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A community of food bloggers and food lovers Bringing you the best of Orange County.



Updated: 2017-12-12T02:35:01.714-08:00

 



Cedar Creek Inn

2009-10-10T18:25:26.041-07:00

Came here for dinner during Restaurant Week. They have both a $20 and $30 menu to choose from. The starters and dessert were the same, but the price difference depended on the main course ordered.

The Baby Iceberg Wedge salad, was more of a deconstructed Cobb salad, rather than the classic Wedge salad, but I wasn't complaining. Two baby halves of iceberg lettuce, came with chopped egg, applewood smoked back, grape tomatoes and blue cheese. All ingredients combined well and was not over dressed.

The Surf & Turf was a bacon wrapped petite filet mignon, which was a little dry, but the bacon made up for it. The lobster tail was 6 oz. and was served with drawn butter. A side of veggies finished off the entree.

The Coconut Supreme Cake is their signature dessert. A large slice of white cake with a coconut frosting (tasted like their was a little bit of cream cheese in the frosting ) and coconut flakes, came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The cake was a rather large slice, and was moist, tender and flavorful.

This was a very good value for the price. I would definitely head back here the next time restaurant week rolls around.



Rumbi Island Grill

2009-09-17T12:20:16.508-07:00

Rumbi Island Grill
24000 Alicia Parkway Blvd #23
Mission Viejo
The Gateway Center
(949) 206-1002
(949) 206-1158 FAX
Official Site


From time to time I have to reemphasize that I don't eat just Mexican food. I recently went on opening day (although a grand opening will take place on Monday, September 21 - read the Fast food Maven blog to find out about free food on Monday) to Rumbi Island Grill in Mission Viejo, a chain I had visited two locations of a handful of times while in Utah about three years ago.


Rumbi is mostly though not strictly Hawaiian. It also has some Caribbean and Asian and a touch of Mexican influence thrown in. I have described it elsewhere as a Hawaiian Pei Wei and that seems to be a good general description.




On Monday's visit I tried the Hawaiian Teriyaki bowl with chicken. Basically you pick the kind of meat you want and then the way you want it served. I got a half-sized bowl and along with the tortilla soup (yeah, I threw one of their two Mexican items in) was plenty for my lunch. As with my out-of-state Rumbi visits I am struck with how fresh everything is. For those who are used to ordering all their dressings and sauces on the side, well, it comes that way here automatically. Robustly flavored teriyaki glaze paired with white and black sesame seeds top off this bowl nicely. You can have it served over white rice, brown rice, Rumbi rice (I think it's white rice with red beans), or noodles (noodles are an extra 79 cents). For those who like to get half sweet potato fries and half regular fries at The Counter be aware that Rumbi fries already come that way.


Click here or any photo in this entry to be taken to the complete (14 photos) photo album at flickr.

Looking forward to their other OC locations opening up...



China Garden changing ownership

2009-05-20T14:11:30.221-07:00

We just ate there for dimsum lunch today, and noticed a sign in the windows indicating that the new owner will be "VIP Seafood Restaurants, Inc." Sorry to see the ownership change! Even with the splashier Capital Seafood opening up recently, China Garden was still my go-to place for dishes like geoduck and peking duck (no relation).

I guess the writing was on the wall, with the smaller crowds, and the new 10% discounts to try to entice diners. And it's not like the business is out of business, yet. Hopefully VIP Seafood Restaurants is the same entity that owns VIP Harbor Seafood in West Los Angeles, a second floor eatery off Barrington and Wilshire, that was similarly serviceable, if not in the same league as the outposts throughout Monterey Park and Rowland Heights.

And hopefully they try competing on quality, rather than price. Irvine's Capital is certainly more vulnerable on the quality and authenticity score.



The Chippy

2009-05-09T15:59:38.869-07:00

The Chippy Fish & Chips
2222 Michelson Dr. #216
Irvine, CA 92612
(949) 833-2322

(image)
This is what you look for from Michelson

This is not a review per se but a quick augmentative followup to ElmoMonster's review of The Chippy on his Monster Munching site so go to his blog for the whole report. I read his report on Monday and since this place is close enough to where I live I headed there at dinner time and arrived at 6:23 only to find them closed even though they officially close at 6:30pm. Then I tried again on Tuesday, arriving at 5:42pm only to find them closed again. This was making my quest look more important to me than it was, but, hey, if it's close and they have good fish and chips why not give them a try?

(image)
The view walking into the food court

This morning I decided to play the early bird so I showed up for lunch at 11:30am and amazingly they were open. I told them about my prior two failures to try their food and they apologized and said sometimes business is slow after business hours (understandable considering they are in a food court whose main object is to feed lunch to hungry businesspeople). They said to just call ahead if it's near the end of the day and they will stay open if they know you are coming . . . as long as you still arrive before 6:30pm.

(image)
The most exciting picture ever

In short, this was a lot like the places I went to when I lived in Ireland, all of which were generically called, "the chippy." The owner here lived in England and brought his fish and chips knowledge back for us to enjoy. The only difference here is that this chippy didn't wrap their fish in several sheets of newspaper. Then again, the Belfast Telegraph is hard to come by in these parts.

(image)
My #4 one-fish, one-shrimp combo

ElmoMonster's writeup here.

UPDATE: Here's a picture of when I went back a couple weeks later and got some fish again and some hush puppies:




The Road to Lent (or one bloggers attempt to avoid meat)

