This Week in Squash

The tendril-bearing plants of the genus Cucurbita yield some of our fleshiest, heartiest veggies: squash. Cucumber. Pumpkin. Chayote. Zucchini. Yum. Enjoy.

DINNER FOR TWO:

¢ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Less than $10!

$ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $10-$20

$$ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $20-$40

$$$ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ¡Eres muy rico!

COSTA MESA OMELETTE PARLOR
Good job, Costa Mesans: when Vons Supermarket threatened to shutter the Omelette Parlor in late 2003, y'all rallied to save this blue-collar haven (you should've done the same for Kona Lanes, though). Now the rest of us can continue to scratch our bellies in bewildered satisfaction after eating one of the Omelette Parlor's fabulously stuffed omelets named after some long-dead Costa Mesa City Council member—give me the one with cucumbers. 179 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 645-0740. $

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. Most diners order from a buffet near the kitchen, where a stern-looking woman in a milk-colored hairnet lords over entrées that constitute the $5.50 three-items-plus-rice combo. Choices vary from hour to hour and include a spicy Lao-style vegetable soup redolent of pumpkin, fiery green curry (smoky with eggplant chunks) and fried catfish that crackles loudly across the dining room. 1719 W. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, (714) 999-0563. $


HANNAM SUPERMARKET
The city says 1,500 shoppers file into this Korean grocery store every day. That's no surprise: this place is stocked with plenty of Korean squash—which resemble flattened pumpkins—frozen vegetable dumplings and corn buns for all your authentic Asian dining needs. 4941 La Palma Ave., La Palma, (562) 865-4116. ¢-$$

HWANG HAE DO BBQ
Hwang Hae Do is the Orange County outpost of an Artesia restaurant famed for its mandoo—delicate dumplings native to North Korea that are a bit bigger than the five knuckles of your hand bunched together and bloated with herbed ground beef and snappy zucchini bits. But Hwang Hae Do also prepares other Korean favorites: chicken, pork or beef shavings (bulgogi) doused in soy sauce and brought out on a skillet with almost-caramelized onions; eggy seafood pancakes engorged with grilled octopus, buttery clams and some viciously pickled house kim chi; and noodles of various temperatures, consistencies and strewn vegetables. 9448 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 590-1588. $


LE JARDIN
Head chef/owner Corey Vuu relies on southern Vietnam's meat dishes for his cross-cultural mixes. Chew on Vuu's bò luc lac, salted sautéed beef cubes (think Spam with flavor) served with a side order of crunchy pommes frites and a giant crisp cucumber that gives the beef an extra French zing. Vuu travels beyond France for some of his plates too. The braised catfish ravioli—salty fish chopped up and wrapped up in plump pasta squares—is simultaneously Italian and Vietnamese. 17431 Brookhurst St., Ste. A, Fountain Valley, (714) 593-8511. $$

THE LODGE
Pot roast. Macaroni and cheese. Pork and beans. Meat loaf. These are American staples, but the Lodge expands upon them in ways you'd expect from talented owners Tim and Liza Goodell (of Aubergine and Troquet fame)—like a velvety roasted-squash soup, creamy polenta and a lineup of prime aged steaks. 2937 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 751-1700. $$$

MATSUNOYA
The Matsunoya special roll: salmon with cucumbers and a special sauce—maybe it's part mayonnaise? Regardless, this roll is the reason the Fullerton sushi icon has been around for more than 20 years. 1307 S. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 447-1612. $

PUPUSERÍA SAN SIVAR
This hole-in-the-strip-mall takes special care with its pupusas, which have a crispy yet malleable crust encasing thick, sticky cheese and usually containing a bitter squash flower called loroco. Meanwhile, an oily, impossibly sugary plantain lying alongside refried beans is like a battle between the lush tropics and the spartan plains of El Salvador on the tongue; a side of sweet sour cream negotiates a tasteful truce. 1940 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 650-2952. $


VINE
Vine is an epicurean stunner, a snug eatery that's been open for about a year now but continues to attract South Countians seeking a joyous repast. It focuses on California wine-country cuisine, meaning alchemies of seasonal flavors and ingredients that are as nuanced and numerous as the vineyards of Napa: pumpkin ravioli appetizers, sea scallops with fava beans, and other assorted meal miracles prepared by owner/chef Justin Monson. 211 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 361-2079; www.vinesanclemente.com. $$$

View Orange County's best damn dining guide at ocweekly.com/food.

 
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