It’s been quite some time since I last visited Chapter One. In fact, I’ve been meaning to stop by ever since Chef Jason Montelibano returned to helm the kitchen.
Being the huge chicken wings fan that I am, how can I not order Kimchi Wings ($10) a la Chef Chicken Wang? These chicken wings and drumettes are tossed in a tangy sambal-pineapple sauce, and served with a handful of house-made kimchi. These are so good I can polish off an order on my own. The wings are crispy on the outside, with a spicy, sweet, tart finish which remain relatively dry (I dislike wings that are too wet) and crispy throughout.
I want to try Sisig Fries ($12) but there are so many things on the menu I want to get through. Chef Jason offers to make a half order for me. The fries are stellar – beautifully crispy, yet, retains that soft interior I look for in a well-executed fry. The combination of pulled pork, pig ears, pork belly, and pig jowl, is decadent, especially when accompanied with salsa criolla, citrus sour cream, and a runny fried egg. It is definitely “porky” — for lack of a better word – so if you like your pork on the subtle side, this dish isn’t for you.
I love the Asian representation on the current menu. Besides the obvious Filipino influences from Chef Jason’s heritage, he also offers a variety of other Asian flavors to his repertoire. Ahi Poke Bowl ($14) is a solid offering with a round of steamed rice, topped with seaweed salad, paper thin cucumber discs, avocado, diced ahi tuna, a umami-packed crunchy garlic sauce, and scallion shards.
If sandwiches are your thing, then try the Mexican-Mediterranean-inspired Grilled Chicken Flatbread ($15). The sandwich is packed with flavorful grilled chicken thighs, spring mix, pickled onions, piquillo romesco, crumbled feta and a schmear of black bean puree on the bread. I didn’t care for the latter component as the texture throws off the balance on my palate, but flavor-wise it is on point on all levels.
Yakisoba Stir-Fry ($12) is a Japanese-inspired noodle dish comprising stir-fried noodles with seasonal vegetables, tofu, peanut, ginger, lime and a sambal-soy reduction. We added chicken (+$5) – you may also choose shrimp (+$8) or steak (+$9).
I’m super picky when it comes to Fish & Chips ($14) which makes it all the more reason to include in our meal. Two barramundi fillets are coated with a craft beer batter, and fried to perfection. I’m impressed by how thin the batter is – some might find it too thin – but it is exactly the way I like my fried fish. The tangy mustard seed slaw is fantastic, making it the perfect palate cleanser in between bites of the fish. The dish also comes with duck fat fries. ‘Nuff said!
I didn’t experience any libations on this visit, but can’t wait to return in the near future for them. Chapter One has returned to its glory days with Chef Jason back in the kitchen. If you haven’t been lately, now is the time to go!
227 N Broadway
Santa Ana, CA 92701