El Farolito Jr. lights the way to authentic Mexican food in Anaheim, CA

Located right off the 91 Freeway and Raymond Avenue/East Street exit is El Farolito Jr. Renovations over the past few years have made it more welcoming. It’s a mom & pop, hole-in-the-wall restaurant with some of the most affordable, authentic Mexican cuisine in Anaheim. They have some “gringo” favorites like enchiladas and fajitas, but they have lots of authentic food that is spectacular.


#51 Nachos Supremos served with your choice of carne asada, carnitas, or chicken and topped with guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, and cheese. They should rename it to “Gigante” because it’s huge! The tortilla chips are thick and sturdy to scoop up everything with a great toasted corn flavor. They are very generous on the carne asada. One of the best supreme nachos ever! Thumbs up, way up!

To read more and see photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/el-farolito-jr-lights-the-way-to-authentic-mexican-food-anaheim-ca-review

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

El Farolito Jr on Urbanspoon

Katella Family Grill makes you feel at home in Orange, CA

If you looking for no-fuss food with friendly service, look no further. Katella Family Grill is conveniently located on the corner of Katella Avenue and Main Street in Orange, CA. It’s across the street from the Stadium Promenade where you can catch a movie at the Edwards Theatre before or after your meal. If you are a Ducks or Angels fan, grab a bite before or after the game. The menu has something for everyone – steaks, seafood, pasta, salads, soups, stews, and sandwiches. Jim Learakos, with his 50+ years of restaurant experience, shows his comfort food flavor palate on the menu.

Liver and Onions is tender beef liver smothered with grilled onions, bacon, and green apples. All entrees include a choice of potato or Cajun rice and vegetables - baked potato and creamed corn in this case. The liver was cooked and seasoned to a perfect medium. It had a firm texture but wasn’t dry. The grilled onions and bacon are always a perfect pairing with liver. The green apples were a surprise and complimented the combination of flavors as well as adding a crunchy texture. The baked potato was perfect - fluffy interior with butter, sour cream and chives to cream it all up. The creamed corn is a little different than I'm used to. It tasted like they put mashed potatoes in with the cream making it seem a little lumpy and not very sweet. I would definitely get this again but without the creamed corn. Thumbs up!

To read more and see photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/katella-family-grill-makes-you-feel-at-home-orange-ca-review

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Katella Family Grill on Urbanspoon

Shrimp Scampi IV Recipe...

I found this recipe on: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/shrimp-scampi-iv/?extkb=1

To save time on the prepping side, I broiled them whole. You get more flavor on the shrimp from the shells. You can peel them as you eat or eat them shell and all. The broiling process with the butter makes the shell really crispy (think of shrimp chips). If you are daring, there is some good eating on the heads, fluffy meat on the inside similar to lobster and all of the "miso" which is sweet and creamy! The butter, garlic, white wine sauce are the perfect mix for scampi.

Thumbs up, way up on this recipe!

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Homemade Chicken Soup

Start out by boiling the leftover chicken bones, pan drippings and vegetable ends (I always keep the vegetable ends when I cook and freeze them in ziploc bags just for this reason - love to use all of the vegetable and don't want to waste the flavor). You end up with a flavorful chicken stock which you can use immediately or store in the freezer for future use.

I shredded up some chicken breast, added dry vegetable ingredients (peas, barley, rice, corn - which can be picked up at stores like Sprouts in any combination you choose) and chopped up fresh celery and onions. A great hearty chicken soup for a cold winter day.

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Debbie Lee's Seoultown Kitchen cookbook brings Korean cooking to your kitchen

2011 has been a great year for Debbie Lee. She was executive chef for The Poutine Truck with a gourmet take on that Québécois delight. She also started her own truck, Ahn-Joo, serving Korean pub grub and then found Ahn-Joo a permanent home in Glendale’s Americana at Brand to serve hungry foodies between store shopping or before/after a movie. To end the year right, Debbie has published her first cookbook “Seoultown Kitchen – Korean Pub Grub to Share with Family and Friends”. If you’re a fan of Ahn-Joo, you’ll find many recognizable dishes from the truck and stand in her cookbook.

