Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Mulia Resort & Villas Bali

This is a continuation of our Bali & Tokyo trip. You can find the full trip itinerary here. 

We stayed at the new Mulia hotel for our first five nights in Bali. I was pretty excited to try out this relatively new hotel in Bali as it had been ranked as the #1 Beach resort in the world as well as #3 on Top 100 Hotels & Resorts in the world per Conde Nast traveler. I first got to know about this hotel from one of my guilty pleasures, the Real Housewives of Orange County. The Wives took a trip to Bali last year and stayed at this very resort!

Mulia Bali

Mulia is a local Indonesian hotel brand that is known for its quality and good food. The Mulia Jakarta is probably one of the better hotels in Jakarta and is the almost default choice to hold Multi-million dollar weddings for Jakarta's socialites. The Mulia Resort in Bali is relatively new and was quite highly anticipated.

It is located in Nusa Dua which is a more quiet, upscale resort area in Bali. The Mulia is located next to the St. Regis and the Ritz Carlton. I actually like the Nusa Dua area as it is more quiet and not as touristy. However, it is a bit far from places and not as convenient compared to other areas such as Kuta or Seminyak. I didn't mind it though as I liked the seclusion and exclusivity, and being able to enjoy the resort and what it had to offer.

View from the Mulia lobby

We stayed in the "Resort" part of the hotel. There's another part which is the "Villas". We ended up booking four rooms because there were so many of us. :)  We actually had a bit of trouble booking the four rooms because of limited availability and high prices since we were staying over New Year's.

We arrived mid-day and were greeted with fragrant water by the attendant. The lobby was open air and we immediately felt the humidity. Check-in process was very cumbersome. I think it took at least 30 minutes because they asked for everyone's ID/passports, made photocopies of them, filled out multiple forms manually, and finally also asked for a "deposit" of 1 million rupiah (around $100 USD) for each room per night that we will have to sign for. Since we are booked for 5 nights and 4 rooms, they are basically "holding" $2000 USD on my parent's credit card. I found this confusing and unnecessary, but my parents told me that this was common.

Mulia Lobby

My first impression of the resort was that it was huge, beautiful, and had a more "classical" design (as opposed to modern).  This hotel also did not have many Balinese elements to it. It could have very well been in Mexico or Hawaii, and I wouldn't have known any better.

We booked a regular garden view room for all of us with the exception of my parents who stayed in the Royal Suite Oceans Court room. The hotel was fully booked at the time so we were not able to get rooms close to each other. My parents and I were in building 1 where as my two other sisters were in building 2. The resort was actually quite huge, and it would take around 10-15 minutes to walk from our building to theirs.

The room was actually quite spacious. I'm not sure why, but we got 2 twin beds pushed together. :p  I think maybe I forgot to specify that we wanted a King bed. We requested a baby crib for M, although she ended up co-sleeping with us the whole time!



The bathroom area was large and beautiful: dual sinks, big tub, separate toilet and shower area.


There's also blinds for privacy that can be lifted up which opens up to a glass window that overlooks the room.


One thing worth mentioning was the super high-tech toilet. The toilet was very advanced/automated - similar to ones in Japan. The toilet seats automatically opens and closes, and there's multiple buttons to flush or clean yourself. :)

Mulia Pools

One of the great things about the resort being so huge was that it could afford to have multiple pools. They have so many pools (at least four large ones), where it never felt crowded. We especially enjoyed the kids pool for children, and the Oceans Pool for adults.

The kids pool was large, shallow, had some shaded area, multiple fountains, and was just very kid friendly. M loved swimming and playing here with her cousin.

Mulia Kids Pool

She loved the fact that she could stand on her own in the pool!



When not swimming with the kids, we really enjoyed the Oceans Pool, which was located in the bottom, closest to the Ocean. It's probably the largest and had a dining area where we ordered drinks and food. I think we spent more time at the pool bar versus swimming...hehe

Mulia Beach

The beach area was pretty nice. It did feel exclusive because I believe only resort guests have access. So there's not a lot of sellers or people walking around randomly.


We didn't spend much time at the beach, but we did try the lounge chairs to relax and took a quick nap under the shade which was nice!



Restaurants

"The Cafe"

Breakfast was included in our rate and was served at the Cafe. It was huge and plentiful. There were stations for pastries, eggs, pancake/waffle, Indian food, hot food, chinese food, sushi, and fruits. There's definitely something for everyone. We noticed that over New Year's when we stayed, sometimes there's a long queue outside of the restaurant, so make sure to come before 8 am if you are here during peak season.

The restaurant was a little strict with dress code for males. My sister's boyfriend was wearing a sleeveless shirt, and he was asked to put on a shirt over it and was given one by the restaurant to wear!

"Soleil"

For New Year's Eve, we had dinner at Soleil. The dinner was included in the booked rate for two people per room. We had to buy an additional seat for my sister's dinner since she was an extra guest in one of the rooms, and the dinner cost $380 USD!  I told her that dinner was more expensive than French Laundry. :)

Dinner was seven courses. It was quite good actually, but a little too heavy.

One thing Dan enjoyed from the dinner was the wine tasting option, as each "taste" was almost like a full pour, so we ended up getting 3 glasses of wine for the price of one taste!

I heard that Soleil serves a mean Sunday brunch. But by the time Sunday cane around, we were all a bit tired of the resort food and decided to cancel our reservations.


"The Bar"

Over New Year's, due to the capacity being at maximum, most of the restaurants only offered buffet and they usually cost around $50++ USD per person. For my big family, that equaled to almost $500 per night for dinner, which could really add up. So for one night, we ended up eating at "The Bar", ordering sushi rolls, noodles, etc. to share, and our bill was only $80 USD total for 8 people. Not bad!

"The Bar"

"The Skybar"

As part of our check-in, the hotel included two free drinks at the Skybar, which was located just above Soleil. Dan & I redeemed this on our last night. The setting was actually quite nice as it overlooked the Ocean, and you could look up to see the stars in the sky. But, they closed pretty early (I believe around 11pm).

"The Deli" 

Mulia has an in-house "deli" which was more like a dessert shop. I loved all the displays. I think they did a wonderful job with the presentation. We tried their version of Lady M's cake, but were very disappointed. :(

The Deli


Mulia Kidz

I was excited to check out the Mulia Kidz program. They had a pretty nice playroom with different toys and there's a guided activity every hour. They take children three years old and above unsupervised, and younger with supervision. Since we had a nanny while we were in Bali, we dropped M off with our nanny for a couple hours and she loved it.

Mulia Kidz was a great space, although we had a small incident when we were there. M and her cousin were playing in the ball pit area enjoying themselves. There was a boy who was probably 8 years old, watching them play and played around them. All of the sudden, this boy undressed himself and exposed himself in front of the kids. My sister and I witnessed this whole thing and panicked, grabbed our kids, and removed ourselves from the ball pit. We immediately notified the Mulia Kidz staff and it took three people to calm the boy down and force him to put his pants back on!

Afterwards we felt that the staff didn't really try to supervise the boy. So this incident made us feel a bit uncomfortable, and we ended up not coming back to Mulia Kidz after that. I felt that the staff should have tried to address the incident better and provide better supervision.

Overall comments:

We enjoyed our stay at the Mulia. The resort was beautiful, and I loved the pools!
Food was also generally pretty good, although after a few days we did get a little bored with the options.

