Saturday, December 30, 2006

Chubbypanda's Ten Best Ethnic Meals of 2006 (Orange County)

Earlier this week, I received an email from Lindsay William-Ross, Food Editor for LAist, inviting me to participate in their end-of-the-year Ten Best series. After no small amount of agonizing, I've put together a list of Orange County places where I had the ten best "ethnic" meals this year.

(Read this article on LAist and check out their other great offerings!)

1. Japanese - Frenzy Sushi (my review)

The freshness and quality of the fish served at Frenzy Sushi is amazing. The Hamachi no Hara (yellowtail belly), Saba (marinated mackerel), and Maguro (Bluefin tuna) are must-haves here. If you like rolls, order the Firecracker or Caterpillar.

Frenzy Sushi
369 E 17th St, #17
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

2. Chinese (Shanghai) - New Shanghai (my review)

Delightfully cheap and delicious, the fiery flavors of the Shanghai, Sichuan, and Hunan cuisine dishes served at New Shanghai are perfect for a cold winter's night. I highly recommend the Niu Rou Mian (Beef Noodle Soup), Gong Bao Ji Ding (Kung Pao Chicken), and Zhao Liu Yu Pian (Fish Filets in Wine Sauce).

New Shanghai
5408 Walnut Ave # B
Irvine, CA 92604
(Open until midnight every night.)

3. Vietnamese - Pagolac (my review)

I first tried Bo Bay Mon (Seven Courses of Beef) at Pagolac and it was a dining revelation. Even better were the Bo Nuong Vi (Grilled Beef) and Tom Nuong Vi (Grilled Shrimp). Although you may be a little leery of sampling Mam Nem (fermented shrimp sauce), take the plunge and you'll experience a true flavor sensation.

14580 Brookhurst St.
Westminster, CA 92683

4. Peruvian - Peruvian Kitchen (my review)

Peruvian food is one of the world's ultimate fusion cuisines, and Peruvian Kitchen delivers the complex blend of flavors and influences for a very reasonable price. Try the Tiradito al Aji (a carpaccio of fish marinated in a spicy sauce), the Anticuchos de Corazon (grilled pieces of seasoned beef heart), and the Yucca a la Huancaina (cassava cheese puffs covered in a spicy cream sauce.

Peruvian Kitchen
8610 Warner Ave.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708-3132

5. Fusion - Elephant Bar (my review)

A chain restaurant with both style and substance, the Elephant Bar in Irvine offers a number of Asian-fusion dishes as well as Western classics. Try the Coconut Shrimp or the Miso Grilled Salmon. Additional locations are available throughout Southern California.

Elephant Bar
Irvine, CA
14346 Culver Dr.

6. Mexican - Lucia's Tacos and Mulitas (my review)

Do not be dissuaded by this hole-in-the-wall's less than classy atmosphere. Lucia's Tacos and Mulitas is packed to the gills with authentic Mexican flavors. You haven't lived until you've tried their Tacos de Cabeza (beef cheek), Tacos de Lengua (beef tongue), or Tacos al Pastor (rotisserie grilled pork). For an early morning pick-me-up, grab a steaming bowl of their spicy Menudo (beef tripe soup) and get some Pan Dulse (sweet buns) to go.

Lucia's Tacos and Mulitas
(corner of Beach and Warner)
16952 Beach Blvd.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
(If you have difficulty being understood, ask for Lalo.)

7.Korean - Korea House BBQ (review forthcoming)

Nothing warms both body and soul like the rich flavors of the Korean food at Korea House BBQ. With fresh, high quality meat, an excellent selection of complimentary Panchan (cold side dishes), a number of fiery stews, and other classic offerings, Korea House BBQ is the place to go when you want to add some spice to your life. Order up some Ross Gui (prime cut beef) or Bulgogi (marinated beef) to grill and kick back with a beer. Definitely best enjoyed with a group.

Korea House BBQ
5305 University Dr.
Irvine, CA 92612

8. Chinese (Dim Sum) - Seafood World (review forthcoming)

Seafood World is a Little Saigon institution, and one of the best places in Orange County to get delectable dim sum. Bring all of your friends so you can sample lots and lots of the bite-sized delights.

Seafood World
15351 Brookhurst St # 101-106
Westminster, CA 92683

9. Vegan (Thai) - Wheel of Life (review forthcoming)

If you've never had vegan Thai cuisine before, stop by Wheel of Life and get your healthy groove on. With a culinary history spanning thousands of years of Buddhist dietary observances, vegan Thai food is good for both the body and soul.

Wheel Of Life
14370 Culver Dr # 2
Irvine, CA 92604

10. Chinese (Islamic) - Lotus Chinese Eatery (my review)

One of two locations in all of Orange County serving Islamic Chinese fare, Lotus brings the flavors of Northern China to Southern California. All of their delicious food is prepared according Halal guidelines. Order the Zhi Ma Da Bing Jia Cong (sesame pan bread with green onions) or any of their Chao Dao Xiao Mian (stir-fried knife-cut noodles). I'm also very fond of their Hong Shao Dou Fu (tofu in brown sauce).

Lotus Chinese Eatery
16883 Beach Blvd.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

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Comments on "Chubbypanda's Ten Best Ethnic Meals of 2006 (Orange County)"

Anonymous Gustavo Arellano said ... (January 1, 2007 at 3:10 PM) : 

There are three Islamic Chinese restaurants in Orange County: Lotus, Ma's Islamic Chinese, and Jamillah's Garden.

Blogger H. C. said ... (January 2, 2007 at 12:13 AM) : 

Mmm... now I want dumplings again!

Blogger Chubbypanda said ... (January 3, 2007 at 11:11 AM) : 


I stand corrected. Thanks!


Me too.

- Chubbypanda

Blogger BuddingCook said ... (January 3, 2007 at 9:31 PM) : 

cool post. :) i want to try frenzy. :) it is good? the rating is 1 is best right? :D i've been to the wheel of life, elephant bar and seafood world. the vegan place is nice. their chicken taste like chicken! :) and the people there a very nice.

Blogger Chubbypanda said ... (January 4, 2007 at 5:57 PM) : 

They're not ranked from best to worst, but each is the best in its category that I tried last year. Frenzy is excellent. You definitely must go.

- Chubbypanda

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