I was there for only two days this time, and by the end of the 48 hours (or a little less), I am still in the honeymoon stage with it, but the city was nothing like its bad rep. “You just need to know where to NOT go,” says my gracious host about Philly. And that is true with any city, even Hawaii.

It was the perfect east coast weather–sunny, cool, crisp air. West Philly and Center City remind me of Boston, where I went to school for two years. Both cities have the Old World vibe with much history, but Philly is less nerdy. I walked around the neighborhood for hours while mentally taking notes of the city. Much of the things I need in a city, Philly’s got it. There were runners and bicyclists everywhere. There’s a runner store with the utmost perfect name: PR (Philadelphia Runner). Then there’s the best coffee I’ve had in recent years (aside from the coffee in Italy last year): La Colombe. And even though I didn’t get to eat out much, I hear that Philly’s got quite a food scene. I consulted my host about the neighborhood, the rent, public transportation, and I even went into the grocery store to check out prices–all in all, a good place to be. On top of that, there’s the Bolt Bus, much like the chinatown bus in Boston that will bring me to Manhattan in two hours for $15.

So this city of Brotherly Love may be a good candidate for relocation, but I’m also looking into the DC/Baltimore area where I have close friends. Friends can make a huge difference in a new, foreign city.

Time and timing
June 5, 2010, 1:37 am
Filed under: babble

Timing is everything. Life is really just time–time filled with adventures, accomplishments, regrets, and memories of all those. The clock is ticking on everyone. We all want more of it, or to do more in it. Make more products per hour, run farther in less time. Even those of us whose 24 hours aren’t filled with non stop action like Jack, but actually have time to kill want more time.

I am, for example, sitting here waiting for the day to cool down so I could go out for my run. The time I am so-called ‘killing’ right now with writing is time I don’t need because I am unable to use it to do what I wish to do. Once this day starts to cool and I’m out there running, I will be wishing that night doesn’t fall so soon so that I can run longer and maybe adding a biking session. This means that what we all want isn’t really just time itself, but time that is fulfilled with the desired.

So timing is managing time, doing certain things at certain time.  But there are variables that are not within my control, and I can’t make everything work. That always results with me feeling guilty about not maximizing time, or feeling disappointed because I have no control of those variables. That’s just how I feel today.