I do have several comments about the hotel that I felt they could improve on:
  • The check-in process was too long and cumbersome. Probably the longest ever I've experienced anywhere. As I mentioned, they took photocopies of everyone's passport, made us fill in multiple forms, etc. I think they can make this more efficient.
  • The hotel had too many rules & restrictions. In some ways we felt that the staff was watching our every move and ready to scold us if we broke their rules. They actually had a book of rules as well as posted some of their rules for us to see. I heard a story about a couple who went swimming in the ocean, and afterwards sat in the hotel sofa, and got charged for making the sofa wet! It sounds crazy, but I somehow believe that this is a true story based on our experience here.
  • Based on our experience at Mulia Kidz, we felt the staff should have taken a better approach in addressing the situation.
  • Their accounting system was confusing! To give you an example, breakfast was included in our room rate. However, every morning after breakfast, we would have to sign a bill for Rp. 798,000 (USD $80), which was the value of our breakfast. They insisted that this was for record keeping purposes only and we wouldn't actually get charged. But to still have to sign my name and room number next to a monetary value did not give me any assurance that I wouldn't get charged for it. In the end they did not charge us, but it was just a very confusing experience. PS: This was the case for almost all instances where the service was included; they always asked us to sign for it.
  • This last comment is probably just a preference, but I do miss the fact that this hotel did not have ANY Balinese elements to it. It felt very Western and sterile.

Tips if you are staying at the Mulia:
  • My parents and I were in building 1 while my sisters were in building 2. I think I slightly prefer building 2 as it was closer to Mulia Kidz as well as the Cafe for breakfast and overall just seemed like a more convenient location.
  • Sign up for their Mulia Rewards program as in-room Internet was complimentary (although they will have you agree to pay for it online first :)


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

ANA from San Jose to Jakarta

This is a continuation of our Bali & Tokyo trip. You can find the full trip itinerary here. 

We booked our trip for Christmas break about 11 months in advance since we knew it would be high season, and we wanted to make sure we could book using miles. We have never flown ANA before and were excited to try the airline. Another exciting thing was that we could actually fly from San Jose, which was much closer to us than flying from San Francisco. Since baby M was still under 2 years, we got her an infant ticket (and paid around $600ish I think).

Check in was easy enough. The counter didn't open until three hours before the flight. We were actually at the counter a little before three hours (I know!), and had to wait a few minutes for the counter to open. An interesting thing was all the check-in workers bowed before they started taking serving us. Reminded me of a similar thing with Asiana.

We let baby M roam around the airport with the intention to tire her out for the flight. She was really happy to see the airplane and kept running around in the terminal. We spent the rest of our time at the lounge, which was small but quite nice. We actually preferred it over the United international lounge at SFO.

Boarding was actually very fast, almost felt like a domestic airline. The plane itself was not very big; that's probably why boarding went pretty quickly. We were seated in seats 6C and 6F. 6C was actually a lone center business class seat and 6 F was a window one. Space wise, 6F was more spacious, but 6C offered more privacy. We shuffled baby M back and forth between us throughout the flight.



The seat did lay all the way flat, but I actually liked it slightly angled as I felt that it sloped at a weird angle when flat.



M was busy all throughout the flight and only took one 1 hour nap even though it should have been her night time sleep. I guess she was super excited, which made for very tired parents!


One thing that stood out for me during this flight was the outstanding food. The food was probably the best business class food we've had; it almost felt like a high end omakase at a fine Japanese restaurant. Interestingly, we found the dishes from SJC to NRT ended up tasting much better than the food from NRT to Jakarta. I would have thought that the food from NRT would be better since we were coming from Japan, but that was not the case.

Excellent food on ANA - appetizers

The main dish was rice with fish (I think Gindara)? It was cooked perfectly and the rice was that perfect Japanese rice!

Main course on ANA

For dessert I had the tiramisu which was yummy.


By the time we arrived in Tokyo, Dan and I were SUPER tired since M only slept for 1 hour on the 10 hour flight.  We checked out the ANA lounge in Tokyo. We were very full so didn't really eat anything. But we did take turns showering which was very refreshing after the long flight!

We were so tired by the time it was time to board our second flight...I don't think we took any pictures hehe. Our main mission was to get M to sleep so we could get some sleep too! I honestly don't know how we survived -- and sometimes in my mind I thought that this flight was too long for a toddler, and maybe we should have stayed put in the US for a little bit since our daughter was so young.

