Get Your Free Shake Shack Burger // bargain

Free Shake Shack burger // It's Jou Life blog

Photo courtesy of Shake Shack

National Burger Month may be in May, but we’re celebrating early with a free Shake Shack burger! In honor of their mobile ordering Shack App for iOS, Shake Shack is giving away a free single ShackBurger to each guest who downloads the new ShackApp, redeemable at any U.S. Shack (‘cept airports, stadiums and ballparks) until Tuesday, February 28, 2017.

How to get a free Shake Shack burger

Download the Shack App, create an account and use the promo code “shackappy” at checkout. This promo is only for the ShackBurger. You must order through your mobile app, select location and pickup time, enter the promo code, and pick up at the location. For more deets, head to

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DIY / lifestyle blog got a makeover!

It’s Jou Life | a DIY / lifestyle blog—musing about natural, healthy, artisanal living, and everything in between.

Join our mailing list by entering your email (top right column section) and receive an email each time we post!

Friends of Ours.

Hello, and welcome to It’s Jou Life! We’re Wayne and Jennifer, a (relatively) newly wed couple who found love in the most unexpecting place. This is our DIY / lifestyle blog—musing about natural, healthy, artisanal living, and everything in between.

We started this blog because our family and friends always ask us how we grow our own organic vegetables, what is Wayne woodworking on now, to send over our miso black cod recipe, what snacks stock our pantry, a tutorial on that cute zippered pouch, tips for marathon running, where do we worship, what to bring for a camping trip, what’s Jennifer’s skincare regimen… you get the idea. This is our way to share life’s loves.

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How to become yelp elite + stay elite // tips



My Motto: Camera Eats First. I consistently stuff food photos in my honest Yelp reviews and on the growl for eclectic events and delectable dishes. I Yelp to give back, to try the hippest or hole-in-the wall establishment and to meet vibrant people.

When I started Yelping back in the end of 2010 it was to give back to the Yelp community since I always referenced the app for new discoveries. It wasn’t until my good friends became Yelp Elite and told me about this secret society (but totally accessible for influencers willing to put in the effort!). I continued to be diligent with my reviews and received my first Elite badge within three months.

Now going six years strong as an Elite (and Elite Gold), being Yelp Elite goes beyond fancy invitations to exclusive free events at restaurants and complimentary tickets to the hottest shows in town—it’s the sense of community and deeper love for the city I live in. I’ve met one of my good friends at an Elite event, discovered favorite dining establishments and opportunities to explore beautiful Los Angeles.

This is how I became Yelp Elite within three months and stayed Elite for six years.

Create a Yelp profile with accurate information. To qualify to become a Yelp Elite, you must post a clear face photo of yourself and use your real first and last name (it’ll display as your first name and last name initial). You’ll be asked fun questions about yourself, so be real and genuine.

Download the Yelp app to your smart phone. This is for convenience so you can browse easily, check-in at places, write tips and directly upload photos from your phone to the business. Convenience helps me interact and I even write reviews directly in the Yelp app! Check-in at places also has its perks. Some establishments offer discounts and free items when you check-in. Also you can become the Duke or Duchess when you’re the top person checked in at that place.

Write honest and candid reviews you’d want to read.

What do you look for when reading other people’s reviews? This will help structure and focus your review to be useful for others.

Be descriptive, but not lengthy. Choose your words wisely. I’m sometimes guilty of writing lengthy reviews (such a hassle to scroll down forever to read on the phone), but lately I’ve been more mindful to include the most important information in the first couple paragraphs and then go into detail. Readers can decide to read further if they want more information.

Build credibility with your readers. If you make a bold statement, be prepared to back it up. Take writing reviews seriously. Sometimes a 1 star review and description of “parking was hard to find” doesn’t validate the rating. If you give a low rating, provide a valid reason.

Take photos of your food and ambience of the business. I love taking photos. Camera eats first! Photos help people make better decisions that align with their expectations. I’m a visual person and prefer to know what I’m getting, especially if it’s something I haven’t tried or someplace I haven’t been before. (Eg. Taking photos of the buffet selection or inside of a gym and its equipment)

Avoid using a Yelp review to hide behind your complaining words. If you aren’t satisfied with service or food, take the time to talk to your server or the manager, in person. This is always the best way to resolve issues. It helps improve the business, and in turn, provide a better experience for others.

