Sigh. Blogging's a challenge when you're feeling uninspired -- especially after discovering that three of some of your favorite places to eat have recently closed up shop.
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The first victim: TeaZone (often mistaken for a Lollicup) in Fullerton, located on State College and Chapman.
Yelpers apparently weren't fans, but I wholeheartedly stand by a statement I've made many-a-time: TeaZone had the best spicy chicken karaage combo meal out of any boba dive I've ever eaten at. Albeit MSG-ridden, no doubt, the chicken was the crispiest, tastiest around, and it was piled high on a bed of perfectly firm and sticky steamed rice (you can't imagine how hard this is to ask for at a boba joint). Additionally, the overstuffed box came with two mystery side items (which were always hit or miss for me) and what I like to call the "scene stealer" of the meal: a small offering of a wonderful spicy green relish thing embedded in the rice, buried under the chicken along with a few salted, roasted peanuts.
TO THIS DAY, I still have no idea what that was. And it pains me greatly to think that I may never find out.
Oh, and this seems rather insignificant after all that, but I also LOVED their chopsticks. They were the cylindrical kind that are tapered and have a good weight to them -- you know what I'm talking about -- not the cheapo boxy things that look like tiny pieces of lumber, which separate terribly unevenly and leave splinters in your grub.
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Second: I nearly cried (no joke) when I drove by what used to be Main Street Pizza Pasta and found out that it's been replaced by some generic-looking Greek food place. I can't even remember the name of the new place. I'm too heartbroken.
No more plump homemade cheese raviolis in creamy tomato-ricotta sauce. No more fast fixes of linguine with clams. No more al dente pasta cheaper than the non-al dente pasta served at Olive Garden and the like.
I mean, seriously, how could you not want to cry?
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Lastly, the Asiana Grill bid farewell to Tustin. This one I kind of saw coming -- not because the food was terrible. It was pretty great -- not the best, by far -- but certainly much better than the other Chinese lunch option I'd been going to. It was the really awkward location. Coming from a certain direction, I would have to make a u-turn quite a ways away to be able to get to it. It's not a place you stumble on easily.
Anyway, as a Chinese fast-food joint, they made everything fresh and to order. Orange chicken is so much better crispy and piping hot than it is soggy -- wouldn't you agree? And you could get cream cheese wontons as one of your combo items. Sa-weet. But alas, it's no more.
Luckily, I read about Chicken Bowl Express in OC Weekly last week and decided to give their kung-pao chicken a try this evening.
I think it will be a very satisfactory Chinese food replacement. And by satisfactory I mean excellently YUMMY.
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Chicken Bowl Express
554 N. Tustin St.
P.S. This post officially concludes "international month," which was kind of a bust. Oh well.