Tag: Food

Chicago & Vietnamese Cuisine

Chicago & Vietnamese Cuisine


Who doesn’t love food? Almost everyone enjoys trying out new, ethnic food and here in our lovely city of Chicago, there are so many interesting restaurants at every street and corner with Zagat reviews, Grubhub options, etc. I can assure you that you will have an adventure of a lifetime and make your taste buds travel around the world in style. 

Specifically, I will be blogging on Vietnamese food because Viet-Town is only 4 train stops away from Loyola’s Lakeshore campus and because if you didn’t know already, I am Vietnamese.


Getting off of the Argyle train station, you will be immediately see Vietnamese supermarkets and small restaurants such as Viet Hoa Plaza, Cafe Hoang, Uptown Pho, Pho Xe Lua, Nha Hang Hai Yen, Pho 777, Hoa Nam, Lucks Food, Vinh Phat Express,  Pho Loan, Chi Quon Bakery, Hong Xuong Bakery, and Pho Xe Tang, just to name a few (all located on 1 street). Although you probably do not understand the names of these places, at least one word should stick out to you: Pho!pho-au-fois-gras-32330


Pho (pronounced: fuh?) is one of the most famous dishes that even non-Vietnamese people usually know about and/or have tried it out. Pho is a delicious noodle soup with an aromatic broth, topped off with meatballs, beef brisket, green onions,  with as dash of Sriracha sauce (optional) and Hoisin sauce (optional). (Man, I sound like a chef!). This soup dish is very popular among everyone and if you haven’t tried it out, GO TRY SOME PHO SOON!


Turning on left on Argyle, you will encounter many other Viet stores. Tai Nam, largest Viet supermarket in Chicago is located here as well. We have salons, nail/beauty stores, insurance offices, video stores, and so much more. The places are: Ba Le, Pho Viet, Le’s Pho, Kung Fu Tea (not Viet I know), Furama Restaurant, Thuong Xa My A, Lee Nail Supply, Silver Seafood, etc. 


Ba Le (Nhu Lan and St. Henry (Pho May)) are well-known Viet places (French influenced) where you can get Banh Mi. This term is something non-Viets should also be familiar with. Banh mi is basically a sandwich that uses fresh baked french baguette and in the interior, include pate, a variety of meat slices, pickled carrots and daikon, and a selection of fresh herbs like cilantro. It is a delectable lunchtime snack that will satisfy your taste buds.

(Advice: I recommend visiting St. Henry for banh mi first!)


Of course not all Viet stores are agglomerated in one place. There are other good places for Viet food too such as Nhu Lan (located on Western), Hoang Long (located on Lincoln),  and Pho Nam Lua (located on McCormick Blvd). I highly recommend Pho Nam Lua; they just opened and they have the best food and the best price (as a college student, “best price” is really what I mean!)


Anyways, let’s talk Vietnamese Cuisine!

So you now know what pho and banh mi are, but that’s just the basics of Viet food compatible for a first-time Viet-food eater. Let’s go further and get to the good stuff.

Goi Cuon! (Spring rolls!) Goi cuon is a favorite of mine because it is a very clean, simple dish with an assortment of herbs, cooked pork belly slices, shrimp, and dipped in a tasty sauce! At home, it is fun to make. Ingredients are laid out on the table and you get to make your own spring roll to eat.


Banh trang nuong! (Rice paper with toppings!) As far as I can tell, this is a new type of Viet dish that is the healthier, Vietnamese equivalent to American pizza. Personally, I have never tried this before, but my friends have and they like this a lot!

maxresdefault (1)banh-trang-nuong-ngon

Bun Bo Hue! (Beef noodle soup!) Similar to pho, Bun Bo Hue consists of vermicelli noodles, beef shank & brisket , agglomerated pig’s blood,  lemongrass, and other spices. The broth has a little spice in it and has a smooth, clean texture. It is also very aromatic as well!


Banh Xeo! (Vietnamese pancake/crepes!) Banh Xeo looks exactly like a fancy omelette, however, there are no eggs! Just like pancakes, banh xeo is made from batter and fried on a pan. Toppings are added on such as shrimp, meat, and green onion. To finish it off, we can add mint, lettuce, bean sprouts, and other fresh herbs! When eaten, you dip the banh xeo into some fish sauce to enhance the flavor.


Banh Chung/Banh Tet (Lunar New Year Cakes)! These cakes are eaten traditionally during the lunar new year season (January-February). They consist of layers of pork belly, surrounded by mung-bean paste and a special type of rice. The whole thing is wrapped together in banana leaves and boiled in water for a long period of time. Banh chung/banh tet is commonly eaten with pickled carrots and daikon too!

