Great Eats This Week: Delicious Bites From Diamond Jamboree Center in Irvine

Uncategorized By May 02, 2012

85C: (bottom to top – Milk Pudding Bun ($2.40), Lemon Taro Swirl ($1.60), Berry Multi-grain Loaf ($4.90) and Brioche ($3.25)

Diamond Jamboree, a vibrant, bustling retail center in Irvine (Jamboree at Anton), features a wide array of dining destinations. It’s unique in the variety of Asian cuisines that are represented in its eateries. Here’s a small sample:

My favorites at the bustling 85C Bakery, the Milk Pudding Bun (served piping hot) and the Lemon Taro Swirl (generally I’m not a taro fan, but this is lovely). Brioche = a little too sweet for my taste – for me, brioche should taste egg-y and yeast-y rather than sugary.

Chef Hung, a sparkling eatery that showcases the kind of “snacks” featured in a Taiwanese  night market, offers some delectable dishes that are new to me. Loved this blanched Taiwanese lettuce topped with a ground pork sauce.

Or the #52, steamed pork dumplings ($5.50) – one chew releases flavorful broth from the dumplings interior. I like to make a little sauce in my bowl with chili paste and soy sauce; each dumpling takes a little swim in the spicy mix before I devour it.

And I was eager to try the soup with braised beef and noodles (you get to select the noodle you like – I like WIDE noodles) and tomato. The broth is spiked with anka, an statin-like herb that my doctor has me taking on a daily basis (red yeast rice that I buy at Costco). Soup better than pills? Well it sure tasted better.

At The Balcony, there are authentic Taiwanese dishes plus a wide assortment of individual hot pots. Food and drink specials are served 7 days a week. The Shaved Snow had a dreamy texture and taste. I turned down a very interesting cocktail and ate snow instead.

Stinky Tofu: I heard about this recently on NPR, and had to try it. Here the odoriferous fermented tofu is served battered and fried; it’s accompanied by an appealing sauce and a Taiwanese version of kimchee.

Stinky tofu is less stinky when fried. The fermented tofu is a popular snack in Southeast Asia, China, Taiwan, and Malaysia. I found the trick is to make a well in the cube with a chopstick and pour sauce into the recess.

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