Our food team goes to a lot of restaurants in OC. Here’s what stood out to them in 2015.

Michael’s Picks

The Ranch

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This place has been open for a few years now, but I just discovered it in 2015. I wish I had found this place earlier! Nestled in an office complex near Disneyland, The Ranch serves up incredible quality dishes such as an insane 58 oz. Bone-In Rib Chop and a perfectly cooked chilean sea bass served with a shrimp risotto. The dishes here are done with care and the ingredients in each dish work together harmoniously. Service is top-notch and overall a great experience!

The Ranch is at 1025 E Ball Rd. in Anaheim

Kitakata Ramen Ban Nai

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In 2015, I found my go-to spot for ramen that never disappoints. I’ve been to most of the ramen joints in Orange County and I haven’t found one quite like Kitakata. What sets them apart are their fresh handmade noodles. They’re a perfect compliment to the delicious broth. Also, they serve incredible Japanese style fried chicken (chicken karaage), which is a perfect appetizer to snack on while you wait for your ramen.

Kitakata is at 891 Baker St. in Costa Mesa

Garlic and Chives

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If you thought the Mall of Fortune couldn’t get any busier, you’re in for a surprise now that Garlic and Chives is here. Come here on a weekend and you’ll see hoards of people overflowing onto the street waiting for a seat at Garlic and Chives. There’s a good reason for the line. Sticky, sweet, and perfectly crispy chicken wings, giant butterflied shrimp on a bed of garlic chow mein style noodles, and bite sized lamb chunks on toothpicks are just a few items that make waiting hours for a seat all worthwhile.

Garlic and Chives is at 9892 Westminster Ave in Garden Grove

Johan’s Picks

Garlic and Chives

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Spoiler alert: most of the items here have garlic and chives.

How good is Garlic and Chives? It cracked Jonathan Gold’s 101. Yes, that Jonathan Gold. Before it cracked his list, however, I visited Garlic and Chives on multiple occasions. It is one of my favorite restaurants in Orange County.

You can tell the head chef said, “Fuck it. Let’s cook whatever we want.” Although it can best be considered “Vietnamese fusion,” the menu has no limits. Here, you’ll see chao long together on the menu with garlic fries. And for some reason, it feels right.

The lamb toothpicks are a must-try: bite-sized pieces of cumin-coated lamb, loaded onto toothpicks, one-by-one, all by hand. The prawn garlic noodles do not disappoint; buttery, garlicky, chow mein-style noodles with a handful of jumbo prawns served on the side. The chicken wings are the result of a happy marriage between General Tso’s chicken and fried chicken wings; sticky and sweet, with the slightest hint of spicy. Finger lickin’ good indeed.

Garlic and Chives is at 9892 Westminster Ave in Garden Grove

The Smoking Ribs

DSC_2519Michael Ma

Orange County did not have great barbecue until The Smoking Ribs opened. Now it does.

The ribs here are incredible: not over-smoked, a nice pink on the inside, a good bark on the outside. The ribs are so tender, they don’t need to hide the dryness by drenching the ribs with sauce, like other spots in OC.

Now, we’ve raved about Tran’s delicious barbecue. But since we’re a local news startup, we don’t have the biggest audience. But the Orange County Register and OC Weekly do and they have yet to report on The Smoking Ribs. Once they do, however, I guarantee you the wait times will get longer. So go as soon as you can!

The Smoking Ribs is at 14211 N Euclid St in Garden Grove

DonerG Turkish & Mediterranean Grill

IMG_0102Johan Moreno

Addictions are usually a bad thing. 2015 was the year I became addicted to DonerG’s doner kebab mix plates. This was a good thing.

I get the same plate each time. And it is consistently delicious.The beef and chicken doner kebabs are juicy, tender and seasoned to perfection. The rice pilaf is fluffy and flavorful. The salad is fresh and zesty. The pita bread is toasted to the point where it’s almost crispy, but not burnt.

The x-factor here is something called “DonerG Sauce.” It’s basically a version of the Utah favorite “fry sauce”: ketchup and mayo meets Turkish spices. It’s incredible. I spread it on the meat and rice. It brings everything to life on the plate. I would easily choose this sauce over Halal Guys’ “White Sauce” any day.

But I did think I spread a little too much DonerG Sauce on my food this year. I gained some weight, ok? So I’ll be at the gym, thinking about my doner kebab mix plates until my cheat day.

Doner G has two locations in Orange County. 3800 Barranca Parkway in Irvine and 2139 East Ball Road in Anaheim.

Originally posted 2016-04-12 21:53:04.

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