2009-03-07T11:08:48.414-08:00

I have a resolution to attend church more. In an effort to stray away from being my self-proclaimed "Catholic-lite", I'm also partaking in Lent. In a New York minute, this means that for all Fridays between now and Easter (starting on and including Ash Wednesday) I will not consume meat. My definition of meat includes beef, pork, chicken, and most land animals. Protein-rich alternatives include seafood, eggs, nuts, and tofu.Seeing that steak and pork products are a few of my favorite things (cue Julie Andrews), this would not be easy. It's like in elementary school where you HAD to read the book and do a report on it. When it comes to food and my childhood, being told what I had to eat was frustrating. In an effort to help some fellow bloggers with the conundrum that is Lent, here are a few places I've tried in the last week.Signature Kitchen (South Coast Plaza) - Costa MesaI was here picking up some concert tickets, and decided to spend my pre-workout dinner in this new take on a food court. Three culinary tastes all under one roof. The best part is being able to order off any menu at the register.Local favorite Nancy Silverton features some fresh mozzarella sandwiches, grilled Gruyere, and a tuna melt panini. Her secret is the La Brea Bakery bread used. When in doubt, just go with the special: Any half sandwich/panini with a house salad or cup of soup for $6.95.East coast's Marcus Samuelsson showcases his love of all natural, black Angus burgers. There's also a mahi mahi sandwich, feta salad, and the only selection with french fries *and* sweets. Iron Chef Cat Cora has got her 'que on with fresh global options. Smoking hot vegetable soup, cheddar madeleines, BBQ shrimp, and the option of fire-roasted veggies and smoked mozzarella. There are not only fresh croutons and a drizzle of pesto in the soup bowl, but even more bread served alongside. It is here where I enjoy my soup with cheddar madeleines and include some natural, skin-on fries. The pesto was a delicious touch to my smoking hot bowl. I found this to be a great alternative to the other options on this side of South Coast.Rockin' Baja Coastal Cantina - Newport BeachDecided to check out their OC Restaurant Week dinner special. Four starters and four entrees to choose from (plus dessert) all for $20. Didn't even factor in the tortillas (I had two too many), honey chile butter, chips and trio of dipping options. Carb overload? Yes. Also added a bottomless Caesar for $3, which "serves 1-2".....however, we realized too late that we were charged twice.I began with Tequila Lime Shrimp. Now if I liked corn more, I probably would've ordered the lobster corn chowder instead. I couldn't tell if my shrimp was portioned specially for restaurant week, but it was kinda minuscule with three pieces. Flavor-wise, it was not bad. Red pepper, cilantro and garlic gave it a little kick. Round two were their Tacos del Patron - beer battered slipper lobster tails with avo, onion, tomato, cabbage and sauce wrapped in flour tortillas. There were also rice and ranchero beans (more filler!) To tell you the truth, I don't even remember the fried ice cream. Maybe I just gave up at that point?The man began with the Caesar and ended with Rocky's Original Big Baja Bucket (a non-practicing dinner companion). For about $25, he was very pleased with delivery of carne asada, grilled chicken, Baja shrimp and lobster tails. Only required utensils for his sides! How very Man vs. Food. There was something for everyone that night.The standby: The Veggie Grill at Irvine SpectrumCan I tell you how much I enjoy this place? Seriously, if I forget where I am and just concentrate on the food ~ it tastes like chicken (or carne asada, as I had last Friday). Add some sweet potato fries (which I've had heated debates about how they counter those at The Counter) and you're set. I was a little "meh" on the chili, but steamin' kale is a good option too. I vouch for any of the "chickin'" entrees. Their Revolu[...]



Top 10 Sushi Restaurants in South OC [Updated]

2010-03-26T16:58:47.756-07:00

In the interest of inciting controversy, here is the Top 10 Sushi Restaurants in South OC. We're talking strictly on the quality of the sushi. And indeed, this list is based on purely objective, scientific criteria, and the relative rankings are inviolate. ;-)However, if there is a restaurant missing, there is indeed the possibility that I haven't eaten there, although the likelier possibility is that it didn't make the cut. Sorry. [Update: And of course, thanks Zach for reminding me of a place that indeed was missing, but that I had eaten at. :-) ]Update April 1, 2009: Dropped Bluefin due to declining quality, moved Ayame up for inventive omakase.Update March 26, 2010: Dropped Ayame due to change in head chef. Added Ohshima in Orange.Sushi Wasabi, Tustin. The king of them all down here. Yes, the restaurant is inexplicably closed for weeks at a time around major holidays in an unpredictable fashion. Yes, the restaurant is inexplicably closed at lunch well before the the posted closing time. But the quality of the fish is outstanding. The best we've had by a significant margin. The blue crab hand roll is sublime, with the crunch of the nori and creamy, but not too creamy filling next to the warm and lightly vinegary sushi rice. Right now is apparently ankimo (monkfish liver) season, which makes it especially tasty. You also don't want to miss the Kumamoto oysters, tiny oysters perched on columns of salt, served with ponzu sauce. These are the only oysters I'll eat. "Tuna from Japan ... Oysters from Seattle ... Uni from Santa Barbara" I can hear their voices in my dreams, sometimes. Then I know it's time to eat. My review, Elmo's.Ikko, Costa Mesa. Funky interior, with a signature of Hideki Matsui inset in the wall with its own lighting. The menu is as long as it is incomprehensible. Let the itamae serve you until you're full or broke, whichever comes first. Imaginative sushi, and in the times we've eaten there, never a wrong note, never a stray bit of gristle, never an off taste.Sushi Murasaki, Santa Ana. Dark horse contender. A neighborhood sushi joint, almost looks like the current ownership took it over from a failed sushi restaurant before, and barely remade anything of the interior. Where they do spend time and attention is on the quality of the fish. Kind of like a Matsuhisa-lite, with a focus on special sauces for each fish, and an affinity for the blowtorch. Don't even bother filling your soy sauce plate if you order the omakase. :-)Shibucho, Costa Mesa. Value king. Amazing prices for the quality in a tiny little postage stamp sized restaurant. Maybe it seats 20. Usually less, with little "Reserved" placards on the tables often taking up two of the (three?) tables. Family business, Shibutani-san, his son, and his wife serving large slabs of fresh fish. If you sit at a table and ask for omakase, it comes on a large plate all at once. Sit at the bar for that if you can. My review, Elmo's.[Dropped from 3 to 5 on April 1] Bluefin, Newport Coast. Takashi Abe demonstrating that you just can't make the dishes without him. Namesake "Abe" didn't survive his departure Bluefin is a smaller space, furnished in a modern style with a sushi bar that literally glows from within. If only they'd spent a little more on sound baffling. The raging egos of the customers cause name-dropping, n-figure dollar conversations to crash like waves on a pier, making this not the space for intimate conversation. However, the originality of his creations, and the beauty of the presentation are a sight to behold. Would be ranked higher if not for occasional inconsistency in quality of the fish, ranging from sublime to merely "good" on occasion. For the prices, fear of the occasional "good" drops Bluefin a notch. Unfortunately, inconsistency is starting to look like a pattern of diminishing returns. My review, Elmo's.[Added Feb 16] Maki-Zushi, Tustin. Indeed I forgot this r[...]



