69. Takuwan Sushi from AnQi by Crustacean
Behold the beginning of our annual 100 Favorite Dishes countdown! Every day until the publication of our fantabulous Best Of Issue, we'll list our favorite meals this year in descending order. Enjoy, pass it on, and tune in daily!
I may be Catholic-lite, but one season I abide by is Lent. And while going without meat for a few Fridays may seem like no big deal to many of you, when I'm starved for a meal, nuts and fish don't quite cut it.
Every time I dine out, I'm looking for alternatives, entrees and sides my carnivore tendencies won't mind every now and then. That moment I forget I'm having something vegetarian (or vegan!) is when I know to take note.
AnQi by Crustacean is best known for their sleek interior and garlic noodles, but one of their Asian tapas particularly impressed me. We counted no less than seven components in our takuwan maki. Served at lunch, dinner and both happy hours, it seems like a lot of work for eight bites. Wasabi and soy sauce were an afterthought, replaced by one unexpected condiment: curry.
The other players in my sushi gave strong supporting roles. Tempura offered crunch, while avocado and carrot made my roll eye-catching. Mirin coaxes a hint of sweetness when it cooks down eggplant. Roasted beets, earthy asparagus and gobo root are packed in there. The pickled daikon, to which my appetizer owes its name to, almost gets lost in the shuffle. My favorite part, though, is the chef's choice to incorporate a non-traditional ingredient. A golden pool of spices is accented with a hint of furikake. Yet it manages to not overpower the rest of the dish. The flavors pair so well together, I had that Lenten moment: Mental note made.
70. Ube Ensaymadas from The Ensaymada Project
71. Pork Bánh Mì at the OC Poultry and Rotisserie Market
72. Tacos Gobernador from Mariscos Los Corales
73. Dutch Baby at the Original Pancake House
74. Doughnuts from Sidecar
75. Lengua Tacos at La Chonita
76. Oysters from Carlsbad Aquafarm at the Orange Homegrown Farmers Market
77. Lemon Miso Crab Melt at Umami Burger in Laguna Beach
78. Pani Puri from Adya
79. The Pocket at the Pocket Burger
80. Gyro Sandwich from Paul's Place
81. Slice of Heaven at Pie-Not
82. Taquitos at El Toro Bravo
83. Peanut Butter and Jelly Donut at the Donuttery
84. Dan Dan Mian at Wei-Shian Noodle
85. Beef Burger at Rider's Club Café
86. Smoked Trout at Provenance
87. Small Plates at A&J Restaurant
88. Corn Cheese at Zoomak Asian Bistro
89. Pumpkin Curry at Bhan Baitong
90. Poke at Costco Tustin II
91. Pambazo at Tacos Radioactivos
92. Beef Pho at Pho Crystal Noodle House
93. Breakfast Burrito from Cafe Calacas
94. Koobideh Plate from Grill Cafe
95. Tacos de Cecina from Alebrije's
96. Jajangmyeong from Ching Chinese Express
97. Breakfast Sausage from Da-Le Ranch
98. Any Special Dinner by Old Vine Cafe's Mark McDonald
99. Tres Amigos Burrito from Piaggio on Wheels
100. Bacon-Wrapped Dates from Lola Gaspar