Anne Marie Panoringan
Voice of OC’s food columnist — reporting on industry news, current events and trends. Panoringan’s prior work includes writing for eight years at OC Weekly in which she interviewed over 330 industry professionals for her weekly “On the Line” column. She has been recognized by the Orange County Press Club and she also is a recurring guest on AM 830’s SoCal Restaurant Show. In 2022, Anne Marie was a judge for the James Beard Awards.
While I do my best to cover brand new as well as established restaurants, I’m reminded that there are many places that go overlooked for one reason or another. So to give a different perspective on the dining scene that is Orange County, I’m establishing a quarterly series of interviews with individuals in the community who share an appetite for good eats. I keep in touch with many of the people I research for a story, as they are often the catalyst for future topics. We share dining recommendations and, on occasion, break bread.
One person in particular is Dean Kim, who owns and operates OC Baking Company out of Orange. In business since 2009 and with over 200 accounts throughout San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange County, he’s always on the go and looking for places to eat. Kim supports his local community by offering the same artisan breads on Saturdays at the Orange Home Grown Farmers Market. During COVID, he dedicated an area in his facility to open a pop-up market so fellow business owners could sell goods to those wanting an alternative to the grocery store. Currently, he’s planning, with over 30 chefs, to supply all of the bread for Illumination Foundation’s upcoming philanthropic event in March.
The first place I recalled Kim suggesting to me a while ago was Sup Noodle Bar in Buena Park, a concept I still crave to this day for its garlicky wings, pandan/artichoke herbal iced tea and Spam fried rice. I asked him to share some of the places he’s a regular at.
Here is the link to my original interview with him over a decade ago; part two of the interview can be found here.
Brodard Vietnamese Cuisine, Fountain Valley
Kim considers Brodard the most consistent and best Vietnamese food in OC. “The boys and I call this our usual spot,” he stated. A fan of owner Lisa Dang’s menu since its original address, he orders the fresh shrimp and pork spring rolls that are steamed and served with plum sauce. His salad of choice is a roasted duck version served over cabbage, carrots, banana blossoms and onions in Brodard’s house vinaigrette. And what about soup? “All the soups,” Kim said. When I find myself at Brodard it’s for the same rolls, but followed up with a vermicelli noodle dish (no soup). 16105 Brookhurst St.
Hamamori Restaurant and Sushi Bar, Costa Mesa
“I’m spoiled,” Kim admits when asked about what he enjoys at this South Coast Plaza mainstay. He gets the Executive Sushi option at lunch, which is eight servings of the sushi bar’s “gems” of chef’s prerogative; at its core, this is an omakase experience (when patrons trust whatever James Hamamori serves them) with Hamamori, who Kim considers the best at his craft. A couple of the more memorable bites he’s savored in the past include uni shooters (filled with ponzu, mountain yam, quail egg, masago and chives) and foie atop A5 wagyu washed down with iced green tea. Talking about Hamamori with Kim reminded me that I’m overdue for a prix-fixe lunch visit. Note: All of the daytime specials include a house salad and bowl of miso soup for a more complete meal. 3333 Bear St.
In-n-Out Burger, Throughout Southern California (and coming soon to Tennessee)
When he’s in a rush, it’s this quintessential drive-thru option for Kim. He orders a double-double animal-style (a mustard-cooked patty, with pickle, extra spread plus grilled onions). I was a little surprised he doesn’t make it a combo – although I agree the underdone fries aren’t a favorite of mine either. He does wash it down with a root beer, though. OC fact: The first location for I-N-O may be in Baldwin Park, but President Lyndsi Snyder has the hamburger company headquartered in Irvine near UCI.
Palm Market & Deli, Orange
Full disclosure: He supplies the bread.
A five-minute drive from OC Baking and his newest brick-and-mortar to frequent, Palm Market was where I finally met up with Kim one Sunday so I could get the low-down on owner Tim Waterhouse’s addition to Old Towne’s already bustling community. “The sammies are awesome,” Kim said as he borrowed a serrated knife from inside and divvied up a trio of handhelds into an impromptu sandwich flight. I tried the RBS (Roast Beef Syndrome) on ciabatta, the 1888 (chicken salad) on a sub roll plus, my favorite of the three, a Cubini – pork, ham, Swiss, stone ground mustard and pickles on potato telera bread; it happens to be the most popular hot option.
While sipping a hot chai from the market’s automated hot beverage apparatus, Kim mentioned the clam chowder and tuna melt are also excellent. “It’s like an East Coast market deli in Orange,” he said. This got me wondering about how Waterhouse decided to renovate a nearly 100-year old structure to what’s swiftly becoming an Old Towne fixture.
Growing up in New Jersey and New York City, Waterhouse hung out in delis and bodegas. “They pretty much were the lifeblood of the neighborhoods they served,” he said. When he saw the building come up for sale on a business broker’s website, Waterhouse (a member of the local Elk’s lodge for years) was already familiar with the area. The architectural design reminded him of what he grew up with back East, so it was only fitting to outfit his curated market with a deli counter.
Waterhouse’s finances were decimated by COVID, but he had enough to buy the space. Once the family living upstairs moved out, he started residing on-site, sleeping on the floor to oversee construction. One detail he wanted to fulfill was that he would only hire Orange-based contractors. “I know how much Orange supports Orange, and I figured that if I’m making my money here, then by God, I’m spending it here too!” Waterhouse said. He also spent a considerable amount of time actively working on the buildout.
As for his love of sandwiches, it came at an early age and out of necessity. Raised by a single mother, sandwiches were a cheap and delicious meal. “So pretty much every day I ate sandwiches because bologna was about the only thing my mom could afford. And sometimes she didn’t have money for that so I had tomato sandwiches,” he said. His first job was at Rossi’s Pizzeria and Deli at the impressionable age of 12, where his mom knew the owner. Waterhouse remained in food service, attending culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu when he was 19. His work experience found him traveling around the country, ultimately planting roots in Orange County. 608 E. Palm Ave.
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Spago, Beverly Hills
When asked about dessert, the first thought that came to Kim’s mind was the red velvet cake at the iconic Spago from celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck. In fact, he loves it. “I think I could eat the whole thing by myself,” he said. I couldn’t locate this specific confection on the restaurant’s dessert list, so I gave him a pass on this non-OC destination as long as he offered a less-distant option. 176 N. Canon Drive
For an indulgence closer to home, his go-to spot is A Market in Newport Beach for chef Shelly Register’s snickerdoodles. I received this recommendation previously and can attest to the cookie’s addictive quality. 3400 W. Coast Highway
Upcoming SoCal Restaurant Show Interview
On Saturday, Feb. 4, I’ll be in-studio live with Andy Harris on the SoCal Restaurant Show. We’ll be discussing my recent columns, my upcoming column and a unique dining experience which engaged all my senses. Find us on 830 AM between 10:15 and 10:45 a.m.
Anne Marie Panoringan is the food columnist for Arts & Culture at Voice of OC. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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