By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Best Non-Vietnamese Rest-aurant Lazy Dog Cafe. The menu veers from pizza to kung pao—each inherently tasty. Shanghai tacos come in a large bowl filled with chicken ground to hamburg consistency, stir-fried with water chestnuts and shredded carrots, and accompanied by a plate of iceberg lettuce leaves. 16310 Beach Blvd., Westminster, (714) 500-1140; www.thelazydogcafe.com.
Best Latino Restaurant Pura Vida. One of two county restaurants specializing in Costa Rican cuisine, a dazzlingly jumbled diet with Caribbean, Mesoamerican and even Chinese influences: fried rice, chow mein and tamales. Whether it's chicken, pork or beef, whether they butterfly slabs or chop up gorgeous chunks, all the meat dishes are lean and succulent and come served with veggies. 6731 Westminster Blvd., Ste. 113, Westminster, (714) 893-3611; www.puravidacostarican.com.
Best Hick Restaurant Quan Hy. Country-style Vietnamese—a lot more flavor and eccentricity than food like pho, and you taste a lot of different things. Their mixed bowls are dynamite—seafood medley, pork and beef and shrimp and fish and vegetables. 9727 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, (714) 775-7179; 10212 Westminster Ave., Garden Grove, (714) 636-1652.
Best Mall Asian Garden Mall. As the Westminster Mall falls into desolation and despair, Asian Garden Mall continues to attract the Vietnamese diaspora like one giant, pho-scented homing device. This two-story is full of Vietnamese shops selling food, clothes, music, medicines, books and Buddhist artifacts. 9200 Bolsa Ave., Westminster.
Best Dining Experience Dragon Phoenix Palace. Get your chopsticks ready for the weekend dim sum, because in minutes, you'll have a tableful of sizzling pork and shrimp pot stickers, savory dumplings, won-ton soup, and wonderful salt-and-pepper squid. 9211 Bolsa Ave., Stes. 201-208, Westminster, (714) 893-1976.
Best Vegetarian Van Hanh Vegetarian Restaurant. Vietnamese cuisine includes a proud tofu tradition, and this menu is its full, finest flowering. No limp kung pao and imitation orange chicken here; instead, you'll find biting papaya concoctions drenched in chile powder and lime juice, noodle selections studded with tasty tofu and veggies, and more rice plates than in Uncle Ben's wildest dreams. 9455 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, (714) 531-4661.
Best Sandwiches Bánh Mi Cho Cu. You tolerate brusque customer service for their 10 choices of bánh mì, the foot-long sandwich that is one of the most delicious robberies in the gustatory world at $1.50 per stickup. Barbecue pork is charred to a ruddy crispness, yet moist. Meatballs are densely herbed and juicy, not bitter like those found at so many bánh mì shops. And a breakfast bánh mì includes the perfect scrambled egg, oozing just enough yolk to liven up your morning. 14520 Magnolia St., Unit B, Westminster, (714) 891-3718.