Jaleo – Las Vegas and Popo’s Birthday Dinner

Over the holiday season, we travelled to Las Vegas.  Las Vegas is where Popo (our grandmother) likes to spend her birthday every year.  And her Birthday is December 18.  So we had her birthday dinner at a Spanish restaurant called Jaleo.  We were looking forward to the food there because Jaleo is managed by a famous chef named Jose Andres.

We would describe the atmosphere at Jaleo as vibrant.  Here are some pictures of the place:

Above is a picture of Popo, Pei-Pei Ahyi (our aunt) and our cousin Annika.  We think that the open kitchen adds to the atmosphere’s vibrancy.  An open kitchen also instills confidence in the food.  Below is a picture of one of the chefs roasting the pig.

And of course, we took a close-up of the pig.

Like most Spanish places, this place serves tapas.  Tapas are small spanish dishes. Our server recommended that we try quite a few delicious appetizers including a chacuterie platter of meats and cheeses.  They, of course featured iberian ham, serrano ham, and spanish cheeses (like manchego).  This is what they looked like:

And of course, we had chorizo.  Chorizo is a spicy sausage in the form of salami.This was our cousin MIna’s favorite of the meats and cheeses!

And of course, we had to include a smiling picture of Mina!  That’s what she looked like after enjoying her chorizo!

Since Tapas are very small and we had a large party, we were able to sample quite a few tasty dishes.  For example, we also had a ham and cheese bocadillo (that’s a sandwich), Jaleo’s patatas bravas (these are sometimes like french fries or potato chips.  In Jaleo, they were like fresh-made potato chips with a spicy sauce), and Buñuelos de bacalao (this is a fritter with cod, honey, and cheese).  We thought the bocadillo was competent – the bread was good, the ham was good, and cheese was good.  But we expected just a little bit more.  The potato chips were perfectly crispy and not oily at all.  The spicy sauce was mild – even Mina was able to have some.  And the Buñuelos de bacalao were mommy’s favorite!  They were perfect pastries with a little cheese, saltiness (from the cod), and sweetness (from the honey).  If we returned, we’d probably order the Buñuelos again.  Here are pictures of those tapas dishes – bocadillo first, patatas bravas next, and Buñuelos last:


Our server also suggested the gambas al ajillo, the mushrooms, the calamari, and a salad.  The gambas are a traditional Spanish shrimp dish.  The shrimp is cooked with garlic and with just a little shell on the tail.  Karsen loves the crunchiness of the tail.

The mushrooms, pictured below, were absolutely delicious!  If you like mushrooms even just a little bit, you should most certainly order these!  You won’t be disappointed. 

The calamari was okay – like the bocadillos, they were not as spectacular as we had hoped.  The salad, however, was absolutely delicious!  And of course, we feel good about ourselves when we have vegetables!  This is what the calamari and salad looked like.

And of course, if you go to a Spanish restaurant, you must order some paella.  Paella is Spanish, or more specifically Valencian, rice dish.  This is a delicacy that requires quite some time to cook so that the rice soaks up all the flavors.  Since we had a large party, we were able to order a special paella – the Iberian ribs paella.  Here is a picture of the paella being made.

It takes about 45 minutes to make Paella.  So make sure you order it early and then get lots of appetizers so that you can eat while waiting.  When they finished making the paella, several servers brought it to show us.  They needed several servers because it is heavy!!

Also arriving at the same time was the “Secreto  Iberico con pan con tomate y salsa verde.”    This was listed on the menu as a secret – which of course is irresistable to us!  This is the Iberian pork with tomato bread and green sauce.  The green sauce was the most delicious sauce!  We had to ask for extra because the sauce made everything on the table taste better!!!  Thank goodness for the green sauce because the Iberian pork was a little chewy.  This means that Karsen takes at least 20 minutes to swallow a small piece.

 Since it was Popo’s birthday, we had to have dessert!  And Jaleo’s flan is quite famous.  Here is a picture of Popo blowing out her candle with our cousin Mina.