Thankfully we made it to Jakarta! And now our adventure truly began!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Bali & Tokyo Trip - Introduction

Introduction

My family tries to meet together once a year, if our schedule allows, since we don't all live in the same country. My oldest sister lives in Australia, I live in the US, my younger sister lives in Jakarta as do my parents, and our youngest sister is currently in the US with me.

My parents were celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary in 2015, so we planned our family reunion around their wedding anniversary. My younger sister started a wedding concept company called the Flying Bride, and she offered to plan the anniversary party for my parents. Here's a sneak peak of the anniversary celebration. My sister did an amazing job, didn't she?


We booked our flights way in advance because we knew we would be traveling during high season. We were excited to try the new ANA flights out of San Jose. On our way back, we opted to do a three night layover in Tokyo since I had never been. Japan is one of the countries that I have always wanted to visit, so I was really excited about this trip. I know three nights was probably not enough, but it's better than nothing. :)

In total, we spent one and a half weeks in Jakarta, one week in Bali, and three nights in Tokyo.

Here's the breakdown of our trip:
ANA from San Jose to Jakarta
The Mulia Resort & Villas, Bali
W Seminyak, Bali
Food & Activities in Bali
Conrad Tokyo
Food & Activities in Tokyo
ANA from Tokyo to San Jose
Trip Summary

Friday, January 16, 2015

Vegas Food Trip

Introduction

My girlfriend and I decided to go on a quick 2 night trip to Vegas for a quick getaway! Dan graciously offered to watch M while I was gone for the weekend. :)

The main reason for this trip (besides getting away for a little bit) was a food trip! I have long heard about the Oyster Bar's famous Pan Roast and wanted to try this. There's a few other places as well that were on my list so we decided to go for it.

We booked tickets on Southwest, and we stayed at the brand new SLS Las Vegas. They had a pretty good rate since they just opened.

SLS Las Vegas

The SLS is a pretty famous/hip hotel chain in the US. I have never been to the one in LA but heard good things about it.

When researching hotels, I noticed that they were opening up a new SLS in Las Vegas. It turned out they were renovating and rebranding the hotel previously known as the Sahara. Interestingly, the Sahara hotel was the first hotel I stayed in when I first came to Vegas with my mom in 2000!

The hotel offered valet or free parking. We took advantage of both depending on how long the lines were.

Check-in was pretty easy, although the check in lady didn't know much about the hotel when we asked for information about parking or restaurants. She seemed confused and mumbled her answer, which was not good. :)

The lobby area was a bit dark and there's small shops/stores, restaurants, as well as casino.

Stores at SLS Vegas

My first impression was that the hotel has a very quirky design.  For example, above our bed there was a poster of people running a marathon?

As they didn't tear down the building, the rooms were on the smaller side (unlike newer hotels where the rooms are more like suites and can fit 10 people!)

Twin Beds at SLS Las Vegas
Seating area and table

The bathroom had a tiled shower and a single sink. As I mentioned the quirky design, you can see for yourself in the picture below. :)

Can you spot the quirky design?
Beautiful new sink

We actually had fun playing at the casino (my first time!) at the SLS, since their buy-in was cheaper and was convenient as we could just go up to our room afterwards. Both dealers that we had were really, really friendly.

SLS Casino

Where We Ate in Vegas

Vegas is almost like a foodie town. A lot of famous chefs open up a restaurant in Vegas (Joel Robuchon, Thomas Keller, Nobu Matsuhisa, Bobby Flay, Giada de Laurentiis -- to name a few). There were too many food choices. We didn't really want to do fine dining during this trip, so here's where we ate.

Bachi Burger

My friend recommended this place as she saw it on Food Network during Guy Fieri's diners, drive inn show.

They are famous for their oxtail fries as well as wonderful selection of burgers.

