Sunday, October 05, 2014

California Plate - Santa Ana

At the food court sandwiched between the ground floor and the theater at MainPlace in Santa Ana, your choices are the usual mall food offerings of Sbarro's and Hot Dog on a Stick, and then what seems like carbon copies of the same teriyaki chicken bowl restaurant. California Plate is one of those; but for some reason it transcends them all.

At first you may have your doubts. The chicken they'll use to assemble your massive $4.99 plate is already pre-cooked, sitting in a mountain on the griddle. The vegetable pile sits opposite. And when you order, they take some from the top, push it around the hot surface a few times to get a sear, and then slide it over a Styrofoam plate with rice on it. But when you eat it, you're floored on how good, hot, simple, and satisfying it is. The rice is fluffy; the shredded veggies still snap; and the chicken is surprisingly wonderful.

Cut not into pieces, but whittled down to pebbles, the final sear on each tiny bit's surface area caramelizes and transforms to become crispy shards of concentrated flavor akin to candy.

California Plate's staff comes not from the land where teriyaki originates, but then neither does this dish, which is as Californian as the hard shell taco.

California Plate
Westfield MainPlace
2800 N Main St. # 916
Santa Ana, CA 92705
(714) 900-3399

A&O Kitchen + Bar - Newport Beach


At 1:56 PM, Blogger Greg Hao said...

I happened to be in the area today for some meeting and I have to admit, for once, I didn't love a place that you reviewed positively.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't horrible and it's priced quite well. And maybe it was an off day with the rice cooker but I thought it was a bit too soggy.

Wasn't sorry I tried but probably won't be back. I guess they can't all be winners.

At 10:56 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

I'm surprised you actually went out to try this! But yeah, soggy rice is no good.

I think I need to try it again to make sure it wasn't a fluke...because at the time, even though I was as sick as a dog and my taste buds were dulled, this meal still tasted extraordinarily good.

Perhaps I got lucky?

At 3:03 PM, Blogger Greg Hao said...

Heh. I usually try out the places you review (well, other than the disneyland ones, don't have an annual pass anymore).

For some reason, I was actually really looking forward to trying out this place so the fact that I was in the area for a meeting was a serendipitous stroke. Too bad the food didn't live up to expectation.

Not sure if you remember back to our meal at TK Noodle when I mentioned OK (Oriental Kitchen) over there by the Albertson's on Campus/Berkeley in the old old days which also had a teppan grill for quick meals. Maybe I was expecting an experience closer to that?

At 7:06 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Hey you're right! It does look a lot like Oriental Kitchen's doesn't it? Man, I miss that place.


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