EMC Seafood and Raw Bar, the popular Koreatown seafood restaurant and oyster bar, has opened its long-awaited Irvine store. Development began last year at the space vacated by Elephant Bar. Irvine is EMC's third restaurant and like the other EMC's in LA, this restaurant is a full-on seafood restaurant where you can get a lobster for about $30 and have it either steamed with a spicy lemon pepper sauce; fried with a light batter; or charbroiled with sea salt and lime juice. EMC also offers congee with either uni, clam, or abalone, but also lobster rolls and crab rolls.
14346 Culver Dr., Irvine, CA 92604, (949) 748-3979
Stacks Pancake House, winner for Best Pancake in a past Best Of Issue, has opened in Irvine at Walnut Village Center, whose restaurant tenants currently include Burntzilla, Pizza Hut, Curry House, and Scoops N Scoops. If you've not yet been to the locations in Dana Point and Mission Viejo, Stacks specializes in Hawaiian breakfasts, and of course, pancakes.
14421 Culver Dr., Irvine, CA 92604, (949) 679-1233
SeaLegs Wine Bar has opened SeaLegs at The Beach at a converted concession stand at Bolsa Chica State Beach. Along with wine, there's signature flatbreads and the Bananas Foster French Toast for brunch.
17851 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, CA 92649
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Kitakata Ramen Ban Nai, a Japanese import that came to Costa Mesa (a.k.a. Ramentown) two years ago, has now opened a branch in Buena Park. As I wrote in my review of that location, Kitakata's noodles are "particularly bungie-like and elastic, with an imperfect crinkle that's wide in parts, flat in others, curly throughout." Another distinctive feature is that the broth is clear, not milky.
7550 Orangethorpe Ave., Buena Park, CA 90621, (714) 752-6878
A new Tropical Smoothie Cafe has opened in Mission Viejo. It is, at our count, the fourth Orange County location of the chain after Irvine, Lake Forest and Foothill Ranch (which is actually still Lake Forest).
28181 Marguerite Parkway, Suite 23, Mission Viejo, CA 92692