Overrated and Overpriced: OC Asian Foods Not Worth the Hype

Jaein Kim and Kelthie Truong

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Business after business in Orange County is emerging to claim the title of the next trendy food that breaks the Internet. With reimagined Asian classics a rising dining trend, the amount of new options is overwhelming. Behind many of the tremendously long lines and over-saturated promotion pictures is little substance not worth the frenzy.

Photo by Jaein Kim
The wooden steamer opens like a treasure chest, majestically revealing deliberately arranged chicken dumplings. Despite a robust and welcoming aroma, the taste can be described as average at best.

1. Din Tai Fung
This international chain famous for its xiao long bao claims to offer a classic “taste of Taiwan,” but the experience is not as authentic as its slogan and two-hour wait warrants it to be. Unlike traditional dim sum where food is constantly ushered on steam-heated carts, Din Tai Fung serves to order. The menu certainly has variety, but the food itself is not extraordinary. Not to mention, the total price adds up quickly despite each item costing between $7-12 since most items are not entree-sized, and customers are expected to order more than one item per person. If an authentic Taiwanese dim sum meal is the goal, consider Seafood Cove #2 in Westminster instead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Jaein Kim
SomiSomi customers can express creativity through unique combinations, such as this matcha and original milk swirl dusted with sprinkles and Oreo crumbles. Despite the vibrant color, the soft serve struggles to compete with the rich flavors of the taiyaki cone, generously filled with a choice of red bean paste or more untraditional additions like Nutella.

2. SomiSomi
SomiSomi’s novelty fish-shaped cones rapidly overtook social media. The result of its western twists on Japanese taiyaki is a delectable, chewy pastry with subtle vanilla notes and humble sweetness. However, the soft-serve counterpart misses the mark. Although the original milk flavor is refreshing in its simplicity, other options on the menu turn out to be “Also Milk, but with Some Color.” Any flavorings are barely discernible on their own and easily dominated by the pastry and its fillings. For those expecting something more from the bright colors on their Instagram feed, SomiSomi is ultimately lackluster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At OMOMO, each drink is fully customizable in sweetness and toppings such as boba, aloe vera and pudding. Pictured from left to right is the strawberry green tea with aloe vera, the signature OMOMO Matcha with boba, grapefruit green tea with aloe vera and oolong milk tea with boba.

3. OMOMO Tea Shoppe
OMOMO’s drinks became a precious commodity that its flood of customers bulk-order. Its wide selection — with artistically-swirled drinks and indulgent cheese foam — embodies the Instagram-worthy aesthetic many crave, explaining the typical queue of 35-45 minutes even at non-peak hours. Despite a comparably unique menu of tea and toppings, no item as simple as a creamy and colorful drink deserves the excessive wait. For a similar taste and price point without the wait, try HNTea in Tustin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelthie Truong
The picturesque nature of Chungchun’s sugar-coated corn dogs may attract newcomers interested in the Korean street food scene. Pictured are the all-mozzarella corn dogs, some on their own and others coated in potato or sweet potato chunks.

4. Chung Chun Rice Dog
This ode to viral Korean street corn dogs will cost a Lincoln, at least 20 minutes and much patience. Undeniably, these can end a deep craving; the yeasted, sugar-coated exterior — adorned with potatoes or squid ink upon request — delivers a doughnut-like experience, texturally contrasted with molten mozzarella. However, mere tastiness fails to justify slow-moving lines and additional congestion that builds at order pick-up, both due to leisurely service. Only when hype dies down should ChungChun be reconsidered as a contender for reliable, fast fried cuisine.