Capital Noodle Bar: Ni Hao, Hainan

Categories: Now Open

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Photo by Jennifer Fedrizzi
Good noodles, too!

The last time I had a perfect plate of Hainan chicken rice, it was in Singapore at some random hawker center I probably couldn't locate now if you gave me a map. Other than Savoy Kitchen in Alhambra, the undisputed king of Hainan chicken rice in Southern California, I've found very few restaurants here that do it well. It's a hard dish to nail because it's also the simplest. Technique and timing trumps everything; there's nowhere to hide mediocrity.


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Creamistry Opens In Long Beach

Categories: Now Open

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Photo by Dustin Ames
Ice cream eventually.
Creamistry, one of the first nitrogen ice-cream shops to open in OC, is now in the LBC. Belmont Shore to be exact. It opened this week.

For those of you reading in Long Beach who haven't been to the original Irvine location, here's what I wrote previously about it:


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Rollie's Bakery & Mexican Cafe Closes; Kaminariya Yakitori Dining Opens in Tustin

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Edwin Goei
Rollie's in 2008.
Rollie's Bakery was one of OC's few Bolivian restaurants, specializing in salteñas, which are "ostensibly empanadas, but few in Latin America are so sturdy that they can contain broth inside their shells," as Gustavo wrote in his Hole-in-the-Wall column back in 2009.

The restaurant opened in 2008 and has graced these pages many times for those salteñas, winning "Best Empanada in 2010".

Now it has been replaced by a new yakitori restaurant called Kaminariya that competes against Honda-Ya, which is still packing them in a few blocks away. The yakitori is made from from Jidori chicken, but so are the karaage (sesame chicken), simmered giblets stew, and fried cartilage.

You can see what else is made with the chicken on their Facebook.


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Barley Forge Brewing Co. Now Open in Costa Mesa! (Updated With Corrections)

Categories: Now Open

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Barley Forge Facebook
Your flight has arrived.
Dave wrote a few months ago about a new brewery opening in Costa Mesa called Barley Forge. This is the brewery owned by Greg Nylen, an attorney in his previous life, his wife Mary Ann Frericks, and co-founders David Chapman and Dave Stolte, who's also its design director. The brewmaster is none other than David Huls, who was lured away from TAPS in Brea, as our own Dave wrote.The brewmaster is Kevin Buckley, formerly of Latitude 33 in Vista.


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Meat Up BBQ Opens in Placentia

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https://www.facebook.com/meatUpBBQ
This is where you'll meet up at Meat Up.
Is it just me, or does North County have, like, a lot of BBQ restaurants now. There's Leadbelly's, JP23, Big B's, Blake's Place and I haven't even started counting the chains.

Now there's one more called Meat Up BBQ, which opened in Placentia last weekend, taking up the space of Sue Ann's American Kitchen. Meat Up BBQ is a joint effort from the people behind The Viking Truck and GarlicScapes Truck.


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Restauration: Where There's Smoke . . .

Categories: Now Open

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Photo by Jennifer Fedrizzi
Pretty!

The closer you get to Restauration, the more you smell the sweet wood smoke that snakes out of its tall chimney stack. It's a wonderful scent, a scent that says something rustic, something special is being made, even if the oven the chimney is attached to is used mostly for pizzas. More than anything, the smell promises a back-to-basics neighborhood restaurant and diner of the kind before the Chili's and Denny's of the world commoditized the experience with picture menus and reheated food.

It reminded me, strangely, of my childhood in Indonesia, where the same smell emanating from the wood-fueled stoves of street vendors permeated the evening air with the promise of something imbued with that flavor. But Restauration's food and space could only happen on Retro Row, which keeps solidifying its reputation as Portland-by-the-Sea.


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Pho Saigon Pearl Opens at Irvine Spectrum

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https://www.facebook.com/PHOSAIGONPEARL
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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LYFE Kitchen Opens at Irvine Spectrum

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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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Weekend Openings: Honda Center Eateries And Stax Cookie Bar Fundraiser

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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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Civic in Santa Ana Re-Opens After Fire!

Categories: Now Open

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Photo from http://eatcivic.com/
Hot dog! They're open again!
Civic--the SanTana restaurant that Gustavo Arellano described as Primo-Mex ("the kind of mashups Mexican cousins do every carne asada Sunday to show off")--had a fire in July and had been closed ever since.

Now it seems everything is finally in order for a grand re-opening.


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