It’s easy to eat well in Orange County without robbing the 401k. The Packing House in Anaheim is filled with great options, my favorite of which is Adya (440 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, 714-533-2392, adyaoc.com), an Indian restaurant that serves incredible chicken tikka and an amazing sandwich called keema pav, which is like an Indian sloppy Joe made with lamb.
Little Saigon is filled with all kinds of bargains, one of the newest of which is Baos Hog (13918 Brookhurst St., Garden Grove, 714-600-3311, mkt.com/baoshog). It’s not a Vietnamese restaurant, though. This fun little cafe specializes in Taiwanese-style steamed buns stuffed with several choices of fillings ranging from char siu pork to Korean bulgogi.
Ironically my favorite banh mi is not found in Little Saigon but rather in Costa Mesa at The Camp’s breezy East Borough (2937 Bristol Street, Costa Mesa, 714-641-5010, east-borough.com). Everything about this Vietnamese sandwich is fantastic. The French baguette is the perfect balance of crusty yet soft. The grilled pork is luscious and satisfying. And you can help yourself to the birds-eye chilies.
Along the boardwalk at the beach in Newport’s Balboa Peninsula, there are plenty of restaurants far more expensive than Dory Deli (2108 3/4 W. Oceanfront Dr., Newport Beach, 949-220-7886, dorydeli.com) but none that is actually better. This isn’t your typical beach deli. The hand-cut fries alone are worth a visit, but the hot pastrami is also great, as is the burger, topped with some of that same pastrami.
It appears there’s a new chef in the kitchen at Irvine’s Wei Shian Noodles (5408 Walnut Avenue, Irvine, 949-653-6138) because the Sichuan-style dan dan noodles aren’t as nearly spicy as they used to be. Nevertheless, they’re still among the best around. The cold sliced pork is as delicious as ever (see page xx).
While most people crave soup when it’s cold outside, I find myself standing in line for a huge bowl of ramen at Yamadaya (1175 Baker St., Costa Mesa, 714-556-0091, ramen-yamadaya.com) even when it’s too hot to go to the beach. The tonkotsu kotteri ramen is richer and more soulful than what any other ramen place serves.
This article originally appeared in the Orange County Register as part of my 75 Best Places to Eat, 2016. To view the full story and more of my work for the Register, check out the archives. I also invite you to follow me and join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.