Himalayan Kitchen ~ Encinitas (round 2 )

So, its hard for me to re-visit restaurants, especially so soon. I loved this place so much I headed back down with a Chef friend of mine to check them out again.

The place is Himalayan Kitchen at 1337 Encinitas Blvd, Encinitas.

You can read my more detailed original post here.

This quick post is just to give you mine and my guests thoughts on the second visit.

First off, Momos were not ready yet ūüė¶

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L to R

Basmati Rice ~ perfectly cooked lightly seasoned rice as an accompaniment

Rato Bhale ra Bhanta ~ Diced eggplant and chicken cooked with exotic spices Nepalese style. This was the star dish. Rich depth of flavor and perfectly cooked eggplant and tender chicken.

Lamb Biryani ~ Lamb, basmati rice cooked in special herbs and spices. similar to the one I had the last time and just as good. The lamb was tender and flavorful and the rice perfect.

We also had Badami Naan which was delightful.

This is my new favorite spot. I will be here again and again. Chef concurred its delicious.

Himalayan Kitchen

1337 Encinitas Blvd Encinitas

Himalayan Kitchen ~ Encinitas

I was so excited when I came across this place. Great Himalayan food in North County…YAY! I was having to sneaking down to San Diego’s Himalayan Dinning Inn every month.

Himalayan cuisine encompasses food from the countries of India, Bangladesh, and my favorite Nepal. Though a lot of the ingredients are similar, the meats and spices will vary from country to country.

In India you see more curries and hotter spice levels. Nepali cuisine in general uses different spicing and is usually more mild.

That is why I love a restaurant like Himalayan Kitchen that can do these different variations on dishes and do them well.

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Himalayan Kitchen 1337 Encinitas Blvd. Encinitas (sprouts shopping center corner of Encinitas and El Camino )

Before the food let me mention the staff, I was so impressed. Professional, cortiouse, and friendly. Two of the staff were new. First day I think? They handled a lunch rush better than I have seen trained wait staff.

The other thing is they were very informative. I am not the normal customer. I do research. I actually read the menu a few times online, looked stuff up, and like most cases know what I’m getting before I come in. The other customers on the hand, had generally no idea what anything was. The staff was great in walking them through it. The other thing I thought was great was a lot of the customers sayed ” we saw you and wanted to learn more about this kind of food”. That was great to hear.

On to food……………

I love Momo. “Its kind of like a Gyoza or Chinese steamed dumpling” or that is what people would have you believe…it’s not. Because of whats inside, the spices, plus a slight lightness to the dough it is a Momo, or as I call them little packets of love.

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Vegetarian Momo ~ minced cabbage, spinach, cashews, nuts, paneer, onion, cilantro, green onion, and spices.

what does that filling look like?

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That is what love looks like.

Seriously, so much flavor. Great mix of spices. Slight heat at the back. They also come in chicken and lamb. As much of a carnivore I am, I suggest going with the vegetable ones.

Momo is one of the most popular snack foods and is sold on almost every street corner in cities in Nepal. With good reason.

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Himalayan Biryani ~ Vegetables, paneer, Tandori cooked lamb, Tandori cooked chicken, shrimp, Himalayan spices.

Loved this dish. The rice was perfect, every grain was separate, had seasoning, and the right tooth. All three proteins, perfect seasoning, and tenderness. This is a huge portion. You could easily order Momos ūüôā and two entrees for 3 people.

They have heat levels much like a Thai restaurant. Their heat levels are honest. I ordered an 8, they warned me and suggested a 7. The 7 had heat that built with the dish as you ate through it. I could have done an 8 and will next time, but be warned the first time round down 1.

There are, at least, over 60 versions of this dish in the Himalayas. Just depends where you are what spices and proteins will be involved. In the more northern reasons you will see nuts and raisins for example, like this version. While it reminded me of paellea, unlike that dish these ingredients are cooked separately and then assembled.

Quickly, on the menu are over 51 items as mains, many are vegetarian. Field day for vegetarians man. If you are gluten-free plenty of vegetables and they did find a man who was there while I was some crackers as well.

Also great lunch specials ~ two curries, rice, lentil, soup and bread $7.95 to $11.95 depending on what curries.

