OC Register Food Review Simultaneously Slams and Ignores Little Arabia

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Let's make this happen, people!

The Orange County Register's food coverage has been strangely trifurcated for a couple of years now, and that's not a good thing. Us Forkers totally love Jeff and Claudia over at Food Frenzy, giggle at Nancy Luna's Fast Food Maven blog, and howl at the carousel of news reporters that the Register trots out to review restaurants for its dead-tree edition. Some of them--all good reporters, mind you, in their regular beats--do an okay job; others are execrable.

In the latter category is Marla Jo Fisher, who does a bang-up job on the Reg's mom blog and is a veteran reporter but who couldn't write a food review if you spotted her the food and the review. I'll never forget when she dared question the knowledge of Jonathan Gold on Thai food on my Facebook page, using the rationale that she once traveled to Thailand and therefore knew more about Thai that the man who's been covering Los Angeles' hole-in-the-walls for over 20 years. But even that episode pales in comparison to the sin Fisher committed today.

She reviewed Sahara Falafel in Anaheim's Little Arabia district, a place I reviewed nearly a decade ago and one where everyone who knows food in OC enjoyed five years ago before discovering Kareem's and Olive Tree. Fisher liked the place, which shows she ain't dumb--but then she wrote a line that was plain pendeja.

"The food and the friendly atmosphere here made us quickly forget," Fisher wrote, "we were in a tiny mom-and-pop joint in a part of Anaheim more noted for its check-cashing facilities than its fine cuisine."

WHAT THE FUCK?! Sahara Falafel lies on Brookhurst Street, right in the heart of Little Arabia, home to the best enclave of Middle Eastern cuisine in the United States outside of the Detroit area. It's part of a "part of Anaheim" near Nory's, Rufino's, Tana Ethiopian, Taqueria Don Victor, Chinese seafood, mariscos places and more great eats than half the cities of South County combined. And check-cashing facilities? Very few. Only the Reg's retrograde audience would ever think of that part of Anaheim for anything other than its great restaurant scene.

Of course, much more eloquent than me is Dave, so I'll turn the mic over to him, to the comment he left on her review:

 I'm glad you liked Sahara Falafel, but it's right smack in the middle of Little Arabia, a section of Anaheim that is seeing explosive growth. It's known, at least amongst foodie circles, as a paradise of Middle Eastern foods unavailable elsewhere, including the only Khaleeji restaurants (that'd be the SE part of the Arabian peninsula) in the county, nearly a dozen bakeries selling delectable flatbreads, and as many or more specializing in dozens of varieties of phyllo-based desserts. Little Arabia is also, oddly, the home of the only Québécois restaurant in Southern California, where people (almost none of whom are under the age of 50) go for tourtière and fèves au lard and crêpes swimming in liqueur.

When will the Reg hire a food critic that actually knows its stuff? Given it's allowed so many great food writers to leave over the years (Kat Nguyen, Cindy Arora, Cynthia Furey, Niyaz Pirani--the list goes on...), we'll say never--and that's a damn shame.

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Location Info

Venue

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Sahara Falafel

590 S. Brookhurst St., Anaheim, CA

Category: Restaurant

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30 comments
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Billg
Billg

Ah, Gustavo the Troll baiting the competition again. Pretty sure that if OCReg offered him some crumbs (such as occasional Mex-grub review), the dorky lamer Gustavo would eat all his flamebait crow in a nanosecond.

 

Sam
Sam

Hey, I've had my beefs with Gustavo, but I think he is doing fine right where he is.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

It's okay, Sam: my fanboys are legion!

DanGarion
DanGarion

Who is this Niyaz fellow... I think I used to know him, but haven't seen him for nearly a year... ;)

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Hey, it only matters what us Forkers think of you, and we LOVE Niyaz!!!

Niyazpirani
Niyazpirani

At least he's a fan of you're writing, lol.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Care contribute anything worthwhile to the conversation, or just wasting time while Tube 8 stops freezing up on you?

Billg
Billg

Care to answer the charge of lame trolling?

OCReg writes for the filthy rich and doesn't know / care about holes-in-the-wall?What else is new?

Promise that you'd never write for that elitist rag or you're trolling OCReg to throw you some review crumbs.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Yes, I SO want to be the next Cathy Thomas—in fact, that's been my desire from the beginning!

Billg
Billg

So we have the answer (from Gustavo's Clintonian non-answer): Guilty as charged, Gustavo is trolling OCReg hoping for some future favors.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Speaking of trolling...geez, son, how thick are you in the head?

Billg
Billg

Still beating around the bush. How about a simple answer: Yes or No (writing for the Reg).

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Yes, I SO want to write for the Register—that's why I've been at the Weekly for a decade, got the best food writers in OC to write for SaFII so we can raise desmadre, AND contribute occasional pieces to the Reg's arch-rival, the LA Times. What a maroon...

Sam
Sam

Niyaz seems like a great guy, but "great food writer" isn't something I would say about him.

Steve
Steve

I have a feeling that Anaheim might become the Southern Californian equivalent of Dearborn, Michigan due to the strong and growing Arabic community in Anaheim.

909Jeff
909Jeff

But i'm pretty sure that UNLIKE dearborn you wont see a bunch of Minarets pop up with call to prayer blasted over a loudspeaker. 

909Jeff
909Jeff

Point of clarification.... Love the food loved it when I was in the gulf and I love it now... 

DanGarion
DanGarion

What... no link to the review?! :)

foodgps
foodgps

Little Arabia has a bunch of check cashing places? Sweet. I'll make sure to swing by before hitting Al-Amir, Olive Tree, Forn Al-Hara, Zait & Zataar, Kareem's and Sahara. Yeah, clearly a great eating neighborhood.

Little Arabia
Little Arabia

Don't forget Nara Bistro, Alwadee, Al-Sanabel, Andaluz, Petra, Pita Paradise... the last one is actually in Garden Grove, but still, it's on Brookhurst (and Chapman). 

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

And Midan al-Tahrir, Sarkis Pastry, plus the excellent markets like al-Huda, al-Tayebat, Super King...

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

To be fair, there are six check cashing places within a mile of Sahara Falafel—but I only know that because of my friend Google; I couldn't have told you where Check Cashing Gulch is in Orange County. I'd've guessed El Toro Road on either side of the 5 before Little Arabia.

Newportblue65
Newportblue65

OCW does a great job with their food reviews..... They get better all the time......Does anyone even check out the Register anymore?......For 50 years they didn't even HAVE a food section!!!! " STICK..A..FORK ..IN..IT" does it for the reader....Well done people!....Give us more........

JB
JB

BTW, in your justified anguish, you overlooked that Cortina's is right smack over there. 

Not exactly check-cashing country....

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

Really?  You attack a little old fat mommy from the competing rag that's on the downhill?  Keeping it classy I see. 

JB
JB

Marla Jo Fisher also pens the Register's "OC Deals" blog, which I stopped reading about a year or so ago when half the editorial content conveniently featured her children. 

But let's face it, the readership of the OC Register is probably filled with clueless moms in Rancho Santa Margarita checking for their offspring's inclusion in the varsity sports roundup.  So Marla Jo Fisher is like Steve Jobs to them...a soul sister who can help guide them into feeling even more self-important by sampling those "Al-Qaeda" restaurants but at the same time protect them from those dangerous brown people who don't bank at Chase. 

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

HA! But the Reg's writer weren't always like this...

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