Rockin' Crepes

2009-02-12T15:06:45.703-08:00

8943 Atlanta AveHuntington Beach, CA 92646(VONS Shopping Center)(714) 536-9100I don't eat crepes too often but I've been craving one since driving to Genki Living in Irvine and finding them closed down. But I never expected that my next crepe would come from a heavy metal-themed place.You don't have to like heavy metal to eat here but if you do it sure enhances the experience. On my first visit I was overwhelmed with the amount of choices. They've got about thirty different crepe choices and they are all named after heavy metal bands. Some are breakfast crepes and some are lunch or dinner crepes and some are dessert crepes but they are not broken out into separate sections on the menu. After much deliberation I finally picked the Pantera crepe:This crepe is like a pizza, filled with thin sliced pepperoni, provolone cheese and fresh tomatoes. Everything about this crepe was thin and I hear cooking experts say that thin things piled up tend to taste better than a couple big thick lumps of stuff and I tend to agree; something about increasing the surface area of the food to tantalize your taste buds. I imagine Dime Bag Darrell is enjoying a Pantera crepe right now . . . wherever he is.Each crepe comes with a side of fresh fruit or macaroni salad. Having a little room left in my stomach for another crepe to jump into I ordered a White Zombie crepe. You can see Brett here making it:You, too, can sit on one of the Mötley Crüe stoolsAnd here's the White Zombie crepe, filled with dark chocolate, thin sliced banana, and strawberry slivers. When I was done with this I felt "more human than a human."Having been open only about three months I was told that Rockin' Crepes has already had at least one celebrity visit by none other than C.C. DeVille, guitarist for Poison. Maybe they can start a Heavy Metal Walk of Fame outside their storefront, which I thought used to be where the Happy Burrito was but I was told it used to be a GameStop.On my second visit I had a load of friends (and even a couple relatives) along for the ride. Rhett couldn't wait to show off his Iron Maiden-inspired Less Than Jake shirt alongside the Eddie chair:The nutritional info is right on the wall on top of the Marshall stacksThey also have coffees, Italian sodas, tea, hot chocolate, and smoothies at Rockin' Crepes. Here's Scott with a Hendrix smoothie and Jake (not of "Less Than" fame) with a Testament smoothie:Oh, they also have several different fondue selections. Our group finished up with the White Lion fondue that came with graham crackers, bananas, Nilla wafers, strawberries, and marshmallows to dip into the hot white chocolate:My only question is: where's the Spinal Tap crepe?Whether or not you like heavy metal music Rockin' Crepes is worth checking out for their professionally made crepes, fresh ingredients and friendly staff.Click here for the complete photo album (32 photos) at flickr.[...]



Restaurant Weeks!

2009-01-14T16:31:33.577-08:00

Thanks to Sharon for reminding me of this one:

Newport Beach Restaurant Week from January 18th through the 22nd, featuring $15 or $20 lunch prix fixe menus, and $20 or $35 dinners, depending on restaurant participation.

Recently reviewed restaurants that are participating include:

Wilma's Patio
The Crow Bar & Kitchen

And thanks to Jamie for letting me know about this one:

Orange County Restaurant Week from February 22nd through the 28th, featuring $20, $30, or $40 prix fixe menus. There's a few overlaps, including Chart House, Bluewater Grill, The Crow Bar & Kitchen, and Zov's, in case you can't make it to all of your desired destinations during the first restaurant week!

Recently reviewed restaurants participating in OC Restaurant Week include:

Taps Fish House

Mark your calendars!



Wilma's Patio - on Balboa Island

2009-01-02T00:42:00.039-08:00

Pardon my French, but Holy Crap! I had the absolute best breakfast today at Wilma's Patio, located on Balboa Island (Newport Beach). Wilma's has been in business since the 70's and not much has changed since then. Pretty much all the same people still work there.

For breakfast I had the Pumpkin Hotcakes combo ($10.75), which included choice of egg and meat. I had bacon (what better way to ring in the New Year!) and scrambled eggs with my pancakes. Sorry for no pictures.

Eating the pancakes was a blissful experience. They were not overly sweet, and had an undercurrent of nutmeg in the finish. I happily slathered my 3 hotcakes with butter and syrup. At first I thought there was no way I could finish 3 hotcakes, then after I was almost done with everything, was wondering if I should have gotten a full order. But my jeans are glad I didn't.

* Note: Pumpkin pancakes are a seasonal dish that Wilma's only serves during the winter.

Wilma's Patio
(On Balboa Island)
203 Marine Ave
Newport Beach, California 92662
949-675-5542



the crow bar and kitchen - Corona del Mar

2008-11-02T10:50:07.155-08:00

One year, two dinners and a lunch later, and I'm finally getting around to writing something. Our most recent visit was last month. Let's start with a few basic pointers.Valet is cheap, but street parking is better. Walk off those calories you're about to ingest and do the extra block or two. Just don't park in that public lot belonging to Ruby's.It is not a quiet place. Don't even think for a second that you'll be able to hear the person across from you unless you plan on invading their personal space.Reservations are a must if you plan on dining. While I thought I spotted a communal table, it's just beyond the entrance. I don't like the wind disturbing my meal, much less having folks stare while I dine.Lastly, order something cheesy (sorry if you are lactose). They do a nice job of incorporating it in their menu. How often are you going to order dairy in a place like this? There's a daily grilled cheese special. Check it out.I began with arancini. It's listed as "(two) crispy risotto balls stuffed with fra'mani spicy sausage, aged provolone". Crispy + risotto were two things I automatically say 'yes' to, so in goes the order. Wow. Those were cojones. Share this unless you plan on making it three-quarters of your meal. A few chunks of meat are tucked away, kind of like sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves. I would order these again and again in the future. He ordered his favorite blue crab deviled eggs, served in their own custom dish. He doesn't find deviled eggs at very many joints, so this is always a treat for him. No complaints here.Note: Not eaten this time around, but ordered previously, I really liked the bistro salad. Maybe it's the poached quail egg mingling with bacon, frisee and aged sherry vinegar? Either way it's a savory flavor combo.I couldn't decide between fish & chips or duck confit, so we ended up splitting three entrees (once you count the classic crow burger). The roasted fuji apples' sweetness could not save me from the sodium attack of maple leaf farm's duck. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy salt as much as the next person. I gave it three bites before I admitted defeat. Apparently, it's supposed to be like that. I don't ever remember a confit giving me such a reaction before. Maybe I'm getting old.As a replacement, I went for the grilled cheese: croque madame - aka - grilled ham and cheese with fried egg laid on top. It was like a breakfast sandwich, only better. Easily the best item we dined on that night. His house burger was pleasant as usual, as he munched the sweet potato fries first. Their (requested) ketchup is made in-house, so it was quite the unusual pairing of tangy and sweet flavors. Fish and chips were deceptively served to appear smaller than they are. Three modest pieces of white fish are tucked away and surrounded by shoestring fries. It was a deep fried frenzy on a platter, but their curried tartar gave it that needed layer of flavor.Note 2: We tried substituting duck fat fries with our meals, but were "politely declined", as all such requests are.The gastropub is compared to brasseries and izakaya establishments; A relaxed bar with upscale cuisine. While crow bar speaks of affordability and sustainable food supply, they shouldn't forget where they are. CDM is an affluent beach city happy to fork out $7.50 for sweet potato fries in a decibel driven atmosphere. They picked the right niche for their concept.Note 3: While I didn't even think about discussing the beer or wine selection, they do have a vast listing of both. I was happy with my draft root beer, but I'm here for the gastro experience.the crow bar and kitchen2325 E. Coast HighwayCorona del Mar 92625949.675.0070[...]