We are BIG dessert fans!  If you read our blog, you will know that we have an extra dessert stomach.  And you need to save space in your tummy for this flan.  It is soft, creamy, sweet, and everything you hope for in a flan.  In fact, Papa says it may be the best flan he has ever had in his entire life and he is quite old.  But not as old as Popo!  Thank you Popo for sharing your birthday with us!  A very HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you and may you have MANY MORE!!!

As usual, we have a five happy-face rating system (with five being best).  Since we could not agree on the rating, we give you both of our assessments.

Anya’s rating:

😀 😀 😀 😀

Karsen’s rating:

😀 😀 😀 😀 1\2

If you are in Vegas, this place is certainly worth going to.  Here’s a link to their website and dinner menu:



To end the post we have a picture of Mina and Anya saying YAY because they made good food for us!!!!!!!

P.S We were told by Mina that she and Anya were saying YAY dessert because dessert just came.

P.P.S We were told by Pei Pei Ahyi and Annika that Annika was eating with gusto.

Here is a picture of that.  Isn’t she cute??????:


Homemade Dosas at Ms. Madhu’s!

We are very lucky to know many fantastic cooks!  As you might expect, Popo and Dadi (our grandmothers) make delicious food.  In addition, our friend and neighbor, Ms. Madhu makes the BEST dosas outside of India.  If you don’t know what a dosa is it is:  simply think of it as spicy potatoes and onions being a rolled up crispy thin bread. It is fairly large.

Ms. Madhu needs to make the batter ahead of time.  She makes the batter using two fancy machines.  The second machine is one that grinds the flour that dosa is made with:







She also has the potato filling and the sambar already prepared.The Potato Filling is slightly spicy and the sambar is equally spicy, having no lumps.


With all the preparations, she then makes each dosa individually.  And we eat them while they are hot.  If you have ever seen French crepes or galletes being made, it is very similar.  This is a video of Ms. Madhu making the dosa.

Madhu making dosas at her house

This is a picture of the dosa and sambar.  As many of you know, Indian food comes with different kinds of chutney.  Ms. Madhu makes her own gunpowder chutney. This is a picture of all our delicious food.  This one is of  a dosa with a bowl of sambar.  Sambar is a spicy Indian soup that one has with dosas.


The second picture is of raita.  Raita is a yogurt sauce.

Ms. Madhu also makes her own gunpowder chutney and ghee.  Ghee is clarified butter. Remember, as our friends at the Cordon Bleu school taught us: Butter is good, Butter is fat, Fat is our friend!!

This is Omkar. He is Ms.Madhu’s son. He reads a lot of books and is very intelligent! He is four years old.


Overall, our meal was delicious. Special thanks to Ms.Madhu and Omkar!!! 🙂

As usual our rating consists out of five stars with five being the highest.

Rating: 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

WE LOVE HOMEMADE FOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Smashburger – Camelback

As per Mr. Blake’s suggestion (way back in our WHO WE ARE Post), we have decided to review and compare our favorite burger joints.  We plan to review In-N-Out, Umami Burger, and Five Guys in later posts.  But Smashburger is our first of the series.

We were eager to try Smashburger after reading about it online. They use meatballs and smash the meatball (that is why they call the restaurant Smashburger) so it makes them look like patties. We were especially excited about the variety of their offerings.  There are so many toppings available for burgers including jalapenos, different kinds of cheese, chipotle mayonnaise, buffalo sauce, avocado, and crispy onions (known as Haystacks).  In addition to different kinds of burgers, Smashburger also has SmashFries (made with potatoes and rosemary), Sweet Potato SmashFries (made with sweet potatoes and rosemary), Haystacks (onion strings), and an assortment of drinks, including shakes, malts, and floats – all made with Haagen Dazs ice-cream!!!  Here is a picture of their menus:


Egg (that’s her name) took our order and got it just right!  She also had several recommendations for us.  This is what she looked like.

We followed Egg’s advice and ordered the following:  1) a classic burger with cheddar cheese (none of us like American cheese) and jalapenos, 2)  an avocado club – this is their most popular chicken burger, 3) an Arizona devil dog, 4)  Smash Fries, 5) Sweet potato Smashfries, 6) Haystack onions, 7) Vanilla Shake (for Karsen and they use Haagen Daaz ice cream), 8) Root beer float (for Anya – and they use IBC root beer), and 9) Iced Tea for mommy.  Because we were doing a blog, Egg also made sure that we got to try all their different sauces including the smash sauce, chipotle mayonnaise, and Frank’s red hot buffalo sauce.  We shared everything so that we would be able to let you know how everything tasted.

