A long, dark bar with deep red napkins and neon blue lighting entices diners at R2 Kazoku to take a seat and see what might come next. From there, a counter full of fresh seafood encased in lit glass reveals diners' sushi selections before a chef readies them into edible art. A quick glance and the menu reveals an exponential number of options for the fish, including sashimi and special rolls such as the black dragon roll with eel. Chefs also pluck yakitori selections of pacific saury or pork belly straight from the grill, amazing everyone at their fingers' resistance to extreme heat.
The specialty pho at Pho Island Express spoons helpings of beef, filet, mignon, or chicken into steaming, aromatic noodle broths, which guests are encouraged to loudly slurp to best taste the flavors or irritate fellow diners. They also cover the colder end of the spectrum, pouring green tea with lychee jelly and frosty milk drink with honey boba, pudding, and caramel. But that's not to say they don't touch on more solid fare—their vermicelli salad bowl hosts a choice of grilled beef, chicken, pork, or shrimp seasoned with lemongrass.
Clearman's Galley, which started as a hamburger stand with patio seating in 1968, has become a whale of a restaurant: its patio alone can seat 90 people, and the restaurant itself, resembling a fishing shack built by mer-giants, holds 300. But locals are still likely to call it "The Boat." The origins of that name are visible in the chipper red-and-white boat that sits outside, but to fully uncover its backstory, diners would need to take a waterproofed time machine back to 1913. In those days, that boat was a real, seaworthy vessel on the Pacific Ocean that ran mail between San Francisco and Alaska. In 1968, it docked permanently on Huntington Drive and transformed into a hamburger stand, and when owner John Clearman decided to expand the restaurant, he simply dug a shipping canal and brought the boat along with him.
Today, waiters carry plates of the galley's signature cabbage salad and cheese bread to scores of hungry families. The rest of the menu is still stocked with casual grill food: fried chicken, chili cheeseburgers, and cod dinners grace tables alongside 25-ounce beer steins, which bartenders fill with more than 20 imported and domestic brews on tap. Sunday breakfast brings pancakes and breakfast burritos, and at most hours of the day, diners will notice that the Galley has a third love in addition to good food and the sea: sports. Staff root alongside customers for teams from the NFL and the local T-ball league alike, and games flash across no fewer than 16 HDTVs.
Assisting everything from relaxation to energy boosts, Muse Tea House's tea gurus blend black, green, and oolong leaves with flavors that range from blueberry and passionfruit to lavender and rose. Chewy boba and aloe pearls nestle at the bottom of almond and taro milk teas, and royal sparkling sodas—started with San Pellegrino mineral water—tickle tongues with bubbly flavors of peach and pomegranate. For something more filling, patrons can opt for a fruity, syrup-free yogurt drink made with organic ingredients from France and Japan or toss back items from the kitchen, such as macarons, squid balls, and sliced barbecue pork on dry noodles.
Muse Tea House cultivates an intimate, hushed atmosphere with a row of low-set tables and cozy booths shaded by patterned gossamer curtains. Thick, burgundy drapes frame each sun-drenched front window, which cast natural light on a smooth, stone floor so that customers can draw perfect hopscotch courses in chalk.
Nestled in the building that previously housed renowned restaurant Ponchito, which drew celebrities and even former president Ronald Reagan, Mission 261 is steeped in culinary tradition and a history of lavish entertainment. The restaurant continues that legacy, regaling diners with extravagant performances by the Dancing Fire Dance Company. The dancers dazzle eyes with Tahitian, hula, samba, and LED Glow performances dressed in Vegas-show-style garb, and conclude the evening with a glowing LED-light finale. During these grand displays, guests feast on a Hawaiian buffet of coconut shrimp, huli-huli chicken, and fire-roasted kalua pig.
Though the chefs experiment with Hawaiian cuisine, their specialty is a menu of finely crafted Cantonese delicacies. Dim sum and tea fill out the lunch menu, followed by entrees such as bird's nest soup and braised abalone with oyster sauce at dinnertime. Diners can also opt for traditional Chinese favorites including kung pao chicken, Peking-style pork chops, and sauteed scallops with chili peppers.
Their dining room is as expansive as their menu, with a series of banquet rooms and an outdoor patio?marked by dramatic architecture and photo-ready d?cor?that host up to 800 diners. This makes Mission 261 a go-to choice for those planning a wedding, family reunion, or impromptu chariot race.
The flavors of Asia are subtly incorporated into the drinks at Whatever Tea Lounge. The staff whirs together slushes and milk teas flavored with exotic options such as kumquats, wintermelon, and lychee. From there, can be added a bit of Asia's unique food textures with the addition of chewy boba pearls or bits of grass jelly. But when creating the food menu and wallpapering the walls of the kitchen, chefs use explicitly Asian recipes. They season short ribs with a generous amount of black pepper, fry up pork chops with rice, and even create a crispy fried shell around green-tea ice cream.