Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Yelp Cash Back

I was adding a biz to earn airline miles on my bookmark and found an eye-catching ad on the side. Find more stories of #YelpCashBack on Twitter.
Can search #YelpCashBack on iPhone

Wow. Yelp Cash Back for real? According to Yelp Blog "Earn Rewards and Save at Local Businesses With Yelp Cash Back", "you can earn money for frequenting the spots you love" and earn up to 10% back.
Within minutes, Yelp texted me 7% back.

Sign up is very easy. You need a credit card. And, you can link multiple credit cards. The service is provided by Empyr. The reward program works like earning airline miles. The system recognizes your credit card purchase. Whenever I eat at JB Asian Cafe, I receive a message to tell me how much I earned.

While Yelp app has not developed a search function for "Cash Back", I saved some links for you and me to use while on the go:
Or, you can create your own search. Just change the city name and state abbreviation in this URL.https://www.yelp.com/search?attrs=OffersRewards&find_loc=Austin%2C+TX. Then, place it in your phone browser.
#YelpCashBack List moves with you on Android

I tried to share my discovery on Yelp Android Beta Testers Group on Google+ and in a Yelp Houston Talk thread. But the Talk thread is becoming a garbage dump.
Can't Search #YelpCashBack on Android

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Take a Yelfie

How cool is that? Take a Yelfie to proof you were there. Read this blog on Yelp.

Well, it's kind of annoying at first. But, okay. I admit. It's fun once I get used to it.

Taking this Yelfie bumped my data usage.

I noticed this on a recent Android release 9.0.1 in December. But someone in Canada received this feature in November. Huh.

Nu Ice has free WiFi.
Don't expect my Yelfie at all check-ins. The only time I can share Yelfie is when I find free WiFi to use. Sorry.

Monday, December 5, 2016

#ChinatownCrawl at 75 Yummy Kitchen

Yummy Kitchen 柒伍龙虾 as known as 75 Yummy Kitchen is our featured restaurant of #ChinatownCrawl UYE on Friday, December 9, 2016. The following is the menu items we selected to fit the #NightMarket style street vendor dishes.
Red doodles are the selected menu items.

I first discovered Yummy Kitchen was when it changed ownership. That was when I met Sherry, the owner. I told her about Yelp. And, I quickly wrote a review and posted photos on Instagram. Initially, they only serve Malatang, all-you-can-eat buffet and crawfish in 4 different flavors. Then, she found a different way to attract customers. She hired two reputable chefs "flown" in from Sichuan in June. She invited me to try the new menu but I was travelling.

I met her last Friday to discuss my idea of night market 夜市 food crawl. I want my guests to try their trademark item Sichuan Grilled Fish 四川烤鱼 with Spicy Garlic Sauce as a centerpiece. She said they use striped bass 鱸魚, not tilapia because they want the intense flavor to be able to soak into the flesh and a better texture to sustain in the sauce. The fish is first grilled and transferred on to the tabletop pan while cooking in the sauce.

Second trademark dish is Malatang 麻辣烫 - personal sized hot pot with intense mala 麻辣 flavors. Ma means numb. La means spicy. The mala flavor consisted of herbs and spices for medicinal values. It removes humidity from your body and help digestion system. To eat Malatang, you pick your choices of vegetables from the buffet line and hand it to the kitchen. They will cook it for you with a skewer of shrimps on top.

I also want a dish that everyone is familiar with. I picked Kung Pao Chicken 宫保鸡丁. She reminded me it contains peanuts. I had to make sure I put this allergen information on the event page.

