Ultimate OC Restaurants, 2008
We begin 2008's poll by cutting & pasting from kingkong5's thread of last year and adding maxzook's twist:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/467390 -- Ultimate OC Restaurants, 2007 Edition and
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/575758 -- PLEASE POST YOUR VOTES HERE: Ultimate Los Angeles Restaurants 2008, respectively.
The concept is simple: everyone is asked to list, in rank order, your top 10 restaurants in Orange County that you would recommend to houndly out-of-town visitors or to chowfriends for a special occasion. Since we worship at the altar of deliciousness, your ranking should be based 75% on food and 25% on everything else.
To join the fun, reply with a list of your top 10 choices; specifically, five restaurants in the OVER $25/person for food and another five restaurants for UNDER $25/person. Responses with more than five choices in a category will not be included; however, replies with fewer than five choices will be tabulated. Your entries will be weighted arithmetically: 5 points for your #1 choice; 4 for #2, and so forth. A simple list will suffice, but any & all explanation is welcome.
Over 20 OC hounds responded last year. The more replies we receive, the more useful are
the poll’s findings, so please reply. We’ll keep the polls open until December 31 & publish the results shortly after the new year.
It may be too late...but here are my favs, not in order:
1. Marche Moderne (consistently wonderful, lunch or dinner)
2. Studio at the Montage (wonderful tasting menu for special occasion)
3. Mastro's Ocean Club (I think that is the name...Crystal Cove, not the other location--great Char)
4. Stonehill Tavern
5. Napa Rose (fun, consistent, good wine list)
Less formal, not necessarily under $25 but reasonable:
1. Javier's (mmmmm Mango Margaritas and camarones, Crystal Cove location)
2. Zov's Bistro (lunch, Tustin location)
3. Ramos House (but, sadly, not open for dinner)
4. Gabbi's (Orange Circle)
5. Felix (great Cuban food, Orange Circle)
I really can't think of a top 5 for either...end of year brain overload! So a top three and a top four. I haven't been to many of the restaurants listed by others (time to make a list!)
Shin Sen Gumi
Interesting Tabu Grill received a 29 from Zagat (highest in So Cal) but only one person here mentioned it here being their favorite... I personally can't believe they'd receive a 29. Way too high...imo!
I currently eat a strict vegetarian diet, so I've been hanging out with the veggie crowd. Just in case you were wondering about the vegan heavy list. Also, I have no money these days, so haven't done anything over $25 this year, at least not in OC.
1. Veggie Grill: badass vegan restaurant that actually serves something that tastes like food. Kudos.
2. Thuyen Vien: cheap vegetarian Vietnamese (mostly vegan but some of the mock meats have animal derivatives) The hands down best vegan pho I've had, and I've been going to every single place I hear about. Very like the real thing. A lot of other things are great too. Truly good brown rice, not that teeth-cracking junk that the hippies force down your throat.
3. Shikdorak, the new Irvine location: This is the best Shikdorak I've been to by far. I was just there with family. The banchan is decent, the food keeps coming, and they give you a little cone of frozen yogurt at the end of the meal. Nice! Was under $25 a person for us.
That's all for 2008.
Maki Zushi, Tustin (Omakase)
Black Sheep Bistro
Ajisen Ramen, Irvine (in Diamond Jamboree, I'm addicted to the pork ribs ramen)
Sushi 5, Tustin (I know it's on a conveyer belt, but I like it!)
Da Bianca Trattoria, Orange (in the hills, at the corner of Newport and Chapman)
1. Maki Zushi, Tustin
2. Mastro's, Costa Mesa
3. Marche Moderne, Costa Mesa
4. Napa Rose, Anaheim
5. Tradition by Pascal, Newport Beach
1. Vien Dong, Garden Grove
2. Xanh, Fountain Valley
3. Mariscos Puerto Esperanza, Orange
4. Thai Nakorn, Stanton (and soon in Garden Grove!)
5. El Taco Nazo, La Habra
on second thought...let's make it bayside. i was sleepy.
cp was not bad, but we're not in a hurry to go back.
let;s put it this way - cp sd they could do some kind of a tasting for us, but we have requested florent at marche to do a special 7 or 8 course tasting menu for us tonight based on his Christmas and new year's eve menus since we're out of town. looking forward to it!
