*** KOREA ***

Underestimate The Past Memories’ yogurt soju at your peril. The cocktail of Calpico and rice liquor is weak but inordinately easy to drink and dangerous precisely because of it. Also offered: Ice-cold Hite beer gets you drunk the old fashioned way. Both are poured liberally in the kind of establishment that opens when the offices close and doesn’t shutter until the wee hours of the morning. Drinking and eating, as it turns out, are also the Korean ways of relaxing after a hard day on the job. (EG) 9252 Garden Grove Blvd., Ste. 29, Garden Grove, (714) 638-7818.

Vietnam - Central
Quan Hop
Edwin Goei
Vietnam - Central Quan Hop

Location Info


Iva Lee's

555 N. El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672

Category: Restaurant > Cajun

Region: San Clemente


3630 Katella Ave.
Rossmoor, CA 90720

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Los Alamitos

Katella Deli

4470 Katella Ave.
Rossmoor, CA 90720

Category: Restaurant > Breakfast

Region: Los Alamitos

Anita's New Mexico Style Mexican Food

600 S. Harbor Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Category: Restaurant > Southwestern

Region: Fullerton

Plum's Café and Catering

369 E. 17th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Restaurant > Breakfast

Region: Costa Mesa

Memphis Soul Cafe

2920 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > Southern

Region: Costa Mesa

Philly's Best

26612 Towne Center Drive
Foothill Ranch, CA 92610

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Foothill Ranch

King Lobster Palace

2045 N. Tustin St.
Orange, CA 92865

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Orange

May Garden Restaurant

1400 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Costa Mesa

Tri Village

14121 Jeffrey Road
Irvine, CA 92620

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Irvine

Chong Qing Mei Wei Szechwan Restaurant

5406 Walnut Ave.
Irvine, CA 92604

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Irvine

Nice Time Deli

5408 Walnut Ave.
Irvine, CA 92614

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Irvine

Everyone’s heard of Korean barbecue, but Shi Do Rak is purported to be the first to pair it with thin slices of rice-noodle sheet called dduk bo sam. You wrap the coaster-sized white squares around the meats you pluck sizzling from the griddle. Then, swirl the rice paper taco around either chili paste or salted sesame oil before stuffing the whole thing in your mouth. Shots of soju and bites of kimchi are required in between. Conversation and good times follow. (EG) 14805 Jeffrey Rd., Ste. H, Irvine, (949) 653-7668; 9691 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 534-7668.

They don’t have a catchy motto or a cartoon mascot. What Kyochon does have is adulation from the press, food geeks and actual Koreans. But on the record, the fried chicken here is more finger-lickin’ than the Colonel’s, with spicy kimchi hints and just a suggestion of batter. The rest of its crispness is owed to the exacting way in which they fry the birds—a method that renders off all subcutaneous fat and transforms chicken skin into a thin, shimmering shell that crackles like burnt sugar. (EG) 12840 Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 891-2449.

Soondubu comforts all during the chill of winter. How could it not? A boiling pot of soup is brought to your table still roiling like a witch’s cauldron. Within gurgles a chile-spiked broth that is hot in both definitions of the word. But the main draw is the floating globs of silken tofu, bringer of warmth and nourishment. Kaju Tofu Restaurant is where this dish is at its best.(EG) 8895 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 636-2849.

Sullungtang gets its name from its appearance (it literally means “snowy-thick soup”), but the brew owes its flavor to the boiling of an ox’s leg bones. In the old country, it was meant to stretch meager supplies of protein, extracting every bit of nutrition from the beast. These days, the soup is well-known as a hangover cure. Like all restaurants specializing in sullungtang, Jang Mo Gip supplies a tableside container of salt, with which you can control its seasoning—control you wished you had the night before. (EG) 9711 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 534-1340;


*** MEXICO ***

El Fogón
makes a green pozole that cures cancer. Okay, not cancer . . . but a bad day, for sure. (GA) 1228 E. Edinger Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 972-8995.

The birthplace of mariachi, tequila and the prettiest fair-skinned señoritas not from Zacatecas loves its birria, goat stewed until it slips off bone like water going over glass. Cheap, huge portions can be found at El Cabrito, complete with its juices in a cup for sipping. (GA) 1604 W. First St., Santa Ana, (714) 543-8461.

The sign at Taco Factory looks like a relic from the days when the county’s Mexicans stuck to three cities near the tracks; the menu also dates from those days. But the food? Green chile, taco salads and other antiquated favorites? Eternal. (GA) 14455 Newport Ave., Tustin, (714) 731-1111.

Mexico’s capital eats masa in dozens of ways, and you’ll find most of them at El Rincón Chilango. Quesadillas with huitlacoche, thick mulitas, cheesy tlacoyos and the pambazo, a type of torta created with a red salsa-soaked bolillo griddled and studded with potatoes. Mmm . . . griddled, salsa-soaked bolillo. (GA) 1133 W. 17th St., Santa Ana, (714) 836-5096.

Las Brisas de Apatzingan
offers all the Mexican meals of your Southern California experience—ignore them all. Pick those Spanish words you don’t know yet—aporrillado, a type of machaca, or the rice stew morisqueta. And the small tamales called huchepos? Sweet, made from fresh sweet corn—the best in Orange County. (GA) 1524 S. Flower St., Santa Ana, (714) 545-5584.

El Fortín
offersMexican food as you’ve never experienced it. Tortillas? Called tlayudas, as large as a child’s Hula-Hoop. Moles? Fiery, sweet, savory—six of them. Dried crickets as appetizers, fruit-spiked horchata, and brick-sized tamales cooked in banana leaves and stuffed with bitter chocolate. Feast here, and you’ll wonder why the Reconquista can’t send more Oaxacans our way. (GA) 700 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 773-4290; 10444 Dale Ave., Stanton, (714) 252-9120;

In Mexican popular culture, you don’t mess with people from this Pacific coastal state—not only is it the birthplace of most of the country’s drug barons, but also even the nice people combine the orneriness of a New Yorker with a Chi-Towner’s stubborn streak. These traits spill over to their seafood, best experienced at Mariscos Licenciado #2: fiery ceviche; chilled four-seafood soups served in hollowed-out coconuts; and the infamous aguachile, shrimp served in a cold lime broth and spiced to the levels of hell. (GA) 1052 N. State College Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 776-3415.

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