Sticking to It
Edwin’s blurb of Cambinos in our recent Summer Guide only hinted at the marvels this place creates with a minimal staff, little money and no real adherence to culinary tradition save the universal quest for great grub. He properly praised the place, recommending the mix plate, which piles each of Cambinos’ available entrées onto a Styrofoam plate. I feel compelled to use this space to praise the individual charms of the:
• Chicken skewer. It’s not a kebab rip-off, but something better: smaller in size yet moist and charred in a way that imparts smoke but not ashes. Lean, with a bit of sauce and basil, it’s the best-tasting thing impaled by a stick except the . . .
• Pork skewer. I personally find pork tastier as a charbroiled meat than chicken due to its juices. Cambinos char-broils pork like nothing outside of a carne asada grill come Sunday; ginger and brown sugar flavor each piece.
• Beef short ribs. Though originally Korean, kalbi has become the hamburger of Asian backyard cuisine, a delicious meat that transcends ethnic boundaries and is usually improved on by non-natives. Cambinos’ owners are Filipino and Cambodian (hence, the combined name), yet their kalbi sizzles with soy sauce and contains thin fat strips to sweeten an already-divine meat.
• Chopped-up chicken. Made of thighs, it’s better than teriyaki thanks to the hoisin sauce, which gives it an obsidian glaze. Mmm . . . obsidian glaze . . .
• Grilled veggies. ’Nuff said.
• Rice. Nothing special other than, instead of regular white, the choice of jasmine, which imparts a surprising, delightful nuttiness.
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• Pork spare ribs. I’m not usually a fan, and even here, I find the meat too stringy and messy for continual consumption. But the sauce! An immediate Orange County culinary masterpiece: thin but radiant, a mixture of citrus (orange? lemon? kumquat? The owner won’t say) and garlic. It keeps your palate tingling the rest of your day; the owner could build an empire hawking this sauce at farmers’ markets. It’s the sauce of a thousand finger licks, of glory, one that launches a thousand perverted thoughts—order gallons to go.
Get the mix plate once, then return to order whichever part of it you liked the most in a bigger, individual setting. But one option not available in the mix plate you must order is the deceptively titled yellow cake. This is a WMD of a dessert: small, almost as moist as ice-cream cake, with frosting and cinnamon hints. Gracias a Diós that Cambinos is in boring Cypress instead of where it naturally belongs: in a small Texas town praised to the high heavens by those in the know.
Cambinos Asian BBQ at 5721 Lincoln Ave., Ste. F, Cypress, (714) 484-0511; www.cambinosbbq.com.