Mendocino Farms DOUBLE AGAIN

Ugh. Of course my favorite place in UTC is one of the most expensive ones. But, MF is more than worth it. And it’s even more appealing now that I know they have fantastic house-made lemonade!

So this’ll be just a quick one-two punch deal:

“The 8 Hour” Pulled Pork  

The word that came to mind was “righteous.” Haven’t a clue why. I don’t think I’ve ever used that word in conversation, and if I have, it would have been in the sense of “righteous indignation” or something like that. This pulled pork was basically like homemade, in terms of seasoning and fat level. Great balance between the richness of the meat and the bite/tang of the sauce. The requisite slaw imparted the requisite vinegar and vegetable flavors, and the bread was excellent.

Note:  I treated myself to extra meat ($1), but only because I really love pulled pork. I’m sure it would be just about as good without that.

Short Rib Sunday Supper Trencher 

Braised short ribs with Sunday Sauce (red wine-tomato gravy, braised kale, and mirepoix), Mendo’s krispies, and local horseradish ricotta crema on a panini-pressed soft roll.


Could it be?! Is it possible that the trencher is coming back?

I mean, it’s only a name here, but still. I’ve loved trenchers ever since I learned about them in high school AP Euro (and asked my mom to replicate them at home).

The Sunday Sauce was adamantly winey, perhaps augmented by the tomatoes, and combined with the horseradish crema, provided just enough of a balance against the richness of the braise overall.

And such a generous hit of short rib! This isn’t even with extra meat.

Mendocino Farms again

I forgot my lunch, which was a sandwich, at home, so I came here because I’m never in a good mood if I’m promised a sandwich and end up having to eat something else.


Beef BLT. The tomato is roasted! That worked really well with the earthiness of the beef.

Another winner! A nice, meaty sandwich with robust, but still balanced, bread. I added blue cheese crumbles, which are an extra ¢50, and while I could imagine this sandwich still being great without that, but why would anyone purposely deprive themselves like that? This is America, man!
Unfortunately, I ate it in the place, so UCI’s Sociology department (do I even have a sufficient readership to justify a flogged joke?) will have to wait until next time for their next set of data or whatever.

Porto’s Gig Night Dinner

Ah, Downey. One can go from a nice little downtown to a run down strip mall dive bar with a drunk guy looking for a fight in just a couple of minutes! Yup, that’s the life of a foodist/metal drummer. (Disclaimer:  I wasn’t involved in the fight. I was busy unloading my gear. Yup, that’s the life of a drummer.)

Gigging with my band has led to various mini road trips since last November. Downey, Grand Terrace, the still-ungentrified part of 7th Street in Long Beach—I would never have set foot in these places were it not for being in my band.

But, as any foodist knows, most every area holds at least one cool place to eat. Downey has Cuban bakery and restaurant Porto’s, which has additional locations in Glendale, Burbank, and soon West Covina, if the helpful man that was in line with us can be believed. I know next to nothing about Cuban food, so I jumped at this opportunity. It was only a few blocks from the venue!

The only thing that really surprised me was the prices. So cheap! Prepared pastries and such starting at 98 CENTS and sandwiches for only $5-6! I fed myself and brought my parents a couple bites to try for $15 and change.

Cubano sandwich, Potato Balls™, empanadas, rellenitos, and a Mamey smoothie. Pictures taken outside a dive bar can only be so good, so don't start with me.

Cubano sandwich, Potato Balls™, empanadas, rellenitos, and a Mamey smoothie. Pictures taken outside a dive bar can only be so good, so don’t start with me.

Excellent sandwich—something something checklist—and great pastry bites. Potato Balls™, seasoned ground beef wrapped in mashed potato and fried, and are actually printed with the ™ on the menu, are one of those things that can’t help but be good. The same goes for the empanadas as well. The rellenitos are fried plantains stuffed with black bean paste and coated with sugar, yielding a flavor profile not dissimilar to an an pan. The Mamey smoothie was a nice cold, tropical accompaniment.

This was our second time playing this venue, so I hope to come back soon with a larger cooler!

Kochee Kabob House

No Irvine restaurant cluster would be complete without a place that at least pays homage to some form of Middle Eastern cuisine. This place is more than an homage, though, which is, of course, all the better.

The format is simple—kabob/rice/salad, or a gyro—but the components are all great. Both my visits yielded nicely cooked, juicy kabobs (help I can’t stop reading kabob in Nicolai Jakov’s voice).

Beef koobideh, chicken breast kabob, buttery rice, a pleasantly vinegary salad, and a touch of yogurt sauce made a really nice lunch.

Beef koobideh, chicken breast kabob, buttery rice, a pleasantly vinegary salad, and a touch of yogurt sauce made a really nice lunch.

Prices range from $7 to $14. The thing I got was $12, which, with a bottle of water, made my change come out to $6.66. “Lucky number,” the proprietor commented. Didn’t help much in that night’s round of the trivia tournament at Anthill, but maybe I would have got run into by some bro on a power board or something if I hadn’t got that exact meal.


Ugh, I hate that I use “actual” like that now. I’m not an impressionable person, but I guess society has finally broken me. Liter—no. No, not yet. I can still hold on to that modicum of linguistic dignity.

My parents have recently developed the tradition of monthly overnight getaways to various California and California-adjacent points of interest, so I’m left to my own devices for dinner.

