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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Super Mex - Irvine


14370 Culver Drive #F
Irvine, CA 92604
949-726-1608

13 Locations in CA and NV

My wife and I were running some errands the other night and were looking for a place to get a quick, casual dinner. We were in the mood for Mexican, so I suggested Super Mex. We hadn't been to Super Mex in years. We had only gotten take out from there once and I remember it just being so-so. This time we decided to dine in.

We walked in and were quickly seated at a nice table. The waiter came over and greeted us immediately. He told us that they were having a $3.50 margarita special that night. He also brought us a basket of chips and salsa. They were very good, although we didn't really like the fact that they were so large that you had to break them into pieces yourself to eat them. Not that big of a deal though.

After looking over the menu, I realized that some of the combination plates came with only the items and beans, but no rice. I first thought of ordering the combo with the cheese enchilada and one taco (beef or chicken) with beans ($7.50) but I wanted rice so I looked for something else. This is what my wife ended up ordering, but she substituted grilled fish in her taco for an extra 50 cents. I looked over them menu some more and decided on the combo with two cheese enchiladas and one taco ($8.15). I substituted carne asada in my taco for an extra 50 cents. I also found out later that I was really lame. I was trying to make sure that I ordered a combo that came with rice, but for some reason I still ordered a combo that came with only beans....I swear the menu said rice and beans when I ordered it......They must have run around and changed all the menus after I ordered. :-)

Our entrees were served fairly quickly. Both of our plates looked basically the same because the tacos came wrapped up in yellow paper. The enchiladas were smothered in red sauce and cheese and the beans were garnished with lettuce. I fully expected our dinners to just be another bland, boring, Mexican experience.

We both opened our tacos and were immediately amazed at their size. The tacos were wrapped with two large corn tortillas and were stuffed with so much filling that you could easily split it into two tacos. The tacos also tasted fantastic.


I scooped up some of the beans and put them in my mouth. My eyes opened wide. These beans were amazing! I couldn't believe it. These were some of the best beans I had ever had. They were full of flavor, not bland like most cheap Mexican places. I took a bite of my enchiladas and I was very pleased as well. They were much better than the enchiladas I have come to expect at places like Don Jose or El Torito.

Overall, I was very impressed with Super Mex. The food here was much better than I expected, and much better than your average Mexican chain. The service here was quick, efficient and friendly. I immediately went home and told my roommates about Super Mex. This was a place that all of us always drove by, but never went to. I'm so glad I finally decided to eat here.

Super Mex on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 28, 2008

King's Fish House Laguna Hills Mall


24001 Avenida de la Carlota
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
Tel 949-586-1515

I recently visited King’s Fish House as a party of 7. I called ahead and made a reservation so we wouldn’t have to wait for a table. I made a reservation for 6:45 and showed up right on time. The hostess acknowledged our reservation and said that she would seat us right away. She grabbed some menus and asked us to follow her. Halfway through the restaurant she stopped short. She turns around and says “It will just be a moment while we set up your table." She then walked away. We stood there a little confused. After a couple minutes we started slowly migrating back toward the front of the restaurant. I looked into the restaurant and saw some people making up a big round table. I assumed this table was going to be ours. After the table was made up, I figured that the hostess would come back and get us right away. She didn’t. We waited for another 10-15 minutes while a bunch of other people got seated. Finally she walked up to us and told us that our table was ready. She sat us at the table that I had seen them make up 15 minutes earlier.

We all sat down around the large, round table and looked over our menus. They had swordfish on their menu as their special fresh catch of the month. It was confusing to me though because we were at the restaurant in April, and there were banners all over the restaurant that stated “Enjoy Swordfish! Oct 5-Jan 31.”

Ok. I know I’m starting off this review with a lot of complaints, but don’t get me wrong. I love this restaurant. Whenever I think of going out for seafood, King’s Fish House is on my short list of places to go. This visit just started out a little weird for me.

After looking over the menu I decided to start off my meal with a Lump Crab and Bay Shrimp Cocktail ($10.95). C decided to get a cup of Smoked Salmon and White Bean Soup ($3.95) as an appetizer and S decided to start her meal off with some Salmon Sushi ($4.25). V, D and S all decided to get Milky Way Martinis as well ($8.95).

My crab and shrimp cocktail arrived, and while it was very good, I was disappointed with the size. The majority of the glass was filled up with shredded iceberg lettuce. On top of the lettuce was a very small portion of crab and about 6-8 small bay shrimp. For $10.95, I think they could have at least been a little more generous with the shrimp. I think I’ll stick to 99-cent shrimp cocktails in Vegas from now on.

