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If you can find this Thai joint in the enormous business park it sits in, you'll find the kind of food that is commonplace in SoCal but rare as hen's teeth in, say, Minneapolis. Make sure to get your parking validated.
When we interviewed Michael "Mick" Schepers for last week's On the Line, we hinted there was more in the works. Well, now we can discuss. The best thing that we can confirm about it so far-- it's lite... More »
It can be hard to find good Thai food in Orange County if you don’t leave the beaten path. Sure, you can find some great stuff in culturally-diverse Irvine, but would you expect really good food in a little place situated at the bottom of a large banking building? The area calls to mind images of people in suits with Bluetooth headsets power-walking to their next meeting, briefcase and latte in hand. The buildings are imposing and impressive by Orange County standards, and give no hint to the cuisine hidden within. Enter Kitima; a small but smartly-appointed joint that’s practically hidden in this banker’s district of Irvine, and serves eats that are hot and flavorful. We had kind of a hard time finding it, but once we did, things went well. Very well. The place is typically filled to the brim for lunch, and usually busy for dinner too, but since we were there on the night of a Laker game, it was practically all ours. As soon as we walked in, we were greeted with a smile by our attentive waiter. He ushered us to a table, and promptly returned with cold Thai beer and helpful menu recommendations. We were interested in the restaurant’s best dishes, and when we told him we love spicy stuff, he smiled and unhesitatingly suggested the drunken noodles and firecracker beef. We happily agreed, and added some crab wontons to our order just for good measure. This is awesome Thai food. Our wontons came with a sweet and tangy, typically Asian dipping sauce, but my favorite part of the meal is always the garnishes that seem to always feature the same four condiments at every Thai place. The colorful green onions, and the crimson chili poweder and paste, you know the ones. My mouth is watering just writing about this. Having created our own sauces to taste, we dug into the light and crispy wontons. The contrast between the crispy outside and the warm soft inside is always satisfying. Our main dishes came out promptly, and were eye-catchingly beautiful, with all the colors and contrasts associated with Thai cuisine. The drunken noodles were tasty and burning hot! With lots of great vegetables and thin, sauce-grabbing noodles, this dish really showcased the spices and seasonings that went into the cooking. Great stuff. The firecracker beef was one of those dishes that you can’t bear to just sit and look at. You had to have a bite! As soon as our waiter set the dish down I just had to snatch a little morsel with my chopsticks before Dave could even get a shot off with the camera. Discipline, Miles! Patience! The beef was tender and tasty, again flavored perfectly with the delicious sauces and fresh veggies, which were pleasantly crispy even after cooking. The portions of the noodle and stir-fry dishes were notably large, feeding two big guys (we were bursting at the seams toward the end) and leaving leftovers for Dave to take home to the family. I didn’t think I had room left, but how can you turn down fried bananas? Vivid colors popped right off the plate, and the fried crunch of the bananas married with the cool creaminess of ice cream made for an unforgettable end to a great meal. One last important note about the experience is that the service here was exemplary. Very brisk and polite, they serve you like your time is valuable. Beers were replenished instantly, and menu recommendations were given with care and a smile!
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