Friday, October 28, 2005

Omakase at Sushi Shibucho - Costa Mesa - A Review in Haiku

Say "Omakase".
Utter this and nothing else.
Shibutani nods.

No seats at the bar?
Regular tables are fine.
His wife serves us here.

Her smile melts our hearts.
Steaming hot towels are brought out.
It refreshes me.

Cup of hot green tea;
The vapors cloud my glasses.
Our palates are primed.

First course is fish cheek.
It's soy-simmered with daikon.
Mirin sweetens it.

The nigiri comes.
Row upon row of colors.
A fine work of art.

Lovingly arranged,
On a wide plate with green leaves,
Which glisten with dew.

We pick up each piece,
Daintily with our fingers.
A dab in shoyu.

Oh so rich Toro;
Tuna marbled with sweet fat.
It melts like butter.

Sake is silken.
Sinus-clearing wasabi,
Lurking underneath.

Loved the Ikura.
These orange orbs burst like bombs,
Bleeding fishy brine.

Mirugai, giant clam,
Chews like chicken cartilage,
But finishes clean.

Sublime Unagi,
Tied in a nori bundle.
Bruleed like candy.

There's more on this plate,
All are sparkling, fresh, vibrant,
Morsels of the sea.

Next platter arrives,
Just as vividly colored.
We are almost full.

The Uni oozes,
Looking like frothy egg yolk.
It's sunny yellow.

Wet, cold and sexy;
The sea water saliva,
Of a mermaid's kiss.

Silver-skinned Aji,
Is brushed with sauce and scallions.
Tastes of mild sardine.

Crisp salmon skin roll.
It's packed with veggies for crunch.
So delectable!

Unknown salted fish,
Steals the show with its sharp tang.
Tiny bones tickle.

His wife brings hot soup.
It warmly soothes our gullet,
Concluding the meal.

Total cost per head?
Thirty two, not counting tip!
Fifteen pieces each.

Sushi Shibucho:
Artistry in a strip mall.
Next door? In-N-Out.

Sushi Shibucho
(949) 642-2677
590 W 19th St
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Monday, October 24, 2005

Captain's Table at Orange Coast College - Costa Mesa

During my senior year at UC Irvine, I enrolled in a class called "Engineering Design in Industry". The whole idea of the course was for us to get real world experience by working on actual engineering problems for different local firms. It's supposed to be a win-win for everyone involved; the students got their feet wet doing real engineering work; the companies got free consulting; and the professors got to look magnanimous.

The culmination of our course happened on finals day. We had to give an oral presentation of our work at the company that sponsored our project.

On that morning, my two teammates and I, dressed in pressed khakis and borrowed dress shirts, stood in the middle of the firm's formidable conference room. With our hearts racing, we held out our clammy palms to shake hands with the people who had arrived to witness our humiliation. They were our professors, the firm's design engineers, and the vice president of R&D. If there was an audience that could have been more intimidating, it would have to include the Pope and Her Majesty, the Queen of England.

As they sat down behind tables which surrounded us in a horseshoe, we took a last gulp of air.

Then we began our presentation as my first teammate took the stage. His voice started off quivering and got weaker the more he spoke. I could see the audience beginning to shift uncomfortably in their seats and break their eye contact with him. He never recovered. Everyone in that room knew he was dying and were embarrased for him.

My second partner was up next. He was better; more confident. His speech was steady and loud, but his heavy Filipino accent prevented him from being fully understood. There were more disapproving stares from the audience.

By the time I took my turn, the conference room was just about ready to give up on us. Our professors had dour looks on their faces. Even though they knew that we had done good work on our design, I could tell that they thought this presentation was not representative of it.

If there was anyone who could save us from this fiasco, it was to be me. Yes. Me. The person who shrivels at the very thought of public speaking.

Luckily that morning, I had an ace up my sleeve that I, at the time, didn't realize I had.

As it turned out, I was too tired to be nervous. Because I had stayed up all night preparing the presentation material, fatigue whittled away my apprehension and erased all traces of stage fright. Apparently, being up for 24 straight hours took the edge off.

So when I took the floor, I was calm and composed; I nailed it.

That was almost a decade ago.

So I was sympathetic when our student server squirmed and fidgeted her way in jotting down our order. Even though I'd never worked in a restaurant, I had once been that twitchy, unconfident student, tasting life in the working world for the first time. I couldn't help but identify with her.

