10 Great Ways in OC to Beat the Heat With Eats!

Raw Cuttlefish Noodle Soup at Myung DongEXPAND
Raw Cuttlefish Noodle Soup at Myung Dong
Edwin Goei

It's hot, ain't it? You don't feel like cooking and delivery pizza, which usually does the trick, isn't exactly the refreshing meal you want right now. You could do sushi, of course, even a salad. But when you're ready for something refreshing and different, here are 10 of this restaurant critic's favorite cooling meals in OC.

Banh Cuon at Tan Huang HuongEXPAND
Banh Cuon at Tan Huang Huong
Edwin Goei

Banh Cuon at Tan Hoang Huong

The banh cuon at Tan Hoang Huong in Tustin is laid out next to register, wrapped in plastic and offered in about three varieties. The one you want is the complete kit sold for about $5 and includes crisp fried onion, a side of julienned vegetables, slices of cha lua (Vietnamese bologna), a fried tofu, and a nouc cham dipping sauce. To eat it, you dip the meat, crisp-cool veggies, but especially the translucent parcels of the banh cuon into the fish sauce, slurping all the way. Since banh cuon is typically eaten for breakfast, Tan Huang Huong's stock tends to run out the later you go in the day. But you can usually score one for a light lunch. If you're feeling peckish, banh cuon is actually a great first course before tucking into one of Tan Huang Huong's banh mis, which, by the way, are also a great summertime meal.

Ceviche at Eqeko
Ceviche at Eqeko
Edwin Goei

Ceviche at Eqeko

Eqeko's ceviche is real Peruvian ceviche, served with crunchy fried corn kernels of cancha and its original form called choclo. Most important, the fish in the dish is flawless, luminous, piled into an ivory mountain after being firmed up by a sluicing of lime juice. And when you bite into a cube, you discover it still has texture—it springs back at you before it melts into nothing. Each subsequent forkful is dragged through the electrified orange liquid flavored by ají rocoto, one of Peru's native peppers. And when your tongue begins to tingle from the hotness and your lips start to pucker from the acidity, you calm it all down with chunks of camote, boiled sweet potato.

Cucumber Salad at Din Tai FungEXPAND
Cucumber Salad at Din Tai Fung
Edwin Goei

Cucumber Salad at Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung has lots of cold dishes but the marinated cucumbers (a.k.a. cucumber salad) are something else. You need to order these, no matter what the weather is like outside. They're slightly salty, perky, sesame-oil scented rounds stacked like green bricks whose cool and crunchy bite will send frigid shivers up your spine.

Lahpet Toke at Irrawaddy Taste of Burma
Lahpet Toke at Irrawaddy Taste of Burma
Brian Feinzimer

Lahpet Toke at Irrawaddy Taste of Burma

Lahpet thoke resembles a three-way collision between a garden salad, a bowl of Chex Mix and a mortar of pesto. But the pesto isn't actually pesto; it's lahpet, fermented tea leaves mashed to nearly pulp in oil, an ingredients so ingrained in Burmese cuisine it's considered the national delicacy. And in this salad, which all first-timers to Irrawaddy must order, it lashes together all the components—the lettuce, the tomato, the cabbage and the crunchy fried lentils—with sour notes, tannic overtones and a flavor that's as uniquely Burmese as nuoc mam is Vietnamese.

Salmon at Outpost Kitchen
Salmon at Outpost Kitchen
Dustin Ames

Outpost Salmon at Outpost Kitchen

Yes, it's a salad with salmon in it. But this one's different than most. First, a salmon steak is fried to a crisp, torn into chunks, then tossed into a lime-dressed pile of greenery with grated coconut, peanuts, bean sprouts, Thai basil and cilantro. The result tastes like a combination of Vietnamese goi mit and, if you're familiar with Indonesian food, a salad with coconut shavings as a dressing called urap-urap.

Raw Cuttlefish Noodle Soup at Myung DongEXPAND
Raw Cuttlefish Noodle Soup at Myung Dong
Edwin Goei

Raw Cuttlefish Noodle Soup at Myung Dong

When we say this dish is cold, we mean ice-cold. The hanchi mul hye guksu (that's the Korean name) will drop your core temperature a few degrees and make you shiver. Chips of actual ice float atop a spicy/tart/sweet tomato gazpacho-like soup, which you sip even though it has more in common with a Slurpee. Beneath the near-frozen broth hide spinach-green noodles, which are chilled and bracing like everything else in the dish, including strips of rubbery raw squid, tomato, crunchy julienned vegetables, and half a hard-boiled egg.

