Showing posts with label costa mesa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label costa mesa. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Habana in OC Celebrates 25th Anniversary with 1995 Prices

I have not been to Orange County in a while but Habana's 25th anniversary celebration next week might just get me down there! While many restaurants have closed because of the pandemic, I'm glad to see that some are still going strong. This destination for Cuban food in Orange County is celebrating their 25th with some great specials at both their Irvine and Costa Mesa locations from September 14-20. 

Photo courtesy of Habana

First off, during lunch (11:30 am to 3 pm) you can get menu items for the prices they were offered back in 1995! That means you can get their signature ropa vieja for $7.95, lechon asado for $8.95 and more. It's a great deal that we can all use right about now. 

Also, they'll have $5 mojitos and sangrias all day long in case you want to go for some after-work libations! 

Photo courtesy of Habana

Limited indoor dining is allowed again in Orange County. I personally am still a lot more comfortable with outdoor dining and both Habana locations have a great patio, but it's good to know in case of another heat wave.

Remember, the specials are good from September 14th-20th and I would suggest making a reservation. I'll see you there next week! 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sidecar Doughnuts and Egg in a Donut, Now Open in Santa Monica

Sidecar Doughnuts in Costa Mesa was one of those places on my list for my few visits beyond the Orange Curtain, but now they opened another location in Santa Monica! The new location is certainly way easier for Angelenos to try Sidecar's beloved donuts.

Sidecar Donuts

What should you get at Sidecar? Well, I've gone to the Costa Mesa location and I've tried a few items there, from seasonal flavors to their popular Huckleberry (made with real Oregon huckleberry) or Butter and Salt donuts. These donuts are good, but they're cake doughnuts. Cake doughnuts are good, but my heart lies with raised donuts. On that note, meet my very favorite donut at Sidecar: Country Ham & Eggs
Sidecar Donuts

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Kyushu & Okinawa Fair at Mitsuwa, Back on July 18-21

I love going to Mitsuwa during their various regional fairs and the Kyushu and Okinawa Fair is returning on July 18-21, featuring some very fun food items. They sell most of the stuff at all the Mitsuwa Marketplace locations including Costa Mesa and San Diego, but the most complete one is Torrance (check out this page to see which store is selling what)

My favorite from last time was the caramel pudding with cream in a choux pastry! They're not doing the caramel one this year but they'll have a strawberry pudding in a choux pastry :D I'll definitely be trying that.
Last year they had tonkotsu ramen from Ramen Tatsuno-ya but unfortunately they'll only be in San Jose this time around. Instead, we'll have Hakata Nagahama Ramen from Tanaka Shoten.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Theorem: An Experiment in Coffee Tasting by Portola Coffee Lab

Theorem is a unique experience in craft coffee devised by Portola Coffee Lab in Costa Mesa. Once an hour in the late afternoons, the small room with a counter seating only six people opens up for a set menu of one of a kind coffee drinks. You can call or go on their website for reservation.

They want you to focus on the experience so no camera or phone is allowed during the tasting. I only managed to take a photo of the menu before they told me to put my camera away! Though they did let me take quick photos of the setup in between mine and the next tasting.

The menu lists four items and you can order any three for $20.
I started with an Italiano served with candied lemon. This was a play on how Italianos used to be served. Back in the day tap water tasted very mineral-y, so people tend to use lemon rind to get rid of that taste and the oil.

Next is an amazing cappuccino made using milk with 6% butterfat. This milk has a texture like no milk I've had before and it makes for an incredible cappuccino.

The Coffee Sour is an incredible non-alcoholic coffee cocktail made with a cold brew, lemon, orange flower water, orgeat, and honey. When I tasted it I couldn't even tell there was coffee in it, just a balanced, complex mocktail.

The "Enhanced Espresso" must be ordered for the whole table (for $20). Lucky for me someone there was generous enough to order it. The enhanced espresso is coffee infused with various herbs and fruits using a vac-pot (reminiscent of the Rooibos cocktail I had at The Aviary in Chicago).
This one was an extraction of cloves, cinnamon, dried cherries, almond, mint, etc.

A peek into the back room held promise for future tastings. A barrel for aging ... alcoholic coffee cocktails, perhaps?

3313 Hyland Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(949) 284-0596
Theorem on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 16, 2011

AnQi's Red Hour, Garlic Noodles

The An family has probably created the first high-end Vietnamese restaurant empire starting with Crustacean and now AnQi in Costa Mesa and Tiato Cafe in Santa Monica.

