Ethnic Comfort Foods
Fall is in the air. The weather is cooling down. We’re adding layers to our wardrobe. And we’re hungry for warm, hearty food. Specifically, we’re hungry for Comfort Food. Nostalgic to a particular person or culture, comfort food means different things to different people. Conventional American comfort foods include meatloaf and mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, chili, and apple pie. However, as America becomes more diverse, so does the food. And with it, a new understanding of what comfort food means. With so many Asian cultures in Southern California, we’re fortunate that we can expand the list of conventional comfort foods to include some ethnic favorites such as Japanese ramen, Korean tofu soup, and Vietnamese pho.
Holy umami. This is no Top Ramen. This is Jinya Ramen Bar, a sleek, contemporary noodle shop that started in Japan and serves ramen, gyoza, and karaage (fried chicken). Jinya specializes in tonkotsu ramen that begins with a base of deep, rich pork broth extracted from pork bones that have been boiled for hours and then combined with loads of dashi, chewy noodles, tender pork, fresh bamboo shoots, spinach, green onion, cabbage, dried seaweed, and topped off with a drizzle of fragrant, black garlic oil. If you request fresh garlic, don’t be shocked when you are given fresh, whole cloves and a press to do-it-yourself. And don’t forget to tell them how you like it—hot, spicy or mild—and note that the hot is underwhelming if you like spice. Jinya-RamenBar.com
To most, tofu doesn’t spring to mind when thinking about comfort food; however, most have not tried the Korean tofu soup from BCD Tofu House. Servers start your meal with typical Korean Ban-Chan, small dishes of fresh, steamed, and stir-fried vegetables and the beloved kimchi. But don’t fill up on the side dishes, because the star of the meal is the soup. Lean back when it arrives, because it’s not just served piping hot, but at a furious boil. A customer favorite, the tofu seafood soup is full of silky, smooth, organic tofu, clams, oysters and head-on shrimp. Before the soup cools too much, crack a raw egg into the broth, allowing it to cook to your liking, and then eat the mixture with a side of crispy rice. BCDTofu.com
There are many Vietnamese restaurants in Orange County that serve a delicious pho, but one of the best is from Pho Thanh Lich. Get past the décor—Christmas lights are strung across the dining room all year long—and focus on the soup. This is why you came anyway. As all good soups start with a rich broth, so does this: made from meaty bones, scented with star anise and a hint of cinnamon. The meat is extremely tender and floats in the fragrant broth along with thinly sliced white and green onions. Add fresh basil, bean sprouts and cilantro, drizzle with your choice of sauces, such as Sriracha, plum or soy, and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime. There’s nothing better than a bon vivant getting lost in a delicious, hot meal. You’re bound to feel like you have been transported back to an authentic Vietnamese kitchen in Saigon. Located at 14500 Brookhurst Street, Westminster
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