Charity Poker Tournament - Newport Beach, CA

2008-10-30T10:34:16.966-07:00

Charity Texas Hold 'Em Tournament!
REGISTRATION REQUIRED (Details below)
Sat. Nov 1 (12pm – 5pm)
Newport Beach Marriott
500 Bayview Circle, Newport Beach, CA 92660

Hello food fans! This is a cross-post from Chubbypanda.com. It's not really on-topic, but it's for a good cause. One of my friends is helping set up a huge charity poker tournament this Saturday from 12pm-5pm at the Bayview Marriott in Newport Beach. The buy-in is a $50 donation, which doubles as your entry fee. Food and snacks are provided, beer is available for sale. Big screen TVs will be showing the college football games so you won't miss a single minute of the action.

(image)


All the proceeds go to the Children’s Miracle Network and the American Cancer Association's Relay for Life. The winners can cash their chips in at the end for some fab prizes. Some of the prizes are:

  • Several weekend stays at some fantastic Marriott Hotel properties.

  • Different iPod models.

  • Fantastic wines.

  • More to be announced.


Plus, everyone wins the satisfaction of donating to two worthy causes and they get to have a great time playing poker.

(image)


Please register ASAP as remaining space is limited. To register, click on this link, which will take you to my friend's Relay for Life page. It is a completely secure site hosted by the American Cancer Society.

  1. Click on the Donate button just below "Welcome to Susie Hunnel's Personal Page".

  2. Select a gift amount. Your donation is your registration fee! $50 is the minimum, but feel free to donate more if you like.

  3. Select One-time gift for "gift type".

  4. Click the Calculate button.
  5. Click the Next button to go to the payment page.
  6. After you pay, print out the receipt page and bring a copy to the poker tournament on November 1. This is your registration confirmation. You will not be allowed entry without it.


If you have any questions, please post them here and I will forward them to the event organizers. There are some great charities that could really use our help. Hope to see some of you there!



Alice's Breakfast in the Park

2008-10-12T20:45:40.482-07:00

Alice's Breakfast in the Park6622 Lakeview DriveHuntington Beach, CA(714) 848-0690Official SiteWinner of OC Weekly's "Best Place to Eat a Cinnamon Roll and Feed Ducks . . . While It Lasts"In my public life I function as a mild-mannered, usually bespectacled, partially employed web developer of meager skills, modest enthusiasm, and heaps of good ol' down-home sincerity punctuated by bouts of binging on the good comida de Mexíco but in my secret life I lose the glasses, let a curly lock of hair drop down over my forehead, put on a superhero uniform with flashy colors and a wavy cape and fight for truth, justice, the American way and little mom and pop shops that are being threatened with closure by big meanie city councilmen.You see, the long-standing Alice's Breakfast in the Park on the west side of Huntington Beach's Central Park is being threatened by the Huntington Beach City Council with closure so they can make way for a new Irvine Spectrum or Cheesecake Factory or some other such corporate monstrosity. Read about the matter at the HB Independent's site.I've been sitting on these pictures for a while. My last visit there was actually in January but I feel like I better finally give this place a big mention. Don't let its name fool you too much because you can actually get lunch there too up until 2pm when it closes and the park returns from pretty quiet to really quiet.Situated in a rustic oasis amidst suburbia, Alice's lets you relax and enjoy some straight up, no nonsense American food outside with nature where you can let the waves of tranquility wash over you. Or, if you prefer to eat inside, you can check out the numerous arts and crafts on display. When I was there, and I got there shortly before they closed, I had a nice toasty club sandwich and some made-on-the-spot potato chips. Don't be surprised if a flock of ducks amble by while you eat (food for the ducks can be purchased inside). I'll be going back for the huevos rancheros sometime and they also have great cinnamon rolls among their other menu items.Show your support for Alice's by showing up for breakfast (or lunch) sometime soon. Just be sure to bring some good old-fashioned cash with you as they don't take credit cards. And be sure to feed the ducks while you're there.View the complete photo album at flickr.UPDATE (October 12, 2008): An article in the Register today gives some hope to Alice's situation.[...]



OC Weekly's Best of OC Bash on Oct. 9 at iLounge

2008-10-02T17:03:47.094-07:00

A short upcoming tidbit for y'all to nibble on; thanks to I Nom Things for heads-up about Best of OC Weekly's Party on Oct. 9, 7pm at iLounge in Irvine. Hors d'oeuvres and alchy will be provided along with live performances. FYI, there's a "strictly enforced" dress code of upscale-chic for this event.

I don't see an RSVP requirement and am assuming that it's free (no costs provided on the Web site), so plan and prepare appropriately...



Arnone's Little Italy - Orange

2008-08-27T20:43:27.188-07:00

Hello it's DanGarion from Eat In OC again with a new restaurant review. We go to the Target in the city of Orange a lot. And there have been a number of times I've contemplated going to the "hole in the wall" Italian place right next to it, but never did. Little did I know that Arnone's Little Italy isn't a hole in the wall after all. Arnone's is located in a small strip mall in the same parking lot as Target, the amazing thing is that Arnone's is actually huge inside; it's as big as some chain Italian restaurants. It even has a full bar! When we entered we were immediately greeted by one of the owners, who greeted us saying, "Ah there you are, we were waiting for you!". I got a kick out of the comment; I like people with a sense of humor. We were seated immediately since it was still early there weren't many people eating dinner yet. Our waitress arrived shortly after us seating and took our orders. Mrs. DanGarion ordered the Penne Arrabbiata ($12.95), while I ordered the Spaghetti with meatballs ($15.95), something I don't normally get when I'm out). Each meal also comes with your choice of soup or salad. I went for the cream of bell pepper soup, while the Mrs. had a salad with vinaigrette. Along with entrees we got an order of garlic bread ($3.00). The cream of bell pepper soup was pretty good. I'd never had such a soup in the past, and the closest soup I'd had to something like it was Campbell's Soup, Cream of Chicken Soup. But this soup was a lot better than that. It had a light taste of cream with just a hint of bell pepper. The only thing I would have changed in it was maybe for it to be a little thicker, but it had a good not overpowering flavor that got me ready for my meal course. Mrs. DanGarion's salad was just a normal dinner salad, made with mixed greens. The garlic bread was very basic, fresh sandwich bread cut and baked with garlic butter and parmiggiano cheese, it wasn't over done which was good. My spaghetti was very good, fresh tasting meat sauce with hints of basil along with 2 juicy meatballs that were just a little smaller then a pool ball. The servings are huge, hence the reason I took nearly half of the pasta home with me. The Penne Arrabbiata was made with a spicy tomato sauce also mixed with herbs and garlic. My wife liked it but thought it was a little spicy. I had a taste and the spicy tasted like a hint of red pepper flakes that would linger and then catch up with you as you swallowed. They also serve rolls which are freshly made, didn't get a taste of them since we had the garlic bread.Service was great, both our waitress and the bus boy took great care of us and made sure our drinks were filled throughout our entire meal. The atmosphere doesn't make you feel like you are in a strip mall; they have done a good job to take you away into what could be a great family meal.I also found this commercial of their's online while I was researching them.Arnone's Little Italy - MySpace Page2143 N Tustin StOrange, CA 92865(714) 974-7411[...]



