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Best Romantic Restaurant Orange County 2011 - AnQi

AnQi

AnQi

3333 S. Bristol St.

Costa Mesa, CA 92626

714-557-5679

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Though the elegant Charlie Palmer next door at South Coast Plaza is also a strong contender, around here, we like our romantic dining to offer at least a hint of what's supposed to happen after dinner. And if the dark, voluptuous embrace of AnQi doesn't feel sexy to you, check your pulse. Elizabeth An—daughter of Helene An of Crustacean fame—knows what's up: She put the word "naughty" in her menu statement, and the luxurious setting delivers on that promise, with its varying textures and grains of the wood paneling, lush fabrics, and translucent walls surrounding the "secret" dining area. Even during the brightly lit lunchtime, this some-Vietnamese-but-also-other-Asian eatery is an unabashed vamp. Maybe it's just us, but the hottest element in the whole space is the carved, solid-wood dining chairs, so lovingly formed they look like they grew into that shape. The staff are attentive and good-natured without being overly familiar and can be counted on to help you feel good about yourself. Ladies, if you wear some killer shoes, the hostesses will give you a shout-out. (They should know: They probably see a lot of fashion shows on the restaurant's runway.) And of course, the food is excellent. The signature An's Famous Garlic Noodles are deceptively simple, with a delicate, almost-haunting umami that makes them addictive. And if P.F. Chang's has ruined the lettuce wrap for you, AnQi's ssam wraps, especially the kurobuta pork belly version, will restore your faith in the power of contrasting tastes, temperatures and textures in your mouth. But please don't eat the things with a knife and fork. Really, really not sexy. $$$$

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