How Is Outpost Kitchen Without Chef Andre Sickinger?

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Still the one, mate!

In my review of Outpost Kitchen two months ago to this day, I said that "As with all seasonal cooks, [Chef Andre] Sickinger rotates out his menu routinely. The last few weeks saw a honey-glazed roast pork, a slow-braised lamb and a flawless pan-seared Alaskan sea bass; they might not ever come back."

Little did I know that last part would apply to the chef himself. Last week, Anne Marie broke the news that Sickinger, a.k.a. "The Surfers Chef", severed ties with Outpost Kitchen.

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La Palma's Bulgogi House Raises Prices, Nixes Bar Menu

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Jennifer Fedrizzi
Inflation...not just for your stomach.
In a review of Bulgogi House--the sleek, new All-You-Can-Eat Korean BBQ and buffet in La Palma--a few weeks ago, I said that you needn't go the AYCE route.

In the last paragraph I mentioned the bar serves a great à la carte menu that includes a massive bowl of it already cooked with rice and a fried egg for only $8. But not only a fried egg, but mushrooms and onions to complement the pile of the sweet, sugary strips of lean marinated bulgogi which itself weighed in at about a pound and a half. What I also didn't have space to mention in my review was that after I ordered it, I was invited by the server to go and help myself to as many side dishes from the buffet as I wanted. This meant I had carte blanche on everything the buffet offered, including the deep fried mandoos and the chicken wings.

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Ways & Means Oyster House Responds To Our So-So Review

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Edwin Goei
Two versions of the same dessert
Less than 24 hours after our review of Ways & Means was published, the PR folks hired by the restaurant sent me a nice note. The PR person wrote to inform me that the dessert I liked so much but was, to my disappointment, changed on my second trip, had now been changed back to the way I had it the first time.

He wrote, "After reading your review, we wanted to let you know that the 'Eat and Mess' has since been changed back to its original recipe, the way you enjoyed the dessert during your first visit."

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XA Sweet & Savory Cafe Has Made A Spam & Garlic Cookie

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Josue Rivas

Cronut, schmonut. While other bakeries and donut shops continue to engage in a cronut arms race, XA Sweet & Savory Cafe stands above the fray. I'm of the opinion that their own pastry hybrid, an apple pie cookie, is deserving of the fame and the Internet fervor that came with the cronut. It's a cookie with all of the flavor and goodness of an apple pie, all inside a soft-in-the-middle-crunchy-on-the-outside disc that you can dunk into a cold glass of milk.

If you haven't tried it: do it now, and then discover the other kooky cookies owner, chef, baker, cookie-Willy-Wonka Shawn Xa has created that day.

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XA Sweet & Savory Cafe Revamps Its Menu

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Edwin Goei
This week, Shawn Xa, owner and chef at XA Sweet & Savory Cafe in Orange, rendered the review I wrote on his restaurant outdated, but in a way I've always been anticipating. Xa has always promised that he would continually improve and change things up as his restaurant gains momentum. From rearranging the seating (originally it was too constrictive with a long benches taking up one side of the room), to getting rid of the soda fountain (it was expensive to maintain and unpopular with the healthcare workers who lunched there from nearby hospitals), he has always been keen in starting over from scratch if necessary.


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Al Tannour, Lauryn Chun, and Andrea Nguyen Get the Good Food Treatment!

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I gotta say, ever since it was announced that I'd be the Orange County guy for KCRW-FM 89.9, the station has gone GANGSTA on OC, not just by allowing me to blabber every Monday with my "Orange County Line" commentary, but with an energized focus on the food front via Good Food with Evan Kleiman. Don't get me wrong: I've been doing a monthly commentary for years, and we have our semi-annual happy hours (next one is Feb. 7--see you there!), but there's now an added focus on food stories that happen to take place in OC, or guests with ties to the area.

Take this week. Not only do you have me talking about Al Tannour, the awesome Iraqi restaurant in Little Arabia, but you also have Garden Grove gal Lauryn Chun sharing recipes involving kimchi, per her great The Kimchi Cookbook. And you also have San Clemente native Andrea Nguyen giving a tour of Mitsuwa Marketplace. Orange County: the new black!
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A Review of Strickland's Maple Bacon Ice Cream

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Edwin Goei
Until last night, I had thought that anything that Strickland's Ice Cream churns out of those gleaming machines can do no wrong. But its maple bacon flavor is not what I would consider as Strickland's finest hour. 

It's not that it didn't taste like it should. It is, in fact, the bacon-iest bacon ice cream imaginable. If you're really looking to have breakfast meat mixed in with your dessert, this is the ice cream for you. Every tablespoon is populated with at least a teaspoon of crumbled bacon. But upon tasting it, I think I'm done with bacon ice cream. 

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Taco Maria Gets the Good Food Treatment!

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This is how it works in radio journalism--unless you do a segment live, it's recorded, and who knows when it might pop up. That's exactly what happened with Taco Maria and KCRW-FM 89.9's Good Food with Evan Kleiman. I recorded that segment months ago--so long ago that I can't even remember when it happened. It's so old that at the time, chef Carlos Salgado was still offering his legendary bone-marrow quesadilla, which I raved about in my segment--and which is not currently on the menu. Whoopsie-doodle!
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Revisiting a Review: Indo Ranch

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Edwin Goei
Above: Before reheating. Below: After reheating.


With so few Indonesian restaurants around, and so many that have come and gone without no one so much as noticing, I've decided it's good to, once in a while, check the pulse of the ones I actually frequent.

I'm happy to report that Indo Ranch--the Indonesian grocery and food-to-go shop in sleepy Lake Forest-- is still going. I won't say going strong, because during the two most recent visits I made on a week night, I was the only customer. It was the same when I first reviewed them a year ago, and it's the same now.

See also:


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Revisiting a Review: Pizzeria Ortica

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Edwin Goei

It's been three years since I reviewed Pizzeria Ortica; two years since Chef Steve Samson left to start Sotto in LA. In that time a little place called Mozza opened in Newport Beach; Ecco debuted not far off at The Camp; and the irrepressible Il Dolce quietly did its thing near Triangle Square. Though it could be argued that the breed of everything-old-country-is-new-again pizzeria that Ortica belonged started with Pizza e Vino in RSM when it opened in 2008, it was Pizzeria Ortica that I reviewed first. So it was time to reassess the place.

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