Pani Puri at Wok & TandoorEXPAND
Pani Puri at Wok & Tandoor
Edwin Goei

Pani Puri at Wok N Tandoor

When you order the pani puri at Wok N Tandoor, you're given half a dozen of hollow pastry puffs, bits of cold boiled potatoes mixed with onion, a tangy chutney, and a cool bowl of spicy mint water called pani. With your finger or a spoon, you punch a hole through the top of your puri, tuck in some of the potato mixture, dribble in some chutney, and then either fill it with the water or submerge it in the bowl to soak slightly before putting the entire thing in your mouth. Think of it like chips and dip, but even more satisfying and refreshing.

Pidan DoufuEXPAND
Pidan Doufu
Edwin Goei

Pidan Doufu at I-Tea Cafe

There is silken tofu, which exists in a white, pristine, Jell-O like cube that wiggles. There is pork sung, those furry brown things that look like the floor after a very shaggy dog gets a trim. And there is perhaps the scariest item of all, a thousand-year-old egg, which is not really a thousand-years-old, but buried in ash until its albumen turns coffee black and the yolk a not-of-this-Earth blue (which doesn't make it less weird for the non-Asian). Together they form pidan doufu, as classic a combination as PB and J, but way better than that. It's served chilled, so it's cooling, refreshing, the kind of snack that you want during a heat wave. 

Poke at CostcoEXPAND
Poke at Costco
Edwin Goei

Poke at Costco

Although it's only available on the weekends, Costco Tustin II's poke compares to what's sold at their Hawaii warehouses: it's tastes and costs exactly the same. (Hurray for Costco consistency!). They started with only four flavors on offer: shoyu, limu, wasabi, and a spicy mayo. Now they're up to six with a garlic shrimp and an albacore with sea asparagus. All of it goes well with a bowl of rice at home, or just eaten plain, washed down with a 55-cent soda with Costco's chewable ice.

Salmon Avocado Salad at Krave
Salmon Avocado Salad at Krave
Brian Feinzimer

Salmon Avocado Salad at Krave

The salmon avocado salad at Krave is sort of Korean...maybe. Actually we're not sure. But it's what would happen if you took the usual imitation crab filling of a California roll, combined it with Persian cucumbers and avocado, formed it in a ring mold, then placed a teriyaki-glazed grilled salmon on top with a shower of pea sprouts. Is it Korean poke? Maybe, but the result is greater than the sum of its parts—the most original creation from a restaurant with the most unoriginal name.

Use Current Location

Related Locations

miles
Eqeko
miles
Irrawaddy Taste of Burma
miles
Myung Dong Kal Guk Su

1000 N. Euclid St.
Anaheim, CA 92801

714-533-7789

miles
Myung Dong Kal Guk Su - Closed

2512 Walnut Ave.
Tustin, CA 92780

714-734-7789

miles
Din Tai Fung

3333 Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

714-549-3388

www.dintaifungusa.com

miles
Tan Hoang Huong Food To Go

5015 W. Edinger Ave.
Santa Ana, CA 92704

714-531-2488

miles
Tan Hoang Huong Sandwiches & Coffee

6926 Westminster Blvd.
Westminster, CA 92683

714-891-3344

miles
Tan Hoang Huong Sandwiches and Coffee

14081 Newport Ave.
Tustin, CA 92780

714-731-1366

www.thhsandwiches.com

miles
Costco

2700 Park Ave.
Tustin, CA 92782

714-338-1933

www.costco.com

miles
Wok N Tandoor

1948 N. Tustin St.
Orange, CA 92865

714-782-7770

wokntandoor.com

miles
I-TEA Cafe

15435 Jeffrey Rd.
Irvine, CA 92618

949-551-4832

miles
Outpost Kitchen
miles
Krave Asian Fusion Restaurant

2819 Main St.
Irvine, CA 92614

949-379-6075

cravekrave.wix.com


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >