#8. Vietnamese Ceviche at S Fine Dining

Ceviche gone wild
Ceviche gone wild

Ceviche gone wild

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Ceviche across Latin America is like meatloaf in the US: a dish that's conceptually the same with small differences in execution from cook to cook. The variety most commonly found in our fair county is the Mexican concoction often finished with a ketchup-based sauce, and served with tostada chips and saltine crackers. You'll run into versions that fall outside that Mexican archetype, but none more strikingly unusual as the Vietnamese-inspired one at S Fine Dining.

Goi ca is not a dish you see often on Little Saigon menus. At S Fine Dining, it's executed in a very elegant, sophisticated way, self-aware of its similarity to, and differences from the Latino idiom. Fresh halibut is sliced into large, thin pieces more closely resembling sashimi than the small minced pieces you'd expect in a Mexican ceviche. Sashimi also describes its texture and flavor: just briefly marinated in lime juice, the fine grained fish has barely enough time to firm up or absorb the lime's tartness. The lime juice adds its bright acidity to the overall dish of thinly sliced sweet onion, red onion, Thai basil, and julienned fresh ginger.

Those aren't the typical herbs found in traditional ceviche, and neither is the sauce: a spicy peanut lime vinaigrette that binds everything together. Instead of the usual saltines, the dish comes with prawn crackers: those taro flour and ground shrimp crisps that Southeast Asians eat like potato chips. As soon as the ceviche hits the deep fried crisps, they snap, crackle and pop just like you-know-what.

The $11 appetizer portion is sized more modestly than the typical gigantic glass schooner of the average SanTana mariscos joint. But then, S Fine Dining is exactly that: an upscale, white tablecloth restaurant, not a hole-in-the-wall painted azure blue and decorated with fishnet and conch shells.  "S" makes the madman of ceviche, and after your first bite, you'll know where your money went.

S Fine Dining, 545 Westminster Mall, Westminster, (714) 898-5092; www.sfinedining.com

The rest of the list!

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#95. Collard Greens at Johnny Reb's
#94. Strawberry Shortcake from Job's Daughters
#93. Cuban Sandwich at DeSimone's Deli
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#91. Baked Rice at Luc Dinh Ky
#90. Beans on Toast at The Olde Ship
#89. Midnight Al Pastor Burrito or Taco at Taqueria Tapatia
#88. Budino di Cioccolato, Pizzeria Ortica
#87. Beef Teriyaki Bowl, Teriyami
#86. Salmon Onigiri at Cream Pan
#85. Beef Fat Fries at SideDoor
#84. Silken Tofu & Thousand Year Old Egg at Asian Tapas
#83. Cambodian Beef Jerky at Sophy's
#82. Com Tam at Com Tam Tran Quy Cap
#81. Chipotle-Piloncillo Goat Cheese at SOL Cocina
#80. Nem Nuong Cuon at Au Lac Restaurant
#79. Blackened Mushroom & Tofu Burger at Taco Loco
#78. Fried Veggie Fish Fillet at Dong Phuong Tofu
#77. Tofu Vegetable Salad at BCD Tofu House
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#75. Barracuda Sushi at Ohshima
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#72. Spinach Empanadas at El Gaucho #2
#71. Croissants at Molinos Bakery
#70. Beso de Monja at El Rincón del Sabor
#69. Fatteh at Kareem's
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#67. Rice Flour Pupusas at Pupusería San Sivar
#66. The Hash Browns at Pop's Cafe
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#64. Baby Back Ribs at Blake's Place
#63. Fish and Chips at The Chippy
#62. Roasted Beef Marrow Bones at Brasserie Pascal
#61. The Lunch Buffet at Tandoor Cuisine of India
#60. Eggs, Charcuterie and Bread at Uyen Thy Bistro
#59. Wang Mandoo at Myung In
#58. Gobi Paratha at Traditions
#57. Kibbeh at Zait & Zaatar
#56. Chicago Dog at Portillo's
#55. Persian Buffet at Irvine's Wholesome Choice
#54. Anything at night at Joe's Italian Ice
#53. Salteñas at Rollie's Bakery
#52. Iskender Kabob at Doner G
#51. Secret Beer-Battered Fish Burrito at the OG Taco Adobe
#50. Bun Rieu at Kim Huong
#49. Truffle Fries at Andrei's
#48. Monday Night Pizza Special at Pizza Shack
#47. Corn Dog at Disneyland's The Little Red Wagon
#46. Linguini with Clams at Franco's Pasta Cucina
#45. Chamoyada at Natural
#44. Meatloaf at Memphis
#43. Paletas at Delicias de México
#42. Omakase at Sushi Shibucho
#41. Odessa Sandwich at Moscow Deli
#40. Tacos de Rajas con Queso at Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen
#39. Crepes con Caramel at Anepalco's Cafe
#38. "Cobra" Chicken Sandwich at Memphis at the Santora.
#37. Beef Shawerma Plate at Sahara Falafel
#36. Flan at Taleo Mexican Grill
#35. Ahi Poke at Fish Camp
#34. Chao Chow Rice Noodle Soup at Trieu Chau
#33. Sweet Corn Soup at Raya At The Ritz Carlton
#32. Reuben Sandwich at Harry's Deli
#31. Enchilada Combo at Baja Fish Tacos
#30. Torta Ahogada at Los Primos
#29. Beef Panang from Thai Nakorn
#28. Quesadilla de Huitlacoche from Los Chilangos
#27. Haven Burger from Haven Gastropub
#26. Vegetarian Combo Platter at Tana Ethiopian
#25. Pecan-Sea Salt Tarts at Old Vine Cafe
#24. Fish Burrito at Los Cotijas
#23. Quarter, Half, or Whole Chicken at the Surfin' Chicken
#22. Kheema Dosa at Dosa Place
#21. Falafels at Kareem's Restaurant
#20. Hakata Ramen at Shin-Sen-Gumi
#19. Sausage at Sabatino's
#18. Deep Fried Fish with Mango Salad at Thai Nakorn
#17. Mexican Teriyaki Bowl at Mos 2
#16. Tripas Tacos at Taco Pronto
#15. Grilled Steak and Lobster Mashed Potatoes at Mastro's
#14. Strawberry Croissant at Cream Pan
#13. Fresh Sangak at Wholesome Choice
#12. Banh It Kep Banh Ram at Ngu Binh
#11. Banana Blossom Salad at Xanh Bistro
#10. Any Ice Cream at Stricklands Ice Cream
#9. Two Tacos for a Buck and Free Pineapple Juice (Until it's Gone) at Tacos El Chavito

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S Fine Dining

545 Westminster Mall Dr.
Westminster, CA 92683



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