OC for a few days

Looking to try places I haven’t been to before. Are there any new must try places that are not high end fine dining?

Westminster, Garden Grove, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Buena Park are all do-able but may also consider going a touch further. Not going to LA this time (most likely)

I’m looking at five dinners, one lunch (Sunday dinner to Friday lunch). The typical approach will probably be Vietnamese, Korean, nigiri, izakaya/noodle, maybe Chinese/Taiwanese/Cantonese. But it doesn’t have to be. Staying in Anaheim but will have a car.

Random questions:

Any worthwhile destination pho places in Westminster? My head is spinning from searching Yelp. The broth needs to be on point and more natural tasting. Hopefully they have the sawtooth herb with clean bean sprouts (not oxidized) and lime wedge. Properly done drip coffee that has a slight hazelnut fragrance a plus. I loved the one Porthos recommended a while back (Pho Thanh Lich) but they did not survive (anything equivalent?).

Your favorite place for Bun Bo Hue in Westminster? I loved the one from Ngu Binh, but their other Hue dishes were unfortunately not up to snuff. A local told me to try Gia Hoi and Bun Bo Hue So 1. Thoughts? How about pho ga with Northern style “ho fun”?

Korean - did 8 Korean BBQ (pork belly flower) in Buena Park, Mo Ran Gak (Garden Grove) that had a killer mul naengmyun, Han Yang (Buena Park) for good gomtang/sullungtang/galbitang. I’d be happy with a place that does killer galbitang and mul naengmyun (or bibim naengmyun). Pretty much short of soondae, anything else is pretty much fair game. KBBQ probably not doing it this time (not enough comrades, and we OD’d on Ahgassi Gopchang last time), and no soondubu/Kaju Tofu (defacto Yelp recommendation) and probably not Myung In.

Japanese/sushi: Did Kasen last two years. Looking to try something else and may look into Shunka. Any other worthy contenders? Not going to expect Mori/Shunji (and glad I knocked those off the bucket list already). Any solid izakaya that has more than just yakitori, and does the classics well and has the cooked dishes execution similar to Torihei (ie not relying on deep fried or grilled?) Any good udon (tried Meiji Seimen last time, good stomach filler)? What’s a solid ramen shop (Costa Mesa area ok) that executes well on either shoyu or shio broth (preferably chicken stock) and doesn’t rely on tonkotsu?

Other than Costa Mesa Mitsuwa, any interesting shops with a half decent sake selection (e.g. even a wine shop)?

How is the Irvine outpost of Tasty Garden? My goal if hitting that would just be to find a place that does a decent Cantonese ho fun noodle soup with either stewed beef brisket/tendon or cha siu/BBQ pork. As long as it is better than Sam Woo…

I know Newport isn’t quite designed for one or two folks, but what is the smallest sized lobster they can do, and which location in the OC is the best? Can they do the lobster prep with say, crab or shrimp on the shell?

Thanks so much!

Pinas bustir Tustin.

Tsuruhsshi fountain valley.

The olive tree.

Lou’s red oak.

Tony’s in placentas

Afterbirth tasting menu? That’s taking offal to a whole new level.


Hi Times wine cellar in Costa Mesa
J Zhao in Tustin
ST patisserie for Napoleon
Kitakata in Costa Mesa for ramen

I would also recommend checking out OC Mix in Costa Mesa, same place where ST Patisserie is located.


not an OC guy but down in santa ana often for work and when I go I do like Newport Tan Cang in Santa Ana. Size of lobster depends on what they have, sometimes less than 3 lbs. They can do the lobster prep with shrimp, but hard to get away from that lobster, the roe, everything comes out so fantastically there. Add pea shoots, fried squid, comp’d beef broth with bones…time for a nap.


For Korean try Kang ho Dong in Beuna Park for great BBQ. Love the pork neck.

For Japanese there is a Shin Sen Gumi for izakaya in Westminster area on Brookhurst. Best in the OC.

Halal guys just opened up in Costa Mesa if you’re willing to brave the wait.

DTF is at South Coast Plaza and the waits have been much better since the initial rush. I’d still recommend going on off hours but shouldn’t be more than an hour wait.

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Trieu Chau (the original on Newhope and 1st)- they are known for their house special noodles with duck, chicken, pork, shrimp, pork ball and I add wontons. Specify thick or thin white or yellow noodles or both if you are a glutton amongst gluttons. The broth is on point and far better than any pho broth or Cantonese noodle you’ll find down here.

Kitakata ramen- it’s made from pork but clear and light like chicken shio. Noodles made in house. The toppings are excellent. The huge lines tell you all that you need to know.

JZhou- I recommend it for dim sum. Dinner is pricey but worth it. The fried chicken knees are excellent (if you enjoy cartilage).

Kasen is excellent as is Shunka. The fish is better quality at Kasen. Shunka has a much larger variety. I would say it is akin to kirkiko.

I really like Vien Dong for bun bo hue, bun cha hanoi, and their pork rib noodle soup.

I would add El Cabrito for goat birria.


Pork blood @ Cho Tam Bien in Westminster (on Bolsa and Bushard).


Is Brodard worth the trip?


