Las Vegas Food Scene by Midori Ng

While you may not be heading to Las Vegas for the food, there are plenty of good eats on and off the strip. I’ve narrowed down my top five places to eat anytime I go to Vegas ($-$$ range):

Best Kept Secret: Japanese Curry Zen

A short Uber ride off the strip and you get to Japanese Curry Zen! This is a typical Japanese Curry restaurant, but they have a wide variety of curry flavors and different meats you can choose. I opted for a standard Japanese curry - prices for all dishes are extremely reasonable and portions are huge.

Best Happy Hour: Sushi Roku

Every time I go to Vegas I have to stop at Sushi Roku in Ceaser’s Palace! They have a great drink and food happy hour including different sushi rolls and appetizers. Personal favorite is the A2 Fusion roll and it’s only $4.

Best in Old Las Vegas/Fremont: The Park on Fremont

Old Las Vegas has a great food scene for happy hour and late night drinks. One of my favorites was The Park on Fremont because of the experimental food style. The restaurant is literally in a parking lot and has lots of seating on the back patio and front outdoor space. Highly recommend the mac and cheese balls!

Best Off the Strip: Lotus of Siam

This place has been rated one of the best Thai restaurants in North America and I have to say it lived up to the hype. The food was fresh, tasty, spicy, and authentic. A good start is the Pork Khao Soi - people also recommend the Crispy Duck Curry. Definitely finish it off with some coconut ice cream over sticky rice. Mmmmm.

Best Dessert: Sprinkles Cupcakes

Sprinkles is my favorite cupcake shop and since we don’t have one in Washington, I had to go to this location. Their shop has cupcakes AND ice cream. The coffee is also great to pair with your cupcake of choice (can’t go wrong with Red Velvet!).

NYC Favorites by Midori Ng

Took a much-needed and long overdue trip to New York last weekend! I was born in NY but hadn’t been back since I was five years old. My boyfriend and I jam-packed as much food, art, and culture we could into four days. Read on for my favorites during our time in the big city. We’ll be back soon! 

FAVORITE PIZZA // NEW YORK PIZZA SUPREMA

This shop is by Penn Station which is generally a touristy area. However, New York Pizza Suprema is only marked by a generic sign with their restaurant phone number. You can order by the slice or whole pie and it seemed like a good amount of locals stopped by. Worth checking out if you’re walking around Time Square and want a more authentic New York style pizza.

FAVORITE OUTDOOR ACTIVITY // BROOKLYN BRIDGE

After getting brunch with a friend, we decided to walk the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn Heights and into the city. While it can get pretty crowded with tourists, if you can catch the walk on a sunny day it is truly beautiful from every angle. Plus - it’s free!

FAVORITE DESSERT // DOUGHNUTTERY

I actually went three times while in New York for four days so you do the math. We typically got a half-dozen to share (they are mini doughnuts!). You can pick two sugar flavors which they will coat your doughnut with straight from the fryer. Personal favorites was the glazed with sprinkles or cinnamon sugar. 

FAVORITE ATTRACTION // CHELSEA MARKET

A super cute indoor market with cookie shops, bratwurst, tahini cake, lobster sandwiches, and more! Once you pass through all the food options there is a flea market with lots of jewelry options for men and women. Loved this place - highly suggest just eating your way through and sample the different foods.

FAVORITE MUSEUM // THE MET

If it’s your first time to New York I recommend buying a New York Pass for a couple days! This was my boyfriend’s suggestion and we ended up spending about $180 on a pass that let you go into basically all the tourist attractions (you break even at around five attractions). Absolute favorite was the Met. You can get lost for hours in all the different historical exhibits. It’s also right next to Central Park which makes for a beautiful walk.

FAVORITE MEAL // XI'AN FAMOUS FOODS

There are a few locations but we went to the one right across the street from the MoMa (not as crowded because it’s newly opened). Oh man - if you like Chinese noodles definitely check out this place. Prices are relatively cheap around $9 for a plate of noodles. It’s a quicker sit-down restaurant but the flavors were so good and perfect for a cold day. Wish we had one of these in Seattle! 

7 Memorable Meals in Tokyo by Midori Ng

Walking the streets of Tokyo, I realized you can go just about anywhere and the food would be delicious. This past summer was my first trip to Japan and I was extremely impressed by the cleanliness, efficiency, and most of all - the food. Alongside the variety of food in Japan, every meal seemed to be treated as a unique experience. Enjoy below my seven most memorable meals in Tokyo. (P.S. Kyoto post coming soon!!)

