Photo by Tenaya HillsWhenever I frequent either HONDA YA, I'm reminded of the scene in Kill Bill, Vol. 1 when Oren Ishi's Crazy 88s gang harass a hapless nightclub owner into making a pizza before The Bride makes sashimi out of them all. Traditional meals like udon, ramen and various bento box dinners are available at this rambunctious izaka-ya (Japanese pub), but most diners loudly nibble on sumptuous sushi and other small dishes, the better to absorb the torrents of Asahi, Sapporo and sake that don't cease until the next morning. 556 El Camino Real, Tustin, (714) 832-0081.
During the week, CHINA GARDEN, located in the ritzier of Irvine's two Chinatowns, is a great—even one of OC's better—Chinese restaurants. But I visit China Garden on Saturday afternoon, when the wait approaches two hours and the dining room clamors with waitresses pushing carts filled with dim sum, the breaded savory snacks that are the culinary equivilent of Bingo. Calling . . . cha shu bao, a sweet barbeque pork bun. Or chicken feet! 14825 Jeffrey Rd., Irvine, (949) 653-9988.
DOSA PLACE is my número uno lunch spot, mostly because my eating buddy is a vegetarian wuss but primarily because I've yet to knife through all 17 of its dosas, the South Indian giga-crepes stuffed with some sumptuous curry-fied bulk and as big as two forearms flexed together. I've unfairly ignored the other entrées because of this dosa fetish, but I did once order the tamarind-spiked shrimp curry—it was like the kiss of the One Who Got Away. 13812 Redhill Ave., Tustin, (714) 505-7777;WWW.DOSAPLACE.COM.