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Night Life

November 20, 1999

Noaki Schwartz

Walking into Din Din is like being at a beer hall in southeast Asia. The

bar is covered by a bamboo overhang, the rooms are sparsely decorated in

warm colors and paintings of Asian women posing provocatively hang on the

walls.

Upon closer inspection though, the immaculate floors and relative quiet

of the place insist that this is not a place off a bustling Saigon road

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or a bar tucked away in the middle of Bali. Instead, the neat edges of

the bamboo and the manicured wood give away that this is definitely not

off a beaten path -- rather, this is a bit of exploration right around

the corner in Costa Mesa.

On Friday and Saturday nights, however, Din Din tries to shake it up with

a bit of music to entertain customers chatting the night away over beers

and Asian appetizers.

Four months ago Deborah Young and Chris Ayayo, the restaurant's managers,

started the trend and began showcasing different bands each week ranging

in style from alternative pop to swing. The restaurant will serve food

until the band stops playing, which can sometimes mean as late as 1 a.m.

They recently featured an '80s rock band called Smiling Faces Down. The

band which sounded like a combination of The Ramones and Psychedelic

Furs, was an unusual stretch for the restaurant. However, a loyal

following showed up and listened to the group, which had been playing

together for 10 years.

Usually, Young said they have groups that play swing or rockabilly like

Royal Crown Revue; blues and acid jazz like Manasseh; alternative pop

like the Dave Matthews band; and sometimes even reggae.

The extensive menu is filled with Chinese delicacies that were passed

down to Young, who is the third generation of restaurateurs in her

family. The selection of appetizers start with the traditional pot

stickers and for the more adventurous there is the Hibachi platter.

Prices range from $1.50 to $12.95. The dish is filled with such items as

shrimp skewers, beef skewers, ribs, paper-wrapped chicken -- all

surrounding a ceramic pot with a warm blue flame.

The drinks menu is just as colorful. It's filled with a long list of

amusingly named umbrella drinks such as the Bird of Paradise and

Fogcutter and martinis like the Electric Lemonade and The Wave Prices.

There is also a wine list, with dessert and plum wine. Din Din also

features a selection of beers from throughout Asia, as well as American

microbrewery beer for the more traditional drinker. Prices range from

$3.50 for a glass of sake to $5.50 for a martini.

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