We are sampling these tapas from the menu under Local Snacks 小吃 and other pages:
B9 - Red Oil Dumpling 紅油水餃 Dumpling (or wonton) in spicy oil *
D15 - Couple's Lung Slices 夫妻肺片 Fuqifeipian (Sliced Beef and Ox Tongue in Chili Sauce) *
B2 - Dan Dan Noodle 四川担担面 (ground pork and preserved vegetables over noodles) *
B4 - Heart Breaking Cold Noodle 伤心凉粉 (mung bean jelly with spicy sauce) *
C1 - Kung Pao Chicken 宫保鸡丁(cubed chicken with vegetables and peanuts) *
C2 - Spicy wok fried chicken with chili 重庆辣子鸡 (chicken with Sichuan pepper) *
GF1 - Mala Grilled Fish 麻辣烤鱼 (grilled bass simmered in spicy sauce) *
HS6 - Malatang 麻辣烫 (personalized hotpot with Sichuan spicy broth) *
B8 - Original Wonton 原汤抄手 (Wontons in pork broth)
D17 - Golden Needle Thousand Leaf 金针百页(needle mushroom with beef tripe)
B3 - Iced Mung Bean Jelly 冰粉 (sweet drink to cool the heat)

* indicate spicy dishes

It depends on how many guests attending. We will adjust the dishes. Currently, I have reserved a round table to fit 12 people and a smaller table for overflow. I will communicate this to the restaurant on Thursday.

I asked where did the name 75 柒伍 come from. She said she worked at a restaurant called 柒伍龙虾 in Shenyang City 沈阳 (about 400 miles northeast of Beijing).

Sherry said they are opening a 2nd restaurant at 8880 Bellaire next to Fiesta Mart. It's called 75 BBQ Hot Pot Buffet. I asked about if this Yummy Kitchen location going to change to correct English name, she said she will consider it. This is why there are so many website issues on Google and Yelp.

Chinatown Crawl is going to be a hit with a mixture of cultures teaching, food tasting, friendship building and enhance commerce in the Chinatown community. I would like to reach out to the business community for support. Over a dozen of guests enjoyed the evening to experience shopping, dining and having dessert in one night during Asian Heritage Month in May and Time for Taiwan in August. For complete detail, please follow my page.


To broaden the reach, I invited the guests to post photos with hashtag #ChinatownCrawl.

Reference World Journal on Dumpling Crawl “華埠饕客節”

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Festivus in Your Office

Do you have people in your office doesn't celebrate holiday the way you do? How about celebrate Festivus this year? It's not just from TV Sitcom Seinfeld, it's real life to celebrate in style.
Not the same when you experience a Festivus.
  • Festivus Feast: Have your feast could be a potluck to feature spaghetti, meat loaf with red sauce, salad, fried chicken and stuff you want to be festive. 
  • Airing of Appreciation: Instead of Airing of Grievances on the show, you want to write "thank you" note cards about your coworkers and post them at a central location.
  • Festivus Tree: Instead of Festivus Pole on the show, decorate a tree of any kind. To me, it's very unsightly. Make sure the decorations do not contain Santa Claus and any greeting words with religious tone.
  • Festivus Greetings: Instead of Feats of Strength on the show, share your Festivus by sending cards without religious greetings to bosses, bosses' boss and suppliers. Simply "Happy Holidays" would do fine.
Don't forget to take photos and share with your friends. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Baron of Chinatown

As much as I love Yelping with my app, I have to slow down on checking in everywhere. Because check-in slows me down with my daily routine.

First, I have to take time to pull out my phone.
Second, the moment I turn it on, it started to use cell phone data.
Third, I don't mind using phone data much but some apps start to synchronize to their servers (such as Google Maps app), which slowing me down.
Moreover, I'd rather spend time enjoying life than getting distracted with the apps. I can live without technology when I really don't have the time.
This was captured a year ago. 

As you may have seen I claimed so many baronies before. At one time, I had 8. Now, I only want to focus on Baron of Chinatown. It's the neighborhood I know best and the area I explore often on my days off. I want to be the go-to person or the Local Guide in Chinatown. If Yelp offered an ambassador position in Houston, I would apply.

Starting 2017, I have a few projects lined up to help promote Chinatown and the businesses in Chinatown through various networks. I will continue my quarterly #ChinatownCrawl UYE. For a complete detail, go to https://goo.gl/g9Hu07.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

My Google Map Profile

One of these days, you will see my name attached to a business review or photo on Google Maps. Yes. I'm actively adding reviews, photos and answers to help growing of the community around me.

My profile name is Luis M Chen, not Luis Chen.
I was adding photos to Six Ping Bakery and I found a tocayo on other photos. Ain't  it confusing? I just want to make a distinction between another Luis Chen and me. So, I changed my profile banner to blue TexDem screen. It came from my visit to Alamodome last June.

