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Jan 27, 2013 12:38 PM

Chinese Food This Friday...behind the Orange Curtain

Calling all Sino-expert Hounds...

I'm tasked with a Chinese dinner for eight food & winos this Friday.

We'll all be in the OC...the SGV and even Westminster is not an option. Probably Irvine is as far north as I can get them.

Little Sheep?
Chong Qing Mei Wei?
Sam Woo?
China Garden?

Any thoughts?


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  1. Sam Woo. Book a room in the back. If you negotiate via a set menu, they may even reduce or waive corkage.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Porthos

      Thanks, Porthos.

      Any faves you would order? Menu is pretty different than both the SW's in the SGV.

      1. re: revets2

        I like the Cantonese roast duck
        Winter melon soup
        Steamed chicken in supreme broth with mustard greens
        Steamed red rock cod
        Braised pork shoulder on spinach (similar to pork pump at Mei Long Village)
        Lobster or crab in ginger and scallions
        Beef brisket and daikon in clay pot
        Pea leaves with garlic

        The menu is massive. These are just a few favorites.

        1. re: Porthos

          Thanks, again. It's greatly appreciated!

          1. re: Porthos

            Have you tried the Dao Miu with 1,000 year old egg, the deep fried fish filet and deep fried tofu both with spicy salt, and the peking duck (you prefer the roast duck?)?

            1. re: revets2

              Have not tried the pea shoots with 1000 year old egg. I like the taste with browned garlic. But that wouldn't be a bad idea either. Depends if they want simplicity or something cool like thousand year old egg.

              The Peking duck is decent, the Cantonese roast duck is what they are known for.

              The deep fried fish filet is a cop out. Probably tilapia. Get the steamed whole rock cod. Deep fried tofu is okay. There are much more interesting things on the menu.

              The live seafood is what you want. It will drive up the price of your meal like mad especially if you get the live king crab steamed with garlic. But the live king crab steamed in garlic will be sure to please and be sure to send your bill over the top at $40/lb for 8-10lbs (what I find to be the ideal weight to give the most meat in the legs).

              It will pretty much guarantee you that visa though ;-)

              1. re: Porthos

                Thanks again, Porthos. WIsh I could get them up to Newport Seafood SGV for that, but if you feel they do it right, we'll go for it. I'm hesitant to order such things at places I'm not sure they won't destroy it at that price.

                1. re: revets2

                  Newport does great house special lobster.

                  Sam Woo will outdo Newport for steamed live fish and steamed whole king crab.

                  Pass on the king crab and get the lobster then with ginger and scallions. It is always a party favorite.

      2. I don't know about wine, but Chong Qing Mei Wei is (IMO of course) the best Chinese in OC,

        Could be I'm just partial to the style; Chinese food is very diverse across regions and I love the chili spice of Szechuan/Hunan food.

        Best of all, I've never had a bad piece of fish there and fish at Chinese restaurants is usually a huge gamble.

        Plus there's a J&J Bakery a few doors down.

        I'd go there.

        6 Replies
        1. re: BrewNChow

          Hard to pair wine with spicy food which is why I didn't suggest Chong Qing or Little Sheep. You'd be doing more Rieslings. Not sure what the winos have planned.

          Regarding fish, the fish at Sam Woo are alive and swimming in tanks so there is no better guarantee that the fish is fresh at Sam Woo.

          1. re: Porthos

            Why do you presume they will be drinking western wines?

            Maybe the winos will be quaffing miju or baiju or maybe even Maotai ...

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Possible. Just playing the odds. I'll let OP answer that one.

              For spicy food, probably better off with beer anyways.

              1. re: Porthos

                Porthos was correct to play the odds. Actually, we have an all mag French dinner the night before in LA and there will probably be some dregs to finish off the next day.

                We are the only diners from LA; everyone else lives in the OC.

                They usually go to China Garden and we just want to try something different.

                It's a tough crowd. A mich* chef, a non-mich* chef, two from the wine industry, one winemaker. It's a forgiving crew...with long memories.

                Sounds like Chong Qing is more like Chung King in the SGV. Can't wait to try it. But brought one of the chefs the pig ears in chili oil and he barked about how could one possibly taste anything through the spice. I love them!

                1. re: revets2

                  Make sure you get the whole roast duck then. They'll love it. Should also go well with your reds.

                  Also a large whole steamed live red rock cod will be a hit. They'll have to navigate the bones but they should be used to that.

                  Swing them by the seafood tanks in the back to see what else they would like. Maybe geoduck sashimi, or live shrimp simply boiled if they have them.

                  Other interesting items for these industry types include pork belly with taro and steamed ground pork with salted duck egg.

                  1. re: Porthos

                    Thanks. Super helpful. Very much appreciate it.

        2. Love Sam Woo as well, but "behind the Orange Curtain" and "the OC"?

          Add in Facist Island and you'll have a trifecta.

          2 Replies
          1. re: BubblyOne

            Didn't mean to offend BubblyOne. It's what the rest of the group refer to it as and they all live in OC.

            As a matter of fact, they threaten not to issue me my visa for the next visit if they don't like the restaurant, so you probably have the facist island thing right.

          2. Chong Qing Mei Wei, Sam Woo is so white bread. AJ's across the street is good, but I don't know if they have wine. I'd rather get the quality Chinese food and worry about fine wine later.

            Great Chinese food and great wine seems almost oxymoronic to me, great Chinese food and great beer makes more sense. I wouldn't want the flavor of the food competing with a really good wine. Are you going to get quality wine at SW?

            1 Reply
            1. re: scottca075

              They are bringing their own wine.

              Sam Woo is white bread if you want to make it white bread. It can be very authentic and delicious if you order correctly also.

            2. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions and especially to Porthos for his initial suggestion of Sam Woo and specific menu items.

              It was a great dinner which was a challenge to engineer after a 10-course Cal-French dinner the night before in LA with too much wine. I feared some would shutter at the mention of more food.

              But you gotta eat sometime!

              So we had a restorative Cantonese dinner of:
              - Geoduck sashimi
              - XLB
              - Roast Duck
              - Lobster with scallions and ginger
              - Steamed southeast asian cod (amazing, not the large red rock cod, but a small and considerably more expensive green and grey scaled fish)
              - Pork Shank with spinach
              - Congee with geoduck foot
              - Green beans with XO sauce
              - Pea tendrils with brown garlic
              - Lotus root with mixed veggies and mushrooms

              Paired the meal with champagne, an old Gruener, and burgs.

              Service was amazing. Our friends say it was the Chinese meal ever had in the OC...even those who had been there before.

              Also heard through the grapevine that Sea Harbour is due to open an Irvine location sometime in March/April on Jamboree.

              Again, thanks to all.

              2 Replies
              1. re: revets2

                Please let it be so regarding Sea Harbor.

                1. re: revets2

                  Glad you and your group enjoyed it.

                  Sounds like the wines paired well also! :)