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Orange County Itinerary

Lighting Up the Night

Flaming scallops, a neon lobby and laser bowling put a new spin on dinner-and-a-movie combos.

January 08, 1998|BENJAMIN EPSTEIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

You can spend a stellar if not cataclysmic evening at Rossmoor Center in Seal Beach. Volcano scallops are Panda Panda's seasonal special. Super Saver Cinema 7 offers low prices and a spacey lobby. And Cosmic Bowling, featuring laser lights and fog, provides the ideal late-night capper.

DINNER, 1

Panda Panda offers Mandarin and Sichuan cuisine, not to mention live piano music from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., allowing for such inspired pairings as Mozart with moo shu pork or the "Moonlight" Sonata with Mandarin catfish, not to mention "Beauty and the Beast" with bean curd soup. For even more entertainment, ask to be seated alongside the exotic-fish tank.

Chef Fong Peng's nightly recommendations include catfish in garlic sauce ($9.95) and walnut prawns ($13). Other options range from spinach-and-tofu soup ($3.95 for two, $6.50 for four) to the psychedelic-sounding tangerine beef ($9.25). Multi-course dinner combinations start at $10.95 per person. (A $6.45 early-bird special is offered from 3 to 5 p.m. and includes wonton soup, egg roll, crab meat Rangoon, fried rice and choice of one of 10 entrees.)

As for that volcanic special, a sake-filled lemon surrounded by bacon-wrapped scallops is flamed table-side; allow the liquid to spill a tad--it adds complexity to the Sichuan sauce.

Another mealtime option is the kitschy Parasol coffee shop next door (12241 Seal Beach Blvd.), now marking its 30th year, and the home of waitresses who still call customers "Hon" and "Sweetie." Its roof, and the distinctive lamps inside, are shaped--you guessed it!--like parasols. Among more usual menu categories is one (featuring soup or chili with a half sandwich, $5.35) called Bumbershoots.

AFTER DINNER, 2

The lobby at Super Saver Cinema 7 is all aglitter with garishly spectacular lights and colored neon. Of the chrome-and-twinkle-light hallway leading to the theaters, one moviegoer commented, "Reminds me of Disneyland"; our vote is for "Back to the Future" meets the Tunnel of Love.

Last week's offerings for youngsters ran a gamut from "The Little Mermaid" to "Mortal Kombat Annihilation." Among more mature fare, Super Saver was the only theater in the county still showing more than half the movies being screened there, among them "Soul Food," "Fairy Tale: A True Story" and "In and Out."

All seats are $2, and it can get busy. At a late screening recently, one patron who ordered chocolate-covered raisins and a soda was asked, "Would you like butter on that Coke?" Never mind. That medium Coke ($2.25) is huge, and you get a free popcorn refill when you order the large tub ($3.50).

MIDNIGHT, 3

Forget khaki slacks and Coors Light. Brunswick Rossmoor Bowl targets its late-night weekends to a hipper crowd. Rock 'n' Glow, midnight to 2 a.m. Fridays, for instance, has the lanes awash with black lights and loud music.

Or boldly go where no bowler has gone before. For more than a year, Cosmic Bowling has been the hot ticket on Saturdays from 11:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. As if pulsating colored lights, a red laser, mirrored disco ball, fluorescent pins and fog rolling across the lanes weren't enough, the alley is replacing Cosmic Bowling with Ultra Cosmic, adding to the mix music videos on three huge overhead screens.

Thirsty? The Cosmic Cooler (rum, vodka and cranberry juice) comes with glow-in-the-dark stir rods. Recent themed sessions have included Alien Night and Pajama Night.

Rock 'n' Glow is $10 per person. Ultra Cosmic is $11 plus $2.40 shoe rental. General prices are $1.99 per game plus shoe rental before 5:30 p.m., $3.50 thereafter. Bumper lanes, which preclude gutter balls, are always available for the youngest bowlers.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

1) Panda Panda

12309 Seal Beach Blvd., (562) 594-5510.

Daily 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

2) Super Saver Cinema 7

12343 Seal Beach Blvd., (562) 594-9411.

First screenings at 12:30 p.m.; latest shows at 10 p.m.

3) Brunswick Rossmoor Bowl

12311 Seal Beach Blvd., (714) 527-1196.

9 a.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday, and 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday.

Parking: There is ample free parking in the Rossmoor Center lot.

Buses: OCTA Bus No. 42 (Orange-Seal Beach) runs along Seal Beach Boulevard in Seal Beach and serves Rossmoor Center.

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