“When I decided to write my very first cookbook I wanted to share the first part of me, and that is being Korean,” says Lee. “Growing up in the 1970s, I thought I needed to hide my heritage and culture. It was not until my 40th birthday, coming off the Food Network show, that I was proud of who I am and where I come from. I realized that my homeland had some of the most amazing traditions, culture, and most of all food.”

To read more and see photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/debbie-lee-s-seoultown-kitchen-cookbook-brings-korean-cooking-to-your-kitchen-review

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Eat Street Video Shoot - Crepes Bonaparte

James Cunningham, host of Eat Street, interviewing carolers about crepes from Crepes Bonaparte.

James Cunningham after my interview about Spicy Apple Bottoms Crepe (and my mom).

Danielle and Christian Murcia, owners of Crepes Bonaparte. They make the best crepes I've ever had. If you haven't tried them yet, make it your New Year's resolution to find them in 2012!

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Eat Street Video Shoot - Seabirds


Stephanie Morgan, owner of Seabirds Truck, after on location shoot for Eat Street television series, showcasing her famous Beer-Battered Avocado Tacos.
Stay tuned! I'll let you know when the show airs on The Cooking Channel!

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

The Flying Pig Café finds a home in Los Angeles, CA

Don’t worry, The Flying Pig food truck will still be rolling out every once in a while, but Joe Kim wanted to open a restaurant where he could expand his menu. These items at the Flying Pig Café just can’t be made on a food truck. Joe’s imagination just runs wild and it’s amazing what shows up on the menu. At the Flying Pig Café, Joe offers upscale food at reasonable prices. The décor reminds me of a lounge in Tokyo – glowing pastel lighting, cloud-shaped lamps that look like large paper lanterns, and a chalkboard wall that’s all about the pig.

Pork Belly Taco is braised pork belly with red onion escabeche, pickled sesame cucumber, and death sauce on a steamed bao bun. This is just insane! The pork belly is like butter and just melts in your mouth. The toppings round out the flavors and give it a nice crunch. The bao bun is just right; light on the inside and chewy on the outside. This will definitely give you a foodgasm. It is served exactly like on the truck, just plated, not in a paper basket. Thumbs up, way up!

To read more and see photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/the-flying-pig-caf-finds-a-home-los-angeles-ca-review

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Flying Pig Café on Urbanspoon

Acapulco has a “Mi Casa es su Casa” feel in Orange, CA

The first Acapulco opened in 1960 in Pasadena, CA. Known for its relaxed dining experience and wonderfully friendly service, it carries on to the “Mi Casa es su Casa” feel that we see today. The portions are always generous. You’ll always leave full and, most likely, with a doggie bag. The fare is designed to appeal to the American palate, but they do have some tasty dishes that are traditional Mexican cuisine. The dining room is festive – lots of bright colored décor on the walls and lots of windows to let in the natural sunlight.

Let’s take a look at some of their entrees. Carne Asada Y Camarones is citrus-chile marinated steak and sautéed jalapeno-garlic butter shrimp served with sautéed onions and bell peppers, rice, and warm tortillas. The carne asada’s marinated flavor is excellent! Its robust, spicy flavor goes well with the juicy meat. You can order it the way you want - rare to well done. The camarones (shrimp) is perfectly cooked. The jalapeno garlic butter for dipping is out-of-this-world delicious. The tails are cooked so well, you can eat them too. I’m serious! Think of crunchy shrimp-flavored potato chips. Thumbs up, way up!

To read more and see photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/acapulco-has-a-mi-casa-es-su-casa-feel-orange-ca-review

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Acapulco Mexican on Urbanspoon

Four Brix Winery hits the “sweet” spots of great wine in Ventura, CA

It all started back in 2004 when 3 families (The Simonsgaards, Stewarts, and Noonans) were making home and hobby wines with their friends and family. Eventually, they decided to share their winemaking experience with others and formed Four Brix Winery, named for their four favorite “sweet” spots for growing grapes – France, Spain, Italy, and California. Gary and Karen Stewart were on hand during our visit to Four Brix Winery. Gary knows a lot about wine, winemaking, and the history of wine. It’s really amazing how much he knows and you can taste the enthusiasm in the wine he makes. Since our visit was during the fermentation process, we were allowed to “punch down” the grapes in the fermentation vats and smell the fermentation in full swing. The aroma is wonderful!

