Maru Restaurant (Korean BBQ) ~ Oceanside

With the closure of Aria a year or so ago Oceanside, and North County for that matter, lost its only option for Korean style BBQ.  Though Aria was a Korean / Japanese fusion place, also serving sushi, it scratched the itch for decent Korean fare.

Luckily, not only has the void left by Aria’s departure been filled, it has been upgraded in quality by the opening of the new Maru Restaurant. Even going so far as to occupy the same spot as Aria once did, Maru gives cause to smile for those, like myself, who enjoy Korean BBQ without having to drive to Convoy St. to get it. For the record Mana in San Marcos does not fit into the same quality range.


Maru ~ 3744 mission Ave. Corner of Mission and El Camino in the Stater Bros. shopping center.

At the time we were there they were in soft opening mode. They were still training staff, hiring, and did not have a full menu. By the time this post is out they should be up and running fully. We talked with one of the owners and the manager and they are very dedicated to quality of the food and the restaurants success. At the time they were commuting daily from LA to run the restaurant while looking for a place to live down here.

The menu spans appetizers like edamame, goyza, and tempura, to entrees like hot stone bibimbap, chicken and pork katsu, and of course an array of meat choices for table top Korean BBQ.

We started with the assorted Kimichi appetizer.

Maru kimchi (1 of 1)

Assorted Kimichi Appetizer ~ Cucumber, radish, and Napa cabbage kimchi.

All their Kimchi is made in-house, which results in a less brine and fresher Kimchi free of MSG. All were great but my favorite was the radish, followed by the Napa.

Maru Short Rib 2 (1 of 1)

Short Rib. The meat was wonderful with lots of marbling. Condiments of Salt, sauce, and a spicy dip accompanied the ribs.

Maru Short Rib (1 of 1)

Grilling action.

Maru rib extra (1 of 1)

Kalbi Shio ~ Delicious marinated short rib. The marinade packed tons of flavor and again the quality of the meat was top-notch.

Maru Short dinner (1 of 1)

Our spread.

My guest also had the hot stone bibimbap, which was also very tasty.

Meat choices run from $15 to $20. I would say for two people two meats and an app. or two would be a good meal. They also have lunch specials and bento boxes which are good for single diners.

Sake and beer is also offered.

The manager had mentioned “all you can eat” but I do not think that has been implemented yet.

Mana Restaurant

3744 Mission Ave. Oceanside

#food #foodporn #koreanbbq #koreanfood #oceanside #foodie


Mission Ave. Bar and Grill ~ Oceanside

So, side stepping politics, and there are a lot right now in Oceanside’s food world. Mission Ave bar and grill has a new Chef. Chef Daniel Luevano.

chef (1 of 1)

Chef and owner. Good feeling about this:)

It has been a while since I stepped into Mission Ave., for some reasons, but there is a freshness. You can feel it. I have talked with Chef Dan 3 times now and think he is a good fit. He seems passionate, energetic, and right for the business.

rangoons (1 of 1)

So, again menu is new. This was his take on Crab Rangoon. Instead of cream cheese, he used Avocado. Which was smart. It added that cream texture but freshened it as well. Also perfectly deep-fried, yet all the internal elements were perfectly handled. I really did not need the aioli.

steak (1 of 1)

Perfect Rib-eye. Funny enough, I was more fascinated with the potatoes and the chimichurri. This was probably a tie with my favorite chimichurri (Davin makes a great one) this one was not acidic and had a great balance of garlic. Plus the potatoes, which should be an after thought….nope, so good. Of course perfect steak, it was just the surrounding things that surprised me.

If, you have not been for a while I would revisit…



Mission Ave. Bar and Grill

711 Mission Ave., Oceanside

#food #foodporn #oceanside



New Brunch Menu @ Masters Kitchen and Cocktail ~ Oceanside

It has been a while since I visited Masters, at least 3 months. Their new Chef and Brunch menu caused a stir for me to meet up with my friend Beau Bonham and check it out.

