Asian-American Foodies Are Changing the Way Orange County--and the Nation--Eats

Portraits by Danny Liao and Dustin Ames
The 405 is slammed from the 55 to Long Beach. Harbor Boulevard is a parking lot. The industrial and office parks surrounding the South Coast Collection (SOCO) shopping center in Costa Mesa are emptying out, with thousands of employees resigned to spending the next hour or so in traffic hell.

Refuge is needed. At the Iron Press, on the northeastern edge of SOCO, the bar is already filled with people getting at the restaurant's waffle sandwiches and craft beers. Diners wear suits, pricy kicks, flip-flops and almost all the other fashions en vogue in Southern California. Three doctors, still wearing their scrubs after a day at work, relax with brews. At a side table, young friends look at their phones, framing the perfect photo of their food for Instagram or Snapchat.

Running around to make sure everyone's having a great time is Iron Press owner Leonard Chan. "What'll you have now?" he asks two patrons at the bar who had just finished their drinks. "I see two people and no beers."

One group obviously dominates the customer base: Asian-Americans.

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Green Feast At The Ecology Center: An App Off Recap

Anne Marie Panoringan

Earlier this month, The Ecology Center held their annual Green Feast. A sold-out event, the dinner raises money to bring environmental awareness through educational workshops. Guests dined around lengthy communal tables, tasting the efforts of Orange County's finest. Chefs included Greg Daniels of Provisions Market, Kerri Cacciata of Local Tastes Better (and the DTSA Farmers Market), David Pratt of Brick Pizzeria and Steven Kling of SideDoor/Five Crowns.

We stopped by for the pre-dinner entertainment: an "App Off", where another selection of culinary talents strutted their stuff. Note: All the ingredients used in both the App Off and feast needed to be sourced within a 250-mile radius. For some good ol' fashioned food porn, make the jump.

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Dog Haus Coming to Irvine

Categories: Local Eats

Paul Bernabe

All Irvinites know that the town is a hot dog desert. If a hot dog's what you want and nothing else, it's either Burntzilla or Jerry's Wood-Fired Dogs--your pick. But, with Dog Haus coming to town, you'll at least have one more option (and thank goodness it's a good one).

Dog Haus' first Orange County location is in Main Place Mall in Santa Ana (its decor is so hip you'll instantly forget you're at, well, Main Place) and its second is in Fullerton. No specific details of the new location have been released, but we're hoping for the same sleek industrial interior and hefty hot dogs.

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Chamoy Dole Whip Is Trending Even Without a Hip Name

Paul Bernabe

Kups, an Italian ice joint in Westminster, has been around for a year, but it was only recently that their chamoy dole whip began popping up on Instagram like crazy. Unlike Cauldron Ice Cream, their decor is simple--just a small space with menu boards, hanging lights, and a large frame of inspirational quotes. Unlike Cauldron Ice Cream and Afters, their chamoy dole whip doesn't have a hip name. And perhaps they don't need one.

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Kang Ho-Dong Baekjeong Coming to Irvine

Categories: Local Eats

Photo by T. Tseng
Can it open sooner?

Drive down Culver towards Heritage Plaza and you'll notice national chains being replaced by specialty restaurants. When Elephant Bar closed, EMC Seafood claimed its place. When Denny's closed, the building was left vacant for a while--until recently. According to a sign in front of it, Kang Ho-Dong Baekjeong--a Korean barbecue/barfood joint--will be opening up for business.

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UPDATE: Next Taco Maria/Little Sparrow Collaboration Dinner Date Set

Photo by Laila Derakhshanian/OC Weekly
This time it's on his home turf.

UPDATE: Wednesday, August 12, 2015: Despite the departure of Eric from Little Sparrow, Samaniego will be joining Carlos in the kitchen of Taco Maria as guest chef. The first in a series of featured chef dinners, the new date is set for August 25, and you can reserve a space here. All we need now is a nickname for this dinner to hashtag.

ORIGINAL POST: June 13, 2015: Barely a month ago, there was a collaboration between Little Sparrow's Eric Samaniego and Taco Maria's Carlos Salgado. It was a one-night-only affair, assuming you were lucky enough to snag a reservation.

We heard "Little Maria" was rather epic. Somewhere between veal sweetbreads with green tomato chutney and a coq au vin taco, the expectations of diners were exceeded. When would the sequel occur? We questioned Eric the next time we found ourselves in Sparrow's bar. His answer:

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The Only Taco Guide to Orange County You'll Ever Need

Micah Wright/OC Weekly
Wood-Grilled Tacos at Solita

By Gustavo Arellano, Edwin Goei, Charles Lam, and Dave Lieberman

You really want us to pontificate on the glories of tacos in Orange County as an intro? Fuck that: our Mexican in Chief wrote a whole book on the subject--find it! In the meanwhile, make this your bible for the rest of the year, starting . . . now.

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Updates From Tustin's Union Market!

Categories: Local Eats

Anne Marie Panoringan
Cookies 'n milk in one hand? Hell yes!

Slowly but surely, Tustin's growing dining and retail space within The District continues to open with its newest tenants. Besides the eateries about to open, we've got news on three additional players on this evolving property.

Up and running this week, Crepe Coop's daily operating hours are from noon to 10 p.m. These sweet handhelds are enough for two to share, but you'll end up ordering your own. Get your fruit fix, your ice cream fix and your crepe fix in every bite.

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Costa Mesa's Legendary La Cave to Start Last Sunday Service This Month

Categories: Local Eats

La Cave in Costa Mesa has been open for over half a century now, but the legendary steak house / music venue has never really operated on Sundays.. until this month. Starting June 28, the restaurant will begin service on the final Sunday of each month, complete with musical accompaniment by Virginia-born singer/songwriter Matt Commerce.

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Interview with Guy Who's Drinking Boba for an Entire Year!

Categories: Local Eats

Justin Salamanca

This is a story of boy meets boba. The boy, Justin Salamanca of Cerritos, grew up not knowing that he'd be truly happy until he sipped his first boba drink (which, in case you were wondering, was a caramel green slush at Upper House Boba in Walnut). Justin met boba in the third grade, and he knew immediately it was what he didn't know he needed.

This week, UCI student Justin Salamanca is on day 90-something in his quest to drink boba every day for a year for (500) Days of Summer, his passion project inspired by Steven Cong's boba database. Though Salamanca isn't really drinking boba for 500 days (more like 365 -- he thought 500 sounded better), 365 days is still a lot of, well, whatever boba's made of. Props, man.

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