The Asian Persuasion

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

Photo by Matt Otto

You may not know her name, but you'd recognize the face anywhere. She's the face of strong Muslim women in Orange County; she's CAIR's talking head; she's that hijab-bedecked gal always interviewed on the evening news about Muslim stuff. She's Sabiha Khan, and she's putting aside politics to talk food. But this typically eloquent public speaker struggled to describe the savory tastes of her favorite restaurants without pausing to drool. ETHNICEAT(PAKISTANI):"My favorite Pakistani place to eat is TheVillagein Anaheim," Khan explains. "I really like their chicken masala. They make it fresh to order." And during those long days defending civil liberties, Sabiha and the rest of the CAIR turn to the Village Restaurant for a quick biryani (rice dish) pick-me-up. 1671W.KatellaAve.,Anaheim,(714)635-7770.AMAZINGASIAN:"I LOVE LOTUS!" It's hard to believe how many times those three little words could be said in a single phone conversation, but when Khan gets adamant about her love for food, don't even try to get a word in edgewise, especially about LotusChineseEatery, one of the county's two Chinese Islamic restaurants. In addition to having the "best Chinese food [she's] ever tasted," Lotus also has the unique quality of serving halal dishes. "Lotus meets my [Islamically] required dietary restrictions. And there are no worries of pork products." 16883BeachBlvd.,HuntingtonBeach,(714)848-4940.

If there's a historic Vietnamese art show occurring somewhere in Southern California, Ysa Le is there. A pharmacist at St. Joseph Home Care Pharmacy in Orange, Le is also the board president of the Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association (VAALA). Through this organization, Vietnamese-American artists have produced such groundbreaking exhibits as 2002's F.O.B.:AMulti-ArtShowand the biannual Vietnamese International Film Festival. And when she's taking a break, Le hosts Vong Chan Troi Van Hoc Nghe Thuat(The Art Horizon), a weekly arts program on KALI-FM 106.3. ETHNICEAT(VIETNAMESE):Like almost all of Little Saigon, Le raves about Brodard's BBQ pork rolls. "The nem nuong Nha Trang is a specialty appetizer from Nha Trang, a Vietnamese city famous for its white beaches," she explains. "The sauce to this nem nuong does the trick—other Vietnamese restaurants may have the same nem nuong, but the Brodard's sauce sets it apart. And the surprise comes when you take the first bite and find out there's a crunchy egg roll inside the nem nuong. Yummy!" 9225BolsaAve.,Ste.F-3,Westminster,(714)901-3723.AMAZINGASIAN:Like chicken gizzards? Le does, especially the way they prepare them at the Korean restaurant JangToh: "They serve it sizzling hot on a metal plate. I eat the chicken gizzards with some kimchi, cucumber and steamed rice. A couple of OB beers will add the fun—and you supposedly can't get drunk with OB." 9872GardenGroveBlvd.,GardenGrove,(714)530-5756.

Twenty-five years after his parents left China and 20 after they moved to California, Sichuan scion Ned—the son of the proprietors of Huntington's Great Wok Chinese—is about to back-flip into the family business. He loves his mom's home cooking ("Put the stir-fry on really high heat, so you're on top of the fire—flames everywhere!") but he's planning to tone down the intensity a little for the mass market. His East Winds Asian Cuisine—opening at Edinger and Goldenwest in HB this fall—is sometimes so fusion it's almost sci-fi: he's got kung pao pasta, nachos with shiitake mushrooms, duck pizza, even a promising sake martini monster that Ned calls (naturally) a "sake-tini." Mom and Dad must be so proud, if slightly confused. "That's why I have the courage to do this," the first-time restaurateur says. "I know that if I don't know something, they'll back me up." ETHNICEAT(CHINESE):"Seafood Covein Westminster—I go there weekly. You get traditional food, but it's very Americanized, so nobody will be scared to eat it. The best of both worlds! My favorite thing is the kung pao squid, if that doesn't sound too weird: white squid, stir-fried with kung pao sauce, little onions, green peppers . . . you probably wouldn't find that at P.F. Chang's!" 8547WestminsterAve.,GardenGrove,(714)895-7964.AMAZINGASIAN:"I love sushi, and CaliforniaBeachSushiin Newport Beach is just awesome. The atmosphere is crazy—all the sushi chefs will play a song and dance to it, and girls can, like, go on the bar, pull their bras down and get sticker-tattoos from the chefs. Most girls are pretty shy. But if you get a few not-shy girls . . ." 3355ViaLido,Ste.H,NewportBeach,(949)675-0575.

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

First of all, we refuse to believe Osajima eats anything, given that in the months and weeks and days before last April's film festival, any time you dropped into her office unannounced, there she was: nose to the grindstone, barking into the phone, whipping minions into shape—with nary a Subway wrapper, Big Gulp or empty Dominos box in sight. But when the talk turned small, Osajima did mention "friends" and "going out to eat" and "have you ever eaten at . . .?"—clues that would lead you to believe she possessed some semblance of a life beyond her messy perch across from the private jet hangars at John Wayne Airport. ETHNICEAT(JAPANESE):242CaféFusionSushi. "Chef Miki Izumisawa employs a palette of some traditional and some surprising ingredients to create specialty dishes with such fanciful names as Sexy Hand Roll and Enjoy Shitake Feeling. Forget their standard spicy tuna rolls and take advantage of this rare window of opportunity to sample the talents of a true artist." 242N.CoastHwy.,LagunaBeach,(949)494-2444; "This is our traditional hang. Good, reasonably priced, with some yummy specialties like lobster hand roll and special California roll, which is a California roll smothered in baked scallops. Yum. You'll see NBFF staff members in there with some regularity, as well as those we've converted and those who converted us." 2075NewportBlvd.,#108,CostaMesa,(949)722-8736;"Hmmm . . . non-Japanese . . . I had a really yummy okra dish at RoyalKhyberlast night. Does Indian count as Asian? It should, you know. Their dishes are aromatic and tasty to boot. You have to ask for spicy, though, and they will oblige." 1621W.SunflowerAve.,SantaAna,(714)436-1010;

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