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  • Writer's pictureFragrantEatery

The Ultimate Guide to Diamond Jamboree, Irvine

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

๐Ÿ“2700-2750 Alton Pkwy, Irvine, CA 92606

Studying at UCI for 4 years has definitely had it's ups and downs, and the ups being the food and the downs as you may know it, is studying๐Ÿ˜ญ. UCI is very close to Diamond Jamboree or DJ as locals call it. And below is where you'll find the ultimate guide to Diamond Jamboree that I wish I had during my time at UCI. Have you ever wondered which places were good and which weren't so? Well, with this guide you can.


๐Ÿ“SOMISOMI


Somi Somi Matcha Ice Cream Taiyaki with fruity cereal and oreo
Somi Somi Dessert

Price: 4.5 ๐ŸŒŸ

Taste: 4 ๐ŸŒŸ

Uniqueness: 3 ๐ŸŒŸ

Environment: 3 ๐ŸŒŸ


Somi somi, is a dessert place that will forever hold a place in my heart. It was the place that made me fell in love with, the combination of soft serve ice cream and taiyaki. Although, its not the most unique when it comes to their flavors, but they do well with those that they have. Their freshly made taiyaki on its own, is a mouthful of sweetness that is sure to wrap up your meal perfectly. Crispy when you bite it and soft and chewy when you eat it. It is always crowded by 6 to 7 pm, so I suggest going early to avoid lines. It is pretty affordable especially if you buy with your friends. It is a rather small store front so I suggest going during weekdays when the UCI students haven't showed up.


Recommendations:

- go early to avoid lines

- Taiyaki flavors: nutella, red bean

- Matcha soft serve with red bean filling on taiyaki.


๐Ÿ“85ยฐC Bakery Cafe


85 Degrees Cafe Portuguese Egg Tarts
85 Degrees Cafe Portuguese Egg Tarts

Price: 4.5 ๐ŸŒŸ

Taste: 4 ๐ŸŒŸ

Uniqueness: 3.5 ๐ŸŒŸ

Environment: 3 ๐ŸŒŸ


85 bakery is a life safer during finals. Buy a couple pieces of bread and you are good to go for the week. Either for breakfast, a snack or stress eating like I did. I always craved their Portuguese egg tarts. Whether you're a filling or a crust person, this egg tart has you covered. (Note: They also sell regular egg tarts which in my opinion isn't as good compared to these.) Some of my favorite breads are Milk pudding, Raisin Milk butter, Marble Taro and Taro Swirl. They offer cakes and drinks as well but, I wouldn't recommend the cakes as they are quite heavy. You can get better drinks elsewhere as well.


Recommendations:

- Portuguese egg tarts

- Sweet Bread: Milk pudding, Raisin Milk Butter, Marble Taro, Taro Swirl

- Stock up for midterms and tests


๐Ÿ“Meet Fresh



Meet Fresh Red Bean Dessert with Sesame Rice Ball
Meet Fresh Red Bean Dessert

Price: 3.5 ๐ŸŒŸ

Taste: 4 ๐ŸŒŸ

Uniqueness: 3.5 ๐ŸŒŸ

Environment: 3.5 ๐ŸŒŸ


Meet Fresh is a must for the winter. They have a variety of warm grain desserts. As well as yummy boba milk tea and other drinks. They also have shaved ice for the heat, when summer time comes. My favorite is their hot red bean soup and adding their sesame rice balls are a must. (as shown above) Their Herbal fresh milk drink and their original milk tea is uber yummy. I suggest getting the original milk tea hot, it's even better than when it's cold. Meet fresh gets really busy at night and you can almost never find seating, even though the store is pretty big. But luckily Diamond Jamboree has seats outside. Note: Meet fresh is on the pricey side but you can always split with a friend.


