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The Asian Persuasion

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


Photo by Jeanne Rice

SHAHEENSADEGHI
CREATOROFTHELABANTI-MALLANDTHECAMP
Sadeghi's parents—professors both—immigrated from Iran, a country chock-a-block with fine cuisine. Now he's on a rice-free diet, which puts him at odds with the snow-white drifts of the stuff that blanket a traditional Iranian plate: "A lot of it is rice-based, which I don't do," he says. "I've gone vegetarian. But I think the flavor is very good. It doesn't have the intensity of Indian food." ETHNICEAT(PERSIAN):Sadeghi makes his peace with his father's table and eats his vegetables at Daryain Orange (the name means "the ocean"). "They're traditional menus," he says. "It's got a lot of depth. You're looking at a lot of vegetable base, which is good. It's very healthy." 1998N.TustinAve.,Orange,(714)921-2773.

Zipangu
Photo by Amy Theilig


AMAZINGASIAN:Sadeghi's favorite non-native Asian restaurant also hews closely to his dietary regime: Zipangu. He's in there so often that he scarcely has to open his mouth to order—just to eat. He walks in, maybe asks what's good, and the chef gets busy. "He does a special fish dish for me, which is no oil. It's quick and it's fresh, anything from a sea bass to a salmon. He grills it—it's never fried—and uses different sauces," Sadeghi raves. "I just ask for my special, and whatever fresh fish he has that day is what he makes. I get the salad and miso soup—get my Omega 3, you know. It feels great. And then my side dish is always a big dish of that pickled ginger." 2930BristolSt.,CostaMesa,(714)545-2800;www.zipanguoc.com.

CHUCKDEVORE
CALIFORNIASTATEASSEMBLYMEMBER,70THDISTRICT
We hate Chuck DeVore because he doesn't see anything wrong with creating a bill that would allow residents in the El Morro Mobile Homes in Crystal Cove to stay after he accepted more than $74,000 in political donations from them. We respect Chuck DeVore, though, because he's the most accessible of our Assembly, state Senate or congressional delegates and usually answers e-mails within the day. And we love Chuck DeVore because he's a best-selling author . . . in Taiwan?! Allow Chuck to explain: "In 1999, I co-authored ChinaAttacks, a techno-thriller that was published in 2000, then translated into Chinese in 2001. Since I am not a credentialed China expert, I figured no one would be interested in a nonfiction book by me about this topic. On the other hand, a fact-based, action-packed novel might be read by many for enjoyment, some of whom might actually revise their opinions about China's intentions and capabilities." ChinaAttacksproved so popular that DeVore toured Taiwan in 2001—where Chinese officials called him an "imperial dog." ETHNICEAT(CHINESE):"The only Chinese restaurant we consistently frequent is Chinatown. My wife loves their aromatic shrimp—'aromatic' as in garlic, and it's a good thing I love both her and garlic, or else that dish would be a bit too much! I generally gravitate towards Mongolian beef or kung pao beef, either of which is always fresh and savory. And, as if all this isn't enough, we've even seen Commie Girl there once or twice." 4139CampusDr.,Irvine,(949)856-2211.AMAZINGASIAN:Koki'sTeppanandSushi: "Koki's is an inexpensive version of Benihana's. My two daughters love the place. With the chefs' knife play, the culinary acrobatics, and the ever-popular flaming onion volcano, what's there not to like? I usually order the steak and shrimp combo with fried rice. We can usually feed the entire family of four for about $50." 3957IrvineBlvd.,Irvine,(714)508-1668;also1061E.MainSt.,Tustin,(714)505-6738.

STEVENCHOI
IRVINECOUNCILMEMBER,GREATPARKSAVIOR?
Choi is a teacher by trade, but now the county is looking to the Irvine council member for salvation. Choi also sits on the board of directors for the Great Park and is, along with fellow Irvine Council Member Christina Shea, one of the two voices not controlled by longtime Irvine political force Larry Agran. Catch Choi at the Great Park meetings—he's the one arguing against sweetheart contracts and exorbitant government pork as Agran and his allies turn the Great Park into the Irvine Spectrum II. ETHNICEAT(KOREAN):KoreaHouseBBQ: "I like this restaurant because you can either grill your own meat at your table—marinated beef, chicken or pork—for a unique experience of pleasure and taste or have it prepared in the kitchen. The restaurant is relatively new with one year three months old operation history, during which time its popularity has spread to non-Koreans as well." 5305UniversityDr.,Irvine,(949)552-9998.AMAZINGASIAN:AgoraChurrascariais an all-you-can-eat Brazilian BBQ restaurant, says Choi, but the owners are Korean: "I just went there for the first time a couple weeks back. The taste was so superb, I had to try all of the courses coming my way, which was I don't even know how many kinds of meat. The result? I was full."1830MainSt.,Irvine,(949)222-9910;www.agorachurrascaria.com.

SUKHCHUGH
FOUNDER/PRESIDENT,BETHECAUSE
Everyone should have a buddy whose goal in life is to spread goodwill amongst mankind and ignite random acts of kindness around their community. But if you don't, give Sukh Chugh a holler and in about five minutes he'll be that friend for you (but don't call him after 9:30 p.m.—that's his silent-meditation time). He's the founder and president of Be the Cause, a volunteer group that holds an annual Walk for Hope to raise money for various charities. Be the Cause also plans something called Compassion Cells. "Our Compassion Cells are in response to terrorist cells," says Chugh. "We believe that if a group of people can get together to plan and execute something as horrific as the 9/11 tragedy, then a group of people can likewise get together and plan something that promotes kindness and unity." ETHNICEAT(INDIAN):Chugh is originally from Canada, where his mother raised him on homemade chutneys and biryani. In Orange County, miles away from his ummi's kitchen, Chugh turns to the nice aunties and uncles at IndiaSweetsandSpices. He likes the buffet: "Always fresh, spicy and cheap!" 14441NewportAve.,Tustin,(714)731-2910.AMAZINGASIAN:When Chugh's in need of fuel to quench his ancient soul, he passes by AuLacVegetarianRestaurant, where he can get the finest Chinese and Vietnamese vegetarian and raw food. "It's the coolest place," says Chugh. "The cook has taken a vow of silence. He might walk around and greet people, but he still never says a word." 16563BrookhurstSt.,FountainValley,(714)418-0658;.

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