After splitting with nearby El Mercado Modern, chef Danny Godinez turned to seafood. The result is Cevichería Nais. Mariscos favorites star, like the bracing scallop aguachile tostada and the guacamole lit with serrano chile peppers and studded with plump shrimp. There’s also a short list of Mexican-style sushi, a fusion not uncommon in Sinaloa. 224 E. Third St., Santa Ana, 657‑231‑6005
Toast Kitchen + Bakery
Toast specializes in the in-between meals, or brunch and dunch. That translates to a kitchen built upon inventive all-day cooking. Think crab avocado toast with onion ash, coriander butter, and grapefruit alongside a plate of Nashville-style hot chicken and airy malasadas. Watch for the wonderful pies, too. 1767 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, 949-873-5057
Off The Hook
Off The Hook is built around a gorgeous bar that glints of gold and stone. Its menu is similarly charming. You’ll find a lobster roll dressed with tarragon aioli and topped with fennel-carrot slaw, plus an uni pasta adorned with lobes of Santa Barbara uni dashi, green onion, uni butter, and a ramen-style onsen egg. 11061 Los Alamitos Blvd., Los Alamitos, 562‑330‑1310
This sleek shop serves Hong Kong-style desserts that are often starkly beautiful, like edible abstract paintings. Consider the mango pomelo sago (custard-thick coconut milk studded with fresh mango, pomelo, and a scoop of ice cream) or the chewy rice balls drenched in sweet syrup and topped with chopped peanuts and sesame. 10130 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, 714-591-5040
Drink of the Month: Calamansi Sour
Irenia in Santa Ana
The cocktails here have always been stunners—tropical twists on classics that incorporate Filipinoflavors andspirits. Irenia’s Calamansi Sour is one of the most refreshing whisky drinks you’ll find: smooth, mild Japanese whisky, calamansi juice (the sweetness of a tangerine and the sourness of a lime), and egg white.
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