Let’s take a look at the blends that Four Brix Winery offers:

Smitten 2010 is light gold in color and is a perfect blend of Viognier and Marsanne. Crisp and light in the mouth, the floral aroma has hints of peaches from Viogner. The finish has the essence of green apple and slight mineral taste from Marsanne.

To read more and see photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/four-brix-winery-hits-the-sweet-spots-of-great-wine-ventura-ca-review

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Les Pop Sweets are decadent delights without the guilt

Elizabeth wanted to get away from all of the processed foods and serve organic, homemade snacks to her children. So she started experimenting by making her own organic ice cream, marshmallows, and fruit gelatins. She wanted something thing sweet to stick in her children’s lunchboxes and the cake pop was born. After her children let their friends see what Elizabeth made for snacks, kids started asking their own moms for these wonderfully delicious treats. But these treats aren’t just for kids! They are decadent delights that will put any adult into a dreamlike state as well.

Let’s take a look at some of these creations:

Noah’s Chocolate Mudslide is her signature chocolate cake baked with all natural, 100% pure cocoa. The cake is delicately blended with chocolate buttercream frosting, hand-dipped in smooth Belgian milk chocolate, and drizzled with dark Belgian chocolate. You’ll definitely have an OMG moment or two! The chocolate has a rich, intense flavor similar to a chocolate liqueur. The cake itself is dense yet soft like the inside of a truffle. The Belgian chocolate is velvety smooth and effortlessly melts in your mouth. Thumbs up, way up!

To read more and see photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/les-pop-sweets-are-decadent-delights-without-the-guilt-review

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Panfiniti makes paninis with infinite possibilities in Southern California

Friends, Anne Eng and Priscilla Low, came up with this food truck concept after years of cooking for events at their church. With a passion for food and feeding large crowds, they decided to hit the road with their Italian-Asian fusion cuisine. Anne handles their ever-growing food truck crowds on a daily basis as her food truck team grows as well. Anne always takes the time to explain the menu items and helps suggest the best sandwich for whatever a customer is craving. Her team always gives great service and you simply won’t believe the flavor combinations she pumps out of the truck.

The Hawaiian Steak Fries is sweet potato fries topped with skirt steak, caramelized onions, and hoisin aioli. What a combination! This is a “side dish” that could definitely be a main dish. The skirt steak is tender and matched perfectly with the caramelized onions. Thumbs up!

To read more and see photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/panfiniti-makes-paninis-with-infinite-possibilities-southern-california-review

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Sky Garden Restaurant is a stellar experience at ‘Imiloa in Hilo, HI

In 2008, Andy Cheng took the reigns of Sky Garden Restaurant bringing Asian and Hawaiian influenced food to locals and visitors of ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. ‘Imiloa has plenty to do and will keep you busy the whole day with astronomical exhibits, planetarium shows, and even a native botanical garden outside.

Sky Garden features a nightly dinner buffet option (except Sundays). Let’s take a looks at some of the highlights:

  •  On Thursdays, snow crab legs are on the menu. Snow crab legs are steamed to perfection with drawn butter. It’s not too salty, tender, and super juicy.
  • Caesar salad – The romaine lettuce is fresh and crispy but the dressing needs more garlic and anchovy flavor.
To read more and see photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/sky-garden-restaurant-is-a-stellar-experience-at-imiloa-hilo-hi-review

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Sky Garden Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Zeffirino serves an outrageous Thanksgiving buffet in Las Vegas, NV

It all started in 1939, when Zeffirino Belloni opened his family restaurant in Genova, Italy. The Zeffirino family’s epicurean flare has delighted thousands for over four generations. Gian Paolo, Zeffirino’s son and extended family continued the tradition with their 1999 opening of Zeffirino in the Grand Canal Shoppes in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. The restaurant is 2-stories tall and has museum quality décor, limestone columns, Venetian-style open windows, antique furniture and one-of-a-kind balcony dining over-looking the Grand Canal. You’ll really feel like you’re in Venice!

Let’s see what their Thanksgiving buffet has in store for you! It’s located on the 2nd story and it’s a huge. Here are some highlights to get your taste buds going:

To read more and see photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/zeffirino-serves-an-outrageous-thanksgiving-buffet-las-vegas-nv-review

Mahalo and Happy Thanksgiving!

