Monday, June 10, 2024

A Burrito of Epic Proportions?

 That Epic Burrito Shack

8491 Atlanta Avenue #201

Huntington Beach, CA 92646

As I scroll through Instagram, there's one surefire thing that will make me stop and watch. No, it's not cat videos or videos featuring organizational hacks; it's breakfast burritos. I'm always on the hunt for the next great breakfast burrito. I have favorites, like the perennial picks from Ham and Scram, Nate's Korner, and the underappreciated ones from TK Burger and 3rd Place Coffee. These are all excellent places to get breakfast burritos, but I don't want to feel like I'm missing out on anything. I usually try it immediately when I see an influencer talking up a breakfast burrito. That's what brought us to the Epic Burrito Shack. 

Located inside Landmark Liquor on the corner of Newland and Atlanta Avenue, Epic Burrito Shack is easy to miss because it's in a very residential area. It'll sneak up on you if you're not paying attention. They are open every day from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., so yes, they serve bowls, tacos, loaded fries, and burritos. I'm unsure if there is a cut-off time for them to stop serving breakfast burritos, but we ordered ours just before noon on a Saturday and had no problems getting one. 

Opened in December 2020, Epic Burrito Shack has quietly won much praise for their food. They have an impressive 4.3-star rating on Yelp, with nearly 300 reviews. As I mentioned earlier, some prominent food influencers have visited here. These food influencers often get paid to say nice things about the places they go, but these influencers I've seen visiting here are what I'd deem very respectable and telling it like it is. These are the people I respect and try to emulate, not just going to a restaurant or gas station for a payday. 

Ordering was done at the counter, but we called ahead, and it was bagged and ready to go at the time quoted over the phone. A couple of tables are set up out front, but Katie was tired from our 3-mile walk at nearby Fairview Park, so we took it home with us. Here are our thoughts.  

It's not every day that you see a Carne Asada Breakfast Burrito ($11.50 + $1.50 for guacamole) on the menu, so I had to try it. The burrito was good-sized, including three scrambled eggs, carne asada, cheese, tots, salsa, and guacamole. I liked that they placed the burrito on the flattop to slightly crisp up the tortilla. Highlights for this were the fresh and flavorful guacamole, the crunchy tater tots, and the way the burrito was layered, so it was easy to get a bite with all the burrito's contents. This needed more cheese and salsa, and the asada had a good texture but needed to be seasoned more. It fell flat. 

Yes, I had two burritos—don't judge. I did it for all of you. My second burrito is their most popular, The Bacon and Sausage Breakfast Burrito ($10.50). Like the burrito above, this one came with cheese, salsa, tots, and three fluffy scrambled eggs. The bacon and sausage stood out way more than the asada, which elevated this to a higher level than my first one. I'd get this with guacamole next time and ask for extra salsa. 

These were some well-crafted breakfast burritos, but not the best I have had. They were good, though. They needed something to make them pop and make me take notice to get into my top five breakfast burritos of OC. Right now, my top 5 include LJ's Lil Cafe, Nate's Korner, TK Burger, Troy's, and Third Place Coffee. Epic Burrito would occupy one of the following five spots, making this one of the top ten breakfast burritos in OC. So, they are definitely worth visiting. Now, back to scrolling Instagram for the next breakfast burrito spot, I'll hit up.  

Out of five bars of surf wax (because the largest bar of surf wax is located at the Huntington Beach Surf Museum), five being best to zero being worst, That Epic Burrito Shack gets 3 bars of surf wax. 

For more information about That Epic Burrito Shack, head to their website by clicking here:

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Welcome to the West Coast Levain Bakery

 Levain Bakery

227 North Larchmont Blvd. 

Los Angeles, CA 90004

Wrapping up our day trip to LA, we needed something sweet to end our adventures in the City of Angels. Los Angeles has some iconic desserts to choose from; Churros from Olvera Street, Hot Fudge Cake from Bob's Big Boy in Burbank, a slice of pie from either Pie N' Burger or Apple Pan, or a scoop of ice cream from Fosselman's. So naturally, with all these great options, we decided to try an NYC transplant, Levain Bakery. 

