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Mar 5, 2009 07:07 PM

Chinese/Taiwanese recommendation for Irvine

I will be returning to Southern California for vacation in a few week. I have visited Irvine many times the last 8 or 9 years but I still don't know which Chinese restaurants are good. (I believe I visited Sam Woo on Culver Drive last time I was in Irvine. It was pretty good but I am sure there are other/better places around...). As I am getting older, I have started getting lazy and do not want to drive up all the way to Rowland Heights or Monterey Park for Chinese food...... Can you guys provide some recommendations for Irvine and vicinity? I know saying "Chinese/Taiwanese" is kind of general.... to be more specific, I am interested in Cantonese Seafood, Dim Sum, Taiwanese, and Shanghainese cuisine. Thank you!

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  1. Try S.W. Seafood on the corner of Walnut and Jeffrey over Sam Woo on Culver. Try Capital Seafood in the new shopping center on Alton for Dim Sum over China Garden on Walnut and Jeffrey.

    1. Not in Irvine, but 3-6-9 Shanghai Cuisine near the 99 Ranch on Euclid in Anaheim is decent, as long as you order Shanghainese food and resist the temptation to order gloppy things like kung pao or chow mein.

      1. For Taiwanese I would sugeest Nice Time Deli on Walnut and Jeffrey in 99 Ranch Plaza. I also remember A&J restaurant across the way having some good fare as well.

        15 Replies
        1. re: crystaw

          I 2nd A&J and I'll add Tri-Village further up on Jeffrey.

          1. re: JAB

            Yes, another addition to the Chinese restaurant Hall of Fame in addition to the Golden Dragon in San Francisco, the Golden Palace and Twin Dragon in L.A., Chinese Cook in Lynwood, and Four Happiness in Monterey Park, among others.

            1. re: Chandavkl

              Thanks for the info. I will have to be more careful when I go to that area. Let's hope it's just a random act.

              Btw, has anyone been to Phoenix Restaurant? A friend of mine gave me takeout menu from there a while ago but I didn't visit last time I was in Irvine. If you guys have any thought on that restaurant, please let me know. Thanks again!

              1. re: bearmi

                It's been closed for some time.

                1. re: JAB

                  The more important question at this time is whether anybody has tried the dim sum at the successor restaurant, Royal Kitchen.

                  1. re: Chandavkl

                    Omg.. I didn't even know Phoenix Restaurant has closed.. Thanks for letting me know... It will certainly save me a trip! If you guys have been to Royal Kitchen, please let me know how it is. Thanks again!

                    1. re: bearmi

                      Royal Kitchen was pretty good at dinnertime. Some posters said they were eager to try the dim sum but no one has reported back.

                      1. re: Chandavkl

                        I see. Just out of curiosity, is their cuisine similar to Phoenix?

                        1. re: bearmi

                          You can still go to the Phoenix Food Boutiques in the SGV.

                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                            I see. Are they worth going? What's the quality of their food like? It's pretty standard Cantonese Seafood place, right? I vaguely remember driving past one in Arcadia years ago but I was traveling with coworkers who are not Chinese and who probably weren't going to eat Chinese food so I passed.....

                            1. re: bearmi

                              No, it's not Cantonese seafood. It's more like a cha chaan teng, which (forgive me if you know this already) is a Hong Kong-style teahouse with "siu sik" -- "small eats", plates of this and that kind of snack. They specialise in dessert, actually, and the fresh fruit shaved ice is made of fresh fruit, ice, condensed milk, and apparently crack cocaine, because it's addicting.

                              The Phoenix Restaurant in Irvine was related but had a more comprehensive menu -- I still wouldn't call it Cantonese seafood.

                              If you are looking for Cantonese seafood (as opposed to Vietnamese seafood) in OC, may I suggest King Harbor on Garden Grove and Harbor Blvds.

                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                I see. Thanks for the explanation. The shaved ice stuff actually sounds interesting.... maybe I will check it out if I am in San Gabriel Valley while I am in Southern Cal... Thanks again.

                        2. re: Chandavkl

                          I tried the dim sum yesterday, but since it was a Wednesday and pretty late for dim sum at 2PM, I didn't consider it reflective of what dim sum might be like on a weekend during prime time between 11AM-1PM. We did get 5 items off the dim sum cart, which looked like it had been sitting there awhile. Some of it was just OK, while a couple of items did still taste pretty good, like the sticky rice in tea leaves. We did ask for an order of har gow that was made fresh, and it was pretty good. We also ordered some beef chow fun, and that that tasted pretty good, too.

                          We definitely will go back on a weekend when the place is busier and there is a fresh rotation of dim sum on the carts.

                          Also want to add Chef Chen as a recommended place. I believe their cuisine is Shanghainese. In the same strip mall as SW Seafood, Nice Time Deli, and Yu's Garden.

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

                          1. re: Wonginator

                            Thanks! Sounds good to me!

                            Since all these places are in the same area, it will save me a lot of time driving around. I will have to check them out.

            2. here is a quick review I wrote a while ago Nice Time Deli, A&J and Yu's Garden

              Generally if you're looking for taiwanese:
              Nice Time Deli: has alot of classic taiwanese street food although its all just okay, nothing to write home about
              A&J: has alot of taiwanese takes on northern dishes, but it is my favorite chinese restaurant in irvine as its pretty good. I like their noodle soups (spicy beef noodle soup - niu rou mian and clear beef noodle soup - qing dun niu rou mian). There is a hot and sour cold noodle that is good (i think its called suan la liang mian). They have decent zha jiang mian as well. Make sure to get a side order of their boiled peanuts and suan cai (pickled vegetables), they are good. They also have good breakfast on the weekends only (xian dou jiang, fan tuan, shao bing you tiao etc
              )Yu's: is mainly a xifan (rice porridge) place where you pick out your dishes that are sort of sitting in steam plates...its very cheap and reasonably decent if you know which dishes to pick (the dishes vary from pretty good to mediocre). They also have alot of ice desserts. They also have chinese breakfast every morning and its surprisingly good.

              If you have a chance I highly recommend going to garden grove which isnt that far from irvine:
              Tan Cang Newport Seafood: AWESOME cantonese-viet style lobster (I love this place for that dish)

              Trieu Chau: AWESOME chao zhou style noodle soup

              7 Replies
              1. re: Lau

                Just be aware when Googling that Trieu Chau is NOT the same as New Trieu Chau:

                1. re: Lau

                  Ha... Lau, you found me on the West Coast... I guess you are also a "bi-coastal" person. Quick question for you, how early is Yu's porridge open? As you probably know, I will be on Eastern Time Zone so I will probably be wide awake by 7 or 8 AM local time. Rather than paying ~ $20 to eat bacon, sausage, potatoes and scrambled eggs at the hotel, I thought it might be nice to eat some Chinese breakfast one day but I guess the restaurant has to be open so I can get breakfast there.

                  1. re: bearmi

                    haha yes CA is my home and i try to eat just as much there as i do in NY

                    its open pretty early, you might want to call, but ive been there at 8am before a few times actually. they can be a little bit english challenged if u dont speak chinese fyi (depends waitress by waitress...spoke to them in english the first time got a blank stare so started speaking chinese and it was no problem). also you're a champion if you spend $20 on yourself at this place

                    I recommend all the typical taiwanese breakfast items; xian dou jiang (savory soy bean milk), tian dou jiang (sweet soy bean milk), you tiao (fried crueller), shao bing (baked wheat cake), xian fan tuan (rice roll thingy with a you tiao and rou song in the middle), dan bing (if you can eat that much) etc. Fyi, theyir xian dou jiang is a slightly thicker than most places although I kind of like it b/c its very flavorful

                    Here's the yelp review, its got the # and address

                    also as an fyi, A&J's only serves breakfast on the weekends (that's actually how i found yu's garden


                    Btw, you should really try the two places in garden grove if you have a chance there is nothing like them in NY (also pho tau bay in the link i sent you....that place is AMAZING)

                    1. re: Lau

                      Thanks. I will look into the places you have recommended. I still have a few more weeks before I actually go to Calif but now I can't wait to go!

                      p.s. Yes. I speak both Mandarin and Taiwanese so I should be ok at Yu's porridge. If I got time I will definitely visit.

                      1. re: bearmi

                        oh you're money then...i cant understand taiwanese at all

                        hopefully u get a chance to that im thinking about it im getting all hungry, i cant wait to go home in a already planning what to eat...the asian options are so much better in so cal than ny