First, we’d like to let you know about our drinks.

This is a picture of Karsen’s delicious and refreshing Vanilla shake.  This shake is better than Five Guys – because FIve Guys doesn’t offer shakes and better than In-N-Out’s because it is made with Haagen Dazs ice cream.

Here’s Anya’s Root Beer Float:

You can tell that Anya is really enjoying her float.  This float is also superior to In-N-Out’s because of the Root Beer.  In-N-Out uses A&W root beer and Smashburger uses IBC.

Even Mommy was impressed with the Iced Tea.  It was fresh brewed and made with Tazo Tea.  Here is a picture of the tea:

We also had water to stay properly hydrated and Smashburger provides special water straws that are half the size of regular straws because the water cups are smaller.  Here is a picture of that.

All of our food arrived at the same time.  We decided to first try the Classic Burger first.  This is what it looked like:

You’ll notice that the burger is split in 1/2 so that we could all try it.  From the cross-section you can see the classic egg bread, lettuce, tomato, “smashed patty”, cheese, and sauce. We got the regular size which is 1/3 pound.  You can also order a large burger which is a 1/2 pound of ground beef and a small (maybe that’s 1/4 pound?).    And the cup is filled with their delicious SmashFries.  These fries are perfectly crispy (without being oily) and are seasoned with rosemary.

Anya thinks that the sweet potato Smashfries are even better.  These are also seasoned with rosemary.

We tried both kinds of fries with all of the different sauces (the chipotle mayonaise, smash sauce, and Frank’s buffalo sauce).

Even their ketchup was special.

And of course, Anya’s favorite sauce was the Cholula sauce that was on the table.

Then, we tried the Avocado Club and the Haystack (onion rings).

The Haystack onions were a little greasy.  We know because of all the napkins we needed to use while eating them (note:  when we returned to Smashburger a week later, we had perfectly crispy, non-greasy haystack onion rings!).  We ordered the chicken avocado club on Egg’s recommendation.  She said it was their most popular non-hamburger order.  While it was an okay chicken club, we all agree – it paled in comparison to the excellent burger.

Finally, we tried the Arizona Devil Dog.

We also had the  hotdog cut in half.  This hot dog contained onions, jalapenos, chipotle mayonaise, tomatoes, habanero cheese and guacamole.  This was quite a tasty dog.  The guacamole tasted like creamy avocado.  And the jalapenos were spicy, making our mouths water (good thing we could down it with vanilla shake and root beer float).  Even with all the spiciness, Anya added her favorite Cholula sauce.

In general, we liked the burger best, the hot dog next, and the club last.  As for the sides, mommy liked the smashfries and Anya liked the sweet potato smashfries.  Karsen is wishy washy and liked them all.

This is a place that we enjoy – Why go to McDonald’s when there’s a Smashburger in town?

As usual, our smiley faces are out of 5: 😀 😀 😀 😀 1\2

That’s pretty good! 😉

Here is a picture of the manager:

We will definitely return here soon! Thank you everybody! Special thanks to Egg!

P.S.  We brought our father to visit Smashburger a week later and even he liked it!!!  And he is the finickiest eater!!!!

P.P.S.  We can’t wait to do reviews on the other burger places.  Doktor – you’re coming with us to Umami burger, right?

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!!!

As you might imagine, we sophisti-kids are quite lucky to have lots of friends and family.  This means, of course, that we had a FEAST of delicious food for Thanksgiving.

Our main dishes included the obligatory poultry dish (that’s what mommy calls it), braised ribs, and grilled salmon.  Here are pictures of those dishes:














For our sides, we had mac-and-cheese, mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus (Karsen arranged the asparagus), cucumber salad,  chanterelle mushrooms, grilled zucchini, grilled chayote, grilled tomatoes, and pomegranate.  This is what they looked like:








And of course ever feast needs dessert!  We had macarons (from Essence Bakery in Tempe) and cheesecake.

Special thanks to all who came to join us! We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving also!