We were having lunch at Orange Coast College's Captain's Table, where every Thursday, in the Fall and Spring Quarter, the school's culinary arts program invites the public to dine on a three-course gourmet lunch prepared and served by its students.

Our server was one of these kids. Every week, I'm told, they take turns cooking and serving. This week was her turn to be the one on stage, interacting with us, the customers. And it was immediately obvious to us that she would have much rather been cooking in the kitchen. She was so unsure of herself as a server that you couldn't help but want her to succeed, like the way you root for the underdog at a sports match.

She struggled to repeat what appetizer, entree and dessert we had ordered. Sweat stained her underarms and ruined her once crisply ironed white shirt, which had itself become untucked. Her forehead was damp with perspiration and her hands trembled as she scribbled on her notepad. More than once, during our lunch she apologized for not doing something she thought she should have been doing.

We kept reassuring her with "That's fine! No problem!" I wanted to share my secret of sleep deprivation to calm the nerves.

The rest of the lunch went smoothly and was quite the bargain! Each week the menu reflects the cuisine of the country they've just studied. This particular week was France. A three-course meal of French cuisine for $9? Monkeys could have served it to me on banana peels and I think we still would have come out ahead. And unlike discounted haircuts at a barber college, we weren't going to be stuck with bad hairdos or a bloody stump for an ear if things went horribly wrong.

We started with the appetizers of Sauteed Scallops (Coquille St. Jacques Bordelaise) and Seafood Terrine with Saffron (Terrine Fruits de Mer).

The sea scallops were sauteed with shallots and herbs, garnished with a sprig of celery leaf. I would've liked a more prominent sear on the medallions but realized this would've been difficult because these were not diver scallops. It would've broken their budget if it were.

Instead, the students were supplied with the standard frozen variety of scallops which, as everyone knows, is so aggresively treated with chemicals that caramelization is impossible to achieve. Nonetheless, the buttery sweetness of the shallots permeated through the oil drippings and the dish was saved.

The seafood terrine was more successful. A blend of shrimp, mussels, and halibut is packed together with saffron in a dense patty and served with a bell pepper coulis. This seafood "meat loaf", as I'd like to call it, could have been served between a bun as a seafood burger. "Le Burger de La Mer" I think they should dub it.

But the hunk of pressed seafood was good as it is, with pleasantly alternating flavors of the different sea creatures crammed within it. The star of the plate, however, was the coulis. This pool of sauce was as vibrant on the tongue as it was on the eyes. The sweet tang of the red bell pepper puree brought everything to life.

For the entree, we chose the Saute Shrimp with Green Peppercorns (Crevette au Poivre) and the Pork Loin Saute with Capers and Dijon (Filet de Porc Dijonaise).

The shrimp, sauteed with the tails attached was finished with a sauce of shallots, leeks, anisette, green peppercorns and cream.

A side of buttered green beans and potato gratin accompanied each of the main entrees. Each of these accompaniments were heavily laden with butter and cheese, which made it overwhelmingly rich. So I set them aside as I focused my attention on the entrees themselves.

Although it would have been nice if the tails were excised before the saute, the shrimp was cooked to perfection. The sauce, buttery-smooth and lip-smackingly bold, was unmistakenly French because of the liberal use of cream to thicken it. What made it interesting were the little land mines of green peppercorns which popped with veracity in our mouths.

The medallions of pork loin, sauteed and finished with wine, capers, and Dijon mustard were just as good. But while the pork was not overcooked and benefited from a nice crusty sear, this is no crispy pata. That is to say, the "other white meat" was devoid of fat and thus, had no real pork flavor. This is just the unfortunate state of most pork dishes in today's health conscious world, not the fault of our student cooks.

But our medallions would not have fared so well if it weren't for the sauce served with it. The sauce's spiciness and bitter edge from the Dijon mustard and white wine saved the cut of porcine flesh from an otherwise banal existence.

Dessert was Poached Pear and Crepes Suzette.

The poached pear was by far the most suprising item we tried from the menu. A sliced pear is cooked in red wine, and surrounded on the plate with a cold, frothy emulsion. This creamy liquid was the highlight of the dish. Like an ethereally light vanilla shake melted down to its essence, it gave the glistening fruit a dimension I wouldn't have expected.

The crepes, nicely chewy and supple were glazed with a warm Gran Marnier sauce and served with juicy orange pieces. The pleasant sting of the alcohol was still faintly present.

Our server, who had by this time worked herself into a ragged state, returned with the bill in one hand and pitchers of cola and ice tea in the other.

I wonder if it she would have felt more at ease had she realized that everyone she was serving that day also probably experienced, in one way or another, the same nerve-racking initiation into the "real" world as she had.

Captain's Table
2701 Fairview Road
Costa Mesa, CA 92628

Monday, October 17, 2005

Waikiki Hawaiian Grill - Tustin

I've learned a great deal about Hawaiian food lately, thanks primarily to two akamai food bloggers Kirk and Reid. Their episodic quest for good Hawaiian grinds, in the island state itself, and in San Diego has provided a good primer for me to start on a quest of mine own here in the county of Orange.

My first grind-find (L&L does not count!) is a sleek joint in Tustin. Waikiki Hawaiian Grill, it's called. I spotted it while zooming by on Newport Blvd., behind a SoupPlantation, of all things.

The shop is designed for you to order your food and make a hasty exit. Everything seems to be packaged in those styrofoam to-go containers. As I understand it, this shouldn't be surprising considering the plate lunch is fast-food, island style. Need silverware? Go somewhere else brah!

But should someone decide to stay and eat, the restaurant is spotless and bright. The tables are shiny and slick, reminding me of a polished wooden surfboad. Canvasing one entire wall, there is an oversized photo mural of an island scene. In the air, an Israel Kamakawiwo'ole CD seems to be playing in a continuous loop. Gorgeous photos of the food are shown on a backlit marquee above the counter. The pictures are of their various combos items, with a scoop of rice, a scoop of macaroni salad and a mass of grilled meats.

Below the marquee, a tall, lanky white guy and a short, stout Asian dude take your order. Bo-da-dem friendly and attentive.

I order the Seafood Mix ($6.99), which consists of a few slabs of thin marinated dark meat chicken grilled over flames, two fried breaded pieces of fish, and three butterflied shrimp "rings". As with just about every meal they serve here, there's a generous heap of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad laced with tangy mayo.

How was it? Well as a Hawaiian would say "It was onolicious! It brok' da mout". In mainland-speak; it was delicious!

The chicken was deeply smoky and sweet. And eventhough it was good as it is, I could not resist slathering each bite with the teriyaki sauce they provide. This sauce, which has the viscosity of dark maple syrup made every square inch of that chicken shine.

The shrimp (which looked like it was doing a pirouette) and filets of fish, were deep-fried to a greaseless crunch and stood up to a vicious dunking in the pineapple sweet-and-sour sauce.

Ono grinds in Tustin, brah!*

*Sincere apologies to Kirk and Reid for my inane attempt at pidgin.

Waikiki Hawaiian Grill
13771 Newport Ave. #10
Tustin, CA 92780

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Park Ave - Stanton

In the film Pulp Fiction, a car rolls to a stop. Inside, Vincent and Mia look out at Jack Rabbit Slim's - a 50's diner.

What the f*ck is this place?

This is Jackrabbit Slim's. An Elvis man should love it.

Come on, Mia, let's go get a steak.

You can get a steak here, daddy-o. Don't be a...
(Mia draws a square in the air with her fingers)

After you, kitty-cat.

The scene cuts to Vincent as he strolls through the Disney-esque establishment. Replicas of 50's screen idols wait tables amidst a dizzying display of poodle skirts, booths made out of cut-up Edsels, and thumping jukeboxes. Every single 50's stereotype is amplified tenfold.

"It's like a wax museum with a pulse," Vincent remarks.

This was, pretty much, what I was expecting when we ventured out to the city of Stanton to check out Park Ave, a new 50's themed restaurant.

But as soon as I parked the car in the restaurant's deserted lot, I knew I was in for a surprise. First of all, the location. Next door was a trailer park. Across the street; a seedy motel. One block down, there's a liquor store with steel-bar reinforced windows. This is one section of Beach Boulevard where a tourist would fear to tread. It is an unlikely, and some might say, unfortunate, place for restaurant; let alone a restaurant with a chef who used to head a swank eatery in Beverly Hills.

The restaurant's exterior beguiled me further. It had the appearance of those long-forgotten coffee shops in old San Fernando Valley that has seen better days and now has a date with a bulldozer looming.

The front facade is composed of cut stone jutting out at odd angles. Aside from this, the building looked flat and depressed, like a single-layer sheet cake. And if it weren't for the presence of the buzzing neon signs and tall tiki torches, you wouldn't think that they were open for business.

With my expectations discombobulated, we flung open the heavy, cherry wood door. Inside and straight ahead, my eyes locked on a vintage Elvis film, which was playing on the plasma screen held aloft over a handsome bar. He's on a speedboat with the sun on his face. The King is still young and sprightly; his hair greasy slick, his smile gleaming.

We are seated to the left of the entrance, in a long and sparsely lit dining room. Dark-hued woods and sumptous leather seats exude class and sophistication. There is a definite retro theme here, but it is deliberately and tastefully understated, without a touch of irony or kitsch.

The term for this type of design is "Googie" which employs "space age" motifs accenting bold angles and swooping curves. But Park Ave uses only the right amount of it, never resorting to caricature.

I am relieved that the vibe is actually more Rat Pack than Happy Days.

This is indeed a place where Frank and his cronies, Dino and Sammy, could come to unwind, lighting stogies and downing stiff martinis, all the while slapping each other on the back.

That night, the restaurant chose the perfect soundtrack. Yes, who else but Ol' Blue Eyes himself to serenade us through dinner. With his voice crooning softly through the air, we perused the menu and ordered.

The descriptions of the items on the menu harkens back to a time of meat loaf and tuna casserole. However, the chef, David Slay, is said to wisely and cleverly add a contemporary spin to these staples.

A slice of dense wheat bread and a cheese crisp shingle studded with cracked pepper was served with a plate of whipped butter piped into a floret. This butter, they inform us, was infused with chopped figs. The taste was creamy and herby-sweet, almost like cake frosting.

The "Surf n' Turf" ($15.95) intrigued me. Ordered off the "specials" menu, the filet mignon medallions were threaded through a bamboo skewer. The steak was tender, cooked perfectly to order, and tasted beefy with a slight char. The "Surf" part of the equation came in the form of still squiggly-fresh skewered shrimp glazed in a delicious herby green goo of unknown origin.

These morsels of the sea and pasture rested on chunky mashed potatoes which themselves were draped in a layer of melted cheese and a sprinkling of freshly diced green onions.

On the same plate were ribbons of light yellow spaghetti squash, faintly sweetened with a touch of honey. These tender golden wisps, I learned later, apparently comes out of the gourd naturally in these fine strands, looking like thin angel hair.

A pool of reduction with the essence of pan drippings and red wine, brought the entire dish together. I sopped up each drop by pushing the mashed potatoes around in it.

The salmon, also from the "specials" menu ($15.95) was cooked just until it seemed to collapse under its own weight. It was served over a heap of cooked brown rice and wilted spinach. The fish, rubbed in spices and lacquered in sort of a sweet teriyaki glaze came with a bracingly hot counterpoint in the form of a mustard sauce dripped around the periphery of the plate.

Another dish from the specials menu, chicken and pork sausage with mashed potato ($11.95) was comfort food, pure and simple. Eventhough it is an obvious twist on the British pub staple, "bangers and mash," this rendition was far from humble bar food.

The homemade smoky pork sausage was redolent of caraway seeds, while jewels of fat bursts with flavor. The chicken sausage was thicker but lighter in flavor and color. Oil wilted leaf lettuce, celery, and piquant olives completed this rustic and hearty meal.

Dessert was quaintly named the "Lil' Pot of Heaven" ($4.95). It's a ramekin filled to the brim with a dense, dark chocolate pudding, topped with sliced bruleed bananas. Funny how something with the word "Heaven" in it could taste so sinful.

The standout for our sweet tooth, however, was a dessert from the "specials" menu; bread pudding with homemade ice cream and caramel sauce ($5.95). This was pure decadence in a bowl. A generous serving of mushy-warm bread pudding and flavor-packed pie crust crumbles was crowned with scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzling of caramel. It's not overly sugary but wholly soothing; a dish I can see myself ordering again, and again.

Would these dishes have enticed Sinatra and his boys to Stanton? Yes, I think so!

Park Ave - Simply Dining
11200 Beach Blvd.
Stanton, CA 90680

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Indo Kitchen - Alhambra

Indonesian food. Of all the Asian cuisines, it's even lower in popularity and acceptance in the U.S. than Filipino food.

