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Szechuan Impression and Meizhou Dongpo Both Planning Big OC Expansions

Impression will open before 2015, Meizhou 2016

Szechuan Impression, one of the most popular Chengdu-style Sichuanese restaurants in LA, is headed to Orange County. Unlike Chengdu Taste, which has a clear propensity for sticking around in the SGV, Szechuan Impression's team has no problem conquering both Southland counties simultaneously.

After months of negotiations, owners Kelly Hu and Lynn Liu received the key to a 2,000-plus square feet restaurant in Tustin, complete with existing alcohol license. Apparently, they'll be taking over a former Korean-Chinese restaurant that got no love from the many Chinese folks in nearby Irvine.

Construction is to begin shortly, and the team is doing everything they can to push through with the build out, which is currently estimated at three months. Still, Liu is hopeful they will be able to begin pouring beer — to go with the traditional dish of "Impressive Spicy Steampot," say — some time before Christmas.

Meanwhile, the restaurant's very own Szechuan peppercorn source straight from Chengdu has ramped up the production of their vacuum-packed local peppers just to meet the needs of the new opening.

The second Impression's location is not exactly housed in a hotbed for Chinese dining, but it should still quell the constant call by Orange County residents for either one of the SGV Sichuan powerhouses to open up down south. Look for Szechuan Impression to land at 13816 Red Hill Avenue in Tustin.

And then there's Meizhou Dongpo, which is also out there flexing its Chinese-funded muscles again, a mere seven months after announcing a massive Las Vegas flagship restaurant at a Chinese gamblers' favorite, Grand Canal Shoppes.

The more upscale Sichuanese alternative has signed its fourth lease in the U.S. (third in the greater L.A. area), this time at Irvine Company's Culver Plaza Shopping. That shopping complex seems to be aggressively aggregating restaurants that appeal to the suburban Chinese diaspora nearby, as it already hosts Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot, Sam Woo, J.J. Bakery Cafe, Tasty Noodle House, Tea Station, and a huge 99 Ranch Market.

Construction has not begun on the 6,000 square foot space, and an opening is not expected until late 2016. Meanwhile, Meizhou Dongpo's Santa Anita Mall location should arrive by December, more than a year after the opening announcement.