BAKE // PASTRIES

I can only count a handful of baked goods that I can classify as “life-changing” but BAKE was hands-down one of them. There are a variety of locations around Asia but I stumbled upon the small window stall in the Shinjuku station. They only serve one pastry - a warm, golden cheese tart. The cheese mousse is the filling for the mini pie crust and is AMAZING. My only regret from the trip was not buying an entire box of these to freeze.

KIYOMURA @ TSUKIJI FISH MARKET // SUSHI

The Tsukiji Fish Market is fun to sample different dried fish and seaweed, but it’s also worth trying some sashimi while you’re there! Tsukiji is said to have the freshest and best tuna in the world. I stopped by a restaurant outside of the fish market called Kiyomura which had Chirashi bowls for under $20. It was some of the best tuna, salmon, and sweet egg I’ve ever had. 

TONKI // TONKATSU

At Tonki they serve three variations of pork cutlet which is then deep-fried in panko breading. The seating overlooks the open kitchen where all your food is being prepared (see above!). It may take 30 minutes or so get your meal but it’s entertaining to watch the chefs prepare all the meals with such great attention to detail. The experience begins with hot towel before eating and served hot tea. With your meal, you're given unlimited cabbage, rice, miso soup, mustard, and tonkatsu sauce. This was for sure my favorite meal in Tokyo, and probably one of my favorite meals ever.

EKIBEN @ TRAIN STATIONS // BENTO

Surprisingly train stations in Tokyo have some of the yummiest foods in all of the city (i.e. the famous Jiro Ono’s sushi is located in a train station). If you want to opt for a different experience than a typical sit-down restaurant, grab an ekiben which is essentially a bento box filled with different Japanese food staples. The packaging on the boxes are beautiful and the intricacy of how the box is laid out is a piece of art.

STARBUCKS @ SHIBUYA CROSSING // COFFEE

This is less about the food because you can get Starbucks anywhere (although if you want a milk tea or green tea inspired drink/food try it out here!), but this is one of the most iconic Starbucks in the world. The view of Shibuya Crossing is pretty prime to watch over a cup of coffee.

TORIKI // YAKITORI

Toriki is located in an unsuspecting alley, but don’t be fooled. It’s a michelin-star restaurant and has been frequented by Anthony Bourdain! They serve yakitori which is all different parts of the chicken, all at a very reasonable price. I think our total for 2 people was $50. Also, a must-try menu item is the friend chicken skin! Yumm. 

HOKOKUJI TEMPLE // MATCHA TEA

A little more obscure, but I loved going to the Hokokuji temple and drinking fresh matcha tea. Before you walk into the bamboo garden, there is a sitting area where you are given a small wooden cup filled with matcha tea and two sweet dissolvable candies. Spin the cup of tea twice to shake up the matcha before you drink it, take a sip, then eat one candy. The bittersweet contrast is what makes the matcha super tasty!

BONUSES // 2 MORE!

I forgot to take photos at these two places near Shibuya station but Genki Sushi and Ichiran are unlike any restaurant I’ve been to in the United States. Genki looks like an ordinary conveyer belt sushi restaurant. The difference is your seat has a corresponding tablet where you order food and it comes wizzing down the conveyor belt without stopping in front of any other customers. At Ichiran, you order ramen from a vending machine. Food is considered "fast food", but the experience is worth it.

Paris in 3 Days by Midori Ng

I had the opportunity to spend the weekend in Paris this past April before heading out to Amsterdam. While three days is definitely not enough time to explore this city (I’ll be back soon Paris!), I have a list of my favorite places me and my friends visited - all on a college budget. Enjoy! 

PARIS BOAT CRUISE // $17

This boat tour is totally worth getting a different view of the city! If you can catch the tour during sunset the views are phenomenal. We bought tickets for the boat that departed at 8 pm and sunset was around that time in April. They tend to sell out so my suggestion is to head towards the ticket office earlier in the day to purchase tickets for the evening when the views and whether is better (its close to the Eiffel Tower so you can’t miss it). This is one of the better boat tours I’ve been on and the price is reasonable.

EIFFEL TOWER // $8 - $18

Okay, this is an obvious choice to visit while in Paris. I did spend the extra money to go to the top but was not a huge fan of the lines that accompanied. My favorite part was actually hanging out in the lawn outside of the Eiffel Tower and just people watching - which is totally free. This is the perfect place to grab coffee or cheese and wine to chill before the evening. 

THE LOUVRE // $13

Most notably known for where the Mona Lisa is - but this was my favorite room in the Louvre. Entrance fee is surprisingly cheap for this large and famous of a museum. While I didn’t try it, a friend of mine told me museum food in Europe is the best bang-for-your-buck. Since it would probably take an entire day or more to explore the Louvre, try going in the morning and spending a lunch break in the museum cafe.