I like Pho 79 in Garden Grove…been going there for ages with my parents. The broth is well balanced. I’m not a fan of Bun Bo Hue, but Trieu Chau is quite good.
I would suggest going to the original Brodard for some spring rolls…I like the shrimp ones more.
I could eat a 3 lb. Newport lobster by myself. I think you should go for it. Remember it’s cash only, so be prepared.
Hi-Time Cellars is perfect! They carry so much amazing wine.
I went to DTF recently and was surprised to find that it was very much like the Arcadia location(s). I had heard that food and service wasn’t as good as the originals, but am happy to say that it was very good. Don’t waste your money on the truffle XLB…I don’t think it offers much. Stick to the originals and get the green beans if you need some greenery to support your meal.
The Halal Guys line is still running in the 3 hour territory…I’m not sure it’s really worth a 3 hour wait.


Thank you all so very much!

“Tsuruhsshi fountain valley.” - appears to be named after Tsuruhashi area of Osaka (there is actually a subway station named that), where there is a ridiculous concentration of yakniku and KBBQ shops. Killer vibe and atmosphere even just to peek, and you get solicited to dine as you walk by the alleyways.

JZhou - The Chinese name of the restaurant seems familiar, I think identical to a restaurant in Hong Kong. Doubt I will go since it’s pretty much one adult doing the gouging. If I did, I’d probably hit the braised sea cucumber, goose web, and kick it up a notch and request a braised abalone with fish maw, with a glass of Beaujolais Cru. I’ll keep an eye on this. Doubtful also about being able to get here for dim sum. Thanks for the recs!

Newport Santa Ana - May think about it and be an animal for their smallest lobster, though it would be a solo project. I know I’m missing out without the roe. What kind of noodles are available to go with it? Wide egg noodles, ho fun, rice vermicelli/mifun at the very least I hope?

Trieu Chau - I have been there before and it was a moderately early breakfast. Loved the duck leg/wonton wide egg noodle and pork bone broth on the side. Not the greatest iced Vietnamese coffee. May consider going back, we shall see.

Bookmarked Vien Dong and Dat Thanh as other options Have to see what mood we are in. Thanks ipse also for Cho Tam Bien! I hope the pork blood is not overcooked/dry.

JL, Brodard when I went in April was horrible for the nem nuong cuon. Dry rice paper and rolled/kept in a pile way too long. Recently had the pleasure of dining at a friend’s place and he made his own dip sauce, basically bought the nem nuong, seasoned it himself, broiled them, and bought rice paper and herbs separately and we learned to roll it ourselves. Brodard’s dip sauce is excellent still, piping hot and like good chunky peanut butter. Well, it could have been an off night with the tough rice paper rolling. They do have lots of other nice Central Vietnamese dishes, though I never have room to try. I like their young coconut jello though (Thach Duai Trai). But having been three times I will likely look for other forms of tasty.

And thank you all for the Hi-Time Cellars rec! They have one or two bottles of high end Junmai Daiginjo sake I cannot get locally in SF Bay Area, plus one that is out of stock up here. Will take a look at the wine selection as well.

Probably won’t bother with Halal Guys, but good to know they are in the area.

I’ve been to the OC Mix back in April, and had the tasting menu at Taco Maria (very enjoyable experience), plus the oyster bar. Ditto for DTF Costa Mesa, so will likely skip them this time round.

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hit up Pina’s Bistro for some Italian too.

and the very best fucking tiramisu in the OC.

and that ain’t no fucking joke.

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pretty sure I’ve had egg noodles before…that’s a good idea if you prefer that to rice cuz you’ll want every last peppery drop of that sauce on that plate. even if the lobster is bigger than three lbs, still a great deal don’t be shy, it’s a 20% yield on meat per lb (you can do it)

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The thicker egg noodles can be cooked in the House Special sauce with the roe to accompany the lobster. While they are very good, it’s filler and will take away space available for lobster in your stomach. I usually take the noodles to go and eat them the next day.

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In addition to Hi Time, I’ve had good wine shopping experiences at Wine Exchange (fka Best Wines Online).

I’m partial to the hangover food at Jang Mo Jip, they have pretty good kimchi - marketed as “Mother-in-law Kimchi”. Just around the corner Seoul Do Soon Yi Kimchi Company for large jars of really good kimchi.

The “Asian Garden Mall” off Bolsa Ave in Westminster has an interesting Vietnamese food court, lot of snails and snack type foods Pics, Be forewarned, there have been a spate of armed robberies the past few years…

A bit farther north in Long Beach - Toko Rame for Indonesian.

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Plus 1 on Wine Exchange (formerly known as Best Wines Online).

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Or they can just serve the lobster on top of the noodles too. Somehow we never have leftovers. But hell I agree focus on the lobster and leave the noodles for the noodle fans at the table. I just love their fried squid too with the jalapeños.

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or just devour a whole 4 pound lobster on your own, what would the yield be ? around 1.5 pounds of lobster meat ???

now that’s what i’m fucking talking about.

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at 20%, it takes a 5lb lobster to yield 1 lb of meat. But yeah it’s so rich and dense it does feel like more I think…if $ no object, or if im mail ordering or on east coast where these things are cheaper, I can tackle a 6lb’er NP. In Maine, you can load up if you get culls (missing one claw) or bullets (no claws), which are often $1/lb, or free depending on your friends… I guess all our native west coast spiny lobsters are akin to bullets but they sure ain’t $1/lb!

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20% yield is awful low there JJ! Counting the tail, the claws, the meat in the head portion, the brains/mustard, and the extra roe that they dump in there, Yield should be closer to 40-50% if you really get in there :wink:

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