OC Food Diva

Zeffirino (Venetian) on Urbanspoon

Get a little taste of the Southwest at Chili’s in Orange, CA

With hockey season in full swing for our Anaheim Ducks, Chili’s is a great place to go to watch the game and eat some great grub. Or stop by before you go to the game and eat some great food without the arena prices.

As appetizers go, you might want to give this one a miss. The Skillet Queso is mixed with seasoned beef and served with warm tostada chips and housemade salsa. It is okay, but the color is not at all appetizing. It might be better if it was queso with ground beef mixed inside. It's more like nacho cheese and chili mixed together which produces the weird unappetizing color. The salsa is thin, but flavorful with fresh tomato, garlic, onion, chili pepper with just the right amount of heat without overpowering the flavor.

To read more and see photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/get-a-little-taste-of-the-southwest-at-chili-s-orange-review

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Chili's Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon

Chronic Tacos is making extreme Mexican food addictive in Orange County, CA

Chronic Tacos is definitely an extreme sports hangout. Wee Man, of Jackass fame, is on their cups and the motif is just right for the skater or surfer in your life. Daniel Biello and Randall Wyner had an idea to make fast, fresh, made-to-order Mexican food with large portions at a great price. With the recipes from the Bonilla family, their dream became a reality in 2002 when their first store opened in Newport Beach, CA. Almost 10 years later, they have expanded to 36 locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Canada.

The concept is different from your usual fast food Mexican restaurant. Everything is made before your very eyes. It’s setup like a sandwich shop so you pick your vehicle (from tacos to burritos to nachos and anything in between), pick the meat (pollo, carne asada, al pastor, carnitas, or shrimp), and all of the fillings from beans, rice, cheese, sauces, and vegetables. It’s always best when you can make it to your liking.

Getting’ hungry? Let’s start with their Burritos which are monster 13” tortillas stuffed with white lime rice or Spanish rice, your choice of black, pinto, or refried beans, cheese, cilantro, onions, and salsa (to your liking, of course). The first combination we tried was a Wet Al Pastor Burrito with cheese, onions, salsa, Spanish rice, black beans, squeeze of lime, cabbage, and cilantro. The wet sauce had an overpowering tomato flavor. Al pastor was good, but not great. The rice, beans, and salsa were ok, nothing special.

The second combination was a Grilled Shrimp Burrito with cheese, refried beans, onions, cilantro, green sauce, and lettuce. The grilled shrimp is amazing - perfectly cooked, crisp and sweet, and seasoned just right. The refried beans are good, nicely flavored, not too salty or greasy. Well combined flavors if I say so myself! You’ll definitely have an OMG moment or two! Thumbs up, way up!

Beef and Chicken Flautas with chopped peppers, cheese and onion inside served with salsa and guacamole for dipping. The Beef Flautas are juicy and have a good beefy flavor. The chicken, on the other hand, was rather flavorless. Fortunately, the guacamole is chunky, flavorful and really saved the day for this dish. The flauta itself was fried to perfection with a great crunchy texture that you’d expect. Thumbs up on the Beef Flautas!

Fatty Tacos are served up street-style on your choice of flour or corn tortilla with veggies and salsa. We tried the carnitas topped with guacamole, green chile sauce, onions, and cilantro. The carnitas are a little on the sweet side and more like pulled pork with a soft texture. I prefer my carnitas on the salty side and with a crispy texture. I must say, the combination of flavors worked really well – sweet, creamy, and tangy. The corn tortillas are wonderfully light with a sweet corn flavor. Definitely a mind-blowing experience! Thumbs up, way up!

Tortas are homemade talera “bread” smothered in refried beans and topped with veggies, guacamole, and salsa. We tried carne asada with refried beans, guacamole, spicy salsa, onions, and cilantro. This is one manly sandwich. It’s HUGE! Just half of it was almost too much for me. The flavor combination was different for a sandwich, sort of like what you would have inside a burrito but on bread instead. It’s a little messy but good. It’s like a Mexican Sloppy Joe. The bread was a little too soft so it got soggy too fast. Grilling the outer crust more might help. Near the end, you’ll need a fork to eat the rest.

I saved the best for last. Chronic Tacos stocks Choco Tacos for dessert. Vanilla light ice cream swirled with chocolate sauce packed in a waffle cone taco shell and covered in chocolate and topped with nuts. These are made by Klondike so “What would you do for a Choco Taco?” It’s the great end to a great meal.

If you’re looking for some ridiculously addictive Mexican food, slide on over to Chronic Tacos. It’s real food for real people.

Savings Tip:
  • 2012 Entertainment Book (Orange County Edition) – 2 coupons: Enjoy one complimentary menu item when a second menu item of equal or greater value is purchased up to $6; Enjoy 10% off any catering order

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Décor: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 4 out of 5 stars

For more information:
Chronic Tacos
5365 Alton Pkwy Ste D
Irvine, CA 92604-8613
949-653-8226 (TACO)

Chronic Tacos
7520 E Chapman Ave Ste A
Orange, CA 92869-8521
(714) 639-9826

The Buttermilk Truck makes a stop on Eat Street

Gigi Pascual makes her television debut on Eat Street, in the episode entitled “Bacon Mania Baby”. It seems a fitting title since bacon is such a big part of breakfast and Gigi certainly knows breakfast. Also on the episode is the winner of the 2011 OC Foodie Fest, BaconMania. The series is hosted by James Cunningham. He scours North America for the tastiest, messiest, and most irresistible street food. You’ll have to watch the episode and cheer for our local trucks!

Let’s take a look at some of Gigi’s creations! The Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancake Bites are served with butter and syrup. These are to die for! I missed them at the 2010 OC Foodie Fest so when the truck came back down to the OC, I simply had to get them. I waited almost 2 hours in line to get them. Sounds crazy, but when you’ve been fantasizing about a food item for almost a year, you’ll wait as long as necessary to get them. I was actually getting afraid that they were going to run out, but fortunately, they didn’t. They did, however, run out of the Fried Chicken with Housemade Cinnamon Waffles instead which was my second choice. So I had to start thinking quickly about my second choice. But back to the red velvet pancakes; they were all I was dreaming about and more. The pancakes had a good red velvet flavor mixed with the taste of buttermilk pancakes. The chocolate chips gave it a decadent aspect, rich chocolate morsels inside every bite. The butter is whipped fluffy like a whipped cream. I decided to forgo using the syrup so I could enjoy the full effect of the pancakes. It was a good choice. They didn’t need it. Thumbs up, way up!

To read more and see photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/the-buttermilk-truck-makes-a-stop-on-eat-street-review

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Buttermilk Truck on Urbanspoon

Grand Opening of Ahn Joo at The Americana at Brand in Glendale, CA

On Thursday, November 10, 2011, Chef Debbie Lee, debuted Ahn Joo, a Korean snack bar, at The Americana at Brand in Glendale, CA. She took her Ahn Joo food truck concept from the streets and has given it a permanent home in this beautiful center. The Americana at Brand is like a mini-city with shopping, dining, and entertainment. Ahn Joo is in a prime location, in front of the movie theatre with the fountain as the backdrop. With the holiday season rapidly approaching, the center has raised their giant Christmas tree which is about as tall as the one at Disneyland. The grand opening was an intimate one with family, friends, and long time supporters of Chef Debbie. Soju Sangria (recipe is in her cookbook) was poured and samples of Ahn Joo’s pub grub menu were served continuously. Barnes and Nobles was also on hand selling Chef Debbie’s new cookbook, “Seoultown Kitchen”. It’s so great to see how gracious she is to her fans. She treats everyone like family.

Let’s take look at some of her Korean pub grub creations! Korean Nachos is deep fried rice cakes, smoky chile queso, soy braised pork, and kimchee salsa. Yes, I said, kimchee salsa. This is an amazing play on nachos. The pork was marinated to perfection and added a special flavor to the deep fried rice cakes. The kimchee salsa added a spicy, pickley flavor and tied it all together in a neat little bow. The cheese was a very interesting addition. Who knew cheese and kimchee went together (just like the Calbi Truck’s Kimchee Quesadilla). Thumbs up, way up!

To read more and see photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/grand-opening-of-ahn-joo-at-the-americana-at-brand-glendale-ca

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Ahn Joo (food truck) on Urbanspoon

Jerry’s Wood-Fired Dogs serving up gourmet hot dogs, sausages, and more in Irvine, CA

Jerry O’Connell felt that there was a need and demand for fast casual gourmet hot dogs and sausages. In 2003, his dream became a reality when his first restaurant, Jerry’s Wood-Fired Dogs, opened in Santa Ana. Since 2003, they have opened three more locations around Orange County. The Irvine location opened in 2009. They are excited about their newest location opening up in the John Wayne Airport, Terminal C, in December 2011.

