The Costa Mesa diner known for inventive brunch fare is celebrating its second anniversary July 24. Four new dishes are making their debut for patio dining or takeout: a grilled salmon salad with green tea soba noodles, a curry fried chicken sandwich, mapo tofu noodles with a seven-minute egg, and an elevated take on a build-your-own acai bowl. Don’t miss the fresh set of cocktails (also available for takeout) including the pandan-infused Don’t Rau My Rum and the elderflower popsicle-topped Susy the Savage. Chef John Park shares what this milestone means to his team, especially during a trying time for many O.C. restaurants.
What was the inspiration behind the new summer menu?
Like most of our menu, it’s inspired by a lot of the dishes I grew up eating. I also have four kids so I want to make sure that they come and visit. More importantly, it’s food that my cooks want to make. It’s about giving them the opportunity to come up with specials and new dishes for the menu. It’s things that they grew up eating and wanted to see imagined and plated in a restaurant setting. Being Korean, those flavors are really important to me. You can kind of see elements of that in everything we do.
Were there any ingredients you were excited to work with this season?
Definitely the fruits in the build-your-own acai bowl. It’s something that we’ve been thinking about for a long time, especially with the success of Blue Bowl and places like that. I felt like we could elevate it even more and use more seasonal ingredients. Everything that’s in season right now is what we’re inspired by. The launch of the acai bowl is important now because health is an issue. We wanted to do something that had a lot of healthy components.
What does it feel like to celebrate during a time of uncertainty for many restaurants?
It’s different for sure. We’re just thankful to still be here. Two years in the restaurant business is really difficult. That’s not something we take for granted, especially during this time. We have a lot of friends that (have) closed temporarily (and) we know a few that have closed permanently. They’re really talented (people) at great restaurants, bakeries, and bars. It’s hard to see that. Golden Truffle, the restaurant that we took over, was here for 37 years. I always say I don’t know if we’ll make it that long. Nobody makes it that long these days. For us, it’s always about what kind of impact we can have in the time that we’re here.
You’re currently partnering with Delivering with Dignity, a nonprofit delivering restaurant-quality meals to at-risk residents in O.C. What made you want to be a part of that?
From the beginning, we’ve made it a priority to work with a nonprofit. We’ve donated 10% of our profits every single month for the last two years to a different charity. We’ve (employed) veterans, kids that grew up in the foster system, the homeless, and guys who’ve literally just come out of jail and within a week they’re working for us. That’s been a big part of who we are and what we do. They’re family to us. Delivering With Dignity started in Vegas when the whole pandemic hit. A lot of people weren’t able to get food because they weren’t able to go out. They did an incredible job there so they wanted to come out to Orange County and I actually knew the guys who were involved with it. They asked me specifically to be part of the launch and be the flagship restaurant (in Orange County). It’s something that we’re always looking to be part of. To me, it’s not just about putting out good food and food that’s “Instagrammable,” it’s about who you’re helping out and where that money is going.
Any new projects in the works?
We’re going to have our own garden in the back which will be another way to employ someone who’s homeless or a veteran trying to work their way back into (a steady job).