Taste of the Town

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Okura Sushi Makes a Splash

LBM_41_Dine_Okura Sushi_By Jody Tiongco-39

Formerly the home of Katsuya, 858 S. Coast Hwy. is now the new location of Okura Robata Grill & Sushi Bar, based in La Quinta, Calif. Launched Oct. 6 with a grand opening celebration, the Japanese fusion restaurant serves up fresh seafood, sushi and coastal California-influenced cuisine. Favorites of the staff include the Dynamite Rock Shrimp (tempura-battered shrimp tossed in a spicy tobiko-aioli and served with wonton chips) and the Beef Robata Skewers (filet mignon in a Japanese barbecue sauce). The handmade sushi rolls are also a must-try at the restaurant, and with creative names that pay homage to old Hollywood stars, such as the James Dean (crab, tuna, eel, cucumber, avocado and spicy Dean sauce) and the Marilyn Monroe (shrimp, avocado and cucumber with crab and scallops), they’re that much more delectable. With its lounge-inspired yet casual interior design, Okura is the ideal spot for a romantic dinner or a happy hour spent with friends. In fact, happy hours run every day from 4-6 p.m., giving diners the chance to savor $5 sushi rolls and $6 cocktails such as the Geisha Girl (vodka, sweet and sour, pomegranate juice). (949-793-4320; okurasushi.com) —A.T.

Beer Versus Wine

Carly Layne
Carly Layne

Oenophiles and beer lovers collided at Surf & Sand Resort’s second annual Beer vs. Wine event Sept. 13, where guests wined—or “beered”—and dined to debate which of the two libations paired better with Executive Chef David Fuñe’s five-course dinner. The event, which featured brews from Stone Brewing Co. and wine selections from Constellation Brands, was held on the resort’s Ocean Terrace at sunset, which made for a stunning backdrop. During the course of the evening, diners feasted on mouthwatering pairings, including the chef’s scallops paired with a pinot noir from Robert Mondavi Winery and The Lost Abbey’s Lost & Found ale. After each course, diners were asked to open their minds and palates, and select whether beer or wine “won” in regards to the pairing. At the end of the evening—after tasting a red chocolate pave paired with Saved’s red blend and Stone Brewing Co.’s Imperial Russian stout—beer did prevail. In fact, beer won in four out of the five courses, proving that these two distinct groups can dine in harmony. (surfandsandresort.com) —A.T.

Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern


A modern take on an age-old eatery has arrived in Dana Point, and it comes with even more delicious grub than its predecessors. Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern (known as JFAT), a San Diego favorite, has opened its second location in the heart of south Orange County. Featuring classic American dishes with an artisanal twist, JFAT exemplifies the community feeling of the classic tavern while going a step further to provide delicious eats, signature cocktails and craft beers to its patrons. Known for its “fry cook-meets-foodie” approach to dishes, JFAT’s team crafts culinary creations that will appeal to diners of all tastes. In keeping with the tavern theme, the new location features dark wood, leather booths and a central bar where visitors can enjoy specialty wines and microbrewed beers. Even better, JFAT is committed to buying local, organic and sustainable ingredients and is a nationally certified “green restaurant” by the Green Restaurant Association. So, go ahead and order that Jimmy Burger smothered in bacon and jalapeno-jelly—the environment will thank you. (j-fat.com) —B.B.

Autumn Supper
Chef Josh Mason of Wine Gallery Wine Bar & Kitchen shares the restaurant’s recipe for braised short ribs. “This recipe can be made the day of or cooked and reheated the next day,” Josh says. “It’s actually better on the second day.”

Braised Short Ribs

Start to finish: 5 hours (30 minutes of active time)
Servings: 4-6
5 pounds beef short ribs
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
5 celery stalks, finely diced
½ pound carrots, peeled
5 cloves garlic, smashed
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
½ pound bacon, cut into strips
3 anchovy fillets
1 bottle dry red wine
3 quarts chicken stock
8 ounces tomato paste

Preheat oven to 275 F. Season short ribs with salt and pepper and set aside. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, cook bacon at medium heat to render fat; remove bacon from pot and discard grease. Add olive oil to the pot at medium heat and sear the short ribs, making sure to evenly brown all sides. Set ribs aside. Add carrot, celery, onion and garlic to the pot and cook until translucent. When the mixture is done cooking, stir in tomato paste. Once incorporated, add red wine and chicken stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Once the mixture has reached a boil, add thyme, bay leaves and anchovy fillets, and cook for 5 minutes. Once cooked, add bacon and ribs back to the pot and cook covered in the oven for 3 hours at 275 degrees. Remove the cover and cook for an additional 90 minutes, stirring every 30 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Remove the short ribs from the pot and separate the meat from the bones and any tissue. Strain the liquid and return it to the stove at medium heat to reduce until thickened, about 30 minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes or polenta and some of the reduced sauce. —L.D.

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