a round of applause for ADYA

It is highly refreshing to see an Indian eatery step outside of the box and bring something to Orange County that’s never been seen or tasted before (of course available all over Artesia/little India). ADYA, a new restaurant at Anaheim Packing House and brainchild of Chef Shachi Mehra brings a host of chaat, or Indian street food, to the fore. Gone is the heavy, cloying Indian fare most people are accustomed to eating, and then falling into a food coma for several hours afterwards. In its place, fresh, clean flavors I have only found while living in Asia, and in the homes of my Indian friends.

The informal, casual, relaxed atmosphere is indicative of this style of food, although in India, you would be standing on a street corner battling heat and swatting away a few flies here and there. Here, you can enjoy your meal on the patio outside, or in the various little nooks and crannies the Anaheim Packing House has provided for you to comfortably situate yourself in.


We begin with a variety of chaat (literally translated as “lick” because once you eat it, you’ll want to lick your fingers and your plate) to whet our appetites. I am well familiar with Bhel Puri ($5) a puffed rice munchie usually sold in newspaper cones on the street. Diced cucumbers, tomatoes, dry mango and puffed rice which will make you believe you’re eating something familiar, like cereal due to its texture.


Pani Puri ($6) are little parcels consisting of bite size hollow puri  (an unleavened fried bread) filled with chickpeas and potatoes. A vessel of spicy tamarind water is provided for you to quickly pour some into the opening and immediately pop into your mouth — WHOLE! Do not attempt to take a bite, it’ll be extremely messy!


However, I think the favorite is Chickpea Chaat ($6), with the group naming it “Indian nachos”. This dish is the perfect combination of textures and flavors in one bite. You get the soft, crisp, salty, tart, hint of sweet, from the spiced chickpeas, tamarind and yogurt. Every bite is perfection, and you have an entire bowl of it to savor.


One of my favorites is Lamb Seekh Kebab ($10), cumin seasoned ground lamb grilled on a skewer in the tandoor oven. Tender, flavorful, the accompanying mint chutney adds a refreshing finish on the palate.


Although I enjoy the flavors of the Vindaloo Chicken Pav ($6) tremendously, it is a new experience for me, eating an Indian “sandwich”. This Bombay style sloppy Joe uses an OC Baking Company bun and topped with spiced pulled chicken with a hint of vinegar and chiles — you can feel the heat creep up slowly towards the end.


For those of you reluctant or not adventurous enough to venture outside your comfort zone, there are daily curries and vegetable dishes to choose from. Old Delhi Style Chicken is light, possessing no cream (the way I like my curries), while Dal Makhani (lentil stew) is tender and perfect for vegetarians. I suggest making your meal a thali (+$4) with a side of naan or rice, raita, dal, salad and pickles included.


And on to the topic of sides, the Avocado Raita ($3) is to-die-for. Chef Shachi has put her twist on the traditional cucumber yogurt accompaniment by adding avocado and cilantro. The result is a smooth creamy avocado spread you won’t be able to resist.

Of course, who can say no to naan? Garlic/Butter Naan ($4/$3) is prepared fresh in the tandoor oven and brought piping hot to your table.

True to its name, ADYA (pronounced ah-D-yah) meaning “the first”, will hopefully pave the way for more chefs to step outside of the area’s comfort zone and bring lesser known culinary delights to Orange County.

Want to try ADYA for yourself? I have a $25 gift certificate to giveaway to one lucky reader. Leave me a comment and tell me about your experiences with Indian cuisine and why you want to try ADYA. Don’t forget to leave your FULL name! Winner will be announced Monday June 9th.

at Anaheim Packing House
440 S Anaheim Blvd
Anaheim, CA 92805
Tel: 714-533-2392

ADYA on Urbanspoon


Mediterranean delights in Irvine from Doner G

Doner G is no stranger to me, their Anaheim location has been the spot for Yelp get-togethers including a birthday celebration for a Yelper several years ago. So when I heard they had opened a location in Irvine, I was excited and also, not surprised by their expansion. I had been meaning to pay them a visit but didn’t get around to it yet when I received an email from owner Yalcin Aslan (whom I’ve met several times at the Anaheim location) asking me to join him with other media folk for a tasting.