It is not an Indian restaurant, it is a Himalayan restaurant. You will find some familiar dishes but many new ones as well….and Momos.

Wheeew, lots to say but it’s because I loved this little place. I think this and El Chapin were my two favorite strip mall restaurant finds in the last 8 months or so. I already knew about Irinas’a so they do not count.

Strip mall restaurant is the political correct term for hole in the wall:)

Himalayan Kitchen

1337 Encinitas Blvd. Encinitas

(sprouts shopping center corner of Encinitas and El Camino )

#indian #himalayan #nepal #food #foodfinds.

The T House: Open House, Bring Something / Take Something ~ Oceanside

Sunday was an open house / welcoming event at The T House in Oceanside. The T House is a social and community based venture helmed by Chef Beau Bonham and his partner Stacey Westbrook. To best understand it I would read the interview I did with Beau Here or check out their Facebook page  and Website.

The T House is located at their house / homestead in the Loma Alta district in Oceanside.

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Many things going on…..

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I arrived early and started helping out by slicing fresh Cyclops Farms strawberries for the jam we were going to make.

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Ready to start the jam making process.

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Organic strawberries, calcium, water, Pectin (natural plant-based thickener), and organic sugar. That is about as non processed a jam as you are going to get.

It would not set till the next day, but I ate some with a bagel and it was delicious. The next time I would add a little lemon for more acidity, but it tasted like fresh strawberries.

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Beau gave everyone who attended a tour of the garden. This is Stacey’s friend Michelle who was then tasked with cultivating all the greens and flowers for the salad that was going to be served.

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Some of the fresh Vegetables and herbs.

T talk (1 of 1)

Beau went over natural teas and extracts as well as a Korean version of Kombucha called Jun he had made.

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There was also a seed exchange. Want Heirloom Tomato seeds? Bring some seeds by to swap, or some fruit from your tree. You could also take them and when the ripen bring some buy or a tomato tort you made with them. Get the Idea?

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An Amazing Jackfruit that Tom Chongruk and Lora Chow from Travel 4 Food Fun brought by. Jackfruit is amazing. The entire inside including the seeds can be utilized. A lot of Vegans use the inside flesh like pulled pork. You shred it and then roast it with a BBQ sauce.

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Tom is from Thailand and brought an amazing curry he had made.

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A salad from the garden vegetables and flowers harvested earlier, plus some fresh jackfruit.

lobster soup (1 of 1)

A little lobster soup from Chef Daniel of LTH and fresh ciabatta bread from Chef Beau.

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Stacey made strawberry cupcakes. Little bundles of strawberry flavored love.

I t was a fun day. I met a lot of cool local people and had some good food. It started at noon and ended up running later than planed till about 8pm. I would say about 35 people came by through out the day. Hope to be involved more.

Be aware that because of my background I am going to gravitate towards the food aspects of the T House but that would be selling it short. It really is a lot more and something that needs to be experienced. It’s about participation and education. You can attend a class on extracts or you can teach one on a subject you know or want to know better. Again check out the links and get involved.

The T House

Join the mailing list at chefbeaub@gmail.com

#food #foodporn #urbanfarming #seedtrade #extracts #community #strawberries

Rooster Ramen : The Return ~coming Spring / Summer

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“Here they come to snuff the rooster
Yeah, here come the rooster
You know he ain’t gonna die
No, no, no, you know he ain’t gonna die”¬†¬†¬†¬†

Alice in Chains ~ Rooster

So, a little while ago I mentioned on northcountyfood’s Facebook page, which you should be following as well, that a great Ramen place is returning to North County.

That place is Rooster Ramen. The original, high quality pop up Ramen in North County. Do not be fooled by Johnny come latelys.

Now, I am happy to say Rooster Ramen is returning with a full-fledged brick and mortar restaurant.

Having eaten Chef David’s Ramen at the old incarnation of the restaurant, I am eagerly awaiting and trumpeting the return!

Here is what David has told me about his new restaurant

Opening late spring / early summer

Highway 101 in an undisclosed location.

Full 30 plus Sake list, plus Sochu cocktails and a complimenting beer list.

Over 9 traditional ramen dishes taken from different regions of Japan, as well as a number of specialty takes on the noodle dish.

The menu will also feature small plates and Yakatori grilled items prepared on a traditional Binchotan charcoal grill.

