THE ASIAN DINING CULTURE CONTINUES TO EVOLVE ONTO MAINSTREAM MENUS as chefs get more familiar with the flavors of the east. They are incorporating ingredients most noteworthy on Asian menus into dishes not customarily inclusive of them. Ingredients like, enoki mushrooms, fish sauce, ginger, bean sprouts, bok choy, and sesame are blended with non-traditional pairings, adding just a touch of Asia.
On other menus in the non-Asian sector we now find not only inspired dishes but authentic dishes like sushi, pho, dumplings, spicy noodle dishes and the like. Roy’s first introduced me to their unforgettable, and still favorite, Misoyaki Butterfish and similar dishes are now found on many seafood restaurant menus.
Tangata, created by Chef Joachim Splichal, offers a modern Pacific Rim influenced cuisinereflective of the exhibitions at Bowers Museum in Santa Ana. Executive Chef Donald Harris combine the tastes of Asia, the Pacific Islands, and California to create dishes such as Korean Marinated Skirt Steak with sesame glass noodles, spicy cabbage, and charred green onion; Spam Tacos with corn tortillas, sesame marinated seaweed salad, and spicy Sriracha crema; and Manilla Clams with ginger, scallions, coconut milk, and Thai basil.
Accompaniments such as kimchi are now served to balance and enhance dishes with no Asian inspiration.
Here in Orange County we’re lucky to have not only the enclave of Little Saigon, but we also have Chinese centers with shops and restaurants, Japanese mega stores, and Korean markets; some of the best choices in the world.
Then there are the authentic Asian restaurants upfront like AnQi, Capital Seafood, and Din Tai Fung introducing their cuisines with no substitute to authenticity but also with a touch of fusion. And yes, we have plenty of fusion restaurants. Born in Southern California’s culinary melting pot, Urban Seoul brings a menu revolving around California and traditional bibimbap dishes. The cultural background of those in line at Lee’s Sandwiches, East Borough, Hashigo, Mr Katsu, Jolly B, Goldie Locks, Guppy House, etc. are varied as it should be in the melting pot of educated diners in Orange County.
In Los Angeles, teppanyaki tables are many, hot pots continue to appear and it seems that these interactive dining options are forefront in the appetites of some of the younger self-proclaimed “foodie” dining audience. WP24 by Wolfgang Puck, perched on the 24th floor of The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles offers guests a fine dining Chinese restaurant offering an elevated take on traditional dishes with high-end, farm fresh ingredients, authentic flavors and spices, and eye-catching presentation such its Whole Roasted Peking Duck, XO Seafood Dumplings with sweet shrimp, Alaskan king crab, and Maine lobster. The service style
includes a customizable dining experience moving away from their original tasting menu format, and menu additions offering a la carte and family-styled dishes.
In Washington DC Filipino cuisine is making a splash. Could it be next for Orange County?