Saturday, September 17, 2022

Why Cafe Hiro is My Favorite Restaurant

A co-worker returned from his third visit to Cafe Hiro and had something to say to me.

Though he had enjoyed the first two meals he ate there, this time he wasn’t pleased. He complained that the uni spaghetti tasted watered down and the service was slow. He vowed to never come back.

He asked me, “I thought you said it was the best restaurant in OC?”

I told him, “I never said it’s the best restaurant in OC; I said it was my favorite restaurant. There’s a difference.”

Restaurants we deem “best” win awards; Restaurants we deem “favorites” win our hearts.

I’m sure there are “better” restaurants than Cafe Hiro, just as there are “better” shirts in my closet. But I will always have a “favorite” shirt. And it’s the one I’ll wear the most.

Thursday, September 08, 2022

King's Fish House - Orange

Seafood chains. Every region has its iconic brands.

The Pacific Northwest has Anthony’s. The East Coast has Legal Sea Foods.

We have King’s Fish House, and we should be very glad that we do.

I’ve eaten at King’s for almost two decades, celebrating milestones there as well as dropping in for casual meals on normal weekends.

I do so because the service is good, the atmosphere is sophisticated, and the prices are sensible. Most importantly, the cooking is always consistent. And with seafood, consistency is important.

I’ve yet to have an overcooked piece of fish there. Anytime I order the trout Amandine, I can count on it to be bathed in hot brown butter, strewn with crunchy almond shards, and pan-seared perfectly with a light outer crackle but still moist interior.

But even the salads are compelling, like the roasted beet salad that had splotches of pungent goat cheese and toasted pecans I tried on a recent trip.

I noticed in the past year that the steamed clams got an upgrade. It used to be served in its own juices with little more than white wine. These days andouille and hot peppers are involved. But you can still request for mussels to join the party if there’s some available. But I sop up the broth with multiple rounds of the complimentary sourdough loaves just as I always do.

On this visit, I splurged on the Southern Fried Maryland Soft Shell Crabs, which was dusted with just the bare minimum of breading. The crispy crust and soft carapace offered a slight resistance to my bite before I encountered the sweet, briny meat that would take a half-hour to pick out from a hard-shell.

I’ve been to Maryland and did that once, which was fun. But I’m happy to be able to go to Orange and eat the entire creature at King’s with nothing but a fork.

Sunday, September 04, 2022

How to Spend $100 for Two People at Din Tai Fung