French Restaurants Orange County
HONORABLE MENTION: Break of Dawn
The Pioneer of South County
Gustavo ArellanoWhy just an honorable mention? Because Break of Dawn isn't really a Vietnamese restaurant; it's a great restaurant run by a Vietnamese chef, with Vietnamese flavors welded expertly with French, Mexican, Hawaiian, etc. It deserves a spot on this list if for no other reason than the papaya salad spiked with Vietnamese herbs that accompanies Portuguese sausage and fried rice-but mostly because it's awesome.
10. Thach Che Hien Khanh
You Put De Spoon In De Coconut
Javier Cabral / OC WeeklyWhile you might get a small cup of che ba mau-three-bean coconut pudding, where "pudding" is a generous term for the liquid texture of the most popular Vietnamese dessert-in any Vietnamese restaurant, at Hien Khanh they specialize in dozens of varieties of che, from bananas to sweet potatoes to rice balls to jelly squiggles, all doused in sweet coconut cream. If you've overdone it on the chile sauces in the condiment tray at dinner, head for Hien Khanh to cool the fire for shockingly low prices.
9639 Bolsa Ave., Westminster; 714-839-8143.
9784 Westminster Ave., Garden Grove; 714-537-5105; no website.
9. Com Tam Tran Quy Cap
Mountains of Toppings
Edwin GoeiDevotees of the huge platters of broken rice know to head to this standby for soft egg-and-pork pie called cha, snappy bits of sweet sausage, squares of shrimp paste fried inside crunchy tofu skin, boiled pork tossed with toasted rice powder, and grilled meats of every description, all set over a fragrant pile of rice with the texture of couscous. Add your vegetables, some chiles, and a bowl of soup, and you've got lunch for two days.
16175 Harbor Blvd., Fountain Valley; 714-418-1333.
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TK Burger is my favorite hole-in-the-wall burger spot. They have locations in Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and Costa Mesa. Enjoy!