I’ve been waiting for Chef Ross Pangilinan to open his own place. Having been an avid fan and follower of his while at Leatherby’s Café Rouge at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, I knew his talent and creativity would one day take him on to bigger and better things. So having said that, I didn’t wait the usual six weeks to visit Mix Mix after its opening. Had I not been traveling, I would have jumped sooner.
Moving in to the former Little Sparrow space, the restaurant is a cozy spot for Chef Ross to create his beautiful masterpieces which not only seduces the eyes, but also, leaves the palate longing for more.
Some menu items will be familiar to those who frequent Leatherby’s, but they’ve taken on a bolder, more assertive feel.
I am here on a Sunday for brunch. The menu offers a selection from the regular menu, along with some superb brunch plates which will undoubtedly make your tummies sing with delight.
There is no bread service, instead, a bowl of chicharron arrives at the table. It is crispy and super addictive.
After much deliberation, we decide to order Tuna Poke Toast ($5) a slice of grilled bread from OC Baking Company, topped with tuna, avocado, seaweed, radish discs, and micro greens. It is not only beautiful on the eyes, but also, highly satisfying to eat.
I’ve had a rendition of Hamachi ($8) before. The fish is interspersed with jalapeno – which I’m wanting more of — apple, ponzu gelée, romaine, and herbs. The flavor is a well-executed balance of salt, tart and sweet which heightens the sensation in my mouth.
Soft Egg Raviolo ($12) is another item I’ve eaten at Leatherby’s. The one at Mix Mix is bolder, richer, what I call a “kicked-up” version of its former self. The ravioli is a black pepper pasta stuffed with ricotta and egg yolk, then finished with guanciale bits, parmesan, and brown butter. It is decadent and a must-order if you’ve never had it.
We are all excited about House Made Pasta ($14) a Chef Ross version of spaghetti “carbonara” using ikura, or salmon caviar to add piquancy and a soft runny egg for richness. It is absolutely fabulous with the perfect amount of salty umami from the ikura to add another layer of flavor to the mix.
However, it is the Duck and French Toast ($14) which garners ooos and ahhs. The five spice maple seasoned duck is crispy on the outside while fork-tender on the inside. When paired with the brioche French toast, the combination of the sweet with salty, and a little zing from the Szechuan pepper-cider jus brings everything back full circle with the perfect marriage of flavor profiles.
To finish, the Tropical Verrine ($6) a panna cotta topped with lychee, passion fruit, coconut, and macadamia nuts is an homage to the Filipino dessert halo halo. The panna cotta is exquisite with refreshing aromatics from the tropical fruits melding together for my perfect dessert – light and not too sweet.
There are a handful of chefs I am completely enamored with purely because I’d like to think they are cooking especially for me. But the truth of the matter is, their palates are more in tune with mine. Chef Ross is definitely one of those chefs. We will be back again very soon for more tantalizing meals out of the Mix Mix Kitchen.
Mix Mix Kitchen
300 N Main Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701