Monday, April 6, 2015

4th Street Market

Growing up in Orange County, Santa Ana was NEVER the place to be.  In fact, it was the place you wanted to avoid if you valued your money, valuables, and safety.  My how the world, has changed.  Santa Ana is now like one of the many small pockets of hipster-dom in Orange County.  It's one of the few places you can go to eat something interesting and tasty.

The 4th Street Market, which is literally across the street from The Playground, my all-time favorite OC restaurant, is sort of like a grunge fancy food court.  What an oxymoron right?  The setting is semi-grunge, paper plates, plastic silverware, simple stalls and decor.  The food is semi-fancy as you will see.  It delivers similar food concepts as the Packing District in Anaheim, in much more manageable and intimate setting.  The same damn hipsters are teeming both locales.  Wait, I'm one of those damn hipsters!  Crap...
 


I think most of the eateries were equipped with iPads and Square receipt apps.  Bye bye are the days of cash registers.

What I love more than anything when it comes to eating is variety.  So we came well prepared, our party of 3, 4 if you include Baby Talks A Lot but she didn't really eat anything but downed some milk.  We ordered enough dishes to get a decent sampling of 4th Street Market's offerings.

Noodle Tramp
Khao Soi wagyu brisket
My time in Portland exposed me to a whole other side of Thai food.  That side includes this dish, a form of curry noodles.  It's not a dish you will find very commonly at most Thai restaurants stateside, and when you do it's probably not that good.  Excellent Thai food strikes a perfect harmony between salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and funky.  Fortunately, Jason Quinn and his Playground crew do this dish some justice, but I've had better.  Heck even the version I make is better.  I'd prefer if they amped up the funk and tempered the sweet.  I might not sure if you really can get this in Orange Country so Noodle Tramp might be your new go to spot.  While traditionally served with chicken, Noodle Tramp gives you the option for brisket which was actually a tasty twist.  The wagyu is nice but not really necessary.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Earthen

After too many days of eating the white man's food, I really was craving something Asian.  I can't go too many days without eating Asian food.  I crave chocolates and sweets, but my want for Asian food runs deeper than simple desire.  It's like it's ingrained into my genetic makeup to optimally thrive off of Asian food.  With any other foods, sure I'm living, but who wants to just live?  

It probably didn't help that I spent the whole day sweltering under the unforgiving sunshine of the desert to watch the BNP Paribas Open.  When I'm stressed mentally or physically, I turn to food for comfort.  That day was no exception, and I was happy to be out and about with Old Soul, who is definitely a food fan.  He asked what I wanted to eat after our long day.  I said "Asian" and he obliged.  Simple as that.  I don't think I could be friends with anyone who would put up a big stink about what or where we ate.  We really went to town on the ordering and the waitress laughed in disbelief when she confirmed our order of 6 dishes for 2 people.

House Chicken
I've had chicken like this before and it was called Shan Dong chicken.  Old Soul, being the unusually helpful China man that he is can read Chinese and the Chinese description of this dish, which was none other than Shan Dong chicken.  This dish is quite popular here, but I was actually disappointed. The chicken wasn't as flavorful as I've had before and the cold cucumbers nestled underneath the chicken wasn't as marinated as I would have liked.  You should have seen Old Soul turn his nose up at the site of those green cucumbers.  He's allergic to all things green apparently.

Ong Choy
Old Soul turned his nose at the cucumbers, but he had a look of horror when I pushed for an order of ong choy.  I loved how the veggies weren't sitting in a big puddle of its own juices.  They must have been cooked at very very high heat.  I could never get my vegetables this way at home.


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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Nana San

Nana San keeps company with Ohshima, San Shi Go, and Ikko as Orange County's best sushi spots.  I've been here before for dinner omakase and was thoroughly impressed with the offering.  It's definitely the most bang for your buck compared to the other 3 places.  Lunch was no exception. Fishing Zebra Man has become my sushi compadre and will never turn me down when it comes to sushi.

Kanpachi (left)
Blue Fin Tuna (right)
Kanpachi was clean, but I've had better blue fin tuna.  I did not like the shiso of course.


Trio of Snappers red, black, goldeneye
Really great sampling.  Goldeneye was my favorite, probably because it was served with a bit of charred skin.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A-Frame

After Roy Choi's big success with Kogi and Chego, A-Frame was his next attempt at bringing his style of Korean meets LA, street, soul, all the while keeping it real, to Angelenos.  I was supremely impressed at his offering during my first visit in 2010.  I had been back maybe 2 more times since then with each visit impressing me just a little bit less.  I've accepted that maybe I cannot be impressed by the same trick pony?  Maybe other Angelenos have been feeling similarly about A-Frame, possibly driving Roy Choi to change things up.  A-Frame made the recent change from "modern picnic" to "modern Hawaiian picnic."  The menu feels like they took some of the old menu items and reinvented it with a Hawaiian twist.  So of course I had to call up my Hawaiian buddy, Luau Bear, to get the low down on A-Frame's Hawaiian authenticity.  The other bears joined in of course, Panda Bear, Mani Bear, Buff Bear, and Farm Bear.


Big John Chili Rice Cakes beef chili, crispy korean rice cakes, white cheddar, sour cream, chive, pineapple
I don't remember there being chili on the previous menu, but this looked interesting enough.  It was pretty heavy between the hearty chili and the chewy rice cakes.  The cheese and sour cream didn't help offset the big load here.  It was tasty, but maybe had too much going on.


Poke Sampler
Shrimp, citrus, blood orange
Tuna, wasabi mayo, cucumbers, edamame
The tuna with wasabi mayo was also heavy and needed some restraint.  I'm not a fan of overly mayo-ed foods.  We all preferred the citrusy and lighter shrimp poke.

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