Recommendations:

- Drinks: Hot original milk tea & Herbal fresh milk tea

- Dessert: Hot red bean soup with sesame rice balls


๐Ÿ“Afters Ice Cream





Price: 4.5 ๐ŸŒŸ

Taste: 4 ๐ŸŒŸ

Uniqueness: 4 ๐ŸŒŸ

Environment: 4.5 ๐ŸŒŸ


Afters Ice cream has some of the most unique ice cream flavors. Hence why it is very deserving of the 4 stars. My personal favorite is Milk and cereal, it tastes so much like it. The prices are pretty good and the environment is super Instagramable. They change themes once in a while, I've seen Sponge bob and Rick and Morty during my time in Irvine. The only bad thing is there is no seating. For those wondering if they should try the milk bun or not I wouldn't recommend it as it is just ice cream in a donut. It is very large and very sweet. Unless you have friends to share with it isn't worth it. But, I do think it's one of those things that you have to try at least once.


Recommendations:

- Milk and cereal, Jasmine milk tea, and Saigon coffee


๐Ÿ“ Sunright Tea Studio



Now, I cannot say anything about the Sunright tea location in Diamond Jamboree. But it is available in the Bay area and one of my friends favorite shops. I tried it with her and I could say it's definitely an upgrade from what was originally there.


๐Ÿ“ BCD Tofu House



Price: 4.5 ๐ŸŒŸ

Taste: 4.5 ๐ŸŒŸ

Uniqueness: 4 ๐ŸŒŸ

Environment: 4.5 ๐ŸŒŸ


To be very honest, this has to be my favorite place in Diamond Jamboree. First, it's because Exo has eaten at this very exact location before. As a fangirl of 8 years, I couldn't be happier. Second, the food and environment is great. They renovated the place during my time at UCI and it has gotten bigger and better. Sadly, it's no longer 24 hours but still until 2am. Now don't lie to me, you know you be craving hot food when you pull an all nighter. Trying to study for a class, you haven't been paying attention in. I remember going with my friends to BCD when we were doing just that for our finals, and oh man did it hit the spot. They have a lot of banchan (side dishes) and they are refillable and the portion sizes are pretty big. Good enough to share with a friend. My favorite is the LA Galbi combo meal, you can choose whatever tofu you want. I gave them a 4.5 in taste because they changed their potato salad 2 years into my studies. If not it would have been perfect.


Recommendations:

-LA Galbi combo


๐Ÿ“ Hai Di Lao Hotpot



Price: 2 ๐ŸŒŸ

Taste: 3.5 ๐ŸŒŸ

Uniqueness: 3 ๐ŸŒŸ

Environment: 3 ๐ŸŒŸ


This is one of those places that you don't go to unless it's a special occasion. Since its very expensive, for College student budget. I remember the first time I went, the bill came out to about $300 plus tax and we didn't really even eat much. You have to pay for the sauce bar and soup bases. With that being said here's a guide to maximize your meal at Hai Di Lao. First, get the pot with four sections. Pick two soups of your liking, the spicy soup and the mushroom one is good. Next, get the other two with just water. Pay for the sauce bar and use the sauces from the sauce bar to make two extra soups. This way you save more money. Their meats are of great quality and for those who haven't tried taro in hotpot, NOTE that you should. It's so good. Hai Di Lao is known for their service and their bathrooms have such thoughtful items such as dry hair shampoo, Jo Malone perfume and more. Now the reason, why I gave this location a 3 for environment is because the service was not as great as compared to their other locations. The other locations I've been to, the servers will give you a ziplock bag for your phone and a hair tie for the ladies. This location didn't, but note that I went to this location when it just opened up. Hopefully things have gotten better. This chain is known to be affordable in China, and a lot of my Shanghainese friends say it's so much better there. So, I'll update you all when I get to try it in Shanghai.


Recommendations:

- Soup Base: Spicy soup base

- Taro

- Savings method: Get pot with four sections, pick two bases you like and pay for sauce bar. Use sauces from sauce bar to make two soup bases.


๐Ÿ“ CoCo Ichibanya



Price: 4 ๐ŸŒŸ

Taste: 4.5 ๐ŸŒŸ

Uniqueness: 4 ๐ŸŒŸ

Environment: 3 ๐ŸŒŸ


Can you curry me to egg heaven? CoCo Ichibanya is one of my favorite restaurants in DJ. It's also a well known curry brand in Japan. The portion sizes are good and the prices aren't too bad. The spice level on the curry can be adjusted and the egg that comes with the curry is so melty soft. The venue on the other hand is a bit small. Some of my favorites are chicken omelet rice and pork omelet rice. The pork is a bit dry but still good, the chicken is perfect most of the time. These curries paired with the garlic nan is heaven on earth!