SACRE-COUER // FREE

A little out of the way, but such a beautiful view - probably my favorite in Paris. It's free if you don't go inside which is probably the way to go because the line is so long anyways. Great place to grab breakfast or lunch and people watch! We bought cheese-filled baguettes and sat on the steps of Sacre-Couer. This also puts you right by a touristy neighborhood for some great souvenir shopping.

ARC DE TRIOMPHE // FREE

Pretty sure this is located in the middle of the most dangerous roundabout in the world… but it's the start of the main shopping district in Paris! We didn’t pay to go to the top or anything, but visiting the arc itself (fun fact: where a Victoria's Secret commercial was filed) was more than enough.

LATIN QUARTER // FREE

This become one of our favorite places to walk around because of the shear variety of restaurants, shops, cafes etc. It’s close to Notre-Dame so if you’re in the area checking that out, allocate sometime to spend in this neighborhood. 

24 Hours in Portland by Midori Ng

Reason for my last-minute trip to Portland? The food! Since every Portland visit is constant Yelp check-ins, multiple happy hours, and food-truck galore, I’m sharing my favorite destinations for every meal if you only have one day to spend in the city.


Breakfast // The Waffle Window

Order the Triple B (Bacon, Brie, Basil) with an egg on top. It comes paired with homemade peach jam which is the perfect amount of sweetness to this eclectic combination.

Order the Triple B (Bacon, Brie, Basil) with an egg on top. It comes paired with homemade peach jam which is the perfect amount of sweetness to this eclectic combination.

Morning Coffee // Black Rock Coffee Bar

Last time I was here I got the Fuel Coffee. It has 6 shots of espresso which is probably too much for any one person...

Last time I was here I got the Fuel Coffee. It has 6 shots of espresso which is probably too much for any one person...

This exotic cuisine is Mauritian food, inspired by African, French, Indian, Chinese, and Creole cuisines. Regulars recommend the Shyamosas and I also highly suggest trying the Chicken Mine Frire.

This exotic cuisine is Mauritian food, inspired by African, French, Indian, Chinese, and Creole cuisines. Regulars recommend the Shyamosas and I also highly suggest trying the Chicken Mine Frire.

Afternoon Snack // Blue Star Donuts

I used to be a fan of Voodoo Doughnuts until I tried Blue Star’s Blueberry Basil donut. Another favorite of mine is the Lemon Poppyseed Buttermilk!

I used to be a fan of Voodoo Doughnuts until I tried Blue Star’s Blueberry Basil donut. Another favorite of mine is the Lemon Poppyseed Buttermilk!

Happy Hour // Bollywood Theater 

They don't have a designated happy hour, but all their food is a fresh take on Indian street food. Grab a few small plates (like the Kati Roll - yum!) to share before heading over to dinner.

They don't have a designated happy hour, but all their food is a fresh take on Indian street food. Grab a few small plates (like the Kati Roll - yum!) to share before heading over to dinner.

Dinner // Pok Pok

Hands down my favorite restaurant in Portland. If you can go in the summer, get an order of the coconut milk-infused corn with the famous fish sauce wings. Anything you order on the menu will taste super authentic to Chiang Mai, Thailand - including the water!

Hands down my favorite restaurant in Portland. If you can go in the summer, get an order of the coconut milk-infused corn with the famous fish sauce wings. Anything you order on the menu will taste super authentic to Chiang Mai, Thailand - including the water!

Dessert // Salt & Straw

A must-try in Portland because of their variety of weird flavors. Can’t go wrong with their waffle cones too.

A must-try in Portland because of their variety of weird flavors. Can’t go wrong with their waffle cones too.

This spot can have up to a two hour wait! Even if you’re not a big whiskey drinker (I’m certainly not!), the ambiance is unreal. The host/hostess will lead you upstairs to the “library” where hundreds of whiskey bottles line the walls.

This spot can have up to a two hour wait! Even if you’re not a big whiskey drinker (I’m certainly not!), the ambiance is unreal. The host/hostess will lead you upstairs to the “library” where hundreds of whiskey bottles line the walls.


I'm always eager to find more hidden gems of Portland. Please feel free to send me any recommendations!

11 Moments from Hong Kong + Thailand by Midori Ng

Over the summer, I spent eight days in Southeast Asia. My boyfriend Akaash and I decided in this short time span to hit two countries and three cities: Hong Kong, Chiang Mai, and Bangkok. Our trip was filled with great company, fantastic food, and a mix of tourist vs. local destinations. Here’s 11 photos of some of our favorite moments. 

DAY 1-3: HONG KONG, HONG KONG

In front of the bustling tourist destination Ladies Market (where you can practice your haggling skills).

In front of the bustling tourist destination Ladies Market (where you can practice your haggling skills).

A snapshot of the city from the Peak.

