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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.

The poll for 2006: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/350718.
And the 2006 results: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/356299
Unfortunately, 2007 results are lost in cyberspace.

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  1. 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.
    5. tbd

    6 Replies
    1. re: kingkong5

      Where is Siam Tatse of Asia?
      I am looking for a good Thai restaurant in South County. I have tried tons and can't find anyone that does good Drunken Noodles

      1. re: oc.mamma

        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.

      2. re: kingkong5

        kk5: The OP was re-written so that there are two categories: <$25 and >$25. Care to resubmit your list?

        1. re: OCAnn

          absolutely! Thanks OCAnn, I'll put it in before the deadline.

        2. re: kingkong5

          OK always one to wait until the last minute, here are my revisions:

          Over $25/pp
          1. Tsuruhashi
          2. Sushi Wasabi
          3. Marche Moderne
          4. Houston's
          5. Napa Rose

          <$25/pp
          1. Newport Seafood
          2. Siam Taste of Asia
          3. Park Ave
          4. Pho Thanh Lich
          5. Bo 7 Mon Hong An

        3. 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

          2 Replies
          1. re: I got nothin

            Edited for over & under $25/person

            Over $25/person:
            1) Napa Rose
            2) Marche Moderne
            3) Tsuruhashi
            4) Old Vine Cafe
            5) The Cannery

            Under $25/person:
            1) Shin Sen Gumi
            2) Taco Rosa (Although the Sunday brunch is over $25/person)
            3) Francoli's
            4) Tulsa Rib Co.
            5) Banh Mi Cho Cu

            1. re: I got nothin

              Napa rose is really really good. A little pricey but well worth it. and their wine selection is great!

          2. Glad to see you started this up again! The 2007 poll is here:

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/467390

            And go here if you want to vote for LA County restaurants:

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/575758

            1 Reply
            1. re: maxzook

              Thank you. I have the 2007 poll, but not the 2007 results. I searched & searched and came up empty handed. Maybe you can do a better job of getting your hands on it....

            2. This is difficult. How about if we adopt the LA County over and under $25 format?

              3 Replies
              1. re: JAB

                Thank you. A revision of the OP is in the works w/the help of the CH mods.

                1. re: OCAnn

                  Over $25:

                  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.

                  Under 25

                  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)

                  1. re: lawdog262

                    We revisited Old Vine after my original post. I'd know put Old Vine in second place and Onotria in third.

              2. Over:
                1) Shin Sen Gumi
                2) Tsuruhashi
                3) Old Vine Cafe
                4) Marche Moderne
                5) Brussel's Bistro

                Under:
                1) Sabatino's
                2) Habana
                3) El Adobe de Capistrano - based on the lobster fajitas alone
                4) Inka Mama's
                5) Seafood Paradise - for Dim Sum