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6 days ago

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spotlight on By Anahita

spotlight on By Anahita Naderi Recently while visiting a friend at “The Plaza”- a trio of high-rise condominiums, which boasts its own mini shopping center at the ground floor, I came across Phans55. Intrigued by the idea of a restaurant built in a residential complex, I decided to dine with the locals of Irvine. the establishment Phans55 is a visually elegant location. The walls are painted with rich dark brown and grey colors that compliment the restaurant’s woodwork. A large chandelier made up of bubble like bulbs hangs in the center of the bistro creating the centerpiece for all the jewelry inspired lighting that surrounds it. The bar is very colorful, shaped like a set of steps leading to cocktail heaven. The restaurants open kitchen definitely tempts the senses. It was refreshing to watch the cooks prepare their cultural dishes and plate them in a more contemporary manner. I was very pleased with the ambiance and decor of this eatery; my only gripe is that the long narrow shape of the restaurant limit’s the physical closeness and therefore creates a detached feeling amongst the diners, although in trendy OC this might be a good thing. food + drink The owners of Phans55 take pride in putting a modern spin on traditional Vietnamese cuisine and I was excited to experience this concept. My tasting began with a small serving of Pho, delicious beef stock consisting of rice noodles and thinly shaved beef served with a side of herbs and condiments. My sampling of Angoves Nine Vines Rose a South Australian wine with a tangy finish was a great match for the tasty and aromatic stock filled with cinnamon and star anise flavors - kudos to the chef. The House Spring Rolls (Gỏi Cuốn) made of soft rice paper stuffed with poached shrimp, pork, and fresh herbs was accompanied with peanut hoisin sauce, although very refreshing, I found the rice paper to be a bit dry for my taste. The wine that followed on the other hand was simply amazing; Crios Torrontés a very floral Argentinean wine with a fruity finish. Next came the Shaken Beef (Bò Lúc Lắc) Cognac-rubbed filet mignon, pan fried with garlic, and onions, very tender in texture and flavor. My favorite dish was Red wine braised beef brisket (Bò Kho), sautéed onions, and carrots served with a piece of french baguette. I was drawn to the luminescent bar and wanted to try a signature cocktail. The bartender recommended the “Miss Saigon” made with KAI Lychee Vodka, the world's first Ultra Premium Rice Vodka, an aromatic and sweet drink with a tangy hint of lime; a perfect finish to my culinary adventure. My overall experience at Phans55 was pleasant and gratifying. Being a new restaurant it will take a bit of time to adjust to the daily demands of guests. The menu is much more traditional than progressive, but with items like Pork Belly and Rack of Lamb there is a promising future of innovative cuisine. I enjoyed the concept of wine pairing very much and was pleased with the beverage selections at the bar. future projects While dining at Phans55 I had a chance to speak with the marketing manager, Ryan Phan who is also the son of owners Tom and Susie. He spoke of the company mission “The family wanted to create a place where Vietnamese traditions and recipes blended with American and European cooking techniques and presentation“. The Phans are looking forward to opening their second location in Fullerton, California. planning your return Phans55 has created an elegant yet relaxed atmosphere for the OC diner. The restaurant is open Sunday - Saturday 11am to 10pm. Phans Bistro and Bar is a great location to host your next business or casual event and also offers off-site catering. Phans55 Vietnamese Bistro and Bar 6000 Scholarship, Irvine, CA 92612 http://www.phans55.com/ • 6 • OCPC MAGAZINEseptember

~ out of possible 5 oranges food: 3 / 5 service: 4 / 5 ambiance/décor: 4 /5 overall rating