If Filipino cuisine was the UPN Network, Indonesian cuisine would be PAX TV.

Indonesian food, for those uninitiated to it, could be best described as a heartier version of Thai food. The base flavors like lemongrass and coconut milk which inhibit Thai cuisine are also present in Indonesian food, but Indonesian cooks employ other, somewhat more exotic ingredients, like the indigenous "kecap manis", a thick, gooey soy sauce sweetened with palm sugar. And spices like coriander, cumin, and galangal aren't in short supply in the food either; a testament to Indonesia's history in the spice trade.

In terms of preparation, Indonesians favor more stews than stir fries, and more rice in their soups than noodles.

I like to call Indonesian "the soul food of South East Asia." It's a stick-to-your ribs kind of cuisine. Take for example the well-known dish, sate (sa-tay), sticks of grilled meats eaten with peanut sauce. This specialty, which originated from Indonesia, is a common appetizer in Thai restaurants. The Indonesian original, by contrast, is usually so bold and rich that it must be eaten with rice. Sometimes, it is served along side a murky goat curry called "gule" (pronounced "guh-lay").

So why is Indonesian food a mere footnote in the Southern Californian restaurant scene? The answer, I think, is simple. There are few Indonesians immigrants around. The diaspora is dispersed and few, so it should come as no surprise that Indonesian restaurants are found in obscure places, like dandelions carried by the breeze.

With the recent exception of a cluster of restaurants that popped up in and around the Hong Kong Market in West Covina, the older, more established Indonesian joints are flung between Bellflower (Toko Rame ), Los Angeles (Indo Cafe), Westwood (Ramayani) and Diamond Bar (Asian Deli). There are a few more I can count just by using the remaining fingers on my hand.

One of those is Indo Kitchen in Alhambra, which I recently tried for the first time.

In a quiet corner of the city's downtown, the Indo Kitchen storefront is wedged inside an old, weathered building. Color snapshots of their food are taped on the windows facing out to the street, in the hopes of enticing the occasional clueless pedestrian.

But once I entered the cramped, yet cozy dining room, it was obvious that only Indonesian ex-pats and the occasional Dutch patronized this place. Of the few faces in the restaurant that day, none seemed to be there by chance. No one had walked in from the street just out of curiousity.

Neither were we.

We were enticed by the recent review Jonathan Gold did on the place (which was proudly framed on the wall). We sat and ordered a few items to sample. Shortly thereafter, our desserts came out.

Wait-a-minute....desserts!? Whaaaa?

I had forgotten that Indonesians regard the dessert we ordered as a drink. So it is customarily served before or with the meal.

The Es Campur (which literally means "ice mix") is a heaping bowl of shaved ice drizzled with rose syrup and sweetened condensed milk. Underneath this mound hides chopped jackfruit, grass jelly, palm seed, and avocado. It was a refreshing, colorful, albeit overwhelmingly sweet start to the meal.

The main course quickly followed. My order of Gado-Gado (which loosely translated meant "a dish without rice"), is a crunchy salad of boiled water spinach, bean sprouts, green beans, cabbage, and shredded lettuce. Fried tofu and hard boiled egg add some protein to the dish, while shrimp chips contribute a crunchy constrast.

The one component that makes or breaks Gado-Gado is the peanut dressing, and I'm glad to report that Indo Kitchen's did not disappoint. It has a rich consistency imparted by the ground peanuts and coconut milk, while aromatic hints of lemongrass and coriander provided character. Imagine it as peanut butter kicked up to overdrive.

I did wish, however, that they went a little easier on the amount they poured on the salad. The whole dish was drowned in the sauce, and the subtle flavor of the vegetables were overpowered in the deluge.

The Nasi Campur that my friends ordered, despite the Indonesian name (which translates to "Combination Rice"), was *NOT* Indonesian at all. You should have seen our puzzled looks when the bento box (yes, you heard me right...bento box) was served to us, with nary any Indonesian food on it! Where was the Rendang? Where was the Perkedel?

As it turns out what we should've ordered was the Nasi Rames, which had all those things I was expecting.

This dish we ended up with consisted of an overly gristly and sugary cha siu (Chinese BBQ Pork), a hard boiled egg under an avalanche of soy-cooked ground pork, fried chicken katsu, a pork sate, a bowl of clear soup, and a mound of rice. My friends did not object to the dish, but then again, they aren't Indonesian. I suspect that this meal was designed by the chef as a proxy to non-Indonesians who wandered into the restaurant by mistake.

