As 2017 comes to a close, I would like to end the year with a round-up of five meals (new restaurants) which stood out this year.
I begin with right here at home in Orange County with Lido Bottle Works. Chef Joel Harrington has brought comfort food to a whole new level. His wonderfully creative menu reads familiarity, however, once the plates hit the table, you’ll relish in how out-of-the-box the execution is. Read my review here.
Chef Tin Vuong’s LSXO (Little Sister Extraordinaire) is one of my favorite spots right now. The Vietnamese menu is tantalizing, with flavors you’re familiar with, but presented in ways you may not be able to wrap your head around. Pho rolls comprise the same components as a bowl of pho (sans broth — yes, it really tastes like pho – but it’ll take your brain a few seconds to connect the dots. Read my review here.
Moving south to San Diego, TRUST has got to be one of my top meals this year. This little eatery nestled in the Hillcrest area boasts a menu that blew my expectations out of the water, and a stellar bar program to boot. Although the restaurant is informal, the service is five stars all the way. Read my review here.
Now, we move to the other side of the world to Hong Kong. I had many great meals there this summer, but Ju Xing Home was one which stuck out. This hole-in-the-wall offers homestyle Chinese cuisine, with the majority of its clientele coming from notable kitchens – Michelin-starred Chinese chefs – and the local entertainment industry. This year, it earned a Bib Gourmand from Michelin, which is a distinction given to restaurants with exceptionally good food at moderate prices. Read my review here.
Haku opened when I was in Hong Kong, and with some help from friends, I garnered a seat at the Chef’s counter several days after its opening. Haku’s menu is a mélange of Japanese ingredients presented French style, in the most gratifying and aesthetically stunning way. Chef Agustin Balbi had been honing his craft in Japan prior to arriving in Hong Kong, and the meticulous plates pay homage to the artful creations so indicative of Japanese cuisine. Read my review here.
Happy Holidays, and wishing you all a very happy 2018.