Category: Chicago Dining

Such a ‘Bler: Teamo

Such a ‘Bler: Teamo

There was this time during my senior year of high school when mum went to Europe for a month-long business trip. I lived off of occasional dinners I’d cook for my dad and brother, but mainly bubble tea (how am I still alive?) So you could tell how ecstatic I was when Loyola announced the brief visit of Te’amo Boba Bar. 

Don’t get it wrong, I love the drink available from campus – everything from the best coffee at Center Stage Café in Mundelein College to healthy smoothies at Rambler Express. I often go to Tbaar if I had a specific craving, which was only a ten-minute walk from campus. This is fine, but less convenient during busy back to back class days. Hearing that bubble tea would now be available at Rambler Express was some exciting news.  

Te’amo is very different from any bubble tea brand I’ve had in Chicago thus far. It currently comes very close to Bingo Tea (my favourite, that’s all the way in Chinatown.) Appearance and variety wise, it is superior. The staff were also very friendly and quick even with the tsunami of excited students. It also gave me more reason to pass by the Damen Student Center – a hot spot I spent much of freshman year in but rarely visited now that I live on the other side of campus. 

I also appreciate that there was an appearance of a more traditionally Asian treat on campus, even if it was only for a little while. I get quite excited to hear thoughts from my non-Asian friends whenever they try a new flavour and being able to tell them all that I know about it. What really surprised me was that this pop up was so well greeted by our campus that the partnership actually ended up getting extend til the end of the academic year! 

I’m not sure if Te’amo will be back Fall 2019, but I do hope so. I heard it may be an added feature of one of our new dorms?? But if your cravings are like mine, here’s where you can find it for now! 

  1. Lao Sze Chuan restaurant bar area, 520 Michigan Avenue 
  1. 1115 E 55th St 

Teamo. 

HEY, I ALSO MAKE VIDEOS! 

HERE’S THE SUCH A ‘BLER PLAYLIST: 

Local Fave Restaurant: Sushi Burrito

Local Fave Restaurant: Sushi Burrito

Boy do I have a restaurant I want to tell you guys about. Like a few of the others I’ve mentioned, it’s ‘local’ in the sense that it’s in the Chicago region, although many native Chicagoans will tell me that it is most certainly not in Chicago – it’s in Evanston. I’m pretty sure there were locations actually in Chicago, but I went to the Evanston one to make an adventure out of it.

Sushi Burrito, ever since I heard of it, really piqued my interest. I mean, what could be wrong about taking a sushi… and making it huge?

Well, lots of things, some people told me – firstly, that it was too big to get your mouth around so you were left without the greatest quality of sushi. They mean, of course, you get all of the flavors in one bite. Which is fair, of course. But I still wanted to try it.

The second complaint was that it was too big to eat at one sitting but unlike a regular burrito it wasn’t good as leftovers. This, I ignore, because I was determined to eat it all. As one does.

After a few years of not going, I finally got around to going to it recently. It was late in the evening, so I didn’t get a chance to drop by my other favorite places in Evanston, such as the bookstore that charges by weight like a deli, or the huge Barnes and Noble, or get bubble tea from Joy Yee’s, and so on, but that was fine.

I had a great time at Sushi Burrito. This is their website: https://sushiburritochicago.com/ I got the Chitown (I think), pictured below, because I asked the guy at the counter what was the most popular since I certainly couldn’t decide with so many options. Plus the cost – not too bad!

Overall I would recommend Sushi Burrito if you’re looking to try something unique. It’s a little far away to go often, but how fun!

Starbucks or Dunkin Coffee?

Starbucks or Dunkin Coffee?

 

Just writing this makes me so stressed because I ask myself everyday, do I like Starbucks coffee more or Dunkin Donuts? First off, what do I even order to make that judgement, right? Well, I am basing this off of pure black coffee y’all. Before I get into which one is ‘better’, lets explain why I even drink black coffee. For many years, I was that person who would say “ew! You drink black coffee???” So I would get my regular cream and sugar with a typical sweet flavor added into it and that got me through the day pretty well. Yeah… it wasn’t long until it started making me really nauseous and uncomfortable. (Lets keep in mind, I am lactose intolerant). So how do I know which chain is the real deal when it comes to black coffee? We can add the fun syrups and flavors later, but lets base this judgement on the actual coffee now.