A revolving specials board will be available daily and feature items based off of what is fresh and in season. Luxury items such as Osetra Caviar, Monk Fish liver, and pork cheeks will also make an appearance.

Prices for Ramen will run $9 to $14 with build your own as well as vegan and vegetarian options available. Expect to see a good bowl of Pho make an appearance.

The restaurant’s digital ordering system will emulate the Ramen vending ticket machines in Japan. This will not only give customers full control of the ordering process but will also increase its speed.

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Example of a Ramen ticket machine.

The restaurant will have the feel of a Japanese farm-house with plenty of outdoor seating, a lengthy Ramen bar, and a semi open kitchen.

Hours will be 11 am till midnight weekdays and till 2 am Friday and Saturday with an early morning Sunday hangover brunch. This will make it North County’s only late night spot, sans a few Mexican places..

All the restaurants plates, bowls, and cups will be hand-made ceramic from Pawena Studios out of LA.

More news and info to come as things progress.

Perfect timing as this is The Year of The Rooster! My sign as well)

North County 2016 ~ A look back

So, while 2016 did not see the growth explosion of new places opening  that 2015 did, it did see some important restaurants open and trends take hold or fade.

While this post is too short to be all-inclusive, it hits on what I think was important to the North County food scene over the last year. You know things are good when you really have to edit your self. Other wise it would be “Things I love in North County, see entire website.”

I am going to start with some of the most important restaurant openings in North County (IMO).

Campfire ~ Carlsbad

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Campfire is important for a number of reasons. One it is a great restaurant and would be right at home in the East Village, North Park or Little Italy’s ¬†Food scene. Two, along with Land and Water Company it adds a second ingredient driven, properly sourced, foodie destination restaurant to the mainly touristy, mediocre Carlsbad Village food scene. Lastly, along with Carruth Cellar’s tasting room and Babba Coffee, it is helping to revitalize the north end of state street.

608 ~ Oceanside

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Opening in June of this year 608 brought upscale food in a comfortable setting to Oceanside, and at a price point that made it accessible. Chef Will Eick, in my opinion, is one of San Diego’s most talented young Chefs. He is bringing fine dinning techniques and ingredients and making them approachable. He also just introduced a seven course tasting menu option on the weekends offering the first non Omakase tasting menu option in Oceanside.

Belching Beaver Tavern and Grill ~ Vista

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Like Campfire did in Carlsbad, Belching Beaver joined the Flying Pig and added another farm to table, high calibre restaurant to the growing Vista food scene. Combine that with a talented Chef who focuses on farming and teaching children about food, where it comes from and how to grow it, you can not help love the place. Their beer is alright too:)

It is constantly on my visit, when I can list.

There were quite a few trends in the national food scene that were also seen in North County.

Some have hit their peak…

Fast Casual Poki restaurants. The trend actually hit last year and made its way to San Diego and in turn North County in 2016. You have Wicked Poki, Sunshine Japanese Food, and Poke Poke in Oceanside, Poke Waii in San Marcos, and soon to be opening PokeWan in Carlsbad. I think from the ones I have been to, Poki Poki is the best. If you want higher caliber, chef made Hawaiian food and Poke, I suggest checking out Lanai in Leucadia or Yoshino Japanese Deli in Carlsbad for Poke and Japanese.

Some trends are just continuing to grow…

The Artisanal Coffee / Tea scene has continued to show no sign of stopping for years now. It has finally hit Carlsbad and Oceanside. I should not say finally hit, but grown. The major players that have shown up recently are Banana Dang!, Loose Leaf Tea, Sleeping Tiger, Revolution Roasters, Copa Vida and Steady State Roasting. Who join a number of great coffee houses already in the area. For the first time, in its four-year history, Caffeine Crawl has added two North County routes in Oceanside and Carlsbad that are set to kick off this years San Diego event in January.

Caffeine Crawl San Diego

Declining and rising…

I think the fast casual Gourmet Burger explosion of the last few years is dying down. Not that I think these places will go away, I just feel you will not see as much of a proliferation of places like Habit Burger, Burger Lounge, and Pure Burger as you have.

I think the pendulum is on the up swing for fast casual healthy options like Lemonade, Flower Child, True Food Kitchen, Tender Greens and the like.

