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Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide

ZIPANGU
There are marvels here: the kabocha dumpling is baby lobster and pureed Japanese pumpkin in a balsamic glaze, garnished with some sort of flash-fried sage or mint. The New York steak, served as sushi-sized pieces in a tangy teriyaki sauce, is buttery and tender and perfectly done. And enough sushi is here to warrant a Greenpeace visit. 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 545-2800; www.zipanguoc.com. $$

CYPRESS

IRIE JAMAICAN RESTAURANT
This mom-and-pop place serves an excellent ackee and salt fish that is a must-have. But you might be remiss if you passed on some of the other fine dishes, including oxtail, cow foot, curry goat and jerk chicken. 9062 Valley View St., Cypress, (714) 484-0661. $

DANA POINT

MEGA BURGERS
You can't accuse this joint, located quite obviously in a former KFC, of false advertising. Their trademark is the mega mega burger, a cake-sized burger, served in slices, that is the equivalent of eight hamburgers. Note: if you think a mega mega burger sounds like an eat-alone kind of meal, take a good look in the mirror and have your cholesterol checked first. 34122 Pacific Coast Hwy., Dana Point, (949) 488-0849. $

Location Info

Map

Siam Chili Paste

1739 W. La Palma Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92801

Category: Restaurant >

Region: Anaheim

Bismillah Halal Tandoori Restaurant

8901 Knott Ave.
Buena Park, CA 90620

Category: Restaurant > Indian

Region: Buena Park

Gen Kai Japanese Restaurant

3344 E. Coast Highway
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Corona Del Mar

Pinot Provence

686 Anton Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > California

Region: Costa Mesa

Super Corokke

675 Paularino Ave., Ste. C
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Costa Mesa

Chanteclair

18912 Macarthur Blvd.
Irvine, CA 92612-1411

Category: Restaurant > Fine Dining

Region: Irvine

230 Forest Avenue Restaurant & Bar

230 Forest Ave.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Category: Restaurant > Eclectic

Region: Laguna Beach

Anastasia Cafe

460 Ocean Ave.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Laguna Beach

Seaside Bakery

2108 W. Oceanfront
Newport Beach, CA 92663

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Newport Beach

Poul's Danish-american Bakery

770 N. Tustin St.
Orange, CA 92867

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Orange

TLAQUEPAQUE

101 W. Santa Fe Ave.
Placentia, CA 92870

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Placentia

Vine

211 N. El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: San Clemente

DIAMOND BAR

ASIAN DELI
Asian Deli operated for years from a hectic Orange strip mall, a spotless Indonesian dive where patrons happily munched on vast rice dishes that resembled hail flurries along with satay skewers of sweet, spicy and smoky savors. Now based in Diamond Bar, it still saunters through the Indonesian cookbook—one of the world's most deliciously anarchic due to the country's archipelagic nature and position between various trade routes—as if bankrolled by President Megawati Sukarnoputri. 23545 Palomino Dr., Ste. F, Diamond Bar, (909) 861-1427; www.asian-deli.com. $

FOUNTAIN VALLEY

ASHOKA CUISINE OF INDIA
Never has bread been so uplifting as it is here. The Kabuli naan, for instance, is a minor meal masterpiece, stuffed with sweet nuts, raisins and cherry bits that clash with the bread's smoky shell with the intensity of an India-Pakistan cricket match. But the vegetarian offerings are Ashoka's finest creations, unpretentious stews and purées that allow greenery to taste like greenery while pulsating with spices. 18041 Magnolia St., Fountain Valley, (714) 593-2968; www.ashokacuisineofindia.com. $$

FULLERTON

ROMAN CUCINA
There's nothing pretentious or nouveau about the service or cuisine, no-nonsense Italian fare based on three kinds of pasta: fettuccine, linguine and penne. And you won't find veal, lamb, rabbit or anything else too far off the main Italian grub drag—pasta, beef and pork make Roman Cucina the simplest, most delicious Italian since Sonny Corleone. 211 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 680-6000; www.romancucina.com. $$

SEAFOOD GRILL
Set up more along the lines of a fast-food restaurant than a fine-dining experience, the humble look of the Seafood Grill belies the quite serviceable menu. Shrimp, lobster, crab and fish tacos are all on the menu, but the real deal here is the fish and chips. 100 S. Harbor Blvd., Ste. D, Fullerton, (714) 446-0700. $

EL SOMBRERO PLAZA DULCERÍA
Though Cortés vanquished the Aztecs centuries ago, their taste for sweet and searing lives on in El Sombrero Plaza Dulcería, a Mexican candy store on the outskirts of Fullerton's rough Tokers Town barrio, the hellish equivalent of Willy Wonka's wonderland, an expansive, adobe-style building—it looks like the manse of a Gabriel García-Marquez protagonist. You'll find chile-centric candy in dozens of improbable combinations here, but also sweets, such as the neon-tinted alfajor de coco, that are so rich a single nibble per hour is the recommended consumption rate. 415 S. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 992-5441. $

GARDEN GROVE

KAJU SOFT TOFU RESTAURANT
This is an idyllic eatery that specializes in a soft and spicy tofu soup. Depending on what you want to put in the soup, it becomes a sort of paella, except that with paella, the waitress doesn't drop a raw egg into it as it is being served. The bulgogi—thinly sliced, seasoned beef with sweet caramelized onions served on a fajita-like skillet—is a good complement to the soup. 8895 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 636-2849. $$

LIGHT TOWN HOUSE
Korean barbecue rules here—pork belly, beef, eel, what have you. But don't overlook the mushroom tofu stew—not that spicy but containing enough chile to make you sweat and all the mushrooms you want. 8902 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 638-5757. $$

NOORANI HALAL TANDOORI RESTAURANT
The Indian selections are admirable—the sour minced-beef shish kebab in particular would make a desi nostalgic for the Punjab—but first-time Noorani patrons should indulge instead in the specialty of one of the county's few Pakistani restaurants. The haleem in particular, a sticky concoction of lentils, shredded wheat, ginger, dried chiles and beef so mashed it's not immediately discernible in the goop, is the tasty oatmeal Americans can only dream about. 14178 Brookhurst St., Garden Grove, (714) 636-1000. $

NUOC MÌA VIEN TÂY
The best drink in Orange County is also the least advertised. Nuoc Mía Vien Tây in Garden Grove sells an ambrosial sugar cane juice renowned throughout the Vietnamese diaspora but little known outside. A deep sip reveals its greatness: frothy but smooth, the sugar cane's earthy sweetness is tempered by the citric candor of tangerine and kumquat. It is extraterrestrial, it is patient, it is kind—it's the I Corinthians 13 of the beverage world. 14370 Brookhurst St., Garden Grove, (714) 531-9801. ¢

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