The oxtail fries were pretty good. The oxtail topping was slightly sweet and very moist. I was a bit disappointed that their fries were just regular fries and nothing unique, but overall this was a good dish.

Oxtail Fries

We shared the Miyagi san's grass fed wagyu burger, which had chili mayo, fried egg, furikake, bacon, and crispy onion rings! Yum!

The patty was very moist and I love all the toppings. It tasted unique and Japanese like (thanks to the furikake)

Miyagi san's Grass fed Wagyu Burger

We both liked this restaurant and glad we tried, although since there's so many food places in Vegas, we probably won't come back here particularly.

Lotus of Siam

When a restaurant has more than 2000+ reviews with 4-5 star ratings in Yelp, you know this is one of a must try restaurant. This restaurant IS very popular and we made reservations beforehand since I know there would be long lines otherwise. The location was a bit weird (shady?) in a strip mall with questionable stores :)

We got early dinner seating (6 PM) and were still full from lunch at Bachi Burger so we only ordered two things.

Looking at their menu, this restaurant was a bit more unique than the typical Thai restaurant. As an example, for Pad See Ew, at most restaurants you can get it with Chicken/Pork/Beef/Tofu. At Lotus of Siam, you can get Pad See Ew with any of the followings: Fried Duck, Fried Seabass, Crispy Prawns, Soft Shell Crab, etc. You get the point. :) Yummy noodle with fried toppings are always better.

The first dish we ordered was their garlic prawns, which was wonderfully crispy and garlicky! :)
I wanted to try the Crispy Duck curry, but my friend was not a fan of curry so we ordered this instead.

Garlic Prawns

The second dish we had was the Crispy Duck Pad See Ew, which was so wonderful with the crispy duck topping!

Crispy Duck Pad See Ew

Food was excellent! [Although I think I can taste the MSG :)]
But I do recommend this place if you want some good Thai food in Vegas.

Serendipity

When I used to travel for work, whenever I went to New York, I would always make a point to visit Serendipity for their famous Frozen Hot Chocolate. It's been a few years since I last had it so I convinced my friend that we had to visit their store in Vegas.

Serendipity Vegas

We made the mistake of parking at the Employee parking lot which made our walk VERY long. Additionally, the restaurant was located at the other end. I think we walked like 2.5 miles or something crazy like that!

We ordered the small frozen hot chocolate. It was good, but not as good as I remembered it, so overall slightly disappointing. Not sure if it was just this location that was not that good, or if maybe I have tasted many better things since my days in New York previously?

Frozen Hot Chocolate

Buffet at Wicked Spoon

You can't go to Vegas and not have buffet. Vegas is famous for its buffets. You can find cheap ones that probably only cost $6.99, to nice ones such as Bacchanal at Caesar's, Bellagion, Wynn's, or Wicked Spoon. I liked the buffet at Bellagio a lot, but wanted to try something new, so it was between Wicked Spoon and Bacchanal, and in the end we went with Wicked Spoon which was located at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.

I have never been to the Cosmopolitan hotel, and thought it was nice and modern looking, and I liked that I didn't have to walk through the smoke filled casino to get to the restaurant.

Wicked Spoon Vegas

We went at around 10:30 AM and there was already a long line. I think we waited 20 minutes-ish. They have a separate "priority" line, I think for people who were either staying at the hotel, or people who were "invited" by the hotel.

The buffet was pretty humongous. One of the things I heard about Wicked Spoon buffet was that they have some items in individual portion size, which is good for presentation and is supposed to help with portion control.  They also have more "luxurious" items such as bone marrow -- which is pretty rare for buffets.

On my first plate, I went with carbonara pasta, bacon, takoyaki, fried squid skewer, eggs benedict, pancake, and french toast. Most of the food tasted okay, nothing extra special. I was a bit disappointed with the takoyaki and the fried squid skewer as they were cold.