Levain is an iconic bakery in New York and across the country. They have so many accolades that this could quickly become one of my longest posts if I listed them all. They have been named the best cookie in the US numerous times. Almost all the food people I follow on Instagram have made a pilgrimage to their bakery when visiting the Big Apple. 

Two friends started this business by selling bread to some of the best restaurants in New York City. They opened their first storefront on West 74th Street in 1995, which is still open for business. At first, they sold just their bread, rolls, and loaves. They made a chocolate walnut cookie as a test batch, and they flew off the shelf. People began talking, and soon, they had lines outside waiting for their cookies. They now have nine locations in NYC, along with storefronts in Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, Chicago, and their first on the West Coast, in Larchmont Village. 

We arrived just before 4 p.m. and were met by a small line of about three people. When they first opened almost a year ago, people waited for hours. Luckily, the lines have diminished, and we were in and out within 15 minutes. Parking can be tricky around here, but we parked in the Wells Fargo lot next to the bakery and told the security guard, Reggie, that we were just getting cookies, and he allowed us to park there. We got him a cookie for letting us park there. He probably goes home with a dozen cookies every day. A good gig. 

Before we got to the cookies, Katie wanted to sample their Sour Cream Coffee Cake ($4.75) and Blueberry Muffin ($4.75) first. I liked both of these. They were both sweet but not overly so. I believe the sour cream in the coffee cake suppressed the usual sweetness you would get with a typical coffee cake. I would have liked the cinnamon crumble to be more distributed throughout instead of concentrated on the bottom of the slice. 

The blueberry muffin was studded with plenty of fresh blueberries throughout the muffin. It had a nice crystalized sugar top and was buttery and flavorful at its base. It was way better than any muffin we have had in recent memory. 

For the main event, most people visit Levain Bakery because of the cookies. We got the Two-Chip Chocolate Chip Cookie ($5) and the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie ($5). These hefty cookies are probably best to share, so you can try more than one variety. The two-chip cookie was loaded with chocolate chips, so you get a lot of chocolate in each bite. The outer cookie had a good crunch, while the inside portion was a tad underbaked for my liking. Still, it was terrific, and I microwaved this for about ten seconds to replicate that fresh, out-of-the-oven feel. 

The chocolate peanut butter cookie was my jam. It was delicious. Again, this cookie had a nice crunchy outer shell, but this one was baked a bit more inside, which I appreciated. It had the consistency of a gooey brownie, and the numerous peanut butter chips added a nice savoriness to the cookie. Really, well done, and writing this has got my mouth watering. 

Levain Bakery really lived up to the hype. Their baked goods are top-notch; hopefully, they will come to OC someday. I can't help but compare these cookies to my favorite OC bakery, Paderia Bakehouse. I'd give the nod to Paderia for their chocolate chip cookie, but the peanut butter chocolate chip cookie is better at Levain. In my opinion, these two bakeries are on par with each other. I'm happy we got to try Levain and did not have to travel all the way to NYC. They fit right in with the other great desserts available in LA.   

Out of five streetcars (because this spot is in Larchmont Village, which became a streetcar suburb of Los Angeles in the 1920s), five being best to zero being worst, Levain Bakery gets 4 streetcars. 

For more information about Levain Bakery, head to their website by clicking here:

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Add Honey’s Kettle to Your Honey-Do List for Great Fried Chicken

 Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken

9537 Culver Blvd. 

Culver City, CA 90232

Fresh from our visit to The Getty, we needed some nourishment after checking out their incredible collection. I'm no art buff, but I was impressed with everything I saw this afternoon in early January. There were paintings, sculptures, furniture, photographs, and gardens to take in. The views from this museum perched above Brentwood were almost as breathtaking as those inside the galleries. 

