David Chiem, @davidthefoodie
Born and raised in Northern California’s San Jose, David Chiem in 2010 moved to Orange County, where he nurtured his hobby of exploring and photographing all types of food. A passion for food photography grew from a genuine love of cuisines and flavors, particularly those connected to his Southeast Asian heritage. Through social media, he’s been able to develop as a photographer and has gained knowledge in food styling, marketing and community engagement, which has allowed him to pursue his passion full time. Chiem says he’s grateful each day for the opportunity to capture, taste and share the unique beauty and diversity of food culture with his followers. His motto: Eat well and drink well! And here are a few places in Orange County where he does just that.
BEST QUICK BITES & DRINKS
The Smoking Ribs Hands down the best barbeque in Orange County. You’ll find the most tender and juicy pork ribs and beef brisket here.
The Dim Sum Co Drop by The Dim Sum Co, located in My Thuan Supermarket, whenever you are craving dim sum any time of the day. Aside from the classic dumplings, they have cute “poke buns” (buns filled with custard) that the kids (and adults) love!
Simply Home Café I visit Simply Home Café for their Hainan chicken and wonton noodles! I keep returning not just for the food, but for their great hospitality—they make you feel at home—fitting of their name.
Philz Coffee When Philz Coffee opened in Orange County, I was ecstatic! My go-to order has always been their iced mint mojito coffee. If you like mocha, try the Mocha Tesoro with mint—it’s like Andes mint chocolate in a cup!
BEST FOR INSTAGRAM PHOTOS
Sandwich Society When you visit, order the bubble waffle sandwich and ramen grilled cheese. I suggest capturing that cheese pull while it’s still hot!
JuiceMi JuiceMi has beautiful toast and lattes. Don’t forget to sit on the indoor swinging chair for a fun shot.
All Coco All Coco is located inside the Tustin Union Market. The coco soft serve is light and refreshing. Ask for yours in a coconut shell, and get a swirl of two flavors for a beautiful color contrast.
Shrimp Daddy Shrimp Daddy is open on Sundays at the Los Angeles Smorgasburg. Order their pineapple boat with garlic butter shrimp. Not only does it photograph nicely…it is packed full of flavor!
The Recess Room The Recess Room has creative dishes that are uniquely plated. Order some pretty cocktails with your meal for an artistic food spread photo.
BEST SOUTHEAST ASIAN-INSPIRED FLAVORS
Mai’s Kitchen I bring my friends and family to Mai’s Kitchen for their family-style Vietnamese meals. The meals include rice, meat or tofu items, stir-fry, and a hot pot of soup big enough to share.
Brodard Restaurant Any fan of spring rolls like myself knows that Brodard has some of the best spring rolls in Orange County. The grilled pork spring rolls (nem nuong cuon) come with a unique sauce that you cannot find anywhere else.
Hue Oi Hue Oi is a family-owned restaurant that offers a variety of delicious Vietnamese food. My personal favorites are their banh beo (steamed rice cake) and bun bo hue (spicy beef noodle soup).
Luc Dinh Ky Restaurant Like many, I am a fan of Luc Dinh Ky’s amazing rice dishes and wonton noodles. Their salmon with crispy rice is a must-order!
BEST PLACES FOR A SIT-DOWN RESTAURANT EXPERIENCE
Tabu Shabu Tabu Shabu is a great date spot! Cook meat for your date and impress him or her with your skills and thoughtfulness. The soup bases here are delicious, and I enjoy the wide selection of quality meat.
North Italia You’ll need to make reservations, but once you get there, you’ll enjoy a tasty Italian meal in a beautifully decorated environment. I recommend the Bolognese (a house specialty) and The Pig pizza.
Bayside Restaurant Imagine a beautiful patio with a cool breeze, live music playing in the background, Champagne in your glass and a spread of appetizing brunch items in front of you. This was my brunch experience at Bayside. It’s a great way to celebrate the weekend.
The Country Club If you enjoy classic American vibes, visit The Country Club for a memorable meal with inspiring dishes and crafted cocktails. For those who can eat, order their 42 oz. ribeye tomahawk steak!
Playa Mesa Vibrant and modern, Playa Mesa is a hip new spot in Orange County to enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine. Top-notch service paired with amazing food, it is a dining experience hard to forget.