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Orange County ITINERARY

Moscow on the Harbor

A stretch of road in Costa Mesa can transport you from Russian deli to Rachmaninoff and beyond.

March 05, 1998|BENJAMIN EPSTEIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It may be officially designated the "Harbor Boulevard of Cars," but spots along that stretch of Costa Mesa can transport you to places an auto alone can't. Start in Moscow, explore other worlds, and end up in Pakistan.

LUNCH 1

There's an old saying: "You can tell a good Moscow deli by the number of Russians that eat there"--or something like that. If that's true, Moscow Deli is far and away the best Russian eatery in Orange County. (It's the only Russian eatery in Orange County, but don't let that stop you.)

In the deli cases are square salami and "bear" salami. On the shelves are Ukrainian rye bread, Stolichnaya mustards and a Russian horseradish called Hot Hot. Also in the shop are Armenian rose-petal preserves from the Ararat Valley and Israeli honey cookies.

The lunch menu's appetizers include "Georgian caviar," made with eggplant, mushrooms, nuts and garlic and served with two blinis for $1.59. Borscht (beet soup) is $2.69, $1 less with a lunch combo such as cabbage rolls stuffed with meat ($3.49), which comes with potato croquets and marinated tomatoes. Sour-cream cake with cherries and a dollop of chocolate ($4.99 per pound, about $1.80 a slice) is a must-try.

Intrigued by his beret, full white beard and gracious demeanor, we joined Rostislav Galuzevski, a consulting engineer and former UC Berkeley professor now living in Fullerton, at one of the three tables.

About once a week, Galuzevski comes to pick up Russian videos--seven videos, seven days, $7--and enjoy red caviar and blinis ($4.99) and a large helping of dessert. "If you have to perish," Galuzevski said, "this is the way to perish.

AFTERNOON 2 3 4

Conversation with Galuzevski was far-flung. On the subject of composers, he said Bach is the greatest, Rachmaninoff is also wonderful.

Music can be the quickest way to be transported to other realms, and whether you're talking Bach or Rach, Coast Music is one of the best sources around for sheet music. If you don't know how to read it or play it, the store offers music lessons, along with instrument sales, rentals and repair.

There may be no frigate like a book to take you lands away; Greg Johnson of Read It Again, a used- and rare-book store, can't help but favor his own passion for science-fiction, which can take you planets away. Johnson's wife, Diane, owns the store; Johnson runs it while pursuing his music degree.

Go back in time at Discount Records. CDs and videos start at 99 cents, LPs and cassettes at 29 cents. LP treasures include Bubble Puppy's "Gathering of Promises" ($125) and Jan & Dean's 1960 album "Jan & Dean" with bonus color photo ($200). "A lot of memories in this store," noted general manager Doug Parry.

Still got time on your hands? Ice Chalet skating rink (2701 Harbor Blvd.) and two Edwards Cinemas (2701 Harbor Blvd. and 1534 Adams Ave.) are near the same corner.

DINNER 5

Blinking, colored twinkle lights and wall murals are left over from a Mexican restaurant, but besides a full panoply of dishes of India, Aamir in fact specializes in cuisine of Pakistan.

Start with marvelously garlicky garlic naan (Indian bread, $1.95). Pakistani tandoori specialties include lemony, delicately spiced lamb cutlets ($7.95). Or be adventurous and go head to toe with the category "historical delicacies," from which we enjoyed two beef dishes: heels in a pungent sauce (paya, $6.95) and stir-fried brains (magaz, $7.95).

Aamir offers an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet with 15 items that change daily ($5.95). Special takeout combos ($2.99 to $3.99) are also available.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

1) Moscow Deli

3015 Harbor Blvd., (714) 546-3354.

10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday.

2) Coast Music

1500 Adams Ave., Suite 106, (714) 435-7901

Noon-8 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday.

3) Read It Again

1500 Adams Ave., Suite 109, (714) 444-0329.

11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

4) Discount Records

2750 Harbor Blvd., Suite A12, (714) 662-1983.

11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.

5) Aamir Pakistani and Indian Cuisine

3013 Harbor Blvd., (714) 444-0082.

11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Parking: There is free parking in lots at each location.

Buses: OCTA Bus No. 43 (Fullerton-Newport Beach) runs north and south with stops at Nutmeg Place and Adams Avenue.

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