Category Archives: Korean

Sinoinsocal? But You’re in NorCal…

Whenever I talk to someone about this blog, sometimes I’m asked why it’s called sinoinsocal. I mean, sure, I am Chinese but I certainly don’t live in Southern California. So what gives with this sort-of odd name?

Well let’s back track all the way back to 2011, a year and a half before I published my first post. As some of my readers know (and as it is outlined on my “about” page), my blog is dedicated in honor of my mom and it was in the fall of 2011 that my mom had a couple of severe strokes that precipitated to her passing in 2012. Because of her strokes, I immediately moved from Baltimore back to Southern California.

Pho Ga at Pho Nguyen Hue

Pho Ga at Pho Nguyen Hue

More specifically, I moved back to Irvine, where I graduated from college a couple years prior. It was during my time in college that I ate around Orange County amazingly diverse and large Asian communities. Whether it was some of the best pho I’ve ever had in Little Saigon or the most delicious bowls of beef noodle soup in Irvine’s various Taiwanese restaurants, eating Asian food in Orange County was such a delight.

But of course, most people’s vision of Orange County is something akin to what they have seen in the hit mid-2000s show “The OC” or the original version of The Real Housewives series set in the gated community of Coto de Caza. That is to say, the popular image is of rich white people with sun kissed skin, money for everything they want, and lots of time spent frolicking on the beach or shopping at high end malls. And while this kind of life is definitely representative of parts of Orange County, it’s really just a small portion of what, in reality, is one of the most diverse counties in the United States.

Dim sum at J Zhou Oriental Cuisine

Dim sum at J Zhou Oriental Cuisine

Orange County is home of the largest Vietnamese community in the United States with nearly 190,000 Vietnamese residents and strip mall after strip mall on streets like Bolsa and Brookhurst are filled with great specialists of specific Vietnamese dishes. Right next door is Garden Grove, with a large Korean community and some of the best Korean BBQ in Southern California. And just 15-20 minutes down the 405 or 5 (without traffic) is Irvine, where a huge Taiwanese community means there are multiple great places to get everything from Taiwanese fried chicken cutlets to bowls of lu rou fan. This doesn’t even include the large Persian and Latino communities in the county too.

So when I moved back to Southern California in the fall of 2011 to be closer to my mom, I wanted to showcase another side of Orange County, one filled with bowls of tasty pho instead of fake tans. Unfortunately, an opportunity to work a campaign for a now wonderful Congresswoman (and one of my best bosses ever) and my mom’s cardiac arrest and eventual passing meant I wouldn’t write a blog post until I lived in Denver.

Though with all those twists and turns (and 2 more moves later), I still think that more people should know about the wonderful Asian food that dots Orange County. Thankfully, a few other food writers with a more national audience has done that too. So before you head to Disneyland on your next trip, be sure to check out David Chan’s article and guide to Chinese food in Irvine or the Orange County Register’s guide to Little Saigon.

And if you want to know what are some of my favorite places in Orange County, here are a few below:

  • Broddard Restaurant – Great Vietnamese restaurant in Little Saigon
  • Cham Sut Gol – Wonderful Korean BBQ in Garden Grove
  • J Zhou Oriental Cuisine – The best dim sum in Orange County, almost rivaling those in the San Gabriel Valley
  • Pho Nguyen Hue – Some of the best chicken pho I’ve ever had
  • Yu’s Kitchen – Solid Taiwanese fair in Irvine
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All That Barbecue, Irvine

All That Barbecue
15333 Culver Dr. Suite 100
Irvine, CA 92606

For my sister’s 16th birthday I took her to Disneyland. On the way up to Anaheim the night before our Disney adventures, I asked her what she wanted to eat and she said Korean BBQ. Because we were running a little late to Orange County, instead of going to the delicious Korean BBQ restaurants in Garden Grove that can close early, we decided to go┬áto All The Barbecue in Irvine instead.

We arrived in Irvine a little before 9PM and the pungent, fragrant smells of Korean BBQ immediately hit my nose. We sat down and they promptly set the table with a new grill top, salad, and banchan. Additionally they gave us a menu of all the items you can order with cute names including “Skinny Dipping Cow,” a plate of thinly sliced beef to cook on the grill that pairs well with their dipping sauce, and “Don’t Rib Me Off,” a plate of two long, juicy pieces of marinated galbi [beef short rib]. Since it is all you can eat, we ordered a bunch of different items to try including:

All That BBQ

All That BBQ in Irvine

  • Skinny Dipping Cow [thinly sliced beef] – The beef slices were great and cooked really fast. It was mostly meat but had just enough fat that cooking it a little longer on the grill didn’t make it too tough of dry.
  • Don’t Rib Me Off [galbi / marinated beef short rib] – I loved the marinade on this galbi and the short rib is thin enough that it doesn’t take too long to grill it. The only downside is that they only give you two pieces at a time.
  • Hotty Piggy [Spicy pork] – I loved the flavor of the spicy marinade which helped to keep the pork flavorful even if it was cooked a tad too long.
  • Tried and True [bulgogi / marinated thinly sliced beef] – The marinade was nice but perhaps a little too oily for my taste. While it did taste nice, I did notice that if left on the grill a little too long the pieces charred and became grisly a little too quickly.
  • Let My Egg Go [steamed egg] – This was probably the worst dish in that the steamed egg seemed a little under-cooked and it came to the table lukewarm. Nonetheless it was still a nice balance to soak up the meat juices and salad dressing.
  • Green Land [various vegetables] – The vegetable plate came with 2 slices of eggplant, a few slices of potato, 2 slices of mushrooms, rings and rings of onions, and 2 cucumbers. I liked the mushrooms and grilled cucumbers but the others didn’t do too much for me.
  • Speak Your Beefy Mind [Beef Tongue] – These were thinly sliced and quick to cook allowing the tongue to come out pretty tender after 30 or so seconds off the grill. Not my top recommendation given the other great items, but definitely something I’d try as well.

At the end we were happily stuffed and ready to continue our journey to the Happiest Place on Earth. It also helped that the dinner price was $21.99 per person which is pretty reasonably given the fancy Irvine digs and the quality of meat compared to other Korean BBQ places. Definitely a place to stop by if you’re in Irvine and craving lots of meat.