The concept is very unique. You order up the menu item of your choice. You are given a coaster beeper to tell you when you’re meal is ready. They fix it up the way you like with over 30 Favorite Fixings. Choose from starters, chunky items, finishing touches and dressings. They even offer Premium Fixings like chili, cheese, avocado, and more for an additional charge. The combinations are seemingly endless!

To read more and see photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/jerry-s-wood-fired-dogs-serving-up-gourmet-hot-dogs-sausages-and-more-review

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Jerry's Wood-Fired Dogs on Urbanspoon

May Cookie Company serves up healthy and convenient cookie mixes to make in your own kitchen

Susan Nolte and her daughter, Marissa Hanley, researched how they could make a homemade cookie better, by using healthier ingredients and make it easier for you in the kitchen. In May 2008, Susan and Marissa’s dream became a reality when they opened May Cookie Company specializing in “healthier homemade” – great-tasting, wholesome, all-natural cookie mixes; including a dairy-free, egg-free option. Baking brings the family together in the kitchen and the May Cookie Company cookie mixes reinforces healthy foods with the simple pleasures of homemade cookies.

I found their cookie mixes really easy to follow. Everything is in pre-measured packets, labeled to correlate with each step of the baking process on the box. Tip: If you decide to order any of the chocolate flavors, order them in the winter months (http://www.abesmarket.com/store/maycookie). Otherwise, the chocolate chips may melt and fuse together into a huge chocolate chunk. My solution was to use a meat mallet and break it up into chip size pieces. They are also available for purchase in natural food markets in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island. Check out their website for a store near you - http://www.maycookie.com/order.php.

To read more and see photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/may-cookie-company-serves-up-healthy-and-convenient-cookie-mixes-to-make-your-review

Mahalo,

OC Food Diva

Chomp Chomp Nation brings Singapore’s Street Hawker Favorites with an American Twist to SoCal

It all started when Shaun Ng came to the US and had dreams of opening his own Singaporean restaurant. He partnered with Robert Zuetell and his wife, Gina Galvan, who own a restaurant concept business. Together, they researched and, at the time, SoCal had just started on the up-climb to Southeast Asian food like Vietnamese and Thai. With the upfront costs of opening a restaurant, it was just too soon to know if it would work. Last year, Robert saw the huge popularity of gourmet food trucks and decided to do some field work. He attended the 1st Annual OC Foodie Fest and it just amazed him – a sold out event and every single truck had an hour plus long line. The light bulb lit up so bright that even his sunglasses couldn’t shield it. They needed to bring Singaporean Street Hawker food to SoCal and the food truck was the ticket. On October 10, 2010, Chomp Chomp Nation debuted with a truck designed in the Year of the Tiger with coloring distinctive to tigers – orange with black stripes.

Like a tiger, Chomp Chomp Nation has been prowling the streets of SoCal delivering tasty Singaporean delights that appeal to the American palate. Robert took a lot of time with the menu as typical dish names in Singapore were simply too foreign for SoCal unless you were from Singapore or you had been there before. In order to bring guests in, he chose names that infused American iconic dishes and used presentations that were familiar. He did a great job. He brings them in with the name and then they come closer to read the description. As I watched, about 90% of the people went from the menu right to the order window. It was amazing!

To read more and see photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/chomp-chomp-nation-brings-singapore-s-street-hawker-food-with-an-american-twist-review

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Chomp Chomp Nation (Food Truck) on Urbanspoon

The Refresh Truck is serving up fresh, local grown foods with a splash of Pacific Rim

Aubrey Duran is a foodie and is always on the search for her next food fix. A few years back, The Wicked Garden in Dana Point was her favorite restaurant for good times and good eats. Chef Jordan Hamada was the executive chef and added his Pacific Rim fusion culinary skills to the menu. Aubrey got to meet her favorite chef and was a little star-struck. Foodies are always star-struck when we meet a chef that we follow. They are like rock stars in the culinary world. Unfortunately, The Wicked Garden closed and was replaced by Caliente. But, Aubrey had a dream to bring the fine dining plate experience to the masses at decent prices. In June 2010, her dream became a reality with The Refresh Truck partnering with her favorite chef, Chef Jordan, at the culinary reigns. They have a few staples on the menu, but as the climate changes, so does their menu - every two weeks or so. With so much locally grown foods in California, the sky’s the limit! They pour their heart and soul into the food and the service is both energetic and friendly.

Let’s hang-ten! Pork Belly Sliders is shredded pork belly on a Hawaiian roll and topped with Cojita, guacamole, Asian slaw, and sour cream sauce. All I have to say is “WOW”! You’ll definitely have an OMG moment or two. The pork belly is absolutely divine! It is tender and packed full of flavor. The guacamole is refreshing and creamy. The Asian slaw is sweet and tangy. When you put all of these flavors together and you end up with a symphonic masterpiece of flavor, tantalizing your taste buds. Thumbs up, way up!

To read more and see photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/the-refresh-truck-is-serving-up-fresh-local-grown-foods-with-a-splash-of-pacifi-review

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que brings Southern barbeque to Lake Forest, CA

Nestled in The Orchard at Saddleback, near the corner of El Toro Road and Rockfield Boulevard, is Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que. The exterior looks like a farm house with side veranda (patio seating). Once you enter, the bustling servers are running around with plates of barbeque and the decorative signs and photos pop out at you with vibrant colors. It’s quite a heart-warming story.

In the Appetizer section are Lucille’s Onion Straws. A mountain of irresistible buttermilk battered fresh onions, seasoned and deep-fried and served with their own BBQ ranch dipping sauce. These onion straws are amazing! These are fried like a good fried chicken – salt, pepper, flour. If you can get the right combination, the flavor is addictive. The portion is just right for 2 people to share while your barbeque plates are being prepared. Thumbs up, way up!

Let’s get Low and Slow with some authentic Southern barbeque! All of their BBQ is slowly smoked with hickory wood and served with Homemade Biscuits and apple butter and your choice of 2 sides: Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Shoestring Fries, Baked Potato, Potato Salad, Sweet Potato Fries, Macaroni & Cheese, Creamy Cheese Grits, Southern Braised Greens, Creamy Coleslaw, Honey Roasted Peanut Slaw, Fresh Vegetables, BBQ Beans, Fresh Corn on the Cob or Sweet Mashed Potatoes.

The BBQ Two Meat Combo Platter is your choice of two of Lucille’s best meats: BBQ tri tip, BBQ half chicken, baby back ribs, St. Louis ribs, beef ribs, spicy hot link, pulled pork, rib tips or beef brisket. In this case, BBQ tri tip and beef brisket were chosen along with creamy cheese grits and shoestring fries. The tri tip was very smoky and tender. You can tell that the tri-tip was smoked to perfection by the smoke ring on the meat (see photo). The brisket was extremely tender and juicy, turning into almost pot roast level consistency. The flavor had just the right amounts of smoke and salt. The cheese grits were fantastic – creamy, cheesy, and a bit of a kick from the jalapenos! The shoestring fries were okay. The coating on the fries tasted a little weird, almost metallic. Thumbs up!

St. Louis Spare Ribs are lean, juicy pork ribs, seasoned with Lucille's special rub, slowly smoked, then grilled and basted with their homemade BBQ sauce. Southern braised greens and sweet potato fries were chosen as the sides. The ribs had a rich, smoky flavor with a sweet and spicy BBQ sauce. The ribs were a little tough – maybe cooked too long or too hot making them dry. But the sweet potato fries were cooked just right with a nice combo of sweet and salty. The greens had all the bitterness cooked out of them leaving only the base flavor of the leaves. Thumbs up!

 

Got room for dessert? The Snickers Ice Cream Pie is chopped Snickers bars mixed with vanilla bean ice cream in a crisp, chocolate cookie crust and served with homemade caramel and chocolate sauces. This dessert was like a Cold Stone creation in a pie crust. The chopped up snickers bars were minced and blended perfectly into the ice cream. The chocolate cookie crust helps keep the pie together and helps you scrape up the caramel and chocolate sauce. Thumbs up, way up!

 

If you are looking for some good Southern barbeque, head on over to Lucille’s. She’ll take care of you.

 

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 4 out of 5 stars
Décor: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 4 out of 5 stars

For more information:
23760 El Toro Rd
Lake Forest, CA  92630-4711
949.581.7427

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