Best Dishes of the Year…

This is hard, but because these spring to mind instantly, I have to go with them. Two are from San Diego but deserve mentioning.

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Spicy Scallop Nigiri ~ Wrench and Rodent (Oceanside)

Made for me by Alex, this dish was perfect. Just a slight heat from the red Cyclops Farms jalapenos, and melt in your mouth scallops from Catalina Offshore.

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Pan Seared Opah ~ Flying Pig . (Oceanside)

This was a nightly special, beautiful Opah ( one of my favorite, if not favorite, fish) on red farro and micro greens.

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1 year Anniversary BBQ plate ~ Flying Pig (Vista)

Everything you could want (especially me) on a plate. Perfect Tr-Tip, Pork Loin, and Brisket, cooked over open flame and served with veggies and mash.

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Coop De Ville Chicken Sandwich ~ Crack Shack (SD but soon coming to Encinitas)

Apply named Crack Shack, so good. One of the best fried chicken sandwiches ever.

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Chicken Skin Sandwich ~ Biga (SD)

You think it would be heavy because the main ingredient is chicken skin, nope light and flavorful. I plan to return to Biga for dinner in the new year.

 

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Char Grilled Oysters ~ Campfire (Carlsbad)

Great dish that reminds me of oyster festivals on the sound in Washington State. I get this every time.

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Pork Belly ~ 608 (Oceanside)

I love me some pork and this is a perfect pork belly dish. It is smoked before curing (usually it is the other way around.) making it full of porky goodness.

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Assorted Cookies ~ The Cravory (Carlsbad)

Their cookies will change your life, they changed mine. You can get them at their shop in Bressi Ranch, or in Oceanside at Banana Dang! Favorites are the Red Velvet or Birthday Cake.

Special places that I was so happy to discover this year...

El Chapin

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Authentic and delicious Guatemalan food that can not be beat.

Sitaram

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Family run, fixed daily menu, vegetarian, Indian restaurant that needs to be tried by all.

 

What I’m looking forward to next year….

Trying 608’s tasting menu, Flying Pig’s Brewery, That Boy Good / Alpine Brewing restaurant and ¬†brewery, LTH’s second concept , and much, much, more.

What you can look for from North County Food. A 3 to 4 chef “Dessert Dinner” at Petite Madeline for Oceanside Valentines Week. Another Chef Wine Dinner in March / April, and of course more restaurant highlights.

There you go a short recap of a great year food wise. Happy holidays to all and thanks for your support.

 

 

Flower Child ~ Del Mar

So, I was trying to decide what to have for lunch and was really craving veggies. I decided to delve further south into the county than I normally do and hit up the newly opened Flower Child in Del Mar.

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Flower Child is owned by the Fox Restaurant Group. The group has over 15 concepts and 50 restaurants. Normally this would drop them off my radar but after eating the food and having a pretty lengthy discussion with one of their employees, while waiting for the bus to go catch the coaster, I have to say I was pretty impressed.

They have a good history of promoting from within the group. Their basic model is taking workers from a current location that are showing promise and fly them in and house them to open a new location in a higher position. These employees train and hire a new staff and with the next opening the new employees get the same opportunity within the new restaurant or at the current one as positions open from people transferring to the new location. Though I did not ask “How much?” the young women I talked to stated that they paid higher than if she was working downtown SD at a restaurant and the opportunity for advancement would be much slower. She had worked in the industry for a number of years and managed a cuban restaurant for quite a while, so she was not unfamiliar with working in the industry.

The company hired Chef Steven Molina (¬† (L’Auberge, Delicias, Kitchen 1540) to run and oversee the kitchen.

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Flower Child ~ Flower Hill 2690 Via De La Valle, Del Mar

The restaurant is located in the former Sea and Smoke location.

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The restaurant is counter service with food being delivered to your table. It boasts a nice open kitchen and food prep area.

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The restaurant itself (as was Sea and Smoke) is huge with dual level seating areas, each having a connected patio.

I did not take interior pics. It was crowded and this is Del Mar. You never know when some ex-hedge fund manager who faked his own death after embezzling millions is on the down low and will stab you with his Monte Blanc and grab your camera to protect his identity.

