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Lunch/Dinner Rec's in Irvine near the Woolett Aquatic Center

ryoray Aug 13, 2010 03:34 PM

Don't know the Irvine area going to Pan Pac's Swim Meet being held at the Woolett Aquatic Center located at 4601 Walnut Avenue in Irvine. Looking for a casual place to take 3 teenage hungry swimmers that is within 10 minutes of the pool between 3::00 and 5:30 pm. on a Saturday. Was thinking of a causal place like "The Counter". Any type of food is okay. Thanks

  1. Professor Salt Aug 16, 2010 11:51 PM

    Welcome to my neighborhood. It's probably too late to help ryoray, but since the international meet is still going on, perhaps this will help someone else.

    There's two Vietnamese options nearby, which i recommend for being lighter fare than the many Chinese restaurants in this area. Thanh (Culver Drive and Deerfield) is probably the better choice food wise, albeit a little more pricy. Golden Bowl is purely meh food wise, but knowing how much food elite swimmers shovel down, you bill will probably be a little cheaper than Thanh.

    I like Chong Qing Mei Wei too. Also try Spicy City (Culver & Walnut) for another Sichuan option. Thai Cafe is also one of my local favorites, as is Chef Chen's.

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

    6 Replies
    1. re: Professor Salt
      Das Ubergeek Aug 16, 2010 11:54 PM

      I must respectfully disagree on Spicy City. I've been now three times and they can't cut the food or season it properly. The water-boiled beef was a disaster, and I cannot describe how badly prepared the huo bao yao hua ("fire-exploded" kidney flowers) were without recourse to a very long post.

      With you on Chef Chen's, though, and I do love Chong Qing Mei Wei.

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

      1. re: Das Ubergeek
        Professor Salt Aug 17, 2010 12:01 AM

        Huh. Sorry to hear that your Spicy City visits blew. I hadn't tried the water boiled beef because I'm the only one in my family that can handle the heat. It's just not something I'd order for eating solo, either

        I've only had the occasion to go one time, but everything I had was solid, especially a soup I was comped because the staff were sitting down to family meal and they shared some with us. The soup was simple, but exceedingly well made.

        1. re: Das Ubergeek
          New Trial Aug 18, 2010 12:38 AM

          Have to agree with Das--I took a couple of colleagues there after reading about it and was deeply disappointed in the food and the service. I made it up to them by taking them to Mas a couple of weeks later.

          1. re: Das Ubergeek
            js76wisco Aug 18, 2010 02:59 PM


            Seems like you know the area very well. I think Chef Chen is the best in that area but I usually go with a lot of work gringos (for lack of better word) and its hard to order more of the authentic dishes. We usually end up ordering scallion pancakes, sizzling rice soup, xiao long bao, szechuan beef, chow fun, kung pao chicken, etc...

            Can you think of other dishes we could try that would satisfy less adventurous eaters and somebody who just wants the best dishes regardless of whether the meat is dark, from a duck or has things that don't have words in English? Do you think there are other options better than Chef Chen?


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

          2. re: Professor Salt
            JAB Aug 17, 2010 09:20 AM

            I was really disappointed on my one visit to Thai Cafe.

            1. re: JAB
              Professor Salt Aug 17, 2010 02:37 PM

              Sorry to hear that. They're not putting out dishes on the order of Jitlada or even Thai Nakorn, but for suburban joint in a non-Thai neighborhood, Thai Cafe has been pretty good to me.

              5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

              Thai Nakorn
              11951 Beach Blvd, Stanton, CA 90680

          3. Das Ubergeek Aug 16, 2010 02:45 PM

            Why not just go to the Counter?

            If you call two hours ahead you can have the best Peking Duck in Orange County, and for not very much money, at Tri Village in Irvine, right off the 5 at Jeffrey Rd.

            If you like spicy foods, go to Chong Qing Mei Wei, a Sichuan place in the 99 Ranch on the north (NE) corner of Jeffrey and Walnut, next door to JAB's choice of S. W. Seafood. (The intersection is at 45 degrees to the compass. This is the plaza that's between Walnut and the 5, on the "north" side of the Jeffrey.

            There's also Shik Do Rak, a Korean BBQ which isn't too expensive and is quite casual, in the plaza across Walnut from 99 Ranch

            99 Ranch
            17713 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA

            5 Replies
            1. re: Das Ubergeek
              JAB Aug 16, 2010 05:24 PM

              I thought that Tri-Village had closed?

              1. re: JAB
                Das Ubergeek Aug 16, 2010 11:51 PM

                Not a chance. I just had their 5 a.m. Chitterlings a few weeks ago.

                1. re: Das Ubergeek
                  JAB Aug 17, 2010 09:18 AM

                  Thanks, I thought that I had read that they closed and opened up another place in Irvine called Asian Tapas or some such.

              2. re: Das Ubergeek
                ryoray Aug 17, 2010 12:51 PM

                Das Ubergeek thanks for your rec's. I'm a fan of your posts. Will definitely make the drive from the Westside to try the Peking Duck at Tri Village one day. I haven't found a worthy place for Peking Duck in my area.
                Thanks Ryoray

                1. re: ryoray
                  Das Ubergeek Aug 17, 2010 03:29 PM

                  You should consider Duck House (formerly Lu Din Gee in Monterey Park) before Tri Village (though I do love Tri Village). Whichever you pick, don't limit yourself to the roasted meat and the crispy skin: you are buying the whole duck. Get the excess meat stir-fried in the traditional way with sprouts; have the roasted bones turned into white soup; ask if they have run chang (duck liver sausage), and ask to have jie mo ya zhang (chilled duck webs with fiery mustard).

              3. r
                ryoray Aug 16, 2010 10:25 AM

                thanks everyone for the great tips.

                1. ocshooter Aug 16, 2010 09:26 AM

                  Well, the Counter in Irvine is only 4 miles away, so that might be an option right there.

                  6416 Irvine Blvd, Irvine, CA 92620

                  1. j
                    janeyoc Aug 15, 2010 09:13 AM

                    You are in the heart of all things Asian in Irvine. There are 2 - 99 Ranch Markets mini malls with in a couple of mile of Woolett (one off Walnutt and Jeffery and the other off Culver and Irvine Center). Both malls have Sam Woo or SW restaurants in them. Also there are 2 large malls nearby that have a gammit of restaurants and food courts. Check out the restaurant listing for Tustin/Irvine Marketplace or the District.

                    If you are looking to keep it lighter and healthier, the District has a big new Whole Foods with a large food court and salad bar but it is easy to drop a $20 once you start piling it on.

                    Good luck at the meet!

                    99 Ranch
                    17713 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA

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

                    1. f
                      FrankZ Aug 14, 2010 03:40 PM

                      There are two Indian buffets on Culver/Walnut - India Cook House & Annapoorna. In the same center a Buffalo Wild Wings just opened.

                      1. JAB Aug 14, 2010 08:52 AM

                        My choice in the area would be S.W. Seafood in the 99 Ranch shopping center on the N / W corner of Jeffrey & Walnut.

                        99 Ranch
                        17713 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA

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