Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Honeymee - Irvine

What you see above is soft serve drizzled with honey.

I'm not sure anyone needs honey drizzled on their ice cream, but as I've written in a recent blog post, no one needed cotton candy with their ice cream either, yet there it was.

But the truth is, if Honeymee didn't offer its soft serve with honey, I probably would not be writing about it. Because despite the chain calling its product "True Milk Ice Cream", it's just ice cream. And though it's good and smooth and creamy and cold--all things I expect all ice cream to be--it's that honey and specifically the honeycomb they offer as topping that sets it apart from, say, McDonald's and Foster's Freeze.

I tried the "Sweetee" (all its ice creams are named with cutesy titles) and realized, honey does kind of work with it. And why not? If you're not averse to adding caramel to your sundae, honey isn't that far off.

My preferred ice cream, though, is the "Dear", which gets generous squirts of Ghirardelli chocolate sauce and sprinkles of sea salt on top. The salt balances the sweetness, and the chocolate, well, it's chocolate!

Still, there's the cost. Honeymee charges $3.50 for the plain; $4.75 for the "Honeymee", which is topped with a honeycomb chip. You might be thinking, "What? That's about the going rate for ice cream anywhere these days" but then, it's a rather small cup and Honeymee does Pinkberry's trick of swirling its product such that it's hollow in the middle.

Then again, maybe it's better this way. You are already eating ice cream with an added sweetener as topping, after all.

5414 Walnut Ave. Ste C
Irvine, CA 92604
(949) 536-5453

Tram Chim Fresh Seafood - Westminster

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Ha Long Vietnamese Cuisine - Irvine

It's said that when you have a sore throat, you're not supposed to eat fried foods; you're supposed to have soup. But what if the fried food is in the soup? Does that somehow make it all okay?

Ha Long Vietnamese Cuisine makes this noodle soup that has every protein in it deep fried. The char siu pork is deep fried. The breaded shrimp is deep fried. Even the hunk of chicken, which the menu says is baked, is deep fried.

And if that weren't enough, a round of crispy wonton skin is included, and yep: deep fried.

When I ordered it for take-out because I was feeling under the weather, I got the dish in three components: a vat of soup; a plastic baggie of bean sprouts, cilantro and sliced jalapenos; and a bowl with the noodles, veggies and protein.

I put it together and tucked into it hunched over my coffee table with chopsticks, slurping it all in. Every crunch of deep-fried something I ate, I answered with a big swig of that sweet/savory yellow broth and a wad of chewy egg noodles. And when I discovered that they also included a thimble of chile paste in oil, I spackled everything I ate with it.

As for my sore throat, it went away an hour after that feast, replaced with a tingling burn from the chile and the kind of satisfaction that's only possible through the consumption of deep fried food or noodle soup. In this case, both.

Ha Long Vietnamese Cuisine
Crossroads, 3850 Barranca Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92606
(949) 654-3736

Chomp Chomp Nation - Anaheim Hills

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Mediterrania Grill - Irvine

I know what you're thinking: if I'm going to review a Middle Eastern joint, why not the new The Halal Guys--the only Middle Eastern joint that seems to matter right now?

Well, it was because I tried to review The Halal Guys that I ended up here. I was in line, realized it would take an hour or more before I would get to order, and it occurred to me I had a coupon in my pocket for this place--which serves essentially the same kind of food without so much as a single person in front of me.

Just like at Halal Guys, giant cones of meat twirled in the corner. When I ordered the chicken, a worker went up to it, took a long serrated knife and started shaving long strips she caught in a saute pan. But then something different happened: she shoved the meat into a Salamander oven.

When the chicken came out, it's crispy. The outer edges were rimmed with char such that each bite is met with the flavor of caramelization. It's all tucked into a toasted pita with some lettuce and tomato, smeared with garlic sauce, and tasted as good as any chicken wrap I've ever had before or since.

As of this writing, I've actually tried The Halal Guys and have an opinion of it that I will put into a proper review. But guess what? Just as with anything having to do with Halal Guys: you're going to have to wait.

Mediterrania Grill
17925 MacArthur Blvd
Irvine, CA 92614

Rock & Brews - Buena Park

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Hog Island Oyster Co. - Marshall, CA

Are you as crazy as I am for oysters? Crazy enough to go to an oyster farm to eat it? In Northern California?

If you are, then your Mecca is Hog Island Oysters located in the sleepy town of Marshall along the shimmering waters of Tomales Bay.

It isn't the only oyster farm there and it's a schlep to get to from the Bay Area. Also, it's not cheap. Just because you're buying your bivalves direct from the source, it doesn't mean it will be a bargain. In fact, if you're going to do as I did and buy your oysters pre-shucked from the bar, it will cost as much as what it would cost if you actually went to Hog Island's actual oyster restaurants in San Francisco proper.

But here you get the view of the very waters those creatures came out of. You get to see the workers unload and sort these rock-like critters and keep them alive in gurgling vats. You get to breathe in the salty air and commune with like-minded oyster-lovers on wooden picnic tables with wine, expensive cheese and gourmet crackers. And you get to slurp, slurp, slurp what is possibly the most perfect food the ocean offers, just as it is.

Nevermind that each trembling cold fleshy lobe that slides down your throat cost you $2.33 (before tax). They're sweet, briny, creamy, with only a drop of lemon juice and an occasional dab of mignonette to add just a slight touch of acid. And I can't think of a better way to eat an oyster--a dish that nature has prepared built into its own spoon--than in nature's kitchen and dining room, here on this beautiful bay.

Hog Island Oyster Farm
20215 Shoreline Highway
Marshall, CA 94940

Musubiya Balls & Burgers - Santa Ana

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Snow Monster - Irvine

I know what you're thinking: the thing you see above looks like it could use a bit of...what do they call it? Manscaping?

Unintentionally phallic (and pubic) as it would seem, this dessert is actually designed for kids...that is, if you want them tweaked for hours. I'm guessing it has about all the daily allotted calories any normal adult has any business consuming--so it's probably double that for a child.

Quite simply, it's a cup of Fruity Pebbles soft serve, rimmed with a bushy halo of cotton candy, because, hey, if you're going to feed your rugrats frozen sugar milk, why not add a wreath of spun sugar threads and have them love you forever?

This ice cream obelisk is one of the many desserts that Snow Monster serves--including macaron ice-cream sandwiches, milk teas, and shaved snow--but it's easily the most excessive item they make. By the way, the ice cream doesn't need the cotton candy and the cotton candy doesn't need the ice cream. But I ordered it anyway because (with apologies to George Mallory) it's there.

Thankfully, the soft serve is not overly sweet. I'm not sure if it was because my tastebuds were dulled after finishing the cotton candy, but it was pleasantly surprising how good the ice cream was--this despite the pulverized Fruity Pebbles churned into it, which didn't add much except its bluish tint.

What I did realize eating it was that this dessert and this place is made by and for millennials--people whose metabolism haven't given up on them and who can eat a column of ice cream with cotton candy pubes without looking as silly as I did that afternoon.

Snow Monster
4255 Campus Dr A124
Irvine, CA 92612
(714) 582-6023

Sessions West Coast - Huntington Beach