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OC's Top 100 Tastes You Must Try Before You Die

I was hoping we could get a list of some of the best tastes in Orange County. I am sure that this would be a useful list for other Chowhound's and our visiting guests. Please list the name of the dish, the restaurant where you can get it, and the city where it's located. I'll start with a few:

1. House Special Lobster from Newport Seafood, Santa Ana
2. Cream Pan from ... Cream Pan, Tustin
3. Shoyu Ramen with extra Chashu, Santouka Ramen Mitsuwa, Costa Mesa
4. Sweet & Sour Shrimp, Golden Dragon, Costa Mesa
5. Spinach Artichoke dip, Houston's, Irvine
6. Nem Nuong spring rolls, Brodard, Westminster

let's see how many "special tastes" we can put together.

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  1. Yay! I'll play!

    1. Nem Nuong spring rolls, Brodard, Westminster
    2. BBQ Beef Banh Mi, Banh Mi Che Cali, Westminster
    3. Linguine with Fish, Franco's Pasta Cucina, Irvine
    4. 1/2 Order Carne Asada Nachos, Alertos, Westminster
    5. Falafel Sandwich, Sahara Falafel, Anaheim

    http://elmomonster.blogspot.com

    1 Reply
    1. re: elmomonster

      l

      -----
      Thai Nakorn
      11951 Beach Blvd, Stanton, CA 90680

      Banh Mi & Che Cali Bakery
      8948 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683

      Banh Mi & Che Cali Bakery - duplicate
      15551 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA

      Franco's Pasta Cucina
      2222 Michelson Dr, Irvine, CA 92612

      Alertos Mexican Food
      15681 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA 92683

      Sahara Falafel
      590 S Brookhurst St, Anaheim, CA 92804

      The Olde Ship
      709 N Harbor Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92832

      El Farolito
      201 S Bradford Ave, Placentia, CA 92870

      Thai-Rama B B Q
      2500 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92831

      Fresca's Mexican Grill
      275 E Birch St, Brea, CA

      Caspian Restaurant
      14100 Culver Dr, Irvine, CA 92604

      Cafe R & D
      555 Newport Center Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660

      Bluewater Grill Newport Beach
      630 Lido Park Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92663

      Sam Woo Restaurant
      15333 Culver Dr Ste 720, Irvine, CA 92604

      Quan Hop Restaurant
      15640 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA 92683

      Green China
      595 N Tustin St, Orange, CA 92867

      Super Antojitos
      1702 N Bristol St, Santa Ana, CA 92706

      El Adobe De Capistrano
      31891 Camino, Capistrano San Juan Capistrano, CA

    2. Great Idea!

      1. Sticky Toffee Pudding, THE OLDE SHIP, Fullerton
      2. Chips & Salsa and Carnitas Enchilada, EL FAROLITO, Placentia
      3. Mango w/Sticky Rice, THAI RAMA, Fullerton
      4. Taco Tuesday, FRESCAS, Brea
      5. Tadij, CASPIAN, Irvine

      1. 1. French dip sandwich, R&D Cafe, Newport Beach
        2. Sourdough bread, Bluewater Grill, Newport Beach
        3. Pad Thai, Thai Nakorn, Stanton
        4. Wonton noodle soup, Sam Woo, Irvine
        5. Pho tai, Quan hop, Westminster

        1. Here are some of the things I think about when I'm hungry ^^
          1. Nam Sod w/Crispy Rice - Thai Nakorn, Stanton
          2. Pad See Ew - Bangkok Taste, Santa Ana
          3. Szechuan Eggplant - Green China, Orange
          4. Crunchy carne asada tacos - Super Antojitos, Santa Ana
          5. Media Noche - Felix Continental Cuisine, Orange

          1. Lobster Fajitas, El Adobe, San Juan Capistrano
            Salmon with Garlic & Mushrooms, Shin Sen Gumi, Fountain Valley
            Kobe Short Ribs, Tsuruhashi, Fountain Valley

            1 Reply
            1. re: JAB

              link

              -----
              Shin Sen Gumi Hakata Ramen
              18315 Brookhurst St, Fountain Valley, CA 92708

              Sushi Wasabi
              14460 Newport Ave, Tustin, CA 92780

              Irvine China Garden
              14825 Jeffrey Rd, Irvine, CA 92618

              Tsuruhashi
              18798 Brookhurst St, Fountain Valley, CA 92708

              Ritz Restaurant & Garden
              880 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660