We made up for it by ordering a side of chicken sate, which was quite authentic and smothered in peanut sauce and fried shallots. Eventhough the meat of the chicken was dry, the savory-sweet and lip-smacking sauce compensated. This concoction, accented by a liberal drizzling of the syrupy "kecap manis", is great eaten with rice.

Once we left the restaurant, I was full and happy. Yes, you could say, "I was sated from the saté". Pun intended.

Indo Kitchen
5 N 4th St
Alhambra, CA
(626) 282-1676

Monday, October 03, 2005

French 75 Brasserie - Irvine

"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

That's the quote that popped into my brain as I looked down at the piece of foie gras on my plate. The small wedge of goose liver sat center stage on the oblong dish, the star of a triumverate which also included rare duck breast and a duck leg confit. The new French 75 Brasserie called this presentation "Duck Three Ways". I called it "A Post Mortem on Huey, Dewey and Louie".

And there I was, feeling like a reluctant Hannibal Lecter, about to devour my latest victims. If this were a film, it would have to be titled "Silence of the Ducks".

With a flick of my scapel, the quivering chunk of liver gave little resistance as the blade sliced cleanly through it like Jell-O. I placed it my mouth and immediately felt a surge of euphoria. The warm velvet texture of it slowly melted on my tongue, and liquified like a decadent custard. The pleasure of eating foie gras is sanguineous and carnal. It's like pornography for the palate, and you feel naughty for loving it. I imagine if vampires existed, they'd enjoy this as an amuse bouche before a night of blood letting.

The thrill of my first taste of the liver was followed by a slight twinge of guilt as I continued to enjoy this controversial product of French tradition like a ravenous animal, alternating between bites of the seared liver and the sour pieces of cooked pear. The fruit, along with the tart reduction of its juice helped to cut through the foie gras' inherent fattiness.

After finishing off the liver, which I dubbed Huey, I continued on to chew on Dewey's flesh. His breast, ripped from the carcass of the duck, was barely licked by the flames of the grill before the hunk is sliced on the diagonal, and splayed out in thick, bloody slices on top of roasted potatoes. I found that the rare part of the steaks were paradoxically chewier than the more cooked portions on the outside.

Next was Louie. This third preparation of the water fowl, the confit of duck leg, is by definition, cooked in its own fat. But the charred drumstick looked like a severed limb recovered from a horrific house fire. Its skin although burnt, was smoky and crisp. The leg meat underneath, however, was dry and sinewy. Was this supposed to be a deliberate contrast to the bloody rare breast meat? I don't know, but on the whole, "Duck Three Ways" did the demise of Donald Duck's nephews justice.

We also tried that most French of appetizers; escargot. The menu describes the escargot as "basil-fed". I immediately imagined a Frenchman holding a snail in one hand and a tiny funnel in the other, vainly searching for the mouth. "What won't the French do to enhance the taste of their animals?" I wondered.

The escargot, as it turns out, were indeed, very herby. These dark chewy morsels of snail, served with garlic butter and bits of ham, had a dominant grassy note like it had been chewing up my lawn before it ended up on my plate.

My girlfriend, who treated me for this feast, had the oven roasted chicken and pommes puree. "Why don't they just call it mashed potatoes?" we asked each other. Well, because it's better than mashed potatoes. Creamy, absent of lumps and tasting of rich butter, the pommes puree elevated the simple rosemary roasted chicken to elegance.

Dessert was more status quo. The chocolate souffle was tall, fluffy and airy, and unlike the Chat Noir version I had last March, wasn't overpowered by the drenching of chocolate sauce.

The best dessert of the night, however, was the complimentary bread pudding they served me since it was my birthday. This warm plate of comforting bread mush had fresh raspberries, cream, and white chocolate. Yum!

French 75 is indeed very French. It's amazing to me that this was the same building that once occupied Martin Yan's SensAsian. What was once slapdash and chintzy is now sultry and intimate. Added to that, the French 75 staff is young, attractive, and beaming with fresh, happy smiles.

I am sure Hannibal Lecter would be quite pleased.

French 75 Brasserie
13290 Jamboree Rd.
Irvine, CA 92602