After walking around for nearly four hours, we needed some nourishment before we tackled the roughly two-hour drive back to OC. I had pre-planned for this by looking at numerous dining options near The Getty. With much deliberation, I decided to cross another restaurant off my restaurant wishlist, one that has been on there forever and was only twenty minutes away, Honey's Kettle in Culver City. 

Starting twenty-four years ago in Compton, Vincent Williams, aka Chef Vinny, brought Honey's Kettle to life. After a six-year run in Compton, he moved the business to downtown Culver City, where he has gained plenty of love for his fried chicken. Almost any list of the best-fried chicken in LA mentions this place. His kids and other family members are now working alongside him, and there's been talk of expansion, but nothing has yet to be announced. 

We arrived here at half past three, in the sweet spot, to avoid the lunch and dinner rush. I've read they can get busy during meal times, but we walked in and ordered at the register without waiting at this odd dining hour. They do not have a large dining area, but there's a nice patio out front in case no tables are available. 

The Honey's Kettle menu is divided into four sections: classic meals, original concepts, what's cooking, and baked goods. Despite all the advanced research I had done before coming here, their menu was a lot to take in. We both made our selections, ordering way too much food, but figured we'd take the rest home for us. After a wait of 15 minutes, our number was called, and we were set to dig in. 

Katie does not like eating anything off the bone, including ribs and fried chicken, so she opted for the 3-Piece Breast Strip Meal ($16.25). These were some delicious chicken strips. They tasted fresh and juicy, and the batter coating them was light and not greasy. They came out scaldingly hot. Katie selected their house sauce for dipping, and it resembled Cane's sauce but was less peppery, but oh so good. The fries were nice and crisp and might not have been frozen fries. I was not expecting much from the biscuit, but it was terrific. They provided some packets of honey and butter; this was the best biscuit I've had in years. I'll get extra next time. Katie finished her meal with a side of Macaroni Salad ($4.85). Too much Mayo-based dressing covered the macaroni, which was too sweet for my taste. Katie liked it more than I did. 

I selected the Blackboard Special ($17.25), and after my initial bite of the fried chicken, I immediately regretted not getting a meal with more pieces. This meal comes with two pieces of chicken, rice or mashed potatoes, a biscuit, and sweet pickles. This is the best fried chicken I have had. The breading was extremely crunchy, and the chicken underneath was moist and juicy, even the chicken breast, which is not always the case at other chicken restaurants. My mouth still waters thinking of this chicken. The mashed potatoes had plenty of gravy, and the biscuit was fantastic. I'm usually a fan of pickles, but these sweet pickles were addictive. A really great meal that I did not want to end. 

At the last minute, Katie added these Crispy Peppers, Veggies, and Fries ($8.95) while we were ordering. This big side could easily feed four people for less than nine dollars. It reminded me of fair food. Deep-fried and crispy, the peppers, green beans, sweet potatoes, fries, and whatever else they put in here were made even better with their house sauce. Get these instead of the fries; you won't need them after this. 

Honey's Kettle was worthy of all the hype. Their fried chicken was, as the kids say, fire. Of course, I have yet to try all the fried chicken out there, so if you think one is better, I'd love to hear about it. Right now, this is the leader in the clubhouse. My sides were a level below the chicken but worth getting, especially the biscuits, mashed potatoes, and veggie fries. I'd like to try the coleslaw and hotcakes the next time I visit. It took a little time for our food to come out, but we had everything in the bag we could have needed when it did. Plenty of honey, hot sauce, napkins, and sauces was included. We were a little drowsy after all the fried food, but Katie did a great job getting us back home. 

Out of five ruby red slippers (because The Wizard of Oz was filmed in Culver City and one of the most iconic items from that movie was Dorthy's shoes), five being best to zero being worst, Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken gets 4 ruby red slippers. 

For more information about Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken, head to their website by clicking here:

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Checking into Lodge Bread Company

 Lodge Bread Company

8532 West Pico

Los Angeles, CA 90035

The holidays were over, and it was time to take a week off. Katie could only take a few days off because she's been slammed at work, so we decided to make one of those days an LA day. I had the bright idea of visiting The Getty, which I had never been to. Katie had to drop some plans off at Children's Hospital LA, after which the rest of the day was ours. We left OC at 8 a.m. and reached LA an hour later, taking advantage of lighter-than-average traffic conditions. I picked Lodge Bread Company as our first food stop of the day. 

