Seafood City Now Open In Irvine

Anne Marie Panoringan
Hunger waiting game

We'd never seen such a sight. So many Filipinos descending upon one area in Irvine. We thought we were in Daly City Cerritos. It took three cycles to turn around the corner of Armstrong and Barranca on opening day. It made The District look like Cars Land.

Seafood City adds to the list of ethnic supermarket brands (Wholesome Choice, Farm Direct, Mitsuwa, H-Mart, Zion, Super Irvine and both 99 Ranch Markets) to call this seemingly vanilla landscape home. We shook our head in disbelief just writing that. The next time someone gripes about a lack of good eats that aren't a chain around there, just rattle this list off and see if they can comprehend.

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ChocXO Coffee and Chocolate Roaster Is Opening an Irvine Factory, Take a Tour and Win a Year's Worth

Categories: Now Open

Photo by Cleo Tobbi
They're a churnin'

So, this weekend, ChocXO, one of our favorite coffee (and chocolate) roasters in Orange County will be opening their Irvine chocolate factory. To celebrate, they're giving free tours on Friday and Saturday (with included edible swag) and giving away a year's worth of chocolate to multiple people.

If you're interested in free chocolate, free hot cocoa, free liquid chocolate shots, and more free chocolate, check out the everything after the jump.

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Koc Crawfish Crosses a Crawfish Joint and a Snail Restaurant, Adds Beer

Categories: Now Open

Photos by Jennifer Fedrizzi
Commence crackin'

You've seen the likes of KOC Crawfish Beer Club & Restaurant before. With its neon signage, blink-and-you-miss-it strip-mall location, and cartoon mascot of a sea creature you're about to consume in a whirlwind of cayenne-garlic butter and lemons, KOC is obviously the latest entry in the growing genre of Vietnamese-owned Cajun seafood houses.

If there's one place that spurred the proliferation of this kind of eatery, it's the Boiling Crab. Although the now-ubiquitous chain didn't invent the concept, it's the Ray Kroc of the genre, sans the megalomania. The Boiling Crab figured out what customers really wanted in a seafood restaurant--reasonable prices, cold beer, an addictive sauce--and created an empire.

Its success blazed the trail for the rest, including Claws, the Kickin' Crab and now KOC.

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TLT Foods, The Lime Truck's Brick and Mortar, Opens Today!

Categories: Now Open

What a week for openings. First, Dough Exchange, the Playground bakery, opened yesterday, and now TLT Foods, The Lime Truck's brick and mortar is finally open at the Irvine Spectrum.

The Lime Truck is, of course, Orange County's most famous luxe lonchera, having won the second Great Food Truck race and launching the career of the Playground's Jason Quinn. The menu at the restaurant is in the same style as the truck, fresh and distinctly Southern Californian. You can check out the menu for their LA locations on this fancy website here.

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Bulgolgi House Is Korean Barbecue for the (Early) 21st Century

Categories: Now Open

Photo by Jennifer Wang
That's a rib eye

Orange County is pretty set when it comes to Korean barbecue. Supremely hungry and want to smell your meat as you cook it? Head over the Cham Sut Gol, the grill in Garden Grove that's fed college students (and everyone else) for years. Want something a little more.. upscale or full of offal meat? Gen's got two locations for you. And then if you want something more American to introduce your gabacho friends to, All That in Irvine has got you covered.

And that's not even counting all the other barbecue places that dot the county's Korean enclaves (my Korean hair guy keeps telling me to check them out).

So when, I heard about Bulgolgi House's imminent opening in La Palma, I thought to myself, "does Orange County really need another Korean barbecue joint? What's going to set Bulgolgi House apart?"

Well, I went, I saw, and I'm convinced. Bulgolgi House has a place in Orange County's seared-meat scape.

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Dough Exchange, Playground's Bakery Next Door, Opens Today

Categories: Now Open

Rejoice, friends, because Dough Exchange, the Playground's bakery next door is finally open today. Starting at 8 a.m., you can wandering in to the bakery space next to the Playground (it's around the corner, on the promenade) and grab a donut.

Go check it out.

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The Boathouse Collective's Costa Mesa Zen

Categories: Now Open

Photos by Jennifer Fedrizzi

"Where is this place?" my date asked nervously, looking around at the barely lit street and deserted sidewalks.

We were driving through a desolate, industrial part of Costa Mesa we'd never been to and had no business being in before tonight. A factory with gigantic pressure vessels and pillars spewing steam passed on my left. On the right was a darkened car-repair shop.

"It's around here," I said, trying to sound confident.

Then I saw it. The only hints of life for blocks are a string of lights and a sign in the dark that reads, "Boathouse Collective parking." We parked under the glow of a street lamp and walked toward the entrance: a gap between two shipping containers, with razor wire strung across the tops. As we neared it, a pair of flood lights flickered on, triggered by motion detectors.

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Cismontane Brewing Tasting Room Now Open In Santa Ana

Dave Lieberman
One less toll to pay

In June, Cleo gave details on Cismontane's future tap room. Over the weekend, the Rancho Santa Margarita-based brewery opened its doors with specials on tap and food trucks to fill your belly.

Found off the 55 and Warner Avenue (cross street Grand), their hours during the week are weekdays from 3 - 9 p.m. Saturdays are from noon to 9 p.m., and Sundays go from noon to 5 p.m. Three cheers to a more easily accessible location!

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Anaheim's 369 Chinese Replaced By Wafting Fragrance Noodle House

Dave Lieberman
It says "Wafting Fragrance" in Chinese. Otherwise it's just any old noodle house.

I was at 99 Ranch today buying lime leaves and lemongrass for a friend in Florida who doesn't have any good Asian markets nearby, and it was lunchtime. I couldn't bring myself to go to Jollibee or its brethren, I can't stand the service at Ten Ten, and I didn't want a Lee's sandwich.

As I was about to pull out of the parking lot and go find something else, I saw that 369 Restaurant, the Shanghainese place that faces Crescent, had been replaced. The only English signage for the newcomer simply says "Noodle House"; the name Wafting Fragrance comes from the Chinese name for the place, 飘香 (piao xiang).

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Laguna Beach's House of Big Fish Resurrected as Big Fish Tavern

Categories: Now Open

We're going to need a bigger boat.
Laguna Beach's The House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer--the restaurant with a mouthful of words for a name and a slew of awards from us including Best Happy Hour 2011 and Best Seafood Restaurant 2010--closed last month when its owner, Casa Resorts, decided it was was going to focus on its hotel properties.

But Big Fish lives on. Jim Walker and Louie Feinstein, owners of The Bungalow restaurant in Corona del Mar, have taken it over and last weekend it was officially resurrected as Big Fish Tavern.

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