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Orange County’s Most Ambitious Restaurant Group Plots Three Big New Openings

Plus, freeway signs for Little Arabia, meet Los Angeles’s sandwich savant, and more

Firing lomo saltado at the Vox Kitchen in Fountain Valley.
Firing lomo saltado at the Vox Kitchen in Fountain Valley.
Wonho Frank Lee
Cathy Chaplin is a senior editor at Eater LA, a James Beard Award–nominated journalist, and the author of Food Lovers’ Guide to Los Angeles.

Kei Concepts, one of Orange County’s hottest restaurant groups, is on an expansion tear in 2024. In addition to a second location of the Chinese Peruvian restaurant the Vox Kitchen slated to open at South Coast Plaza later this year, the restaurant group, founded by chef Viet Nguyen in 2014, will add three new destinations to its roster which already includes Súp Noodle Bar, Vox Kitchen, Gem Dining, Nep Café, Rol Hand Roll Bar, Kin Izakaya, and Ini Ristorante.

Set to debut in 2024 is Kei Coffee House, a moody Starbucks Reserve-type experience with a tasting bar where customers can sample various beans and create custom blends; SEA Dim Sum & Seafood, serving a Vietnamese-inflected dim sum menu inspired by Cho Lon (Vietnam’s largest Chinatown); and the Sugarcane Press, serving fresh-pressed sugar cane juice.

LA’s sandwich savant

The LA Countdown podcaster Luca Servodio set out to eat 100 sandwiches in 2023. He accomplished the task and compiled the ratings and rankings on a tidy spreadsheet. Citywide favorites like the #19 at Langer’s and the Godmother at Bay Cities made the cut, along with some under-the-radar picks including the omelet at Maison Maitho and the barbecue chicken with cheese at Busy Bee Market in San Pedro.

Mid-week steak break

The Langham Huntington Hotel Pasadena is serving a special set menu on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the Royce from now through February 28. The $190 three-course menu comes with French wine pairings and a choice of appetizer (half-dozen oysters or roasted beet salad), main course (whole grilled Branzino or New York grass-fed steak), and dessert (bread pudding or bananas and coconut brulee). Reservations are available here.

Zen cuisine, explained

Japan House Los Angeles is hosting an event dedicated to shojin ryori (Japanese Buddhist cuisine) on Saturday, January 27. Held at 10:30 a.m. and again at 2 p.m., the $36 event includes a lecture from Soto Zen monk Taiga Ito and a tasting session. Reservations are available here.

It’s a sign

Little Arabia in Anaheim is an area full of Middle Eastern restaurants, boutiques, and businesses catering to Southern California’s Arab American and Muslim communities. The Anaheim City Council recently voted to move forward with installing signs on the 5 and 91 Freeways to direct motorists to the vibrant area within six to nine months.