Irvine welcomes two new restaurants this season, one which just opened and another set to launch in October. One offers must-try ramen and yakitori, while the other whips up butter-poached lobster deviled eggs and short rib tacos.
First up, Kin Izakaya, a Japanese eatery, which opened its first location in Fountain Valley and added an Irvine location in August. Kin’s menu runs the gamut from umami-packed noodles to charcoal-fired meat skewers. Its raw items include such staples as blue fin, aguachile hamachi and sashimi galore, as well as a handful of truffle-laced dishes, like salmon crudo with truffle ponzu, truffle beef tataki, and truffle uni and wagyu.
Heartier dishes at Kin include the chashu tom kha with pork belly, an udon bowl crowned with a pile of potent uni, and corn cheese with mozzarella and chives. The impressive list of yakitori, a Japanese type of skewer, features a bevy of chicken including thigh, heart, skin, and gizzard iterations, as well as other versions like duck breast, short rib, and honeycomb tripe.
Don’t miss out of the tight dessert menu featuring après dinner treats like matcha tiramisu and coconut sago.
Kin is part of Kei Concepts, noted as one of Orange County’s most exciting restaurant groups, the team behind Súp Noodle Bar in Buena Park and the aforementioned Vox Kitchen, which former Orange County Register food critic Brad A. Johnson called “one of the hottest restaurants in Little Saigon” in 2017.
Status: Open for business.
Next up, Benny and Mary’s, the seventh restaurant from husband-and-wife team Cynthia Vigil and Chad Reinhardt (Julep Cast Iron Kitchen and Drink, Toast Kitchen & Bar), which will open inside Irvine Towers this fall. Named after fictitious characters, the new restaurant will bring more contemporary California and fusion cuisine to the area, as well as décor that, I’m assured, promises whimsy and delight.
“Orange County diners will soon have the opportunity to break bread with Benny and Mary, two very eccentric individuals whose space is quite eclectic, yet surprisingly comfortable,” said Vigil in a press release. “We are confident that this wholly unique space with a fabulous atmosphere will captivate with its vibrant energy and whimsical sophistication.”
Executive Chef Matthew Resler (who helmed menus at Temecula’s Public House and the Rustik Fork in Riverside) will create the new eatery’s brunch, lunch, and dinner offerings. Benny and Mary’s will feature dishes like chopped kale salad with green and purple kale, Korean short rib tacos with bulgogi-braised short rib and house-made kimchi, bucatini with house-made fennel sausage and pistachio pesto, and a 12-hour braised short rib osso bucco with amaretto-butternut squash puree.
Brunch (Saturdays and Sundays only) will include lobster deviled eggs, confit duck hash, wine-poached pear labneh and chipotle cheddar biscuits with chorizo gravy. Diners yearning for a full-tilt luxe experience can also opt for a chilled seafood tower and/or caviar tower with champagne.
Status: Set to open in October.