Quantity vs Quality. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think it’s about how many reviews or how many friends you have on Yelp that makes you Elite. I became Yelp Elite with around 60 reviews, but I spent time and effort on each of them. I was descriptive and honest with my reviews, posted photos of what I ate, got creative with some of them (wrote a haiku about a favorite ramen shop) and added bonus tips like best places to park, whether the gym had towel service, etc.

Be active within the Yelp Community. Show some love to others! Whenever I enjoy reading a helpful or funny review, I always click the “Useful, Funny or Cool” buttons below the review and send a Compliment to the reviewer.

Keep in mind every year status is up for review, so no slacking! If you found this helpful, please comment below and add me as a friend on Yelp, referencing this post!

My Yelp page //

{ jou eats } the honor bar

The Honor Bar review via it's jou life blog Honor Bar review via it's jou life blog Honor Bar review via it's jou life blog

Three dishes that will win you over: Ding’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Honor Burger, side of Hand-Cut French Fries.

The Honor Bar is the epitome of upscale casual dining. The environment is warm & inviting, drinks are old-fashioned & classy, service is sweet & friendly and the food is delicious & ohhhh-so-comforting. The menu is a modern take on classic American cuisine.

Their Hand-Cut French Fries ($3) are a must order. Some have a control item that is ordered to compare businesses. Mine is fries for classic American restaurants and this is a winner. Delivered fresh, warm and crispy, these hand-cut Kennebec potatoes are beautifully wrapped in paper and served with ketchup and aioli. Once you start, you can’t stop. Keep these to yourself or be generous and share with others. Heck, just order two for the table.

I’m always torn between ordering the Ding’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich ($12) and the Honor Burger ($12). It’s one of those things when you think you know which one you want, but you quickly change it to the other once it’s your turn to order. I, on the other hand quickly draft a pro & con list of each (in my head) and decide. Solution: come with a good friend, order both and SHARE. The chicken sandwich is truly a crispy chicken sandwich fully decked with premium ingredients–sliced tomato, swiss cheese and dressed kale. It’s certainly a beauty. The Honor Burger is equally delicious and packed thick–ground chuck, cheddar & tomato, topped with coleslaw. I had to unhinge my jaw to eat this tall guy. Always satisfied.

The Honor Bar is a top choice for a catch-up with old friends, a casual (but certainly to impress) date or grabbing drinks with coworkers. However, it’s not for large groups or birthday parties. There’s just no room for that. No reservations. No dessert menu. Come early and leave happy.

The Honor Bar // 122 S Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90212 // (310) 550-0292

{ jou eats } lukshon in culver city

chicken pops via it's jou life - eggplant via it's jou life - dan noodles via it's jou life - pork ribs via it's jou life -

Lukshon reinvents the dining cuisine “Asian Fusion.” Lukshon delicately and tastefully infuses the tastes I love from Southeast Asian cuisine with modern American dishes.

Wayne and I were first hooked when we came for dinner during dineLA. Heart it so much that another time I dined both lunch and dinner in the same day! Over the years we’ve seen Lukshon on the dineLA list and–it certainly fed to impress!

Lukshon plates are a mixture of small and large plates and served family style.

We’ve come for lunch and dinner–here are some of our favorites:
– Tea Leaf Salad – loved the flavor, texture and ingredients in this salad! Slivers of crisp cabbage, the crunch of toasted marcona almonds, peanuts and chana dal peas–I couldn’t put my chopsticks down! I shoved it into my mouth.
– Crispy Soft Shell Crab – I’m happiest eating fried foods, crispy soft shell crab especially. It was served with some sambal kecang (peanut sauce) and corn.
– Spicy Chicken Pops – what’s more fun than eating food on a stick? These chicken pops were beautiful. The meat was sliced and peeled back from the bone to create a lollipop-like look. These drumettes were tastefully covered in garlic, kecap manis (Indonesia sweet soy sauce) and spicy sichuan salt.
– Chinese Eggplant – thick cuts of eggplant “fries” paired with fennel raita and tomato sambal. It’s creamy and flavorful.
– Dan Dan Noodles – a spicy dry noodles dish! Perfectly cooked noodles topped with a mixture of ground kurobuta pork, sesame, preserved mustard greens, Sichuan peppercorns and peanuts. Mix this baby together and it’s a guarantee flavor fest of spicy goodness.
– Steamed Black Cod – a hearty cod fillet in a spicy citrus broth.
– Kurobuta pork ribs – Finger-licking good status. Pork ribs flavored with spicy chicory coffee bbq sauce.

