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Apr 25, 2007 04:22 PM

What's OC Famous For?

Hi! I live in Chicago but going to Orange County (Disneyland) area next week for work. There are certain parts of the country that are famous for things. In Chicago, we are known for our pizza, sausages, and beef. Kansas City is known for Ribs. Colorado is known for steak.

Just wondering, what is LA / OC famous for? I have a feeling that it is chicken and Asian food, but I thought I would ask here.


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  1. You should definitely try the following:

    Japanese food/sushi
    Korean food
    Chinese food
    Mexican food

    1 Reply
    1. re: WHills

      Don't forget VIETNAMESE!! Search Little Saigon on the site and you will get lots of hits! :D


    2. Chicken? Maybe Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner (which is good, but nothing to write home about, ).

      Mexican food is good here, as is Vietnamese food (found in Little Saigon, or most PHO chains). There's an Indian community here in nearby Norwalk as well. There's a couple places that does Japanese small plates (HONDA-YA) well. And like laundromats, manicurists & chiropractors, there's a "sushi" (notice the quotations) on every corner. Good sushi is readily available too; just about every neighbourhood has one (Fullerton has FUN SUSHI MOMO).

      Otherwise, we're known for well-manicured lawns, well-manicured housewives and well-manicured chains. Speaking of lawns, some worth trying might be IN-N-OUT (for good take-out burgers; ) and WAHOO'S FISH TACOS (for, uh, fish tacos; ).

      EDIT: We also have good Persian food (DARYA). Mmmmmmm tadig....

      EDIT2: For good Mexican, go to EL FAROLITO w/o the Topolobambo prices.

      1. The O.C is famous for nothing when it comes to chow, I mean nothing. THe O.C is a cultural and food wasteland. I'm from there so I feel i can say that w/o pulling an Imus. GO to In n out burger, that is about as so cal as you can get. I would also recommend Vietnamese in Westminster and there is a Zankou chicken (middle eastern/armenian) near DIsneyland. I hit the Zankou frequently and it is not even remotely on my way.

        5 Replies
        1. re: SeanT

          That's not true. Chocolate-covered bananas were invented on Balboa Island. It's not much, but it is something Orange County is famous for.

          1. re: Chowpatty

            I loooove chocalate covered bananas,they were the beach treat of my youth I go to ROcky mountain chocolate company and eat them regularly. I have a hard time resisting the various caramel apples also. I know it is a chain but they do a good banana.

            1. re: Chowpatty

              Really....I thought it was the Balboa Bar.

              If you're homesick for an Italian beef sandwich there's a Portillo's in Buena Park the next city over.

              8390 La Palma Ave
              Buena Park, California

            2. Thanks for defending the OC! Living in So Cal most of my life, I've found California is so diverse with the many immigrant groups that have come to settle here. The best food here is ethnic. I'm thankful people here recognize that Chinese is not the only Asian race, everyone is aware of Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Thai....heck we even break down the Chinese --- Mandarin, Taiwainese, Trieu Chau...etc.

              With that said, there are so many specialized dishes beyond your typical Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese,Mexican and etc. you can experience in OC.....everyone has done a great job in providing some spots so I won't repeat. Granted every region can't specialize in everything, but I think OC definitely has something unique to bring to the table.

              1. re: SeanT

                The O.C. is famous for having the largest Vietnamese community outside Vietnam -- take a drive around Bolsa or Brookhurst and have anything you like -- I've posted several reviews of Viet food in Little Saigon.

                Mexican -- all over Santa Ana. Go to a taco truck at night for the "real deal".

                Korean -- while it's not Koreatown in LA, Garden Grove and Buena Park have a ton of great Korean places.

              2. Are you willing to drive a little? Within a half hour you can be at what is arguably the best area in the United States for Japanese food: Gardena. From Disneyland, you take the 22 West and then the 405 North. It is 26 miles and 26 miles well worth the drive.

