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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Kappa Ramen - Anaheim

Kappa Ramen
3024 W Ball Road,
Anaheim, CA 92804
(714) 828-2210

The winter coats are coming out and the heaters are being cranked up. People are busting out their scarves and opting for the hot lattes instead of the frappucinos. Yup, that's right, it's that time of year where it drops down into the freezing 60's here in the OC. This also means that it is the perfect time for a steaming hot bowl of perfectly made ramen. Luckily for me, I got just that opportunity recently when I was invited down to the newly opened Kappa Ramen by the PR rep. I battled traffic for over an hour to get to the restaurant, but in the end, it was totally worth it.

Kappa Ramen is in the back corner of a tiny strip mall off Beach and Ball in Anaheim. It's the kind of parking lot where you double check your car doors to make sure they are securely locked. When you enter the restaurant though, you are greeted by a friendly, very brightly lit interior. I was happy that the restaurant was so brightly lit because I knew my pictures would come out so much better. Therefore, I will be posting a few extra pictures to this review.

I decided to start my meal with an order of Gyoza Potstickers ($6 for 8 or $3.45 for 4) and the Chashu appetizer ($4.50). For the main course I ordered the Kyoto Ramen ($7.45) and the fried rice ($6.95 full/$3.95 half). V decided to get the Kappa Signature Ramen ($9.95).

The gyoza is available "potsticker" style as pictured or deep fried if you prefer. The gyoza was very good and cooked just right. The exterior was crispy, but not too greasy and the interior was a nice mix of pork and vegetables.

The chashu was very tender and full of flavor. We both enjoyed this a lot. It seemed to have more flavor than chashu at most ramen places.

The fried rice was the only disappointing part of the meal. The rice was very bland. It could have benefited from a lot more soy sauce and maybe some sesame oil or something. It really almost tasted like plain rice with a few vegetables thrown in. V also didn't care for the fried rice.

The Kyoto Ramen was a basic tonkotsu ramen. This is not to be confused with "tonkatsu" ramen. Tonkatsu is a breaded pork cutlet and tonkotsu means pork bones. This broth is made fresh daily by simmering chicken and pork bones for a very long time to create a milky tan broth that is bursting with pork flavor. The tonkotsu broth at Kappa Ramen is one of the best I have ever had. I think it had more flavor than some of the most popular ramen shops in Orange County including Santouka Ramen and Daikokuya Ramen. I loved this broth. The ramen was served with half of a marinated hard-boiled egg, green onions and pickled ginger.

The Kappa Signature Ramen started with the same tonkotsu broth and added organic kimchee, avocado, bean sprouts and corn. It also had the hard-boiled egg, green onions and pickled ginger. V really liked how they cut the wavy pattern into the egg. V really enjoyed her ramen as well. She thought that it was nice and spicy and had a great flavor.

Throughout the entire meal there was a small sign on the table advertising potato croquettes for only $1. After my ramen I decided I had to try one.

The potato croquette was lightly flavored with curry and contained some corn and I think carrot. I can't really remember right now. I do however remember that the croquette was very good and a fantastic deal at only $1. I highly recommend that you get one of these to complement your meal.

Overall I was extremely happy with my meal. Even though the restaurant is a bit of a drive for me from Irvine, I can definitely see myself returning. In fact, this might be my new favorite ramen shop. Now if only they could do something to improve their fried rice, they'd be perfect.
Kappa Ramen on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 6, 2010

Digg's Restaurant & Bar Huntington Beach

Digg's Huntington Beach
8052 Adams Avenue
Huntington Beach, CA 92646
(714) 960-3670

Digg's Restaurant & Bar in Huntington Beach opened their doors about six weeks ago, but just had their grand opening celebration this past weekend. They said that they were using this time to fine tune their skills to make sure that everything was perfect for their opening weekend. I think they should have taken more time. I battled traffic for about an hour and a half to get to the restaurant and was extremely disappointed with my experience.

Digg's invited the media down during their grand opening celebration to sample their food and check out the place. I was one of only four media people that showed up. The four of us were brought out three plates with four bites each for all of us to share, so I was only able to taste one bite of three of their appetizers. I got to try a beef skewer($8), a small egg roll($6) and one bacon wrapped shrimp($14). (Prices are for a full order)

The food that I tried wasn't bad, but it wasn't really anything special either. The skewers were generic, the shrimp were plain and I think that Jack in The Box has better egg rolls, and they're much bigger too. I was pretty disappointed that I only got to sample these three appetizers. The entrees at Digg's sound very good and I look forward to trying them if I ever return.

The service at Digg's was pretty awful as well. It took them almost two hours to bring out these three small samples and their knowledge of them was limited. I asked how many pieces came in a full sized order and the waitress had no idea. She said she would check with someone, but I never saw her again for the rest of the night. In fact, I think I only saw my waitress twice the entire night. She took our drink order when we first arrived and dropped off one of the samples and took a second drink order. Only half of our second drink order made it to the table. The other items were just dropped off by food runners. Throughout the night various staff members stopped by the table and said "Is this your food?" I told them that I was doing the media tasting so I hadn't actually ordered anything. They would then walk off to ask everyone else in the restaurant if it was their food.

Overall I think that Digg's has a long way to go in their service and product knowledge. They should really consider doing a hardcore training session with their staff so that everyone knows about the menu and what they are serving. Digg's is even advertising specials like "Sushi Night Tuesday", but no one seemed to know what it was. The PR rep said she would ask the owner about it, but came back and said that even the owner wasn't sure. I think these things should be thought out and planned before they are advertised.

The dinner menu at Digg's looks like it has a lot of good sounding entrees. When I first looked at their menu I even thought it sounded like a restaurant that I would not mind driving 20+ miles for. They serve a variety of steaks, acai bowls, seafood and pasta. Unfortunately I don't think I was really given the opportunity to sample enough of their food to determine whether or not it is good. If I had to judge the restaurant on the three small bites I was given, I would not recommend it. Since their menu looks so good though, I may try Digg's again someday when they have had time to work out their kinks. If they don't do it soon though, I can't see how they will survive.
Digg's Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 29, 2010

Orange County Food Trucks-The Lime Truck, Dos Chinos, Short Stop BBQ, Chomp Chomp Nation, The Burnt Truck

Like most of you, I have been hitting up the OC food trucks whenever I can. However, I don't seem to love them as much as a lot of people do. Now don't get me wrong, some of the trucks have pretty good food, but more often than not you end up paying a lot of money to awkwardly eat a meal standing up. It just doesn't seem that fun to me. Nevertheless, I have visited a few trucks and I have decided to post some pictures and a brief write up on some of them. Also, for those of you that don't know, since these food trucks are mobile, they are usually in different places. You need to follow their feed on twitter or visit their website to get their current location. At the bottom of this article I will post all the food truck meetups I know about, where numerous trucks get together on a regular basis.


The Lime Truck

The Lime Truck seems to be a favorite in Orange County. They even won Best in Show at the first annual OC Foodie Fest earlier this year. I went down to the truck with one of my buddies when it was at the Harbor Justice Center and stood in a really long line. The line at Lime Truck can be pretty long due to their popularity. I don't think it's uncommon to wait for 30-45 minutes to order and get your food.

One thing about The Lime Truck is that they are constantly changing their menu. If you go to the truck and love something, there is a good chance that it will not be there during your next visit. One of the things that they almost always seem to have though is Carnitas Fries ($7). This is also one of their most popular items. My buddy and I each ordered one. We also decided to get one steak taco ($3) one order of hatch chile fritters ($4) and two of their freshly muddled juice drinks ($3). This brought our grand total to $27.

(Carnitas Fries: Fries, carnitas, guacamole, sour cream, chipotle-honey slaw and cotija cheese)

(Hatch Chile Fritters and Steak Taco)

(Tangerine Limeade)

All of the food was really good. The fries had a nice spicy kick to them and my friend said his steak taco was fantastic. Neither one of us really liked the drink though. The only problem I have with The Lime Truck is their prices. If I'm going to spend $27 on lunch for two people, I want to sit at a table and relax, not try and balance all of my food and drink while standing up in a hot parking lot.


Dos Chinos Truck

Dos Chinos serves a fusion of Mexican and Asian food. Popular items include Korean shortrib tacos and Vietnamese pork belly burritos. Most of their items are available as a burrito for $5 or a taco for $2.

One interesting item I had heard about is the Dos Chinos Breakfast Burrito. The burrito contains a cooked to order egg, chorizo fried rice, filet mignon and sweet & sour guacamole. V and I each ordered one of these and an order of Dos Chinos fries ($4). Their fries are tossed in clarified garlic butter and topped with cotija cheese.