Chef Richardi is originally from Florida. He began his culinary career as a line cook at Pacifica Del Mar, from there he rose through the ranks at  Rancho Valencia, La Valencia Hotel, The Chart House, The Santaluz Club and Roppongi. He is now Executive Chef at Masters and has started to put his stamp on their menu.

Masters Chef and Ryan (1 of 1)

Chef Richardi and Ryan (owner) both great people.

Masters Chef Beau and Ryan (1 of 1)

This Beau person and Ryan:)

The new brunch menu features a good range of dishes from decadent to healthy and simple.


Of course we went for decadent. I just did a three-mile beach walk and Beau, like me, eats very simple when not dining out.

Before we could begin Chef brought this out…

Masters salmon (1 of 1)

House cured salmon, micro greens, and radish.

Perfect, and I mean perfect cured salmon. I almost went with the everything bagel on the menu because of the salmon but this scratched that itch perfectly, freeing me up for other choices. Thanks Chef.

Masters Steak benny (1 of 1)

Steak and Eggs Benedict ~ Flat Iron steak (cooked perfect medium rare), poached eggs, artisan sourdough, hollandaise, and breakfast potatoes.

The steak was on point and the hollandaise was not over powering. A lot of hollandaise is thick and for lack of a better term gluggy..not this one. Also those potatoes, next time I am ordering an additional side order of those. They reminded me of patatas good.

Beau stole the show though…

Masters Chicken and Waffles (1 of 1)

Chicken and Waffle ~ Rosemary waffle, fried chicken breast, smoked bacon, chicken apple sausage gravy, over easy eggs.

A lot of brunch places near by do a chicken and waffles dish. This one is different, it ditched the classic maple syrup route for something more complex. The gravy, I believe due to the apple sausage kept the sweet element and the fry on the chicken breast was almost reminiscent of a Milanese. Also huge, leftovers to take home kind of dish.

The other thing that made me happy was it was crowded.

Masters bar area (1 of 1)

Masters dinning area (1 of 1)

Great to see busy restaurants before tourist season has even started.


Masters Kitchen & Cocktail

208 South Coast Highway, Oceanside Ca

#food #foodporn #oceanside #brunch





608 Adding Weekly 7 Course Tasting Menu ~ Oceanside

Chef Willy Eick will be adding a 7 course tasting menu option stating in a few weeks. The menu will run $65 and feature 7 courses plus treats. It will vary slightly week to week based on seasonality and what becomes available that is exciting.

No one I know does a regular tasting menu option in North County. Omakase at Wrench and Rodent would be comparable. It is nice to see a non sushi restaurant bring this on board as it is pretty common in Sf and other culinary hub cities.

Here is a description from the Chef…

Tasting menu will be available Wednesday – Sunday nights, and require whole table participation, with no substitutes, no exceptions, etc. We will be charging $65/person for 7 courses

So far the tasting menu will look something like this:
Bread Service (house daily sourdough)
1. Local sashimi, sunflower/mushroom dashi, mustards in variations
2. Local Crab, Cactus, Sumac
3. ?????
4. Potato Nest, Norinade, Yolk Gel, Herbs, Beer foam
5. Chicken Roulade, Roast Chicken/Whey, puffed wild rice, wild herbs/nz spinach
6. Natal Plum Panna Cotta, Natal Plum Mousse, Honey in Variations
7. Petit Fours (daily selection)
Daily cookies/candy to take home

The tasting menu will change most likely weekly, but not in its entirety, mostly just one or two dishes changing at a time until we find what we are happiest serving. These will not be large plates.
Work in progress ~ Crab and sumac dish. (egg yolk will probably not appear on end product)
608 Mission Ave. Oceanside
#food #northcounty #608 #oceanside

Tip Top Meats ~ Carlsbad

I love German food and cannot believe I have not posted about Tip Top Meats, it is a local institution. If you are unfamiliar with Tip Top, first I would be surprised, and then I would tell you you’re in for a treat.


