By Matt Coker
By Keith Plocek
By Edwin Goei
By Edwin Goei
By Matt Coker
By Edwin Goei
By Dave Mau
Bukhara—Indian for “strip mall”— is situated in, of all things, a Huntington Beach strip mall. It’s an intimate and superb representation of its genre, featuring healthy food, an extensive menu and, most important, many vegetarian choices. The assault on one’s taste buds is breathtaking from start to finish. 7594 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 842-3171. $$
2801 W. Ball Road
Anaheim, CA 92804
3900 E. Coast Highway
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625
Region: Corona Del Mar
279 E. 17th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Region: Costa Mesa
4453 Cerritos Ave.
Cypress, CA 90630
34157 Pacific Coast Highway
Dana Point, CA 92629
Region: Dana Point
18924 Brookhurst St.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
Region: Fountain Valley
410 E. Chapman Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92832
8895 Garden Grove Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92844
Region: Garden Grove
7594 Edinger Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
Region: Huntington Beach
THE CHICKEN CO.
If it wasn’t copyrighted, we would tell you they do chicken right. So we’ll just say they do chicken correctly. They turn lowly poultry into buttery works of art. Forget chicken soup: This is what your soul is craving. 9017 Adams Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 963-0500. $
All Persian restaurants feature shirin polo: basmati rice mixed with shredded chicken and fragments of orange peel, pistachios and almonds. Darband outdoes them all by including half a chicken instead of chicken strips. And instead of mixing it into the shirin polo, the Darband cooks bring out the bird simmering in a bowl of chicken broth. The result was a chicken so succulent and tender, I was able to eat it with a spoon. 14210 Culver Dr., Ste. H, Irvine, (949) 857-8265. $$
The Japanese are the creators of nikuman, the world’s cutest sandwich, which consists of a candied, spongy flour wrapped around gingered meats and vegetables. At Diho Bakery, nikuman-type sandwiches are elevated to an art form on par with calligraphy. The taro, in particular, is a pleasant surprise—not your tiki party’s dull, watery poi paste, but instead a jam waiting to be copyrighted by See’s. 14130 Culver Dr., Ste. J, Irvine, (949) 857-6415. $
Gulliver’s prime rib is the primest of prime. ¡El Primo de Ribbie Ribozo! Un Primen de Ribentrop! What else is there to say? It’s succulent, it’s pink, it’s thick, and it’s delicious. You’ll be saying, Voulez-vous le Ribby de Prim! I surrender. 18482 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine, (949) 833-8411. $$
Imperial Burgers serves many more things besides its Cheddar cheese-heavy pastrami burritos—its namesake, for instance, a charbroiled marriage of meat, soft bun, sweet cheese, girth and lettuce. Or standard breakfasts of pancakes, hash browns and sausage. And always sip on ultra-sweet Orange Bang whenever you find this increasingly rare beverage. Everything is good here, really. But La Habra is so far away, and the pastrami burrito is so good—why would you ever order anything else? 241 E. Imperial Hwy., La Habra, (714) 525-1611. $
You probably slap together half of Paesano’s menu at least once a week for dinner: sauce-drenched entrées such as mostaccioli, spaghetti and lasagna that aren’t so much Old World as they are Hoboken. So why bother visiting this 26-year-old eatery? Meatballs that are lacy, herbed and delish. And good subs. 5440 Orangethorpe Ave., La Palma, (714) 521-4748. $
Sometimes you’ve gotta choose: the kid’s college education, or another round of margaritas? Ah, but at Las Brisas—perched above Laguna Beach’s Heisler Park, granting you a luxurious after-dinner view of the sun setting over Catalina—the seafood and booze are so good as to make temptation irresistible. 361 Cliff Dr., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-5434. $$
THE LITTLE LAGUNAS
ONAMI SUSHI & SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
Here, you can partake of as much sushi as you want. You can gobble down transparent globules of ikura (salmon roe) like popcorn, or tiny particles of masago (smelt egg) as if they’re, well, tiny particles of masago. 24155 Laguna Hills Mall, Ste. 1301, Laguna Hills, (949) 768-0500. $$
MANILA FOOD MART
Every Filipino joint offers the same meals; Manila Food Mart differentiates itself by hawking various products, from such Filipino garb as handbags and barongs (an ornate, light long-sleeved shirt similar to the Caribbean guayabera) to a freezer stocked with ready-to-eat meals such as bags of plump, sugary longansina pork sausages. 24601 Raymond Way, Ste. 10, Lake Forest, (949) 461-0113; www.manilafoodmart.com. $
AlegrÍa Cocina Latina
The Spanish-styled brocheta vegetariana isn’t like any bruschetta we’re used to. The bread is replaced with corn tortillas and topped with skewers of grilled vegetables in a light sesame sauce on a pile of Peruvian corn, fresh-chopped tomatoes and tofu. That’s right—tofu! 115 Pine Ave., Long Beach, (562) 436-3388. $$
The place has a voluminous menu that spans matzo to mud pie, spinach salad to skyscraper sandwiches, knish to kippers—not to mention a full bakery that houses fresh rolls and bagels. Their Denver omelet is terrific. 4470 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, (562) 594-8611. ¢
Hawaiian staples such as manapua (steamed pork buns) and boiling saimin noodles are fine at Aloha BBQ, along with a Korean-skewed side menu filled with bimimbap and complimentary kimchi. As great as those are, the most impressive meat meal is the spicy pork ribs. Most rib places content themselves with giving patrons a couple of twigs, but Aloha BBQ carts over four massive things that appear to have been torn from a hippo. 24000 Alicia Pkwy., Ste. 4, Mission Viejo, (949) 581-0976. $
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