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I want one! They have a seasonal Iced Tea and Lemonade station (Gasp). I tried every one. the Grapefruit Lemonade and Hibiscus Green Tea were my favorites.

So, the menu consists of bowls, wraps, salads, vegetables and grains, humus, soups, and some breakfast items. All of which you can add a protein to for an extra charge. There are many vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten free choices.

I went with a three vegetable plate and added grass-fed steak.

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Quite a bit of food. The steak was perfectly cooked, well seasoned and flavorful. Next time I would skip paying the extra $6 and just go three veg.

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Three vegetable plate (from top clockwise)

Yuzu Brussels Sprouts ~ golden miso, toasted garlic, sprouted almond. (Vegetarian)

These were great, nice char but not overly bitter, as charring can sometimes do. They were also still nice and tender.

This was my favorite of the three dishes. So good, sweet and savory all in one.

Great as well, the eggplant was not soggy and the dish had a nice mild spiciness. It reminded me of Kung Pow eggplant.

So if you’re in the deep south that is Del Mar ūüôā and can’t afford Pamplemousse and want a large step up from Chipotle or Burger Lounge. (I actually like those two places as guilty pleasures). I would recommend checking out Flower Child. I would compare it to Lemonade, Tender Greens, or Tin Leaf kitchen as far as feel and food.

Flower Child

Flower Hill 2690 Via De La Valle, Del Mar

 

 

 

 

DOH! Gourmet Cookie Dough ~ North County (soon to be everywere)

So, DOH! Gourmet Cookie Dough is made by Chef Annalise Brolaski and Nick Hart, right here in North County. They have created an amazing vegan and gluten-free cookie dough.

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Annalise and Nick

Unlike the vast majority of gluten-free cookie products it has an incredible taste and texture. Unless you were told it was vegan and gluten free you would not know.

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Prepared DOH! cookies. It is also great straight out of the tub raw,baked, or baked and then chilled in the fridge. You can also get baked, bake, and then chill, it’s a fourth option. I have had it three of those four ways and raw and baked then chilled are my favorites.

A little about Chef Annalise. I met her while looking for a third chef for an all dessert dinner I was putting together. At that time she was a pastry cook at Cucina Enoteca. She was extremely talented and impressive. At the age of 20 this is what she produced for the dessert dinner.

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Annalise’s Dish for the dessert dinner~ Citrus Shortbread, Strawberry Grand Marnier Sauce, Honey Comb, Basil (red local basil which is incredible), Meyer Lemon Curd, Strawberry Honey Sorbet, Local Bee Pollen.

See what I mean?

Shortly after that she dropped out of the cooking scene for a while (which sucked because she had a lot to add to the culinary world and in my opinion was far from done.) She reemerged briefly doing some incredible deserts for Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub and starting her own company Deep Sea Desserts. Then as my friend Chef Beau put it when DOH! appeared “Yeah, those guys disappeared for a bit, went and had some kind of retreat / brainstorming in Hawaii and came back killing it.”. I do not know how accurate that is but it makes for a great story, and I like it so I’m sticking with that as to what caused the catalyst, because killing it is exactly what they have been doing.

They launched around October with the product and 2 months later can be found at Both Frazier Farms locations (Oceanside and Vista), Cream of The Crop in Oceanside, Carlsbad Ranch Market, Seaside Market (Cardiff), and soon, Specialty Produce. That is an insane amount of distribution for a start up. If they do not achieve national distribution in a year, I would be surprised. Their main hurdle is going to be production, the product and packaging are already there.

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The DOH! stand at the Leucadia Farmers Market. (You can also find then at the Encinitas farmers Market.) They tend to sell out so get there early. I believe you can email them in advance to have an order ready for you.

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Product ready for sale.

So, there you have it a local success story that is nowhere near done. Go, buy, support, eat, enjoy. Great gifts or for Holiday entertaining.

If you are a cafe or restaurant and want to add a great Vegan / Gluten free, easy to prepare option, trust me it is better than what you are currently buying and serving and it works out to about $.20 some odd cents per cookie at the wholesale price.

DOH!

Available at Frazier Farms, Seaside Market, Cream Of The Crop, Carlsbad Ranch Market, Leucadia and Encinitas Farmers Market, and coming soon to Specialty Produce.

#vegan #glutenfree #food #northcounty #cookies