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Picnic Garden

This is a Korean Style BBQ and it’s all you can eat.  At lunch time on a weekday it’s only 8$ and that includes soft drinks.  At a Korean BBQ you cook the food on a grill at your table.  Since this is all you can eat they’ve got bars (similar to salad bars) except they have lots of raw and seasoned meats.  There are sauces in the back as well as ready to eat foods like eggrolls and fries.

One tip: Wait for the grill to get good and hot.  If you put the cold meat on it before it’s hot the grill will never get hot.

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Seoul Garden

This is also a Korean BBQ.  It’s much newer looking than Picnic Garden.  It’s a toss up which is better.  Some people like one and some people prefer the other.   It’s also $8 for lunch but drinks are separate.

Directions: From the 5 take Red Hill north.  Past the 1st light on the right is a shopping center.  It’s in there behind the Del Taco.

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Cheesecake Factory

You may have heard of them.  They are also a national chain (or are they now international).  The thing that sucks about the Cheesecake Factory is that they don’t take reservations and they are almost always busy.  On a Friday or Saturday night you can expect to wait at least 2 hours.

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Niki’s

Niki’s is Indian fast food.  I could probably eat there everyday.  I usually get the Chicken Tika (not hot) and I have them put the white sauce on my rice.  I have the spinach and the yogurt and if I’m really hungry I’ll order a samosa.  Note: The yogurt should be treated like a dip for dipping the meat and other hot things.  Think of it like sour cream on a potato.

Directions: Take Bristol north from the 405.  Past Sunflower on the right past the gas station.

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Tommy Sushi

This place is interesting in part because it’s so hidden.  If somebody didn’t tell you it was there you’d probably think it was a closet.  The sushi’s not bad.   The dinner sets of Japanese food are large but not great.  I really like the Poki bowl which is kind of like eating a bowl of California role with some sashimi added to it.

Directions: Take the 55 to McFadden east and then turn left on to Newport Blvd.  Go Past the 5 to Bryan. Just past Bryan turn right into the parking lot of Tony’s Landing.  Tommy Sushi is behind Tony’s Landing, behind the Thai BBQ (which is also pretty good)  Don’t mistake it for the Teppan restaurant next door.

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Sushi Wave

Sushi Wave has the best sushi I’ve had in O.C.  There is often a 20 minute wait.   It’s funny because the place is full of Americans instead of Japanese natives even though there are lots of Japanese natives in the area.  At least most of the employees are Japanese natives.  What makes it so good?  The fish is fresh!

Directions: From the 405 south take the 73 to the 55 south and then exit the 55 and drive down Newport Ave long the side of the freeway.  Sushi Wave is on the right in a strip mall several lights down.  If you make it to NikeTown and Triangle Square you’ve gone 1 or 2 lights too far.

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Kanpai

This is also a good place for sushi though not as good as Sushi Wave.  It’s great for lunch though as they have some pretty good lunch specials including gyoza and chicken and beef teriyaki for those non-sushi eaters.

Directions: Take Bristol south from the 405 to Baker.  Turn left.  Kanpai is on the left behind Shooters.  Note: Kanpai means Cheers in Japanese.

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Alberto’s

Alberto’s is a small chain of Mexican fast food.  Before they opened in Orange County we used to drive all the way to Oceanside to eat there.  Now there’s a few in Orange County.  Something strange happened because many of the Alberto’s have changed their names to things like Alberta’s and Albertaco’s but they seem to have all managed to keep the same taste.

My favorites are (1) 3 rolled tacos with guacamole. (2) two beef tacos with rice and beans.  One thing I don’t like there is the chicken burrito.  It’s just chicken in a tortilla.  No rice, no beans, no nothing.

One other cool thing: They’re open 24 hours.

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Natraj

This is an awesome Indian restaurant in Laguna Beach.  The best part is that on weekdays they have an all you can eat buffet for lunch.  It’s a must try!  My friend Tom’s favorite dish is the Chicken Tika Marsala.  It’s not usually served during the buffet though sometimes you can get lucky.

Directions: Natraj is on PCH south of Broadway about 10 blocks on the left (opposite the beach)

NOTE: Natraj is under new management now and the food is no longer any good.  :-(

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Peruvian place at Cerritos and Western.

There is a little hole in the wall Peruvian restaurant at the corner of Western and Cerritos.  If you’ve never tried Peruvian food (as in from Peru) I suggest you try it.  It’s pretty good and somewhat different.  One of the dishes I had there is this potato dish with this thick yellow gravy/sauce poured all over it.  Very good!   Also I had some squid salad and the squid was as tender as chicken.  Not rubbery at all.  Yum!  They also have chicken dishes.

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