              Morton's the Steakhouse
              1641 W Sunflower Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92704

              Mangia-Mangia
              16079 Goldenwest St, Huntington Beach, CA 92647

              Chef Chen's Restaurant
              5408 Walnut Ave, Irvine, CA 92604

            2. Blue Crab Handroll, Sushi Wasabi, Tustin
              Ritz Egg, The Ritz Restaurant, Newport Beach
              Chicken Soup, Avilia's , Santa Ana
              Giant Clam(Genock) Sashimi on Ice boat, China Garden, Irvine
              Steak Tartar (special request), Morton's , Santa Ana
              Eggplant Sorentino, Mangia Mangia, Huntington Beach
              Spicy Pungent Shrimp, Chef Chen, Irvine
              Custom Submarine Sandwich, Claro's , Tustin
              Chicken Kabob, Darya, Orange
              Thai Salad, Houston's, Irvine
              Ground Beef Taco, Moreno's, Orange
              Bochworst Sausage Sandwich, Mattern Sausage Co, Orange
              #4 Special, Taiko, Irvine
              Braised Short Rib w/tempura poached egg, Break of Dawn, Laguna Hills
              Apple Pie w/walnuts or Pumpkin, Filling Station, Orange
              Cheeseburger, Morton's, Santa Ana
              Sushi Treasures, Wasa, Irvine

              1. nem nuong spring rolls w/sauce - Brodard, Westminster
                banh mi - Banh Mi Che Cali, Westminster
                mixed pupusa - Pupusa San Sivar, Costa Mesa
                nam sod w/crispy rice - Thai Nakorn, Stanton

                1 Reply
                1. re: groover808

                  More links

                  -----
                  Wasa Sushi
                  13124 Jamboree Rd, Irvine, CA 92602

                  Darya Restaurant
                  1998 N Tustin St, Orange, CA 92865

                  Break of Dawn
                  24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

                  Filling Station
                  201 N Glassell St, Orange, CA 92866

                  Claro's Italian Markets
                  1095 E Main St, Tustin, CA 92780

                  Taiko Japanese Restaurant
                  14775 Jeffrey Rd, Irvine, CA 92618

                2. the banh mi xiu mai, Banh Mi Cho Cu, Garden Grove
                  and baked pandan cake are special tastes I learned from CH.

                  1. 1. Tacos de alambre, Taco Mesa, Orange, MV and Ladera
                    2. Shio ramen (sorry kingkong5, I'm not all about the shoyu!) with negimeshi, Santouka, Costa Mesa
                    3. Mango salad with crispy catfish, Thai Nakorn, Stanton
                    4. Cheeseburger with bacon and avocado, Original Mike's, Santa Ana
                    5. Kalbi with dduk bo ssam, Shik Do Rak, Garden Grove
                    6. Tacos al pastor with grilled pineapple, El Farolito Jr., Anaheim
                    7. Sesame bread (da bing), Mas' Islamic Chinese, Anaheim
                    8. Macanese-style daan taat, Desir Bakery inside 99 Ranch, Anaheim

                    Damn it, now I'm hungry.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      O

                      -----
                      Original Mike's
                      100 S Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92701

                      Old World German Restaurant
                      7561 Center Ave, Huntington Beach, CA 92647

                      Sushi Shibucho
                      590 W 19th St, Costa Mesa, CA 92627

                      Taco Mesa
                      647 W 19th St, Costa Mesa, CA 92627

                      Pho Thanh Lich
                      14500 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA 92683

                      Taco Rosa
                      22922 Los Alisos Blvd Ste P, Mission Viejo, CA 92691

                      Taco Mesa
                      3533 E Chapman Ave Ste E, Orange, CA 92869

                      Taco Mesa
                      27702 Crown Valley Pkwy, Mission Viejo, CA

                      Shik-Do-Rak
                      9691 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92844

                      El Farolito Jr
                      1339 N East St, Anaheim, CA 92805

                      Ma's Islamic
                      601 E Orangethorpe Ave, Anaheim, CA 92801

                      99 Ranch Market
                      15333 Culver Dr, Irvine, CA

                      Peking Chinese Restaurant
                      8566 Westminster Blvd, Westminster, CA 92683

                      Ngu Binh Restaurant
                      14072 Magnolia St, Westminster, CA 92683

