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Desperately ISO SGV type Chinese dinner in Irvine

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Heading down to Irvine from SF for a grad celebration w/ some older relatives who strongly prefer SGV-type of traditional Chinese family style dinner... staying next to South Coast Plaza & don't want to drive all the way to SGV.

I've searched on this board as well as on the web in general, and I have come up with practically nothing. Am I doomed to drag them to a really westernized chinese eatery, or look for something good that does exist in the area (secondary options are authentic sushi -- no huge westernized rolls, or Korean... or any other Asian food).

Back up plan would be to head into Westminister for Vietnamese... but I think that's as far as they would be willing to travel.

Thanks all!

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  1. I think there is a Sam Woo's in Irvine. That may come close.

    Newport Seafood in Santa Ana has good crab and has good dishes with Vietnamese/Cantonese influence.

    If you are willing to drive a little further for good food, Ten-Ten in Anaheim or Artesia would be a great bet!

    1. Sam Woo has two storefronts on Culver & Irvine Center Drive shopping center. One is a quick takeout / lunch space. The other is a white tablecloth place that's more suitable for your graduation dinner.

      There's also a newish Irvine restaurant called Crystal Jade that's a Cantonese place. It's a prettier room than Sam Woo or China Garden. I've only eaten dim sum there, not dinner. Based on the dim sum, I'd say it's a pretty solid bet. In the shopping center at Shady Canyon @ the 405 fwy.

      There's also Russell's Seafood at the Irvine corner of MacArthur & Main St. (Not to be confused with the Santa Ana corner of MacArthur & Main St). It's a Teow Chew place, merely ok food, but at least not watered down & westernized. If food is the priority (as opposed to a nice looking restaurant) I'd got with this as a last choice among the four I've mentioned. If nice looking is the priority, then maybe #2 or #3.

      1. There's a Ban Mu Yuan in Irvine which has another branch in Alhambra and Beijing. This is more Northern Style food, lots of noodle dishes, but I don't know how easy it will before a large family style dinner.

        1. There are quite a few options around. Here are my favs:

          Irvine - China Garden, Sam Woo, S & W Seafood, Russell's Seafood Palace (all Cantonese style, I believe)

          Costa Mesa - Golden Dragon (Szechuan)

          Fountain Valley - Wei's, Mandarin (both Szechuan)

          2 Replies
          1. re: Wonginator

            Seafood Cove on Westminster/Newland in Westminster

            Golden Dragon Pheonix (maybe? dunno, only know the vietnamese name) located directly across from Asian Garden Mall, on Bolsa

            1. re: Wonginator

              China Garden is pretty solid and has a nice dining room however if environment isn't too important, in Westminster there are two terrific places, Seafood Cove and Seafood Paradise but if you're serious about Veitnamese I would recommend you try Brodard Chateau in Garden Grove. It's no farther than the restaurants in Westminster and actually easier to get to (22 fwy, exit Magnolia).

            2. thanks for all the suggestions! Crystal Jade looks close enough, but not much info on menu items on the web...

              we'll probably end up @ russell's or sam woo (although I've had enough of sam woo's when I was down in SoCal for school). Of course, the choice this time is not up to my tummy but rather the elders.

              1. Tri Village in Irvine on Jeffrey in the Kohl's plaza is pretty good, and they can work with you to make your dinner nice. It's a small place though, so definitely see if they can accommodate you.

                May Garden in Costa Mesa has great food and also has a nice private room.

                1. some these are not what you're looking for (quick type of places) but i posted about irvine chinese a while ago and got a decent amt of response


                  1. Thanks for all the recs...

                    Our group headed into Westminister for Vietnamese dinner our first night (Ha Noi on Bolsa & Magnolia -- my choice as I was craving their shrimp w/ yam)... and the folks spotted the Chinese resto across the street in the mini mall. We thought maybe it would be an option for the post-grad dinner, but when we headed there the next night it was practically a ghost town @ 7 on Sat night; not a good sign at all.

                    Since I hadn't thought to actually print out these great posts from CH (was in a hurry), we kinda walked down the street in an attempt to scout another more promising establishment. As the sun was setting, walking east on bolsa, i started to feel uncomfortable... the area didn't feel lively enough and there was no foot traffic. So the back up plan -- head to the nearest bakery and inquire of the locals where's the best chinese around.

                    the answer? Capital Seafood a few blocks away. Although not The Kitchen nor R&G, it at least was passable to the more mature folks in the group. And I got the opportunity to try Viet/Chinese (or should I say Viet/Chiu Chao) fusion... well maybe not completely blended "fusion" but chinese with a viet twist.

                    It did surprise our table that rice came out even before menu & tea... but I chalked it up to the vietnamese culture rather than chinese banquet service error. Highlights: really fresh still-swimming fish was netted and brought to our table for approval prior to its cooking, the ample portion of freshly fried "lobster chips" w/ the zha ji gai (zha zi ji), and although the chiu chau style duck was a tad on the dry side it was also a large portion.

                    All in all, everyone was happy we were not stuck paying thru the nose at pf changs for glorified panda express glop, nor (horror of horrors) the hooters next door to the hotel.