Asian cuisine has always been popular in Orange County because of its large ethnic population. Many Asian restaurants showcase cuisines of the different countries making up the continent, with Mandarin-style cooking foremost among them. Part of their popularity is being able to get a hearty meal at a very reasonable price. Check out these Orange County hot spots for Asian food.
Best Authentic Chinese Option:
Peking Dragon Chinese Restaurant
34171 Pacific Coast Highway
Dana Point, CA 92629
Diners have been frequenting this restaurant in Dana Point for over 10 years. The authentic Chinese cuisine, which is Mandarin-szechwan style, includes a mix of the modern and traditional, freshly cooked and served by friendly waiters amidst Asian decor. Family-owned and operated, the extensive menu includes family recipes, house specials and vegetarian choices. One must-try dish is the Mu-Shu Chicken. Chicken often comes out bland in many dishes. However, the chicken in this Peking dish is anything but. Served alongside eggs and vegetables, this dish is paired with thin Chinese pancakes, green onions and plum sauce for a truly unique tasting experience.
Best Large Group Option:
574 S Glassell St
Orange, CA 92866
Yen Ching is an excellent Chinese restaurant serving Mandarin and Szechwan cuisine, prepared at the time of order from the freshest ingredients. All of the lunch specials include soup, wontons, fried rice and a choice of entree, whether beef, chicken, shrimp or pork; and all are reasonably priced at $8.95. Who could say no to that deal? Dinner specials start with soup, then a choice from the appetizers of egg rolls, pot stickers and paper-wrapped chicken, followed with a choice from the entrees, which include beef or chicken and a dessert. The price of dinners start at $19.95 per person, based on the number of diners. With each additional person, more entree choices are added to the mix with options including prawns, pork and duck. Stop in at Yen Ching to get a wide selection of authentic and hearty Mandarin food.
Best Vegetarian Option:
30001 Town Center Drive
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
China Moon has an extensive Mandarin-style menu, which is freshly prepared and reasonably priced. The service is fast and efficient and the menu includes hearty servings of a variety of meals. One of the standouts is the Shrimp Shu-Mai served with eight wonton wrappers filled with shrimp, water chestnuts and shiitake mushrooms, all steamed together to the perfect temperature and texture. This dish comes with steamed rice and rings in at a great price of $7.95. With so many people going vegetarian or vegan, they will have no trouble finding something delicious to eat. The Ma Po Tofu is wonderful and comes as Szechwan tofu stewed in a spicy garlic sauce with ginger and scallions.
Most Unique Menu Option:
Golden Dragon Chinese Restaurant
2023 Harbor Blvd, #A
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
The Golden Dragon has been in the same location since 1974, during which time it has earned many awards for its food. The prices are excellent and start at $5.75 for 12 wontons with minced beef and ginger. Among the entrees, try the Asparagus Shrimp – sautéed shrimp served with fresh asparagus and a white garlic sauce – or the Oyster Sauce Beef – beef sautéed with sliced bamboo, chestnuts and mushrooms and served with an oyster sauce. Both dishes are absolutely delicious. Vegetarians will find that there are numerous entrees that use tofu and bean curd instead of beef, chicken or seafood. Still have room for dessert? Choose between the Mango Sorbet, Chilled Lychees and Green Tea Ice-cream. Treat yourself by indulging in one of these unique treats.
Best Vietnamese Option:
Pho Thanh Binh
107 Via Pico Plaza
San Clemente, CA 92672
This Vietnam restaurant is a new arrival in San Clemente serving a mixture of Vietnamese cuisines, including teriyaki chicken, stir-fry and noodles at very reasonable prices. Vegans can enjoy the traditional Pho noodle soup, but with a vegetarian twist – only noodles, broth and an assortment of garnishes including onions, herbs, chiles and lime. It sounds simple but is packed with strong tastes. Bring your dog along for lunch as they are allowed to sit on the patio. The waiters are fast and efficient, the food plentiful and most meals can be enjoyed for under $10.
Mona Graham is a freelance writer, writing for Examiner.com. Mona has lived in Orange County since 1958 and has a great familiarity with the area. Her hobbies are travelling, writing and photography. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.