Chinese Restaurants in Vista

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Hot Wok's brand of Cantonese cuisine, like its name, is refreshingly straight forward. Just because the cooks forgo frills doesn't mean they skimp on flavor, though. To ensure dishes pack a delicious punch, they rely on a lineup of vibrant sauces that range from a special garlic variety to spicy Sichuan influences, and use tender white chicken meat in many dishes. And whether they're sauteing the aforementioned chicken for moo goo gai pan or stir frying sliced beef with orange rinds and chili peppers, the cooks never use MSG to artificially enhance the taste. They can also happily whip up low-fat entrees, as well as omit salt, sugar, or soy from any dish.

40469 Murrieta Hot Springs Rd
Murrieta,
CA
US

When Stuart Davis opened the first City Wok in North Hollywood in 1990, he had already been honing the restaurant’s concept for three years. He envisioned a stylish, casual restaurant where chefs created fresh, healthy versions of authentic Chinese dishes to order in an open kitchen. The problem? Davis lacked a background in traditional Chinese cooking. Enter Hing Fan Chan, a professional chef trained in Kowloon, China. “It was a 50-50 collaboration,” Davis told Restaurant Hospitality magazine in 2003: Chan brought traditional recipes to City Wok, and worked with Davis to create healthy, MSG-free versions of authentic dishes. Their collaboration paid off: in 2011, City Wok earned Palm Springs Life’s award for the area’s Best Chinese Restaurant.

Today, flames surge as chefs tend woks in chrome-lined open kitchens. In the dining room, customers relax as they wait for servers to arrive with dishes such as a spicy kung pao combo or house lo mein. A breakfast menu features creative wok scrambles and moo shoo burritos, bringing Chinese flavors to morning meals without the hassle of stealing a Concorde.

718 W Washington St
San Diego,
CA
US

Pan of Asia introduces the vibrant colors and intense flavors of beloved dishes from across China and Southeast Asia. Like the cafeteria at the United Nations, Pan of Asia’s menu spans a continent’s worth of delicacies, from spicy-sweet Thai basil with tender morsels of tofu and chicken, to exotic Malaysian curries, to several crowd-pleasing Chinese dishes. Guests can sink their teeth into salt and pepper shrimp, citrus fried chicken, or spicy garlic eggplant. And for dessert, Pan of Asia finishes meals with green-tea or mango ice, or sweet dim sum.

3951 Irvine Blvd
Irvine,
CA
US

The master grillers and stir-fryers of East Winds Asian Cuisine craft a medley of Asian flavors with a menu boasting a variety of Chinese, Japanese, and Thai dishes. Having so many influences and cuisines coming out of one kitchen lets the restaurant please picky palates with dishes such as honey-walnut shrimp, barbecue spareribs, and japanese vegetable curry. The friendly wait staff can make informed wine and sake recommendations and answer questions about dishes or the history of the chopstick versus popsicle-stick pop-art era.

7114 Edinger Ave
Huntington Beach,
CA
US

The decor of Habiba Abdi’s restaurant, Gendershe Cuisine, is not ostentatious—she tries to impress the four senses besides sight. The aroma of all-halal meats marinating in signature spices tints the air, heralding Somali entrees such as the hilib ari, a goat dish that OC Weekly deemed "gamy and glorious." Mango lassis cool the tongue with a mix of almond milk, fruit pulp, orange juice, and vanilla. Pieces of bur—somali fry bread baked onsite—engage the hands, encouraging patrons to soak up lingering sauces with their dough instead of a friend's shirtsleeve. All the while, guests absorb the sizzling sounds of salmon and tilapia being sautéed in the kitchen's special "mother sauce."

Named after the Somalian city where Abdi’s father grew up, Gendershe Cuisine is an outpost of a kind of cooking rarely found in the United States, much less Orange County. Even so, Somalia’s rich culinary tradition—influenced over the years by Italy, India, and surrounding East African cultures—means that many dishes may look familiar even to the uninitiated. Crispy, triangular sambusas are relatives to indian samosas, ethiopian injera pops up beneath stews of beef, chicken, goat, or fish, and spaghetti and lasagna lie under sauces subtly spiked with Somali herbs and spices.

2741 W Lincoln Ave
Anaheim,
CA
US

Sure, diners could make tacos at home, by ripping open a packet of premixed spices and heating up some factory-made tortillas. Or they could take a drive to Las Olas Mexican Restaurant, where nothing is ever pre-made, where everything on the menu is crafted the traditional way: from scratch and with local and organic ingredients whenever possible. In 1981, owners Dave Murphey and Pete Johnson opened the first location of Las Olas Mexican Restaurant, an homage to the eateries they enjoyed as they grew up, surfing on Mexican beaches. They claim to have brought the first fish taco stateside, and strive to serve similarly tasty and healthful fare. Whether enjoying a traditional Mexican dish such as tostadas or crisp chimichangas, or one of the specialties, such as shrimp tacos or seafood enchiladas, diners rest easy knowing that as they eat, their carbon footprint is shrinking without subjecting their foot to laser liposuction. The seafood served is sustainable, and all paper products are recycled.

2939 Carlsbad Blvd
Carlsbad,
CA
US