Where Crustacean focuses on more traditional Vietnamese, AnQi and its chef Ryan Carson leans more towards Asian fusion. AnQi is divided into three sections: there's the main dining room, there's the bar with a separate bar menu, and then there's the noodle bar (also serving dumplings). On Mondays, you can say there's four. There's the private dining room where you can partake in the molecular gastronomy menu (which I still need to review, soon).

During the Red Hour (M-F, 4-7 pm) all the cocktails are 50% off and some of the small bites from the bar menu are discounted. They recently invited some bloggers for a hosted Red Hour. We shared some fusion bar bites from an Australian crudo served with yuzu kosho granita, yuzu nuoc nam, and kaffir lime ponzu (three separate sauces) to Ahi Tuna Poke and spicy beef tongue crispy tacos.


In keeping with the molecular side of the restaurant, there's a cocktail with cotton candy similar to that of Bazaar's. The Lotus is made with pink grapefruit and orange with vodka and tequila over pink cotton candy.

I personally liked the Viet-No-Jito which is vodka with hand-muddled fresh lime and Kinh Gioi leaves, green tea infused with agave nectar and molecular lemon foam. The Kinh Gioi are often called Vietnamese Balm or Vietnamese Mint and added a really nice aroma to the drink (it would be better if it was rum-based, though - and same goes with most of their cocktails).

Friday, August 27, 2010

Seasons 52 in Costa Mesa Opens Monday. A Preview Lunch.

The fresh, seasonal, healthy dining is not a new concept in California. Interestingly enough, the Senior Culinary Director of Seasons 52 had his roots in Berkeley during the heydays of Chez Panisse, but the chain started in Orlando in 2003 and has now finally found a California home in its twelfth location in Costa Mesa.
At this 300-seat restaurant they're taking the healthy up a notch, though. Everything on the menu is under 475 calories. They don't use oil or butter and nothing is fried. Remember the scene in Food Revolution where Jamie Oliver made this family bury their deep fryer? Yeah, that.

There's a piano man behind the bar providing nightly live entertainment.
There's a Chef's Table that holds 12 (but you can reserve with a minimum of 8 people) where you can partake in a tasting menu similar to what I'm about to show you below.
The restaurant opens August 30, but I attended a media preview lunch last weekend.

The wine list, which offers 100 wines and 60 by the glass, at all the locations and all the pairings we had today are prepared by their beverage director George Miliotes, a Master Sommelier.

We started with some champagne (Chartogne-Taillet Cuvee Sainte Anne) and some passed flatbreads on the patio (which overlooks the South Coast Plaza parking lot, but the weather's beautiful all the same).
Chipotle shrimp with roasted poblanos, grilled pineapple and feta cheese.
All the flatbreads are made with their brick oven.

Black Mission Fig with chevre, Nueke's bacon, mint, arugula.
The sweet figs and the goat cheese were great on top of the crispy crust.

Our lunch started with an amuse bouche:
Lump Crab and Haas avocado with pico de gallo
This was paired with a Lioco Indica Rose, Mendocino 2009 which had a surprisingly dark and deep color for a rose.

Wild Pacific salmon and sea scallop roasted on a cedar plank.
(Paired with Mer Soleil Chardonnay, Central Coast 2008)
The scallop was skewered with a stalk of lemongrass. Instead of oil or butter, they use vegetable glaze to get the moisture and the mouthfeel. Both the salmon and the scallop are very moist, though a couple of the other bloggers said their salmon was a little overcooked.
The chardonnay was clean and crisp with a little acidity and proved to be a good pairing with the seafood.

Earthbound Farm organic greens with Oak-grilled mushrooms and truffle dressing
(Paired with Sinskey Pinot Noir, Carneros 2007)
Chef Pleau shared his recipe for the truffle dressing:

2 oz miso, 2 oz lemon juice (from Meyer lemon), 2 oz olive oil (or garlic oil), 2 oz tamari/soy, 2 oz truffle oil.

The dressing had a great aroma and a nutty flavor due to the miso. Nonfat sour cream is drizzled around the side for more body.

This Costa Mesa location will have a list of biodynamic California wines that their other stores do not have, thanks to its proximity to the wine country (biodynamic wines don't travel as well).

Sonoma goat cheese ravioli with roasted garlic, basil, and light tomato broth.
(Paired with Retromarcia, Chianti Classico 2008)
This was another good pairing as the wine cuts the salt and richness that came from the goat cheese.

