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Sensi Magazine

Eat the World

Mar 31, 2019 06:04PM ● By Dawn Garcia
For a while, Orange County became synonymous with reality TV shows, rapid corporate development, and abundant wealth, but the OC is way more than that. The well-populated region of beaches and suburbia is home to a rather extensive list of restaurants that represent its cultural diversity. From new restaurants to culinary joints that have been around for decades, the OC lets you travel to quite a few countries without leaving the vicinity. You can connect to the world in the most wonderful way through food.

Eva’s Caribbean Kitchen is run by Eva Madray, a native of British Guyana who is everyone’s favorite restaurateur. The minute you walk inside this yellow house landscaped with tropical foliage, Madray is usually there to greet you with a warm smile and comforting hug. Whether you come to enjoy the sound of steel drums or try one of the 375 rum varietals she carries from over 37 different countries, you will feel at home. The most fascinating aspect of Eva’s Caribbean Kitchen is the variety of global fare representative of Guyana. The region has a long colonial history dating to the 1400s, and the food at Eva’s showcases African, Creole, Indian, Amerindians, Chinese, British, and Portuguese influence. Some of the most memorable dishes are the callaloo soup, West Indian curried snapper, jerk chicken, Cajun prawns, and desserts with rum and chocolate pairings. It’s like traveling with a culinary passport.

Along the same stretch of Pacific Coast Highway is Mozambique, a bold Orange County hot-spot since 2005. Its fare is South African and American with a hint of Portuguese. Known for its steaks, peri peri sauce, and big flavors, Mozambique has spectacular rooftop views of the Pacific Ocean and offers an upscale dining experience, including exotic African parrots squawking at the entry. It’s fun for drinks, dinner, and live music, including reggae Sundays. It even has a speakeasy called the Durban Room. The menu is bountiful in spices and flavor profiles, with favorites such as house samoosas, lamb lollipops, peri peri prawns, and a full spectrum of cocktails including the African Mojito and Pink Mamba.

At Mix Mix Kitchen Bar, Chef Ross Pangilian brings global cuisine up a few levels. Pangilian serves a culmination of Italian, French, and Filipino expressions with gorgeous flavors and beautiful presentations marked by stark contrast on the plate. They have a refined menu and offer pasta nights on Wednesdays, a five-course offering at the chef’s table, and a bottomless bubbles brunch. The restaurant’s mindset is to share, enjoy, and experiment. Among the many choices, Pangilian knows a savory opening can get your taste buds started. Order the chicharrones and work your way through as many dishes as you can handle. The grilled mushrooms, yellowfin tuna, soft egg ravioli, pork cheek abodo, and tropical verrine to finish will give your palate a wholly immersive experience. The chef’s table menu showcases dishes that take you even further outside the box and that’s always a journey worth taking.

Tempo Urban Kitchen is an exciting dining concept that makes Latin cuisine a phenomenon. Started by Jorge Cueva in 2014, Tempo is all about having fun in a loud, colorful, playful setting with cuisine that derives from seven different Latin styles of cooking. Cueva’s motto is, “All of your favorite Latin dishes combined with inspiration from around the world what you’re craving, we have it.” And it does. The menu is a modern play on traditional Mexican dishes, with the estilo y pasión Latin food embodies. From roasted veggie tacos, tinga chicken taquitos, short rib mole, and los tres animales, to nachos gordo, you will be muy contenta that you gave in to gluttony. Tempo also has an incredible selection of libations, from margaritas to No Mames martinis, and offers a $10 combo consisting of a shot of Mezcal Los Javis and your choice of bottled beer.

Food is the gateway to the world, and in Orange County, you can travel from Latin America to Africa, all in the span of an hour. Mix it up a little and eat the world.

Vietnamese cuisine packs a punch with so much flavor and freshness, you can bite into almost any dish and envision the lush green vegetation and infinite farms in Vietnam. Its most notable dish is phô, a soup made with rice noodles and broth (vegetarian, beef, or chicken), served with bean sprouts, basil, serrano chilis, a lime wedge, and various sauces on the side. Phô is the ultimate remedy if you’re feeling the flu coming on or you’ve had more to drink than you should have. There are so many great Vietnamese choices in the OC, but East Borough always hits the spot. A casual eatery, East Borough’s slogan “Traditional by no means, authentic by all means” sets the tone. The restaurant puts its own spin and interpretation on traditional dishes with the phô baguette (a Vietnamese French dip), bo kho stew, and pickled mango and kale salad.

You learn the most about a culture and its history by simply breaking bread. Flavors like spices, herbs, and grains are the confluence of a people, and there is nothing quite as remarkable as sinking your teeth into something different. While flavor and taste are subjective, the more you expose your palate to, the more your taste profiles will awaken. Break the monotony by venturing into new and diverse restaurants.