After yoga this morning in Costa Mesa, Liz and I drove over to Garden Grove to eat at 4 Seasons Hotpot Restaurant. I chose it because it was in Garden Grove, not too far from Joe's Italian Ice, where we were all anxious to go. Dad loved soup also, even in the summertime, so hotpot seemed a good choice, and after reading a review in OC Weekly of this restaurant, I decided to give it a try.
It wasn't too far from Costa Mesa, though our friends in Laguna and Richard and Jeremy coming from Irvine had a distance to go to get there. By the time everyone else arrived, we had already eaten our fill of velvety silken tofu, peppery Chinese greens of three different kinds, oyster mushrooms, noodles, and a special spicy sauce, swirled in a boiling broth at the table. This created a tasty soup that we sampled occasionally.
When Richard and Jeremy arrived, they ordered small pieces of fish and thinly sliced beef, and we all sampled that as well, learning as we went how long each needed to be cooked. R and M ordered sea cucumber, just for fun, and some more fish.
Everyone had a good time swirling and cooking, mixing and matching the various ingredients and condiments. It was fun and tasty; the owner of the restaurant was only too happy to explain everything to us in his enthusiastic way, reminding me so much of my father. He even brought us all the separate ingredients to show how he made the broth, the sauces, etc.. He pressed us to try things westerners don't usually try, such as salt fish, and I said I would think about it, if he promised to go to Katella Deli and order the whitefish, a dish from my culture's cuisine. I don't think he knew what I was talking about, but there were smiles all around, and we enjoyed ourselves, learning something new every minute.
Following this, we all headed over to Joe's Italian Ice, also in Garden Grove, but on Harbor Blvd.. It took us a little while to find it, but the striped exterior was unmistakable once we did. Everyone tried a different flavor... Richard and Jeremy got strawberry and strawberry banana. I got the tangerine, which just so happened to be sugar free. And Liz hit the jackpot by ordering bada-bing cherry, with big chunks of fresh bing cherries in it. What a great taste! We enjoyed our brain freeze before heading back to Irvine, all thinking how my dad would have approved of my choice of activities to honor his birthday.