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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Grilling action.

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

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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

 

Yaya’s Fruit Bar ~ Vista

Yaya’s is the kind of place I love to coming across. It’s under the radar, unassuming,  family run, and delivers different and tasty food you do not find very often.

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Yaya’s is located in an aesthetically boring strip mall in Vista behind a McDonald’s at 1450 North Santa Fe Ave. at Bobier.

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The interior is clean with light wood and bright colors.

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In addition to their great fruit desserts, they offer 14 flavors of Thrifty’s Ice Cream, numerous fruit sorbets, smoothies, Acia bowls, and a few hot dishes like tortas and nachos.

Their assorted fruit desserts are what makes them special though. The walls are lined with pictures of them because the menu descriptions can not do them justice.

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Desserts Clockwise from top left ~ Chamango, Raspado, Acia Bowl , and Papas Preparadas.

All their desserts are extremely reasonable and made to order. Mine was $6.50 and huge…….

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Pepino Prepadado ~ Cucumber, jamica, papaya, cacahuates japoneses (japanese peanuts), Pica Fresca, hot sauce, and chili powder.

Just a taste and texture sensation. Sweet fresh fruit, crunch from the peanuts, chew from the candies, sourness from the lime juice, and heat from the chili powder and hot sauce. It was not too sweet, it was very vibrant and fresh tasting. Just a great dish.

I will definitely be back to try more or their creations.

Yaya’s Fruit Bar

1450 North Santa Fe Ave., Vista

#food #foodporn #vista #mexicanfood #mexecandessert #foodie

 

Panda Garden ~ San Marcos

So, one of the things I have been striving to find here in North County is a good Chinese restaurant. I have tried quite a few. The reason you do not see posts about them is that they did not meet the same level of quality as most of the restaurants featured on this site. Opinions, like most things, are subjective but I found nothing in the Chinese food category  I would feel comfortable sending someone to on a recommendation.  That has now changed, I can honestly recommend Panda Garden in San Marcos. It’s not on the level of Bay Area Chinese restaurants, but it is quite good.

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Standard strip mall location. I have never been to a great “fancy” Chinese restaurant.

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Nice clean interior. I liked the calmness of the bamboo green accents.

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Lunch specials come with the Chinese version of chips and salsa, fried won-ton chips with sweet and sour sauce and hot mustard. I’m convinced good Chinese hot mustard is on par with Wasabi for sinus clearing ability. Also included with the specials are a bowl of egg drop soup and an egg roll.

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Yu-Shang-Chicken ~ water chestnuts, tree ear, white onions, green onions, bamboo shoots, celery, and carrots in a spicy garlic sauce.

Perfectly cooked vegetables and chicken in a spicy garlic sauce (not that spicy). The dish came out piping hot straight out of the wok and was very tasty. The egg roll was pretty standard.

One order? Ha, amateur hour with your “one order”.

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Noodles in Black Bean Sauce ~ Shrimp, beef, and vegetables in black bean sauce.

This is under their soup section on the menu, but it does not resemble a soup. The black bean sauce has more of a gravy like consistency. It is hearty, a little earthy and very delicious. I also loved the noodles, thick, and slightly chewy similar to Udon style noodles.

This is one of the most popular noodle dishes in Korea, even though it actually originated in China, you can find it being served in almost every Chinese restaurant there.

So, I would reiterate that I think Panda Garden is the best option for Chinese food in North County ATM. As a caveat, I do have to revisit Spicy King in Vista for a second try as I think I just ordered wrong due to my lack of understanding the Chinese language when I was there.

As for Korean and Italian. I have a review of the new Manu Korean BBQ hitting later this week and an Italian place in my sites that looks promising. Right now my recommendation for Italian is Trattoria Itrulli in Encinitas we will see how Vista fares.

