Friday, July 06, 2012

Home Town Deli - Irvine

There's more than a few good places to eat at the, well, I don't remember what the plaza is know, the one with 99 Ranch on Walnut and Jeffrey in Irvine? Let's face it, that's how you'd describe this hamlet of Asian-ness to your friends anyway. Meet me at the small plaza with the other Irvine 99 Ranch, you'd say.

I have. And I've posted on just about all the restaurants there. 101 Noodle Express. Chef Chen. Liang's Kitchen. Even Yu's Garden, which was a recent discovery. All of these restaurants get a lot of business, being on the right side of the mall, where the parking lot traffic is as crazy as SGV during dim sum. But on the other side of the plaza, it seems a very different story.

There's so far only two restaurants there: House of Shabu Shabu and Home Town Deli. Home Town Deli opened a few months ago and is owned by the same people that owns Yu's Garden. There's a big difference between the two: Yu's Garden is a take-out joint; Home Town Deli is a proper sit-down with an exhaustive menu you expect of a Chinese restaurant that's catered to Chinese people (the take home flier promises a mix of Taiwanese, Shanghai, Szechuan dishes and Northern-style noodles).

As a challenge to Chong Qing Mei Wei Szechuan Restaurant across the parking lot, the menu has its own Szechuan section that includes pork intestines with pickled chili peppers and mao xue wang, duck blood in chili sauce that the restaurant doesn't bother with an English translation as if to deter any novices who think they can handle it.

Since I have to be in a certain kind of mood for spicy food, the Szechuan menu remains uncharted on this first visit. In fact, I wanted something the opposite of hot and spicy. I wanted something with yin. Something cooling. Cooling in the Chinese sense, that is. I found it in the "sauteed okra and mein jing with soy bean."

It's a stir-fried vegetable dish that if it had anymore gravy, it'd be a soup. Chinese okra, that ridge-backed long gourd that looks like a dragon's tail, is the main ingredient, here rendered silky and slippery and cooked with tofu skin that sops up that corn-starch-thickened clear sauce like a mop. You'd be mistaken in thinking the dish is bland. It isn't. Although I'm sure that when I come back and eat it in concert with the spice-assault of Szechuan specialties, I'm going to be glad for its excess of yin.

Home Town Deli
5394-C.D Walnut Ave.
Irvine, CA 92604

Honda Ya - Fullerton


At 9:10 AM, Blogger Greg Hao said...

i'm sure this shopping center has an official name (it might just be The Arbor, as that is the name of the Taiko shopping centre across the street) but there is no signage to indication. I personally call it the "New 99 shopping centre".

While this place does have some szechuan dishes, their chef, who is a carry over from the chef that used to be the chef of the take out place (小美) and his main speciality is actually shanghai style dishes. Although don't get their soup dumpling (is that what the Ding Tai Fun thing is called in english?), it's not good. edit: I have one of their takeout menus here and it's the steamed mini pork bun (8)

But anyway, being a shanghai style restaurant, the sweet and sour spareribs with shanghai style is flavoured excellently and is a dish that I highly recommend. Their beef noodle soup is also quite good.

At 10:21 PM, Blogger Greg Hao said...

The shopping centre is called "orange tree square shopping center".

At 12:14 AM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

This plaza is really busy, and like you I don't remember the plaza's name either.

The okra dish is a common dish but it certainly looks like Home Town Deli prepares it well. I believe the "mein jing" is fried gluten.

At 1:06 PM, Blogger Gone with the Schwind said...

Are you on Twitter? The reason I ask is because I write for Examiner and I am working on a piece about 10 OC foodie Twitter accounts to follow.

At 4:45 PM, Blogger Odajennys said...

I just put in a vote for you for the Golden Foodie awards. You deserve it for all the restaurants you help me discover. Thank you for your work!

At 4:47 PM, Blogger Odajennys said...

I just voted for your blog in the Golden Foodie Awards. Thank you for helping me discover amazing restaurants for the past 3 yrs.

At 4:36 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Thanks for the comment and the follow-up! Though the Xiao Long Bao isn't up to DTF standards, it's better than A&J's. I need to try that beef noodle soup and compare it the others in the plaza. They also do a beef roll too!


Thanks for the correction! I should've known that mein jing is fried gluten. It tasted like tofu skin to me at the time, but you're absolutely right--it was fried gluten.


I'm not on Twitter. This blog is all I got! And the OC Weekly reviews.


Aw! Thanks! Comments like yours is why I keep this blog going!


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