People asked if I post same photos and reviews from Yelp to Google Maps. The answer is no. Since I don't know my audience, the reviews on Google Maps are shorter. Besides, most people don't like to read long reviews on a small screen.

About the photos, I will apply the same courtesy of avoiding people's faces and license plates. I will, however, use photos from Yelp Tips on Google Maps. It's because Tips are not visible on desktop version and not readily available through general search.

Here are what I learned about Google Maps so far:

  1. Add a business - not as easily done. As soon as I edited a list, it sends out a validation to ask other Local Guides in the area. If it gets rubber stamped, it became live. Within 24 hours, that biz listing will appear on Google Maps.
  2. Review Rating - It's the same 5 star system. But the rating will stay, even if I don't write a review. Another pet peeve, I can't save a review draft.
  3. Data Usage - I don't know why it uses more data and battery than Yelp.
  4. Friend/Follow - I can't friend or follow anyone. I guess I can save  my friends' profile links and visiting them often.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fundraising Idea - Cafe 4 You

For many year, I was a champion in fundraising for United Way at work. I decided to share my idea on how to manage a coffee stand to raise money. The idea is to "bring the cafe to your desk" - save your colleagues' time from going to the break room to get coffee and cookies. To further your profit, you may use supplies from your break room.

For the most part, I go to JKS Houston Restaurant & Equipment Supplies for serving stuff and Kroger Store in Spring Branch for baked goods.

I have used this logo on all communications.

Supplies Needed:
Ground coffee about $5 per bag;
Cookies from local bakery ($10 per dozen);
Foam cups and lids from restaurant supply store ($5);
Containers of sugar, creamer and sugar alternatives ($5);
Hot chocolate package ($1.75/box per 10 bags)
Hot cider packages ($2.00/box per 10 bags)
Energy bars ($3/box per 18 piece value pack)
Napkins ($2/ pack store brand)
Stirrers ($2/pack from dollar store)

Material Needed:
Push cart - dress it up with disposable tablecloth, signs and balloons
Coffee airpot that would fit under your automatic drip coffee machine from your break room.
Servers wear aprons ($20) - it would be nice

You need to raise initial funds for the initial funding to purchase these supplies.
Ask your volunteers to work different shifts, day time and afternoon; 2 volunteers per shift.
Make sure you start with some dollar bills in the bill folds.
Once the concession starts, tell your volunteers not to accept unapproved items for sale. Don't want to mass such as dollar store cookies.

Profit Margin:
You can sell a 8 oz cup for $1 and 16 oz for $2. Each airpot will yield 12 8-oz cups. Each 12 oz bag of coffee will yield 5 to 6 brews. So, looking at a $5 investment, your revenue is $72 per bag of coffee and your return is $67. But you must add other costs of cups, lids, sugar, creamer and stirrers. It's still a pretty good profit margin. This is why I stop going to Starbucks. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

MH Hospital Food Review

After a couple of extended visits at Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital, I've decided to write a review on hospital food as a reminder. Just in case I forgot how to order.

Nice presentation of Grilled Salmon dinner.

The colorful menu has a variety of delicious restaurant-quality food. It is designed with dietary requirements in 3 forms:

  • Clear Liquid - Not much choice. Very clear like you can see through the cup.
  • Full Liquid - Minimum choice of soups, jello, pudding, ice cream, mashed potato and stuff. It's better than baby food. Trust me. 
  • Regular Diet - Real food for general public. Don't go overboard. If you are in the hospital for lowering blood pressure or cholesterol, make sure you go with a low-salt option. You can season it with Ms Dash. If you are here to watch blood sugar, you want to choose low-sugar option. 
Sampled Dishes:

  • Grilled Salmon - very dry but tasty. If you have digestion problem, skip it. You can snack it like a fish jerky later drizzle with some lemon juice. 
  • Mashed Potato - buttery and creamy. It's my favorite. 
  • Grilled Burger - well-seasoned patty on toasted bun. Another of my favorite.
  • Side Salad - fresh like came out of a bag. Make sure you get the dressing package.
  • Seasoned String Beans - I love it. So fresh, because it was in season.
  • Steamed Vegetables - not canned, not microwaved. Really good seasonal vegetables.
  • Sugar-free Jello - pretty good and it's in a sealed container. 
  • Breakfast - you can only get 2 sausage links if you asked for hash brown. I ate my breakfast in the cafeteria on Level C. So, can't you what's good. I heard hash brown was good.

