Aioli - Irvine
At Aioli--a stall at the same Irvine food court which also houses Thai & Chinese Express--there's a twenty-something-ish dude who makes one of the best chicken Marsalas I've ever had. I know he's singularly responsible for the dish because he's always the only one there whenever I pick up my order.
Sometimes, if I forget to call ahead, he'll go to the kitchen after taking my money, and for the next ten minutes I hear something sizzling and sauté pans clanging as he cooks the order himself.
Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure this man is the owner--the person their website identifies as one Jordan Mullikin. Mullikin opened Chicago's Best in this very spot a few years ago, but then rebranded it Aioli so that he can cook dishes like, well, like the chicken Marsala and other things that don't quite fit under the Chicago food umbrella.
"After seven years of building and owning Chicago's Best, Jordan realized that this was not what brought him satisfaction. He wanted to create and have fun cooking again. This is when he decided to change the restaurant's name and recreate his company focusing on what he loves, sauces!!!", the website says.
And what a sauce his Marsala is! It stings warmly of wine, and possesses a savory sweetness so good you'll want to squeegee every precious drop with your finger.
I would argue that there's no better chicken Marsala than this, despite being served in a foam container. And best of all: it's only about $8. The mashed potatoes tastes as though someone actually hand-mashed it with lots of butter; the chicken is perfectly cooked, juicy throughout; and the zucchini and carrots are still crisp-tender.
Great food court food is not a myth. And finding both Thai & Chinese Express' pad see ew and Aioli's chicken Marsala here is like running into Big Foot and Loch Ness Monster hanging out together at your favorite bar.
2540 Main St. Ste L
Irvine, CA 92614
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