(St.Henry makes good banh chung/banh tet!)

banh-tet-tra-cuon-8-slide-2BANH TET 2

Ca Phe Sua Da! (Vietnamese Coffee!) This coffee is made special using sweet condensed milk. It is good as a hot beverage, but many people I know enjoy the iced-coffee version. It is a tad bit stronger than American style coffee, but it does its job to keep you awake and active during the day!

Vietnamimages (1)

Hopefully this post was appealing to read and maybe made you salivate once or twice. Vietnamese food is good and Chicago is a wonderful city to explore and eat well! Give Viet food a try!






Baking is a fun and enjoyable thing to do. It gets your mind off of problems and in the end, you get to make a wonderful and yummy baked good. Back in high school, I always baked. Since I was on Student Government, I had to help do fundraising for prom by baking cupcakes and brownies. Now, if you don’t know me by now, I like to do things with perfection. If I were to want a cupcake, how would I make it look and taste appealing? Well, my dear readers, I went to the extreme on cupcake baking. Everyone loved the cupcakes and bought all of them, even before the lunch period had started.

Some cupcakes had sprinkles on them, some had full pieces of candy and chocolate, maraschino cherries, and more. In general, my cupcakes were huge. They could even be compared size-wise to muffins. With that being said, one cupcake only costed $1. Maybe I was being too generous, but on the positive side, all of them sold.

Baking is like a form of art. You get to design a cupcake that would be appealing to the eye and mouth, through color, symmetry, smells, size, and texture. It simply has to be presentable.

Here are some of the cupcakes I made:


My sandwich and my tangerine

My sandwich and my tangerine


I love in between classes breaks.  They allow me to do very productive things…well, most of the time. 🙂 However, it gives me some time to do some last minute homework or studying.  If ONLY, I actually attempted to get work done every single time.  However, it doesn’t always happen.  What always happens is that I eat.  I eat, a lot.

I am always going to the dining hall because, since I love to eat, it gives me the most alternatives.  My appetite is always changing.  When I am not feeling too hungry, you can always find me in the Coffee Shop.  It is just such a chill and relaxing atmosphere that emanates the whole shop, and I love it.  Let me tell you, I went there this past Thursday and I had one of the best sandwiches ever.

It wasn’t just my every other Thursday.  I had just  gotten out of an exam and while it wasn’t so bad, I still needed a few minutes to relax before my biochemistry lab.  I was a tad hungry, and so I stopped by.  As I walked in I saw many Loyola students.  This is why I feel comfortable coming here.  I ordered a sandwich and they lady behind the counter recommended that I try the turkey sandwich.  So, I did.  After I paid, I waited for my sandwich but she said that she would bring it to my table.   (Great service, btw).

I sat down and I was having trouble connecting to the WiFi.  (The password is coffeeshop, not thecoffeeshop).  When she suddenly came with my food, I could not help but notice the cute little plate that she put it on.  I really felt at home.  I, also, noticed a tangerine next to my sandwich.  It was very good and fulfilling.  I started working on my lab report while I ate, but all of the interesting decorations around were really distracting me.  The glass table that I was sitting at had old newspapers on it and the walls around me were covered by photographs.  The old piano sat solemnly and I immediately wished I knew how to play it.  It made me wonder of all these belongings and where they came from.  Did they all belong to the owner?  Were they donated?  Who played that piano?  Who touched those newspapers?  So many questions that I will try to get answered next time.

Ugh, another great experience, as always.  It is going to be very difficult to leave Loyola and Rodgers park this May, really, really, really, reaaaaaaaallllllllllly difficult.




Hello, everyone! I know that I am late on this, but let’s just get to the point: how amazingly, delicious is Protein Bar?  I am from the suburbs, and I NEVER knew it existed.  It wasn’t until recently that I found myself walking down Dearborn that I came across it.  Since I am trying to eat healthier, and I had forgotten to pack my lunch, I had limited food places I could go.  Luckily, my internship allowed me to get a 45 minute break in which I got to devour this delicious, yet healthy, bowl.  It consists of spinach, quinoa, black beans, flex seeds, and pesto chicken.  It almost tasted like a Chipotle bowl, but the healthier version.  I really, really, really want to try their salad next time I go; they come in a cute, large bowl!  I loved this place because it gives you the amount of carbohydrate, protein and fiber in each order.  This made it so easy for my daily track of protein and carbs!  Whether you are trying to eat healthy or not, you need to try this place out!  So far, I have only tried this bowl and the original burrito and that was as delicious!  The burrito was made with whole wheat grain, and I was stuffed.  I have to admit that I’m going to purposely forget my lunch on the days I go to my internship because this is so good.  This is also a great alternative for some late night studying snack! Yummmmm.