Service was attentive and professional. My eyes lit up when she said a dessert trio was included with our meal. Dessert to my ears!

The restaurant space is unique–the outdoor, fire-lit patio to the slanted doors to the Asian-inspired bathroom.

Lukshon (3239 Helms Ave., Culver City, CA 90232 | (310) 202-6808). Located in Culver City along Helms Ave. btwn Venice and Washington Blvd.

{ jou eats } santouka ramen in west la

santouka ramen, west la via it's jou life - Haiku dedicated to a favorite West LA noodle shop.

Title: Santouka Ramen
– – –
Rich hearty pork broth
My version of comfort food
Noodles go slurp, slurp.
– – –

I’m lazy when it comes to making Tonkatsu broth ramen. I’ve actually never tried.

The ramen chefs have much more patience than me when it comes to making soups. It’s an epic process (20 hours!!!) to make their delicious mild, pearl-colored Tonkatsu soup. Something about simmering the pork bones before adding their vegetables, dried fish, kelp and other special ingredients.

Living in West LA, Santouka is the next best thing to Daikokuya in Downtown LA, Hakata in the South Bay and Tsujita in Little Osaka. An affordable place where I am happy to shell $10 for a full meal set. It’s located in the Mitsuwa Japanese grocery market and makes it convenient to shop for Asian groceries and grab a quick-style meal. This is a Cash Only place.

I usually get the Shio Ramen, which comes with pickled plum, noodles, bamboo shoots, jelly fungus (mushroom?) and cha-shu. The cha-shu may be on the fatty side and the soup may be on the oilier side, but it unarguably makes it tastier.

Slurp away !!!

Santouka (3760 S Centinela Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90066) (310) 391-1101. Located in Mitsuwa market, along Centinela x Venice Blvd.

{ jou eats } mochi cream in torrance

The hunt is over.

Finally found Mochi Cream in So Cal! I first had Mochi Cream from a friend that purchased these delights in SF and I’ve been searching for them ever since. This Mochi Cream store is located in the Torrance Mitsuwa Japanese market. I’ve always been a fan these Japanese sticky rice delights. Traditionally, they are made of mochi rice and pounded into a paste and molded into various shapes, usually round. It became mainstream in the American market with mochi ice cream.

Back to Mochi Cream… these little guys are imported frozen from Japan and have excellent texture, taste and flavors. It takes about 15 minutes to thaw out and is ready to consume. They are $1.80 each and come in dozens of flavors like Sakura, Red Bean, Green Tea, Double Mango Cream, Mocha, Black Sesame, among others.

My favorites:
{ Double Mango Cream } Mango-flavored mochi filled with mango concentrate and cream. This left me wanting more.
{ Black Sesame } Black sesame-infused mochi filled with black sesame paste and cream.
{ Green Tea } Green tea flavored mochi filled with green tea paste and cream, all coated in matcha green tea powder. A bit messy because the powder tends to blow everywhere, but delicious!

I saw they also had donut shaped ones in the display case! I’ll have to make another trip out to Torrance…

Mochi Cream Torrance (21515 Western Ave., Torrance, CA 90501). Located in the Mitsuwa Japanese market.mochi cream

{ photo: jennifer’s iPhone }

{ jou eats } tender greens, santa monica

I’ve been a fan since its original West LA location in Culver City and this Santa Monica TG is the bee’s knees. Not only is it blocks away from Santa Monica beach and 3rd Street Promenade, this location is bright, clean and has a LA-worthy outdoor seating patio.

The Happy Vegan – makes a Happy Tummy out of me. The salad has even sparked a LA Times recipe article and a cult following for health-conscious eaters. (I’ll link the recipe link below) It has fresh, leafy romaine greens surrounded by mounds of their signature quad mini salads (Farro Wheat Salad with cranberry & hazelnuts, Bulgar Wheat Tabbouleh salad, Quinoa Salad with cucumber & beets and Green Hummus). Be Daring! Try making the Happy Vegan recipe.

Roasted Veggies – Perfectly roasted Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mushrooms, and carrots.
Rustic Chicken Soup – delicious and comforting chicken soup filled with chunks of potato, carrot, celery, leeks and thyme.

This is always my go-to dining spot when I’m near 3rd Street Promenade. Come on a sunny day, sit in the outdoor patio area and enjoy the weather and deliciously healthy food.

tender greens' happy vegan. favorite! via greens' rustic chicken soup via food art ! via