Rainbow Bridge, New Northwestern Chinese Restaurant in Irvine, Serves "Chinese Hamburgers"

Rainbow Bridge Irvine's Facebook
Where's Kermit?
Well that was quick. PokiStation, the Irvine restaurant that tried to cash in on the poke craze even though it was really a Chinese restaurant serving xiao long baos, closed after less than six months of its opening.

Now a new poke-less joint has moved in, and Irvine's probably better for it. The new place is called Rainbow Bridge and is a specialist in Ningxia cuisine of Northwest China.

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Kettlebar at Tustin's Union Market Continues the Cajun Steam-Kettle Cooking Trend

Photos by Jennifer Fedrizzi

By now you're already familiar with steam-kettle cookery. You've sat at the bar at Ritter's Steam Kettle Cooking in Santa Ana or Huntington Beach and marveled at the retro tech in which rows upon rows of small stainless-steel vessels are connected to a series of pipes and--by some miracle of science that would take Bill Nye to explain--heat is pumped into them without fire or electricity. Though novel, it's not a new concept. Other restaurants have used them to cook for nearly a century. But unless you've been to Vegas' Palace Station, where a restaurant called Oyster Bar has been simmering Cajun stews in steam kettles for years, Ritter's was your first exposure.

Now comes Kettlebar, a carbon copy of Ritter's, which is itself a carbon copy of Oyster Bar. It uses the same kind of kettles to make the same kind of Cajun/Creole stews.

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The Ally Restaurant Closes in Westminster; Project West Moves In

The Lamburgini.
The Ally Restaurant was one of the most interesting restaurants I've ever had the pleasure of reviewing. Not only did they make this strangely good spaghetti with ground beef, bacon and a fried egg, they cooked Asian stir-fried noodles, bánh mì, French bread pizzas, burgers, chicken wings, paninis, rice bowls, burritos, tacos, tater tots with chopped pineapple, bacon-wrapped dates and spaghetti nacho-cheese fries. The Ally closed earlier a few months ago after almost a three year run.

Now a new gastropub called Project West has taken over. Their menu is shorter but not any less ambitious. They're still in soft opening mode as I type this and will be until the end of the month (offering a 25% discount on all menu items until then). I've not tried it yet, but from their Instagram, they seem to be burger-focused.

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Now Open: Miguel's Jr. In Tustin

Categories: Now Open

Anne Marie Panoringan
Salad and burrito. Because we couldn't decide.

Miguel's Jr. opened their newest dining room and drive-thru last Tuesday. Their third spot in Orange County, it's located in The Market Place, across the street from Carl's Jr. They're currently running a social media deal: Check-in on Facebook, and receive a free burrito card to use on your next visit (with any purchase).

As you're accustomed to reading, grand openings tend to happen after the fact. We've got news on exactly when you can join in on the official festivities, so pull out that calendar.

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Crispy House Remains the Best Filipino Restaurant in SoCal, Even With a New Name

Edwin Goei/OC Weekly

In past issues of this infernal rag, we've called for the annexation of Artesia (and its prettier sister Cerritos) as part of OC to claim Magic Wok, arguably the best Filipino restaurant in California. Sometimes confused with the Chinese-takeout chain of the same name, every dish at this Magic Wok is cooked to order, priced no more than 10 bucks per plate, and imbued with an inimitable homemade flavor as though someone's nanay was in the kitchen. During Christmas, a line extends out the door for takeout orders of the house specialty: the crispy pata, a whole deep-fried, bone-in ham hock, served with its chicharrones still attached as rind, covering blubbery fat, chewy gristle and stringy flesh--a dish that reminds us the best way to eat pork is never when it's branded as the other white meat.

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Hen House Grill Opens Second Restaurant in Irvine

Categories: Now Open

Edwin Goei
#2 but still #1!
In his review of Hen House Grill, Gustavo Arellano said it best: "It's a bold move to open an Iranian restaurant in Irvine next to Wholesome Choice." But not only have they triumphed, they've thrived. Last Friday, Hen House opened restaurant number two at Campus Plaza, across from Strickland's Ice Cream and Gatten Sushi.

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Free Pizza at Pizza 90 Grand Opening in Irvine Today

Categories: Bargains, Now Open

Today only: Hot! And Free!
So a new pizza joint called Pizza 90 opens today in Irvine at Alton Square (corner of Jeffrey and Alton) and it's less Pieology and more like Fullerton's Fuoco and Newport Beach's Settebello, where the pizzas use '00' flour and San Marzano tomatoes--the kind regulated by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana--and then baked in a wood-burning oven built by Stefano Ferrara, who is to Neapolitan-style pizza ovens what Enzo Ferrari is to Italian sports cars.

And today, they're giving away their base model Margherita pizza for free, between 2 pm - 8 pm, if you share a video of them saying they're giving away their base Margherita pizza for free. The video can be found on their Facebook page:


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Fins Poke Fusion Tries to Introduce the Food Trend to South County

Jennifer Fedrizzi/OC Weekly
Not too long ago, Fins Poke Fusion was an all-you-can-eat sushi bar called Sushi Zone. Even if you didn't know this, it's going to be obvious. The bar counter is still there, as are the stools, the old furniture and the waist-high cold display case over which you would've toasted the sushi chef with a frosty glass of Kirin if you'd been here a few months ago.

I'd never been to Sushi Zone, but as I ate my poke bowl in Fins' empty dining room on a Sunday afternoon, I noticed at least half of the people who walked up to the door hesitated when they saw the new menu board behind the hostess podium.

"Is this still a sushi place?" one lady asked.

"No, we serve poke now," the cashier replied. "Would you like a sample?"

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Chef Laurent Brazier Opens Bistro Papillote in Costa Mesa

Categories: Now Open

Bistro Papillote's Facebook
Bistro Papillote's Coddled Egg Breakfast
Chef Laurent Brazier of Laguna Culinary Arts has opened a French restaurant in Costa Mesa's SoCo called Bistro Papillote. It's taken the space of the defunct Seventh Tea Bar in The OC Mix, one of the first food halls in OC, which (if you don't already know) also hosts the highly-lauded Taco Maria and the excellent tapas bar called Pueblo.

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Vegan Nirvana Has Great Vegan Food and a Guy in a Cow Suit

Photos by Jennifer Fedrizzi
Light and bright

The first thing I saw as I walked into Vegan Nirvana were pigs suffering in sow crates, a chicken whose neck was nearly plucked of all its feathers and a dairy cow that looked particularly sad. These images were all on a video the restaurant looped on a huge flat-screen at the back of the restaurant. Part propaganda film, part PowerPoint presentation that flipped through photos of famous vegetarians, it's something PETA can easily use as a recruitment tool. But here at the restaurant, it seemed like preaching to the choir. Does anyone need to be shown the evils of factory farming when they're already sitting down to order a vegan BLT?

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