Last April I arrived to hidden Habana for the 1st time, curiously hungry and thirsty for their healthy fish sandwich and sinfully sounding Sangria Roja while sitting solo their relaxing, gorgeous, and eye-catching patio.
The 2nd time was a social opposite. This was during a chilly Saturday night getting warmed up inside with a lively party of 13 to toast a friend’s birthday. Embracing the candlelit, romantic-calling ambiance, we dominated the peripheral, communal table where half of the group could easily get distracted to people-watching, while the other half could pay close attention to the gazers.
The common tie between these 2 endeavors was the look of indecision thanks to their appetizing, mealtime-appropriate menus.
Because of this slightly large gathering, all my following food encounters reflected on my side of the table. However, I heavily apologize for not naming some of these platters verbatim and not knowing their prices, so to my best extent we commenced with…
These Seasoned-Fried Avocado Slices tasted average in my book, in spite of the evened breading and flawless creaminess. The mildly spicy yet effervescently smoky chipotle dip enchanted some oomph that these fritters deserve.
Both my friends and myself were dazed at this massive showstopper that I initially thought the menu was too timid to admit that the chicken may be whole. But in reality the meat, the sauce, and the sweet and sweaty onions covered the fluffy white rice. What’s even more blatant was that the scent of that dainty, harmless-looking rosemary garnish was unexpectedly potent–as if a woman hoarding the treadmill spritzed several mists of the White Diamonds Eau de Parfum–thus, might have affected my approach to this behemoth.
Just as strikingly, the sauce proved more vinegary and pungent than I thought, like about the same level of aromatics as the Ropa Vieja. I did manage to bite off one drumstick, yet both my taste and olfaction had been overwhelmed with the infiltrating dish that at 1st impression I told my friends, “It’s tasty, but it may not be my personal favorite…”
Or, maybe I had altogether wolfed down one bread roll, one–and a half–Pork and Cheese Croquette, the vegetarian appetizers, the chicken leg, and double my guzzling of water that I had to take 2/3 of my main course in a plastic takeout container.
Interestingly, the overnight fridge treatment was optimizing and mellowing the blend of the intense flavors of the garlic, onions, and vinegar–satisfying my hungry hopes. More impressively was that all my leftover meat was therefore more reveling, attaining the same tenderness and tantalizing chicken skin to eat with the same rice and with salad (from my fridge) as the night of the birthday dinner.
But back to the restaurant. Our section’s sweet selection was Coconut Sorbet, appropriately stuffed in a soft, half football-shaped shell.
Unusually dense for how a sorbet is traditionally concocted that one hand must hold onto that shell in order to scoop it with another, I stubbornly believe that coconut milk was the binding pizazz for a more stealthy coconut taste. This even gloated generous shreds of coconut, and the melting factor for a sorbet was curiously slothful and sturdy.
It was indeed an overall light finish for such an exemplary, heavy-feeling eating celebration. I have came to realize that Habana is still one of the OC gems to treat yourself or a loved one to a delicious feast at any time of their opening hours. And still, a parking spot at its LAB Antimall is a nasty game for me to snatch.
2930 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626