Well for starts, if you are in the mood for just a regular cup of coffee, then it depends on your taste of the companies’ original coffee blend. Starbucks’ coffee tends to be very strong while Dunkin Donuts’ coffee tends to be more watered down. I personally prefer a Dunkin’ Donuts cup of plain coffee compared to Starbucks IF its just for my daily routine. I usually grab a Starbucks if I need something a bit more strong, like for an exam, quiz, or long day.

When it comes to the special-flavored drinks, I definitely have to give it to Starbucks. Starbucks offers a wide variety of flavored coffees. I personally love the pumpkin spice and caramel brulee latte. Dunkin’s special flavored drinks aren’t that great to me.

Hands down, Dunkin’ Donuts definitely beats Starbucks when it comes to the iced coffee. When I would drink flavored coffee, I survived on caramel iced coffees.

Dunkin’ Donuts is cheaper than Starbucks so it wins in this category. Starbucks drinks can be really expensive and sometimes you need to rely on those Starbucks gift cards to get you through these difficult times.

So to be honest, I can’t say one is greater than the other. I have apps for both of them. I go to both of them. I spend a lot of money on both of them. I enjoy both of them (at different times). If you need recommendations as to what to get from either one of them, let me know! I definitely have had more than just black coffee!

Local Fave Restaurant: XO Marshmellow

Local Fave Restaurant: XO Marshmellow

 

How do you like your marshmallows?

If you say: I like them when there’s a whole store dedicated to them, then you’re in luck! I may have written about this place years ago, when it first opened up, but I think it’s always good to bring the attention back.

XO Marshmallow is, at best, a ten minute walk north of campus. It has sweet treats and photo-ready decorations for anybody! Although the space is small, it manages to feel a lot bigger with the airy lightness of the colors and the delicious, fun treats they have for sale. A friend recently brought me a marshmallow pop from there and it was so good. A sign of a true friend, bringing me something just because!

Truth be told, I think they are a little magical in there. They invent all sorts of delights, from funfetti marshmallows to marshmallow turtles – and foods for those with dietary restrictions as well, so nobody has to miss out on the happiness. I’m always tempted to go up there and get a coffee or a hot cocoa, especially on days like these!

Check out their website here or pop by yourself when you come visit. Be sure to check their hours first, since it’s a small business they’re not exactly open all hours of the day, but it’s a local Rogers Park business that’s totally worth a visit.

Chicago, Loyola, Libraries

Chicago, Loyola, Libraries

What sort of classes do they teach here at Loyola? Well, a bunch, and they’re all fun (at least, to me!)

This semester, I’m taking a class called the Newberry Library Undergraduate Research Seminar. What does that mean?!? It’s a class they hold every year with a different topic and a different set of professors, teaching students from all over the Chicago area – Roosevelt, UIC, DePaul, you name it! It takes place at the Newberry Library (where I’m interning, but that’s for another post) which is located downtown. This semester, the focus is on Chicago art and literature from 1900-1960, taught by Professor Bradshaw from Loyola and Professor Pohlad from DePaul, a creative writing professor and an art history professor respectively.

The class has been a lot of fun, because I’m certainly learning and reading a lot about a time period I didn’t really know a lot about before. Plus, we get to use the Newberry’s enormous archives to supplement a research project on a topic of our own choosing. How cool!

We regularly get curators and historians from the Newberry giving us guest lectures about topics with archival materials such as Ernest Hemingway’s actual letters to a Chicago publisher, or Ben Hecht’s Oscar, which is super interesting and also the only one they have in the entire library.

Have you ever wanted to go around a museum with someone who actually knew a lot about the pieces? Because that’s what we got to do. I mean usually I do alright in the classical art section (history major, that’s me) but we were focusing on the modern art stuff since the class is about Chicago, 1900-1960. I admit, I wouldn’t probably even go into the modern art section without Professor Pohlad going like: come on, it’s interesting, just look, okay? I’ll tell you about it and why it matters and so on.

 (There he is, explaining a DuChamp. DuChamp is the very same guy who infamously said that a urinal he bought and put on its side was art.)

So the class did. If you haven’t heard, Loyola students get into the Arts Institute for FREE, and I always wish I went more. Tragically within the class time we only had enough time for the Modernists, and barely enough, really, but I fully intend to go back soon and look at the Roman and Greek marbles for as long as I want.

I haven’t been on a class field trip in a long time – once in Tai Chi class in China, and a few times in Rome for history class, but it’s always refreshing to get out of the classroom. Keep the Newberry Seminar in mind when looking at classes, and for sure don’t forget about Chicago’s art!

