The Local List

Hungry girl looking for the next adventure.

An odd place for a happy hour.

Good Morning Gents and Ladies.  It’s my favorite day of the week – Thursday.  Why you ask?  Well once upon a time it meant the start of the weekend: toga parties, bar crawls, etc.  Now it is one more day to the weekend, but I can see the light; I am finally happy that the weekend is so close; and I am not exhausted from an entire week of work.  Plus Friday is really just a short work day anyway right?  (Sorry work, I am absolutely kidding about that…)

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The Secret to Din Tai Fung

So if you haven’t heard of the place yet, you should probably dig yourself out of the hole you have surrounded yourself in.  Din Tai Fung has been in America for a while, but it originated from Taiwan (ya know that non-Chinese Chinese place).  The specialty here is Shanghai dumplings (ironic right?), which are small, soup dumplings usually filled with pork.
Xiao Long Bao

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Kobbideh Kebob

Two of the most magical words known to man kind.  And one of the best places in Orange County is Panini Cafe.  Although its a Southern California chain, they don’t skimp on the portions and don’t skimp on the taste.  Although you can spend $20 a person, you won’t go home hungry.
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chicken kebabs
Panini Cafe is open for brunch, lunch and dinner and is located both in Newport Beach and Irvine.  There is always a crowd at both locations, but you usually don’t have to wait too long.  On a trip for lunch, we waltzed straight onto the patio and ordered the chicken kebob special and of course, the Kebob of my dreams.  The meals come with either basmati rice (my favorite) or wheat rice pilaf (not bad) and then a choice of three different types of salad.  Believe me when I say you cannot eat it all.
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The food is so tasty, and came out hot.  The price is steep [for lunch] (see update below), around $10-$15 for the complete meal, but it’s not an everyday lunch spot so I was willing to pay a bit more.  However, on this particular occasion they forgot about our food and didn’t really apologize or make up for the situation.  For a “quick” lunch it took them 25 minutes to bring out our food after asking about it twice.  I haven’t had issues here before though, so hopefully its just my curse of bad service not an everyday thing.
humus platter
Panini Cafe also has obviously paninis, soups, salads, and other types of kebobs.  I also need to try their brunch because it looks great (and huge).  They also have a to-go menu which I noticed has a family four pack of food.  Yeah I might not have a family of 4 but this is definitely going to be on my list of fast, healthy dinners.  Don’t judge me…
breakfast sandwiches
update: I was schooled in the expense part of this post.  It may seem expensive to me at lunch, but you can get out of there for about $15 for dinner and the food is really about two meals.  The chicken kebob special is definitely worth ordering for lunch as its the same amount of food but for only $10.

4.0/5 for great food, a good ambiance but so-so service.

Reverse Happy Hour is the ISH!

As we know, I have a big thing for sushi – HUGE.  So when my friends mentioned reverse happy hour and on a weekend nonetheless, I ran to Tomikawa as fast as my feet could get me there.
crunchy salmon roll with spicy tuna

 The fish here is very fresh, and they have fun rolls that fit every one’s choices.  Downside is that there is no sake/beer special, but this is a family place.  Don’t expect to do sake bombs here – it’s a classy joint.  And reverse happy hour doesn’t start until 8:30.

Alaskan Roll – skip this
The best rolls we had were the Rose Roll, the Lion King Roll, the Spicy Tuna Tempura Roll, and definitely get the garlic chili edamame to start.  Add a large Kirin, a great group of friends and possibly an uber (in case there’s more than one Kirin in your night), and you could possibly have the best night that Irvine allows.
Spicy Tuna Tempura Roll

4/5 for great sushi with a little bit of an uptight atmosphere.  But let’s remember its still reverse happy hour 8:30-close!

Blaze is opening in La Habra – but here’s the good news, FREE PIZZA!

For those of you that haven’t tried Blaze, you should check it out this weekend.  In fact, if you want to drive to La Habra, the restaurant is giving away free pizza all day on June 28 – THIS Saturday!  Free.  Pizza. Guys.  Free.
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The concept behind Blaze is fresh, fast and tasty pizza you personally create.  Think Chipotle but pizza – you get to pick your toppings, your sauce, and then wait for it to cook 3-4 minutes before you can dive in.  It’s thin crust so if you are looking for something heavier, this isn’t your place.  If it were up to my boyfriend, he would eat this for dinner every night.  I tend to like thicker crust pizzas because it feels more like a meal, but for convenience and something other than Chick-Fil-A I recommend trying it.
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:making pizza for the masses:

Where to post up for the (final) game.

USA takes on Germany in its final game of group play tomorrow at 9 AM.  Yes, 9 AM.  For some of you that don’t have to be at work and secretly stream it on, quite a few places are opening up early for your viewing pleasure.  Below are a few I recommend:

Crow Burger Kitchen (on the Peninsula) has announced that they will be open at 9 am for the game, and will be serving breakfast burritos and bloody Mary’s.  Problem is, the game starts at 9.

Mutt’s is THEE place to watch any USA team compete.  The crowd is wild, they usually play the sound and the mimosa’s, bloody’s, and scooners will ensure that you cannot drive at the end of the game.  The food is pretty decent for bar food too.

If you want to avoid crowds or  beach traffic, Classic Q in Irvine has more TVs than you know what to do. The selection of beers isn’t wonderful, but they do have breakfast specials during the game and has tons of seating.  I went here with a group of my friends on Sunday, and we arrived about two hours before the game and were able to snag enough room for 15 of us.  It WILL still have some crowds though so you will have to get here by 8 AM if you want a good spot.

#Ibelievethatwewillwin #USMNT America FFFF YAH!

I really hate when I get bad service.

Whenever I hear about a new opening, I try to visit the restaurant as soon as possible.  Bosscat Kitchen was no different, and I was even more inclined because it is around the corner from my work and a friend had visited it with great reviews.  So when I needed a place to celebrate my birthday, this was my first choice for my girls’ night out.
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shrimp and grits

Bosscat has a gastropub feel – cocktails, craft beer, and Crow Bar-esque food.  The food was actually pretty great: the short rib was phenom, the shrimp and grits are good but spicy, and the red velvet churros were the best thing we had there.  The burger also looked tasty and the fries are worth ordering.  However, the pricing of the food is WAY off.  These are tapas style sizes but at a price tag of $15-20 per plate.  Outrageous.  
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cornbread and huckleberry butter
But what really ticked me off was the service.  It took about 45 minutes for us to flag down our waitress to order our food, we couldn’t find her to even get a spoon to serve ourselves, and the bus boy took my friends sharing plate TWICE without asking.  Not only that, but as we were leaving we found out the kitchen had “closed” (at 9:30 PM) because they couldn’t handle all of the orders coming in.  Get your shit together people…

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red velvet churros with cream cheese frosting
The space was actually really nice because its indoor/outdoor with a large patio so the sound has somewhere to escape and you aren’t too hot inside a bar.  The owner John came out and introduced himself and gave us some birthday shots (which clearly I loved), but then he disappeared in the kitchen to help bring out orders.  It just seemed very disorganized and chaotic.  This place needs to settle in and work out all the kinks.  Until they can learn how to be attentive to their guests, I would recommend this place for drinks only, otherwise you might be waiting all night to order your dinner.

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french fries with housemade ketchup
3.5/5: The food was tasty so I can’t totally bash, but with all the options of places to eat in Orange County, I am over the whole bad service thing that I keep running into…hopefully Friday was a wake up call and they will get more help and soon!