To order, you must call the Menu Line 6500 for each meal (you can ask nurse for an outside line). Since it's made to order, it will take up to 45 minutes before you get to eat. You must call before 6:30 pm and kitchen closes at 7 pm daily. If you missed it, you'll get a "floor tray" at the nurse station - food of the day.

The food service is contracted to Sodexo - a Hospitality company. Order accuracy is about 70%. If they miss something, just call the menu line and someone will come to get it right. Sunday is the worst day, expect issues. So, just be patient, well, you're already a patient.

Guest tray is $8 breakfast and $9 lunch/dinner.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Creative Anniversary Name

Last Saturday, I went to an event called "Red Carpet Meets Chocolate". My massage therapist Stan McDonald invited me to this celebration.

Umar emceed Red Carpet Meets Chocolate.

I didn't think much about the name until I saw the setup. It started with belly dancers by Sahara Dances and a fashion show provided by its next door neighbor Guyz 'N' Style and RF Lifestyles Boutique. As the models walked down the red carpet, they showcased some fabulous fashion. Some I've never seen on streets before.

The host is Beauty by Umar, a talented young hair design artist. He moved to this tiny strip mall a year ago with Stan's Hands Massage and Wellness. The celebration was to demonstrate these successful black American business owners to the small business community.

If I had hair, I'd come to get my hair done. Look at the beautiful style from Umar and his team on the website and on Yelp.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Chased by Google Maps

After I upgraded my Samsung Note 4 to Android version 6.0 - Marshmallow, I noticed significant change on Yelp app. Whenever I want to get direction on Yelp, the only choice is to get to Google Maps. It used to have more choices. (See the image on Send to car with Yelp from last year.)

Once I get there, Google Maps took the opportunity to capture my interest. The app kept hinting me to upload a photo or answer a few questions, because it knows I was there before. Eventually, it lured me to become a Local Guide.

It was nice to know half million views on 9 photos I posted years ago.
Just to be fair, I don't post same photo on Google Maps and Yelp. Since I don't know who is reading the reviews on Google Map, I don't share much details like on Yelp. I never find reviews are useful on Google Maps. Besides, it should stay as a map app.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Let's Catch some Poké

After weeks of searching and conversations, my passion for meeting Yelpers in SF Bay Area has diminished. I have reached out to CM in San Francisco, East Bay and South Bay. There isn't any UYE or OYE or YEE during my visit.

That's okay. I'll find another way to meet Yelpers - go virtual. Thanks for a fellow Yelper John D of San Jose. I followed his specialty in poke - Hawaiian fish salad. I had no idea the concept of "California-style poke bowl" is in. No wonder we don't have any in Houston, unless someone come up with the idea of "Texas poke bowl". Ah, I don't think so. We may get away with Texas BBQ. Not sure we can get fresh ahi tuna and salmon in sashimi quality in Houston.

My goal of one poke a day has met.
This "Let's Catch some Poké, man!" was a note-to-self event. I was not intended to invite anyone to join me like an UYE, but I wanted to be able to share locations on the fly. My goal was to have a daily dose of raw fish salad, just like my poke diet in Hawaii. After moved to the Mainlands, Hawaiian food has been an extreme scarce to me. I wanted to share my foodie experience with the younger generations in my family.

My original idea was to catch some Hawaiian entertainment and dinner at Hukilau in San Jose Japantown. But with some mishaps at the airports, I had to cancel. Based on a local boy JonJon D's recommendation, Thursday is best day. In fact, I'll go there for the entire weekend on my next trip. I've been wanting to go there for over 4 years.

Saturday night was on schedule. I met with my niece and nephew at Poki Run in Milpitas. I got interested from a review by a Yelper friend Evelynn C of Fremont.

