Unity Restaurant is Orange County’s latest dining spot where families can enjoy live music and authentic flavors from around the world. But where can one find this new and exciting restaurant?
A quick search on Google or Yelp is futile unless you were among the thousands who bought tickets to get a taste of its international menu.
The new eatery is located on the Christ Cathedral Campus in Garden Grove in the Large Gallery Suites across from the Arboretum. It can be described as a pop-up style restaurant, open to serve food to guests only a few times a year. The large room is set up as a family restaurant-style atmosphere with dining tables, decorations and centerpieces. Parishioners at Christ Cathedral work together to plan the menu, shop for ingredients and cook the food. Young parishioners are also volunteers and help to wait tables, take orders, serve meals and clear tables. It is run entirely by volunteers and parishioners who have one goal in mind – unity.
“Everything from A to Z comes from our parishioners,” said Sister Theresa Nguyen, LHC. “The event is held to promote a spirit of unity among our parish’s dynamic and growing cultural groups. It’s an event for us to work together, learn about our different ethnic backgrounds and share our cuisines as we are one in Christ.”
The Unity Restaurant idea began as a way to raise funds for a simple cause.
“The Faith Formation department had families who couldn’t pay for continued education so we needed to find money to support those families,” explained Sister Nguyen.
Parishioners also developed a slogan for the new restaurant – “Family eats together, prays together, stays together.” When the restaurant held its grand opening last April, it had sold 4,000 tickets. Tickets were priced at $7 each or five tickets for $30. Guests could either dine-in or order to-go. The menu included bottled water, waffle with fruit topping and two choices of Vietnamese noodle soups, pho ga (chicken noodle soup) and pho bo (beef noodle soup). The traditional dish is a combination of broth, rice noodles, spices and meat, garnished with a variety of herbs and vegetables. According to Sister Nguyen, the grand opening was a success and the parish raised about $27,000.
The parish is made up of several language communities that include Samoan, Spanish, Vietnamese, Filipino, Chinese and English. Representatives from each community met early last year and agreed that showcasing their culture’s finest foods through the Unity Restaurant concept would not only raise funds to benefit the parish but also bring many people together. Each group will be given tickets to sell and will take turns throughout the year to host the restaurant.
It’s second opening on November 11 was hosted by the English language community. It was open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and it was the first time that the restaurant offered breakfast, lunch and dinner menu items. Guests were served the traditional all-American menu that included coffee, juice, water, scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon and sausage for breakfast. For lunch and dinner, guests were given a choice of soda, water, hamburger, cheeseburger, hotdog, potato salad, chips and beverages. Tickets were $8 each or five tickets for $35.
The Spanish community hosted its most recent opening on February 17. Breakfast was served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and tickets were $8 each or five tickets for $35. The menu featured coffee, soda, water and a choice of chicken tamales with champurrado (chocolate based warm and thick Mexican drink) or pozole (soup made with hominy). Lunch and dinner was served between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. The menu included soda, water and a choice of tacos de asada/al pastor/pollo (marinated grilled steak/pork/chicken) or tacos dorados de pollo (crispy chicken fried tacos). The meats were seasoned and marinated with a variety of Mexican spices and sauces.
Music also filled the Large Gallery during its third opening. A variety of parish choirs took turns and treated guests to live music in their language that included English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Filipino and Samoan. Some also entertained guests with cultural dances. Sister Nguyen estimates that about 2,000 people attended and 400 volunteers worked together in different capacities to make the day a success. The event raised more than $15,000 for the parish.
“The highlight of the event is seeing unity among the parish with so many different languages,” said Sister Nguyen. “Seeing the beauty of parishioners from all the different communities and different languages and cultures willing to work together to host these parish events.”
Christ Cathedral is planning its next menu for its fourth Unity Restaurant opening on June 2. This time, the Vietnamese community will return and introduce more of their cultural dishes for guests to choose from. Tickets will be available for purchase in May. Please call the parish office at 714-971-2141 for tickets and more information.