Chow Down on Xi'An Cuisine at Best Foods in Irvine
Awesome, awesome soup
Photo by The Mexican
Jamboree Promenade has never been the most exciting of Orange County's shopping plazas. Two previous spots I reviewed here couldn't last; its location is awkwardly placed and never seems to have enough parking. You know it's behind the times when the most successful tenants are the Melting Pot and Daily Grill, two chains that excited crowds back in the early 2000s and don't exactly attract millennials.
But the times, to quote a Nobel laureate, are a-changing. Across the street, Boardwalk OC is taking rise as two nine-story office buildings, and Jamboree Promenade is upping its food game. The excellent Annapoorna Indian Cuisine is opening a smaller location here in the coming months, and a whatever Vietnamese spot was recently replaced by Best Foods, a great place for those of ustedes still stuck on orange chicken and egg foo young when it comes to Chinese cuisine. It's one of those great restaurants with dishes for mainstream tastes (a whole chow mein menu, a small dim sum selection, barbecue skewers), a buffet for the adventurous (a dish one time looked like tripe in chile sauce—YUM), badly translated dishes that undersell their worth (Hunan Spicy Sour Ricenoodle is a spectacular soup of beef, burdock, four types of chiles and a bunch of other veggies—see you in spring, pho!), and a whole bunch of items in Chinese script the rest of us wasichu can't understand.
I've yet to have a bad meal at Best Foods, but its most exciting feature are dishes from Xi'An, the capital of Shaanxi Province—a foodway well-known in the San Gabriel Valley but just getting attention here. Its most famous meal is the yangrou paomo, which finds pita bread boiled into a lamb soup—as hearty as it sounds. What Best Foods calls "Chinese Hamburger" is really roujiamo, which eschews condiments and veggies in favor of meat, meat, meat. And the sweetbread soup is the best offal dish in Orange County already, tangy and milky and delicious. You've got a winner, Jamboree Promenade! As hopefully future Nobel laureate RuPaul says, don't fuck it up!
Best Foods, 2626 Dupont Dr., Irvine, (949) 600-2898.
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