Eat This Now: Everything at Rocharin Thai Bistro

Categories: Eat This Now

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Edwin Goei
Not so shrimpy shrimp!
OC doesn't have its own Thai Town, but this doesn't mean that we don't have great Thai restaurants. It only means that the ones we have are scattered throughout our fair county--the proverbial Easter eggs waiting to be found. Some of the greatest--Coconut Rabbit in Los Alamitos, Sutha Thai in Tustin and Tasty Thai in Lake Forest--are still waiting to be discovered. And then there's Rocharin Thai in Seal Beach, which isn't hard to find if you've ever decided to take the PCH scenic route instead of the 405 from Long Beach to Orange County.

The interior design is straight-up Pier One. At sundown, they dim the lights low for a romantic mood, candle lights flickering on each table. Like Coconut Rabbit, Rocharin Thai is one of a handful of Thai restaurants that could conceivably and capably function as a first-date place. Wine and fruity soju-based cocktails are served. The shareable sticky rice with mango comes with two kinds of sticky rice.

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Eat This Now: French Toast at James Republic

Categories: Eat This Now

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Edwin Goei
French by way of Memphis.
James Republic is the kind of restaurant that can't sit still. It's a constantly moving target. The menu doesn't just revolve; it evolves. You go there, enjoy a dish and when you come back, it is entirely possible that dish is either gone or tweaked into something unrecognizable. I once had a perfectly cooked Pacific Walu there, raved about it to friends and when I brought them there to try it, it was replaced by another fish that wasn't quite as good. But then, the next week, they cooked something that was even better. James Republic makes my job as a reviewer both hard and easy. Hard because whatever I write can be rendered out-of-date by the time you read it. Easy because there's always something new to review. Like the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland, it's never the same experience twice.

What I can say with certainty is that you will never be bored at James Republic. So this week I'm recommending the French toast it's currently offering on its brunch menu. It's got a peanut butter foam, bacon jam, and slices of banana, an homage to The King of Rock and Roll's favorite foodstuff--except it doesn't resemble any sandwich he or anybody ever ate.

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Eat This Now: The Prima From TJ's Woodfire Pizza

Categories: Eat This Now

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Anne Marie Panoringan
THAT'S amore!

The last time I tried a new luxe lonchera...well, I don't actually recall the last time I ate at a new one. It took the recommendation of a trusted colleague (and one farmers market) to discover something delicious. The kicker was that it was a pizza.

Barely over two years ago, I wrote up Pieology, the first of its kind in Orange County to serve customizable, quick service pizza. The trend has grown, igniting a path for similar brands. What I tasted from TJ's Woodfire was quick serve (90 seconds per pizza), restaurant quality Neapolitan from the confines of a mobile kitchen.

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Eat This Now: Sushi at Tabi-Ji

Categories: Eat This Now

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Edwin Goei
Big-honking sushi!
When you sit at the Tabi-Ji sushi bar, prepare to be fed. This offshoot of Shiki--one of the oldest (if not the oldest and continuously running Japanese restaurants in OC)--is barely months old, but it already has regulars who know that they will get their money's worth in food when they come. The space used to be an Italian restaurant up until a few months ago. Now it's a catch-all Japanese cuisine emporium. One area with two teppanyaki islands is dedicated to the rap-a-tap-tap showmanship of two teppan chefs. In between this and the regular tables is a sushi bar manned by four venerable-looking gents who look like their combined experience adds up to at least a century.

Our chef was younger man, but he happened to be the most jovial and cherubic of the bunch. When he wasn't laughing or toasting his customers with a big beer in hand, he cut his fish with a cheeky smile spread across his face. I whispered to my date that he looked like the human embodiment of one of those perpetually pawing cat statues. We liked him immediately, and not just because he gave us complimentary starters of seasoned fish salad atop of wonton cracker and fruit for dessert (they give that out to everyone). No, we liked him because he looked like he was genuinely glad to be there...and so, too, were we.


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Eat This Now: Leche Frita at Cafe Sevilla

Categories: Eat This Now

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Edwin Goei
Cafe Sevilla's Leche Frita
Save for the luxe lonchera Barcelona on the Go, there are few ambassadors of Spanish cuisine in Orange County. For a complete Spanish experience--and I do mean, like, with flamenco dancers and the Gipsy Kings as the constant and only soundtrack--one must go to Long Beach to Cafe Sevilla. Here you will sit in a darkly-lit romantic space evoking the passion of Spanish culture, drink more sangria than you ever drank, and graze on tapas, those bite-sized, meant-to-be-shared "small plates" that were around before every restaurant in America started serving everything as "small plates". The dish everyone orders is the "three tapas" sampler--a long platter with, yup, three generous helpings of the restaurant's most popular tapas dishes. With toothpicks as your eating utensil, you snack on salchicas, which simply means assorted sausages; gambas al ajillo, shrimp cooked with garlic and wine; and patatas bravas, roasted potatoes.

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Eat This Now: Khao Soi at Playground

Categories: Eat This Now

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Dave Lieberman
Deep, dark, al dente, and powerful: the khao soi at the Playground
Remember last year, or maybe it was the year before, when the mavens at Playground started playing around with ramen? They started out with a pretty good product and then, as the days and weeks wore on, it improved. Now they're doing it with the Thai noodle dish khao soi.

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Eat This Now: Turkey Meatloaf Sandwich from Lucca Cafe

Categories: Eat This Now

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Anne Marie Panoringan
Meatloaf + bread = comfort food awesomeness

According to Punxsutawney Phil, we can expect winter to be over any time now. Unless you're in Orange County, where it never quite started. Stores are already stocked with beach attire, despite recent Storm Watch 2014 reports. We are an anomaly to the rest of the country, but that doesn't prevent us from enjoying creature comforts like stews and casseroles. My entree of choice is meatloaf.


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The Poorman's OC: Celebrating The Corn Dog Since 1961...Wienerschnitzel!!!!!

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Corn Dogs!!!!!!!!!! Yeahhhhh!!!!!!!! Yes, this article is all about "The Corn Dog". And nobody does it better than Wienerschnitzel! Their Corn Dog is magnificent, the best ever! But then, that's just the tantalizing appetizer to this unique fast food chain. There are so many more delicious delicacies that they serve. The slogan is Der Fun Since *61, and that's how long they've been around...since 1961. I will be providing you with some exciting Der Fun as well by giving away Wienerschnitzel Der Food Combo Meals at the conclusion of this article!!!!! Keep reading, my hungry friends...


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Eat This Now: Takuwan Sushi From AnQi

Categories: Eat This Now

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Anne Marie Panoringan

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.

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Eat This Now: Chicken Dinner at the Honda Center's Grand Terrace

Categories: Eat This Now

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Dave Lieberman
It's been a while since the management of the Honda Center opened the Grand Terrace, the restaurant and outdoor patio above the main vestibule on the Katella Avenue side of the area. Like the Jack Daniels club, it's a restricted area; on game nights, it's restricted to people who have season club passes. You'll have a better chance at going on show nights, when it's less restricted. It's not a particularly elegant place--it's loud and busy, more like a sports bar than a temple of gastronomy--but you're not coming to a Ducks game for a candlelit, romantic dinner, you're coming to a Ducks game to watch some guys embarrass the hell out of some Canadian team who's never won the Stanley Cup.

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