Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thai Kitchen

Thai Kitchen in Irvine is worth a try if you're not in a hurry
(image via Yelp reviewer Jennifer T.)
Every day on my way to and from work, I've driven pass Thai Kitchen in Irvine. It was always on my to-do list of places to try out, but the fact that they only open for dinner made it seem impossible.

Finally, one night it's neon sign was ablaze with temptation and I could resist no longer. I had read the Yelp reviews which were lukewarm (they scored the restaurant 3.5 out of 5 stars), so when I went inside and stood around for a few minutes waiting for service, I was not surprised.

The most common complaint was how slow the service was, and it does seem that one server to attend to the guests in the dining room as well as the few of us that were ordering take-out was not enough person to go around. I felt bad for one guy who had ordered his food ahead of time and still ended up waiting.

It took about 15 minutes to get my Pad Thai with tofu, and cost about ten dollars. Not bad. The portion was pretty big, and tasted fresh. I later read a lot of people on Yelp saying that the food was just okay, but I liked it. Do I like it enough to go again?  That I don't know, all the elements would have to come in place again: available parking (it can fill up pretty fast), a somewhat empty restaurant, and the patience to wait.

Would I recommend it? If you have time, patience, and a love of Thai - absolutely!

Thai Kitchen
4250 Barranca Pkwy, Irvine, CA 92604

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Where to Get a Good Samich in Orange County

I don't care what Orange County Register readers voted, I refuse to acknowledge that the #1 place for sandwiches is Subway's. Not because they can't make a decent sandwich, but because I find it hard to believe that in this great big area, that's the best people came up with.

In response, I decided to do some research on what other OC peeps are digging into on their lunch hour - here's a list of some of the highest rated sandwich places on Yelp:

Kech's in Fountain Valley
scored 5 out of 5 on Yelp
(image via Remy M)
Kech Cafe, Fountain Valley
Yelp Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Dang, what is it about Fountain Valley that they're cranking out all kinds of good food? First it was doughnuts, now this - a kind of build your own gourmet sandwich a la Chipotle or that other sandwich place that will not be named.

I suspect the reason for the high rating has a lot to do with the rest of Kech's menu, which includes wraps, pizzas and coffee drinks.

The Prosciutto Cotto panini from
Paninoteca Maggio (image via
Yelp reviewer Paul T)
Paninoteca Maggio, Santa Ana
Yelp Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Besides boasting to have "the best espresso in town," Paninoteca also offers sandwiches made with imported Italian cold cuts, fresh veggies, cheeses and fresh bread direct from "one of the finest European bakers in Orange County."

Oh they also offer salads, but does that really matter after reading that description for their sandwiches?

One Yelp reviewer suggests to "follow them on Facebook for specials and updated hours. Because it is a small business, they are not always open."

The Hot Headed Italian Meat Head
(Image via Yelp reviewer Masa H)
MeatHeadz Sandwich Shop, Huntington Beach
Yelp Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Proudly proclaiming that they offer "the biggest, baddest sandwiches money can buy," MeatHeadz offers the build-your-own set up with meats and cheeses they slice daily. They also offer their own spin on the sandwich, like "The Ground and Pound" (featuring "Pow" sauce), "The Superhotty," and "The Divorce is Final" - check out what they're made of here.

If sounds like a lot of hype, dwell on how Yelp user Brett L. describes it: "If MeatHeadz was a person, it would probably be Justin Timberlake. Coolest restaurant goin'."

The Itallian Stallion on Dutch bread;
combos include a cookie or chips
(Image via Yelp reviewer Michelle M.)
Mr. Pickle's Sandwich Shop, Lake Forest
Yelp Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I know, with a name like Mr. Pickle's you half-imagine a white van parked in front of the place with some guy dressed in a clown suit inviting you to pet his puppy.

Or maybe that's just me...but this place boasts an "addictive" garlic sauce and a warm cookie to complete your custom-made or specialty sandwich.

A Noonerz sandwich, with freshly baked
ciabatta bread (Image via Yelp
reviewer Mel H.)
Noonerz, Laguna Hills
Yelp Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

With "20 years of awesome sandwiches" to their credit, Noonerz in south OC gets a lot of praise. In addition to offering sandwiches like the "Best Fat Free Tuna Salad" or "Turkey Bruschetta" sandwich, they offer "handcrafted" sides like pasta or potato salad and coleslaw.

