Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
Feb 26, 2011 09:48 PM

Road Trip Reviews: Tokyo Table, Johnny Reb's, Darya Persian, Break of Dawn, Antica Pizzeria

I spent another weekend with my other half in Orange County and we decided to try mostly new places. So, here are some mini reviews of each of our stops:

Tokyo Table (Tustin) - This is in the Diamond Jamboree center of Asian delights and across the parking lot from the 85 C Bakery. We had a reservation and was seated promptly in a huge booth. Our meal consisted of several small plates of Yakitori, sushi, Goyza, and Beef Wrapped around Green Onions. All were very excellent. We then had the "Gonza" plates which were an entree served with Miso Soup, Udon Noodles with sauce, housemade Tofu in a Sweet and Sour sauce and a big serving of rice. I had the Chicken Katsu and my hubby had the assorted sushi. Everything was fresh, delicious and plentiful. It wasn't the best Japanese food I have had, but it was everything we expected and more. Service was excellent. The pricing was moderate. We would return again without a doubt.

Johnny Reb's (Orange) - This place attracts us every so often and we always have a great time. This time, however, our food was only okay (two BBQ pulled pork sandwiches with sides and an appetizer of Fried Green Tomatoes). The sandwiches were fine, but nothing special and the sides seemed rushed. The onion rights were particularly lackluster. The Fried Green Tomatoes were also missing something. Service was very off. I am willing to chalk this up as just a bad day at the restaurant, but it does mean that Johnny Reb's will be down at the bottom of the list for some time.

Darya Persian (Costa Mesa) - This restaurant is near the South Coast Plaza behemoth and we ventured in for something a little different. The place is gorgeous inside with Greco-Roman columns and chandeliers hanging all over the place. We started with the appetizer platter where we got to pick three items. We went with the hummus, the stuffed grape leaves, and the mix of bitter herbs, feta cheese and walnuts. We like the platter, but the hummus had no body and reminded us of pancake batter. The bitter herbs, feta and walnuts was fantastic. We also got the Persian Salad which was a mix of cucumbers and tomatoes in oil and lemon juice. A great palate cleanser and plenty of it.

As we waited for our entrees, the owner dropped by and asked how we liked the food so far. We chatted a bit with him and he then brought us two comped dishes of a crispy rice with two sauces and a salad with sauteed dates, greens and peppers. Both were quite lovely and, like the salad, plentiful.

My Chicken in Pomegranate Sauce was outstanding. A huge mass of chicken was bathing in an incredibly delicious sauce. A gigantic plate of rice was served along side. My spouse had a Adas Polo, a rice dish with chicken, raisins, lentils, dates and saffron. We were both very, very happy with our meals. Of course, with the two comped dishes, most of our entrees were carted home.

Darya was a lovely meal.

Break of Dawn (Laguna Hills) - Wow. I am so jealous of Orange County. Break of Dawn was simply fantastic. From the Cinnamon Roll served sizzling in a small cast iron skillet (with plenty of butter) to the Mojito made with Soju to our entrees, our experience had us making plans for our next visit. The BBQ Pork with Tempura Eggs dish I had was sublime. Just absolutely wonderful. J. had the Smoked Salmon with Eggs and a Vietnamese Coffee, both of which he raved about. This was an excellent find and we will be going back with absolutely no hesitations.

Antica Pizzeria (Marina del Rey) - I had been wanting to try Antica for some time and we finally decided to take the hour's drive up and try it. We got to the restaurant and it was somewhat busy, but we were seated right away. We were placed at a wobbly table that was dirty and when we mentioned it to the bus staffer, he was incredibly surly. Our waitress took our order of a small Caesar Salad, the Salad with Greens, Gorgonzola and Walnuts, the pizza with mozzarella, basil and tomato sauce with ricotta cheese in the crust, and the Margherita Pizza DOC.

The salads were quite good and we enjoyed both of them. The pizzas were also delicious, but we both agreed that the new Pomo Pizzeria in Scottsdale (that also has the Verace Pizza Napoletana designation) was much better. One thing we did notice was that the interior looked pretty shabby. The wooden tables all looked old and worn, and the candle holders at our table and the tables around us looked like they hadn't seen soap and water in months. Service was spotty at best.

All in all, a mixed time at Antica. The pizzas and salads pleased us, but the tired feel of the atmosphere combined with the surly and spotty service pretty much nixed another hour's drive from OC to MdR for the experience.

Alas, another great trip to Southern California with some great food and some wonderful new discoveries (especially Break of Dawn).

Break of Dawn
24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Are you aware of OC's own VPN designated Pizza e Vino?

    2 Replies
    1. re: JAB

      Yes. We actually were looking at going there, but the timing would not have gotten us there before they closed for the evening. However, we did put it on our list for a try the next trip.

      1. re: JAB

        I had 4 pies at pizza e Vino...2 were excellent and 2 sucked(the crusts were way undercooked) tough to understand that kind of inconsistency with the oven..never had a problem at Antica in nearly 20 years! it goes

      2. So sorry Antica was not joyful! I used to work near there and pizza form there was such a treat for an hourly slave : )

        It's a ways away, and not a cushy neighborhood - but what of Bollini's? Small place but joyful folks making great pizza. Oooh the mushroom...

        And the fab wandering chopsticks with her review --


        Hope you are back here to eat soon!

        1 Reply
        1. re: happybaker

          Despite the signage, Bollini is not "authentic" Neapolitan pizza. Especially not if they roll the crust to achieve uniform thickness as was previously reported.

        2. Great report, Seth. I am always puzzled whdn I see folks who post here and don't really like the food at Break of Dawn all that much. I just wished I lived closer (although my doctor probably is glad I don't). Not only is the food sublime, the service is warm and totally makes you feel like you're a vaunted, valued regular - even if they've never seen you before.

          Break of Dawn
          24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

          2 Replies
          1. re: Servorg

            Servorg, I checked the web info for Break of Dawn - and I am very happy it is so far from me. If it was close, I could not resist - and would have to fast the other 6 days of the week! : )

            Break of Dawn
            24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

            1. re: Servorg

              That was very much the case when we visited, Servorg.

              It was just a warm, inviting, lovely place filled with energy and great food.

              Lucky for me, my other half lives less than 10 minutes away from it so we visit whenever we can.