Lodge Bread Company came across my radar when I saw a picture of their cinnamon roll in a magazine. One glance was all it took for me to place them on my restaurant wishlist. That was a few years ago, and I waited for the perfect opportunity to finally make my pilgrimage to experience the colossal cinnamon rolls for myself. 

Lodge Bread Company, started in 2015, operates three locations, including this one on Pico Boulevard, Culver City, and Woodland Hills. It was started by Alex Phaneuf and Or Amsalam, who also ran the popular Hasiba, a hummus restaurant, out of this location before converting it into its current conceptualization. They also had the wildly beloved Full Proof Pizza, which had two spots operating but closed suddenly last year. 

We arrived at this tiny storefront at half past 10 on a Tuesday morning. There was plenty of street parking, and only a smattering of people wandered in during our stay. We ordered at the counter, and the food was brought to our table. There's enough seating for 12 people inside. They used to have a small patio in front, but it was not there when we visited. 

The one-page menu is divided into toasts, sandwiches, salads, and other items. The other items include the hummus and pita that were available when this used to be Hasiba. Prices here are modest, with only the Cobb salad going over the $20 price point. There's also a large selection of coffee, beverages, bread, and other baked goods for sale. Let's see what we had on part one of our LA day. 

First up, the Cinnamon Roll ($12.50) that brought us here. The first two pictures are of the one standing proudly on the counter. This massive brick of a cinnamon roll was much larger than any you could get at your local county fair. When we ordered this, they asked if we wanted the whole thing or half of it boxed up for later. I could have eaten all this, but we had a full day ahead of us and didn't want to crash while at The Getty. It was boxed up, and they also included plenty of the icing to be eaten the next few days at home. 

This was a very well-made cinnamon roll. The roll was sturdy, and the top had a good amount of cinnamon, which turned crunchy when heated. I wish the roll had more cinnamon running through it, which would have made it gooey. The abundance of the cream cheese frosting was a remedy for this. It was a light cream cheese frosting with a citrus tinge to it. It was delicious and elevated this cinnamon roll to even greater heights. 

Katie started her LA day with a light meal. The Avocado Toast ($14.50 plus $3 for an egg added) is one of five toast options on the Lodge Bread company menu. They use their country loaf bread as the base and then add a good amount of avocado, lemon, radish, extra virgin olive oil, and some cracked black pepper. Katie got her egg over hard, as she's not a fan of runny yolk. She feels this is the gold standard of avocado toasts she has consumed. Plenty of chunky avocado was seasoned just enough, and she enjoyed the inclusion of the radish, which gave this a little bite. 

Wanting something different, I got the Shakshuka ($15.50). This skillet dish came with stewed tomatoes, two eggs, herbs, salt, pepper, and bread for dipping. It came to the table scaldingly hot, so it took tremendous willpower for me to wait for it to cool down before digging in. Once cooled a bit, it was delicious. Online reviewers have commented that they felt this version was too sweet, but I found it mildly spicy, and I could detect the paprika rather clearly. The eggs were a great binding agent with the tomatoes. This came with plenty of their delicious bread, which almost had me buy a loaf immediately. The bread was an excellent tool for sopping up the rest of the shakshuka. 

Lodge Bread Company was all that it was cracked up to be. I'm thankful for that picture of the giant cinnamon roll I spied in the magazine that got us here. Our breakfast items were top-notch, and we wondered how great their sandwiches would be. I have my eye on the BLT and Pastrami Melt the next time we are here around lunchtime. We experienced good service this late morning and a very welcoming atmosphere. Lodge Bread Company was an excellent start to what we'd hoped would be a great day in Los Angeles. 

