We go pretty often because it’s closer than the other locations. I don’t think it was as solid as the Arcadia branch when it first opened, but they seemed to have worked out the kinks. The XLB are the best items on the menu along with the spicy wontons, and the garlic green beans.
There’s little to no wait if you show up for dinner early (say from 5-6:30PM weekdays). You may also be able to score immediate seating in the bar area…it’s still full service albeit the tables may be smaller…playing Tetris with all the plates and steamer baskets you order may be tricky. Weekends are a crapshoot. They have the NoWait app that you can download after you check-in to help monitor your place in line, and tell you when to come back to check-in for your table. I don’t mind because that means I can do some light shopping around the mall while I wait. It’s decorated for the holidays now so the parents may enjoy a walkabout or you can get some of your Christmas shopping done.
Thank you both! I’m really excited to be directly across the street from this place since the closest location we have is an hour and a half away in Santa Clara. I’ve avoided it thus far because I’ve heard reports that the lines were stupid long (3 hrs+ on weekends) and who really wants to rent a car and drive to Silicon Valley to stand in line for soup dumplings… this must be my reparation for years of holiday vacation sacrificed in the suburbs of Orange County with my Jesus loving in-laws.
Btw, I just happened on your review from around this time last year, Bookwich. I can’t wait for those XLB! Are the pork/crab as good as the standard pork and is it worth springing for both? Also great to hear about the beeper thing; I wish more places did that. We can hang out in the Noguchi Garden while waiting for our dumplings!
It’s worth noting that the range of the beepers they provide you is not large. Better to manage your wait using the app. Not only can you tell how many people are in front of you, it will notify you on when to return in order to check-in for your table.
I recently downloaded the app on a trip to Seattle for some Malaysian place and it came in pretty handy, so I’ll make note and remember to use it. We’ll probably end up at DTF around opening hours anyhow.
@oliver Depends on what you’re interested in sampling while you’re in town. Give us some parameters and you’ll likely get so many options that the list will last you a few trips to the OC.
I’m quite fond of Shuck Oyster House at SoCo a few miles away. The selection of oysters they get are fantastic…they’re also one of the scant few places that serve my favorite Island Creeks from Duxbury, MA. Happy hour is nice there, but it is beer and wine only. If you are in the neighborhood, you will need to stop by ST Patisserie for some lovely dessert…you can have them packaged to-go so you can enjoy them at your hotel…the exotic is a board favorite here, but truly, the dessert case is very good.
Oh I’ve gotten some great lists from the forum on past visits so I still have a pretty extensive and diverse selection of OC eateries to check out. I was asking more in regards to the immediate vicinity of South Coast Plaza; say within 3-4 miles. I generally avoid malls but since we’re literally staying right across the street…
I’ll definitely swing by ST Patisserie. That’s actually a great idea for a little gift box to bring the family.
Note that the “bar area” has the same wait as the rest of the restaurant. The bar line is for the bar only. That being said, it’s usually not more than a 20-30 minute wait. We go often enough that the bartender will usually bring us a drink while we wait. That’s probably not going to be a viable option with more than two people.
Aside from the XLB, we like the wontons (and/or noodles) in spicy sauce, garlic green beans, and potstickers. The pork chop fried rice, although not as good as it used to be, is also good.
As far as other recs in the area:
Water Grill is a great scene, though I’m not thrilled with the QPR on their food.
Bella Cuba is great for Cuban
Ritter’s Steam Kettle Kitchen for pan roasts and gumbo
Chicken Maison for their spicy lemon garlic chicken (better for lunch)
If you have a car and can get to The Mix at SoCo just up the 405:
Pueblo for Tapas
Taco Maria for a great prix fixe dinner
Shuck for oysters
There is also good ramen nearby. Kitikata is my favorite.
I wonder if DTF will throw some shrimp on the pork chop fried rice for me… how come it’s not as good as it used to be?
I think we’ve been to Water Grill before. I’m pretty sure we had a family brunch/lunch there on our last trip. I don’t remember much of anything about the meal, but I remember I had a decent rum cocktail which I ordered in honor of El Commandante, who had passed away that same morning.
Speaking of which, how does the Cuban place compare to the real thing? My folks have an apartment in Miami so I spend a lot of time among the Gusanos in Little Havana and I’ve never found any good Cuban that stacks up outside of New York, which is a distant second. What do you like there? It could be a good lunch option with the family. (Edit: I just realized that it’s a 9 min. walk from our hotel, so we’ll definitely try it out for lunch one day! What are your recommendations?)
We’ve had the prix-fixe at Taco Maria on our last trip and absolutely loved it. It was undoubtedly the best meal I’ve eaten in OC to date and I would definitely go back!
We tried Kitikata as well on the board’s recommendation and I thought it was just fine but it failed to really impress. I think we may have ordered wrong.
Can’t speak specifically for that location, as we usually go to the Arcadia or Glendale locations, but our must orders are:
spicy wontons with pork/vegetable
pork chop (appetizer, comes without the fried rice)
Sometimes orders are:
Shrimp and pork potstickers (my son loves these)
pork fried noodles
We are not fans of their siu mai or fried rice. The crab XLB are just ok IMO. We are totally happy ordering multiple orders of the pork XLBs and spicy wontons with an order each of the green beans and pork chop and an order of the potstickers so my son doesn’t complain about how we never order what he likes.
Not sure. I seem to recall the chop used to have a bone in it and doesn’t anymore. It could be just my imagination.
I don’t have a ton of experience with Cuban food, but it’s better than Versailles in LA, and our long lost friend @Porthos has said that it’s right up there with places he’s been in Little Havana. I like the Pollo Asado, Vaca Frita, Arroz con Pollo Cubano, Pierna de Puerco, and Lechon Asado. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in. I need to get back there soon.
1 on Kitakata for ramen. One of the worst parking lots if you plan on driving. Go early <11:30 or go late >1:30.
SoCo has a bunch of great places already mentioned by attran99 and OC Steve. I would go to Taco Maria for lunch. A few tacos, the ceaser salad and whatever aguachile is on the menu. It will be pricey compared to most other taco places but well worth it.
Portola Coffee in SoCo is one of the best coffee places around.
A few other places ~5-7 miles away
Cream Pan for pastries and Japanese bread stuff. I like the ham n cheese croissant.
Tanakaya for home made soba and udon. I was thinking of this today since its 90 degrees out.
Sidecar Donuts - go early and get some fresh ones. The huckleberry and butter/salt are my favorites.
North towards Santa Ana - so many choices. Burritos La Palma. Taqueria Zamora. Search the board for Mexican is Santa Ana
I’ve never been to a DTF though I’ve read mediocre things on Eater and HungryOnion. Supposedly the original Taiwan restaurant is an entirely different experience. Have you been to this branch specifically or is that just your opinion of the chain in general and what is it about their dumplings that you find meh?
I’ve only been to the two in Seattle and those XLB are hands down the best I’ve ever had. I don’t have a photo but the dumpling sagged under the weight of the filling, but didn’t break. If they all aren’t this good, that’s awful and stupid.