Fast Delivery Food for Finals

Fast Delivery Food for Finals

Who else gets super hungry when studying?  The worst type of hungry is the 2-am-studying-for-finals hungry.  Damen and Simpson are closed and so are the cafes around campus.  Star Grill is a walk, and it’s probably not a good idea to be walking outside at that time anyway.  Your only choice is to order food, but what can you order at two in the morning?  You can Google places, but it will just take time, you’re starving, and if you’re like me, you’re probably in the worst mood ever because you’re SO hungry.

Grubhub, an online database for food (not really, but something like it), is a website in which you can search for any delivery restaurants that are open any time of the day.  It is very convenient when you’re studying for finals because there are many restaurants that are open later than you think.  All you have to do is search for open restaurants and the list pops out for you.  I’m serious, one time my roommate and I ordered tacos at 3 in the morning just because.

Even though, this only works around the Chicago area, it is a life-changer!  I, ALWAYS, use Grubhub because I like how convenient it is.  Plus, it gives you an estimate on how long it will it take and after you’ve ordered from them a couple of times they may give you a free drink or meal!  However, I do have to say that the only thing that I dislike about Grubhub is that when you put the tip in, it doesn’t always show up on the receipt, which means that the delivery man is not getting paid.  So, I prefer to tip cash.  This way, I am sure that the delivery person is getting paid…especially, since it’s so late at night!  It’s only fair.

Anyway, I have to say that I LOVE Grubhub.  It is so convenient and it gives me a great variety on food choices.  Even though, I always order the same thing: pizza; I’m a total pizzaholic.  Anyway, if you didn’t know…NOW you know!  This is one of my great tips to you, especially because finals are QUICKLY approaching.

Open House Recap

Open House Recap


Open Houses are some of my favorite events of the year. They are simply fantastic, and I’m not just saying them because I coordinate them.

Here are my TOP 5 Reasons for LOVING Open House:

1. Reconnecting with prospective students – I absolutely love recognizing students from college fairs and high school visits and seeing them explore our beautiful campus for the first time. It’s even more exciting when they recognize me and stop by to chat for a few minutes about questions or to share their latest thoughts on Loyola. I was lucky to have several of these interactions throughout the day.

2. The Department Fair – where I get to catch up with some of our fantastic faculty members. As an alum, I have the pleasure of knowing many of the faculty on campus, but I don’t get too many opportunities to catch up with them. Fortunately, the department fair not only gives me an opportunity to say hi, it also gives all of our prospective students and guests the unique opportunity to meet with faculty from all 80+ majors and minors!

The department fair at Loyola's October Open House.
The department fair at Loyola’s October Open House.

3. The food – who doesn’t love free food?! And there is a TON of it at Open House. My personal favorite though is just being able to enjoy Loyola’s hot apple cider on crisp fall day.

4. Spending a Saturday morning on Campus – Rain or shine, there is no location I love more than the Lake Shore Campus early in the morning. It’s simply impossible to find a better view than the sun rising over Lake Michigan as we are getting ready for the thousands of guests at Open House.

View of Lake Michigan from Campus.
View of Lake Michigan from Campus.

5. The Undergraduate Admission Student Workers – they are the best. Seriously, how many people do you know that are willing to work overtime on Friday night and Saturday morning? They not only do this, but they do it with a smile on their faces because they genuinely love Loyola and having the opportunity to connect with our prospective students. It’s great to be able to spend time with current students who are loving their Loyola experiences. They also seem to have fun with the hundreds of balloons we had this past weekend.

Student Workers pose with balloons while prepping for Loyola's October Open House.
Student Workers pose with balloons while prepping for Loyola’s October Open House.


THANK YOU to the nearly 2,000 guests we had on-campus this past Saturday! We’re so thrilled you had the opportunity to join our Loyola community for the day.


For those of you who were unable to join us, it’s not too late! You can still register for the Saturday, November 8th Open House by clicking here or you can register for a traditional campus visit by clicking here.





