This Week in Soup

Santa Anas what? Last month, Orange County registered the most rain for October ever. And with the storm clouds continuing to barrel into the county like USC linebacker Matt Grootegoed into UCLA running back Maurice Drew's torso, you should brace yourself from the cold with soup. The county features enough types of potage to last you through Kwanzaa—the following are but some of the tastier.

DINNER FOR TWO: ¢…….………………..…..Less than $10! $……………….…….…………..$10-$20 $$…………….……….…………$20-$40 $$$………………………¡Eres muy rico!

ALOHA CHICKEN

Location Info

Map

Anh Hong Restaurant

10195 Westminster Ave.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Category: Restaurant > Barbecue

Region: Garden Grove

Cafe Hiro

10509 Valley View St.
Cypress, CA 90630

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Cypress

christakis greek cuisine

13011 Newport Ave.
Tustin, CA 92780

Category: Restaurant > Greek

Region: Tustin

La Cocina De Ricardo

23532 El Toro Road
Lake Forest, CA 92630

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Lake Forest

E-San Rod-Sap

1719 W. La Palma Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92801

Category: Restaurant > Thai

Region: Anaheim

Mariscos La Sirena

515 S. Main St.
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Category: Restaurant > Seafood

Region: Santa Ana

Mariscos Licenciado #2

1052 N. State College
Anaheim, CA 92806

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Anaheim

Moscow Deli

3015 Harbor Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > Deli

Region: Costa Mesa

Pho 79

9941 Hazard Ave.
Garden Grove, CA 92844

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Garden Grove

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The soy-sauce-fueled sizzle of meat slapped upon a grill is a constant at Aloha Chicken—that and the Saimin-noodle soup. It spills out of a clay hot pot and consists of little more than zigzagged chow mein noodles, a choice of meat (try the char siu, soft Chinese barbecue pork), a slice of a fluorescent pink root that wants to be ginger but is too polite, and more salt than Lot's wife.10488 Valley View Ave., Buena Park, (714) 826-6672. $

ÁNH HONG

The conclusion of the bò bay mon (seven-course beef dinner) at Ánh Hong in Garden Grove is a small bowl filled with a milky, slightly thick broth. Really doesn't look impressive. But just one sip and the world changes: ground-beef bits hiding in a rice lagoon that's spiked with enough ginger and pepper to cure any malady that may afflict you.10195 Westminster Ave., Garden Grove, (714) 537-5230; www.anhhong.com. $

CAFÉ HIRO

Café Hiro is a three-year-old Cypress eatery that has everything going for it except the design scheme, a setup that would only happen elsewhere if Goodwill decorated Denny's. But Hiro's exquisite entrées—a fantastic fusion of Japanese, Italian, French and American—ensures a steady stream of suitors; ridiculously cheap prices guarantee many rendezvous. And the creamy asparagus soup bobbing with crushed tortilla strips launches a thousand romances. 10509 Valley View St., Cypress, (714) 527-6090. $$

CHRISTAKIS

Christakis' beautiful setting separates the eatery from its local Greek brothers-in-grub. But the platters of its late eponymous founder, Joanne Christakis Wallace, truly catapult the place into Orange County's high-class dining strata. On another pleasure level is the avgolemono (egg-lemon) soup. This potage is the finest starter that's ever passed over my tongue, a chilled, milky-yellow broth thick with plump rice grains and chicken chunks, bracingly sour because of the lemon juice, hearty with whipped egg whites.13011 Newport Ave., Tustin, (714) 731-1179. $$

CHICKEN BOX

Gotta love a place like the Chicken Box that sells boysenberry punch—a supertart, purple elixir probably mixed nowadays only in one other concern, Knott's Berry Farm, and then probably only as a tourist curio. But the Chicken Box is the only reason to visit La Habra outside of Gordo Maloney's and maybe that strip club the City Council been trying to ban for about a decade. Consider the incarnations of its star, the humble chicken: broasted until it drips grease or accompanied by soft grains of rice in a soup. 330 E. Whittier Blvd., La Habra, (562) 691-1701. $

LA COCINA DE RICARDO

This place, formerly a Salvadoran joint, caters to the soup-eating set, serving up menudo, pozole and other Mexican favorites. 23532 El Toro Rd., Ste. 11, Lake Forest, (949) 586-1477. $

E-SAN ROD-SAP

E-San specializes in 78 dishes of Isaan cooking, the sour-and-spicy cuisine of northeast Thailand that's exotic even inside the Southeast Asian kingdom. The duck noodle soup reminds of the Marx brothers film—they're both instant classics. Prepared in the northeastern Thai tradition, it's a fiery cauldron laden with bamboo shoots, slippery noodles and roasted-duck chunks so savory they would make Harpo speak. 1719 W. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, (714) 999-0563. $

JANG MO

Jang Mo Restaurant specializes in soup, offering six aromatic choices. Add generous amounts of granulated salt, scallions, white rice and pungent hot mustard to unlock the potential of the peppery yook gejang (advertised as vegetable soup but laden with beef shreds) and the three types of gomtang (as delicious as its much-celebrated cousin pho, it's slowly simmered in beef bones) that make this joint a must-slurp. 4546 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, (714) 228-0767. $

MARISCOS LA SIRENA

This little palace serves caldo de caguama (turtle soup) but also represents its own endangered genus—the restaurant whose métier is stunning Sinaloan-type Mexican food with a side of stereotypes—blistering aguachile with wooden parrots, nuclear ceviche served under drooping nets, and deer steaks that are almost as tender as each waitress' top is low.515 S. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 541-0350. $$

MARISCOS LICENCIADO #2

One of the reasons why Mariscos Licenciado #2 is the county's best hole in the wall is because of the mariscoco: a chilled soup of abalone, squid, octopus, shrimp and coconut chunks that's native to the Mexican coastal state of Sinaloa and a glorious rarity everywhere else. They used to serve the mariscoco at número dos inside a hollowed-out coconut but stopped after customers apparently found it too difficult to manage because the coconut was so tightly packed. You still receive the extracted coconut water in a plastic cup as a chaser, though. 1052 N. State College Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 776-3415. $$

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