During their most recent trip, I was struck at the last minute with a craving for steak. Our closest supermarket, Haggen, is closing, so I had to drive AN ADDITIONAL THREE MINUTES to the next closest store with (hopefully) good-enough steak, Pavilion’s.

Turned out that it was way more than “good enough”!

Turned out that it was way more than “good enough”!

That there prime ribeye was just sitting in the case, so I just had to snap it up. After some quick veg prep…

Melissa’s Dutch yellow potatoes, asparagus plundered during another of my parents’ trips to the North, and a quick wine/cream pan sauce completed my plate.

Melissa’s Dutch yellow potatoes, asparagus plundered during another of my parents’ trips to the North, and a quick wine/cream pan sauce completed my plate.

…I had a great dinner! Firestone 805 to drink with it (and 2013 Firestone Merlot in the pan sauce) made this a pretty Norcal-centric plate.

OK, now back to other people’s food.

California Gogi Grill

No, not Kogi. I know, the whole voiced-unvoiced constant thing confuses me too. I’m surprised that I can keep it all straight with three languages other than English knocking about in my head.

Another long school day, another UTC lunch. My friend Andrew had the good fortune to be free in the UCI area at the same time I was, so he joined me on my now-routine lunchtime UTC walkabout. We settled on Korean fusion joint Gogi.

As if he was trying to out-white me, my friend got the KFC—KOREAN fried chicken—on french fries.

As if he was trying to out-white me, my friend got the KFC—KOREAN fried chicken—on french fries.

The bibimbap combo is a good deal! Eight bucks for a meat (pictured:  spicy chicken), rice, and 7 sides on a salad. Totally portable if necessary, and a better than expected balance of all the components, i.e., I didn’t have a bunch of salad left after eating all the sides.

Huh. Short post. Whatever. This is better suited to the modern attention span anyways.

Anthill Shtoodent Pub

Man, what a place! Beer, food, something else…

What I’m trying to say is what else does one need?


As you can tell from this picture, I totally had these two items together and at the same time.

I don’t like to say food is “better than it has to be” because there’s never really a time when food doesn’t have to be good, but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of and care put into this sandwich—see my sandwich checklist. Aioli, generous bacon, lettuce, and tomato (in a color other than red!). Just a really great BALT. And bonus points for being on sourdough by default. AND special mention or more bonus points or whatever for the excellent potato chips.

This paired excellently with Pizza Port’s Chronic Amber Ale. I always like a bitter and slightly tart (or red-y, as I like to say) beer to go with a richer food.

Studio Session Dinner at El Toro

Santa Ana is one of the more metal places in OC—infinitesimally more so because my band practices and records there—so I’m always glad to have an excuse to hang around.

A Monday night studio session is an excellent occasion to make a quick detour to El Toro Carniceria for yet another lengua burrito and medium tamarindo. This is pretty much the ideal studio fuel (lasted me the whole 6 hours!). Of course, this is also pretty high on my general list of ideal things.

The post won’t count if I don’t put a picture of the food.

Sometimes, I consider skipping salsa to enjoy the wonderfully savory thing, but salsa’s really the thing to do.

After devouring the above, I took the Suburban full of drums around the corner to the studio. An hour and a half later, I was tuned and miced up:

I call her/them/zem/pronoun…”my drums.”

Here’s a rundown of my rig.

Recorded with a nice selection of industry workhorses:  SM57 on the snare, MD-421 IIs, Beta 52A, a nice AKG condenser on the hats, and my AKG D112 in the kick for attack.

Check out what we got!

Mendocino Farms

I used to be one of those people who distrusted people who were (what I considered) overly nice to me. It’s a good thing I grew out of that, because this place has stellar customer service.

Now, for those of you that don’t already know me well, sandwich assembly is one of the few things I get snobby and elitist about. But, it’s not coming from my ego. It’s because I grew up on my mom’s expertly assembled sandwiches, with even distribution to all edges and structural integrity (a favorite term of hers). And of course they are delicious. 

Kurobota Pork Belly Bành Mì

“So what are you doing for lunch today?” “I’m just brown baggin it. With this here $12 sandwich.”

This sandwich was, as you can see, well assembled. That surprised me given how fast it came out after ordering. The overall flavor profile is basically that of a Westernized bành mì, perhaps due to a lighter pickling on the vegetables, but therich and not overly hoisin-y pork belly itself was excellent. The ciabatta proved to be a worthy vehicle for the filling, as well as a neat window into an alternate Italian Indochina history.

A solid 10/10.

As good as this sandwich was, it didn’t really do anything for the curious squirrel. 


Mick’s Karma Bar

I was craving a non-In n Out burger, so I had to drive a bit. Still going to file this under “UCI eatin,” though, because this is my blog and even if every single one of my readers got angry about that, I’d only have to deal with 3 angry people.

Mick’s holds the distinction of being the only place where I’ll order something that has basil in it… 

…and that something is their strawberry basil lemonade. I suppose it’s the basil-transmogrifying power of all the fruit that makes this work for me.

The regular Karma Burger with egg and avocado added.

An excellent burger! Met all the major requirements right off the bat—balance, juicyness, etc.—and proceeded to exceed them. If you’re one of those people who don’t trust signs, it is readily apparent upon eating that the party is hand formed. The Karma sauce brings the beloved mayonnaise/ketchup/mustard profile, as well as a subtle spice. The added egg was perfectly cooked, even. Completely liquid yolk yet completely cooked white.