Orange Coast Magazine’s restaurant critic Gretchen Kurz just named Mix Mix Kitchen Bar as “Restaurant of the Year.”
Vision, talent and guts. That’s what it takes for a chef to leave a much respected restaurant to plunge into the hazardous waters of restaurant ownership. Count award-winning Chef Ross Pangilinan as one of those brave owners.
In December he opened Mix Mix Kitchen Bar, a globally inspired restaurant and bar in Downtown Santa Ana (in the location previously occupied by Little Sparrow). The restaurant’s name, Mix Mix, pays tribute to halo-halo, the ice cold Filipino dessert that is “mixed;” the two “M’s” honor his children, Madeleine and Maddex.
He smiled when I asked why he wanted to own his own restaurant, his mahogany-hued eyes narrowing a bit, his hands peacefully at rest on the table.
“I wanted a new challenge,” he explained. “I knew it was time for me to either do my own thing, or stay (at Leatherby’s) for the next twenty years.
“I knew it would mean less time for my family, but I’m making the best of my time off. Sunday we are only open for brunch, and Mondays we are closed.”
Read more of my story about Chef Pangilinan and his Mix Mix Kitchen Bar: http://www.orangecoast.com/cathy-thomas-friends/chef-ross-pangilinan-leaves-leatherbys-open-mix-mix/
Eat in the dining room, or dine in the bar. There are snacks, small plates, entrees and desserts. Order a la carte or choose one of the three options for prix fixe menus. The cuisine is so scrumptious – it is tempting to repeat the same dishes on subsequent visits. But try them all.
Here is a sample:
Organic Trumpet Mushrooms: Small trumpet mushrooms tossed with oil are cooked to perfection in a perforated pan sat atop a hot grill. The holes in the pan help to sear the little darlings without making them greasy. Topped with herbaceous gremolata made with chives, garlic, parsley, lemon juice and chili flakes yields a lovely brightness.
(These mushrooms are so delicious! And easy enough to make at home. Scroll down for recipe.)
Filipino Ceviche: It’s the cane vinegar and coconut lime dressing that give this dish Filipino roots. It’s gorgeous on the plate and the palate. Yellow fin tuna pairs with avocado, pork cracklings and Thai chili.
Soft Egg Raviolo: The inspiration for this delectable dish harkens back to his time in the Patina kitchen. This large disk of stuffed black pepper pasta showcases herbed ricotta, guanciale (luscious cured hog cheek or jowl), Parmesan and brown butter. And of course, a soft-cooked egg.
Tropical Verrine: A twist on the Filipino halo- halo, the coconut panna cotta base is topped with an irresistible crown of passion fruit gelée, candied kumquat slices, lychees, mango, pineapple, and macadamias. Divine.
Mix Mix Kitchen Bar is at 300 North Main Street in Santa Ana. 714-836-5158
Trumpet Mushrooms with Gremolata
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
2 (8-ounce) packs of Baby Trumpet Mushrooms (available in Asian markets – see photo)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and pepper
2 bunches Italian parsley
1 tablespoons minced garlic
2 lemons – juice and finely minced zest
2 limes – juice and finely minced zest
Finely minced zest of 2 oranges
1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
1. Toss mushrooms with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Saute 4 to 5 minutes, or caramelized and tender. Chef’s tip: He cooks the mushrooms in a perforated hotel pan over grill.
2. Prepare gremolata. Remove leaves from parsley and finely chop leaves. Combine chopped parsley leaves with garlic, zests and chili flakes. Stir in olive oil. Salt to taste.
3. Toss hot mushrooms with enough gremolata to generously coat; serve.
Source: Ross Pangilinan, executive chef-owner Mix Mix Kitchen Bar