As Anthony N., a self-professed "burger guy" said about it on Yelp, "Noonerz is damn good."

Delifornia's veggie on squaw, with goat
cheese and arugula (Image via
Yelp reviewer Virginia S.)
Delifornia, Anaheim
Yelp Ratings: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Calling itself a "California inspired sandwich shop", Delifornia specializes in sandwiches and salad that are hormone-free with no antibiotics or additives.

Located in downtown Anaheim, their sandwiches have an array of flavors like a roasted turkey with warm brie, avocado and roasted garlic aioli, or a chicken salad sandwich with dried cranberries, crispy celery, and toasted walnuts.

I personally like the idea of their roast beef, horse radish cream, onion and cheddar sandwich. What's it called? The Knuckle Sandwich. Awesome.

The California Delight by Board &
Brew (Image via Yelp reviewer Tracey T.)
Board & Brew, San Clemente
Yelp Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Did you know that Board & Brew has been "keepin' it real since '79?" To be honest, I didn't even know they existed, but they make a point that with quality sandwiches presented in a straightforward menu and served alongside craft beers is what sandwich lovers are all about.

They offer different variations of a turkey or tuna sandwich, but what adds to their allure is a selection of grilled sandwiches, like the baja chicken (marinated breast with avocado, grilled onions, japlapenos and melted jack cheese).

How enthusiastic are the customers? Toni S. (all the way from Costa Mesa, mind you) raved that, "this place is unreal! I got the Baja Beef sandwich and it was out of control!!"

With all those exclamation marks, it's gotta make you a least a little curious to try it out...

Friday, April 11, 2014

Weekends are a Drag at Velvet Lounge

If you want a fun way to kick off (or end) your weekend, you
can't go wrong with the brunch and drag show at Velvet
Lounge in Santa Ana (image via Yelp user Jordan Bennett)
What can you do in Orange County if you want to have a really memorable weekend? How about a gourmet brunch complete with bottomless mimosas, a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar, and entertainment provided by drag queens!

The Velvet Lounge in Santa Ana has a weekend brunch bash that's been voted as the best drag show by OC Weekly two years running!

I've gone to these shows three times, back when it was only offered on Sundays. It's been crazy-crowded (but everybody's friendly, so it feels like a big party), the food that's made to order (particularly the pasta) is awesome, but the buffet selection (reheated waffles and pancakes, store-bought mini-muffins, etc) is just okay.

The service is also okay, the last time I went I noticed a little burnout from the staff, but again, everyone is very friendly.

The reason to go of course, is the show. Four queens take turns on stage, walking through the crowd, cracking jokes and performing. It's an all ages show (if children are accompanied by an adult), but as my friend pointed out, she would not want to bring her teenage daughter with her, since the queens can get a little risque and it would be just too embarrassing to laugh at jokes about blow jobs with your kid sitting next to you.

If you go, make a reservation, take some extra cash for tips, and do a vocal warm-up to be in singing form. It is almost guaranteed one of the girls will perform a song you love, and after a couple mimosas you'll decide that you love every song and will sing along, even if you barely know the words (not that I'm speaking from personal experience).

Brunch with the Brunchettes
Tickets: $35.99
Saturdays/Sundays: 11 am and 1 pm
Reservations: 714-232-8727

Monday, March 31, 2014

8th Annual Literary Orange March 31

Literary Orange offers book lovers the
chance to interact with writers, have their
books signed and learn about the writing
process (image via Literary Orange)
Today is the last day to register online for the 8th annual Literary Orange. Taking place on April 5th at the Irvine Marriot, the event brings together writers and readers for a day of discussion on their favorite subject, books.

Presented by the Orange County public libraries, attendees can have books signed and listen to any of the 15 panel discussions that cover the different literary genres that include Mystery, Memoir, Young Adult, Poetry, and Food.

And speaking of food, the event is providing morning refreshments, lunch and some dessert.

The event is $60 per person - you can register here.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sugar Bomb Alert: Donut Bar Opens in Fountain Valley

Orange County's Donut opens Saturday, with free donuts!
(image via Facebook)
Who knew OC had such a sweet tooth? On Saturday, Orange County's Donut Bar officially opens in Fountain Valley, promising the "world's best donuts" just like the original San Diego's Donut Bar.