A snapshot of the city from the Peak.

Photographed while taking a walk through Repulse Bay.

Photographed while taking a walk through Repulse Bay.

360 view of the island from the top of Dragon's Back trail.

360 view of the island from the top of Dragon's Back trail.

 

DAY 3-6: CHIANG MAI, THAILAND

The courtyard of Siripanna Villa Resort & Spa. 

The courtyard of Siripanna Villa Resort & Spa. 

As seen on Anthony Bourdain, we had to try the pork leg from the Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak stand.

As seen on Anthony Bourdain, we had to try the pork leg from the Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak stand.

Wat Buppharam. The first temple we visited! I recommend seeing Wat Chedi Luang and Doi Suthep while you’re in Chiang Mai too.

Wat Buppharam. The first temple we visited! I recommend seeing Wat Chedi Luang and Doi Suthep while you’re in Chiang Mai too.

Our go-to snack while in Thailand: Fresh grilled pork cutlets at the Sunday Night Market Walking Street outside of the Tha Pae Gate. 

Our go-to snack while in Thailand: Fresh grilled pork cutlets at the Sunday Night Market Walking Street outside of the Tha Pae Gate. 

 

DAY 6-8: BANGKOK, THAILAND

The surreal and beautiful Grand Eastin infinity pool overlooking the city of Bangkok.

The surreal and beautiful Grand Eastin infinity pool overlooking the city of Bangkok.

Taling Chan Floating Market was less traveled than most floating markets in Bangkok - which is exactly what we loved about it! 

Taling Chan Floating Market was less traveled than most floating markets in Bangkok - which is exactly what we loved about it! 

Wat Pho temples making us feel so small.

Wat Pho temples making us feel so small.

Thank you Hong Kong + Thailand for making our summer adventure one for the books. We’ll see you soon!

Good Morning Tahiti by Midori Ng

tahiti

 

“Bonjour”, “La Orana”, and “Hello” surrounded us as we disembarked the airplane and into the overwhelming humidity. Since I only speak English, I was immediately culture shocked with the French and Tahitian languages. The LePendu’s were our host family who warmly welcomed our UW group of 22 students with flower lei’s, shell necklaces, and friendly kisses. This marked the beginning of my University of Washington - Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity summer 2013 study abroad journey in Tahiti for one month, exploring the towns of Punaauia, Fa’a, Papeete, and Moorea.

The program was focused on the art of storytelling, intersecting oral traditions and creative digital expression.

A small island with an even smaller population, Tahiti is home to natural wonders of sandy beaches, exotic flora and fauna, and clear blue ocean waters. To the outside world, it is known as paradise. Weeks leading up to the trip, some of my peers would sarcastically remark, "you're going to study abroad in Tahiti? That must be really, really hard". However, many people never truly experience the aspects of Tahiti that make the island so alluring and captivating.

Our journey focused on making connections within the Polynesian community and learning about the Tahitian culture beyond the stereotypes and pre-perceptions. We spent weeks studying the traditional Tahitian canoes Polynesians used to voyage across miles of ocean during migration through guest speakers, readings, and discussions. Afterwards our group canoed in open water, swam with stingrays, and learned to how to paddle board with the LePendu kids. This type of active learning and community building was essential to the Tahitian culture.

During our second week, we attended the Heiva Dance Festival in downtown Papeete to watch an entertaining Polynesian show full of chanting, dancing, and singing. Afterwards, we got to partake and create our own Heiva festival, learning four dance routines, two songs, and a traditional chant within 48 hours to perform for the Punaauia community.

Volunteering at a kid’s camp and elementary school were the most rewarding experience of the study abroad. We spent all day with the children learning about their culture by weaving handmade baskets, making coconut milk, and preparing the dish E’ia Ota (Tahitian lime-marinated tuna). I also loved sharing parts of the American culture by playing basketball, soccer, and football with them. We also attended an American Football game between two local high schools to support the students the UW Athletic Football Department helped coach in June 2013. The football team performed the traditional Hakka dance for UW showing their appreciation of our support.

This was my first time out of the country and first time studying abroad. Only staying for one month, every day was a new adventure and memory that would pass by too quickly. Tahiti was an eye-opening study abroad trip that has no doubt changed my life.

It is a destination that offers the greatest of simple pleasures rooted in a culture that values community, nature, and diversity.

"Maeva i te Ora" means "Welcome to the Life", the theme of our study abroad and my blog. The meaning is rooted in the LePendu family teaching me a lot about living with a positive outlook, big heart, and open mind. I realized the importance of slowing down and enjoying special moments with special people, truly living and being present in my life. I am extremely grateful and humbled to have experienced the trip of a lifetime. More pictures coming soon!