This fast casual spot is situated at Crossroads where the influx of new eateries recently has included Veggie Grill and Urban Plates. When I arrived, Yalcin (pronounced “yal-chin”) immediately greeted me and remembers, after at least four years’ lapse in our last encounter, my love for his lentil soup which he apologizes for not having at this location.

DONER G (640x384)

The menu is pretty simple. Everything is cooked fresh and assembled to order. Two huge spits, one with chicken and the other, beef, is rotating and bits of meat is sliced off as it cooks. The meat is then in turn, assembled into bread or on a plate depending on what you order.

Although there is a lot on the menu, at lunch time, I see most people come in and order the Gyro Value Meal ($6.99) which includes a doner kebab pita sandwich with a side of French fries and a fountain drink.

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That same sandwich is $4.99 a la carte and like the value meal, offers you a choice of either chicken or beef.

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Doner Kebab ($8.99) plate is usually my choice because I like to put my own mouthful together, not already assembled into a sandwich by someone else. Yes, I’m OCD like that! The meat is very flavorful and if you like spice, make sure you add some of the hot sauce they have (ask for it!). You can have chicken…..

chicken doner (640x425)

…..or beef.

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Or if you can’t make up your mind, go for the Doner Kebab Mix ($9.49) which offers you both chicken and beef on one plate.

mixed doner plate (640x425)

However, having introduced you to all of the above, I love the Adana Kebab ($8.99) best. Ground lamb is seasoned with herbs and formed into a “skewer” before it is grilled. The savory combination is piquant and the meat, juicy! I don’t detect any heat to the meat, but those of you who don’t like spicy food might find a kick there. Served with rice, salad, jajik and Doner G sauce.

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Most dishes come with both the jajik and the Doner G sauce. Jajik is similar to tzatziki and each culture’s variation is slightly different.

If you’re looking for something light, the Fettush Salad ($5.49) is a great option. Romaine lettuce, red onions, tomatoes and cucumbers are tossed in a simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing. A handful of crispy pita chips are combined together to give it a beautiful crunchiness.

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Of course, you mustn’t leave without trying some of their sides such as Dolma ($4.39/4pcs), fresh grape leaves stuffed with rice, parsley, onions and herbs.

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One of my favorites is the babaghanoush, or there is the Hummus ($3.49/12oz) made fresh and served with pita bread.

hummus (640x425)Those with a sweet tooth can end their meal with Baklava ($2.99/2pcs), a little different to the ones available here. Imported from Turkey, these are smoother in texture and less sweet.

Doner G
3800 Barranca Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92606
Tel: 949-861-2626

DonerG Turkish and Mediterranean Grill on Urbanspoon

MaDee Thai Kitchen offers delicious fare close to home

For some reason I thought I had written this place up a long time ago, but after searching for it, I realized I had not. MaDee is one of those little hole-in-the-wall places which lies in an indescript strip mall, keeping to itself without much fuss. I wouldn’t even have ventured in had I not found it on Yelp.

I call it fast casual dining since you order at the counter, pay, and then when your food is ready, they’ll bring it to you. A really nice lady runs the place and she will talk to you if you initiate, otherwise, she is rather shy and quiet. We’ve been there many times and have tried quite a few things on the menu, most of it good, some great, and then of course, the outstanding ones.

My son’s favorites at any Thai restaurant include Fried Tofu ($5) which is decent here, but not a stand out dish.

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Another one of his favorites is Chicken Satay ($6) but I’ve had better. It’s passable if you absolutely have to have it.

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Beef Salad ($9) is absolutely delicious, perfectly tart and the beef very tender and flavorful. I can never pry this away from my child when we dine here.

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If you’re a salad fan then Papaya Salad ($7) must not be missed. This is one of the best papaya salads I’ve had in Orange County. The julienned papaya is crisp and fresh. I don’t like it when it’s been over-marinated. The salad possesses the right amount of acidity with saltiness from the dried shrimp and great spiciness from the slivers of Thai bird chilis interspersed throughout. This is so addicting I can’t stop eating it.

