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Last Meals to eat in the LA/OC area!

Hey all, I'm currently in Orange County but am moving out to the east coast next month. Since I won't be returning to the area for a while, I figure I'd fill my belly with happy memories of LA/OC eats :) Between trying to figure out the logistics of doing a cross country move and working, I haven't had time to figure out a planned eating schedule before the big move. So I'm asking the board for some recommendations on -the best- meals I can eat while I'm still here in the LA/OC area.

I have narrowed down my choices to three culinary cuisines: Mexican/Latin American, Japanese, and Vietnamese. I'm willing to spend about $20 max on a meal for myself. Nice sit down restos that I can share culinary memories with friends and family is a plus. I'm also open to vegetarian/vegan options as well.

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  1. For Vietnamese, Brodards in westminter has some of the best vietnamese food around. Be sure to get an order of the spring rolls.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dagrassroots

      When I was telling my friend last night about how I need to eat -the best- Vietnamese food, she asked if I have gone to Brodards. When I replied "no," she gave me this shocked look and described in detail the way they make shrimp paste for their spring rolls.

      So, I'm definitely sold on Brodards.

    2. I wouldnt leave without a bender at Thai Nakorn.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MEalcentric

        Man, I totally forgot about Thai Nakorn! My family and I used to go all the time when they used to be in Buena Park. I should go there as a family outing before I leave SoCal.

      2. Second MEalcentric. I'd gorge myself silly with the specials menu at Thai Nakorn, and then for a snack, I'd gorge myself with the nem nuong rolls at Brodard, then for dinner, I'd gorge myself with the soup of the day and an entree at Cafe Hiro, then for a late night snack, I'd gorge myself with yakitori at Honda-Ya, and then go to Alertos for a carne asada nacho to close out the evening.


        1 Reply
        1. re: elmomonster

          I don't think my stomach can take a full frontal assault of eating! I gotta pace myself otherwise I'd throw in the towel.

          Now if it were my last meals before I die....

        2. depending on where you're moving to on the east coast... if it's NYC you can get good japanese food there. in which case $20 would buy you um... 17 (i think) al pastor tacos at el taurino. i'd probably just do that.

          3 Replies
          1. re: rameniac

            I'm moving out to Baltimore, so I'm not sure what the Japanese demographic is out there. However, there's a big influx of Koreans so there could be some Japanese stuff out there because of them. Otherwise, I won't be disappointed with Korean cuisine (I hope!).

            I also can't eat 17 tacos :) But I'll look into El Taurino! Do they also have fish tacos there?

            1. re: whowantscandy

              Moving to Baltimore! I'm sorry. I just moved from there. To get good asian food there you'll have to drive to Wheaton, or Silver Spring. I used to do it on the weekends - good luck!

              1. re: Zadok

                Hahaha. No need to apologize, coz I'm kind of groaning as well about the lack of diverse food stuffs that I won't have easy access to like I do out here in California. Maybe I'll buy a tortilla press while I'm still out here...

          2. I'd eat as many fish tacos as I could.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Patricia

              I think Patricia is trying to make a point.

            2. So it looks like fish tacos are pretty good. Do you kow of a certain restaurant that has really good fish tacos?

              1. tacos baja ensenada. nuff said ,end of story.

                2 Replies
                1. re: kevin

                  Try the shrimp tacos at TBE too!

                  Taco's Baja Ensenada
                  5385 Whittier Blvd
                  Los Angeles, CA 90022
                  (323) 887-1980

                  1. re: sel

                    I went with a friend that was visiting me from San Diego last week. When it was on and off again showering over the weekend.

                    OMG! Best baja taco I've ever had!!! We kept lauding at how amazing it was and how it was battered so nicely and...christ. Wow. I can't say enough good things about it.

                2. You know, with Baltimore's proximity to the Chesapeake, perhaps seafood shouldn't be high on the list. I still prefer the shellfish out of the Chesapeake, especially blue crab.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: SauceSupreme

                    I beg to differ. Different coast, different local species, different methods of preparation. Try getting a fish taco as good as Tacos Baja Ensenada on the Chesapeake. Or a Dungeness crab at the peak of the season (which is now).

                    If it were me, I'd hit:
                    Tonkotsu ramen at both Santouka (Costa Mesa) and Shin Sen Gumi (Fountain Valley). Both cheap & casual and less than $10 if you go for the lunch specials.

                    El Toro Bravo: hole in the wall taqueria that's my personal fave in OC. I'm eating their carne asada burrito as I write this. Get: carne asada taco, roast chicken taco, or some of the crispy, crunchy, skin-on, sin-tabulous cubes of fried pork bellies called chicharron. They won't make this into a taco, you'll have to order a plate w/ rice & beans. If you're not afraid of a little pork fat, it's lard-tastically porky.

                    I'll add my nod for Brodard for Vietnamese, also Quan Hop, Quan Hy, and Banh Mi Che Cali.

                  2. i guess i'm a bit late to the party but yeah but dungeness is different from blue crab. i love both but they are different. At least then the OP would have a fresh memory of dungeness to compare against the blue crab.

                    OP's going to be hurting for good, cheap japanese food on the east coast. personally on your budget, i would go to little tokyo and eat at daikokuya (ramen less than $10). and you have to stop by the bestest tonkatsu place, Torafuku. kurabota (berkshire pork) tonkatsu sets you back only $12 at lunch. http://www.torafuku-usa.com/lunch.htm. also, i would spring for the $30 sushi lunch special at kiriko even though it's over your budget since you aint going to find that kind of sushi in baltimore esp not at that price.

                    Then I would head over to thai town and eat like crazy at ruen pair and then head over to the thai bakery across the parking lot and fill up on whatever looks good. actually i find OC's thai food not to my taste, and I'm not a huge fan of thai nakorn. food is too greasy to my taste.

                    I don't remember there being that many koreans in baltimore but I definitely saw some korean churches so they're around. so i wouldn't worry about korean food.