Bold, Fiery Chinese Cuisine at Meizhou Dongpo

Upscale Sichuan eatery Meizhou Dongpo, known for bold and fiery cuisine in 120 locations in China (also in Las Vegas and L.A.), opens at Culver Plaza in a sleek redo of a former Marie Callender’s. Its signature: Meizhou roasted duck—lean, crispy-skinned, meticulously presented Peking duck ($77; half for $40). Expect dim sum brunch items such as dan dan noodles, Meizhou pork buns, and Sichuan dumplings, plus plenty to intrigue at lunch and dinner. Dongpo braised whole pork hock, above, one of the restaurant’s classic dishes, is simmered until it caramelizes into porky goodness, then topped with a Sichuan chili sauce and fresh chives. Sweet-and-sour tilapia is painstakingly sculpted and fried into the shape of a pine cone. Mouth-numbing from Sichuan peppercorns, five‑alarm-fiery from Sichuan peppers, and served in a pot fit for royalty, Royal Hot Pot is another show-stopper: beef, quail egg, pork luncheon meat (think Spam), needle mushroom, lotus root, soybean sprout, and kelp. As with the peppers and peppercorns, the ingredients for the wok-fried bamboo shoots come directly from China—as do the chefs, in three-month stints. Most dishes are served family style. Crispy sticky rice cake is the dessert of choice. 15363 Culver Drive, Irvine, 949-433-5686

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