                      De Simone Bakery & Deli
                      6850 Edinger Ave, Huntington Beach, CA 92647

                      Manmi Bakery
                      18732 Colima Rd, Rowland Heights, CA

                      Philly's Best
                      18691 Brookhurst St, Fountain Valley, CA 92708

                      Gemmell's
                      34471 Golden Lantern St, Dana Point, CA 92629

                      Taco Loco
                      640 S Coast Hwy Ste 1, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

                      Black Sheep Bistro
                      303 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92780

                      Rothschild's Restaurant
                      2407 E Coast Hwy, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

                      Muldoon's Irish Pub
                      202 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660

                      Mastro's Ocean Club
                      8112 E Coast Hwy, Newport Coast, CA 92657

                    2. 1. Pan fried dumplings - Peking Restaurant, Westminster
                      2. Bun Bo Hue - Ngu Binh, Westminster
                      3. Chicken Shawarma plate - Sahara Falafel, Anaheim
                      4. Cuban sandwich - De Simone, Huntington Beach
                      5. Beef Noodle soup - A & J, Irvine
                      6. Cream puffs - Manmi Bakery, Garden Grove
                      7. Stuffed Chicken Wings - Thai Nakorn, Stanton
                      8. Bratwurst plate - Einbech Inn(sp?), Old World, Huntington Beach
                      9. Filet Mignon Pho - Pho Thanh Lich, Westminster
                      10. Cheese Steak sandwich, Philly's Best, Fountain Valley

                      1. Sure I'm not thinking too hard here initially, but...

                        Lamb Chops at Gemmell's in Dana Point and
                        Blackened Mushroom Quesadilla at Taco Loco in Laguna Beach.

                        1. Toroniku shio ramen; Santouka, Costa Mesa (much better than their shoyu IMHO)
                          Hakata ramen with firm noodles and mentaiko/Yakiramen; Shin Sen Gumi, Fountain Valley
                          Beef liver sashimi/Oxtail soup/Pork Belly; Tsuruhashi, Fountain Valley (and I agree about the Kobe short ribs too)
                          Lamb chops; Black Sheep Bistro, Tustin
                          Omakase; Shibucho, Costa Mesa

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mrhooks

                            Black Sheep Bistro is no more, alas.

                            -----
                            Black Sheep Bistro
                            303 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92780

                          2. 1. French Dip Sandwich, Houston's Irvine
                            2. Vittelo Saltimboca, Rothschild's Corona Del Mar
                            3. Cheeseburger, Muldoon's Newport Beach
                            4. Gorgonzola Mac and Cheese, Mastro's Ocean Club Newport Beach
                            5. Sour Dough Bread and Butter, Bluewater Grill, Newport Beach

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: High Maintenance

                              Green Mussel Omelet- Bangkok Taste
                              Iced Coffee- Banh Mi Cho Cu

                              -----
                              Bangkok Taste
                              2737 N Grand Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92705

                              Banh Mi Cho Cu Bakery
                              14520 Magnolia St, Westminster, CA 92683

                            2. Links

                              -----
                              Santouka Ramen
                              665 Paularino Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

                              Cream Pan
                              602 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92780

                              Newport Seafood Restaurant
                              4411 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

                              Golden Dragon Restaurant
                              2023 Harbor Blvd Ste A, Costa Mesa, CA 92627

                              Houston's Restaurant
                              2991 Michelson Dr, Irvine, CA 92612

                              Brodard Chateau
                              9100 Trask Ave Garden, Grove, CA

                              1. Beef pasty (especially with a Cactus Cooler), Pasty Kitchen, Los Alamitos
                                Chocolate shake, Volcano Burgers, Los Alamitos

                                1. It has been a long time since I had a slice, but the boysenberry pie at the Knott's Berry Farm chicken restaurant (Buena Park) was very good and very Orange County.

                                  1. Very fun!
                                    1. Corned Beef Sandwich, East Coast Italian Deli, Huntington Beach
                                    2. Chocolate Cake Shake, Portillos, Buena Park
                                    3. Steak Chili, Harbor House Cafe, Sunset Beach
                                    4. Mac 'n' Cheese, K'ya, Laguna Beach
                                    5. Ahi Poke, K'ya, Laguna Beach
                                    6. Fried Squid, Lucky Chinese, Fountain Valley
                                    7. Durbin Curry, Mozambique, Laguna Beach
                                    8. Garlic Fries, Phils, Fountain Valley
                                    9. Meatball Pizza, Pizza D'oro, Fountain Valley
                                    10. Waygu Fillet, Silvera's, Huntington Beach

                                    1. Das Ubergeek & kingkong5,

                                      If I may ask, have either of you noticed the decline in quality at Santouka (Costa Mesa) over the past 1/2 year?