Tip Top Meats ~ 6118 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad.

Tip Top Meats opened in Carlsbad in 1967. It is a world-class butcher shop, old school butcher shop at that, no guys in their 20’s in plaid shirts, beards and waxed mustaches, just professional butchers in white aprons and lots of meat.


Let’s play a game. Can you match the names to the pictures? Hipster Butcher , German Butcher, and English Butcher. I mixed them up to make it harder 🙂

(I am not saying you can not be a good butcher and a hipster, I am saying you are trying to hard.)


Tip Tops Meat Department.


They also sell wild game. Venison and Boar among others, in a variety of cuts.

In addition to the butcher shop, Tip Top has a large deli, a market featuring many German products, and a beer and wine section. There is also a diner style restaurant featuring a great selection of German dishes.


Said market. I always leave with Red Cabbage and something new I have not tried.


Many German beers and wines to choose from.


The diner serves breakfast, deli sandwiches, dinners, and prime rib after 4pm Friday through Sunday. Where they shine though are their German specialties, like Sauerbraten, German sausages, and Rostbraetl.

When I used to travel the US with work, my boss Marc was German and we used to track down German restaurants across the country. On the west coast Tip Top, Chalet Edelweiss in L.A., and for fun and lots of drinking, Hofbrauhaus in Vegas were among our favorites.


Rostbraetl ~ Pork Butt  marinated in salt, pepper, spicy mustard, onions, and beer. Hot German potato salad, sauerkraut, and red cabbage.

Delicious, simple and filling.

If you have not had German food Tip Top is a great place to try some authentic German dishes and at a great price. My dish above was $8.89.

Also in Oceanside, Irina’s in the Valley is a German-owned bar that features a few German dishes, though I say Tip Top has the edge in selection and quality due to the butcher shop.

Post about bars that includes Irina’s Here.

Tip Top Meats

6118 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad

6am till 8pm daily (dinner served all day long)

#Germanfood #food #foodporn




Campfire Dinner / Full Report ~ Carlsbad

While it was not my intention to write back to back articles on a single restaurant, the combination of a busy schedule, back pain, and the fact I loved my first trip, lead me to do just that.

Campfire is the first solo project of John Resnick (Ironside Fish and Oysters and Craft and Commerce). It brings an open kitchen and open flame cooking to the north side of State Street in downtown Carlsbad. The building, formerly an auto body shop, is transformed into what a camping lodge would look like if all the campers were hipsters. That is not a bad thing, the build out itself is beautiful utilizing natural woods and coppers to give it a homey yet modern feel. The design firm “Bells + Whistles” did an outstanding job. Blue Ocean Sushi would be another example of their fine work in Carlsbad.


Nothing like smelling burning wood half a block away. Campfire 2725 State Street, Carlsbad.


Campfire interior.

campfire int 4.jpg

Someone sucks at archery.


Campfire bar and open kitchen. That kitchen had to be hot as hell with how muggy and hot yesterday was.

Chef Andrew Bachelier has created a menu that capitalizes on the restaurant’s main theme, which is open fire cooking. You will see a lot of words like chargrilled and smoked throughout. This also carries over to the cocktail menu created by Leigh Lacap.


I started my meal off same as last time with the house made lemonade.


Char Grilled Oysters ~   cucumber. Meyer lemon. chili butter.

Mentioned in my previous post this was going to be a go-to dish for me and being true, it is. Beautiful dish.

OK, new stuff…………..


Broccoli ~   chermoula. lime. candied peanut.

This dish was recommended by the staff and was a hit. Perfectly cooked vegetables with a nice char flavor that set off well against the chermoula. Chermoula is a Mediterranean style marinade made of herbs oil, cumin, lemon, and salt or a variation of these ingredients, depending on region and chef.