Such a ‘Bler: My Second Lunar New Year in Chicago

Such a ‘Bler: My Second Lunar New Year in Chicago

It was a day in my Vietnamese áo dài (our traditional costume), Vietnamese food and non-Vietnamese friends!

I am an international student. I was born and raised in Vietnam and have been in Chicago for almost two years for university. In Vietnam, we celebrate Lunar New Year, which tends to come around early to mid-February – whenever the moon decides to finish its cycle haha. It’s a tradition in countries that celebrate Lunar New Year to gather with their family and friends for food and celebrations.

Noon on Monday, February 4th was when the clock hit midnight signifying the walk into the new Lunar New Year 2019 in Vietnam. I, as usual, was in class. Last year, I was able to wish my parents and brother on Facebook under the table (shhh) but this year, noon on a Monday meant THTR 266 – Acting I and so, my found sat on silent in my bag as the fireworks crackled back home.

Right after class ended at 12:10pm, I had a 25 minute break before my next class THTR 352 – Design II and so I quickly called my parents. I was running from Mundelein in my áo dài, wrapped in my winter coat and holding a Starbucks. I felt very cultured. It was nice to hear their stories about celebrations back home, though things were a little quieter with me being in Chicago, and with my dad being under the weather this year. Seeing them smile upon my call home from class in my traditional costume, made me even more homesick.

Later that day, my friends and I took the L to Argyle and had Vietnamese food at Nhà Hàng Việt Nam. I let them choose their order though they insisted on my recommendations. To my surprise they all chose VERY special and authentic dishes – it was a proud moment for me. They their first shared reactions to the food whilst I shared stories of traditions back home. Chicago was still chilly that day but my heart was warm. 

Here’s a throwback of my áo dài from last year on the beautiful steps of Mertz Hall: 

I made sure and will continue to wear my culture with pride each year. Don’t forget traditions even when you’re half way around the world from where you learnt them. Besides, it’s always fun to answer the questions that people ask when they pass by. Happy Lunar New Year everyone!

HEY, I ALSO MAKE VIDEOS!

HERE’S THE SUCH A ‘BLER PLAYLIST:

Local Fave Restaurant: Yeowoosai

Local Fave Restaurant: Yeowoosai

Oh yes, I’m back with another Asian restaurant recommendation!

It’s entirely because I mostly just go out to eat at Asian restaurants, since that’s a cuisine I can’t really cook at home (yet). Yeowoosai is a student favorite because it’s really family-style, it’s not too expensive, and it’s a short Lyft ride away!

Sometimes, it’s just nice to not have to walk somewhere.

Yeowoosai is delicious and fantastic. I went with all three of my roommates – we went because one of my roommates, a HUGE foodie, had never been yet! The thing is, Yeowoosai doubles as a bar on the weekends, but we went on a Monday night and it was just us. The owner is always there too, cooking, serving, and so on, and he’s really cool and easy to talk to. Plus there’s karaoke! We didn’t do it, but it’s good to keep in mind.

We ordered SO MUCH and it was GREAT. We got kimchi fried rice, two flavors of popcorn chicken (yesss! Korean fried chicken is AMAZING!) and la-beokki, rice cakes on top of ramen. I was too busy devouring them with my eyes and drooling as I waited for it to cool (didn’t wait long enough) to take pictures, but here are some pictures from the Yelp page. 

Y U M.

We left with full stomachs and leftovers for the next day, happy and so sated, as we usually do. If you’re a student on campus, you can’t miss the experience. Bring lots of your friends so you can try everything!

Here’s the link to their yelp page, if you want to get your mouth watering! I can’t say enough good things about their food – it reminded me exactly of my trip to South Korea this summer, so you know it’s good!

 

 

 

Such a ‘Bler: Giving Thanks

Such a ‘Bler: Giving Thanks

Last thanksgiving, my boyfriend Jacob visited, and we were invited over by a lovely family-friend Vietnamese couple for lunch. They made us a whole spread of Vietnamese delights and it felt like we were back home for a few hours.

He visited again this year, tagging his roommate Kent along as well, and we had our first Friendsgiving. One of my closest friends on campus Maddie and her boyfriend Nick cooked up a huge dinner, with an actually turkey and everything! We were also joined by my roommate Amanda, who though was up to her ears in finals revision was able to pass to watch me try cranberry sauce with mashed potatoes for the first time.

Jacob, Kent and I brought a bit of our own tradition by – spring rolls. Earlier that day, we went grocery shopping in Argyle – essentially the Vietnamese district of Chicago – and then spent the afternoon preparing. Our friends really enjoyed the treat!