 

Panda Garden

742 S Rancho Santa Fe Rd, San Marcos

#food #foodporn #chinesefood #sanmarcos #foodie

Re-visit report: Panca Peruvian Cuisine & Rotisserie ~Oceanside

So, while it has only been about a year since my last visit to Panca (that’s pretty good for me with my schedule.) I wanted to stop by and try some of the dishes I have passed over during my previous visits. The thing I love about Peruvian food is that it truly is a “fusion” cuisine. In addition to the variations of flavors and ingredients based on geography and family tradition, you see the influences of Peru’s diverse cultural make up. “Peruvians view themselves as a racially mixed people: a “half indigenous, a third European, a sixth African and one part Asiatic”. Add to that the creativity of a talented Chef like Ioli and you get great Peruvian staples through an exciting lens.

I dragged my friend Chef Beau Bonham along for the meal. I learned he had not been to Panca so, this was going to be a treat for him to experience it and me to have someone along with another strong pallet to “food nerd” out with.

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Tiradito ~ Fresh fish slices with a Peruvian yellow pepper lime sauce, Rocoto and Aji limo.

This along with the Wonton scallops are a must have dish when visiting for me. Unlike Ceviche the fish is not marinated in citrus. It is raw with the sauce added right before service. The freshness of the fish is highlighted against the citrus and heat from the sauce. It is quite spicy and will quickly catch up with you.

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Aji De Gallina ~ Chicken in creamy spicy sauce made with Parmesan, Peruvian yellow pepper, and walnuts, served over a bed of potato and a side of Peruvian white rice.

This was my first time trying this dish and both of us agreed it was the star of the meal. The sauce, while reminiscent of a curry is something unique. It has a body to it which we guessed was probably from slowly introducing parmesan into it while cooking.

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Ocopa ~ Homemade Peruvian spicy sauce, Ocopa is made with Huacatay (black mint), peanuts, animal crackers and Peruvian yellow pepper, over a bed of potato.

Another fantastic interesting sauce. Thick with a mild bitterness or earthy quality. The closest comparison would be a mole sauce. The dish is Served chilled over boiled potatoes. This is an appetizer and like all her appetizers is easily sharable.

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Alfajores ~ Two short bread cookies with “manjarblance” (dulce de leche) in the middle; then topped with powdered sugar.

Beau insisted on getting their famous Alfajores. If you want a perfect example of how a text-book short bread is supposed to be, this is it. Perfectly light and flaky.

What a great meal, I’m glad I took the time to re-visit them. I whole handedly believe Panca is the best Peruvian food in San Diego County. Q’ero gets more attention (and is good) but Panca is a notch above and slightly less expensive.

Panca has future expansions in the works Here.

Panca Peruvian Cuisine & Rotisserie

1902 South Coast Highway, Oceanside

#food #foodporn #oceanside #peruvian #southamerican #peruvianfood #restaurants

 

 

New Plywood Report W/ Updates ~ Oceanside

A couple of additions to what is coming soon, plus an update.

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The space next door to Dairy Queen on Mission Ave and across the alley from 608 is under construction and the space is divided in two. The owner is reportedly building out a pizza restaurant attached to a brewery. Not sure if beer will be brewed on site or it will be more of a tap-room.

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Panca Peruvian Cuisine and Rotissery is expanding just two doors down from their original location in South O’ with “La Bodeguita De Panca”. Based on the name and liquor license it seems it will be a small Peruvian based market selling Chef Ioli’s great desserts with Peruvian beers and wine. Maybe some Peruvian staples as well. “Bottled Aji sauce please”.

Lastly, as mentioned by a follower, the new “Tequila and Mexican street food spot ” Jalisco Cantina  will in fact be next to Barrel Republic on Coast Highway..

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Thanks, have a great weekend.

#food #foodporn #restaurants #oceanside

Plant Power Fast Food ~ Encinitas

As a total omnivore I was very interested in trying out Plant Power Fast Food. While I love animal flesh in every form, I love me some fruit,veg, and grains too. Also I am always interested in people making interesting, healthy alternatives to foods, like fast food, that are notoriously full of fillers and chemicals.