Leek ~   fungi. creamy taleggio

As with the broccoli, the leek was cooked to a perfect al dente. The addition of the taleggio added a fruity tang to the dish. Again the act of char-grilling the vegetable added yet another flavor and texture component. This is a very rich dish with the cheese, perfect for splitting…I had to buckle down and eat the whole thing myself:)


Pork Middle Char Siu ~   farro. brussels sprout. apple

Chinese style pork set off against micro thin apple slices and farro. The brussels sprouts were fine but not essential to the dish. Solid dish flavor wise and well-executed pork.

Service was on point again. I plan on returning, still a lot of the menu to try.Plus I want to delve into the cocktail menu.


This is the end to a “bad weather day” in North County:)


2725 State Street, Carlsbad



608 & Wine Weirdos Dinner ~ Oceanside

This past Wednesday saw 608 and Wine Weirdos come together and throw a 7-course wine pairing dinner at the restaurant. I have spoken at length on how I love 608 and respect Chef William Eick and how he approaches his craft, so this will be a little shorter recap of the dinner and the wines and dishes featured.


The evening was hosted by Mike of Wine Weirdos, who introduced each pairing during the dinner.


The first course consisted of house made sourdough and cultured butter, this was paired with 2014 Los Pilares Sparkling Muscat.

The wine was bottle fermented and used sustainable grapes, sourced from the local Rincon Indian Reservation. The bread was a good way to go with this as the yeast content of the sourdough stood up against the wine. This was by far my least favorite wine of the evening though.


Salmon, Ikura, natal plum, and local honey. Paired with a 2014 LaMontagne Marshall vineyards Malvasia Bianca.

This was a great dish and pairing. The saltiness of the roe and texture from the salmon skin and pine nuts worked perfectly with the fish. Throw in a bit of sweetness from the plums and everything worked in harmony.


Ahhh, the good stuff. Toro.


The third dish came in with world-class toro, whey, cherry tomato, and beach herbs. Toro is great, as we all know, but the king of this dish was the whey.  The sauce was reduced whey and butter and was lick the plate good. This was paired with a 2013 Deux Punx Sumu Kaw white blend. The wine matched well bringing some acidity and elements of pine with the pairing.


Willy sourced small scallops for the dinner’s fourth dish:)


Scallop, potato espuma, potato chips, and nori salt. Paired with a 2014 Russian River Vinyards Chardonnay.

Another great dish and pairing. The dish is a version of 608’s soft-boiled egg dish that is currently on the menu but substitutes the scallop in place of the egg. I personally like this dish better with the scallop. The sweet tender meat of the scallop hiding under the pillow like potato espuma, with the chips adding texture, works perfectly. The Russian River Chardonnay was also a winner. While I believe it was oak aged, it was not too heavy on that characteristic and was well-balanced with elements of fruit.


Ribeye, corn, mushroom, snail. A really nice dish with sweetness from the corn and earthiness from the mushrooms playing off each other. This was paired with a 2014 Bruce Patch Zinfandel. A nice example of that varietal.

The pictures from the dessert courses did not come out to my liking ( I was pretty deep in wine by this time). Also, there were some technical issues with the dishes and the pairings were hard. So I will just leave it at that.

Another great dinner at 608 and I hope to see more event dinners to come.


608 Mission Ave., Oceanside

Wine Weirdos






The Miller’s Table Wine Bar getting Closer to Opening ~ Oceanside (and what I had for lunch)

So, The Miller’s Table is getting closer to opening in the space that previously housed Blvd. Chinese Kitchen at 514 South Coast Highway.

Millers Table sign

I like the sign and the carry over of blue into the interior.

Millers Table intThe staff is hired and finishing touches to the interior are proceeding.

If you have seen the Blvd space it is “interesting” and I think she has done a good job with the transformation.