Out of five ranchos (because this restaurant sits on Pico Boulevard, which is named Pio Pico, the last Mexican governor of California before the US took over, and he had over half a million acres of ranchos in the mid-to-late 18th century), five being best and zero being worst, Lodge Bread Company gets 3.5 ranchos. 

For more information about Lodge Bread Company, head to their website by clicking here:

Monday, May 20, 2024

A Perfectly Pacifying Breakfast at Chuponcito

 Chuponcito Mexican Cocina

23411 Aliso Viejo Parkway

Aliso Viejo, CA 92656

As much as I try to eat something other than fast food during my lunch hour, there are few options for me to get to and from work and eat at a sit-down restaurant, all in a 60-minute time frame. I have been at my place of business for 24 years, and predictably, I have gotten tired of all the sit-down restaurants near my work. So, when I checked Yelp and saw a new place had opened nearby, I made a beeline for it. That brought me and my coworker, Oz, to Chuponcito in Aliso Viejo. 

Chuponcito opened for business in April of last year and has received glowing reviews from Yelp users. With over 400 reviews posted, it has a perfect five-star rating. They are open daily, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but they close early on Mondays and Tuesdays at 2 p.m. Otherwise, they are open until 8 p.m. I visited twice for breakfast, which they serve until 11 a.m. on weekdays and an hour later on weekends. 

Located at the corner of Aliso Creek and Viejo Parkway, Chuponcito is in the same small shopping plaza as Starbucks, Subway, and the Mobil gas station. This area is off by itself, but the isolation of this strip mall has not deterred people from seeking it out. That might be due to owner Alix Wiesen-Todd's gracious and welcoming attitude, which greets everyone who walks through the door. She's worked in the hospitality business for years, most notably at the high-volume Nick's and North Italia. When COVID-19 ravaged the restaurant industry, she and her family prepared home-cooked meals for people in need in her community. Once again, proving that restaurant people are some of the best people you will ever meet. 

At Chuponcito, you order at the counter, and the food is brought to you. The dining space has a nice and relaxing feel. If the entire ten-seat communal table smack dab in the middle of the restaurant is filled, there will be room for close to 30 guests. There are also a couple of tables out in front. 

The Chuponcito menu is short and compact. The breakfast includes nine entree options, coffee, beverages, and pastry offerings. The pastries are made in-house. I have yet to have lunch or dinner here, but I plan to soon. The lunch/dinner menu features four starters, nine entrees, and three salads. Prices for breakfast hover around the $15 mark, while dinner entrees are a few dollars more. Oz and I made our selections rather quickly since we had to reluctantly go back to work to finish out our shifts. Here's what we had. 

When eating the day's first meal, I try to always pair savory with sweet. That meant I had to try one of their pastries, and the one available this morning was the Coffee Cake ($4). The top of this reminded me of the old Hostess Coffee Cakes I had as a kid, with those cinnamon pellets perched on top. This did the trick, but I would have liked more of the icing on top of this and the fruit (maybe blueberry?) to be more involved here. Pretty impressive that they make their own pastries at Chuponcito. 

I'm a big fan of Chilaquiles ($15), but Oz selected this before I could call dibs. At Chuponcito, you do not have a choice of red or green sauce, but Oz seemed okay with that. The fried tortilla chips came with two fried eggs, sour cream, diced onions, avocado slices, and a sprinkling of cotija cheese. Oz's mom is a former restaurant owner, and he's always partial to her cooking, but he found these to be pretty solid. He liked the slight tinge of spice from the red sauce, and the chips stayed crisp throughout his meal. No complaints from Oz about his breakfast. 

With Oz picking my beloved chilaquiles, I was relegated to my second choice, the Carnitas Benedict ($17). This visually stunning plate included a mound of carnitas perched on top of the split English muffin with verdolagas and an eye-catching cilantro hollandaise sauce. I had no idea what verdolagas was, so I looked it up. It's a green vegetable used in other areas, notably Latin America, which I thought resembled spinach. The poached egg was cooked perfectly, and when pricked with my fork, it released the glorious yolk, which helped bind everything together. The English muffin was a little hard to cut through, which made it difficult to eat. It was hard to get a bite with all the elements, but this is true of most benedicts. The hashbrowns were good, with a nice crunchy top layer, but maybe some added seasoning would have helped the potato underneath. 