Taps Fish House & Brewery - Brea

2008-08-28T10:49:30.532-07:00

I don't find myself in Brea too often. Maybe for work or en route to all points North. It was J's choice, and he wanted a change of scenery. Well, anything outside of our 15 mile radius from home is a stretch. We hopped in the MINI and hightailed up the 57.For an extra minute of walking, we avoided the valet line and won an end spot in the lot behind it. The entryway frustrates me with its primary in/out butted up against their host stand. You get a windy draft *and* a line of people all at the same time. After receiving our pager, we plop down on a couch. It is so low to the ground, instead of people watching it's more like calf and shoe watching. The booth we are brought to not only provided a wide lens view of the main dining room, but we could glimpse into the kitchen and watch the action. Family owned and operated, this 14,000 square foot homage to seafood and brews is the preferred destination for locals expecting service above and beyond the neighboring chains.They featured a very reasonable 3-course prix fixe for $25. The starter and entree course carried eight options, plus a pint to round it all out. Feeling particularly picky, I decided against it. He was definitely the more interested party. Course one was a seafood ceviche cocktail. A small platter of tortilla chips surrounded a juicy blend of citrus marinated shrimp, scallops and fresh fish. Also in the mix were tomato, cucumber, onion, avocado and cilantro. The sleeper hit of the courses, he cleaned out the ramekin. I found myself trying their namesake salad - bay shrimp, candied pecans, sweet onion and tomato tossed with Green Goddess dressing and butter lettuce. It was a savory, sugary blend I ate with gusto.I sipped his complimentary glass of 'Gold Winning Cream Ale' between courses. Eric, our server, was quick to recommend this instead of me ordering another. He also saw that our bread & butter needs were met. They use a balsamic dip with the fresh (Krispy Kreme hot light fresh!) loaves, which wasn't to our liking. Creamy butter was swiftly brought out as replacement.His entree selection was the half rack of barbeque ribs. In addition, he requested the TAPS burger. His preferred entree? 12 ounces of broiled ground chuck with aged cheddar and standard fixins on a potato roll. I experimented with the drunken mahi mahi. Slightly blackened, it's plated adjacent to blue crab tostadas sauced in an tomatillo-avocado salsa and Cotija cheese. The tomato risotto underneath paled in comparison to the rest of the dish, and I only take a few bites. It fills my appetite much quicker than I'd expected. For the finale, a chocolate (25 minute) souffle is brought to our attention. This is normally the deal breaker with new restaurant reservations. He's 80% more inclined to choose an establishment based on this single item. Chocolate hazelnut creme anglaise, powdered sugar, and fresh whipped cream make it one of the best I've had. I should probably mention that I rarely partake in souffles. It's all him.Departing on the verge of a food coma, we are fortunate to make time to stroll down Brich Street Promenade. In this hodgepodge of possibilities, we were pleased to report North county houses a winner.Taps Fish House and Brewery101 E. Imperial HighwayBrea, 92821714.257.0101http://www.tapsbrea.com/[...]



Orchard's Fresh Foods

2008-08-19T21:09:59.898-07:00

Okay, not technically Orange County, but with a deal like this it's too good to pass up.

Orchard's Fresh Foods is an odd combination of higher end mom and pop grocery store, specializing in Boar's Head meat, along with some of the best cuts of meats available. The other part of Orchard's Fresh Foods in a nursery.

On Tuesday's they have all you can eat barbecue for $6.99. The pulled pork is tender, juicy and full of flavor. The chopped beef is also very tender. Both have enough fat to give it some added extra flavor. Their barbecue sauce is nice and spicy with just a hint of sweetness.

The only drawback is that they start serving the barbecue at 11:00 AM and keep serving it until it runs out. The ribs are obviously the first thing to go, and by the time I got there, they had run out. To get the best of everything, you need to hit this place up at lunch time.

They also have a wide variety of sodas from small manufacturers. I hear they also make their own root beer, but I didn't get a chance to try it.

Call ahead, as the specials seem to come and go rather quickly. A few weeks ago, they had the all you could eat barbecue Tuesday through Thursday.


Orchard's Fresh Food
16426 E. Whittier Blvd.
Whittier, CA 90603
(562) 902-1825



Noodle Avenue Has Closed

2008-08-06T07:28:45.019-07:00

Noodle Avenue in Tustin has closed. I repeat: Noodle Avenue in Tustin has closed. Replaced by a Chinese restaurant with the word Bistro in it. That is all.



