PHOTO by PRISCILLA IEZZI / ORANGE COAST
The good eats for Orange Coast Magazine keep on coming. There’s ramen in the column’s future, but here are three recent looks at Orange County’s ever-fascinating international food scene.
First, grab a slice of pizza-like manakeesh in Anaheim’s Little Arabia. Then belly up to a bowl of bibimbap, the Korean rice classic. Finish up with the constellation of Indian small plates called a thali.
Abu Ahmad’s regional Levantine cooking for the L.A. Times:
PHOTO by KATIE FALKENBERG / L.A. TIMES
The fatit hummus at Olive Tree is a dish of geological depth, a dip of distinct strata. Slicked across its top is a layer of yogurt puddled with olive oil and dusted with cumin and paprika. Pine nuts dot the surface like pale pebbles. Embedded in the warm hummus below are fragments of crunchy pita.
It’s an elaborate rendition of the Middle Eastern meze, but not an untraditional one. At Olive Tree, the fatit hummus is both staple and symbol, representative of a certain kind of detailed and familial Levantine cooking lost among the monotony of low-cost shwarma shacks.
Olive Tree isn’t a complicated place. Nor is it a secret to those who regularly bowl down Brookhurst Street, the arterial passage through Anaheim’s Little Arabia. All the dishes you’ve come to love are here — classics soon to be fully absorbed into the American appetite — but owner Abu Ahmad’s 5-year-old restaurant is not one you go to for the familiar.
Olive Tree also explores the underserved and overlooked regional recipes of Palestine, Jordan, Syria and elsewhere. They’re the dishes of weddings and homecomings, celebratory meals delivered here via a set schedule of daily specials.
Read the rest here.
Anaheim’s Sri Lankan find for the LA Times:
PHOTO by CHRISTINE COTTER / LOS ANGELES TIMES
Wadiya turns tropical the second you pass through its doors. Consuming all of one wall is a multi-canvas mural depicting a neon beach scene. Stationed at the restaurant’s center is a cash register shaded by the thatched roof of a seaside shack. And creeping out from a corner is a fake, gangling tree, its limbs unnecessarily groping for some sun. Wadiya’s is a dedicated design — one that swaps the Anaheim restaurant’s strip mall surroundings for the paradise of Sri Lanka’s island style.
After Wadiya chef-owner Chintheka Ganasekera spent years behind the steam tables and hotel pans of the catering business, his utopian vision became a reality mere months ago. That Wadiya is Orange County’s sole Sri Lankan restaurant only seems to inspire the kitchen: It doesn’t filter or blunt its cooking, instead proudly presenting a cuisine that, even with its Indian and Indonesian influences, remains completely distinct.