I still can’t decide which part of this whole experience I love most. The incredible food, being surrounded by my favourite people, the warmth or how it all came together though we each came from such different parts of the world. Maddie is from California, Nick is from Ohio and Amanda is from Chicago. Jacob, Kent and I are all from Hanoi, Vietnam but very different districts. But for this special occasion, we were together, watching the boys play Overwatch on the TV and digging into another slice of pumpkin pie.

I am grateful.

 

HEY, I ALSO MAKE VIDEOS!

HERE’S THE SUCH A ‘BLER PLAYLIST:

Friendsgiving Season

Friendsgiving Season

Students are heading home for the holidays, but before we do that, many of us indulge in a little trend called Friendsgiving!

If you’ve never heard of it, it’s basically Thanksgiving – but with your friends, instead of your family. Although in a lot of cases your friends ARE your family, some people go home and some stay, some are from the same suburbs and some are from further away. It’s not uncommon to see students walking to and fro with tupperwares, pots and pans, and other things on the nights of the weekend before Thanksgiving break. They’re all going to Friendsgivings!

Most people celebrate Friendsgiving by doing a potluck-style dinner, and everyone brings one aspect of a meal. It can be Thanksgiving-type meal: mashed potatoes, corn bread, turkey, more turkey, perhaps some green beans and so on, but it doesn’t have to be.

This year I was delighted to find myself celebrating not one big Friendsgiving but two! One of them was with my friends I made during my time in Beijing (although not all of them, given that many are at schools around the country… or still in Beijing), and the other was my friends from Rome and freshman/sophomore year, since a lot of them came to Rome or knew people from Rome. I didn’t host either of them, but was all too happy to take corn hotdish (aka corn stuff) to the first and mashed potatoes to the other. Both easy and delicious!

Not only that, but the university and clubs also like to put on Thanksgiving-style events. My sorority, Delta Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc., does our annual Unity Feast, where donating food to a food shelf nets you all you can eat from us, catered by Boston Market, which is a resturant that specializes in American comfort food. The Vegan society does Vegan Thanksgiving from a local restaurant called Chicago Diner where everything is Thanksgiving food but vegan, and so on.

(This plate is not from the Vegan Thanksgiving but from my Beijing Friendsgiving, in case you were concerned about the meat there.)

I wasn’t able to make it out to the Vegan Thanksgiving myself, but my friends both Vegan and not went and said they had a great time! Even if you don’t celebrate this holiday, Thanksgiving is a great time at Loyola because of the sudden wealth of food events that pop up, and how the usual annual giving tradition and consideration of those less fortunate than us recurs. Loyola year-round thinks about the poor and those with less oppportunity, but it’s when Chicago starts to get cold and windier that we too really buckle down on our philanthropic efforts.

 

Happy holidays, everyone!

 

Local Fave Restaurant: Nha Hong Vietnam

Local Fave Restaurant: Nha Hong Vietnam

You know how I’m always thinking about food?

Well, I’ve got another restaurant recommendation for you all! This one is not so local, but it’s near and dear to my heart.

Nha Hong Vietnam is a local restaurant in the Argyle neighborhood of Chicago – only about 15 minutes by the L – and about a five minute walk from there. Argyle is known as Little Vietnam, but Nha Hong has got to be my favorite restaurant in the whole area.

This past weekend I went there with my roommate (don’t tell her I’ve posted this pic) and it was, as ever, so good. I haven’t been there in two years, because of being abroad, and I missed the taste of delicious and cheap pho!

(Admittedly, I do have another roommate who is Vietnamese who makes her own pho, but there’s something about the way they make it at Nha Hong and the atmosphere that makes it just fun, even though it does cost more money than free.)

The restaurant is family-run and whenever someone goes there and the grandfather of the family is not there, my groupchats get a flurry of worried messages about his health. It’s not very large of a space, so you either have to go there not at peak hours or be willing to wait, but it’s so worth it. They used to give you free ice cream after your meal too, but last time I went they didn’t, so I wonder if they stopped that… or they don’t do that in the wintertime!

Their cheapest dish is about $3, and I swear they must have over 200 items on their menu. If I didn’t go there specifically for the pho, I’d no doubt be overwhelmed! Pho runs you about $8, which is a lovely price for a big bowl of warmth, happiness, and a full stomach.

If you have a hankering for Vietnamese food or find yourself by the Argyle stop, go to them! Campus has lots of good restaurants nearby, more of which I promise I’ll write about, but I just have to recommend Nha Hong. Check out their yelp page here. Yum!