Sunday's plan changed due to the operating hours at Aloha Fresh and my nieces' work schedule. I decided to check out Aloha Fresh myself at lunch and Go Fish Poke Bar at dinner. My original choice was Poke House #2 and I messaged Christina C. of San Francisco. She recommended Go Fish Poke Bar instead.

Since I completed my list of poke hunting early, I decided to add a couple more adventures to Berryessa area on Monday. Going to try Poke House and Sharetea. Mainly, I want to know when Poke House going to open its 2nd store (after reading John D's spectacular review).

Overall, this Bay Area trip has been fulfilled with helps from many Yelpers, virtually.

Note: I've shared hundreds of photos on social media during this trip. My biggest pet peeve is having to constantly charging my Samsung Galaxy Note 4. It drained the battery every 2-3 hours.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Where am I on Google Map

Do you have issues with GPS location of a biz? I have an example of this dilemma.

I stayed in Hyatt Regency Houston last June. Google Map said I was at the correct address on WiFi. But when I asked for direction to my destination, it told me my current location was 2 miles away in Buffalo Bayou. Not sure if the satellite signal was weak in this crowded downtown buildings.

GPS discrepancy 
I have confirmed with a technical person at Yelp. It uses Google Map to support the map portion. If Google Map says go right, Yelp app will tell you to go right.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Time for Taiwan Restaurant Month 2016

Here is a collection of all of my Time for Taiwan experiences in 2016.

In order to appreciate Time for Taiwan Restaurant Month, I created events on Yelp in Houston and Dallas. I carefully edited out incorrect information and add what I know to post. Making it easier for Yelpers to simply click on the restaurant link and proceed to check-in or whatever they want.
This is my 2nd year promoting Time for Taiwan on Yelp. 

I didn't have enough time to recruit my Yelper friends to do the same in their cities. It's a very time consuming process and organizer made the announcement so late. They used last year's date to be the special promo day. It should be July 17, not July 11.

There are so many restaurants in Houston, but not many serve Taiwanese food. Every weekend I visit one restaurant:

7/16 - Boba Lounge - I tried Guaboa 割包 and Oden 關東煮.
7/23 - Star Snow Ice & Teriyaki - I tried tofu soup 豆花 and braised pork over rice 滷肉飯.
7/29 - Coco’s Cafe - I tried pig intestine noodles 大腸面線
8/12 - Chang’s - I tried pork rice noodles 炒米粉 and thick soup noodles 大滷麵.

I skipped 8/5 for my 2nd Annual Time for Taiwan UYE. I want to entice other restaurants to sign up for next year's Time for Taiwan Restaurant Month.

Here are some interesting outcome from my posts on Yelp. A marketing intern at Yelp Dallas reached out to me for promotion trade opportunity. She thought this was my event. Among those 267 responded with the event, Joe W of Addison wanted to be friend and he appreciated for what I did. Edwin S of Dallas posted: "To the Taiwanese Overseas Community Affairs Council: Thanks for organizing this event.  We're new to Dallas and didn't know which places served Taiwanese food.   Really appreciate it."
Interesting responses from my post in Dallas.

Furthermore, I shared my Time for Taiwan foodie experiences on Instagram. Boba Lounge | Star Snow Ice | Coco's Cafe | Chang's

I feel the contest on Facebook was a fail. There is no way my friends would be able to "like" my photo. There are over 200 replies on one single message. Even the ones who follow me, would not find me. Who has time to look through those photos? I can't even use a link to the photo.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Taiwanese Menu at Lai Lai

Here is a snapshot of the Taiwanese menu at Lai Lai Dumpling House. Since there isn't any translation nor explanation, I'd like to offer my knowledge to my guests at my Time for Taiwan UYE.