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Larb Chicken $8 is another stand-out. It arrives slightly warm and dotted with red onions. This is another delectable offering not to be missed.

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Noodle fans should order Pad Kee Mau chicken ($9). Unlike the pad Thai and the pad see ew, the pad kee mau is not on the menu, but you can ask for it. “Drunken noodles” as it is known in Thai, this is best eaten hot and spicy!

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If you like soup noodles, they made a really great Kao Soi ($8) here. Khao soi is a Burmese-influenced curry noodle dish widely eaten in Laos and northern Thailand. I’ve tried many of these in various restaurants, but I love this one. The pickled vegetables make such a difference, adding acidity and saltiness. I always want more of it in my broth!

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On a recent visit, I ordered Crab Fried Rice ($10), which is outstanding and there is real crab throughout with a deep fried egg on top. There is enough for three lunches for me out of this one order. It doesn’t look like much, but it is very substantial.

crab fried rice (640x480)

There aren’t many good Thai restaurants in Orange County, so I’m always excited to find another one I can frequent, especially one which offers those delicious curry noodles.

MaDee Thai Kitchen
401 E 17th Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Tel: 714-631-2731

Madee Thai Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Greenleaf opens 2nd location in OC

I was really happy to know that Greenleaf had opened at SoCo. The restaurant is a perfect fit for this Costa Mesa foodie destination, The menu is fresh and healthy while the decor stays true to keeping everything environmentally sound.

I always forget there is a lot more than salads here. I’m not typically a salad person, but if you are, the antioxidant salad is one of the most popular — you can read about it when I reviewed its first OC location.


On this particular visit to the new spot, we started with some cocktails (you can get this sans alcohol too) created with soju, a Korean alcoholic beverage made from potatoes. Pine-Kale-Ada Soju cocktail ($8) is like a spiked adult smoothie, the pineapple gives it sweetness and the kale, a healthy freshness. I could have had a huge glass of it, but it was just as well I didn’t because it would’ve been WAY too easy to drink.

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Turkey Burger Sliders ($5) were surprisingly moist and savory. Turkey can often turn out dry, but these bite-sized burgers were perfectly juicy and seasoned well. A great snack for one, or shared as a starter with a friend.

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One of my favorites was Meatballs and Toast ($6), smothered in a gorgeously light marinara sauce. The morsels of cheese is oozy melty and the julienned basil adds a lovely freshness to the dish. For $6, the portion size was very generous and enough if I only wanted a light meal.

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If you’re looking for something more substantial, Turkey Melt Sandwich ($9.95) is delicious and comes on a lightly toasted pretzel bun. Crispy on the outside, sliced turkey breast and melted cheese is packed between the bun and served with a side of .

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I’ve always like the pizzas at Greenleaf and the Wild Mushroom and Truffle Pizza ($9.95) is one of them. What I love most about these pizzas is how thin the crust is.

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Another huge perk at Greenleaf is their happy hour. Select items are offered at half price while cocktails and pizzas are only $5 between 3pm and 5pm.

This week I have a $20 giftcard for one lucky reader to win. Please leave me a comment with your FULL name and tell me your experiences with Greenleaf, or if you’ve not yet visited, what are the items you would most like to try. Entries close on Wednesday 25th and a winner will be announced on Thursday 26th. Good luck! 

Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop
3321 Hyland Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Tel: 714-862-2480

Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop on Urbanspoon

Bagels & Brew and much much more

I’ve never been a coffee drinker, and I rarely eat bagels, so when I saw Bagels & Brew, it never dawned on me to give them a try. It wasn’t until my friend suggested we have lunch here that I actually found what that this place was SO much more than just coffee and bagels.

There were a few of us so we managed to try several things including an array of sandwiches they have on offer.

We started with some breakfast selections including Sunrise Supreme ($4.99), a bagel of your choice filled with egg, bacon, cheddar, tomato, lettuce, and schmear of cream cheese. I’m not into breakfast sandwiches of any kind, but this was tasty and I liked how they didn’t skimp on the fillings at all. It was actually bursting out of the bagel whenever I took a bite.

