It's been a while since a new restaurant concept debuted at Diamond Jamboree in Irvine. Once a white hot den of development activity, Diamond Jamboree is now almost as good as saturated, with only a few vacant spots left to claim.
The only prime location left is in the building closest to the Jamboree and Barranca street corner next to Bon Epi, and it looks like a pasta concept called Itriya Cafe Spaghetti and Ssam will move in. Construction has begun.
According to an article in Restaurant News, the restaurant is the brainchild of Howard Gordon and wife Jennifer Lee. Gordon is a former executive at The Cheesecake Factory, and his restaurant will be a “multicultural” approach on pasta and ssam, the Korean word for wrapping food in seaweed, thin crepes, lettuce, or other medium.
While David Chang's Momofuku in New York popularized ssam to the Manhattan masses, it's safe to say it is all but a foreign concept here, except in our Korean districts. Gordon's ssam will feature “fillings ranging from pork belly to short ribs or fish, which will be charcoal broiled and served with the wrapper of choice and corresponding sauce.”
In the article, Gordon states that his “120-seat restaurant, which includes a large outdoor patio, will feature a proprietary pasta cooker that can quickly prepare up to 60 portions of dried pasta at once.”
(This makes one wonder whether we'll see a resurrection of the failed Pastagina's pasta makers–those robotic boxes where raw pasta is fed at the top and hot noodles are shot out from the bottom.)
“It's not about the pasta,” Gordon is quoted in the article. “It's about the flavors and textures of the sauces.”
Spaghetti is the only noodle they'll ply, which will be sauced with about a dozen different toppings ranging from a traditional Italian Bolognese to a mussel-and-chorizo.