Best Strip Mall

In a down economy, it's normal to see shuttered storefronts in strip malls; they're like missing teeth in a hockey player's smile. Irvine's Diamond Jamboree Plaza bucks that trend with an always-busy parking lot thanks to a collection of well-known Asian restaurants and shops catering to the tastes of residents who hail from all over the Pacific Rim. The Taiwanese 85°C Bakery Café was the first overseas empire to pin its U.S. operation at Diamond Jamboree. Years after the grand opening, there's still a line out the door for fresh-out-of-the-oven pastries, breads and specialties, plus iced sea salt lattés. From Japan, the spice-heavy Curry House CoCo Ichinbanya serves a version unlike that other Japanese curry restaurant's. Tokyo Table anchors one corner with teppan-yaki and sushi. In another corner, Chef Hung Noodles prepares its spicy braised beef noodle soup called niu rou mien. Korean supermarket H Mart guards the main entrance with the freshest selection of seafood, low-priced produce and USDA Prime-grade beef in town. BCD Tofu House serves Korean hot tofu stew 24 hours every day. Kura Sushi's affordably priced sushi arrives via a conveyor belt. And amid all the food businesses are the best booth-style karaoke bar in the county and the quirkiest Asian shops this side of Irvine's Daiso store.

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