(Breakfast Burrito)

(Dos Chinos Fries)

The Breakfast Burrito was fantastic. Both V and I thought it was delicious and scarfed down the whole thing. I highly recommend that you get this burrito and have your egg done sunny side up or over easy. This way the yolk breaks and creates a yummy sauce inside the burrito. The Dos Chinos fries were also amazing. The pungent flavor of fresh garlic combined with the saltiness of the cotija cheese was the perfect addition to french fries. These fries were definitely worth the money.


Short Stop BBQ

Short Stop BBQ claims to serve real food for real people. Their goal is to bring you delicious "dirty" BBQ with a clean, California appeal. I visited the truck on their third day in operation. I ordered two sliders, one portabello mushroom and the other was tri-tip ($2 each). I also ordered french fries ($2).

(Portobello mushroom sider, BBQ Tri-tip slider)

(French Fries)

Of the two sliders, the mushroom was my favorite. The tri-tip slider had very little flavor. I liked the bleu cheese cole slaw on top, but the meat was pretty bland. The french fries were boring, generic fries that didn't even taste like they had salt on them. I ate a few of them, wished I had gotten Dos Chinos Fries instead and then threw them away. I have heard that the truck has been getting better with experience, so I may try it again in the future.


Chomp Chomp Nation Truck

Chomp chomp nation says that they serve Singapore Street Hawker Favorites with an American Twist. They serve items like coconut french toast and tofu satay. I recently had the chance to try their Kaya Coconut French Toast ($5.50).

V and I both tried their French Toast and really liked it. The brioche French Toast was stuffed with coconut jam and topped with fresh mango, pineapple and fresh mint. I thought the mint would be kind of weird but it actually went really well with the dish. V really liked what the mint did to this dish as well. She thought it was what made the dish stand out. I believe the description for the french toast said there was supposed to be some kind of passion fruit element to this dish, but neither one of us could taste it. I'm looking forward to trying more of their food.


The Burnt Truck

At first when you hear the name "Burnt Truck" you might be a little confused. Does this truck burn all their food? Is it cajun? Well, The Burnt Truck is actually just a weird name. They actually specialize in gourmet sliders that they sell for $2 each. They have a few that they serve on a regular basis and then some rotating chef specials that change periodically. They also recently had a contest where they asked for customers to submit their favorite slider idea for a chance to be immortalized on their menu with a slider named after them. Unfortunately, I didn't get my entry in on time. Oh well.....I guess I'll just have to wait for another opportunity to get a sandwich named after me....

I decided to try one of their Fried Chicken sliders, which seems to be very popular, and one of their Peanut Butter and Jelly sliders.

(PBJ Slider-Homemade pretzel peanut butter, blueberry jelly, sliced bananas)

(Fried Chicken Slider-Buttermilk fried chicken, garlic potato spread, country gravy)

The fried chicken slider was pretty good. It was really cold on the evening I got the sandwich though, so the gravy quickly cooled and became thick. Make sure to eat this sandwich quickly if you get it. I was also wishing it were just a little more salty. Maybe they should add some ground sausage into the gravy......mmmmmmmm......

The PBJ slider was absolutely delicious. The thing that made it stand out was the pretzel peanut butter. The pretzels added a fantastic crunch and a little bit of saltiness. I absolutely loved this little sandwich.

The Burnt Truck is a truck that I really look forward to trying again. Since they serve sliders, it's pretty easy to eat while you're standing up. They also have so many other varieties that I want to try, like the Chicken Katsu and the Fried Bologna.

Known Orange County Food Truck Meetups aka roundups (If you know of others, let me know and I will add to the list)

Irvine Great Park Farmers Market 10AM-2PM


Lake Forest Lanes 5PM-9PM

Irvine Teller Lot (near Teller and Michelson in Irvine) 11AM-2PM
OC Din Din a Go Go, Irvine Lanes 5:30PM-9PM

OC Fairgrounds 11AM-2PM
AMF Carter Lanes, Fullerton 5PM-9PM



The Lime Truck on Urbanspoon
Dos Chinos (Food Truck) on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

DG Burger (Damn Good)

3333 Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 361-4264

I was invited down to the media tasting of Charlie Palmer's newest restaurant today. DG Burger is a small, fast casual restaurant that occupies the private dining room of Charlie Palmer restaurant by day. The usual hours of DG Burger are 11:30 AM-4:00 PM. At night, the room is transformed back into a private dining venue for Charlie Palmer. If there are no events booked in the room though, they may choose to randomly keep DG Burger open for dinner as well.