With a constantly changing menu, some flavors have included the Samoa (based on the Girl Scout cookie), salted caramel, and red velvet.

Unique to Orange County is the "milk bar," whole, strawberry, and chocolate milk is kept on tap. They should do that with a coffee bar: strong, extra strong, and never sleep again.

This shop will be going up against Afters, another recently opened Fountain Valley dessert place that serves - get this - doughnuts stuffed with ice cream.
You saw right, that's ice cream. IN A
DOUGHNUT. (image via Yelp user Tuilagi S.)
That's right, you choose your doughnut and your ice cream (flavors range from churro to Vietnamese coffee) and Afters does the magical rest. These concoctions from heaven are known as "milky buns."

And if you're still into cronuts (even though that's so 2013), Fountain Valley has those too at the Fusion Tea Bar; in fact, several places all over OC sell their version of the "cronut." So if you can't get over the idea of something that's part croissant and part doughnut, you can find it in any of the following locations:
The Donuttery, Huntington Beach
Pandor Bakery, Newport Beach
Fusion Tea Bar, Tustin and Fountain Valley

Oh, and thanks to OC Weekly, this just in: Orange County's Donut Bar will be giving away free doughnuts on Saturday as part of its opening. You can thank them (with a full mouth) later.

Friday, March 21, 2014

OC's Had Enough: Copwatch Event Teaches Citizens Self-Defense

This Saturday, Copwatch SantaAna is promising an event to learn
"organized resistance to police oppression in our community."
(image via Copwatch SantaAna)
There's been a rash of questionable police activity in the streets of Orange County, and one group has decided to fight back with one of this century's greatest weapon - technology.

This Saturday, the grassroots group known as Copwatch SantaAna will be holding an event for those who "are down for self-defense and self determination."

On their Facebook Event page, Copwatch lists the topics they'll be covering, which include "Flipping the Script on SAPD/Putting the Cops on Check," and "Watching each other's backs."

While sounding almost militant, recent events with the police over various cities in Orange County make it easy to understand why this group formed. Within just the month of March we've seen the following:

Teen took this selfie while Anaheim PD
questioned teens for loitering (image via
OC Weekly)
An high school student took a selfie while being questioned by Anaheim PD for loitering at the school (the teens claim they were waiting for their ride). When the teens tried to leave, they claimed the police officer grabbed a teen by the shoulder and threw him against the fence.

In Tustin, police were called to a movie theater after reports of two suspicious men entering the theater with a backpack. One of the movie goers there later told the OC Weekly that "a dozen or so heavily armed police officers rush[ed] into the theater" with "12 gauge pump shotguns...aiming them at the audience."

The witness went on to claim that they were ordered to put their hands on the seats in front of them before being escorted from the theater row by row. But hey, they were given passes for a free movie.

And finally, late Thursday evening Anaheim police were involved in yet another suspicious shooting that resulted in the fatality of a man still unidentified at this time. It was back in July 2012 that the Anaheim PD was involved in other shootings that caused the city to riot.

Monday, March 17, 2014

OC Shows Its Selfie Some Love

Time Magazine recently came out with a report listing which cities around the world take the most selfies. 

Would you believe it, Orange County ranked in the top 5 - the Anaheim/Santa Ana area, to be precise. That's right, at #4, this area of OC is considered one of the cities whose residents take the most selfies. It might sound surprising until the blog New Santa Ana breaks down the facts:

  • Disneyland is in Anaheim, which would make for selfie heaven (OC Weekly also points out that both cities have a California Gentleman's Club - can people take pictures in topless bars?)
  • The median age for Santa Ana is 29, with 30.7% being under 18 - the younger being more plugged into social media.
  • According to New Santa Ana, the city  is "infected by a horde of hipsters," and since "hipsters are narcissistic  it follows that they will take a lot of selfies."
Below is a small sample of the kinds of selfies that put Orange County on the map - you can check out where your own city ranks in selfies here.


Instagram user hkplussizbarbie

Instagram user creativegenius13

Instagram user samshin3s

Instagram user mariahstrikesback

Santa Ana

Instagram user toto_h831

Instagram user marcuspenn92

Instagram user josephcrazzyboyyink86 

Instagram user typical_bri_
Ok, the last one technically can't be considered a selfie, but it was too cute not to include.