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This is Plant Powers’s second location, with the first opening in Ocean Beach in 2015. You can order via drive through, an automated order system (kinda like sonic), or a walk up counter. There is some outdoor seating.

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The small outdoor seating area, going to say it seats 36ish.

“Plant Power fast food provides fast food staples like burgers, fries, wraps, tacos, salads, shakes, smoothies and other tasty treats made entirely without the use of animal products, GMO’s or artificial ingredients and served to you in 100% biodegradable materials.”

Proof is in the taste though. How did they do? Really well actually.

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My order ~ “Chicken” fingers, classic “burger” and a great organic lemon lime soda. This came to $16 but was really 2 orders to try more food out.

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“Chicken Fingers” ~ These were really good, the texture was slightly firmer than a mcnugget but softer than a breast strip. The sauce was great and had a nice heat to it. They come with choice of 2 extra sauces, which I did not totally get since they are sauced already. I did use the chipotle one as kind of a substitute for ranch dressing you get with wings. I would order these anytime.

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The Classic ~ “beef patty” lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup, ‘mayo’, mustard and pickles.

A great meatless substitute for a fast food burger. I added a little extra ketchup for moisture, but if you did not tell me I would not of deduced it was vegan. They also do an avocado burger, mushroom burger, and a few other variations. There is also a black bean patty available and a raw burger version using a walnut and sunflower burger patty. You can also get “cheese” and a gluten-free bun option for a slight additional charge if desired.

The burgers are a great replacement for the likes of Wendy’s, McDonald’s and so forth. If you are a die-hard burger person they are not going to compete with higher end fast casual burgers like Burger Lounge, Pure Burger, etc. If you are vegetarian or vegan you get to have your burger and eat it too.

Some Yelp reviews commented on slow service and price. Price is right in line with anything else. They are also in soft opening mode still and the place is small so I would go off hours for the time being, but you know, who uses common sense. $100 says it took them longer to write their 3 star yelp review than get their food:)

Plant Power Fast Food

411 Santa Fe Drive, Encinitas

(across from Scripts Hospital)

#food #foodporn #vegan #vegetarian #fastfood

 

 

7 Great Dishes ~ North County

A lot of times, while not doing a review, I experience a dish worth mentioning. These really do not support a full article, so from time to time I will compile them into one. Also if you follow northcountyfood on Instagram (Please do) you will get these one offs and general event things in North County.

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The Rooster Burger @ The Red Rooster, Oceanside ~ American cheese, Ortega chili, grilled onion, sesame seed bun, and your choice of toppings, in this case 1000 island dressing and a little mustard.

Pretty much an institution in Oceanside, the Red Rooster Bar has been around since, well forever. I remember my Dad bringing home Rooster burgers when I was in Jr. High. It is a juicy, tasty, dive bar burger. Pretends to be nothing more, yet it is.

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Weekly Chef Specials @ Petite Madeline ~ Though because they are specials they change weekly, ordering one of Chef Marc’s off the blackboard is the way to go here. He is a Chef I still can not pin down. He uses Asian influences and then throws an Italian pesto in. This one in particular “The O’side plate” included shrimp, pesto, tomatoes, pesto, and the genius addition of kohlrabi noodles (cabbage family).

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Avocado Grilled Cheese @ Barrel Republic, Oceanside ~ After seeing a video of the Chef making this sandwich I had to try it. Perfectly grilled sourdough, tomato, mozzarella, and tempura fried avocado. The avocado stays fresh and soft inside its light battered crust making the dish a lot lighter than it may sound. So, good.

  • Currently only at the Oceanside location.

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Tandoori Chicken Sandwich @ Flying Pig, Vista ~ Fried chicken, house BBQ sauce, on brioche. Another sandwich that after having seen it on Facebook knew “that is going my face”.  Upon arrival I thought “no way i am eating all that”. Yet, due to another light and flavorful batter and the fact the sandwich is so damn good, I destroyed the whole thing.