The owner, Staci Miller’s concept is for a  wine bar based around flights, though wines will be available by the bottle and glass as well. While offering small plates, cheese, Charcuterie, pickled items, as well as salads and sandwiches. Buying in small batches will allow the wine menu to change often and seasonally, in order to keep things interesting and fresh.

Staci has a strong culinary background and just through talking with her I found her background is impressive.

More to come as things progress:)

Left my credit card at 608 yesterday so while retrieving it I was forced:) to have their burger for lunch. I think it was the only thing on the menu I had not tried.

608 Burger

608 burger ~ The mix of 50% dry aged steak in the patty and fresh Brioche bun from Petite Madeline just kill it.

Cork & Craft ~ (N)East County

So, out of the range of my normal stomping grounds and kind of in the middle of nowhere, Lies Cork & Craft tucked away in an industrial Park….some things are worth seeking out.

To be honest I was brought here by Chef Ian Smith who had heard good things. I’m happy we went.

cork ext

Stolen pic off google images..we were there at night and I could not get a good exterior shot.

The Chef is Filipino and while the menu is more classic upscale bistro American you can see that influence coming through.

The Space itself is interesting it also houses Abnormal Beer and Wine Company so the Beer and wine menu showcases a lot of there own creations rounded out by other choices.

interior 1


The interior is open accented with brick and wood with a good sized open kitchen.


dining and kitchen


We started sharing 3 apps.

head cheese

HEADCHEESE ~ pistachios | hay smoked onions | verjus raisins | bruleed goat cheese | alliums

Headcheese is a terrine or meat jelly made with flesh from the head of a calf or pig, or less commonly a sheep or cow, and often set in aspic.

This was probably the best version I have had, I love offal but if you did not tell someone who would not normally eat this they would love it.


GRILLED OCOTOPUS ~ ajoblanco | lemon ricotta | agnolotti | etrog citron confiture | pearl onions | sorrel

Perfectly charred and so tender.


CURED SARDINES ~ cauliflower puree | cucumber | dill | kale sprouts | ikura | butter cream

I love fresh Sardines. I just left the Hospital earlier in the day and was told to watch my salt intake ..these and the headcheese f’d that up quickly. I’ll atone tomorrow.

On to mains.

Rib Eye

RIBEYE ~ sweet potato puree | broccoli rabe | mattock | pickled mustard seeds | bordelaise

I only got to try the bordelaise sauce but it was to die for, you could tell a lot of time and skill went into it. Also Ian who usually picks everything apart as a chef just sat there and ate.


VENISON ~ cocoa oats | verjus raisins | pearl onions | smoked turnip puree | juniper | malt glaze

post venison

The aftermath

Both these dishes were perfect examples of great ingredients prepared simply and perfectly.

So, while it is kind of (no it is) in BF nowhere Cork & Craft is worth checking out

Cork & Craft

16990 Via Tazon
San Diego, CA 92127





Ramblings and Travelings ~ The food in San Diego as it pertains to North County

So, this is more just me writing for therapy, be warned 🙂

So, this post is about the North County food scene in a very round about way. I guess my big challenge is to convey that the way I see it after my little jaunt down to San Diego.

First off, love the Coaster. it is not only is a great inexpensive way to go down to San Diego    ($11 dollars for a round trip for all you $5.50 for me..heart disease for the discount:) ) I mean that has parking and gas beat. But it is great that it  works both ways,bringing me downtown and bringing people up to North County.

My trip down, my first since the last day of Comic-con, was spurred on by time to spend with a friend and her fiance. I arrived 4 hours early, so I could walk around, grab lunch and enjoy myself.

Three blocks up from the Santa Fe Train Depot lies Bracero – Cocina De Raiz. A very important restaurant for a multitude of reasons. Chef Javier Plascencia basically had a  huge hand in making Tijuana a culinary destination promoting Baja Med cuisine at a time when people were pulling back from traveling to Mexico due to a false media promoted image and a self imposed stigmatism of the area. Similar to..”I don’t know how in Oceanside you can not cross Coast Highway without being run over” or how the cops go  hotel to hotel and that is when you know “the good drugs are in town” …that was actually written ( though I’m paraphrasing, but not much) about Oceanside by a very respected food journalist in a San Diego media article on Masters Kitchen. Really dude? I’m not going to call you out by name, but I would say the same thing to your face.

Anyway, arrival of Javier Plascencia in San Diego is great on many levels, and yes I am aware actually this is his second San Diego County but this one is the flagship.

Refocusing…de-ranting, So anyway Bracero.

brecaro int

Bracero interior

My lunch.

tuna 2 ways

Albacore 2 Ways ~ lime salsa verde / crispy rice cakes / burnt onion crème
fraiche / crispy eggplant / jalapeño infused leche de

Great dish, both a play on textures and flavor. This reminded me so much of what Davin does at Wrench and Rodent and Lauren does with The Sushi Bus, not so much in exact flavor profile but in the creative twist and execution. You know what?  It made realize how lucky Oceanside is to have people like that throwing down.


flour tortilla / jalapeño tzatziki / olla beans

This was really good as well.

All that being said, for an App. a taco and 1 cocktail the price was pretty high. It was a third of our full dinner tab at my next stop.

Speaking of that stop, Blush Ice Bar. So, Blush is interesting. Just from a concept status. It is hard to explain, it is laid out like a large bar, that serves serious food. I don’t know,you have to see it.

blush int

Blush~ That is pretty much the dinning room as well. this was at 7pm by 9pm the place was packed ..and I mean packed every chair every table full.

So, when Blush opened They brought on board two great Chefs Executive Chef Daniel Baron and Stephen Gage both from La Valencia in La Jolla. Exciting News, Stephen is starting next week as Executive Chef of Under Belly’s new North Park location.

So, we just ordered stuff that was suggested to me by  Davin and others a few other dishes based on instinct. We shared everything family style.


OCTOPUS KARAGE ~Honey aioli-Lime Vinaigrette

Nice but kind of the calamari version of Octopus ( I have a very high standard for Octopus) Still very tender and flavorful.

tea noodles

COLD GREEN TEA NOODLE ~ Asparagus-Roasted Pepper-Ginger Vinaigrette

This was one of the heroes of the night…such a great dish.


SMOKED DUCK LEG BAO ~ Guacamole-Pickled onion-Garlic Sauce

Another winner, they nailed the dough.


HUDSON VALLEY FOIE GRAS RAMEN ~ Bacon Dashi-Duck Egg-Crispy Chicken Skin

This may have been the dish of the night. luxurious but not heavy.


14 OZ UMAMI BOMB NATURAL ANGUS RIBEYE ~ Porcini-Smoked Soy-True-Bone Marrow.

Again a winner, perfect crust and perfect medium rare. you could also it was rested properly.


PAN ROASTED MARY’S FARMS HALF DUCK ~ Red Curry-Pineapple-Cognac Reduction

A very tasty dish, but honestly If I was there and just ordering this as a main it would have been returned to the kitchen. Duck should never be cooked above medium rare and there was no pink on any of the meat. It was still tasty and moist but could have been so much better.


Jenice and soon to be Hubby. Great people to hang with.

So it may sound like I’m being harder than I usually am to Blush but I wouldn’t be if I thought they were not good on the verge of being great. Also they are catching me after some great meals. So take that into account.

and I know I have run long but the reason I’m really sharing this post is because it just reconfirmed what is going on in North County.

Random thought…while walking around, guess which restaurant was the most busy in the Gaslamp…Fucking Dick’s Last Resort.

There were a lot of places shuttered…there are some people doing things right like Blush, Cowboystar, and others.

Before I go I want to mention Werewolf, first off because someone named their bar Werewolf (+10,000 bonus points) second because if you just want great cocktails, they are the place to go and staff was on point.