1. 三杯雞 "Three cup chicken" is seasoned with one cup sugar, one cup soy sauce, one cup sesame seed oil. (Photo)
2. 五更腸旺 "Spicy Pot" is a stewed pig intestine and pig blood cake seasoned with 5 stems: leeks, pepper, garlic, ginger and chives.
3. 蚵仔煎 "Oyster Omelet" is made of corn starch, scrambled eggs and fresh oysters. Topped with savory red sweet sauce. (Photo)
4. 螞蟻上樹 "Ants on the Tree" is a gluten-free dish. Its main ingredients are minced pork (looks like ants) and rice or bean threads (looks like tree surface). (Photo)
5. 皮蛋豆腐 "1000-year-old egg over tofu" is a cured preserved egg on top of tofu. (Photo)
6. 魚香茄子 "Sichuan Braised Eggplant" does not contain fish, but the shape looks like one. It might be a little spicy.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Best UYE in Houston

One day, I wanted to produce a photo collage from all Around the World UYE's. I came across this page - Best Unofficial Yelp Events in Houston.

Wow. I'm so honored. UYE: Asian Heritage Celebration @ Strings Noodle made on the list.

This is why we need to get in the culture of attending UYE's and writing reviews on the UYE biz pages. We promote each other's events when it comes to event planning. Another benefit is to use reviews as a feedback.

This is only seen on desktop version.
I believe reviews posed on UYE (unofficial Yelp event) or OYE (official Yelp event) are not eligible for ROTD (review of the day). So you can write anything to your desire, just don't be rude.

Jing 5 Translated

The story about Jing 5 is posted on a mural outside of restaurant. But it's all in Chinese. I've decided to translate the entire text for your convenience, instead include it in my review. It's better than sitting outside looking at the wall and use Google Translate app tor translate word by word.

You can find a mission statement posted on the interior of walls.

“Wang Songlin’s First Jingwu Duck Neck Store” was established in 1991. It was located at the corner of Jingwu Street in famous Hankou. The store operates under the philosophy of first in quality, first in sanitation and first in reputation. It obtained a chain-business model and built a unique food factory base and sales network. There are over 200 stores, Wang Songlin’s “Jingwu's First Store” was the first to participate in the 8th Annual China Food Fair in 2002. It became China Food Fair’s designated supplier.

“Jingwu First Store” received a registered trademark in 2003. It was awarded for Food Quality Assurance in 2002... plus various awards in China.

Jingwu Ducks offer a series of food in different varieties of duck neck, duck wings, duck feet, duck gizzard, duck head, duck tongue and chicken feet, etc. From wholesales to retail sales and then boxed with gift wrap, the products were enjoyed everywhere in China. The flavor has five numbness, spicy, fragrant, crisp and fresh tastes. When you eat it, you will have a long lasting memory of the unique tastes. It’s been favored by any parts of society.

Wang Songlin, the founder of Jingwu Duck Neck, has a title of expert research in food processing with Traditional Chinese Medicine. Starting 1991, he went to Shennongjia, Sichuan, Yunnan and other cities to study the characteristics of traditional Chinese medicine. After 10 years of painstaking research and experimentation, Wang Songlin defined his Jingwu duck neck to have today’s unique flavor. He has maintained as a leader in the same industry.

Part of the text is also appeared on Baidu Business Listing for 王松林精武鸭脖食品有限公司.

Monday, July 18, 2016

World Traveler UYE

I would love to nominate Belly G as Yelper of the Year in Houston, if there is a place for it.
We've been to Indonesia, Peru, Bosnia, Poland, Ethiopia & Belgium.

This brilliant man with plenty of ideas started the World Travel UYE since January 2016. Every month, the world travelers went from one country to another trying different cuisines without leaving Houston.

Check out the chart below for the places we've been to so far.

Event Page

Stay tuned with the next destination at - UYE series - Around the world in Houston Talk thread. You can subscribe this thread by saying something. It will stay on "My Conversations" on computer or "My Talk" on the app.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

PokéStop on Yelp app

Really? I want some Poké. The raw fish kine from Hawai'i, right?

Please tell me this is real.
After I checked in at Church's Chicken, I saw this question on local knowledge. I busted out laughing. Few days ago, I clicked on a Google Map link just out of my curiosity on this Pokémon Talk thread. Look, my map is filled with weird stuff every time I search on Google.
This is absurd. 
Give me a moment. I don't know what to say. I need to regain my composure first.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Cross+Cities UYE Ideas

It's been in my wildest dream to host a Cross+Cities UYE with a road trip. I always want to try something exotic, exciting and unique to link Yelpers across the Lone Star state.

