This Week in Food on a Stick
"Food on a stick?!" my co-worker grumbled. "How much food like that can there be?" Actually, Ellen, plenty: Arabs have their shawermas, Persians pitch in kebabs, Southeast Asians contribute satays, we freeze bananas, and Brazilians construct entire industries out of men parading around in tuxedos, a sword filled with meat by their side. Food on a stick is a hallowed industry, and the following places stab through your dinner mighty fine.
For those of you who like your Arabic and Persian food on sticks, order the jujeh kebab, chicken cubes surrounded by mounds of basmati rice. The slightly bland rice serves as a good counterpart to the succulent chicken, pepper and onion pieces. 100S.BrookhurstSt.,Ste.D.,Anaheim,(714)774-5632.$$
Strapped for cash but need a reasonable location for a date? This is the spot. If you're not sure what to try, the pupu platter is a deal, with samples of Maui-wowie rolls, Hawaiian drums, Surf City rolls and chicken-satay sticks. 221MainSt.,Ste.F,HuntingtonBeach,(714)374-4427.$
The owners of Caspian Restaurant named their business after the world's largest landlocked body of water for a reason, and their seafood servings—jumbo shrimp kebabs subsumed in onion juices, for instance—live up to the sea's salty character. The shirin polo (rice studded with baked orange peels, pistachios and almonds) would persuade Bush to remove Iran from his Axis. 14100 Culver Dr., (949) 651-8454, Irvine;www.caspianrestaurant.com.$$
DAD'S DONUT SHOP & BAKERY
This is where Balboa Island locals hang in the wee morning hours before work, munching on their apple fritters while talking about market swings and the goddamn liberals. The doughnuts are good, but the peppermint ice cream and Balboa Bars are outstanding. Stay away from the frozen bananas, unless you enjoy gnawing on a rock-hard piece of fruit. 318MarineAve.,NewportBeach,(949)673-8686.¢
A couple of Thai buffets offer Laotian soups and beef jerky, but the county's remaining Laotian diner is the curiously titled Dee Dee, where the roselle juice's narcotic spell reminds slurpers why Laos' inclusion into the Golden Triangle arose in the first place. The satays are sweet and peanut buttery, and the curries come garnished with peanuts and fat onion slices. 311S.Brookhurst,Anaheim,(714)956-2997.$
If you have a hankering for Persian food, try the lamb shank, a huge leg of lamb complete with bone marrow and fat. It's served as a stew, and the meat rivals Jell-O for tenderness. The kebabs are good, too! 1112N.BrookhurstSt.,Anaheim,(714)991-6060;24000AliciaPkwy.,Ste.28,MissionViejo,(949)768-0122.$$
The Tustin Japanese joint continues to be a county chowhound phenomenon more than a decade after its opening, one of the precious few Orange County restaurants with a daily past-midnight closing time and a 150-plus-item menu that necessitates hours-long pilgrimages just to dent it. Per the izaka-yatradition, Honda-Ya is all about time and placement: different sections that provoke a different feel and warrant a different menu at different hours. You'll find it all: noodles, sushi, yakitori and tiny hard-boiled quail eggs lined up on a stick, awaiting your swallowing. 556ElCaminoReal,Tustin,(714)832-0081.$$
The original. While these lemonade-churning chicks and guys do serve the dead stuff, they also peddle awesome veggie corn dogs. And to ensure you are not ingesting a real wienie, the jockey-hatted crew differentiate their dogs with a green dot on the end of the stick. 2153BreaMallWay,Brea,(714)256-2602.¢
Naan & Kabob should be renamed Rice & Kabob, since the Persian eatery prepares the latter platter 36 different ways. Rice with lamb kebabs. Rice with fish kebabs. Rice with beef, chicken and shrimp kebabs. Rice with a type of falafel kebab. Redundant? No: regal. 416E.FirstSt.,Tustin,(714)66-KABOB.$
If you get lost in the bustle of Santa Ana's Fourth Street on a hot day and need salvation, just follow the ice-cream drippings toward La Nueva Reyna de Michoacán, a veritable Baskin Robbins enespañol.La Nueva Reyna's ice cream is velvety, like a lover's tongue on yours—except for the wonderful chunks of fruit. And their soothing paletas (fruit bars) are so frozen they'll probably stick to your tongue à la AChristmasStory.300E.FourthSt.,Ste.101,SantaAna,(714)835-0394.¢
The food here is some kind of gustatory incantation; the dishes awaken taste buds that have been asleep since birth. The babaghanoush alone will take command of your senses, overwhelming them with the deep, smoky flavor of eggplant marinated in pungent olive oil and garlic. And the mahi kebab is surf-bum grub via Damascus. 5215E.SecondSt.,LongBeach,(562)621-1698.$$
There's not much glamour in the presentation at Pacific Coast Hot Dog, which is nowhere near the beach. Accouterments don't stray from the roll call of hot dog standards—saccharine relish, freshly sliced onions and tomatoes, even some sauerkraut for the Teutonic among us. But in this simplicity, there's a summer's worth of love, heat, fireworks and heartache. Try the namesake special, which features as many apparent conflicts as an episode of The O.C.: cumin-spiked chili fights with bitter mustard and zingy onions for domain over your palate. 300PacificCoastHwy.,Ste.106-A,HuntingtonBeach,(714)969-8799;3438E.ChapmanAve.,Orange,(714)744-1415.¢
Beckoning you to the restaurant is the fragrance of cooked beef and chicken. Inside, you will discover its origin: two constantly rotating monster spits, essential to Sahara's pursuit of shawerma, the fabulous Middle Eastern technique of meat preparation. Each bite of Sahara's shawerma greets your mouth with a simple joy. 590S.BrookhurstSt.,Anaheim,(714)491-0400.$
The "Original" original Balboa Bar (since 1945!) comes from this quaint Balboa Island shack. Disregard the autographed cast photo of TheO.C.hanging from its window, and chomp away on their chocolate-and-vanilla slab of wonder. Ask for the Heath-pecan topping, a molar-filling sweet-toffee derivation that reminds you the pecan is an underappreciated nut. 310MarineAve.,NewportBeach,(949)673-8907.¢
The soy-chicken drumsticks, complete with a wooden bone, are served four to an order and come with a sweet-and-sour Thai barbecue sauce. And while these little faux-fowl thighs for $4.50 come cruelty-free, just beware of splinters—you willbe licking the stick. 11329183rdSt.,Cerritos,(562)809-3928.$
View our complete dining guide atwww.ocweekly.com/food.
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