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Laundry On Sundaes

Every beginning is only a sequel, after all, and the book of events is always open halfway through.

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I didn’t think anybody still read this blog, but more than once over the past year I’ve learned that some D1 at UCSF knows me from here. So I feel some kind of professional obligation to at least update it with some dental school insights. I remember as a pre-dent who used to follow several blogs by dental students, I would get frustrated that their posts would become increasingly sparse over time. Now I understand how hard it is to find the time and energy to do ANYTHING, much less keep up with a blog, when you’re in clinic.

The transition into my clinical years of dental school was not an easy one. In fact, it was probably one of the hardest times I’ve ever had to go through in life so far. I shared my thoughts about this in a lengthy Facebook post earlier this year, which was met with tremendous support. I will share it here:

“As I’m about to began my final year of dental school, I want to share something about my experience with clinic this past year. This message is especially for the incoming D3’s who are about to enter clinic. Some of you will be instantly awesome at clinic, and some of you will struggle. I was one of those who struggled last year, and I struggled hard. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was doing poorly in school. More than that, for the first time in my life, I was not enjoying school. What happened? I wondered to myself. I loved the first 2 years of dental school and felt like I was prepared, but now that I was in clinic, everything felt 100 times harder. The amount of paperwork and administrative stuff was overwhelming, and I felt like for the first time, the amount of success I was getting was not directly correlated with the amount of effort I put in. I look around and see a lot of my classmates excelling, some already doing their third crown and 7th filling when I was still struggling to get patients in my chair. I hear them tell me how much they loved clinic, how much better it was than simlab, but I could not relate at all. I wished so desperately that I felt the same way, but I didn’t. I woke up every day dreading the thought of having to get out of bed to go to clinic. I had so much anxiety about everything clinic-related. I felt overwhelmed all the time. I lost count of the number of times I cried. I began to seriously doubt my decision to go into dentistry, then felt immense guilt over the thought because I, and more importantly, my family and loved ones, have already invested so much time, energy, and money to get me this far. Just weeks ago I was presented with an award at our clinic induction ceremony, and now I felt like a fraud, like any day now they are going to realize that they’ve made a terrible mistake. Things got so bad that I even sought professional help. Over time though, things started to get better, slowly. Fall quarter was still hard, and it wasn’t really until winter that I finally started feeling more comfortable in clinic. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely still tough days (see my post about my last day of D3 as an example), but now things are so much better than they were a year ago. And from speaking with classmates over the past year, I now know that I wasn’t the only one who had felt this way at the beginning of clinic. But we so often only share stories of our successes and don’t hear about the struggles. So I want to put this out there for all the D3’s: if you ever feel any of the feelings I described above, you’re not alone. It’s completely normal. Don’t give up. If you don’t immediately fall in love with clinic, it doesn’t make you any less of a great future dentist. The transition to clinic is not easy for everyone, and it’s ok to struggle. If you do find yourself struggling, please talk to someone, a classmate, a friend, a family member, a mental health professional. And I will be more than happy to listen too, so feel free to reach out any time. And remember, as you begin to take care of patients, to take care of yourself. We’re all in this together.”

So many of my classmates told me that they felt the same emotions and went through the same struggles as me. So many of the incoming D3’s told me how thankful they were for publicly sharing my thoughts. The truth is, dental school is really, really hard. Caring for patients is an enormous responsibility. It’s completely okay, even normal, to struggle through this transition. But it is also true that I sometimes felt very alone in my struggles last year. That’s part of why I shared my experience, so that others can feel less alone. Mental health is so important, especially for health professional students, and the more candid conversations we can have about it, the better things will be for everyone.

Despite my initial struggles in clinic, third year of dental school was also full of rewards. So moving on to happier things, here are some of the highlights of D3 year in photos!

My clinic partner Kathleen and I at our clinic induction ceremony! We might be smiling but I was definitely internally panicking about actually having to treat patients. It’s so important to have a good support system in dental school and I’m so fortunate to have an amazing clinic partner by my side!

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My big and beautiful Delta Sigma Delta family at the initiation dinner last year:

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Once again, support system!

