OC Review: Ootoro Sushi, Irvine

The chef reaches over the sushi counter and places a bowl in front of each of us. The bowls are filled with ice, topped with the live shrimp he has just dismantled. The shrimp are huge, like mutants. Their dismembered heads and bodies sit side by side, a couple of inches apart but still very much alive.

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Review: Playa Amor, Long Beach

I am constantly thrilled at the sight of a perfectly cooked lobster served with drawn butter. As far back as I can remember, this is a food that has fascinated me. It’s such a simple combination yet utterly luxurious. It’s something that works just as well in a fancy white-tablecloth restaurant as it does at a casual outdoor cantina on the beach.

Quick Review: The River Cafe, Brooklyn

One of New York’s most celebrated restaurants is back and better than ever. I thought it could never be done. It was a sentiment shared by pretty much everyone after The River Café in Brooklyn took a devastating hit from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The restaurant opened in 1977 aboard a riverboat that was moored …

OC Review: TwentyEight, Irvine

The Beijing-style lamb skewers disappear in a flash. The meat is cut from the belly of the lamb, a thick tangle of flesh and fat that turns crispy and musky when grilled, carrying with it the heady scent of cumin and char.

“Should we order more of these?” asks one of my guests as she helps herself to the last skewer.

I’m tempted to say yes, but we’ve already ordered too much. “Would you pass the noodles, please?”

OC Review: Waterman’s Harbor, Dana Point

Waterman’s Harbor, Dana Point (photos by Leonard Ortiz, OC Register) “Harold! Come look at this place,” yells a woman whose wind-sculpted hair and well-worn boat shoes suggest she’s just spent the day at sea. She has just walked into Waterman’s Harbor, a new gastropub in Dana Point, where I’m perched at the bar eating oysters …

One Dish: Pork shank at Mi Mexico Lindo, Santa Ana

There are lots of reasons to dine at the newly relocated Mi Mexico Lindo Grill in Santa Ana. Some come for the weekend karaoke and pitchers of cold beer. Others eye this place for breakfast, when the kitchen serves enfrijoladas. But really, the best reason to come here is the house specialty called chamorro Mi …

OC Review: Ways & Means, Orange

“Where are we going and how should we dress?” asks a friend when I invite her to join me for dinner at Ways & Means Oyster House.

“It’s an oyster bar near downtown Orange,” I say. “It should be pretty casual.”

But when we arrive for that first visit, I’m embarrassed that we haven’t dressed up. An elegant hostess sees us approaching from the sidewalk and steps out from her podium to open the door for us. Behind her, I notice chandeliers and bow ties.

What to eat at Nimmarn Thai, Costa Mesa

Beef gra pow “Thai style” at Nimmarn (photo by Brad A. Johnson) To unlock the secret to this new Thai restaurant, you’ll need a key. And that key is the essential phrase “Thai style.” The first time I dine at Nimmarn Thai, I order the beef kra-pow, which has one of those little red chilies …