OK, let’s be real, dining at a strip mall isn’t my idea of fine dining. It’s not that I’m a food snob (well, I kind of am) – I love funky clam shacks, diners, dives and hot dog stands. I’d eat cheeseburgers and corned beef on rye with Swiss everyday if this were a perfect world… but going to a restaurant in a strip mall just doesn’t ring my bell, tickle my toes or float my boat… but life is full of surprises, and Two Fisherman was definitely a surprise.
First, I’ve never been to Santa Ana, but my husband and I were meeting up with our friend Roger who suggested the restaurant for lunch. Santa Ana is miles from my home in Studio City and to get there it’s miles of driving on construction riddled freeways. Not an auspicious beginning… but I’m always up for a fresh fish food adventure… so we braved the cranes and traffic and arrived just in time to join the lunch crowd at Two Fisherman.
Owned by Don Kim and Chase Oh (hence the “Two” Fishermen), the little restaurant is bright (lots of window) with a simple, modern cafeteria-style design, with a wall-sized mural of – what else? A fish.
Chase is one of the chefs, along with the restaurant’s manager, Daniel Cahauntzi. Together with their sous chefs, they offer a variety of starters, salads, power “bowls” tacos, burrito wraps, gyros, special rolls (ie: Calif. roll, spicy tuna roll, etc.) and “fryer” dishes (served with pita bread and 2 sides) and grilled entrees (served with pita bread, 2 sides, various sauce choices or tarragon garlic butter).
There are ahi tuna, Mahi Mahi, salmon, tilapia, catfish, haddock, shrimp, wahoo, crab, and calamari dishes – but for the non-fish lovers there are also chicken, lamb, tofu, and even Korean barbeque selections. And don’t forget the “sides” which include a mint peanut slaw, a humus veggie dip, grilled veggies, French and sweet potato fries.
What to order? Roger helped us navigate the menu as we stood on line to order. My husband zeroed in on the crab cakes… Roger the salmon gyro… and I opted for the grilled shrimp gyro (it was lunch, after all, and I love “sandwiches” at lunch)… We opted for the sweet potato fries and the mint peanut slaw as our sides.
We got our number and grabbed a table.
The food arrived and, of course, I had to taste their choices first, then I dove into mine… The crab cakes were served with a chipotle aioli sauce – soooo good! The sweet potato fries were crisp on the outside and yummy soft on the inside. The gyros were filled with perfectly cooked, “just off the boat” fresh fish, crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes, cucumber, olives, red onion, feta cheese, with a citrus creamy sauce (or a fat free yogurt sauce) on a sweet wheat bun (or you can choose a white bun) -- all, and I mean ALL, of my prejudices against eating in a strip mall vanished – well, at least at Two Fishermen.
The food was so good we had to try one more thing… deep fried shrimp, coated in panko. Another winner.
Of course, no meal is complete without dessert… and Chase’s tiramisu was the perfect choice to end a perfect lunch.
If you’re in the Santa Ana ‘hood, have your car speed over to the Two Fishermen mini-mall – you won’t be disappointed. It doesn’t have waiters or white linen, but it’s good food and good on the pocketbook. I didn’t see one thing priced over $12.95 – and most dishes were in the $7 - $10 range.
If you go for dinner, be warned, the restaurant doesn’t serve wine, beer or hard liquor. But don’t let that let that stop you. Have your appertif when you get home.
Two Fishermen Grill & Rolls
2321 East 4 St. tite G
Santa Ana, California 92705