Hamamori, South Coast Plaza 4 Courses, 40 Dollars Event

2008-07-28T14:35:36.351-07:00

Thanks to my buddy Sharon, who let me know that South Coast Plaza is having a 4 courses for $40 (per person) event (*) from now [well, last Friday actually] through Sunday (click on the event title in the bottom right hand corner to see menus) at the following restaurants:Marché ModerneAntonello RistorantePinot ProvenceCharlie Palmer at Bloomingdale'sQuattro CafféHamamori Restaurant-LoungeRoyal Khyber Fine Indian CuisineScott's Seafood Grill & BarSAVANNAH Supper Club & LoungeWe ate at Hamamori, which has been occasionally criticized as overly expensive. This, however, was refreshingly not (at least in my opinion). The four courses were a Kobe carpaccio, an appetizer trio, a selection of sushi, and then a black cod.The carpaccio was very lightly flavored, so the taste of the meat was very apparent. It's a little different from the ones I'm used to, which tend to be drizzled in an oil, like sesame oil. The presentation was pretty typical, with thin slices arranged in a circular overlapping pattern on a round plate (much like those plates of raw shabu shabu meat you get in the supermarket, except with a salad in the middle instead of a strange yellow plastic flower). Taste was, well, let's go with different. Sometimes different is good, and I was okay with a more meaty version of the dish.The appetizer trio was a couple pieces of wrapped asparagus, a breaded and fried meatball made with kobe beef, allegedly, but was basically ground and then fried, so it was hard to tell, and a little Japanese eggroll with crab. The meatball was ehh, the asparagus had a fresh crunch to it that was light and good, and the eggroll with crab was nicely done. However, the dish itself was a bit heavily weighted to the fried side, so I'd recommend making sure you have something like an iced tea to counteract.The sushi set was a small platter with single pieces of basically new versions of Wasa Treasures. We had a tuna, an albacore, a scallop which was drizzled with sea salt and yuzu, and a salmon. A couple slices of shrimp-infused egg provided the garnish. The sauces are much like you'd expect from Wasa, except that they don't have these particular combinations there, and the fish itself was a bit fresher. Basically Hamamori is kind of what you'd expect from a "Wasa Plus". The decor's a bit nicer, the food's a bit fresher, and the service is superior by far.The cooked fish, however, was the star of the four courses. This was cooked just right, so it was barely done, soft and juicy, but not at all translucent in the middle. I wish I knew how to do this, but I do know it's not easy to get both the heat and the timing just so, so the whole fish cooks this way. The sauce was a nice accompaniment, but I found myself using as little of it as possible, so well was the fish itself prepared. It needed no disguise. Much like sushi- it's hard to improve on the natural taste of a well-selected and fresh fish. I contend in some ways that cooking fish is harder than making sushi, because the act of cooking fish at all confers a disadvantage over sushi that has to be overcome by effort and skill. They just about did that here.Dessert was not included in Hamamori's set, although they seem to be in most others. We chose to share a granité, flavored with melon. It would've made a nice amuse, but as a standalone, it was almost too much iciness. The Hamamoritini though was nicely executed, clean tasting, and warming to the stomach. A nice accompaniment to sushi.*Does not include beverages, tax or gratuity. Not valid with other offers, promotions or private dining groups. Din[...]



The Whole Pita -- Greek Island Grille

2008-07-11T09:58:39.570-07:00

I originally tried Greek Island Grille -- also called The Whole Pita on its web site -- based on an online review by local food fan OC Mutt (thanks!), and everyone I've brought there since then has liked it. So I thought it was high time to include a review of it on the OC Food Blogs. The restaurant is run by a Greek family, and they serve basic, authentic Greek dishes. Which means this is not a good restaurant for someone allergic to cheese, or who doesn't like garlic, or who insists on fancy plating. If you're still with me, read on...The restaurant is hidden in Yet Another Uninspired Strip Mall, but once inside, the place is cozy and homey and casual. It reminds me of the restaurants I've been to in Greece that catered to the locals, and not the "fancied up" ones designed to bring in the tourists. They have seating outside, but the decor inside is so charming -- at least, considering that they're in a strip mall -- that I like sitting inside. They have a couple of TVs (which I normally hate), but they only show beautiful photos of Greece, which helps rather than distracts from the decor. The photos are so beautiful that some of our friends, who had only been to Athens (which is great in its own way, but not exactly teeming with natural beauty), were wonder-struck and began talking about another trip to see the more rural parts of the country.First, to demystify the process: Pick your own table. You can grab a menu to look over your choices while your other friends arrive, but eventually you have to go to the counter, order, and pay. (Don't forget to tip the nice servers while you're there.) You get your own fountain drinks, but they bring you everything else. Each dish comes out as soon as it's ready, which can be a little chaotic with a large group, but hey, you're at a Greek restaurant: relax and go with the flow. The service is quick and everyone there is very, very nice. For first-timers, or anyone with a larger group, I'd suggest the Greek Island Variety Platter. It comes with hummus, melitzanosalata, dolmades, pita bread, tzadziki, spanokopita, feta cheese, and some olives. The only odd thing is that it comes with three dolmades, three pieces of spanokopita, and three pieces of feta. Which is perfect if you have exactly three people. Which we never do. Ah, well.My favorite of these appetizers is the melitzanosalata, which is an eggplant "salad" but is a far cry from the babaganouj I've tried and mostly disliked: the chunks of eggplant are juicy rather than slimy, roasted to give a wonderful smoky flavor. It's also chunky, mixed in with garlic, parsley, onions, and bits of roasted red pepper.The hummus is good too, and also chunky; it has just the right amount of garlic and herbs, with tiny bits of what look like tomato but are actually roasted red pepper. I like the tzadziki too: it's sufficiently tart and garlicky. I'd normally put more cucumber in mine, but I eat theirs with zero complaints. I love the pita bread here -- it's thick and soft on the inside and just a bit crispy on the outside, usually still warm from the oven, and sprinkled with a bit of cheese and herbs. The problem with the platter is that it doesn't come with enough pita bread for the sheer volume of dips; no problem, get another basket of delicious pita bread for 92 cents. Heck get two or three more baskets and take some home (it tastes almost as good the next day warmed up in the toaster oven).The dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) are very simple, as they contain nothing but rice and herbs, but they have a pleasant vinegary flavor to them[...]



The Taco Time - Orange

2008-06-26T15:00:28.566-07:00

Yesterday I went to lunch at a local Mexican food establishment named The Taco Time. This isn't the same Taco Time made famous in the Saturday Night Live short. The Taco Time is a small Mexican mom and pop run restaurant located on the border of Anaheim and Orange in a small strip mall that includes both a pizza and a chicken teriyaki bowl joint. I'd passed by The Taco Time on numerous occasions and was curious to find out if it was the famous Northwest fast food establishment or something else.(image)

Fortunate for me it was something else, since I didn't really feel like having Taco Bell for lunch. As their menu says they are, "The Place where you find the Authentic Mexican food"; capitalization aside I so far have to agree. Since this was my first visit I went with the old standby and just ordered a burrito. WAIT WAIT WAIT, burritos aren't Authentic Mexican food!!!! Eh who cares, it's authentic enough for gringos like me, and honestly what's better then a large tortilla filled with various items and covered with sauce and cheese? So I ordered the "Special Burrito" ($7.99); a large tortilla filled with chicken, refried beans, and rice that was topped with red sauce and cheese and served with a dollop of sour cream and a scoop of guacamole. The chicken was very tender as well as lightly seasoned from cooking in possibly some light tomato based sauce. That sauce it was cooked in very well could have been the same sauce served on my burrito that has a nice light spicy flavor. The guacamole was fresh and was every bit as good as guacamole can be. The burrito was good and more then enough for lunch. My one complaint is about the chips served before my burrito arrived, they tasted like normal store brand chips, nothing was inherently wrong with them I just enjoy fresh made chips when I go to small hole in the wall Mexican restaurants. The salsa served with the chips was ok, could have used some more flavor but I've had much worse and wouldn't turn it down if they gave me a bunch for free to take home.(image)

Other things worth mentioning; They have a total of about 6 tables that fit 4 people at each, so it's not a very large place. I got there before 12 PM so I don't know how big of a lunch rush they get but considering the area (residential) they probably get some good dinner business. The restaurant was very clean and bright inside. I look forward to trying some more of their items.

