Event - New Asian Inspired Dishes at Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar

We have both eaten at The Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar several times in the past few years, and it certainly seems like a favorite for a lot of people. It had been a while since our last visit (maybe a year or two?) when we were invited to try out their new menu items which hinged on Asian inspiration and dishes showcasing a variety of cuisines that way. Chris Simms, CEO & founder of Lazy Dog, explained, "Both Executive Chef Gabe Caliendo and I have always had a passion for the intricate flavors of Asian cuisine, and wanted to build upon our current offerings with dishes that go a bit deeper into that sector. We're constantly thinking about how we can continue evolving the menu to keep things fresh and on-point with, or ahead of, dining trends, and these dishes reflect that mission." We accepted the invitation and headed off one beautifully sunny Sunday to their Huntington Beach/Westminster location which just so happened to also be the flagship Lazy Dog restaurant.

Since we were there around brunch time (they do brunch Saturday and Sunday until 2PM), there was the option of going for any one of their $5 typical brunch cocktails but the promotional table tent caught my eye. In line with their new Asian-inspired dishes, there was a Kumquat Cooler, a fun looking drink felt summery to me and was a perfect fit for the glorious morning that was upon us. I would say that it is probably a fairly dangerous drink as well since the alcohol was nearly imperceptible in taste; I would not have known of its existence had I not felt its physical effects. Bright with sweet citrus, this was a drink worth getting. Duc went a non-alcoholic route and chose their Jamaican Lemonade which we were both curious about because it had several different citrus juices in it along with coconut milk. When it arrived looking like a liquified layered dessert, we were even more curious. Advised to stir the drink to mix everything together, we did and drank delightfully creamy and citrus-y sips. Lovely! We learned while sipping on these that Lazy Dog does take great pride in their bars at every location for their large selection of draft beers and cocktails made using almost 100% in-house ingredients (aside from spirits of course).

To start off the lunch were our starters of Dim Sum ($8.25 - duo of steamed handmade shrimp shumai and pork potstickers served with a sesame soy dipping sauce) and Togarashi Edamame Beans ($4.75 - whole soybeans wok-cooked with Japanese spices). The latter was a part of their normal menu though off of the Small Plates section but is so popular that they wanted us to try some as well. As for the former, we found that calling the dish "dim sum" was a bit erroneous considering that that phrase refers to a full meal type/style rather than a singular dish. That being said, it was good to see that shumai was included as it is one of the more recognizable dishes from dim sum. We both preferred different ones from this plate, making it easy to share. I would have liked it better had the shumai not shared the same wrapper as the dumplings but the filling was surprisingly good. It did not really need the dipping sauce as it was seasoned well enough inside. The potstickers did taste better with the sauce though as there was a bit too much "wrapper" dough. As for the edamame, it was easy to see why it is a popular order; these spicy beans found a good balance between salty, spicy, and crunchy.

We tasted three entrees that day - the Beef & Broccolini ($14.95 - flank steak, al dente broccolini and carrots tossed in a spiced sweet soy and sesame sauce inspired by Indonesian flavors), Thai Noodles ($13.95 - rice noodles tossed with shrimp, ground chicken, tofu, peanuts, and bean sprouts with a traditional Pad Thai sauce), and Sriracha Chicken Sandwich ($8.95 - grilled chicken breast, crispy bacon, spicy herb aioli sauce and a pickled cucumber salad on a toasted French baguette). I appreciated the use of broccolini with beef as an alternative to the sometimes too-bulky broccoli typically in these dishes. The steak was quite tender, and the broccolini had a healthy crunch but the sauce came off a tad sweeter than expected. There was also quite a bit of it so rice was certainly needed. As for the noodles, it is interesting why they did not call it "Pad Thai" when it was assuredly that same dish. The flavors on this were fair but our only complaint was that the noodles weren't cooked as thoroughly as they ought to have been, being somewhat harder in the middle than they should; however, perhaps this was a one-time error! Lastly, their chicken sandwich was meant as a tribute to the Vietnamese banh mi but both Duc and I thought the aioli too overwhelming along with the copious amounts of pickled cucumber salad. It really masked the chicken, a meat normally difficult to let shine through already due to its blander taste, and the heavy bread was not at all like banh mi. What did impress us thought was their accompanying French fries which had been subject to the drizzling glory of their Umami sauce. Their Umami Fries usually come with the Sticky Ribs but we needed a taste of these, and they will surely make people happy.

To finish off a buffet of a meal, we tried out their Butter Cake (homemade butter cake topped with strawberry compote garnished with sweet balsamic reduction, mint chiffonade and a tennis ball-size scoop of vanilla bean ice cream) via recommendation from their PR. No wonder it was suggested. This was a decadent order that threatened to vanquish any new year's resolutions made. The warm butter cake had a melt-in-your-mouth cake center that made me think of a smoother, creamier pound cake, and the ice cream on top cooled down the batter quickly but carried on the creamy effect. Strawberries added to the sweetness, cut by mint and balsamic. You should not neglect this dessert when you're at Lazy Dog!

Though we tried several dishes from their new menu, we did miss the BBQ Pork Fried Rice, Tofu & Vegetable Stir Fry, and Hawaiian Sticky Ribs & Umami Fries in case you were wondering what else was on there. Also during our visit, we saw several dogs and remembered again how welcome canine friends are provided that they don't beg, bark, or bite anyone; in fact, there are dog bowl options to order for them too! Anyhow, our thanks go out to the Lazy Dog team, especially Michelle, for showing us your menu and to Diana for the invitation!

Photography by Duc Duong. More photos available on Facebook here.

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