Folks in the know unabashedly proclaim this Laguna Beach treasure as one of Southern California's top Thai joints, and it attracts big crowds for weekday lunches and late-night weekend dinners. If you're looking for a quick bite between meetings, this is definitely the place to frequent; however, if you're looking for a leisurely meal, you might think twice, because the kitchen and waitstaff can have you in and out the door faster than you can say "drunken rice."
With a house specialty like barbecued chopped catfish and curries that have set more than a few mouths ablaze, this casual Thai eatery is not for the faint of heart. Boasting a diverse menu that's decidedly not your standard Americanized Thai fare, Nakorn places little emphasis on smoke and mirrors. Instead of kitschy decor or overworked standards, all you'll find is good, homestyle Southeast Asian cookery. And what more could you really want?
One of the area's more popular Japanese restaurants, Taiko earns high marks for terrific food, quick and friendly service, and reasonable prices. Perhaps the restaurant's best perk, though, is that you can sidle up to the sushi bar and have rolls made to suit your taste. House specialties include sesame chicken, a tempura and sashimi combination plate, and roast salmon cheeks.
This casual eatery is known all over Orange County for its superb dim sum, unparalleled Kung Pao frog legs, and charbroiled seafood. Huge in-house tanks provide temporary housing for a bevy of jumbo shrimp and lobsters, ensuring that your meal is, indeed, fresh-caught. Reasonable prices make it an ideal lunch and early-dinner destination, especially with savvy members of the business crowd.
Sleek, elegant Bluefin is a minimalist's dream, composed of straight lines, intersecting planes, and the contrast of dark and light. The interior is a lovely complement to the clean, unadulterated flavors of chef Takashi Abe's fare. Beautifully composed and perfectly prepared, each dish is a revelation of flavor and culinary consideration. Start with steamed abalone or sashimi soup, and then enjoy grilled salmon, seafood tempura, or a range of sushi offerings. The latter are invariably fresh and make for delectable dining, as does the lunchtime omakase, a multi-course, chef-created meal.