One of my favorite Orange County chefs, Ross Pangilinan, has opened his second location, at South Coast Plaza. Terrace by Mix Mix is a fast casual lunch spot by day, and by night, it is transformed into a sit-down, full service restaurant. I have been a fan of Chef Ross since his days as Executive Chef at Leatherby’s. Mix Mix in Santa Ana, is a dinner-only restaurant with a bar program that is on par with some of the best in town. At Terrace, there are no cocktails, but instead, focus mainly on wine, although bottled craft beers are also offered.
At lunch, a 3-course prix fixe menu sets you back a mere $15. For those with larger appetites, feel free to add more to your 3-course — for an additional $4, you can add an appetizer, or, $7 for an entree.
There is a myriad of combinations you can create, as each course offers a variety of choice to pick from.
At dinner, the format switches and diners can expect a full service restaurant both in the dining room, as well as the patio. We celebrated a friend’s birthday last week and tried the dinner options.
Bacon Wrapped Dates ($8) is self explanatory. The dates arrive in a little skillet on top of harissa yogurt sauce. We agree the sauce might perhaps be better, served on the side, as there is a little too much of it, and can overwhelm the beautiful salty-sweet essence of the bacon wrapped dates. I prefer just a tiny dab of the sauce to give it a hint of harissa yogurt, while allowing the dates to shine through.
Chef Ross is a master with vegetables and it definitely comes across in Roasted Mushrooms ($8). The medley of mushrooms is seasoned with oyster sauce and arrives caramelized brimming with umami. It is one of our favorites. When the server tries to remove the plate my friend is quick to scoop up the remaining two strands on the plate. A bowl of steaming hot rice and these mushrooms will make a complete meal for me.
My dining companions are not as enamored with Seasonal Roasted Vegetables ($8) as I am due to the Sichuan peppercorn sauce. They are not used to the numbing effects of the Sichuan peppercorns, but I absolutely love it.
Hamachi Crudo ($13) is one of those dishes which has followed Chef Ross from Leatherby’s. Hamachi sashimi is coupled with marinated strawberry and tomato, but it is the puffed roasted rice that has me going back for more. These little delightful bits add not only texture, but wonderful smokiness to the plate.
I’m not a huge fan of ribs, but these Asian BBQ Pork Ribs ($14) are fall-off-the-bone tender, and possess that distinctively sticky consistency that is indicative of Chinese-style ribs. The pickled chile Napa cabbage slaw is an ideal pairing, cutting some of the fatty richness with its refreshing acidity. This is elevated comfort food at its best.
If I were to ever dine on my own, Roasted Shrimp ($16) will be my go-to dish. The plump shrimp are texturally perfect! Accompanied with roasted vegetables and purees, gremolata, and Korean chile, it is a complete meal on its own for those wanting something substantial, yet light.
For the entrees, there are a few options to choose from. We see our neighbor eating Duck Breast ($34) and decide to order it. The medium rare duck breast is well executed and even better eaten with the fig compote. Parsnips and Israeli couscous are lovely sides, lending a variety of textures in every mouthful.
I never had any doubts Terrace by Mix Mix would deliver the top notch style of cuisine that has become synonymous with Chef Ross Pangilinan. From lunch to dinner, rest assured that you will walk away completely satiated, and looking forward to your next meal here.
Terrace by Mix Mix
3333 Bear Street
(located at Crystal Court on the 3rd level across from Hamamori)