Thursday, August 05, 2021

8 Meals for $8 (or Less) in OC

My latest for TimesOC/LA Times answers the question: Where can you get great meals for $8 or less in OC? 

...Or pick up a copy of the Sunday LA Times this weekend to see it in print!

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Hui Lau Shan - Irvine

At $7 after tax is included, the Mango Sago at Hui Lau Shan costs more than a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. But to me, nothing else, except maybe shaved ice (be it Hawaiian, Filipino halo halo, or Korean patbingsu) is more refreshing when the thermometer climbs past 80. 

The middle strata of this three-layer confection is composed of a delicate mango slush. It cools the slippery tapioca pearls beneath it and the cubes of fresh mango above it. So do not DoorDash this. Time and ambient temperature is its enemy. Once you are handed the made-to-order dessert, get a seat outside under shade and dig in immediately. 

And as it chills your mouth and slides down your throat, your core is cooled from the inside out. 

From Indian mango lassi to Thai mango sticky rice, mango has always been the fruit of choice for desserts in balmy climates. This one and the others on Hui Lau Shan’s menu, however, are the most mango-forward I’ve tasted, even if it does cost the same as a whole case of mangoes.

Hui Lau Shan
5365 Alton Pkwy M, 
Irvine, CA 92604

Thursday, July 08, 2021

LA Times/TimesOC BBQ Story

My latest for TimesOC explores 3 of the newest places to celebrate the beginning of summer, and frankly, the rest of our lives, with BBQ—featuring Texas-style brisket from Heritage BBQ, Lao sausages from Kra-Z-Kai's BBQ, and beef bahari botis from Bundoo Khan.

Monday, June 28, 2021

LA Times/TimesOC Take-Out Dim Sum Story

 In my latest piece for TimesOC I write about takeout dim sum, but this isn’t another pandemic food story.

Among the food experiences we were deprived of because of COVID-19, dim sum should not have been one of them.

Takeout dim sum shops have always been around.

So my story explores three of the older dim sum takeout spots where you can pick up dim sum, go home, brew a pot of tea and finish your meal in the amount of time it takes to wait for a seat at a traditional dim sum restaurant.


Thursday, May 27, 2021

LA Times/TimesOC New Ghost Kitchens Story

If you’re seeing a lot more ghost kitchens on the online delivery sites lately, you might not have noticed that some aren’t actually “ghosts”. 
These are the brick-and-mortar restaurant chains who list themselves under a different name on the apps in the hopes of “catfishing” you into ordering rearrangements of their existing menu items. 

So in my latest piece for TimesOC story, I decided to hunt down three of the newest real “ghosts” and tell their stories. 

They include the first foray into entrepreneurship for an amateur Cajun seafood cook, a seasoned Korean food executive looking to start his own brand, and an established Central American fried chicken chain discovering an opportunity to penetrate more markets. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

Lechon Kawale from Kiko's - Artesia

The auntie who took my order at Kiko’s misheard me. 

“Tita,” I told her, pointing at my receipt. “I actually wanted only a half pound of lechon kawale, not a pound.” 

But as she squinted at my credit card slip, I saw a sad look on her face. 

“You know what, that’s okay,” I said. “I’ll take the full pound, but please give me extra sauce.” 

She brightened instantly. 

As she packed an extra container of sauce and handed me the order, she said, “Don’t worry, you’ll finish it all.”

“That’s exactly the problem,” I thought to myself.

Kiko's Lechon Manok
18915 Norwalk Blvd. 
Artesia, CA 90701

Sunday, April 18, 2021

LA Times/TimesOC OC's Best Bento Boxes Story

Who makes the best bento boxes in OC? What are bento boxes? These are questions I answer in my latest piece for TimesOC/LA Times. 

Monday, March 15, 2021

LA Times/TimesOC International Foods in OC Story

It’s been a year since the pandemic started. Air travel is still fraught with uncertainty and risk.

So in my latest story for LA Times/TimesOC, I write about where you can discover cuisines from far-flung destinations without getting on an airplane or even leaving the county line.


Monday, January 18, 2021

LA Times/TimesOC Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich Story

Click this link to read my story on the seven new Nashville hot chicken sandwich shops that opened during the pandemic

They include: