RA Sushi introduces new menu items

RA Sushi is well known for its happy hour. In fact, the happy hour draws in such huge crowds more often than not, I’ve had to leave feeling rather frustrated because it was virtually impossible to get a chair to sit on.

If you don’t want that clubby feel, go at lunch time. The mood is relaxed and whether you dine in the main room or in the bar area, it never feels rushed or stressed in any shape or form.

RA has an impressive array of cocktails and we ordered two of the new concoctions to try. Red Lotus martini ($9) is a pretty pink drink borrowing its color from pink grapefruit juice and Absolut Ruby Red vodka. I found this too strong for me.

Emperor’s Cucumberita ($8) on the other hand was so rejuvenating I didn’t even feel like I was drinking alcohol. This version of a margarita uses Patron silver and Citronge shaken with lime juice, Yuzu sour and cucumber slices making it taste like a spa refresher but a cocktail nonetheless.

A new menu implemented a few months ago was what brought us here. Otoko Salad with chicken ($9.50) or beef ($11.50) offers mixed greens, grilled red and green peppers, onions and asparagus in a rice wine vinaigrette.

Dressing is light, refreshing and fried ramen noodles added a good crunchy texture. The beef was a bit overcooked, the chicken, definitely a better choice. Both grilled meats, supposedly tossed in a spicy yuzu dressing, had neither spice nor the aromatic freshness of the yuzu fruit. Even so, the salad appealed to all of us ad we would order them again.

Vegetable Tempura Roll ($7.25) comprised of battered asparagus, sweet potato and Japanese eggplant rolled and topped with tenkasu (crunchy tempura bits).

Sweet eel sauce is drizzled on top giving it a slightly sweet finish. I liked the different textural components although the roll definitely needed a touch of soy sauce to taste. The sweet sauce alone wasn’t enough flavor-wise.

On paper, Pacific Roll ($9.25) should have been a hit with me seeing it’s a roll with a mix of spicy albacore, cilantro, jalapeno and cucumber.

However, I didn’t taste any cilantro, or jalapeno, but I was surprised that the accompanying mango salsa added a pleasantly sweet/tart element. I didn’t, however, enjoy the mayo in the avocado as it took away from the already creamy freshness of the fruit.

“RA”ckin’ Roll ($12.50), another new item, mixes kani kama crab and cream cheese as a filling for the sushi. It is lightly battered, topped with guacamole and “RA”ckin’ shrimp.

A creamy ginger teriyaki dipping sauce is drizzled over the top with bits of beet tempura and shichimi, a Japanese seven-flavored chili powder, sometimes known as togarashi. I did not like the cream cheese at all but the “RA”ckin’ shrimp was good.

Tropical Roll ($8.25) doesn’t look like much. A square of rice with masago (green roe) on the outside is rolled with cucumber, mango and avocado topped with spicy shrimp. A mango salsa accompanies not on the sushi but on the plate. I like that because I can control how much or how little sauce I’d like on my roll.

From the entrees we tried Lobster with garlic sugar snap peas ($18). Bits of lobster is sautéed with garlic, sugar snap peas, shiitake mushrooms in an excruciatingly salty Asian seasoning. We sent back the unpalatable plate and were served another. It was slightly better, but still too salty for me.

My favorite items came from the newly installed RA Tapas Menu (all items are $5 during happy hour). Shishito peppers ($6.25) are absolutely delightful.

These mild peppers are tossed in a salty sweet sauce sprinkled with shichimi. They were so flavorful and delicious we couldn’t stop eating them. The sweetness paired with the slight spicy shichimi worked wonderfully together. Loved it!

We also enjoyed Garlic citrus yellowtail ($7.25), slices of hamachi sashimi with a salty, tart dressing. Make sure you take a little of the spicy microgreen mix when you pop a slice of fish into your mouth. It adds a nice element to every bite.

Salmon Carpaccio ($7.25) was another favorite. Salmon sashimi is seasoned with a slightly sweet, tart dressing dotted with pickled mustard greens. The flavor reminds me of Taiwanese-style pickles served with pork chop rice, bringing me a flash of nostalgia — I couldn’t stop eating the bits of pickled veggies.

Our meal ended with Sweet Mochi Trio ($7.50) a plate of mochi ice cream — mango, strawberry and vanilla — served with kiwifruit, strawberries and a dollop of whip cream. I liked the mango best.

RA makes no excuses for itself. They do not sell themselves as a Japanese restaurant, but rather, an unabashed fusion establishment. Fans of fusion fare will love RA’s selections, and those who aren’t, well, there is a nigiri menu to choose from. Either way, RA is hip, trendy and a great place to grab a drink with friends.

RA Sushi
2401 Park Avenue
Tustin, CA 92782
714-566-1700

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Caffe Gazelle — a gem well hidden

I don’t get it. I just don’t get how a place like Caffe Gazelle isn’t just overflowing with customers.

The first time I came here was out of sheer dumb luck. I stumbled upon this place when I was meeting my elementary school friend Heidi for dinner one night. I got there a little early and was a bit concerned at first because it was so quiet and pretty empty.

When Heidi arrives I mentioned to her how empty it is but she said “we’re here, let’s just go in”. We were seated right away and drink orders taken. Before you know it, two hot crusty rolls were brought out for us to munch on while we perused the menu.

The menu is simple! It has all the offerings of any respectable Italian restaurant from Marsala, Piccata to Milanese. Various pastas and other favorites are also available. In fact, it was quite difficult to narrow it down because there were many things I wanted to try.

After a lengthy consultation with Heidi, we decided the first thing to do was order some appetizers to share. Gnocchi with pesto ($7.95) was a little al dente, and by the time I tried to capture some photos (without much luck due to the low lighting) the gnocchi wasn’t piping hot anymore — that’s my fault — the pesto was fresh but mild and they are so generous with it. We happily dipped our bread to get the last remaining pesto from the bowl.

Roasted eggplant with shallots and mozarella ($7.95)  was nicely roasted and the mozarella did not overwhelm the dish. I could taste the tender eggplant underneath — again, no photos due to the dim lighting

Dinner entrees come with a choice of soup or salad and because I’d wanted to try both, we decided to get one of each. My minestrone soup was perfect! I like how they chopped the vegetables into small pieces rather than leave them large and chunky. It makes for easier and more uniform eating. Although the soup was light, its flavor was anything but meager. It was hearty and served piping hot, just the way it should be!

The salad (see above) consisted of red and green lettuce, tomato, cucumber, pickled red cabbage and a unique house dressing. It tasted like creamy vinaigrette with a slightly tart finish. I’m not a big salad fan, but I loved the dressing!

Heidi’s veal piccata ($13.95) was so tender and flavorful and I think we were kicking ourselves a bit for wolfing down the loaf of crusty bread so quickly. They would’ve happy brought us more — they asked — but we didn’t want to fill up on all the carbs. It would’ve been great to not let any of the delicious sauce go to waste.

My chicken diavola ($12.95) was also very tender and I like how the spicy tomato sauce was fresh and piquant just the way I would make it at home. I think it is so important for restaurants to make their own marinara sauce — it doesn’t take a lot of time and it makes a world of difference! A side of penne pasta and steamed broccoli completed my entree.

By now we were both very full and were faced with the daunting task of resisting dessert when I agreed to just “take a peek” at what the dessert tray had to offer. The minute the word “zabaglione” was uttered, I was hooked, lined and sinkered!

Zabaglione is common place in all Italian restaurants everywhere except the ones I’ve been to here in California. I don’t know why, but I rarely see it on the menu. This is my mom’s favorite Italian dessert and we always order it after an Italian meal (in Australia, where my folks live).

Caffe Gazelle’s zabaglione is absolutely stunning! It was Heidi’s first time tasting this and she marveled at how incredibly light it was. Zabaglione is a simple custard made with egg yolks, sugar and Marsala wine, sometimes known as sabayon.

The one here also has the tastiest, rich, dark chocolate mousse swirled in and its light-as-air consistency makes me feel like I’m eating mouthfuls of puffy clouds. This is hands down, one of THE best zabagliones I’ve ever had, and trust me, I’ve tasted a lot!

So after that great experience, I returned again, this time during lunch time and again, the place was like a ghost town. I’m mind-boggled at this. The lunch menu offers so many delectable items at such reasonable prices — mostly under $10 — why would anyone go to Subway when you can have a hot, freshly prepared, delicious meal for around the same price?

I’m a huge turkey tetrazzini fan and usually only have it after Thanksgiving (for obvious reasons!) and decided on chicken tetrazzini ($8.95) — only available on the lunch menu. My hearty portion was not overly saucy or creamy, but with generous chunks of chicken breast and mushrooms, topped with a little breadcrumbs and browned under a salamander. It was tasty but there was a lot on the plate and I wasn’t able to finish it.

As I’m enjoying my meal, I keep thinking what could possibly be the reason people aren’t taking part in this lunch-time bargain. If I lived closer, I’d be eating here a lot! Sure, the decor is a little dated, but my primary concern when dining out is the food. Surroundings are secondary.

So if the food is stellar, then perhaps, it’s the location then? I am perplexed because it is not THAT far off the freeway but it IS in a non-descript strip mall sharing space with Slow Fish and not easily visible from the street. That’s the only reason I can think of because when I am getting a tasty meal at reasonable prices AND at a sit-down establishment, it just doesn’t make sense to me that people aren’t lining up out the door!

I seriously hope they get more traffic soon because I’d hate to see a family-owned establishment, which obviously is putting hard work into serving up good fare, to go unnoticed! I’m definitely coming back again, once I find a free moment in my schedule!

Caffe Gazelle
16041 Bolsa Chica
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Tel: 714-846-2694

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Elbows Mac — comfort food in a jiffy

I didn’t want to go to Elbows Mac with my friends when it first opened. As usual, I wanted to wait until they get over any opening hiccups before trying them out. Now that they’ve been opened a few months, when my friend Austin asked me to accompany him, I wholeheartedly accepted.

I was really curious how the owners came about opening Elbows Mac so I asked. I was told they had eaten at a similar place while on a trip to New York City a couple of years ago. They accosted the owner of said restaurant regarding opening up a franchise in California but he wasn’t interested. That didn’t dampen their spirits though, they found someone to work together with them in creating recipes, and voila, Elbows Mac was born.

The restaurant is small, located in a strip mall in Cerritos and isn’t exactly a sit-down restaurant. You order from the counter and get a number and food is brought out to you when it is ready. You would think that it would be a simple task ordering mac n cheese, but there were many choices making it hard for me to decide.

Austin informed me about a tweet that morning stating their Monday special: a regular sized mac n cheese, a 22oz drink and soup or salad for $8.95. What a bargain! We even started by ordering a couple of appetizers to share.

Green bean fries ($3.95) are breaded and fried a crispy golden brown. Two sauces, Elbows signature cheese sauce and a ranch dressing came with it. I liked both. The cheese sauce was rich and not overly salty, while the ranch’s slightly tart flavor gave it a nice contrast.

Breaded Lasagna Squares ($4.95) sandwiched a blend of cheeses, fresh herbs and sauce between lasagna pasta, coated with bread crumbs and fried a golden brown. I really enjoyed the piquant marinara dipping sauce it came with.

Soup of the day was corn chowder and I was surprised at how tasty it was. Thick chowder texture with chunks of potato and corn kernels make this a hearty choice on a cold day. I really shouldn’t have finished the entire bowl because I was pretty much full by the time the mac n cheeses started arriving.

Masala ($6.75/$9.95) didn’t taste neither here nor there for me. I didn’t detect masala per se, and since the menu stated that it was a blend of exotic Indian spices, it could’ve been anything really. Or perhaps the pepper jack and sharp cheddar overpowered the masala mix? Either way, this needed a spice kick for me.

Classic mac n cheese ($5.95/$8.95) in a four cheese sauce was average. I expected a cheesier taste, but it was almost bland needing a little more seasoning. The creamy texture was perfect! I would’ve added a touch of sea salt perhaps to lift its flatness.

Truffle mac n cheese ($6.95/$9.95) though tasty didn’t really have much of a truffle flavor at all. I like the blend of mushrooms mixed in, but it definitely required more truffle oil for it to resemble a truffle mac n cheese without actual truffle shavings.

The best of the lot was Swiss style mac n cheese ($6.95/$9.95). Its description of creamy Alpine cheeses with crispy applewood smoked bacon was spot on. Creamy, salty, gooey goodness, exactly what an awesome mac n cheese is all about. This was hands-down the winner!

Although our meal was a hit and miss, it’s still a great concept of offering comfort food that is loved by all. I wish they were closer. Maybe they will consider opening a location down my way soon? Now that’s a thought!

Elbows Mac
11405 South Street, Ste C-6
Cerritos, CA 90703
562-865-9999

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Tacos Ensenada

I found out about this place through a caregiver who used to work at my grandma’s home years ago. She’s from Ensenada, Mexico and highly recommended it. I guess I loved it from the start, and I used to go a lot more than I do now simply because it was close to grandma’s and I’d pop by after visiting her.

Since grandma passed away last year, I’ve only been here about three times. It is always when I get that hankering for fried tilapia (mojarra frita), or a plate of succulent shrimps with beans and rice that I find myself here.

Personally I think the exterior looks pretty dismal — rundown, hardly worthy of a second glance. However, once inside, the atmosphere is completely different. The decor is colorful and vibrant with amateur murals on the walls. There is no table serve. You enter, order off a board, get a number and go sit down. They’ll bring your food out when it’s ready.

A basket of tortilla chips quickly arrives. I like to sit near the self-serve salsa bar — an extensive one might I add — stocked with five types of salsas: chipotle, tomatillo, pico de gallo and two salsa rojos.

Pickled carrots, onions and jalapenos is always there, but sometimes, you will also find pickled green beans alongside the other condiments including diced onions, cilantro, fresh limes wedges, dried whole chilis and chili flakes as well as dried oregano.

Nine times out of 10 I’ll order the mojarra frita, a whole fried tilapia for $9.50. Beans and rice, a side salad and piping hot tortillas come with it. This is the best tilapia hands down in the area — I’ve had the ones at Taco Stop and La Cocina de Ricardo. The fish is perfectly fried, no slimy undercooked parts around the belly and tail is nice and crispy.

The frijoles are creamy topped with melted cheese, while Spanish rice is not mushy and has good flavor. There’s nothing worse than bland arroz in my opinion. The one here is also dotted with bits of corn kernels, peppers and tomato.

Seafood is what I always gravitate to here and besides fish, shrimp is my other favorite. Shrimp tacos are $3.29 with succulent shrimps in a tortilla topped with cabbage, cheese and a drizzle of mayo.

Camarones al mojo de ajo ($10.50) or garlic shrimp, is another dish I choose often. The shrimps are always nice and plump with a great snap to them and they are generous with the garlic which I like to mix into the rice so it is infused with the juices from the shrimp.

If seafood isn’t your thing, the al pastor always tastes great but sometimes it can be a little dry. You can have it in enchiladas — my son likes it this way — and at $7.95, is a great deal.

I am not big on enchiladas but I love the piquant red sauce poured over the top. I like to dip my warm tortillas into the red sauce much to the chagrin of my 10-year-old who will keep reminding me that I should order my own if I like it THAT much!

Whenever I have al pastor, I like it in a taco. It is served as is, meat and tortilla, you can add whatever you like from the salsa bar. I like it the traditional way with diced onions and cilantro and a drizzle of salsa.

My favorite salsas here include the chipotle salsa for the smokiness and the one of the reds for heat. I like to mix them together so I get both the spiciness and the smokiness in one bite.

They are very busy during lunch time and on weekends, pretty much all day long. Even so, service is swift and food is out pretty quickly. For me, the main reason to come here is for the tilapia because I often want it for breakfast and I know it is always available no matter what time of the day my craving hits — as long as they’re open, that is!

Tacos Ensenada
24601 Raymond Way
Lake Forest, CA 92630
Tel: 949-583-7711

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Top Chef Korean Food Challenge

I was invited last week to the Top Chef Korean Food Challenge where I was to be one of six guest blogger judges. The event was held at the San Diego Wine and Culinary Center with three main judges including cookbook author Cecelia Hae-Jin Lee, Barbara Hansen, Editor of LA Weekly and Korean American actor James Kyson-Lee best known for his role as Ando Masahashi on the NBC series Heroes.

The event was part of Cathlyn’s Korean Kitchen, a cooking show featuring the Korean Food Challenge, now going into its third season. Three teams of two chefs compete in creating popular Korean dishes in a span of 30 minutes using ingredients provided to them in a “mystery” basket.

The competitors included Villa Saverios‘s Executive Chef Javier Plascencia and Sous Chef Adria Montano of Tijuana, Mexico; Bluewater Grill‘s Executive Chefs Brian Hirsty and Graham Norton of Tustin; and the Marine Room‘s Executive Chef Bernard Guillas and Chef de Cuisine Ron Oliver of La Jolla.

Six Korean dishes were place on scrolls on a platter and the chefs pick one each to determine which dish they will be making. These were the ones selected:

Chef Javier Plascencia — Galbijjim (갈비찜)
Sous Chef Adria Montano — Dak Galbi (닭갈비)
Executive Chef Bernard Guillas — Bibimbap (비빔밥)
Chef de Cuisine Ron Oliver — Tteokbokki (떡볶이)
Executive Chef Brian Hirsty — Kimchi (김치)
Executive Chef  Graham Norton — Gu Jeol Pan (구절판)

My fellow bloggers and I sat on a panel waiting for all the dishes to be cooked and then plated. We were all given a taste and we had to give an overall mark from 1-5 points for each chef with a final total team score.

The first team (Red) of Javier and Adria were very serious during prepping and cooking. It was very quiet in the kitchen with the two chefs not exchanging many words. However, the aromas wafting from the kitchen said it all.

Chef Javier’s galbijjim was a take on the traditional stew offering up tender beef with traditional ingredients such as pine nuts, red dates, and carrots.

I was sad to see chestnuts not included because that’s one of my favorite things in galbijjim but happy that gingko nuts were omitted (I do not like them at all). The dish didn’t have the heat of galbijjim I’m used to, but I really enjoyed its flavor except for the sour cabbage garnish on top which completely threw me off.

Dak Galbi was very flavorful indeed. I loved the taste of the sauce. In fact, I loved it so much I went in search of some steamed rice to sop up the remainder of the sauce and encouraged my fellow bloggers seated at the table, Lori Lynn Stokoe of Taste With The Eyes and Veronica Castro of Wine and Dine to do the same!

The only complaint I have of this dish was that the white meat was dry. Thigh meat would have been a better choice, although I think the chefs are presented with an ingredient basket so it wasn’t their fault that chicken breast was used.

The second team comprising of Chef Bernard and Chef Ron were the White team and it was rather entertaining to watch this duo in action. Chef Bernard is a vivacious Frenchman who was a natural in front of the camera.

I love bibimbap and I make it at home, so when Chef Bernard presented us with this deconstructed bibimbap, I was intrigued.

Instead of just rice, oats were mixed in for extra texture and flavor. The various vegetables were so flavorful and topped with a quail egg instead of a regular egg. All in all, it was not only aesthetically pleasing but it tickled the palate as well. I absolutely LOVED this dish. There was also a smear of his version of gochujang which he added sugar, ketchup and sesame to. Absolutely stunning!

Chef Ron’s tteokbokki was also sublime! It was really close to the traditional style except they were served in bite-sized pieces rather than the long cylinders which can be very clumsy to handle. The texture was also perfectly mastered so it wasn’t too hard or too mushy. It was simplicity at its finest.

I loved it so much I asked for a little more after Chef Ron had served the other bloggers. I was highly impressed that these two chefs were able to create something completely their own, yet, retaining its authenticity at the same time.

The last team, the Blue team were faced with the daunting task of making kimchi and gujeolpan. Kimchi takes at least 3 weeks to ferment and I was really concerned that the flavors wouldn’t be soaked into the napa cabbage, at least not enough for it to be a proper kimchi.

Chef Brian combined raspberry vinegar with sardines to make a kimchi salad. It wasn’t so much kimchi, but a salad using kimchi as one of its ingredients. I guess maybe I’m just a traditionalist when it comes to ethnic cuisines so this didn’t resemble kimchi to me in any way.

The sardines were served in chunks rather broken down so it was awkward to eat. I would’ve like the sardines to be crushed and mixed into the dressing for a more unified flavor balance. The way it was presented, the sardines were overwhelming rather than enhancing.

Gujeolpan, one of the most elegant of Korean dishes was the second item from the Blue Team. I was so disappointed to see the presentation so sloppy, taking away any form of sophistication from this dish. The vegetables were cut too thick and it felt like there wasn’t much thought put into the plating of the items either. It actually reminded of a plate from a visit to the buffet table.

The jun, or pancake, was thick and doughy again detracting from the exquisite nature of gujeolpan. The only redeeming factor came in the form of the dipping sauce, which, even though the chefs said the sesame oil had run out when they got to the ingredients, was the one thing that resembled anything remotely close to gujeolpan.

Having said all of that, making Korean food is not easy if you did not grow up cooking it. Therefore, regardless of the outcome, I applaud all the chefs for taking on the daunting task of this very difficult challenge. At the end of the day, every competing chef was a winner purely because they were brave enough to step outside his or her comfort zone in front of a panel to be a lcritiqued and judged.

After the 9 judges had completed scoring the dishes, they were tallied up and the final results were as such:

1st place: White Team from the Marine Room, La Jolla

2nd place: Red Team from Villa Saverios, Tijuana, Mexico

3rd place: Blue Team from Bluewater Grill, Tustin

To watch this challenge, tune into your local KOCE channel on Thursday, April 7th at 9pm. Click here for a station guide.

True Food Kitchen

Newport Beach isn’t far from me, yet, for some reason, I always feel like it’s more of a trek than going to Westminster. For that reason, it took me THIS long to try out True Food Kitchen, a restaurant I’d had my eye on for a while.

Holly of Seeking Delicious, Austin and I came here for lunch, and just as well it was Newport Restaurant Week and True Food Kitchen was the one restaurant I had said I was interested in trying out. The items on the Restaurant Week menu are selections off the regular menu so we opted to get a couple of those as well as order off the a la carte menu.

Our server Sasha was delightful and very accommodating as we took our time perusing the menu. Everything looked good and it was difficult to narrow it down to a meal for three.

We started by ordering a few of the drinks they had. Medicine Man ($6) consisted of olivello juice, pomegranate juice, cranberry juice, black tea, and soda water. Holly didn’t care for this drink, but luckily, I really liked it. I enjoyed the fruity balance with a touch of carbonation from the soda water.

