Pho Saigon Pearl Opens at Irvine Spectrum

Categories: Now Open

Slurp away!
As we wrote yesterday, LYFE Kitchen opened at Irvine Spectrum, right behind the new Sports Authority building and in a new building of its own. Pho Saigon Pearl also opened there this past weekend, just two doors down from LYFE.

This is Pho Saigon Pearl's second location. The first was at Irvine's Diamond Jamboree, where it remains the Asian plaza's sole Vietnamese food purveyor since it debuted there in 2011 and just recently won our award for Best Vietnamese Iced Coffee.

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On the Line: Stephen Le Of The Kroft, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
Stephen Le & Matthew Tong are all smiles about the upcoming Union Maket space

Fellow Bay Area transplant and Kroft co-founder/co-owner Stephen Le teaches us the value of reading (and Excel?) in the second part of his interivew.

Read the first half of our interview with Stephen over here.
And now, on to part two . . .

Hardest lesson you've learned:
Don't let criticism break you down.

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On the Line: Stephen Le Of The Kroft, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
Co-founders (and owners) Stephen Le & Matthew Tong

If you haven't tried the Kroft yet, it's all good. They are making their way across Orange County, with Tustin opening next month. While I may feel a tinge of guilt when inhaling their cheese curds, a friend's commentary always rings true, "If you're going to eat bad, it better taste good." So I'll start this interview by thanking Stephen Le (and Matthew, his partner-in-crime) for a menu I have trouble saying no to.

How did the name come about?
Naming our establishment was definitely the most grueling part of starting up. We brainstormed day and night over months at a time, and agreed that it is our intention to support local farmers within our community. The word "croft" with a "C" is defined as a small, enclosed farm or pasture near a house or small tenant farm. It feels fitting to us to be called the Kroft.

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LYFE Kitchen Opens at Irvine Spectrum

Categories: Now Open

Edwin Goei
LYFE Kitchen in Henderson, NV.
LYFE Kitchen opened at the Irvine Spectrum this weekend. This is the fast-casual concept by a team that includes two former McDonald's execs, featuring a menu designed by Food Network's Jeremy Bringardner, Tal Ronnen, and Art Smith, Oprah's former personal chef. Everything offered is less than 600 calories, contains less than 1,000 milligrams of sodium, and uses every recent food buzzword in existence. It's first of its kind to land in OC. There are already 12 locations scattered through the country, and the company has plans to open about 250 more over the next five years.

I've been to other LYFE Kitchens and there's a consistency and uniformity I'd expect from a corporate outfit. Next to the entrance, there are menus in leaflets customized to whatever your dietary requirements happen to be, whether you're a vegan/vegetarian, gluten-free, or if you can eat "Everything". Above this, there's the Mark Bittman quote: "The food policy that matters most is yours".

Also in every restaurant: a wall of potted herbs, a defining feature more important to the place than Playlands are to McDonald's. Butter and high fructose corn syrup aren't used, but quinoa and kale is, and prodigiously.

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Richard Blais: If You Love to Eat, You'll Love Hungry Games

Food Network
I would probably spend way too much for a pizza.

In his new Food Network show "Hungry Games," Chef Richard Blais teaches, learns, and trivializes the way the food we chose is essentially chosen. On Monday October 20th, you can get in on the fun challenging your foodie awareness by tuning in but of course, we wanted you to get the details on what Hungry Games really entails. And because we love you sweet readers so much, we reached out to Blais for some answers just for you. The passion and knowledge he transmitted blew our minds just as much as his new show promises to. No worries, you can save the "thank you's" for later.

OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): So you've done Top Chef, Iron Chef America, Chopped All-Stars...which was the most challenging for you?

Richard Blais: Well we're talking competition with all of those and I'm a big runner so I like to think of them all as running different kinds of races. For example with the three you mentioned, Top Chef is a marathon, Iron Chef is a relay, and Chopped is a sprint. It depends on where your style fits but they all have their things that make them interesting. I enjoyed running all of them but I'm just glad that Hungry Games is not a race so to speak.

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Weekend Openings: Honda Center Eateries And Stax Cookie Bar Fundraiser

Categories: Now Open

Stax Cookie Bar
Can't. Resist.

Halloween may be a couple of weeks away, but there are no tricks in this blog post. Only treats. For hockey fans and concert-goers, your preferred Anaheim venue is launching not one, but FIVE outlets today. Everybody else can go get dessert and support some schools in the process.

We start our roundup inside the Honda Center, where Wahoo's gets all official with a party out on their patio. The first 50 fish taco die-hards to visit the Ducks Red Carpet before the team's home opener today will receive a wristband, granting them access to giveaways, a DJ and of course, dinner. For the rest of us, there are other places to try.

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High Tide at Driftwood Kitchen, Our Drink of the Week!

Anne Marie Panoringan
Ode to a classic

Our primary reason to head to Laguna Beach is for a change of scenery; cooler temps and cruising on Pacific Coast Highway rank right after. We find gazing out into the Pacific more centering than yoga, so ending up at the right spot is most important. While we don't require sand between our toes, being perched right above the beach is ideal. One property that can accommodate such a request appears to have dual dining concepts--those lucky bastards.

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New Restaurants Coming to Tustin and Irvine's The Marketplace

Thumbnail image for mango_tart_up.jpg
Edwin Goei
Urban Plate's mango tart.
We just learned that there's a whole bunch of new restaurants slated to open at The Marketplace, the sprawling shopping and entertainment center split between Irvine and Tustin by Jamboree Rd.

We already mentioned a second outpost of California Gogi Korean Grill is planned, but now also Bondi Grill House, Famous Dave's Barbeque, Miguel's Jr., and Urban Plates.

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Long Beach Lunch: The Promenade Café

Sarah Bennett

Going to the Queen Mary just to eat lunch these days is a hassle. It used to be that you could park the car, walk onto the ship and sit down at your chosen eatery as if it were any restaurant in any strip mall in any town. Buying tickets to board was a chore reserved for those who wanted to pay for tours, special events or see the exhibits on the historic hunk of steel.

The powers that be, however, realized at some point in the last few years that certain scumbags (not this one) were wandering onto the moored vessel for free and not spending money, but instead raising hell, which pisses off tourists and doesn't do much good for profits.

So today, parking will run you $17 unless you get your ticket validated, in which case it's $6 (don't lose the ticket or it'll be $38). Then, in order to even get on the ship, you have to stand in a winding ticket line in the parking lot and pay $15 up front for a non-refundable voucher that can be redeemed for food or drink anywhere on the ship (this doesn't apply if you buy a tour or something).

Then, and only then--with promissory notes in hand--are you allowed to take the elevator to the upper decks and dine at the best value on the whole ship: the Promenade Cafe, a restaurant with food and a view that's thankfully worth all the inconvenience.

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The Best Things to Drink in Orange County (And Long Beach), 2014

Photo by Cleo Tobbi
Orange County is where these people live, after all

Alcohol isn't the only thing to drink in Orange County (though it's pretty nice). OC all up in that juice crave and can serve a pretty mean cup of coffee. Then again, booze runs the world, so we have for you now a list of the best things to drink in Orange County, from coffee to more coffee to Vietnamese coffee to beer and cocktails.

'Cause eating is nice, but I've never seen anyone shotgun some brussel sprouts.

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