When you enter the small DG Burger space that seats 40, you will order your food at a front counter. You will then be given a number and directed to the dining room. You place your number on the table and wait for your food to be delivered. You have the option of getting your food to go as well.

Chef Charlie Palmer spoke to us about how it took him months to perfect his burger. He worked closely with a local bakery to produce a bun that he was happy with. He then tried several blends of ground beef until he found a blend of ground chuck, shortrib and hangar steak that he was happy with.

The menu at DG Burger is small, with the burger obviously being the main item. The burger comes simply dressed with cabbage, tomato, red onion and "DG Sauce" for $7.95. Additional toppings of fried egg, bacon, aged cheddar and avocado are available for $2 each. Get all four and you're looking at a $16 burger. The burger is served on a buttered and toasted Potato Bun.

I was pretty surprised when I wasn't impressed by the burger. While the meat was juicy and cooked to a perfect medium rare, it seemed to lack a little flavor. The patty itself was pretty average. It might be because Chef Charlie Palmer hyped it up so much, but I expected this burger to be magical. Instead I feel it fell a little flat. I'm sure the burger is a lot better with bacon and cheese, but again, this makes the burger much more expensive. The burger was also pretty small.

The fries here are not really anything special by themselves. DG Burger offers four different dipping sauces for the fries. You get your choice of Curry Ketchup, Bacon Mayo, Roasted Garlic Sour Cream or Chipotle Aioli. My favorite was the roasted garlic sour cream. I want to carry around a container of this with me so I can have it whenever I get french fries somewhere.

Other items on the menu include Citrus Glazed Skewers (beef, chicken, veggie $7.95), Sausage Sandwich ($6.75), Fries ($5), Salads ($5) and Milkshakes (strawberry or malted chocolate $5). Soft drink, beer and wine are also available.

DG Burger on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tommy Bahama Opens in Laguna Beach

400 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA, 92651
Restaurant: 949.376.6886
Retail: 949.376.6881

I was recently invited down to a media event to sample some of the menu items at the new Tommy Bahama in Laguna Beach. The restaurant is set to open on Saturday November 6th, 2010. The goal of this new Tommy Bahama restaurant is to have a more casual, relaxed atmosphere than some of their other restaurants. The gorgeous location, right across the street from the beach, gives it a kick-back surf vibe. The restaurant has been decorated with authentic vintage Laguna Beach items that they tracked down from collectors all over the country. Some of their more interesting items were authentic Laguna Beach rental swimsuits from the early 20th century. Apparently, back in the day, people rented swimsuits when they went to the beach instead of owning their own. Weird...

Shortly after I arrived, I was offered a cocktail and some tray passed Hors d'oeuvres. One was a little piece of toast with goat cheese. The other was these fantastic lobster corn dogs ($14). Tender pieces of sweet, succulent lobster, dipped in sweet corn batter and fried to perfection. They were served with a sriracha mustard and mango ketchup. This was the first time I have ever had a lobster corndog, but I hope it will not be my last. If you are a fan of lobster, you will love these.

After we were seated, we were presented with the following items:

Shrimp Avalon ($14)
Chilled Tiger Shrimp, Dungeness Crab, Spicy Vegetables, Lime, Fresh Made Corn Chips

Ahi Tuna Tacos ($8)
Wonton Shell, Asian Slaw, Wasabi-Lime Infused Avocado

Shrimp BLT ($14)
Nueske’s Applewood Bacon, Romaine, Romas, Avocado, Garlic Aioli, Grilled Sourdough, French Fries

Arctic Char ($22)
Sweet Pea Risotto, Apple Fennel Slaw

Triple Chocolate Cake ($10)
Four Layers, Chocolate Ganache, Mocha Mousse Whipped Cream

Banana Cream Pie ($9)
Almond Crust, White Chocolate Whipped Cream, Toasted Coconut, Caramel, Caramelized Bananas

Root Beer Float ($8)
Abita, Ciao Bella Vanilla, White Chocolate Whipped Cream, Caramel

My three favorite items were the Shrimp Avalon, Ahi Tuna Tacos and the Banana Cream Pie. The Shrimp Avalon was basically a shrimp ceviche that was topped with some dungeness crab meat. It was a light and refreshing way to start a meal. The Ahi Tuna Tacos were delicious. The crispy taco shells were made with fried wonton skins. I thought this was a great idea. The shells were light and crispy but sturdy at the same time.

