You’ve may have hot pots before. Orange County has a menagerie of them, from nearly every country in Asia you can name. But have you had the one from Japan that feeds its sumo wrestlers? It’s called chanko nabe, and it’s essentially a stew of sorts, filled with all manner of lean protein and fistfuls of vegetables, all roiling and sputtering over a lit stove set up at the table.
Torizo—a barely-there slip of a restaurant that opened about a month ago in Fountain Valley—does the dish as its specialty and does it so well, it would stand out even if the county was full of other chanko nabe specialists. Its soup is pure, unadulterated chicken broth; the vegetable plentiful; but oh, those proteins! There are chunks of chicken and pork, sliced, black pork sausage, shumai, shrimp, scallop, octopus, kuzukiri, and the best of them all: two kinds of homemade chicken meatball called tsukune, one of which has the refreshing citrusy flavor of yuzu that made me wish I could have either a whole entire pot of it with nothing else, or the recipe.
And once you’ve fished out all the goodies from the pot, the exceedingly friendly owner—who bows when you enter and holds the door open when you leave—will offer either ramen or a grilled onigiri rice ball to cap off your meal.
As of this writing, the chanko at Torizo is $26.99, but one order is usually enough for two normal humans…or one medium-sized wrestler.
17900 Magnolia Street #A, Fountain Valley, (714)377-0300
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67. The Reuben at A Market
68. Everything Cake from Slice Deli And Cakery
69. Spicy Shrimp And Eggplant from Brio Tuscan Grille
70. Crawfish Mac & Cheese from The Wharf
71. Malasadas from Dough Doughs Hawaiian Cafe
72. Salsas from Salsa Bandolera
73. Chorizo Breakfast Bagel at Spigas Bakery and Cafe
74. Whole Chicken Combo at Falafelo
75. Toothpick Lamb at Sichuan Impression
76. Hainan Chicken Rice at Baos Hog
77. Fruit- and Ice Cream-Topped Waffles at Crave
78. Garlic Shrimp Poke at Costco
79. Chimichurri Fries at Piaggo on Wheels
80. Torta Cubana at Cancun Juice
81. Adobo Bowl at Irenia
82. Garlic Noodles at Krave Asian Fusion
83. Broccolini at SeaSalt WoodFire Grill
84. Spicy Tuna Roll at Yard House
85. Amber Roll at Orange Roll and Sushi
86. Frito Chili Cheeseburger at Burger Parlor
87. Maui Sunrise at The Original Banzai Bowls
88. Meals from The Performance Kitchen
89. Pizza-Sized Quesadilla at Los Sanchez
90. Filipino Brunch at EATS Kitchen And Bar
91. Mexican Chocolate at the Pie Hole
92. Biscuits at James Republic
93. Mushroom Flatbread with Kale and Kumquat Salad at Lemonade
94. Mexican-Style Gelatins from Santa Ana’s Gelatina Goddess
95. Hot Pastrami Caesar Salad at Bruxie
96. Jalapeño Pupusas at Las Cazuelas
97. Meatball Sliders at Fresh Brothers
98. Buffalo Cauliflower at Mead’s Green Door Cafe
99. Raindrop Cake at Sunmerry Bakery
100. Doughrito at Surfin’ Donuts
Before becoming an award-winning restaurant critic for OC Weekly in 2007, Edwin Goei went by the alias “elmomonster” on his blog Monster Munching, in which he once wrote a whole review in haiku.