From Houston to San Antonio takes about 3 hours.

After reading a blog Seattle & Portland Yelpers Swap Cities Road Trip, I posted my idea on a Talk thread. I found Phillip B of Austin hosted a BBQ Crawl UYE in Lockhart on July 26, 2014. Yelpers from Houston, San Antonio and Austin (maybe Dallas) met at the center of these major cities. That was an epic. (Reviews)

I am not able to pull something like his scale without Yelpers from other cities. In November 2015, I hosted a Cross+Cities UYE - Austin Edition. Since I didn't have many Yelper friends in Austin, we had a small party. (Reviews)

After my recent trip to San Antonio, I saw the city's beauty and tourism opportunity. I want to revisit the idea. I am hoping the Yelpers in San Antonio could help me put together a real Cross+Cities UYE. Here is the preliminary thought.

Visiting Party - Houston
Hosting Party - San Antonio

  1. Organize a group of Yelpers from Houston going to San Antonio by cars or MegaBus (as Cherry A suggested) and arriving near downtown or MegaBus station.
  2. Yelpers in San Antonio prepare 1 or 2 UYE's with bar crawl or walking tour of downtown.
  3. At the end of night, people can stay or go back to Houston on MegaBus.
Target dates are early 2017. Preferably tie with a special event in Hosting Party's city and not long weekend (to avoid travel congestion).

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Polynesian Venue in Seabrook

Hana Hou! Can you imagine a spectacular Polynesian dance performance with a luau dinner without leaving Houston?
Perfect facility for a Polynesian Venue

That's my way to show my appreciation by attending a well-coordinated event at Seabrook Community House last night. Happy Hula Polynesian Dance Group of Provo Utah took the stage. The delicious luau-style lunch plates were prepared by their connections locally.

The room was packed with a hungry crowd. We were hungry for an island-style entertainment. It started with dinner and live music. Sorry, I arrived late. I didn't catch the gentlemen's names. Then, the show started promptly at 7:30. My favorite part of the evening was the fire dance. Everyone concentrated on the twirling fire while the room was peach black. This was my first time seeing it live.

I first noticed this event posted on Aloha TexFest Houston on Facebook in mid-May. I was thrilled by the idea. So, I posted it on Yelp Events page to get more exposures. That's one way to show my friends about the island culture and hospitality.

This crowd pleasing show rocked the house. Thanks to Noa Wetzel, who emceed and introduced each performance and the origins: Tongan, Tahitian, Samoan, Fijian, Hawaiian and etc. I followed her posts on Facebook. So, I learned more about what to expect.

Lucky us, we use social media to know one another. I attended Aloha TexFest at Clear Lake Park last year. That's where I met Sina. We talked after the show. It was nice to know Noa is her close relative. I would love to see more events like this in coming years.

Here are some photos and videos posted on social media: Facebook Photos; Instagram; YouTube.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Road to TexDem Convention

This is a 3-part story on how I became a delegate from Precinct level to County level. Previously, I was a Delegate at SD Convention.

I'm a delegate from SD 13 in Harris County.
The Texas Democratic Convention was a 3-day event in San Antonio, June 16-18, 2016.
Thursday was really for committees and organizers to meet during the day. I was just a novice delegate not holding any office. I arrived in San Antonio in late afternoon. The first thing on my agenda was to attend the kickoff parties. I prepaid $50 per person with intention to bring a guest to the Official Kickoff Reception at Villita Assembly Building. Guess what? I arrived late. I barely got to nibble on the variety of salsas with some chips. I consider my $100 was purely donation to the Party.
Chalkboard fun
Quite of crowd when it's free
Reception Food

The next party was hosted by Bexar County Democratic Party just across the walkway at La Villita Historic Arts Village. The music was blasting. People were dancing. Speeches were flowing. It was quite a scene. But I was starving and needed a place to sit down. I wore my real cowboy boots for the first time. Of course, no one was looking.

After my breakfast dinner at nearby McDonald's, I proceeded to the next kickoff party hosted by Stonewall Democrats at Paramour. I didn't stay long. I met a couple of candidates and took some pictures. I ended my day early to prepare for next day.