Recommendations:

- Chicken omelet rice and Pork omelet rice

- Garlic Nan


๐Ÿ“ The Kickin Crab'

Price: 4 ๐ŸŒŸ

Taste: 4.5 ๐ŸŒŸ

Uniqueness: 3 ๐ŸŒŸ

Environment: 4 ๐ŸŒŸ


This is the place that made me fall in love with seafood boil. It's so good. They make it right almost every time, there was once where our food did cold thus the 4.5. Their combo deals are the best shared with friends. I would always get the combo deal #1 with the kickin style sauce. As well as a side of cajun fries. It's so good when you dip the fries in the kickin sauce too. This combo comes with 3 pounds of food, great to share with your friends. There's also a lot of seats too but go early since it's so packed at night. As well as if you don't know your way around seafood and peeling them, I suggest not getting the crab since it takes a long time to deshell.


Recommendations:

- Kickin Combo deal #1 with Kickin sauce

- Cajun Fries


๐Ÿ“ Tim Ho Wan

Price: 3 ๐ŸŒŸ

Taste: 3 ๐ŸŒŸ

Uniqueness: 3.5 ๐ŸŒŸ

Environment: 4 ๐ŸŒŸ


Now everyone might not be familiar with this brand. But it is very well known in Hong Kong. It was co-founded by a chef who worked at a three star Michelin restaurant. It is also known as the "World's cheapest Michelin star." The brand in Hong Kong is known for it's low cost dim sum. Now let's talk about this location here. It's kind of a disappointment, as compared to the locations in Hong Kong. The prices are expensive, especially knowing the brand prides itself with "affordable dim sum". It's understandable as the rent and cost of importing certain materials can be expensive. But for the price that you pay, you can probably get better dim sum in LA. But if you don't want to drive to LA. Here is a list of items you must get and if you try these, you've tried the best of them all. First, is the BBQ pork buns, it's so good and the reason for their Michelin 1 star. Next is their fresh fried milk sticks, crispy and ever so creamy, filled with milk fragrance. If you do not want to wait in line for a table, you can get the buns from the take out station on the side.


Recommendations:

- BBQ pork buns

- Fresh fried milk stick


๐Ÿ“ Pepper Lunch


Price: 5 ๐ŸŒŸ

Taste: 3.5 ๐ŸŒŸ

Uniqueness: 4.5 ๐ŸŒŸ

Environment: 3 ๐ŸŒŸ


Affordable, yummy and will keep you coming back. The pepper taste is just the right amount and not too strong, so you do not have to worry if you do not like pepper. I personally love the angus cut steak with their garlic sauces on the table. Make sure to get their stamp card to get more deals. Note it is hard to get a table and the service isn't the greatest compared to other restaurants.


Recommendations:

- Angus cut steak


๐Ÿ“Yigah Restaurant


Price: 3.5 ๐ŸŒŸ

Taste: 4 ๐ŸŒŸ

Uniqueness: 3.5 ๐ŸŒŸ

Environment: 4 ๐ŸŒŸ


If you love soupy items then Yi gah is the place for you. Their Seolleongtang is so good and perfect, during cold days. The soup also pairs great with rice. It's peppery and so full of flavor. Their banchan isn't the greatest but the soup is all you need. Their prices are kinda high but totally worth it.


Recommendations:

- Seolleongtang


๐Ÿ“Ajisen Ramen and BBQ chicken


I think these two shops are some noticeable ones. I love the Premium pork ramen from Ajisen and Original fried chicken from BBQ chicken. Note that the tteokbokki from BBQ chicken is on the watery side, and if you are like me and prefer more rich and flavorful tteokbokki, you know what to do. A quick recommendation is to get the tteokbokki sauce packet from H mart and make your own.


๐Ÿ“ Other places


Please go at your own discretion:

Paper Lanturn: There are similar restaurants out there with better flavors.

Urban seoul: There are similar restaurants with better fusions.

Kura Sushi: It's a bit pricey for the quality. There are similar restaurants with more affordable prices.


Here's to you food adventures!


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