The desserts at Tommy Bahama are ginormous. These desserts are definitely something you're going to want to share. The slice of chocolate cake was probably over 6 inches high and must have weighed over a pound. It is so rich that you can only eat a few bites before your body goes into chocolate shock. The Banana cream pie was also big enough for at least two people. The crust contained crushed almonds and was a light and flaky vessel to deliver the creamy goodness of the banana cream. The toasted coconut on top enhanced the flavor very well. I liked this dessert so much that I asked to take the "photo model" of this dessert home after everyone took their photos of it.

Overall, Tommy Bahama serves up some darn good food. If that isn't enough to make you want to visit, consider this. Tommy Bahama aims to be very "green." They filter their own water instead of selling bottled water. The water is available in still and sparkling and is available free of charge. Tommy Bahama is also one of the only restaurants around that uses a special machine to turn all food leftovers into compost. They are also committed to serving only sustainable, humanely raised seafood and meat. Locally sourced produce is also used whenever possible. So not only is the food good, but it's food that you can feel good about eating.

Tommy Bahama Laguna Beach on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Roy's Fall Menu

Roy's - Newport Beach
453 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 640-7697

Roy's - Anaheim
321 West Katella Avenue
Anaheim, CA 92802
(714) 776-7697

I was recently invited down to Roy's to sample their new fall prix fixe menu. Roy's has always been one of my favorite restaurants so I was eager to try out the new menu items. For a limited time you are able to order an appetizer, entree and dessert from the following selections for $35.95.


Blackened Rock Shrimp & Red Bean Soup
Portuguese Sausage, Shishito

“Elaine’s” Kabocha Squash Salad
Cinnamon Spiced Pepitas, Cranberry Vinaigrette

Wagyu “Meat Loaf Shumai”
Smoked Shiitake Pan Sauce

The blackened rock shrimp & red bean soup was interesting. It tasted sort of like a spicy chili with shrimp in it. It was pretty good, but not something I would have thought Roy's would serve. Elaine's Kabocha Squash Salad sort of tasted like roasted pumpkin topped with greens and bleu cheese. The clear winner with everyone though was the Wagyu "Meatloaf Shumai." The unique flavor of a Chinese shumai dumpling was brought to life in this delicious twist on an American classic. Everyone at the table seemed to agree that this was the best of the three appetizers.


Artichoke & Goat Cheese Crusted Salmon
Sundried Tomato Sauce

Cilantro Grilled Tiger Shrimp
Stewed Curried Lentils & Fall Vegetables

Parmesan & Dijon Crusted Chicken
Bacon, Pepper Gravy

Tender Braised Beef Short Ribs (available year-round)
Creamy Mashed Potatoes Natural Braising Sauce

I am not usually a big fan of salmon, but this salmon dish was one of the best I have tasted. The mildly flavored salmon went well with the artichoke and goat cheese crust. I was really looking forward to the Cilantro Grilled Tiger Shrimp. It was good, but failed to "wow" me like I thought it would. It could have used more cilantro flavor. I felt that the Parmesan & Dijon Crusted Chicken had way too much dijon mustard. It was overpowering to me. Other people at the table loved the bold flavor of the mustard and thought it was perfect. The Braised Short Ribs are a classic item on the Roy's menu. Tender and flavorful, they are always an excellent choice.


Pumpkin & Ginger Cheese Cake
Pumpkin Anglaise

Roy’s Melting Hot Chocolate Souffl√© (available year-round)
Flourless Chocolate Cake with a Molten Hot Center served à la Mode

The Pumpkin and Ginger Cheesecake was very good. The cheesecake was lightly flavored with pumpkin and ginger so that it complemented the cheesecake but didn't overpower it. The Hot Chocolate Souffle, another Roy's classic, was warm and gooey chocolate heaven.

I apologize for the lack of quality pictures. The lighting in the restaurant was a little dim. If you'd like to see higher quality pictures, head over to Dan's site, Eat In OC, to see his article on the event. He was sitting right next to me...