C said his soup was pretty good and ate it all up.

S also enjoyed her sushi.

V, D and S all seemed to love their martinis. D had ordered it before and stated that it was one of her favorite drinks. The martini was made with Stoli Vanil Vodka, Crème De Cacao and Bailey’s Irish Crème.

After a wait that wasn’t too long, our entrees arrived. I ordered the King Crab Legs ($42.95) with corn and rosemary potatoes as my side dishes. The crab was absolutely fantastic. It was perfectly steamed and delicious. The potatoes were pan fried with rosemary, but didn’t taste that good to me. I wish they would have had a stronger rosemary flavor. They were a little bland. The corn was freshly cut off the cob, so it still had a lot of corn silk and little bits of the cob in it. It was ok, but I probably would pick a different side next time.

V ordered the Coconut Crusted Mahi Mahi ($20.95). She liked it very much. She said that the coating on the fish was so delicious, it made her want to peel it all off and eat it by itself. V ordered the Vegetable Ratatouille and Spinach as her sides. She said that the ratatouille was pretty good, but also really greasy. She enjoyed her spinach as well.

R ordered the Parmesan Crusted Sand Dabs ($17.95). He had a baked potato and corn as his sides. He didn’t say much about his meal, but he has ordered this before so he must like it.

J ordered the Swordfish Picatta ($23.95). She chose the rosemary potatoes and the ratatouille as her sides. She really liked the ratatouille but was disappointed that she didn’t get much eggplant.

C ordered the Tilapia ($16.95). He ordered the spinach and white rice as his sides. I guess he’s trying to eat healthy or something. I think I heard him mention that he thought the spinach had too much garlic in it.

D ordered the Crab Cakes ($18.95) and a Caesar Salad ($3.95) for her dinner. She ordered corn and mashed potatoes as her sides. She seemed to like everything that she got.


S ordered the Swordfish Brochette ($19.75) with mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese as her sides. She really liked the mac and cheese. V stole some from her plate and confirmed that it was really good.

Overall, everyone seemed to be happy with their food. I really enjoyed my meal and I look forward to returning to King’s again. I just wouldn’t order that crab and shrimp cocktail again though.

King's Fish House on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Kimera Happy Hour - Irvine



19530 Jamboree Rd
Irvine, CA 92612

Telephone: 949.261.1222
Fax: 949.261.8999
eMail Address: info@kimerarestaurant.com

Happy Hour in the bar Monday-Saturday 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM Fri-Sat 5:00 Pm-10:00 PM All other days
(restaurant is closed on Sundays)
Park in the parking structure and they will validate your parking

IMPORTANT UPDATE!!! AS OF 4/25/08 KIMERA HAS CHANGED THEIR HAPPY HOUR, HOURS. THEIR HAPPY HOUR SPECIALS ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE UNTIL CLOSE. HAPPY HOUR NOW ENDS AT 7:00 PM ON FRIDAY AND SATURDAY AND AT 10:00 PM ON OTHER DAYS. I LEARNED THIS THE HARD WAY!


A friend and I were recently looking for a place to go get a drink and a little food during happy hour on a Friday night. After much debate, we decided to go somewhere that my sister had recommended to me. Kimera. Kimera is a restaurant located at the base of the Google building in Irvine. It is a restaurant owned by “Dining As Art,” the same company that owns Bistango, Bayside, Impa Café and Tonic Juice and Coffee Bar.

Kimera has an especially good happy hour in their bar area because it runs from 5:00 PM to close Monday through Saturday. This is great because there is no rushing to order happy hour specials by a certain time. Kimera offers some delicious bar food “small plates” for $5 each during their happy hours. While this is very cheap for the items offered, they are actually pretty small so if you come hungry, you can easily order $30+ in food per person.

My buddy and I took a seat on one of the comfy couches that were situated around the bar. A tiny bar table was there in front of the couch. The vibe is trendy with a lot of young, Irvine professionals that have just gotten off work. The bar area is quite large and they also have an outdoor patio with additional couches, tables and stools.

We took a look at their menu and I was immediately excited to try everything. Unfortunately, I had dinner plans for later that night so I knew I had to limit myself. I decided to start out with the Ahi served over a Soba Noodle Salad with Pickled Ginger-Apricot Puree and Jalapeno Soy Vinaigrette. My buddy started off with the Chicken Alfredo Pizza with Garlic and Chili Flakes.