First Plate

For my second plate, I tried the bone marrow, fried chicken wings, sliced meat, guacamole, and mashed potatoes. Again, everything was just okay.

Second Plate

After my second plate, I moved on to the dessert table buffet. They have a pretty good selection. The chocolate covered strawberries were pretty good, as was the gelato selection. But all the cakes/pastries were all okay and sometimes I feel that the hotel just tried to make different kinds as fillers, but they all look or taste about the same.

Dessert Plate

All in all, I was slightly disappointed with the Wicked Spoon. I much preferred the Bellagio buffet (although it's been quite a few years since I had it).

Tacos El Gordo

Tacos El Gordo is a pretty famous authentic taco place that Dan and I love in Chula Vista (near San Diego/Mexico border). I was happy when I found out that they have branches in Vegas. This restaurant is no-frills, but serve cheap, very authentic Mexican food. I always feel like we are in Mexico when we are inside the restaurant.

They have different lines for the different meats. Unfortunately the lines for the pork was too long (we had to leave soon since we were catching a show), so we just got the beef, which was delicious. Ask for the grilled peppers and onions (it's free, just leave a tip). You can get your own radish on the side.



Oyster Bar

One of the restaurants I REALLY want to try during this trip was the Oyster Bar, famous for their Pan Roast. The restaurant is supposedly open 24/7 and has long lines (1+ hour) at any time of the day (even at 3 AM!).

I made the mistake of putting this off until our last night, thinking it SHOULD be open. When we arrived at the Palace Casino, there was NO line, so I thought, hmmm maybe we just got lucky. As I approached closer, I noticed that the cooks behind the counter were packing their stuff, and then I saw the dreaded, unexpected announcement that the Oyster Bar was closed for Carpet Cleaning until the morning!!!

I was SO disappointed :( since we had to fly out the next morning so wouldn't be able to eat here. There were so many "what ifs" that came through my mind. What if we had come a little earlier? Like for breakfast? What if we came during our first day??

 Conclusion:
  • My conclusion and lesson learned from all this is to always prioritize your food list. Put the item you want to try the most on your list for day 1, so in case something happens, you can try again the next day. :)
  • One other lesson I learned from this trip is no more 8 AM flight from Vegas! We booked a Monday morning 8 AM flight because the price was really good. Well, it turns out I now understand why the price was so good. :) After staying up late Sunday night, it was really hard to try and wake up early morning. So next time I would probably pay a little more and catch a later flight.
  • Overall it was a good, productive, jam packed food tour for 2 days/2 nights! I definitely have to go back to finally try the Oyster Bar!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Orange County - College Visit Weekend Trip

Introduction

My sister is currently studying in community college and is researching various universities to transfer. I raised the idea to do a quick weekend trip together to Orange County to visit UC Irvine. My hidden motivation was to eat the yummy food in OC! :)

We quickly booked tickets via Southwest. For hotel, there's a new Courtyard Marriott Irvine Spectrum that was pretty reasonable, so I booked that for us. I also rented a car via Advantage (more on that later). The trip was coming together and I was really looking forward to it.

Courtyard Marriott Irvine Spectrum

When I was researching hotels, there were actually plenty of available chain hotels like the Fairmont, Hyatt, Marriott, etc. -- with pretty reasonable weekend rates.

The main reason I booked this hotel was because it was close by the university and was brand new. Even though it's not a luxury hotel, Courtyards are usually pretty decent and the fact that it's brand new was nice. The hotel was located across the street from the Irvine Spectrum outdoor mall. Parking was free of charge and pretty easy to find.

Lobby area

First impression was the newness, and the decor seems to be a bit more sophisticated than the usual Courtyard. There's a large lobby/seating area, and there's a nice outdoor seating area with fire pit.

Nice outdoor area

The room was neutral in color and quite spacious. I liked the color choices in the room which felt more neutral/zen-ish than the typical red/green at the Courtyard.

Courtyard Marriott Irvine Spectrum
Nice seating area

The bathroom included a single sink and shower.