Mesquite-grilled lamb rack and Manchester Farms quail breast, mashed sweet potato, San Miguel farm bok choy.
(Paired with Markham Petite Sirah, Napa 2004 for the quail and De Toren Fusion V, Stellenbosch 2007 for the lamb)
Both the lamb and quail were tender and flavorful. The bok choy came from a small farm in the south part of Oxnard and was more tender than its grocery store counterparts. The South African Stellenbosch was full bodied, more subtle fruit, and was a good palate cleanser in between the two proteins.

The desserts, alas, aren't really "low calorie" but they are still under 475 calories. How? Well, smaller portions! You can eat your cheesecake and your pecan pies and rocky road cake, but the size of the shot glasses keeps your calorie intake in check.
For the dessert wine they served Selbach-Oster Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Auslese, Mosel 2006. Interestingly enough, the next Monday I had a 2007 Mosel Kabinett Riesling at Melisse.

One of my favorites: Pecan "Pie"

The take-home message? Seasonal fare using local, small farms. No oil, no butter, no gas, no frying and yes, even if you don't worry about whether or not they're under 475 calories, the food tastes good. You won't miss the oil, that I promise.

Seasons 52
3333 Bristol Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 437-5252
Seasons 52 on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

South Coast Plaza Food Extravaganza III: Pinot Provence & Pasta Demo at Pizzeria Ortica

After a night of food-ing around the South Coast Plaza mall, we spent Saturday morning and afternoon exploring the other side of SCP across the street.
We spent the night in a hotel room, courtesy of Westin South Coast Plaza, so breakfast was a simple trip down the elevator to Pinot Provence, a Patina Group restaurant, headed by Chef Lulu deRouen.

Pinot Provence is a lovely restaurant with this rustic old-world charm to it. I felt like I was at a French countryside mansion.
Us bloggers were then escorted into their private dining room area, where a white tablecloth setting was already prepared for us.
A continental breakfast was spread out for us to start our morning, including toasted bagels, lox and cream cheese, yogurt and granola, fruits, muffins, and croissants.
I served myself a plate of croissant and some lox, yogurt, granola, and fruits.

The warm croissant was nicely buttery and flakey. It's been a while since I had a good croissant. Since we only had continental breakfast, I can't say much else about the food at Pinot Provence. We did, however, have a nice and long conversation with the chef, Lulu deRouen, a pupil of Florent Marneau from Marche Moderne.

She's a very animated and outgoing person and we had a lot of fun listening to her stories about her time at the Culinary Olympics (in Germany, was it?), her take on the ethnic restaurants around Costa Mesa, and more. Having gotten to know her, it sure would be fun to try her cuisine next time.

Pinot Provence
686 Anton Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 444-5900

With food and coffee in our system, we were ready to learn about pasta from Pizzeria Ortica's executive chef Steve Samson and his sous chef Zack.
Among some of the things we learned about dough making and kneading: 1)you need more yolk when using US eggs because they're just not as good as the ones in Italy, 2) after kneading the dough you should let it sit for 20-30 minutes, and 3) if you're making spinach pasta, you can use more whole eggs instead of yolk and you can get by with less eggs in general!

And here's a step-by-step-in-photos on how to make ravioli:
We learned to make all kinds of pasta shapes including ravioli, garganelli, tortillo, agnolotti, pappardelle, tagliatelle, tortellini, etc. Can you tell which one is which?
Apparently our visit did not end there and soon we had a tasting of their pastas in front of us. Small bites, though, luckily :)

First up was the Pear & Pecorino tortilla with butter & sage.
This recipe was one of Zack's creation and was the favorite of every one else on my table. It's lightly sweet and buttery. The light sweetness is actually rather weird for me. It did grow on me, but unlike everyone else, my favorite turned out to be the Spinach Tagliatelle with Bolognese.
A simple classic that's well executed. The al dente pasta had a nice depth of flavor from the spinach and the bolognese is light and not overwhelming - a perfect complement.

The other pasta we had was the burrata ravioli with tomato & basil sauce.
A good ravioli, though compared to the other two pasta this one did not stand out.

We also had a margherita pizza.
The crust here is quite nice although very thin. The thinness reminded me of the pizza that Riva used to have - it makes it hard to hold up the pizza and eat it with your hands though, which I thought was part of the pizza-eating experience. Still, good chewy crust with good sauce and cheese here.

As we were leaving, we got a goodie bag containing a Pizzeria Ortica t-shirt, a small bottle of wine, and a bag of long white beans.