Loyola keeps winnin’

Loyola keeps winnin’

It’s difficult to not sound cliche every time I have to answer the question: Why did you choose Loyola?  First, let me take you to 2007.  I remember that year perfectly because I had my list of universities I wanted to apply to.  Loyola was the first one down on the list.  My mother’s good friend had two sons who had just graduated from Loyola and she always talked to me about it.  Always.  Among DePaul, U of I, UIC, Saint Louis University, Iowa State University and Northwestern, I knew Loyola stood out the most to me, but I wasn’t sure as to why just yet…

It wasn’t until my senior year of high school when I received all of the acceptance letters that I started feeling overwhelmed.  I took it one step at a time and decided to visit the campuses.  You know how they say don’t judge a book by its cover?  I had to.  No other campuses compared to Loyola’s breathtaking views.  Needless to say whenever I mentioned Loyola to anyone they always “oohed” and “aahed.”  It’s prestige made it that much better.

I had finally realized why Loyola stood out to me the most.  I always wanted to be a city girl, but still be close to home.  I wanted a prestigious education, but at a reasonable price.  I wanted a beautiful campus, but still feel at home.  I wanted to meet people, but make lifetime friends.  I wanted to challenge myself as a student, but find myself as a person.  I knew Loyola would make all of this happen and it did.  It also made me realize that it’s OK to sound cliche when you appreciate your education THIS much.

Campus Commuter

Campus Commuter

For my last year at Loyola, I decided to move off campus and take advantage of other areas of Chicago.  My friends and I finally decided on an apartment less than one block from Wrigley Field.  So far, SO GREAT.

A lot of people have asked me if it gets annoying having to make the commute to campus everyday for class.  For me, it’s no problem at all.  The 15-20 minute ride on the train gives me some extra time for leisure reading, listening to music, or cramming for that test I put off studying for.  It’s been a good transition period between waking up in the morning and having to concentrate in class.

Not only that, but I’ve gotten the chance to know more than just Roger’s Park.  Lakeview has treated me to good shopping and great food, most of which fit into my struggling-college-student budget.  If anyone is ever in the area, stop by Lucky’s for a sandwich – you will not be sorry!

But it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows in my new life of commuting.  Occasionally, the city likes to spring surprise construction projects on me.  Take it from someone who’s been late to more than a couple of classes, our beloved el train is not always dependable.

When you live on campus, getting to class simply means timing out your walking pace.  Unless there happens to be some act of God, getting to class is a pretty standard routine.  But as a commuter, I am at the mercy of the gods of the train.  I started off my last semester of college being almost 30 minutes late to class because the north-bound train didn’t stop at Addison.  It was a less than ideal situation.

So my advice for any Loyola student who is considering moving off campus is to weigh the pros and cons.  Overall, I think living in Lakeview is fantastic, and I would encourage anyone to do the same.

New Favorite Restaurant: Cantina Laredo

New Favorite Restaurant: Cantina Laredo

The other day, I met my friend from my hometown, who also lives in Chicago (she teaches at a Chicago Public school) at Cantina Laredo.  We had both never been there, but I suggested it because I have heard good things.  Also, I’ve passed it a few times (its right on State Street), and the inside looks really nice and trendy.

We got really lucky, as we just made it for the food happy hour.  All of the food was half off.  We sat upstairs on these two couches and ordered tons of delicious Mexican food.  I got carnitas tacos and empanadas.  My friend got fish tacos and guacamole.  It was delicious, and my new favorite place, as the food happy hour is every day for three hours!

Yes, I am one of those people who instagrams their food, so of course I had to take a picture of my plates of food.  Here are the pork carnitas and empanadas.  Looking at this picture makes me want to go back there tonight… something I may just do!

Thanksgiving Break

Thanksgiving Break

Thanksgiving break was a much needed, relaxing time.  I booked it home on the MegaBus Tuesday, and arrived home Tuesday night to my family, dog and my favorite pasta! It was the perfect things to come home to.

I went to both sets of my grandparents houses on Thanksgiving day.  I ate twice (it’s possible.. trust me) and then had some leftovers later.  I was basically in a food coma for the remainder of break, but I wasn’t complaining.  Thanksgiving food is definitely in list of top five favorite meals. Deeelicious.

I braved the crowds and went Black Friday (well, Thursday) shopping Thursday night.  I went to Target just to look around.  The line wrapped around the entire building! It was insane, but it wasn’t too long of a wait because they were letting mass amounts of people in at a time.  I didn’t get anything, but it was fun experiencing the Black Friday craze!

The rest of my break was spent relaxing and catching up with old high school friends.  On Sunday, I drove back with a friend to Chicago.  Now, I’m just anxiously awaiting Christmas break! One week to go!