>Taco Adobe — mmmm mmmm mojo! — CLOSED

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The mojo here is a garlic sauce called mojo de ajo, commonly found in Mexican cuisine. I love camarones mojo de ajo, which are shrimps seared or grilled in a fabulous garlic sauce. I’m kinda addicted to this dish, but only when done well. Some places just can’t get the sear right. At Taco Adobe, they get this dish more than right. It’s absolutely intoxicating, to the point that you wish they had thrown on another 8 shrimps for you to savor. The garlic makes this dish so aromatic and flavorful you’ll want to lick the plate when you’re done. Well, I did the next best thing, I wiped my plate clean with the corn tortillas that came along with it.

Taco Adobe Southwestern Grill, 1319 N Main Street, Santa Ana, CA 92701. Tel: 714-543-2411

 

>Hong Mai — less than stellar fare

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If you want bun rieu (pictured), don’t come here. It’s definitely not a bowl of bun rieu you’d want if you were craving it. For those of you who don’t know what bun rieu is, it’s a Vietnamese crab roe tomato soup noodles which when done right is absolutely breathtaking. When done wrong, it can be very very disappointing. Here, it is disappointing. The broth is watery with hardly any crab roe at all, just a few bits in the soup. The condiments they give you are also very scanty. A couple pieces of tofu is thrown in, but other than that, there is nothing but noodles in this bun rieu. I also tried the nem nuong cuon — grilled beef ball rolls — but here again, they’re stingy on the grilled beef balls and the flavor is less than average. If you want bun rieu, go to Ha Noi Avenue. For nem nuong cuon, go to Brodard or Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa. This place isn’t worth coming back to. The only memorable thing about it is that their decor is nice and the place is clean… but I’m here for the food right?

Hong Mai, 9741 Bolsa Avenue, Suite 114, Westminster, CA 92683. Tel: 714-839-3368

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