My second visit to Chuponcito was with my friend George. He's a very plain eater, as he got the same Chilaquiles ($15) that Oz got, but without onions, and after I was done taking my pictures, he plucked his avocado and sour cream off his plate and gave it to me. I guess there are some fringe benefits to eating with picky eaters. These chilaquiles appeared less saucy than the one Oz had, but George did not seem to mind. He liked this plate and polished it off rather quickly. 

I have steered clear of chorizo omelets since I had a bad one at Broken Yolk many years ago. I should have known it would be bad at that mediocre breakfast restaurant, but I decided it was time to get back on the horse, and I had a feeling Chuponcito would make a better one than Broken Yolk. I was right about that.  This Omlete ($15) has three eggs and chorizo, Oaxaca and jack cheeses, and chayote inside. I should have taken a picture of the inside, but I immensely enjoyed it. The egg was light and fluffy, and the inside was not overly filled, so you could taste it. The chorizo used here was better quality than at the Broken Yolk. This was made even better with the avocado and sour cream George gifted me. Thanks, big guy. 

Again, pairing sweet with savory for breakfast is a good idea. Chuponcito was out of all the pastries I wanted on this visit, so we improvised by getting these Churros ($9) off their dessert menu. The churros were nicely fried and not greasy at all. They were evenly dusted with cinnamon and sugar and tasted fine on their own. The sugar-water sauce that came out with these was fine, but we used it sparingly. Chocolate sauce would have been a better alternative.  

Chuponcito was like a breath of fresh air during our lunchtime. It broke the monotony of going to the same four or five restaurants week after week. It will definitely be in my rotation of restaurants to visit. I'm incredibly excited to try their lunch menu on my return trips. All the food was fresh and light, which I look for when I have to return to work to finish my day. Both times I have been here, Alix has taken my order and been very welcoming. The food arrived promptly, and we returned to work on time. Not that I ever care about that. The longer the lunch, the better. Sorry, boss. 

Out of five pacifiers (because the name of this restaurant translates to a pacifier), five being best to zero being worst, Chuponcito gets 3.5 pacifiers. 

For more information about Chuponcito, head to their website by clicking here:

Friday, May 10, 2024

Mixing It up With a $30 Lunch at South Coast Plaza

 Terrace by Mix Mix

3333 Bear Street #316

Costa Mesa, CA 92626

I can not remember the last time I had been to a mall. Shopping is not really my thing. When I need something, I ask Katie for it, and she goes on Amazon, and I usually have it the very next day. If online shopping was an Olympic sport, Katie would easily win the gold medal. It's her superpower, and all the packages on our porch daily are the proof. I only visit a mall when I eat at a restaurant. That was the case on a rare weekday off that Katie and I had together. I decided to check off a spot that has languished on my restaurant wishlist for way too long, Terrace by Mix Mix.  

Terrace by Mix Mix is brought to us by Ross Pangilinan, a chef who always holds a special place in my memory, even though he does not remember me or even know who I am. When I started this blog, I never imagined being invited to any restaurant events, and back in 2010, I was asked to my first restaurant tasting at Leatherby's Cafe Rouge at the Performing Arts Center. In this restaurant, he was Executive Chef. He was the first big-time chef I had ever met, and I can admit it now, I was a little awe-struck. 

In those 14 years since that media tasting, I'm still awkward, but he's gone on to some pretty big things. He has a mini restaurant empire with four restaurants in operation; Bar Becky in Long Beach, Verdant at the Orange County Museum of Art, Populaire, and Terrace at Mix Mix Mix, both of which reside at South Coast Plaza. Chef Ross closed his award-laden Mix Mix in Santa Ana almost two years ago, but luckily, the food is served at Terrace by Mix Mix. 

