The Asian Persuasion

Great Asian restaurants, and the Asians (and Chuck Devore) who love them

The history and future of Little Saigon's fierce newspaper wars flow in the fingertips of Anh Do. A longtime columnist for TheOrangeCountyRegister, Anh's father is Yen Do, founder of NguoiViet, the largest Vietnamese-language newspaper outside Vietnam. Anh is in charge of the paper's bilingual weekly insert, NguoiViet2, which is geared specifically toward younger Vietnamese-Americans. "I don't like words like 'bridge,' but we want to focus on Vietnamese people in the 1.5 and second generation," says Do. "Because there's not much available in English, we've been able to generate a following and inspire other publications to start English-language sections." ETHNICEAT(VIETNAMESE):The diminutive Do likes almost all the restaurants in Little Saigon "because I'm basically a pig." But she returns to GrandGarden, especially when they decorate the main dining room with stunning flower arrangements. "They combine blooms and good eats," says Do. "You have visual beauty while you're eating. It refreshes you. I like the shrimp grilled on sugar cane wrapped in rice paper and vermicelli and salad. They have just the right blend of herbs, and they marinate it well. They also have a way with lobster and herbs that lingers in your mouth." 8894BolsaAve.,Westminster,(714)893-1200; feels a "calming effect" at Tommy'sSushi"because it's so enclosed and dimly lit." She's visited Tommy's for about a decade. "Most people who go there are regulars. I get the Business People lunch special—large-size bento box with a bit of everything. Gyoza, broccoli, teriyaki, California roll and sesame chicken." Do also gnaws on Tommy's fried chicken cutlet: "I'm a fried-chicken addict. The best things in life are fried." 1051E.MainSt.,Tustin,(714)544-5241;

Photo by James Bunoan

It's amazing we even caught this cat. Besides opening up new fish taco eateries in Austin, Texas, and Waikiki, and filling charity galas for artist Wyland (benefiting the Ocean Institute in Dana Point), baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew's golf tournament (benefiting the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation), NFL quarterback Carson Palmer's golf tourney (benefiting the Hillview Acres Children's Home for abused and homeless kids) and various clean-ocean organizations, Lam was nearly out the door for Big Bear, where he's rolling out his new dune buggy for a sort of rich guy's Tour de Forest. Fortunately, before he could cut us off , we managed to blurt out that we wanted to talk Asian food. Suddenly, Wing's whole world stopped. ETHNICEAT(CHINESEWILLDOBECAUSECHINESE-BRAZILIANWOULDBETOODAMNHARD):"I hate to be biased, but I always go back to my parents' restaurant, one of the oldest in Orange County: the ShanghaiPineGardenson Balboa Island. The three flavors rice soup is excellent. And the sautéed sliced chicken breast—I like to make my own, screw around with it." He explained that he knows the staff and menu so well that he mixes and matches entrées and sauces to come up with his own creations; thus you might find him asking for a kung pao chicken and pea pod combo. "It's like ordering salad with dressing on the side." 300MarineAve.,NewportBeach,(949)673-3802.AMAZINGASIAN:Lam actually had to get back to us on his Little Saigon find, for while he knew how to get there, he could not remember the exact name, address or even the dishes that make him salivate. Yep, one of thoseplaces, so it must be damn fine. "My favorite, favorite food right now is Vietnamese. It is so fresh and so clean and soooooflavorful. This place in Little Saigon on Bolsa I like has most of the things any other Chinese restaurant has. But . . . it's like their sautéed spinach: You know how places will have it and it's wilted and smells good but doesn't always taste good? Well, there they have it, too, and they add this funky fish sauce to it and it's great. You can't get it unless you see someone else order it. There are garlic chunks all over it. The flavor is intense. It kicks ass. And very few other restaurants carry it. The rare beef salad is also out of control. It's like a seared filet mignon with cilantro and peanuts. Just order those two dishes right there." Thankfully, he looked up his last credit-card statement to reveal the joint's name: ThanhMy. 9553BolsaAve.,Westminster,(714)531-9540.

Location Info


Koji's Sushi and Shabu Shabu

20 City Blvd. E.., Ste. 602
Orange, CA 92868

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Orange

Quan Hy Restaurant

9727 Bolsa Ave.
Westminster, CA 92683

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Westminster

Seems like the only time you hear a Muslim name in the news, it's linked to something bad, but Asma Ahmad is turning all that around. Like many Muslims, she grew tired of the redundant clichéd stereotypes of Muslims (Beards! Bombs! Burkhas!) in print and broadcast media. Unlike many Muslims, this frustration drove Ahmad to create InFocus, the county's only Muslim-themed English-language newspaper. Staffed by Muslims and non-Muslims, InFocusdevotes articles to topics that range from the Iraq War to school fund-raisers and reviews of homegrown artists. Its distribution reaches nearly every mosque and Arab/Desi ethnic grocery store in the greater Orange County area. ETHNICEAT(PAKISTANI):What's more fitting for the Muslim editor (Ahmad) of a Muslim newspaper (In Focus) to enjoy eating than Muslim food (halal) from a Muslim restaurant named Bismillah(which translates into "In the Name of God")? Nothing! "Bismillah would have to be my favorite Pakistani restaurant," says Ahmad. "Their chicken tikka masala is really good. And they don't play loud music, which could be really annoying at times." 7901-DKnottAve.,BuenaPark,(714)827-8201.AMAZINGASIAN:"I didn't know much about Thai food until I got married. My husband grew up in Thailand, and his family introduced me to it in Thailand. The food at WinThaiis light, fresh, and they even have som tam—raw papaya salad, which is something I crave a lot ever since I tried it in Thailand. The other great thing is that Win Thai is halal—so the meat preparation follows the Muslim dietary requirements, which means that I can have anything I want on the menu, as opposed to just the vegetarian dishes!" 1151N.EuclidSt.,Ste.D-E,Anaheim,(714)778-0940.

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