We ordered a couple of drinks and sat back to soak in the extremely relaxed vibe. A couple of tables seemed to be hosting little birthday parties. Although the crowd mostly looked like young professionals, there were also older people mixed in the crowd as well. I felt like I was part of some trendy “scene.”

Our food came out fairly quickly. I looked at my plate and knew I would be happy with my decision. The ahi was seared perfectly on the outside and the soba noodles were perfect. The sauce went well with the dish and was not overpowering with ginger flavor like I was afraid it was going to be. It was excellent.

My buddy was surprised at how large his pizza was. Even though it looked pretty big at first, it was wafer thin. The chicken was piled on top and looked as if it had been placed there after the pizza was cooked. He really seemed to like the pizza and said that the chili flakes and garlic were his favorite part.

After I wolfed down my ahi, I decided to order one more item. There was one item on the menu I just couldn’t resist. The Sweet and Sour Pork Belly served with Charred Pineapple and Shishito Peppers. My buddy enjoyed his pizza so much that he ordered another one sans chicken. He said that the chicken kept falling off the pizza so it was making it a challenge to eat it.

Our food again arrived quickly. My pork belly looked delicious. It tasted even better than it looked. Small bite size pieces of pork belly were fried until they were tender and crispy. They were tossed with a fantastic sweet and sour sauce that I mopped up with every piece. The charred pineapple, onions and bell peppers complemented the dish very well. I told my friend how good it was so he had to order one for himself. He thought it was quite good as well.

I wanted to order more food, but I didn’t want to spoil my dinner. I can’t wait to go back here for happy hour. There were so many other things on the menu I wanted to try, like the Chorizo Pizza with Grilled Scallions and Manchego Cheese, the Philly Cheesesteak, the Garlic Herb Fries, the Mussel Fritters, the Polenta Rosemary Beignets, The Ceviche, the Sliders and so many more. I can’t wait to return. I can’t wait.

Kimera Restaurant Lounge on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Koki's Teppan and Sushi - Irvine



(photo courtesy of Restaurant.com)
15361 Culver Dr
Irvine, CA
(949) 551-6600

Second Location: (No Sushi)
1061 E Main St
Tustin, CA
(714) 505-6738

For those of you not familiar with the term “Teppanyaki,” it basically translates to “iron plate grilled.” In the United States, teppanyaki was made famous by Benihana. Benihana introduced teppanyaki to the masses with fantasticly talented chefs that cooked your meal before your eyes with a dazzling show. There are now much better places to eat than Benihana if you’re in the mood to eat teppanyaki with this kind of show. In my opinion, Koki’s is the best of them in Orange County.

I visited Koki’s the other night as a party of four. We were seated right away at one of their tables that surrounds a massive flat grill. Their tables seat eight people, so if you come in a party smaller than that, you will most likely be seated with other people. They also try and wait until a table is mostly full before having a chef come to the table to cook. We were dining a little late that night, around 8:00, so we had to wait a little while before another couple was seated at our table. To apologize for the wait, they brought us a nice plate of complimentary tempura shrimp and vegetables. The shrimp were so delicious. I don’t know how the veggies tasted because I didn’t try any.

My wife decided to just order sushi. She believes that Koki’s has the best sushi she has ever had in Orange County. She decided to go with the Spicy Tuna Roll and the Philadelphia Roll. As always, it was perfectly prepared and my wife loved it.


(Two pieces were remove prior to photo)

So in looking over the menu, I noticed that the two item combo was only two dollars more that the one item steak meal. I therefore decided to order the two item combo ($24.95) with New York Steak and Black Pepper Chicken. I ordered my meal with Fried Rice ($2.50 extra). Tim ordered the same thing as me. Isabel decided to have a little bit of sushi and exercise Koki’s “split” option with Tim. The split option costs $7.00 extra, but with it you get your own salad, soup, shrimp appetizer and hibachi vegetables.



Our chef arrived. He greeted us with a warm smile and started off by cooking our fried rice. He laid out a mixture of onions, carrots celery and chicken, a giant mound of steamed white rice and some oil. He then gave us an impressive show of his spatula egg flipping skills. He spun that egg around, flipped it in the air, juggled three at a time and then let the eggs split over the side of his spatula as they fell toward the grill. After a little more impressive spatula work and some seasonings, he turned this…


Into this!


When he was done serving everyone their fried rice, which was fantastic by the way, he started in with everything else. On with the show! Huzzah!





ONION VOLCANO WOO HOO!!!!!


After the chef finished his show, we all dove in to our meals. Everything here is fantastic. The steak was done just right and the black pepper chicken had a nice spicy kick to it. They give you both a mustard and a ginger sauce, but I prefer the mustard sauce only. This is definitely a fun place to come for dinner with friends. The prices are a little high, but at least you’re getting dinner and a show!



Koki's Teppan and Sushi on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Red Hill Cafe Santa Ana



420 E. Dyer Road
Santa Ana, CA 92707
714-957-0605


Last Saturday I visited the Red Hill Café for a quick lunch. Oddly enough, the Red Hill Café is not on RedHill Ave., it’s on Dyer Rd. The Red Hill Café is a small, little diner that I might classify as a “greasy spoon.” They have red and white checkered tablecloths and a counter where you can watch the cooks through the pass-through window into the kitchen. This is strictly a cash only joint, but they have an ATM machine near the bathrooms for those people that forget to bring cash.

Red Hill Café serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday. Don’t plan on coming here for a late lunch on Saturday though, because they close at 1:00 PM. The menu consists of your typical diner fare from pancakes to burgers to omelettes and sandwiches. After looking over the menu I decided to get the Red Hill Country Breakfast ($7.19). This meal was described as a “Country Beef Steak between a Biscuit covered with Country Gravy, Two Eggs, Hash Browns or Home Fries.” I decided to get mine with home fries. I also ordered a cup of decaf coffee ($1.55).

My food arrived very quickly. Since the menu had said “Country Beef Steak,” in my mind I was thinking “Country Fried Steak.” I was expecting a battered and fried beef steak, but what I got instead was more of a grill fried hamburger patty. The patty was placed between two halves of a biscuit and smothered with gravy. It was actually pretty good except I thought that the gravy was a little watery and bland. The home fries were basically hash browns with a little bit of onion and bell pepper mixed in. They were good, but they pretty much tasted like plain has browns. I ordered my eggs poached easy and they came to me perfectly poached.

Overall I was pretty satisfied with my food. I had dined here before and gotten the Eggs Benedict. I remember liking that as well. Red Hill Café is a place to go when you feel like going to a cheap, little roadside diner.

Red Hill Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Clubhouse South Coast Plaza Costa Mesa


South Coast Plaza Mall
(714) 708-2582

RESTAURANT LOCATION OUT OF BUSINESS. OTHER LOCATIONS MAY STILL BE OPEN.


My wife and I decided to go out for a casual dinner for my birthday. We were planning on going out to an upscale dinner with my family later so we just wanted someplace nice but “not too pricey.” We thought about it for a while and finally settled on The Clubhouse in South Coast Plaza.

We headed over for an early dinner around 5:30 PM. When we walked through the front doors, we were greeted by a friendly host and were immediately seated in a very large comfortable booth. We looked over our menu and were immediately greeted by our waitress as she took our drink order. My wife saw an Oatmeal Cookie martini on the menu that looked good so she ordered one. She said the martini was pretty good, but thought it was a little too sweet.

For dinner I decided to order the 20 oz Prime Rib ($34.00, also available in 10 oz for $24.00 or 14 oz. For $28.00). I ordered the Prime Rib because I was so disappointed in the Prime Rib I had at Wilhelm’s chophouse not too long ago. My wife decided to order the Vodka Pasta ($17.00). After the waitress took our order, she brought us some freshly baked sourdough bread. The bread was fantastic with a warm fluffy center and a nice crispy crust. Our food arrived fairly quickly.

My prime rib was really a sight to be seen. A gigantic slice of meat was placed before me with red skinned mashed potatoes, straight horseradish and au jus. The slab of prime rib was at least 2 inches thick. I eagerly sliced it up and placed some in my mouth. It was very tender and juicy. However, I felt that it could have been seasoned a little more. I added a little salt and it tasted fantastic. Yummy. The mashed potatoes though were just so-so.

My wife really enjoyed her Vodka Pasta. It was made with penne pasta served with a spicy tomato garlic cream sauce and roasted red peppers. She liked that the pasta was creamy, but didn’t feel to heavy or greasy. She said the sauce was tasty but nice and light. She also really enjoyed the roasted red peppers and said that it added a lot of flavor to the pasta.

Overall the food here was great and the service was top notch. I think that most of the prices at The Clubhouse are fairly reasonable, but you feel like you’re dining at a much more expensive restaurant. I really enjoy eating at The Clubhouse and I look forward to eating here again soon.

Clubhouse - Costa Mesa on Urbanspoon