Me and my wonderful D2 assistant Wendy at Give Kids a Smile Day this year:

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Joining ADEA (American Dental Education Association) at UCSF and exploring my interest in academia is one of the best decisions I made in dental school. This year, I went to the ADEA Annual Session in Denver with a large group of UCSF students and faculty. Here are some lovely members of the UCSF student delegation:

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I also participated in the ADEA Academic Dental Careers Fellowship Program this past year, and as a part of it I conducted a research project on dental students’ perceptions of and satisfaction with faculty diversity. Here I am presenting my research poster with my incredible mentor, Dr. Gwen Essex:

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I was also honored to receive one of two ADEA/Crest Oral-B Laboratories Scholarship for Predoctoral Dental Students Pursuing Academic Careers:

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I’m so glad for the opportunity to attend the conference this year, which left me feeling inspired and grateful and made me realize 2 things: 1) that dentistry is so much bigger than what you experience at your dental school, and 2) we truly are surrounded by the most brilliant and supportive faculty and students at UCSF. A word of advice to all dental students out there, if you ever have the chance to attend meetings and conferences on a national/international level, do it. There are so many opportunities out there: ADEA, ASDA, AADR/IADR, etc. Don’t worry about missing classes or clinic or exams, those things will seem so inconsequential in the future. But the experiences you gain, the people you meet, and the things you learn at these meetings will stay with you for far longer.

Here’s a photo of some of my wonderful classmates in my clinic coaching group, with our coach Dr. Shek:

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I feel so lucky to be in my coaching group. Everyone in my group is so nice and helpful and supportive and funny that it’s one of the things that make me look forward to coming to clinic every day.

I had the privilege to attend the annual UCSF Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU) convocation dinner again this year as a scholarship recipient. Here I am with my Delts big sib Jenny, who has been a role model and inspiration for me since day 1:

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And with my amazing classmates/fellow scholarship recipients:

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And lastly, I volunteered for and attended the class of 2016 graduation this past June. It was my first time attending dental school graduation, and I got strangely emotional (right when pomp and circumstance started playing and the grads walked in). I think was partly because I got to see that all the hard work finally paying off, and also because – gasp – this will be me next year. Here I am with Matt, Delts fam and maker of the most wonderful review notes that I would not have been able to survive dental school without, and his adorable baby daughter.

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As I’m writing this, there are 266 days left until my own graduation. Still a lot to accomplish before the big day, but onward and upward!

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I seriously LOVE living in the Bay Area – there’s just so much to do here no matter what you’re into! Here I’ll be sharing some of the fun stuff we did last fall and winter.

Treasure Island Flea Market

A fun place to check out local artisans and grab some food at food trucks! It’s held on the last weekend of every month and entry is $3.

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Cat Town Cafe

A cat cafe in America?! I knew I had to go when I first found out this place was opening in Oakland. The place is pretty small and we needed reservations when we went last year. There’s a cafe area where you can buy drinks and snacks, and a separate play room with the kitties. A must visit for cat lovers!

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Twitter Holiday Party at the Exploratorium

We had been to the old Exploratorium back when it was still at the Palace of Fine Arts, but last year’s Twitter holiday party was held at their new location at Pier 15, so it was the perfect chance to go check it out!

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All the exhibits were open but we didn’t have time to hit up everything with so many people there. Plus, there were delicious food to be had and drinks to be drunk, even ones made by the robot bartender:

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Will have to revisit some day soon!

Sonoma Coast State Park

I am absolutely in love with the California coast, and there’s no better place to see it in all its glory than this gorgeous park! Plenty of trails and beaches along a long stretch of the coast line.

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Devil’s Slide

Another place to admire the beautiful Cali coastline! This one is very close to SF and is an urban “hike” along a stretch of highway that’s no longer in use. Pretty cool place to check out!

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There’s also this cool abandoned bunker at the south end of the trail:

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Calistoga

We went on a relaxing weekend trip to Calistoga last winter. We stayed at the Roman Spa Hot Springs Resort, which had several indoor and outdoor hot springs. We also paid for a couple’s mud bath that was very interesting! A fun way to rejuvenate.

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We also visited a couple of wine tasting rooms, my favorite of which is the tasting room for Romeo Vineyards. The lovely garden setting filled with lights made for a very cozy and romantic evening!

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We also went hiking at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park on this trip. There are some really nice trails and we hiked for 6 miles!

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On the drive home, we couldn’t help it but stop and enjoy these gorgeous yellow flowers all along the road! Napa Valley is such a dreamy place.

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Cartoon Art Museum

A fun little museum in SF! We had a Groupon or some other voucher for it so we went to check it out. I had actually been there once when I was visiting SF back in 2011, but they have different exhibits all the time so it was a whole new experience.

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Sausalito

We went to Sausalito for brunch one morning and took a stroll to see the houseboats! Very quaint and charming.

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I feel like I still haven’t really explored Sausalito very much (seems like we only ever stop there for food haha) so I would like to come back and explore the city some more some day!

Grizzly Peak

Gosh, this is such a magical place. Located in the Berkeley Hills, it offers a beautiful view of the Bay Area. It was cloudy in SF when we went, but you could see the tops of the buildings just peaking out from under the cloud covers, which made it look like the city was floating. I would absolutely love to go back when it’s clear, or to watch the sunset!

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Hopefully this gives you some ideas for things to do in the wonderful Bay Area! There will be more posts like this coming soon because like I said, there’s no shortage of fun here!

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Slowly but surely, I’m catching up on blogging! Here’s another restaurant review summary for this past winter.

We took a weekend trip to Healdsburg at the beginning of the year and ate at Spoonbar. Delicious way to start 2015! The chicken wing appetizer:

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Pork tenderloin and riblet:

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Next up we have Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant. We discovered this Muslim Chinese place a while ago and it has since become a favorite spot for us. Super authentic and amazing food! The beef pancake and cumin lamb are some of our favorites:

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The crack fish was on point too! Covered in a thick layer of chili oil:

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We also tried their hot pot recently and it was fantastic as well. If you’re looking for authentic northern Chinese cuisine this is the place to go!

For this year’s Restaurant Week, we hit up 2 places. First we had lunch at Spruce. I really liked the space that the restaurant is in! Reminded me of a lot of places back in New York. Food was great and service very attentive. Pork loins:

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Scallops with ham and broccoli Romanesco:

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For our Restaurant Week dinner we chose Isa, a French restaurant in the Marina. Salmon carpaccio appetizer:

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My duck breast entree was fabulous:

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the food was great but we were not too happy with the service. We waited forever for our food and had to ask about our orders multiple times. They also did not discount our glasses of wine on the initial cheque even though we ordered them before the cutoff time. All of this made us think that they simply forgot to put in our order until we checked with them much later. Kind of put a damper on a otherwise great meal.

Next we have the Fly Trap, a Persian restaurant recommended by a Persian classmate of mine. We had a mini Columbia reunion here back in February. The food was all wonderful but sadly the only thing I managed to take a photo of was the baklava:

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Another ramen joint! We had wanted to go to Ramen Dojo but it was closed that day so we decided to go Himawari instead. It was pretty good!

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Lastly, Statebird Provisions! Yufei had been here before but I hadn’t, but I had actually unknowingly walked past it countless times going to and from my dentist! There’s no sign or anything on the outside so the only way you’ll know it’s there is the line that starts forming 2 hours before the doors even open, since reservations are notoriously difficult to obtain. We arrived about an hour before they opened and were still seated in the first batch they let in. The definitely food lived up to expectations and the dimsum ordering/serving style was fun. One of my favorite dishes of the night was this pork belly citrus salad:

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The desserts were great also – ice cream sandwiched and white chocolate parfait:

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Their menu changes all the time so I definitely want to return someday! If only it wasn’t so hard to get a seat there!

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Alright, some of these restaurants deserve their own posts but since it’s been so long since I’ve posted restaurant reviews, I really need to catch up and I’ve unfortunately forgotten a lot of the details from some meals, so I’ll be doing a bunch of summary posts on all the restaurants I haven’t written about yet.

First up is the one Michelin star Japanese restaurant Maruya, which we went to for our 6-year anniversary last fall. We had the Omakase (first time doing omakase!) and it was amazing. All the seafood was incredibly fresh and perfectly seasoned, and they even gave us a complimentary dessert at the end of the meal.

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Next we have one of the many ramen restaurants we’ve been going to over the past few months, Santa Ramen in San Mateo. There’s usually a wait out the door for dinner, but we’ve never had to wait more than 30 minutes (though they do run out of certain broths sometimes). Yufei likes their spicy miso broth:

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While I prefer the black garlic and tonkotsu broth:

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It’s a pretty good ramen spot, the noodles and nice and chewy and the broths are always rich and flavorful. If only it wasn’t so far away!

Alright, back to another one Michelin star restaurant, Coi. We went there for my 25th birthday dinner last year.

Sturgeon caviar with smoked egg yolk and creme fraiche, one of my favorite courses of the meal:

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Fried oyster for me and cucumber for Yufei (he called it the best piece of cucumber he’s ever had) on cracked wheat, tabouleh, fermented chile, and rau ram:

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Coconut mochi bun with kiwi and shiso:

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It was a good meal overall, but for the price it was a bit underwhelming and not all too memorable. I think there are definitely better meals out there in SF for the same (or less) money. Such as the nest restaurant on the list – the one Michelin starred Aziza (it was a good fall). It’s an innovative Moroccan restaurant in the Richmond. We went there on a random Friday night and had the tasting menu and I was blown away. I can’t remember everything we ate but honestly every course tasted amazing. The food was creative and the flavors were incredible. The presentation was beautiful for every course and the service was great as well.