Terrace is situated at the end of the pedestrian bridge on what was formerly known as the Crystal Court side of South Coast Plaza. This restaurant focuses on small plates that are moderately priced and draw from classic French and Italian techniques, with a nod to Chef Ross's Filipino roots. The compact, one-page menu is served all day and is divided into snacks, salads and small plates, pizzas and pasta dishes, mains, and desserts. We were here for their $30 Express Lunch (available weekdays from 11am to 3pm), where you get a first course, main course, and dessert. A good deal, especially in this high-rent district. Let's closely examine what's happening here at Terrace by Mix Mix. 

The first course was predictably up first, and we coordinated to pick different items to get a better overview of the Terrace menu. I selected my favorite Filipino item of all time, the Shrimp Lumpia. These four lumpia were fried lightly, lacked greasiness, and featured plenty of shrimp. The amazing jalapeno lime aioli elevated this lumpia to even greater heights. I only wish there was more of it on the plate. 

Katie picked the Albacore Tostada for her first course. This riff on a ceviche included thinly sliced albacore, Sriracha aioli, cilantro, a dollop of avocado, and Japanese dressing atop the tostada. Even though it was sliced thinly, the tuna was the star of this plate. It was seasoned well and was complimented by the rest of the ingredients used here. I thought this might be difficult to eat, but the tostada was sturdy and kept its structure until the last bite. 

It's not part of our Express lunch, but we have been on a sprout spree lately. The Spicy Roasted Brussels Sprouts ($12) was a nice change from the usual balsamic glaze we've encountered in many restaurants lately. At Terrace, they use a combination of peanuts, citrus, and Gochujang, a Korean red chili paste that is savory and sweet. Again, this was not applied too much, so you could still taste the crispy sprouts. I also enjoyed the peanuts, which added a very nice textural element.   

When this Filipino Brunch was placed in front of Katie, it immediately brought to mind a similar dish I had long ago at the beloved Break of Dawn in Laguna Hills. Like that brunch from long ago, this included longanisa sausage, garlic rice, and fried egg, but it also came with one of the best pork cheek adobos we have ever had and some chicharron placed on top. Everything on the plate was well prepared, and I had to have some great restraint to not immediately order the pork adobo small plate off the regular menu. I'll definitely do that next time, though, maybe even two.  

The 6 Ounce New York Strip Steak was a $5 upcharge, which still seemed like a good deal because how often do you get steak for lunch? The steak was served simply with some chimichurri and peppercorn sauce, which could have been applied with a heavier hand. It was cooked nicely to my desired medium, rare temperature request. The sides that came with this were roasted potatoes and butternut squash with an agrodolce sauce. The potatoes could have been roasted more, but the butternut squash with the sweet and sour balanced sauce was delightful. Not an overly heavy plate, but one that kept me satisfied until dinner. 

Dessert would be our last hurrah at Terrace, and the options this afternoon were sorbet or ice cream, so we went with one of each. I'm a lousy food writer because I forgot to write down in my notes what these flavors were. One of the sorbet flavors was mango. I noted that I liked the ice cream more than the sorbet, but that's not unusual for me. I'll always gravitate towards ice cream because no one makes a hot fudge sundae with sorbet. The sorbet was light and had an excellent icy texture to it. The ice cream was less sweet than I usually like, but it appeared to be made here using natural ingredients. 

I really enjoyed our experience at Terrace by Mix Mix. The express lunch is a great way to try various menu options without feeling like your wallet is being drained. $30 is a steal for a meal of this quality and presentation. The food here exudes a lightness you don't find in many other places. We felt full after leaving but not sluggish, which is good because Katie ditched online shopping for the day and visited the fine stores of South Coast Plaza for a change. What a throwback. 

Out of five lima beans (because where South Coast Plaza stands now used to be lima bean fields until the mid-60s.), five being best to zero being worst, Terrace by Mix Mix gets 3 lima beans. 

For more information about Terrace by Mix Mix, head to their website by clicking here: