If you’re looking for a worthy lunch from the OC Restaurant Week‘s lunch menus, look no further than Starfish in Laguna Beach. I have been to Starfish several times in the past but it’s been at least a year since I was last there. The first thing which struck me was that it wasn’t as dark inside as it used to be. I like it! I am able to see inside the restaurant and most important, read my menu!
There were four in our party and we were able to try a lot of things from the $15 lunch menu which offers up a 3-course meal. For starters, there were 8 items to choose from and then, an impressive 11 selections from the large plates along with three desserts choices.
Pork Dumplings, filled with ground pork and Napa cabbage, you can have the option of steamed or pan seared. My friend chose steamed. They were decent and the skin to filling ratio was acceptable. I could taste that they were not previously frozen (it says handmade daily) and the wrappers were of a reasonable thickness. The accompanying scallion soy sauce is a good accompaniment. As for chili sauce if you like a kick with your food!
Crab Wontons are not my thing because I just can’t wrap my head around cream cheese in Asian food. However, none of my friends seemed to mind as they gleefully chomped on the crispy wontons and proclaimed them delicious. The wontons are filled with a blend of stone crab, cream cheese, red and green bell pepper, green onion, then fried and served with a sweet chili plum sauce.
I loved the Chilled Cambodian Cucumbers and couldn’t stop eating them. Sliced Persian cucumber rounds are tossed in a refreshingly light chili lime vinaigrette along with baby heirloom tomatoes, mint and Thai basil. My friend who ate my portion of the wontons said “you can have my cucumbers” — and I certainly did!
Chicken Lettuce Wraps were my favorite comprising diced chicken, shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, bell peppers and cashews in a savory sauce with a hint of sweetness. I usually dislike iceberg lettuce but they were perfect as cups for the chicken mixture. I could have eaten a few more of these.
We were all very impressed by the portion size of each item. There was definitely no skimping going on here. When the entrees arrived, we were all pleased with the dishes we selected.
Shiro Miso Salmon Salad was a lot more generous than we had imagined with a nice sized piece of broiled miso marinated Atlantic salmon on top of organic baby greens tossed in a sesame miso dressing. The salmon was seasoned well and prepared to perfection.
One of my friends is a very picky eater and generally stays away from anything “different”. She picked Mongolian Beef and was so pleased with it I could see she was tickled by her selection. The tender pieces of beef are wok fried in a soy glaze along with snow peas, carrot, scallion and ginger. Because she was so happy, I nudged her to try some other things on the table as well.
Sichuan Japanese Eggplant was my selection. I am an eggplant fiend and I can eat it any way it is prepared. I can even eat it steamed with no seasonings — which makes my mother cringe for some reason. I’ve had this dish here before and I love it. Sauteed in a house made sambal sauce, Sichuan peppercorn, bell peppers and onions, I’m happy I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed it.
Another really tasty dish was Bangkok Spicy Udon Noodles. It is so unusual for restaurants to be so generous on the ingredients paired with a noodle dish and I commend Starfish here for this. Prawns, grilled chicken, green and red bell peppers, rainbow carrot, red and yellow onions plus Thai basil make up this incredible dish. I almost want to say there was a tad too much of the ingredients and not enough noodles.
There wasn’t much room left for desserts, but we managed to polish off every little bit on the plate anyway. Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding was absolutely delightful. It was perfectly textured, not too eggy and caramelized bananas and house made cinnamon ice cream alongside.
The Chocolate Flourless Cake was another winner with Tahitian vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce. The menu states Thai tea caramel sauce as well but I didn’t detect that at all.
However, everyone agreed, Mango Pudding was the best of the lot. Silky mango pudding with vanilla bean coconut tapioca and diced fresh mango was just a perfect finish to the absolutely enjoyable meal shared with friends.
30832 S Pacific Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651