Sink
Shower

For our quick weekend trip, this was a great choice due to the location, great price, and the hotel being brand new.

Where We Ate in Orange County

Again, one of the main reason we did this trip was to eat :) As usual, there's too many places to eat than what we have slots for, so I have to prioritize!

Ritter's Steam Kettle

Our first stop was Ritter's Steam Kettle Cooking. I heard so much about the Oyster Bar in Vegas, and because of my bad planning when I went to Vegas (putting it off until our last day, and the restaurant happened to be closed! -- even though it's supposed to be open 24/7), I really wanted to try this restaurant by the same owner. We met up with my friend and her adorable daughter.

My friend ordered the baked oyster to share, which was pretty good. Very cheesy + bacon :) Can't go wrong with that.

Baked Oyster

We ordered the famous Combo Pan Roast. The Pan Roast was a creamy, tomato based soup-- reminded me a bit of a gumbo. It was pretty good, but not out of this world. I heard the Oyster Bar's version IS out of this world and is better than Ritter's. So I still have it on my list to try Oyster Bar next time in Vegas.

Combo Pan Roast

My friend got the shrimp po boys and we both thought it was just ok.

Shrimp Poboys

Overall we both liked the Combo Pan Roast. But I still feel like the Combo Pan Roast could be better and I now really have to try it at the original Oyster Bar in Vegas.

Ohshima Japanese Cuisine

A friend suggested Ohshima for good, authentic Japanese food. This restaurant is pretty popular and I had to call a week in advance (they don't take reservations any sooner than that) between 5-5:30 PM to make reservation. 

They told us that they would only hold the reservation for 15 minutes. There was heavy traffic on our way to this place, and we made it just in time. There was already a line when we arrived.

The restaurant was small and did feel pretty authentic (even though the majority of the patrons are Westerners).

We started off with the seared cherry sashimi. I love that this place offers an option to sear your sashimi lightly, which I feel brings out a wonderful flavor.

Seared Cherry Salmon Sashimi

We also ordered their Seared Black Cod which is one of their most famous items as well. Again, it was so yummy! One thing to mention is that they also smear some "special" sauce on top so you don't need to use any soy sauce to dip.

Seared Black Cod

We ordered the 8 piece Omakase to share and everything tasted great and fresh!

8 Piece Omakase

They are also famous for their Uni Spaghetti. I'm a sucker for Japanese pasta so this was definitely something I knew I had to order. It was very creamy (as I like it), and the pasta was cooked al dente. I am actually not a huge fan of Uni (as they have a strong smell), but the Uni on this pasta was probably fresh and didn't have much of a smell so I thought it was delicious!

Uni pasta

Sprinkles Ice Cream

Sprinkles is actually one of my favorite cupcake shops. I especially love their red velvet cupcake. So when looking for dessert places in OC, I was happy to find that they opened an ice cream store! We went to the one in Newport Beach after our massage.

They actually had a huge selection, ranging from ice cream sandwiches with cupcake or cookie!


I ordered the red velvet ice cream with chocolate cupcake sandwich. The red velvet ice cream was actually a little disappointing (considering how good their cupcakes are).

My sister got the cereal ice cream with red velvet cupcake. We both liked hers better :)

Overall it was good to try, but was pretty pricey ~$7-ish per cup.



Conclusion

We definitely fit a lot to eat in 1.5 days. :) The actual UC Irvine campus tour went fine, and I kind of hope she gets in, so I can visit her and try more yummy restaurants!

One thing that was a hiccup was our reservation at Advantage Rental Car. I thought that all rental cars were the same. After our experience this weekend, I will ONLY rent cars from Hertz or Avis. I had such a bad experience (long waiting lines, car not ready and had to wait 45 minutes -- almost missed our campus tour!), and confusion over which car we were getting, and their process was very, very manual. So bye bye random rental car places.

Outside of that one negative, the overall trip was a success.