Tag Archives: Irvine

The Counter – Fancy Burgers

We’ve been hearing about The Counter for a long time, but given our sour experience with Slaters, we were hesitant to try another trendy hipster burger place. Especially one located in the Woodbridge area of Irvine, where Yuppie meets Hipster in a sometimes mind bending fashion. But while, yes, the wild Hipster is absolutely getting his or her burger on at The Counter, I am quite happy to report that there is no snotty attitude to be found in the waitstaff. Our waitress seemed genuinely pleased to see us, even on a busy Saturday afternoon, and was always quick to make sure we had drinks and understood the ordering system. She even brought us an extra round of their wonderful peanut sauce when our daughter lamented that she wished she’d ordered that to go on her burger. Yes, this was going to be a very different experience from Slaters indeed.

The reason I compare them is both pride themselves on being trendy places with unusual burgers and an almost identical ordering system, in which you fill out a little questionnaire about your perfect burger. (Or chicken sandwich, in the case of our daughter.)  One of the things that made me smile right away is that unlike Slaters you can actually order an individual side of fries for less than $2 – good news when you are the only one who enjoys sweet potato fries at the table. Honestly the side I received wasn’t much smaller than the Slaters one I got for twice as much, so that was awesome. And should you order a full baskets of fries, especially the cheese fries, you will not be disappointed. The order we received was huge, and the fries, while skinny, were amazing. Seriously. I don’t know what seasoned salt they use, but I could eat them all day. I ended up ditching my yummy but nothing to write home about sweet potato fries for a share of the cheese fries pretty quickly.

Then the burgers arrived. The presentation is great. The burgers looked sizable and delicious, without being overwhelmed by the toppings. I ordered mine with peanut sauce and pineapple, which ends up giving the burger a nice sweet meets salty spicy kick. The burger is easy to eat and is not completely lost in the bun. I like that they give you the sauce on the side so you can regulate the amount. This the “six dollar” burger Carl’s was telling you about a decade ago. Except now it’s $10. Oh well. Inflation. I’ve cut almost all fast food out of my diet – if I’m going to indulge in a burger it should be a really good burger, and this was a really good burger. Well worth the splurge. I had a bite of the aforementioned chicken sandwich also, and I am please to report that is is an actual breast of chicken and it was also cooked very well – not all rubbery like certain other burger places we have gone to.

Overall, The Counter was just a total 180 from our experience at Slaters 50/50 in all the right ways, and I have no idea how Slaters got all those awards without bribing someone. The service at The Counter was fast, helpful, and friendly, plus the food was brilliant. I would come back just for the fries. And maybe to try their shakes. I’m very happy this was one of those restaurants that lived up to its hype.

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Teriyaki California Plus – A Food Court Review

Way back before you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a hipster food truck, those of us who worked in the mecca of commerce that is Jamboree and Main in Irvine relied on the easy to walk to food courts – often hidden in some unassuming strip mall, but always home to at least one undiscovered gem of a eatery. As it happens, a large portion of my adulthood has revolved around this intersection, and my favorite go to spot here is a little out of the way food court on Main between Jamboree and MacArthur. Within this food court, is a little place called Teriyaki California Plus.

Now granted, at this point, I could just drive another 5 to 10 minutes and hit Mitsuwa or Diamond Jamboree for tasty Japanese treats. But that’s a little too much freeway for a lunch break for me. And finding parking at DJ during lunch? Yeah, that’ll happen.) Also, the prices at TCP are pretty hard to beat and the variety is actually very surprising for someplace that could fit in a mall food court. You’ve got rice bowls with a variety of meats (including salmon – my favorite), bento boxes, and ramen, all with little chance of dropping more than a ten spot on lunch.

The Salmon Bowl

I cannot speak for the ramen or the sushi, but the teriyaki here is well done. I’ve had both the chicken and salmon and both were well prepared – not overcooked, but with a bit of char that says “this was not warmed up in a microwave”. I appreciate that. Also the portions are sizable for the price. This is the sort of lunch that will see you through the afternoon doldrums without looking for the candy bowl. Which is more than I can say for driving through the Burger King down the street.

Chicken Bowl - note it takes up most of the tray, which is pretty standard "food court" size.

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