The Taco Time
3209 N. Glassell St.
Orange, CA 92865
714-685-0051



Charlie Palmer - South Coast Plaza (Costa Mesa)

2008-06-12T20:12:05.739-07:00

I'd been waiting a very long time for this to come to fruition. For the first two weeks, they had conducted a soft opening for friends and media. We obtained a seating on their second day live. Dressed in my new LBD and pearls, we debated whether to enter through SCP or make a grand entrance from the exterior. We chose the more formal route, and were pleased by what we saw.The signature design element echoed in other Palmer properties, a prominent wall of wine, grandly welcomed us. While our hostess checked on the table, we peered down a flight of stairs and spotted what appeared to be both wine cellar and private dining. Too timid to inquire, we patiently stood by and admired the sleek bar just beyond us. Later on I discover they offer a separate (but just as tempting) appetizer menu, securing my decision on a future visit. I was impressed at how much seating was offered back there. Before we could contemplate further, it was time to enter the dining room.As far as modern cuisine goes, the next detail took the cake. He was handed the eWinebook. Imagine your pda expanded to a laptop monitor. I recall tablet pc prototypes a decade ago being tested, but never experienced one with such a service-oriented purpose. You could bookmark favorites for questioning the sommelier. Sorting by region or varietal? No problem! We probably spent a good 15 minutes ogling over selections. I ultimately decided on their cocktail list, a vino fresco. Mild and fruity, it would sustain me until our first course. He was recommended a glass of the Franz Kunstler German Riesling, dry and softly sweet.CP is divided up into three categories: first, main, and vegetable/starch. Having been to his Grand Central station brasserie Metrazur, we were comfortable with most of the selections. It was a matter of craving...and room for dessert. After much debate, we place our orders and survey the room. A mild mannered couple in one corner, stylish quartet of men across the way, Asian family with well behaved child past the partition, and a smattering of Newportesque couples along the window view. Oh wait, a few tables of six - - generally, surrounded by a crowd that's 15+ years older than us. Normal by our standards.A recurring theme in tonight's dining experience was BIG. Like Mr. Big. Larger than life. Abundant in portion and flavor. Often times fine dining is associated with having not only a hefty price tag, but minuscule servings "like elf food" as the diner observes. This was definitely not the case. What sat before me was a hunk of crisp pork belly. Melon, pickled onion, and aged sherry vinegar gave a flavor counter, but my eyes glazed over the portion. Really, I was starting to get satiated towards the end of course one. Shrimp kabobs "you had me at tamarind" a la plancha were elegantly presented and plated in front of J. Shellfish silently slid off their skewers with the aid of our server and an oversized pair of silver tongs. Caponata (eggplant) salad played a modest supporting role.Skipping to the vegetables and starches, (because what grand meal doesn't have them) we begin with trumpet royale mushrooms. Shaped the way it is named and sliced into fifths, I buckled at the fourth. Quite the meaty side, we continue with some crispy fries accompanied by a little chipotle aioli. A slightly creamy consistency - in a good way - on the inside, I related them to a firmer version of a steak cut fry. And then they placed the gargantuan green asparagus. After a brief, tense moment (WTF! We did not order that), I politely ve[...]



Riviera Magazine's Gourmet Issue

2008-06-10T20:47:15.634-07:00

(image) So earlier this year, around February, I was pinged by Kedric Francis, editor-in-chief of Riviera Magazine about what was my favorite spiciest dish in OC.

Easy! Thai Nakorn's Stir Fried Morning Glory.

I wrote back a quick e-mail and forgot all about it.

This weekend, while I was lolly-gagging at the magazine rack at the Barnes and Noble at Bella Terra, the first rag I encountered was, yes, you guessed it, Riviera. And then I remembered! And whaddayaknow...it was their "Gourmet Issue".

(image) Along with my little ode to Thai Nakorn's dish on Page 124, the issue also includes a whole article that praises Tustin as an unlikely destination for ethnic eats and cites our own Chubbypanda, Chowhound.com, OC Weekly and myself as sources to find the good stuff in Irvine's quirky neighbor. Among the eateries mentioned: Japonaise Bakery and Cafe, Tropika, and of course, Honda Ya!

It's good to read that Tustin's getting its dues as a haven for OC foodies -- a fact I've been harping on for years.

(image) Quickly, I plunked down $6.41 (that's $5.95 plus tax) and bought the thing. This was the May issue after all, and it's already June. Any day now and the whole month's inventory's going to the mulcher.

But you don't have to buy it to read it. Click HERE. Since it's already updated to the current month's issue, you will have to search for "May 2008" to find the articles.