Pizzeria Ortica
650 Anton Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 445-4900
Pizzeria Ortica on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 5, 2009

South Coast Plaza Food Extravaganza II: Charlie Palmer & Marche Moderne + Giveaway!

The South Coast Plaza Food Blogger event was well on its way with a great meal at Hamamori and a salt/olive oil/wine tasting at Michael Chiarello's NapaStyle. Now we continue on to Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's for dinner (of course there's another meal that night, don't be silly).
We were first taken to their wine room downstairs, where they showed us their eWineList, supposedly the world's first electronic wine list where the sorting option easily makes all of their $17-$8100 bottles browsable.

Twice a month Charlie Palmer also holds "50 for 50" where 50 wines by the bottle go on sale for 50% off at their Next Vintage wine shop!

They brought down a selection of cocktails from their menu and I opted for the Blood Orange Mojito, which was refreshing and pretty light.
I tried Pleasure Palate's tamarind drink also, but it was too strong for our tastes. After the cocktails, we went to the dining room and had our dinner.

We start with brandade croquettes, followed by three-cheese risotto cake with chorizo aioli (pictured below).
The brandade croquettes were unmemorable, but the risotto cake was quite an interesting dish, the creamy, cheesy risotto is encased in a crispy shell.

Mussels with saffron aioli
Plump and fresh mussels soaked in creamy cheese was a hit at the table.
Next we had Kobe Beef Sliders with a tray of fries.
That's a pretty thick piece of meat there, but open your mouth wide enough and it would still fit. The meat was flavorful and moist, though the burger as a whole was a bit on the dry side. The fries that came with this was quite good though.

Burrata cheese with oven roasted tomatoes and arugula pesto.
This might've been my favorite dish from this meal, even if it seems so simple. But we all know how great a simple dish can be with quality ingredients, and this is the case here.

Seared oven roasted marrow with golden raisins and red onion marmalade.
Decidedly a lot of people's favorite and definitely a heavy duty dish. Even with the golden raisins cutting the fattiness, even a spoonful felt like my arteries are clogging. It's worth it though.

"Ham & Eggs" - tuna ham with truffled eggs.
Tuna ham? Yep, with the looks and smell of prosciutto, this tuna ham from Spain could easily deceive you. On top of truffled eggs this was excellent. I can have this for breakfast any weekend

Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's
3333 Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 352-2525

At the end of the night we went away with goodie bags. But lucky you, I'm sharing :) Yep, there's a giveaway in this post! Just go to the end of the post to find out more.

Naturally, the night does not end there. We haven't even had dessert! For dessert we were then escorted to Marché Moderne, a restaurant headed by chefs Florent and Amelia Marneau that I knew was a favorite among many OC bloggers. These are what we had for dessert:

1. Pecan & banana mousse tart with caramel - a lovely mousse with a thin crumbly shell. Be careful when picking this up though, the shell can barely hold the heavy mousse filling.
2. Raspberry with meringue
3. Warm beignet with orange creme anglaise - my favorite, for sure. The warm beignet is moist and fluffy, and the creme anglaise has a great fragrance to it.
4. Green tea & apricot macarons- airy and lightly sweet. These macarons aren't as chewy as others I'm used to, but they are delectable nonetheless. Perfect with my cup of mint tea.
I was pretty happy with my dessert experience here, and can't wait to go back for a full meal one of these days.

Marché Moderne
3333 Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 434-7900
Marche Moderne on Urbanspoon

Read E*starLA's report here.

Disclosure: In case it wasn't clear, our meal was indeed comped by South Coast Plaza. And I'm getting these posts out like mad cos even though SCP isn't paying me to blog, they are 'rewarding' those who finish posting fast enough (w/in 72 hours) with a $100 gift certificate.
Oh, and I got a goodie bag from SCP containing a cookie, an access card to the VIP Hospitality suite, tomato sauce, smthg from Kiehl's, etc. I also got a goodie bag from Charlie Palmer w/ a bottle of wine, a wine opener, and a $25 gift certificate.

You're probably hating me right about now, I got to eat all these for free just because I have a stupid blog?
Don't fret, I'm sharing some with you! Yes, you. Well, only one of you, actually.

I will be sending off a $25 gift certificate to Charlie Palmer to one lucky winner!
To win this gc, just comment below with your name, a way to contact you, and tell me 1)if you've eaten at South Coast Plaza and if you have, 2) your favorite South Coast Plaza eatery. Comment before next Sunday 10/11 (midnight). I'll pseudo-randomly pick a winner on Monday. Good luck!

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