Saturday, July 16, 2022

Two First Place Trophies at OC Press Club Awards!

Two weeks ago, at the annual OC Press Club Awards Gala held at the Clubhouse at Anaheim Hills, I won two first place trophies for TimesOC.

To maintain my food critic anonymity, I was not in attendance, but I was honored that my old OC Weekly boss and mentor Gustavo Arellano was the emcee and accepted on my behalf. Word is that he killed with a joke capitalizing on the persistent theory that “Edwin Goei” was just his pseudonym!

I’d like to thank Ada Tseng for taking me into the TimesOC fold; Erik Haugli for publishing my pieces; my beautiful wife for her love and for editing my stories; and you, dear reader, for allowing me to get such satisfaction from this hobby of mine for nearly 20 years.

Here’s the articles that won this year:


First place: Edwin Goei, “Eight meals for $8 (or less) in Orange County

Second place: Brad A. Johnson, "The 50 Best Places to Eat Tacos in Orange County"

Third place: Anne Valdespino, "Looking for a special spot for drinks? Here are 6 with a vibe"


First place: Edwin Goei, "Hidden haunts: A restaurant critic explores 3 recently opened Orange County ghost kitchens"

Second place: Christopher Trela, "Omakase Menu at Sushi Ii is an Exciting Culinary Adventure"

Third place: Brad A. Johnson, "Review: Chiang An, Tustin"

Read the full story of TimesOC and Daily Pilot’s haul of awards HERE. Congrats to the entire Daily Pilot and TimesOC staff!

Photo Credit: @ocpressclub

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Medan Kitchen - Rosemead

The hype is real: Medan Kitchen is the epicenter of Indonesian food culture in Southern California right now.

Not since the Indonesian Food Fair that used to take place at the Duarte Inn has there been anything that has resonated with Indonesians and Indonesian food lovers alike. Its current gravitational pull is thanks to Eater, which made a YouTube video on its 77-year-old owner that racked up 2 million views.

If you’ve seen the video, you know that Medan Kitchen is not a restaurant; it’s more an indoor swap meet with most of the dishes packed in plastic bento boxes and stacked on picnic tables next to signs with its Indonesian name and a brief English translation.

But it’s also a platform for other food producers from the community. Some of the items sold on those tables, such as martabak manis and siomay Bandung, were not made by Medan Kitchen but other home chefs. It’s a cottage industry showcase of local Indonesian cooking. This fact makes Medan Kitchen more like Amazon’s marketplace, except without the monopolistic tendencies.

The nasi bungkus, however, is wholly created by Medan Kitchen’s now famous chef. And my friends, it is the best nasi bungkus I’ve had that wasn’t made by my mom.

The candied crispy shards of fried potato was addicting, the sambal scorching, and the rendang fall-apart tender. The fragrance of the coconut rice, which I chose over regular, was amped by the botanical aroma of the banana leaf wrapper.

The term “bungkus”, which means simply “wrapped” and “nasi”, which refers to the rice, leaves everything else to interpretation.

There’s no set rule as to what goes into the meal, except that it should have at least two proteins, contain some sort of vegetable, and make an Indonesian think of home.

Medan Kitchen
8518 Valley Blvd STE 102
Rosemead, CA 91770

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

How to do a Ramen Crawl in OC's Ramen Town

Let me shoyu around OC’s unofficial “Ramen Town”, where SEVEN ramen shops inhabit three square blocks of Costa Mesa. 

Saturday, July 02, 2022

Urban Plates - Irvine

So my body told me, “Have a salad today.” 

“Sure, how about an ahi nicoise from Urban Plates, with green beans, egg, organic tomatoes, potatoes, capers, and chopped olives?” 

“That’ll do,” it says.

“But that’s all you’re getting, right?”

“I was thinking of the tofu curry,”

“You had curry last week!”

“C’mon! It’s vegan! So it’s practically a salad!”


Urban Plates
3972 Barranca Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92606