Greek Islands Cuisine - Irvine
Ask any Asian immigrant kid: it's tough when you don't look, talk, or eat like your schoolmates. Being the odd one out, sticking out like the proverbial sore thumb, these are common experiences for the child whose mom packed up rice and stir fry for lunch while everyone else brought bologna sandwiches.
"Eeew, what's that?" is the familiar refrain heard by all who got teased.
It must be how Greek Islands Cuisine feels at Diamond Jamboree in Irvine. Around it towers Asian giants (oxymoronic, I know) Tokyo Table, BCD, 85°C Bakery Café, and Capital Seafood. Next door, a Korean fried chicken joint and Chae Bahn, another Korean restaurant.
And there they sit: Just about the only non-Asian eatery at the center.
Last Friday night, the parking lot was packed. Yet, when we walked in, there wasn't a single customer in the place. It's one thing to get teased at the playground; quite another to be downright shunned and ignored. A shame because this is good, solid and honest Greek grub, prepared with more love and care than what's served at Daphne's.
Hummus ($3.95) is swirled onto a plate, dimpled with glistening puddles of drizzled olive oil and balsamic, begging to be scooped up by triangles of warm, soft-as-cotton pita bread served in a wicker basket.
And because it was perfectly sour, garlicky and addictive, our finished plate looked like it had been licked clean.
Falafels ($3.95) here are dense, substantial things, with a texture that straddles dangerously close to a VeggieBurger. They were saved simply from the fact that their outer crust was deep fried to a crunchy shell as hardy as an armadillo. Chopped to bite-sized hunks, dribbled with a yogurty zaziki and amped up with hot sauce, you'll forget that you just consumed nothing that was once attached to an animal.
On the other hand, the Mediterranean combo ($10.25) is a meal worthy of Zeus, containing the flesh of three different beasts.
The gyro, carved off of a rotating spit to floppy air foil-shaped curls, eats much like a super-seasoned hot dog. And since I'm making comparisons, the keftedes are like hamburgers if they were made of ground lamb and beef, and packed with actual flavor. I detected mint in these.
The third was chicken breast, which has two qualities that are usually mutually exclusive when it comes to chicken breast: it was both moist and well-charred.
Beneath it all is a Mt. Olympus-mound of fluffy rice that should play well into your mom's rule that a meal isn't a meal unless it has rice.
Greek Islands Cuisine
2750 Alton Parkway, #121
Irvine, CA 92514
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