                                      When Santouka first opened up here in the OC, my friends and I were amazed at the quality of Ramen and Broth, and it became a regular place for us. It was my favorite Ramen in LA/OC, bar none.

                                      But I've noticed completely different staff (both the front & back of the house, so to speak) and the quality of the noodle and broth and chasyu have definitely been in decline the last ~5 visits I've paid to it. I called up a couple friends of mine who also visit regularly, and they said they noticed the same thing (a bummer to be sure).

                                      1. What a fun topic! I only have a few items, as I'm still pretty new to the area, but this will be updated soon. So here goes, in no particular order:

                                        1. Swordfish piccatta from Zov's Bistro, Tustin
                                        2. Chirashi from Maki-Zushi, Tustin (especially the yellowfin and big toro)
                                        3. Albalo polo (black cherry basmati rice) and grilled scallops from Darya Persian restaurant, South Coast Plaza
                                        4. banh beo from Quan Hy, Westminster
                                        5. Green tea and red bean bread from 99 Ranch Market, Irvine
                                        6. Almond milk boba tea from Cha for Tea, Irvine
                                        7. Pan dulce and fresh bread rolls from El Gallo Giro, Santa Ana
                                        8. Clam chowder soup (and sticky toffee pud) from The Olde Ship, Santa Ana
                                        9. Potato noodles Goong Korean restaurant, Irvine

                                        Favorite local finds (so far):

                                        Sim's British sandwich shop San Juan Capistrano
                                        99 Ranch Markets (all locations, but especially on Culver in Irvine)

                                        1. I may be over-reading the original post. I have been trying to come up with some tastes sort of unique to or associated with Orange County, rather than just the best dishes. (Hence my boysenberry pie at Knott's post, though I stand by the Pasty Kitchen as both representing OC as well as a best dish. God, I miss that place so much.)

                                          Anyway, staying with my interpretation of what was sought by the original post, I will throw out Balboa Bars at Dad's on Balboa Island, Newport Beach.

                                          1. Excellent topic!

                                            Off the top of my head:
                                            1. Cream Pan, any item
                                            2. carnitas taco, Q Tortas, downtown Placentia
                                            3. cabeza anything, Taqueria Guadalupana, Orange
                                            4. cold miso ramen w/chicken, Kairakutei, Tustin
                                            5. chile relleno burrito, Celinda's, RSM
                                            6. Cream of Poblano soup, El Cholo, La Habra

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Allmodcons

                                              shio ramen- santouka, costa mesa
                                              ceviche tostada-osteneria 7 mares, Orange
                                              nem noung rolls- brodard, Westminster
                                              asparagus wrapped in bacon yakitori- honda-ya, tustin
                                              nam sod with crispy rice- bangkok taste, santa ana
                                              panna cotta- cafe hiro, cypress

                                              1. re: Allmodcons

                                                Does Taqueria Guadalupana have a grocery store? Just wondered, because in Chicago, we always used to shop at La Guadalupana carniceria, so I thought maybe it could be a chain?

                                                1. re: FoodieKat

                                                  This Guadalupana is a taqueria only, no store. Very pure, in the best sense.

                                                  1. re: Allmodcons

                                                    Great thread!

                                                    No one ever mentions this but I've always enjoyed the beef tongue dinner platter at Tacos Jalisco in Orange. And their albondingas soup satisfies on cold nights.

                                                    [And great user name mod cons. You flashed me back to my highschool days when me and a few of my friends were the only Mods at our highschool. That's back when the famous Circle City nite club (Orange Circle) was still around. They used to have a pretty cool Mod night. I'll never forget going on scooter rallies with my buddies to places like Camel Records in H.B., The Whiskey, The Starwood and tons of other places. The heads we turned; those were the days. I still have my old bikes (1 Vespa and 1 Lambretta) in storage at my parents' house. ]

                                                    Sorry to get off topic but your tag brought me back to the 80's...

