No. 56, The $7 Three-Item Combo Plates at Yu's Garden

This is not Panda Express. There is no Orange Chicken, no Kung Pao anything. Sweet and Sour? Forget about it. Instead there is chicken mousse wrapped in deep fried tofu skin; bone-in basil chicken in sauce-lacquered pieces; soy-simmered minced pork, the kind that you top rice with; and a mapo tofu that harbors stinging hot peppers hiding between the custardy curds.

Since I ordered the three-item combo plate for $7.08 (tax included), when I asked for the latter, I almost thought they were making a mistake. They ladled the stuff into a quart-sized container until it was practically full. Any place else would have slopped it on into the same foam box as the rice. Not here. They are intent on giving you more than you expected and paid for. (The non-soupy items do get put into the same box as your other items).

It puts those shallow Panda Express take-out foam containers to shame. I'll go out on a limb in saying that Yu's three-item combo is the most massive food pile you can buy for $7.08 in OC. It's able to feed at least two people. And unlike Panda Express' (which, for the record, I actually like), there's real vegetable dishes here. I like their hearty stalks of Chinese broccoli; the invigorating bittermelon; and the simplicity of stir fried spinach and mustard greens.

In a town like Irvine where there's not a lack of cheap Chinese food, Yu's isn't just the cheapest, but probably the best of the cheapest.

The list so far:

57. Gudeg at Indo Ranch
58. Salted Caramel Gelato at N'Ice Cream
59. Live Amaebi at Sushi Imari
60. Any Burrito from Dos Chinos
61. Olive Tree's Iftar
62. Sonoran Dog at Rubalcava's
63. Sizzling Hiramasa Sashimi at The Catch
64. Yakisoba Dog from Dogzilla
65. Crispy Pork Belly from Lucca Cafe
66. French Toast with Bacon at Flurries Shaved Snow Bar
67. The Venetian Roll at Sushi at The Venetian Gentleman's Club
68. Okaki Asparagus at Hamamori
69. The "Fried Egg" at Eat Chow
70. Nam Kao Tod at Vientiane Restaurant
71. Chicken Ramen at Jinya Ramen Bar
72. Pig Snout at Tacos & Carnitas Sahuayo
73. Kale and Mushroom Flatbread at 320 Main
74. Congee at King Lobster Palace
75. Fish and Chips at Slapfish
76. Fries at Playground
77. Carne en Su Jugo at La Cocina de Mi Abuelita
78. S'mores at Ti Amo Biscotti & More
79. Broken Rice at Dat Thanh
80. Bulgogi and Potato Pizza at Chicken & Pizza Love Letter
81. Braised Bacon at Break of Dawn
82. Cake Donut at Cream Pan
83. Bistec de Pollo at Mercado El Rey
84. The Rhino at Rancho a Go Go
85. Cabernet Brownies at Blackmarket Bakery
86. Cookie Monster at Lola Ice Cream and Deli
87. Polenta Board at CUCINA Enoteca
88. Falafel Taco at Taco Asylum
89. Wagon-Wheel Bread at THE RANCH Restaurant
90. Toothpick Tacos at Mexico Supermarket
91. Hoppin' John at Memphis at the Santora
92. Free Beans and Chips at Taqueria Zamora
93. Pig in a Blanket Waffle with Gringo Bandito at Cafe Calacas
94. "Pork Hash" at Huong Giang
95. Sweet Chili Chicken Quesadilla At Kogi
96. Licuados at Mil Jugos
97. Hawaiian Ahi Poke at California Fish Grill
98. Takoyaki at Takoyaki Tanota
99. Fiesta Noodles at Jollibee
100. Chilaquiles Verdes Con Huevos Estrellados at La Tablita California

Click here to view our 100 Favorite Dishes of 2010!
Click here to view our 100 Favorite Dishes of 2011!

Follow Stick a Fork In It on Twitter @ocweeklyfood or on Facebook! And don't forget to download our free Best Of App here!


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

  • Top Stories


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

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >