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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Al Palace - Costa Mesa-Santa Ana Heights

270 Bristol St Ste 110,
Costa Mesa, CA
Tel: (714) 549-0653

There is already a review on this site for Al Palace, but since it is hands down my favorite Chinese place, I thought it deserved one more.

Al Palace is a small family run Chinese restaurant that shares a strip mall with a Denny’s and a Wienerschnitzel. The restaurant is fairly small with about a dozen tables, but the tables are almost always full. This is because the Chinese food that comes out of the kitchen here is some of the best you will ever have.

I recently visited Al Palace for dinner with a party of four. We are all big fans of Al Palace so there was a bit of arguing when we first sat down. Everyone seems to have their favorite dishes from here, and everyone knows that whatever we order, it will be good. “I don’t understand why you think 10 dishes is too much for 4 people!” I said to my wife. She finally convinces me that I was being unreasonable and we settled on getting five dishes.

We placed our order and got ready to feast. One of the best things about Al Palace is how lightning fast their kitchen is. Everything is made fresh and to order, but it is not uncommon for you to get all of your food 5 minutes after placing your order. They cook with such high heat though, that your food is often the temperature of the sun. Be careful.

The first dish to arrive was the Sweet and Sour Pork. This might be my favorite dish here. Big chunks of pork are battered and fried until they are perfectly crispy. The pork is then covered in a bright red sauce that is the perfect balance of sour and sweet.

The second dish to arrive was the Spicy Tofu, extra spicy. This might be my favorite dish here. Silky pieces of tofu are sautéed in a gravy-like hot sauce. Even though we ordered it extra spicy, it still wasn’t that spicy for me. You can ask for some hot sauce if you’d like to crank it up a little more. This dish is perfect over some steamed or fried rice.

The third dish that arrived was the Mandarin Chicken. To be quite honest, Isabel ordered this and I didn’t try it. I really wanted to, but I was too busy pigging out on everything else. She seemed to really enjoy it though.

The fourth dish to land on our table was the Beef Chow Fun. This might be my favorite dish here. Long flat ribbons of slightly chewy noodles are stir fried with green onion, beef and a delicious brown sauce. Once you eat these noodles, you’ll never want Chow Mein again. These noodles are fantastic with a little bit of hot mustard. Be careful though. The hot mustard here is hot enough to singe your nose hairs.

The fifth and final dish of the evening was the BBQ Pork Fried Rice. This might be my favorite dish here. The fried rice here is full of flavor, not bland like a lot of other places. This is the perfect side dish for every food item here.

I have never been disappointed with my food here. The prices can’t be beat either. I don’t remember the exact prices of everything because I don’t even look at the menu when I go here anymore. The items are all around $7.00. These 5 dishes (including free steamed rice and hot tea) came out to around $38.00 with tax. We also had plenty of food leftover. I guess my wife was right. A delicious Chinese dinner for less than $10 a person though, you can’t beat that!


7/2/2008 I've never been a really big fan of egg rolls. After "peekpoke" left a comment on this article telling me that Al Palace's were especially good though, I had to try them. I went down to Al Palace last night to get some. What arrived before me was a plate with 4 freshly battered and fried egg rolls sliced into pieces (Order of four for $5.55). These looked like no egg rolls I have ever seen. I picked up a piece and put it in my mouth. It was piping hot but amazing. This might just be the best egg roll I have ever had. There was no overly dry wrapper, just a perfectly crispy fried batter shell filled with cabbage and a little bit of pork. If you normally like egg rolls, you're gonna love these! Thanks for the recommendation peekpoke!

Al Palace Chinese on Urbanspoon


Chubbypanda said...

I thought your wife was a vegetarian. Did she just stick with the tofu?

Griffin said...

She stuck with the tofu, white rice and she ate some of the noodles but picked the meat out. I'm trying to convince her to start eating meat again. She's taken a few bites here and there, but I don't see her becoming a hardcore carnivore again anytime soon.

Diamond Dog said...

you missed the best dish the make. The War Wonton Soup.

This place has been there forever!

Griffin said...

Diamond Dog-The Wor Wonton soup is fantasitc. It might be my favorite dish there! Unfortunately it was one of the items that was cut out of the 10 I originally wanted to order. Oh well, there's always next time!

Anonymous said...

The sweet and sour pork looks like its worth a try!!

Anonymous said...

I love Al Palace! The woman who works there always remembers that I drink diet Coke, too. Mmm... Now I'm hungry!

joy said...

Mmmm, looks good! And so close to me, and inexpensive too. We've been looking for a Chinese place just like that -- will have to check it out. The only thing that worries me is the small room. Do you have to wait long for a table? Thanks for the rec!

Griffin said...

IE-The sweet and sour pork is DEFINITELY worth a try!

skyy-Yes, the woman there has a great memory. Everyone that starts going there usually becomea a regular. She'll remember what you like to order and even what condiments you would like her to bring!

Joy-Once in a while the tables will be completely full. Since thay have such lighting fast service though, I've never had to wait long for a table.

peekpoke said...

Great seeing Al Palace getting some notice. I'm going to try their chowfun next time I go.

I've only sat down there a couple times, and their food really is better painfully hot and fresh.

A few hints on getting their food to go. For Sweet and Sour pork, get the sauce separate or else the pork coating will be nasty soggy. For War Wonton ask for the broth in a separate container or else the wontons will be complete mush.

Our favorites are the egg rolls, war wonton, beef fried rice, and shrimp in lobster sauce. My wife loves the sweet and sour pork with no sauce, instead she eats the hunks of fried pork with hot mustard and soy sauce (fantastic!).

Griffin said...

peekpoke-Thanks for the info. I've never tried their egg rolls. I've never really been a big fan of egg rolls. Since you like them so mocu though, I'll have to try theirs next time!

peekpoke said...

A lot of eggrolls sold these days seem an after thought, just premade frozen bought from a supplier. Al Palace's are not.

But, a warning on their egg rolls. They are unlike any I have had anywhere else. They are mega greasy, with a thick crunchy exterior.

The outside is dipped in the same batter they use on the sweet and sour pork, so it's sort of like a giant hunk of sweet and sour pork with a mixed pork and cabbage filling.

I think the lunch specials include an egg roll, so you can try just one without committing to a whole order.

Griffin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Griffin said...

Peekpoke-Dipped in the same batter as the Sweet and Sour Pork? You sold me right there!

Suburban Hippie said...

My family has been eating at Al Palace for about 10 years and our must-have is the Wor Won Ton Soup. For about $7 you get a big vat of soup loaded with the best wontons on earth, veggies, plus shrimp, pork and chicken meat. (I am, in fact, eating some right now.) I strain out the broth and put on chili oil. If I had to live on one food for the rest of my life, it would be Al Palace Wor Won Ton Soup.

I also like the tomato beef chow mein with pan-fried noodle, but probably just because I am perverse.

Anonymous said...

hey griffin great web site, I've been going to al's for years you have to try their chicken gai cow tell them to add chow fun noodles to it omg yumm!!! Or their spicy schrimp

Anonymous said...

I'm a fan of the Kung Pao.. It makes me Kung Poo!!!

Seriously though, Al Palace is the king of place you should year maybe once or twice a year.. If you eat there on a regular basis, you will develop cancer, from all the msg.. Or either you'll lose some much weight from shitting all the time, you'll waste away!..

Anyways, I love the kung pao, but In moderation.. My stomach can't handle it most of the time, but when I'm usually high or drunk.. Al's is the place to go.. *Chsk*