Posts Tagged ‘chinese food’

Mint Condition

February 6, 2010

If you’ve spent any time in Tustin’s box retailer orgy The District at Tustin Legacy, you may have felt that the days of stumbling upon a restaurant find are over.  It’s as if your next meal has already been master planned for you. You may forage for lunch on the vast asphalt tundra while you’re waiting for Costco Tire Center to  lower your grocery getter off the blocks, but it’s a challenge to find much other than heavily branded mass produced sustenance.

Green Apple Salad with Beef: fuse it or lose it!

If you’re going to eat in the District, there’s The Winery, William Lewis and J.C. Clow’s singular, lovely refuge that gives the illusion you’ve escaped the  ‘one million square-foot lifestyle center’,  but it requires more of an occasion than waiting out your pro-rated Michelin LTX installment. If you need something a little quicker, cheaper and less bacchanalian before heading back to the office or school pick-up, try Asian Mint.     

  

Gleaming gunmetal and orange tile accents appear to have been appropriated from an  Ann Sacks on Ebay spree.  John Tesh-type  instrumentals play mercilessly on the sound system. The boîte across from Borders  only looks like the octo-spawn of P.F. Chang’s and Panda Express.  Surprise: there’s just one.  The menu is Vietnamese and Chinese with some Malay and Singaporean dishes and what might be termed fusion.

Dumplings are best left for your next dim sum run. Vietnamese salad rolls are great snack food, but can be weighed down by rice paper as clumsy and rubbery as 70’s ten speed handlebar tape. The amazing avocado shrimp roll is wrapped in rice paper as gossamer and tight as Lady Gaga’s galactic Armani Grammies gown, a nearly weightless vehicle for the succulent rosy shrimp, creamy avocado, crunchy won ton skin and fresh herbs within.   

  

The phσ is only decent with much fresher herbs and full flavored broths to be found down the street in Little Saigon. For lunch, the tangy tamarind fish is buoyant, its tender texture and mild flavor belie its piscine origins altogether.

  Like a Tarantino flick, fusion cuisine, and terms like ‘Califoriental’ that it conjurs up, scare me with their T & I tactics on unsuspecting dishes.  Asian Mint does a very traditional Vietnamese green papaya salad with beef, but also a version that substitutes green apples for the papaya. Savory beef, all at once glossy, juicy and aromatic is tossed with sautéed onions on a bed of crisp, tart Granny Smith match sticks dotted with chopped peanuts. Not a common combination and not a freak show on a plate, just really good.   

2487 Park Ave. Tustin.714.259.7738. Dinner for two, $25.00, food only.

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