                                              2. Great Topic:

                                                1. Tony's Deli - Anaheim (Any sandwich.- I challenge anyone to find a better sandwich place. I also challenge anyone to find better potato salad)
                                                2. Tustin Brewery - Tustin (Fettuccini Caliente is money, as is their award winning chili)
                                                3. Oh Those Doughnuts - Costa Mesa (I know you will roll your eyes, but you must order a sandwich in this place - drunk or sober)
                                                4. Great Mex - Balboa (Everything in this place is amazing. Especially the chorizo egg burrito)
                                                5. Maggiano's - Costa Mesa (Until you go family style, you haven't lived)
                                                6. First Class Pizza - Santa Ana (There is only one pie you need to know - The Porker)
                                                7. Haveli Fine Indian Cuisine - Tustin (The luch time buffet is not only amazing, but only $7.95)
                                                8. Cabana - Laguna Beach (Fondue Grill Sticks - Incredible. And don't leave thhe place without ordering a Mai Tai)
                                                9. Rutabegorz - Tustin (Cockie Leeky soup. You'll feel dumb ordering it, but it's awesome)
                                                10. Bandera - Corona del Mar (The Cluck & Moo. It's not on the menu, but they'll make it for you. It's a half of their Rotisserie Chicken and Ribs - It will leave you clucking and mooing)

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Johnny California

                                                  I've heard about the unlimited refills of the Maggianos family style...what's the price range?

                                                  1. re: groover808

                                                    $15-$25 for entrees, but the salt content is so high that I get headaches unless I drink litres and litres of water.

                                                2. - Almond croissant from Boulangerie Pierre & Patisserie, Garden Grove
                                                  - Mesquite-grilled California spiny lobster (in season) at the Crab Cooker, Tustin
                                                  - Italian beef sandwich at Portillo's, Buena Park
                                                  - Lemon meringue pie, Marie Callender's or Hof's Hut

                                                  -----
                                                  The Crab Cooker
                                                  17260 17th St, Tustin, CA 92780

                                                  1. - ABC Burger at Peter's Gourmade Grill, Tustin

                                                    - Odessa Sandwich, Moscow Deli, Costa Mesa

                                                    - Saltenas, Rollies Bakery & Mexican (and Bolivian) Cafe, Tustin

                                                    - Pambazos and any type of tacos (but esp. carne asada) with tortillas "hecho a mano" at Tacos Y Mulitas Ruben, Santa Ana

                                                    - Barbacoa and/or Pancita tacos at Tacqueria Don Victor, Huntington Beach

                                                    -----
                                                    Moscow Deli
                                                    3015 Harbor Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

                                                    Peter's Gourmade Grill
                                                    16851 Mcfadden Ave, Tustin, CA 92780

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: mikester

                                                      Seared Toro at San Shi Go on Newport Peninsula.
                                                      Fresh Slamon Roe (imported in season from Japan) at San Shi Go
                                                      Any of the desserts from Zov's
                                                      Crying Tiger from Thai Nakorn

                                                      -----
                                                      Thai Nakorn
                                                      11951 Beach Blvd, Stanton, CA 90680

                                                      Zov's Bakery
                                                      17440 E. 17th Street, Tustin, CA 92780

                                                      Thai Nakorn Restaurant
                                                      12532 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92843

                                                      San Shi Go Sushi and Asian Cuisine
                                                      205 Main St, Newport Beach, CA 92661

                                                    2. Sizzling Sausage Platter at Sabatino's Lido Shipyard, or get the uncooked from their case. I think it's $6.99 a pound.

                                                      1. 1. Ham, egg and cheese waffle sandwich - Bruxie, Orange
                                                        2. Custard shake (any flavor will do) - Bruxie, Orange
                                                        3. Broasted chicken - Chicken Box, La Habra - is this OC?
                                                        4. Carnitas plate, chips and salsa - El Farolito, Placentia
                                                        5. Octopus appetizer - Olive Pit, Brea
                                                        6. Falafel and zataar - Zait & Zataar, Anaheim
                                                        7. Salami and Anaheim chile pizza - Pizzeria Mozza, Newport Beach

                                                        -----
                                                        El Farolito
                                                        201 S Bradford Ave, Placentia, CA 92870

                                                        Pizzeria Mozza
                                                        641 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                        Olive Pit
                                                        834 E Lincoln Ave Ste B, Orange, CA 92865