If I were to order a breakfast sandwich, this would be the one I’d choose. Pesto Florentine Sunrise ($4.99) combines together everything that is delicious. Although the menu says scrambled egg, it was more like an omelette. Spinach, mushrooms, tomato, Swiss cheese and pesto aioli makes for something so delicious you’ll have to taste it to believe it.

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If you don’t want something carby, choose the Bacon, Avocado & Tomato Omelet ($6.89) filled with gooey jack cheese. Again, they don’t skimp on ingredients and you will taste all the bacon and cheese, creamy avocado and fresh tomatoes in a really delicious breakfast.

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When The Mission Viejo ($4.99) arrived, I had to smile. This is one of my favorite snacks at home, sans the cream cheese and I have it on toast. Avocado and tomatoes are topped on a bagel smothered with a cream cheese of your choice, and then sprinkled with lemon pepper. A really simple meal any time of the day.

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Havarti Florentine ($7.29) is a sandwich packed with grilled turkey breast, sauteed spinach, dill havarti, grilled onions, tomato and mayo. If I were to pick a sandwich, this would be it! Served with house-made potato chips, the generous portion is ample enough for a healthy appetite.

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If you’re looking for something lighter, try the Portofino Salmon Salad ($10.50), a piece of grilled salmon fillet served on top of field greens, goat cheese, medley of roasted artichoke, red peppers, tomatoes, onions tossed with balsamic vinaigrette.

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As if that wasn’t enough, Bagels & Brew also offers burgers on the menu. Southwest Angus Burger ($7.49) is a hand formed 1/2 lb Angus pattie, topped with avocado, ortega green chili, jack, lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickle and house sauce in an OC Baking Company potato bun. The result? Even the pickiest eater will find this very tasty!

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And if you’re in the neighborhood during dinner hours, Bagels & Brew has a dinner menu not many seem to know about. The Salmon plate ($10.95) is a piece of grilled salmon topped with mango salsa served with delicious cheese toast, roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables and some rice. Healthy, delicious and a good size portion for $11.

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I was very impressed by Bagels & Brew and its extensive menu offered early in the morning until evening. The majority of the menu is made in-house and they great pride in this aspect of the family-owned business. Everything is fresh, healthy and things I am happy to feed my child with.

This week, I have a $25 gift card to give away to one lucky winner. Leave me a comment and tell me your experiences with Bagels & Brew or why you would like to visit, if you haven’t already. Please leave your FULL name or your entries will not be valid. Entries close on Sunday.

Bagels & Brew
23052 Alicia Pkwy
Mission Viejo, CA 92692
Tel: 949-837-6977

Bagels & Brew on Urbanspoon

21771 Lake Forest Drive
Lake Forest, CA 92630
Tel: 949-951-8985

Bagels & Brew on Urbanspoon

26601 Aliso Creek Road
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
Tel: 949-521-6120

Bagels & Brew on Urbanspoon

a Burrissimo celebratory giveaway

In honor of the City of Costa Mesa’s 60th anniversary celebrations, Burrissimo has provided a myriad of goodies for my readers to win. One lucky winner will win a wonderful gift basket of goodies while 10 others will win $10 giftcards to check Burrissimo out. Included in the gift basket will be:

·         A pair of 60th anniversary concert tickets
·         $25 Burrissimo gift card
·         Burrissimo logo cap
·         Bottle of BSting Signature Hot Sauce
·         An order of free Happy Birthday Costa Mesa Zeppoles

An in-store promo taking place at Burrissimo Costa Mesa between June 24-30 offers customers:

  • A FREE order of Birthday Zeppoles with minimum purchase ($7 minimum).

Use your OC Tastefest 60th anniversary concert tickets on June 28th at 4pm!!


Leave me a  comment and tell me why you would love to win this  awesome gift pack. Entries end Thursday 20th! Winner announced on Friday 21st! Good Luck!