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Chinese in South OC

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Anyone know of any good Chinese food down in South Orange County? We haven't had much like since we moved here a few months ago.

Thanks in advance

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  1. I'm not sure what area South OC is . . . but there are quite a few places in Irvine.
    There is the Culver Plaza off Culver Blvd (I forget the cross street) but there is Sam Woo, 99 ranch etc. There is a tea station in that plaza - so maybe u can search for that address.

    There is also two plazas on Jeffrey and something (I don't know the cross street). One of the plaza's is called Arbor something plaza - there are all sorts of different asian foods - taiwanese, chinese, korean, vietnamese, boba places, etc. Maybe do a search on Tapioca Express in Irvine and you will come upon on that plaza. There is also a restaurant called A&J

    Sorry can't help much with the address, not that familiar with Orange County/Irvine.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Alice

      Wow! Thanks for the prompt response. Those are all well within range for a decent meal.


      1. re: Budley

        I think Garden Grove is kinda nearby as well and there are a lot? of Chinese restaurants there I think ...

    2. We live in Ladera Ranch (just moved down from Irvine), and have found that Crown Valley Chinese on the corner of Crown Valley and Marguerite is pretty good. Not totally authentic like the places in Irvine, but still decent for South OC. We've had a heck of a time finding decent restaurants in the area.

      Have you found anything else that's good in South OC? I'd love to compare notes-sometimes driving up to Irvine, Tustin, etc. is just too far . . .

      3 Replies
      1. re: Samantha

        Honestly no we haven't. To be fair, we have a toddler who keeps us out of the nicer places. We're more focused on the family friendly/family owned restaurants these days.

        There is a decent mexican place called Tortilla Flats on the lake in Mission Viejo. Good food, terrible service, and nice views of the lake. It's a little expensive, but it's one of the better places we've found to date.

        1. re: Budley

          We've been to Tortilla Flats. Not bad, not great, but it does have a nice view. We've found our best bet is to drive to RSM-there are several places there we like. Opah, which is more upscale, Agave for Mexican (owned by the same owners as Opah), and Wood Ranch Barbeque, though Wood Ranch is often very crowded. Selma's Pizza in RSM is also similar to BJ's (the son of the people who own BJ's owns Selma's). There's a new BJ's in Lake Forest off of El Toro, over by the mall. It's not quite as busy as the Irvine location, which is nice. Our favorite South County restaurant is a little, family-owned Italian place off of Greenfield in Laguna Niguel called Romeo Cucina. I adore this place, but it's not really conducive to kids, though I'd highly recommend it if you and your spouse get out for a night. If you like Thai, there's a Thai Nakorn on Marguerite in Mission Viejo in the Trader Joe's shopping center. It's supposedly not as good as the Thai Nakorn in Buena Park, but my husband and I enjoy it a lot.

          1. re: Budley

            A couple of suggestions:

            1. Taco Mesa: On Crown Valley in the first shopping center East of the arroyo after crossing Marguerite Parkway (as you enter Ladera Ranch) AND also at the SouthEast corner of Trabuco Road and Los Alisos in Mission Viejo. These are order-at-the counter places, so they're good for kids. This is some of the best Mexican food in the area.... surprisingly good for what appears to be a fast food place.

            2. Google your way to Las Golondrinas (several locations from San Juan to San Clemente) and also Olamendi's (same general area. Both are among the better in South County.

            3. For Chinese: this is tougher because it really depends on what your standard is. If you want really authentic the place at Walnut and Jeffrey, in Irvine, (sorry I can't remember the name)seems to get the best reviews here, but it's a good distance. I know something about authentic Chinese cuisines, but am not a real stickler for HAVING to have it. In the South County area, my favorites are two owned by the same couple: China Moon (Crown Valley & Niguel Road, in Laguna Niguel, and China Sea (Camino del Avion and Niguel Road(I think)in Dana Point. Americanized, but quite good... considering.

        2. Try Golden Dragon in Dana Point!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Veronica

            Unless this place has had a serious upgrade since I've been there, I doubt if this is what the poster is looking for.

          2. I've recently discovered a hole in the wall in the most unlikely of places in Lake Forest that I like a lot. It's the Formosa, attached to a motel, at 23702 Rockfield Drive, just south of Lake Forest Ave. It's next to the McDonald's for further clarification and to further add to the unlikeliness of this being a place anyone would try.

            BUT - it's good. I've been happier with the food I have gotten there than any of the other Chinese places I've tried in Lake Forest or Irvine, except China Garden or the Ranch 99 market.

            I'd say it's strictly for take-out unless you are looking for a dive atmosphere. But the owners are really friendly and every time I've picked up food there I've seen them press a free beer on someone.

            There are Taiwanese specialities on the menu, in addition to Americanized standards and a board of specialties written in Chinese that they never translate for me ( so be prepared to either insist on trying them, or ordering off the menu)

            I'd love to hear what anyone else thinks of them. Its one of the few places in Lake Forest worth going back to.

            I particularly liked the pork and mustard green soup. Other than that, I ordered fairly ordinary things.

            -- JD --

            2 Replies
            1. re: Juris Dog

              Interesting. We had two days of meetings in that hotel last year when our nearby offices were under remodel. I remember walking past that place and being scared off by the look and greasy smell. And I'm chinese who grew up in Monterey Park and am used to going to hole in the wall dives.

              Maybe it was just the context when I first noticed it.

              1. re: Juris Dog

                I have been having a tough time finding a good takeout Chinese place in MV/Lake Forest area since I moved here 2 years ago. I tried this place, and was way skeptical upon pulling up to the "Best Western" motel, to which this place is attached. I must say it wasn't bad, and better than most I've had in the area. Everything seems to be cooked to order, at least no apparent steam tables. I'd say it is a good sign for this white boy when the white boards post specials in Chinese lettering. I stayed with the typical Americanized dishes, but I'd try it again with something more adventurous next time.

              2. i

                I'm a big fan of Diho Siam in Mission Viejo. It's across Marguerite from the Ralphs at the corner of La Paz & Marguerite. They have both Chinese and Thai food. I can't compare it to the more authentic Irvine places usually mentioned because I haven't been to those. You can either eat there or take out. That's pretty much the only place I go for Chinese anymore.

                1. Irvine China Garden
                  (949) 653-9988
                  14825 Jeffrey Rd,
                  Irvine, CA 92618

                  1. Anyone try Lakeside Chinese in Mission Viejo? It's not really "on the lake" with respect to even a lake view. But it's at Alicia and Olympia, which is on a street encircling the lake. It was one of the first we found when we moved to the area a couple of years ago, and it was our standard for awhile. Of late, it's been a bit disappointing. Flavor has been bland. But perhaps it's the specific dishes I've been ordering? Anyone else have a take on this place?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: BabyDaddy

                      I went once about 12 years ago when I first moved into the area and found it very Americanized. I haven't been back since.

                    2. Try Peking Dragon on PCH, and for good food with no atmosphere, try Kale Yard, also on PCH. both are in Dana Point

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: gaa

                        Ouch! I'm not usually very judgemental, but we tried some takeout from Kale Yard last night. We've been to Bella Napoli (next door) and thought the KaleYard menu looked decent enough to give it a try. Sauteed Green Beans, and spicy eggplant are two of my 'clues' on a chinese menu. BIG MISTAKE!!!...... at least by our standards.

                        The tangerine chicken was dry and practically flavorless; chef's panfried noodles was a huge disappontment..... the meat and veggies were OK, but the 'pan-fried noodles' appeared to be straight out of a cellophane bag .... pan-friend in a factory somewhere.... Yuk!; Shrimp in black bean sauce was all green pepper and the black beans were unusally salty.

                        It will be a while, if ever, that we try again. To each, his/her own.

                        1. re: Midlife

                          So sorry you had this experience! We always order the same dishes, which are very plain (chicken with veggies) and we like the light, healthy preparation. Try Peking Dragon on PCH--always crowded, very popular.

                          This may indeed be an issue of "to each, his/her own" because on our one visit to Bella Napoli, we thought it was terrible, and would not go back. Maybe we both caught the places on an "off" night, or have very different taste. Anyhow, sorry for steering you wrong.

                          1. re: gaa

                            Not to worry. There are certain foods that are rather personal in the sense that people have their own standards for what they consider acceptable. Pizza and bagels seem to be the most personal, but Chinese is often similar. I spent the better part of 30 years travelling in Asia on business, so my own threshhold of acceptability is rather high, and my personal disappointment may have been colored by that. But my wife and son said that they would prefer Pick-Up-Stix any day. But, we'll survive.

                            We have tried Peking Dragon,and found the quality reasonably good, but our favorite is China Moon, in Laguna Niguel. Truth is that ALL Chinese restos South of Irvine are Americanized. They just don't have the audience for anything more interesting/'authentic'.

                            Also....... we've been to Bella Napoli a couple of times and found it just marginally OK. Large portions, but nothing remotely close to inspired food.

                      2. I work in Irvine and I tend to go to this place at least once a week.

                        Seafood Noodle House
                        Address: 14370 Culver Dr Ste H,
                        Irvine, CA 92604
                        Phone: (949) 654-8388

                        Don't let the name fool you, while they do have noodles during their lunch specials, my usual lunch posse orders the lunch specials that accompany with rice so we can share multiple dishes.

                        It's family-friendly, so you won't have to worry about that.

                        There's a complimentary soup which I don't care for since they douse it with so much pepper, I can't stand it. And there's free tea.

                        Here are some favorite dishes of mine to order from their lunch special menu:

                        Fried Tofu (my absolute favorite)
                        French Style Beef
                        House Special Chicken

                        I'm chinese by the way, and I think this place is decent for an OC chinese restaurant. Can't drive to Monterey Park all the time :) Prices for specials run from $5.95 -$6.95 per plate.

                        Another OC chinese place I frequent is Ten Ten Seafood Restaurant in Artesia where they have late night dining that starts at 9:30 pm for cheap. You'll get more traditional dishes here and a bigger variety for dinner. Have not tried their lunch though.

                        Hope that helps.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: arisu

                          Big SECOND for this place. Went there for dinner with some friends and was impressed. I know a Chinese menu is pretty good when I know that most of my friends wouldn't like it. Now, if there were just something like this less than 15 miles from my home!