Thanks for taking the time to put this together.
Over $25 -
1. Shin Sen Gumi Robata Yakitori (*not* Ramen)
2. Marche Moderne
3. Maki Zushi
4. Old Vine Cafe
Under $25 -
1. Thai Nakorn
2. Darya (Lunch)
3. Kappo Hana
4. Tony's Little Italy
5. Vien Dong - Ultimate Egg Rolls (thanks Das! :)
1. Marche Moderne - even better than the first year it opened.
2. Old Vine Cafe - the biggest little restaurant in OC
3. Anaheim White House - a personal fave; also authentic, real Italian
4. Tradition by Pascal - still a go-to place after all these years
5. Zipangu - underrated anti-mall Japanese gem
1. Taco Mesa - a successful marriage of informal fast food and gourmet Mexican
2. Stonefire Grill - the BBQ sauce is addictive; they serve excellent sides with the ribs
3. Persian food counter @ Wholesome Choice - well worth the punishingly bad service
4. Brussels Bistro - moulles frites w/ beer is the best comfort food (under $25 w/o beer)
5. Veggie Grill - (Irvine) - reinventing the taste of healthy food
1. Avanti Cafe on 17th- coconut tapioca on thursdays to die for-
2. Peking Chinese Restaurant (near little Saigon)
3. Regina's Argentinian- on Euclid
5. Molcajete on Bushard in Huntington Beach
I'm not sure why the text got all big, maybe it's just me that sees it big.
1. Marche Moderne. Far better than its wonderful reputation, and still getting better.
2. Onotria. Underrated but wonderful.
3. Old Vine Cafe. Just went recently, but this was love at first bite.
4. Koi. So good I don't care about other sushi rests.
5. none -- we've been going to Marche Moderne "too" much.
1. Taco Rosa (Irvine location only).
2. Garduno's. [family italian in costa mesa)
3. Kamal Palace [Indian in Marina Pacifica; technically not OC, but its just one minute into LA].
4. Taco Mesa (Costa Mesa location)
5. Roma D'Italia (family Italian in Tustin)
Limiting my responses to places I've been to in 2008:
1) Napa Rose - Tasting menu w/ wine pairings easily the best meal of the year for me
2) Marche Moderne - food is always great; the cramped indoor tables not so enjoyable
3) Tsuruhashi - miso marinated cow tongue + grill = happiness
4) Old Vine Cafe - there's a special place in my heart for their Creamy Cheese Grits
5) Shin Sen Gumi - its recently replaced Kappo Honda as my go to izakaya
Thanks so much for starting this OCAnn. I don't know if it was the economic downturn this year, but I wasn't as wow'ed by my dining choices so much this year as I have been in years past. Perhaps fewer "special occasion" places opened up in OC this year, at least fewer keepers. Of course, sometimes my special occasion celebration is "because it's Tuesday" so your mileage may vary.
1. Tsuruhashi - given the price/value ratio, we really enjoy ourselves here.
2. Sushi Wasabi - still one of the better omakases in the area. I could live on those blue crab handrolls alone.
3. Newport Seafood - yes it is run down and dirty looking, but our family celebrates special occasions here for the great food - delicious house special lobster and other chinese/vietnamese dishes.
4. Siam Taste of Asia - what wonderful Thai food in this small, hidden hole-in-the-wall restaurant. The owner is super friendly and talkative, but the restaurant is usually empty. Great food though, esp. the beef salad and the fried seabass with tamarind sauce.
Siam, Taste of Asia, 3520 W First St., Santa Ana. This restaurant is CASH ONLY. Next door to Favori restaurant, it's on First Street between Fairview and Harbor. They do a very good drunken noodle, btw. We ordered some for catering to a potluck party, I think it was a half tray. It was gone so fast, everyone loved it.