Wine Pairing dinner at Onotria (Costa Mesa) and the wines of Alejandro Fernandez

2008-06-04T00:06:24.649-07:00

Alejandro Fernandez is the man who has done for Spain what Robert Mondavi did for Napa. He makes the most delicious wines from the Ribera del Duero region of Spain from the Tempranillo grape. That wine is a cross between a Pinot Noir and a Syrah. Luscious nose and pleasing on the tounge. He is most famous for his Tinto Pesquera wine which is all Tempranillo. We were so lucky to have him host this dinner, everything on top of it was just gravy. His wines were phenomenal... take for instance the Dehesa la Granja 2002 at one end of the spectrum exemplyifing the pinot aspects of the Tempranillo grape, and then the 2001 El Viniculo Reserva ... same grape.. but it totally tasted like a cabernet/syrah. There were 7 wines in all that night and it was a marvellous dinner. This was the first time I had ever eaten at Onotria in Costa Mesa (near the Lab). Our first course was baked mussels with garlic, parsley and Spanish Pimento stuffed into the little mussel shells. OMG... was heavenly, and I could have eaten five pounds of that. There seemed to be a bread stuffing on top and the mussels were perfectly cooked and mixed with the red pimento. Gorgeous. On the same plate was a cevice (fresh bay shrimp) served with fennel. Marvellous. It paired perfectly with the Verdejo we had (Martinsancho Verdejo 2007). Verdejo is a lot like Sauvignon Blanc.. but a bit more fruity. Went great with the shrimp!Next course was the ragout of porcini mushrooms and Chorizo over soft polenta; which was paired with the 2002 Dehesa la Granga. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of polenta, but this ROCKED. It was cooked perfectly, and the sauce to go with it went so well with both the polenta and the wine. I was soo happy.Third course: Saffron rice with Zucchini blossoms, and veal sausage and butter beans. I could immediately smell the sausage and saffron... heavenly. This was paired with the El Vincul tinto Crianza 2004. Another Tempranillo but done in a different style. Again, it married well with the saffron rice and sausage. Fourth Course, and this was killer: Braised Lamb loin with red wine and rosemary reduction over roasted eggplant vineyard pie. Let me explain what I had on my dish, and I Wish I had taken more pictures. First of all, the lamb was so tender, it was falling off the bone and we were cutting it with a fork. So lovely. The reduction sauce was scrumptious... a wine reduction, some hint of sweetness to it, but it went so well with the lamb and the wine... which was the 2005 Condado de Haza which was very approachable and American styled, but still went very well with the meal. Then there was this little pastry tart thing on my plate with tomatoes and eggplant, and that was truly delicious.Our last entree was a plate of cheeses: some Manchego (similar to Parmesan in texture but not as robust) and another cheese called Cabrales... OMG which one of my dining companions described as bleu cheese on steriods. Yes indeed! Also on the plate were some toasted whole almonds drizzled in honey. This was all served with the last wine, the El Vinculo 2001. Which was a luscious, opulent, hedonistic wine, and went perfectly well with our cheeses.I was a happy camper definitely. I wish my camera had not malfunctioned... damn! But hope you enjoy the pictures I was able to take. The owner of Onotria, Massimo Navarretta, was kind enough to come out and say hello, and the rest of the evening we spent in a Q&A session with Mr. Fernandez. Truly an amazing night! Onotria Win[...]



Philly's Best - Santa Ana

2008-05-31T13:40:02.096-07:00

Hi! I’m new here. The name is DanGarion and I run Eat in OC. I just joined up with Orange County Food Blogs and for me there was no better place to do my first review of than my favorite place to eat on Saturdays as I waste them away alone, while my wife is at work. That’s why I bring you my review of the Philly’s Best, located in Santa Ana on Tustin. Now I know the first thing you are going to do is groan and say, "This guy is going to review a run of the mill fast food chain!" But hear me out, this place has good food. I’d never eaten at Philly’s Best until I moved to Santa Ana, two years ago. I’d had cheesesteaks throughout the years and always enjoyed them, but I didn’t fall in love with them till I ordered my first one here almost 2 year ago.Today I ordered a cheesesteak along with an order of onion rings. The wait was about 10 minutes, which isn’t that bad since they do make your food to order. The cheesesteak was piping hot when it got to my table; I actually had to wait a minute to let it cool off. One thing I’ve been happy with is the consistency from visit to visit with the taste and freshness of my food. Another thing I like is that the meat isn’t too juicy so it doesn’t drain all out into the bread; I’ve had issues with the bread becoming soggy from other places I’d ordered cheesesteaks from. The onion rings are good, but only in small quantities. They have a very different flavor than most people are used to because of the beer batter. My only problem with them (which is why I usually only ingest small quantities) is that they tend to give me indigestion, but it’s usually worth it. Normally they only have ranch dressing for the rings, but they actually had BBQ sauce as well today. Overall my meal didn’t disappoint and let me more than satisfied.Other items on the menu include chicken cheesesteak, hamburgers, and various toppings for your cheesesteak. They also have some various Philadelphia famous drinks, chips, and pastries.Now on to a couple other observations I’ve made throughout the two years I’ve been patronizing this specific Philly’s Best. There is a note for their employees that any uniformed police and fire employees get half off their meal, I thought that’s pretty cool that a business has that type of policy. They also have specials during USC Football, Philadelphia Eagles Football, and Angels Baseball games. For the USC games they have $5.00 cheesesteaks and $1.00 Bud and Bud Light. During Angels games they have $1.00 Bud and Bud Light. I’m not a fan of Budweiser so it doesn’t bring me in, but I’m sure that it attracts some business.Lastly I’ve only gone to one other Philly’s Best, it was located in West Garden Grove, and it just didn’t seem the same while I ate my sandwich, there was just a different vibe compared to the Santa Ana location, so your miles may vary at other locations.Philly's Best1804 N Tustin AveSanta Ana, CA 92705(714) 543-3311[...]



Waba Grill Teriyaki House - Lake Forest

2008-05-13T10:51:30.433-07:00


(image)
24354 Muirlands Blvd.
Lake Forest, CA 92630
949-768-8123

www.wabagrill.com

I recently visited the Waba Grill in Lake Forest for lunch. This is the restaurant that took over the spot of my beloved China Express. (Now New Panda in Coasta Mesa, but they're not the same.) Everything looks sleek and new inside the Waba Grill. The environment looks modern with a plasma screen tv on the wall showing CNN or something.

I looked at their menu board. Even though this is still a fairly new place, it looks like they recently raised their prices. Little pieces of paper with prices on them were taped over what I am assuming were their old prices up on the menu board. Their menu basically looked just like Flame Broiler. They even boasted that their food was super healthy. I wanted to try both their chicken and their steak, so I ordered the Chicken-Steak Plate ($7.09). It came with white rice, salad and some orange slices. If I had wanted all white meat chicken, it would have been an extra $1.25. Brown rice, and extra $1.00 and I could add avocado for $1.50.

It didn't take them long to make my meal and I took it to go. I grabbed a couple little cups of teriyaki sauce and hot sauce on my way out. I got back to my desk and opened the box. It looked exactly like Flame Broiler. I took a bite. It tasted exactly like Flame Broiler. I tried the sauces and they too tasted exactly like Flame Broiler. The meats were tender and juicy and the sauces tasted perfectly sweet. I devoured the entire plate.
(image)

I've been eating at Flame Broiler a long time now so it's what I'm familiar with. Looking at the back of the Waba Grill menu, I see that they have plenty of locations. I'm not really sure which restaurant came first, but in my mind they are exactly the same restaurant. The only difference is I think that Waba is more expensive.