                I was at Disneyland exactly two weeks ago and did this - it is an easy commute (depending on the time of day) and while it seems you are driving from one suburb to another, Gardena is home to the corporate offices of Honda, Mitsubishi, Toyota, and more -- and there are more genuinely authentic Japanese restaurants in this little community than you can believe.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Carrie 218

                  Definitely. If you go at about 7 PM you'll have a hard time getting into some of the places, because the Japanese work ethic is alive and well in Gardena and Torrance, and that's when most people knock off and head for the yakitori-ya.

                2. Unless you have a car, several hours of annoying drive time, and a lot of money to spend on gas the two places don't come in the same package.

                  The best food in OC is in its first generation ethnic enclaves, notably vietnamese "little saigon", mexican (all over), indian (norwalk and artesia), Japanese (Gardena), and the foods of several central and latin american countries (all over). All of this requires driving, sometimes at length. If you aren't familiar with it you might also check for Jonathan Gold's overview of restaurants.

                  Other food falls mostly in the hideous chain category of second rate suburbs everywhere. I wouldn't say that it is particularly famous for anything. Very curious as what you are thinking of when you mention The Famous Chicken of Orange County.

                  You might want to start your search looking at those sources.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: JudiAU

                    She is referring to the good old days when Orange county waaas called Orange county for a reason. It was all orange orchards. Knotts berry farm was famous for their fried chicken.

                    1. re: SeanT

                      I have very fond memories of driving through the orchards for that special Knotts Berry Farm chicken... Back then, Knotts had exactly four rides: the log jammer, a train, the sombrero ride (similar to Disneyland's tea cup ride), and wild burros. Man, along with that fried chicken, I seem to recall some seriously good Boysenberry pies and buttermilk biscuits. It was THE place to bring people to eat when they were visiting from the east coast.

                      1. re: Carrie 218

                        Took my parent's and grandmother there one afternoon and stumbled on the senior special. $7 includes the famous chicken soup or salad, entree, coffee or tea and boysenberry pie-- they were happy and well fed. While I had to pay the regular price of $13.95 for basically the full price dinner. My grandmother was ecstatic, she hadn't been there since the 30's.

                        Senior Dinner Specials (Seniors 60+)
                        Everyday, excluding holidays
                        Served 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.

                      2. re: SeanT

                        Boysenberry jams and pies as well as so many other flavored jams is also what they are famous for.

                      3. re: JudiAU

                        My guess would be that all those Foster Farms Chicken commercials make people associate chicken with California.

                        Orange County may not have invented a lot of cuisines, but we do many things well and there are different regions that specialize in different cuisines. You should go to Little Saigon/Westminster for Vietnamese, Garden Grove for Korean, Irvine for Chinese (check the board, but a lot of recs would send you to the Walnut/Culver intersection and the surrounding area in Irvine), Santa Ana for Mexican, good Japanese food can be found all over the county (a couple favorites on here are Honda Ya in Tustin for pub style japanese food and Sushi Shibucho in Costa mesa for traditional sushi), and I'm sure there are more that others will suggest.

                        1. re: I got nothin

                          Ditto on all your suggestions, especially Honda-Ya, Sushi Shibucho and all the distinct neighborhoods you can get really authentic and delicious ethnic eats.

                          I cover a lot of OC eats here on Chowhound and on my blog, and I've yet to be starved out of good places to chow.

                          1. re: elmomonster

                            Elmomonster, you have by far, the best, the yummiest, and the most visually stunning food blog I have come across! I am so thankful you are covering Orange County where I live:) Since I discovered your blog, we have tried Sushi Shibucho, Cafe Hiro, and Santoka Ramen, all in one week! They were all as you described, marvelous food at phenomenal prices. Noodle Avenue and Thai Nakorn are some of my staples already. Honda-Ya, Park Avenue, Shinsengumi are next on our list. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and stomache:) Keep up the superb work!!! ps. I was the one who recommended Rosemary's to you on your Bouchon post.

                            1. re: xanderjoon

                              THANKS so much for the vote of confidence! Always nice to know that people are enjoying my faves.


                        2. re: JudiAU

                          San Diego had its KGB chicken; in OC, we have our Mrs Knott's Chicken. It's an old-time thing; consider yourself young! =)

                          1. re: JudiAU

                            Norwalk and Artesia are LA county, but...