Austin’s Honey Lemonade ($3) is a house lemonade blend sweetened with local honey. If you like honey, this is a great drink because you can really taste the distinctive nature of this particular honey.

The last drink, Hangover Rx ($5), is a combination of coconut water, orange juice and pineapple. Very appealing in every sense of the word, but a tad sweet for me as an accompaniment to lunch. Holly loved it and so it became her drink.

We ordered a bunch of things to share and the first thing to hit the table was Shrimp Dumplings ($11) with shiitake mushrooms, ginger and cilantro. As an Asian, I’m very particular when it comes to dumplings and these were actually pretty good. They were light yet still tasty.

Caramelized Onion Tart ($9) was a thin flatbread-like item with smoked garlic, black fig and gorgonzola. Its thinness reminded me of tarte flambee and we all liked this a lot. I thought it could’ve benefited from a few more figs though.

I had expected House Smoked Salmon ($12) with Greek yogurt and pita chips to be slices of salmon, but it was more of a dip with chopped up salmon mixed with a yogurt dressing. Salmon was nicely smoked with a good salty finish and the seasonings made it a very pleasing appetizer. I didn’t like the pita chips they were served with though.

Tuscan Kale Salad ($7) was not what I had in mind. I am used to the slightly wilted kale I get from The Veggie Grill, but the version here was raw with lemon, parmesan and bread crumb sprinkled on top. I find raw kale less flavorful than slightly wilted kale so for me, this dish was just so-so.

My least favorite item was Sashimi Tuna ($15) which incidentally, was a salad with avocado, cucumber, edamame and ginger. There were minuscule amounts of tuna — and just as well because it was tasteless — completely lost in the jungle of greens.

Panang Curry ($16), though not traditional at all, was quite good. Brown rice is layered on the bottom of the bowl with a concoction of chicken, potato, broccoli, ginger, carrot, lemongrass cooked in a coconut broth poured on top. There was just a bit too much coconut for my taste.

When we brought this up to Sasha she informed us that should we order this dish again, we can always tell them to go easy on the coconut milk and heavier on the spices. In fact, everything on the menu can be adapted and adjusted to your taste. All you have to do is ask!

Our last savory dish was Steak Tacos ($14) which surprisingly were rather good. Three small corn tortillas are topped with well-seasoned steak, cooked to perfection, very tender and juicy. They were topped with avocado, cotija cheese and a tomatillo salsa. I didn’t enjoy the accompanying Anasazi beans served in a separate bowl. I guess it needed a little more fat to give it flavor, but then that defeats the purpose of what True Food Kitchen stands for.

We didn’t really have any room left for dessert, but since two of our prix fixe came with one, we were presented with Flourless Chocolate Cake ($7), made with 72% cocoa — was definitely evident in the taste. The cake was rich and moist and not overly sweet. Vanilla ice cream, together with a very lovely caramel sauce completed this delightful dessert.

Unfortunately, Dairy Free Organic Chocolate Pudding ($6) with walnut and pistachio was not so pleasing. The pudding had a strange taste and we thought maybe carob was used in place of chocolate which might have contributed to its strange flavor. I wouldn’t order this again.

What can I say? The meal was really good, but it was the service which blew me away. I didn’t expect this level of professionalism and courtesy when the restaurant was jam packed and the servers had more than their share of tables to wait on. Sasha was just incredible, even offering us a glass of the ‘daily water’ at the end of the meal to cleanse our palate.

Here’s a tip. Ask what the daily water is when you sit down. We had the cucumber water and were told during the summer, they often do watermelon water. So if you weren’t planning on ordering a drink, why settle for just plain old boring H2O when you can ask for one of these complimentary flavored waters instead?

True Food Kitchen has definitely got its act together. Excellent service paired with wonderful food in a beautiful setting. As a customer, there is nothing more I can ask for!

True Food Kitchen
451 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Tel: 949-644-2400

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