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This was one of the coolest things I ever ate – a soup (?) encased in a gelatinous membrane. It’s literally a burst of flavor when you put it in your mouth! So innovative.

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It turned out to be one of the best meals I’ve ever had and I would love to go back some day!

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Finally have a bit of a lull in D2 year! I have a lot to catch up on on the blog. First I’d like to a quick food summary for the later half of the summer.

1. 5A5 Steak Lounge

Yufei and I went here for dinner after I took my boards! They were running a prime rib dinner special at the time, where for $39 you get a soup and salad, a 10 oz. prime rib, and a side. Really great deal and excellent food!

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We also chose to get desert, which was great as well.

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2. Hakkasan SF

Yufei wanted to come back here for his birthday dinner and I happyily obliged. We tried their Pipa duck which was really good, but I wished that the serving was larger.

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I also got their selection of house made macarons for dessert. It came with 7 different ones! Enough for dessert and breakfast the next day (don’t judge me for eating macarons for breakfast).

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3. Shabusen

We were in Japantown and came across this place when looking for a place to eat dinner. It was just okay in terms of food and service. For shabu shabu I still prefer Nabe, which luckily is 2 blocks from where we live.

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4. Isla Restaurant

Technically it’s in San Bruno, but it’s the first Filipino restaurant I’ve been to (and won’t be the last!). Food was really good with generous serving sizes.

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We were really full already but had to get a halo halo for dessert!

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5. Outerlands

Been wanting to go to this Outer Sunset brunch spot for a while now, and we finally dropped by after a morning run to the beach. As expected, there was quite a long wait. But the food was on-point and I really liked the decor of the place.

Levain toast:
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Yufei’s dish… some kind of egg dish with rice and pork:

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Savory Dutch pancake:

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They ran out of the eggs-in-jail by the time we were seated, so I’d have to go back and try that!

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Can’t believe my super long summer is almost ending! I’m frantically trying to finish up my summer research project, submit the abstract and finalize my poster… because next Friday Yufei and I are leaving for a week in Iceland! It’ll be my last big summer adventure and I’m so beyond excited for it.

Some other news since last time… I passed boards! I started to get really worried when everyone who took it the same day as me (or even after) started getting results in the mail and I was still waiting, and I called them and found out that it must have gotten lost in the mail. So they had to re-send it and I finally got it 5 weeks after my exam. I felt pretty good about it afterwards so I wasn’t too worried about passing, but the wait was agonizing! It would have been so nice if we got instant results like the DAT (man that was so great). But now that it’s done, I can relax a bit and enjoy my D2 year (supposedly the most chill year at UCSF according to upperclassmen).

We celebrated Yufei’s 24th birthday last month! We had dinner at Hakkasan and then drinks with friends at Local Edition. One of the presents I got him was this scratch map where you scratch off places you’ve travelled to. Since we love traveling together I thought this would be a good way to track where we’ve been together.

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Really puts into perspective how much of the world there is left to see!

What else… we went to the annual Twitter picnic last month. It was such a gorgeous day, and since we don’t get many of those in the summer months in SF, I of course didn’t use sunscreen and got burnt.

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Afterwards we went to check out the Wave Organ, which was nearby.

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There was even this nice little stretch of beach facing the city!

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I also got my first haircut since my perm last year. I went back to Betty at Sally’s Salon since I really trust her. She got rid of my dead ends and got some layers in there, and I asked for side swept bangs. My hair now feels much lighter even though it’s still long. I’ve been putting it up in a ponytail more often since it’s not as heavy and the bangs frame my face nicely.

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That’s about it for now. Some upcoming posts to look forward to include a summer restaurant summary, my recent baking adventures, and LA trip!

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Yufei and I had dinner at Firefly back in July. It’s in a neighborhood we don’t go to often, but I needed to pick up the ceramics Jenny and I painted from the studio, so we met up for dinner there.

Complimentary bread with bean spread, very unusual.

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Yufei’s appetizer, a sweet a delicious corn chowder.

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My appetizer of shrimp and scallop potstickers. They were pretty good, but I still find it strange that western restaurants have Asian dishes for appetizer (spring rolls, etc.).

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Fried chicken entree for Yufei. It was a pretty big serving so he only ate half and saved the other half for my lunch the next day.

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My entree of sea bass. It was just okay, a bit bland and under-seasoned. I wished it had a more flavorful sauce.

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Cute little frosted jar on each table.

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Desserts: chocolate crepes and peach tart. They were both really good, a nice note to end the meal.

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Overall the food at Firefly was just average, with the soup and the desserts being the highlight. The service was nice though; they had forgotten Yufei’s beer order and comped it after we reminded them. Probably won’t go back unless we’re in the area again.

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