The Convention was held at Alamodome. It was an all-day affair from 8 to 5. Since I'm not a morning person, but I tried to be energized and involved. I planned to attend 3 caucus meeting, but only able to sit with Asian Caucus. There were many non-Asians who wanted to see what we do.
Enter by SD numbers to register
Registration counters
All caucus meetings finished right before the Senate District meetings 3 to 5. I was excited to meet the delegates from other precincts that we only communicate via emails. Most of elected officials who serve in Houston came to visit us, including Mayor Sylvester Turner. We spent majority of time electing numerous positions to the committees at the SD level. As well as electing the delegates to go to Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next month.
Do you ever wonder what to wear at a convention?

For those who got elected on Friday would have to attend meeting and training on Saturday. I was among everyone else to enjoy what San Antonio has to offer.

Here are my posts on Twitter: Scene from Kickoff Party; LGBT Caucus Meeting; Vendor at Exhibit Floor; Ready for Asian Caucus; Elected Officials from Houston; Hispanic Caucus meeting. And photos at Alamodome by me on Yelp.

My final blog will be a summary. But, I need to take a break for now.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Delegate at SD Convention

This is a 3-part story on how I became a delegate from Precinct level to County level.

Me at Wheatley HS during SD13 Convention
It started as a simple question, "would you like to attend the Senate District Convention?" A young lady sat at a high school table asked me as I cast my ballot during the Primary Election on March 1st. My poll location has always been at a school near my house. However, this election was a little different as certain precincts were moved to a different location for Democratic Party candidates. But the Republican candidates are voted at the same location. This change set off some angry voters. *

Days passed, I almost forgot about what I signed up for. Suddenly, I received an email invitation from Joe Jennings, Chairman for Precinct 565. I registered to attend the Senate District Convention as instructed. Then, I was patiently waited for this once-of-my-lifetime experience.

In the State of Texas, there are 31 Senate Districts. Because of the larger population in Harris County, we have 4 Senate Districts. Based on my residential address, I belong to the 13th Senate District.
SD13 Chairperson speaking to the audience

I was surprised to see a chilling effect at the SD Convention - the auditorium Phillis Wheatley High School was barely filled and the air conditioning was blasting. The organizer marked the aisles by precinct numbers. I sat far left of the room by myself. There wasn't anyone around me to socialize. Since this was my first time, I didn't know what to expect. As I walked around during recess, I only saw one other Asian person. *

I recognized Rep. Gene Wu, the Texas House Representative for District 137 (Chinatown) and listened to elevating speech by U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee for Texas's 18th Congressional District. I was approached a few times from people facilitating Resolutions (the initial steps in proposing for changes that require signatures and approved before it can be submitted to become law).
Sheila Jackson-Lee poses photo with audience

According to the rule, the amount of delegates is determined by popular votes. For SD 13, it needed 540 delegates to State Convention. Due to low attendance at the SD Convention, they couldn't conduct "election" for who would go to the State Convention. I left as I would be interested.

Few weeks later, I received an email from Texas Democratic Party as Harris County submitted my name to be a Delegate at the State Convention in San Antonio. I guess it's a good sign. I got promoted. Ha!

I have been preparing for this biggest event of my life. Here is my part 2 as I go to TexDem Convention.

* Room for improvements.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Biz at Jusgo Plaza

In a preparation for another Chinatown Crawl, I want to sort the business names in a manageable fashion. The following businesses are currently the occupants at Jusgo Plaza 百佳廣場 in Chinatown.

Businesses at Jusgo Plaza

Jusgo Plaza and Metropole Center are separated by a thin strip of cement. The roof tiles are similar. There isn't an official sign for Jusgo Plaza. Oh well.

# Business Name Formerly
9288 Mandalay Dental

9284 Thanh Noi Sandwich Shop

Jusgo Supermarket 百佳超市

Lucky Dragon 新龍圖飯店
Lai Lai Dumpling House 來來餃子館

Xin Jiang BBQ 新疆燒烤

Eastern Foot Massage 東方足浴

Olympic Chinese Bakery 世運餅家

Szechuan House 老成都


Star Snow Ice 明星冰谷