  • Currently only at the Vista location on the weekends

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Fresh fish Plate @ Pelly’s Fish Market, Carlsbad ~ Local Halibut, lemon butter, Spanish rice, and a side salad w / blue cheese dressing. Simple perfectly cooked fresh fish, not much more you can ask for.

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Heirloom Caprese Salad and Roast Beef Bites @ The Miller’s Table, Oceanside. Cyclops Farms heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olive oil, and pesto. You can not go wrong with this flavor combo, especially when using top quality ingredients. Most of their sandwiches can be ordered as bites. The ingredients are served on bruschetta and quite filling making combining them with a salad a perfect summer lunch or light dinner.

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16oz Blueberry Italian Ice and Mango Sorbet W/ Fresh Fruit @ Guava Lava Frozen Treats, Oceanside ~ First time trying this place out and I loved it. Cute interior, surgically clean, and a great selection of flavors and toppings. I love that they offer Ices and Sorbets in addition to yogurt. Tons of fresh fruit flavor, I shall return.

 

The Red Rooster

Petite Madeline Bakery & Bistro

Barrel Republic

Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen

Pelly’s Fish Market

The Miller’s Table

Guava Lava Frozen Treats

#food #foodporn #restaurants #oceanside #vista #carlsbad

 

 

Coming Soon Report ~ Downtown Vista

While walking around enjoying the annual Vista Hot Rod Run a source gave me some info on a few upcoming restaurants.

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When Pigs Fly BBQ is building a full-blown restaurant next to Wavelength Brewing on Main Street. This husband and wife team have been serving their award winning competition BBQ out of their, mainly to go, location inside the Chevron gas station at 1211 East Vista Way. It is great to see them expand. You can check out my review of their current location here.

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An organic juice and smoothie bar “Mo Milk Organics” will be going in at 210 East Broadway. Internet searches brought up nothing.

So, a few additions to the ever-expanding Vista scene.

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My source..well he talks to me anyway.

#food #vista #restaurant

Restaurant Re-Visits ~ Oceanside Privateer & TBG BBQ

So part of what I wanted to do this month was do a couple of restaurant re-visits. These are places that I have covered before, but it has been a while. In that time they have gone through changes or are on the verge of expansions. Plus with a lot of new followers since I last covered them, I though it would be a good idea.

First up is Privateer Coal Fired Pizza. Since opening The Privateer has been a staple in South Oceanside, not only as a great restaurant but as a champion for local Oceanside culture.

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Recently, The Privateer went through a Chef change. Original Chef Stephen Reyna left to work with his father in the kitchen of Roosevelt Pizzeria in Carlsbad. Hopefully we will soon see a solo project from this talented Chef.

Not missing a beat, the Privateer brought on a new Chef and has continued to deliver the excellent food they are known for.

I went in and wanted to try dishes that were recent additions to the menu and would give me a glimps at how the new Chef has influenced the food.

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Coal Fired Corn ~ Smoked chili butter sauce.

A beautiful dish, perfectly sweet and tender corn with a great sauce.

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Spice Rubbed 1/2 Chicken ~ Arugula, and lemon.

Perfectly moist chicken with a flavorful spice rub that worked perfectly with the freshness and slight bitterness of the arugula. Spice rub, chicken, fresh arugula, and lemon..all that is needed.

Like the Privateer in South O, TBG BBQ (That Boy Good) has been around in downtown Oceanside since the early days of the North County Restaurant movement. In-fact Friday the 4th marked the 5th year of operation for the Louisiana style juke joint. In that time they have developed a strong consistent following of people who love Chef Mark Millwood’s BBQ, which is based on his family’s recipes, and the restaurants funky and casual feel.

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Within the last year TBG has added a full liquor license expanding on their already established craft beer list.

Poised for an expansion that will add a second location at the top of Pier View Way at 326 N. Horne St. in conjunction with Northern Pine Brewing Company, later / early next year, things are looking good for this Oceanside staple.

The new location will differ in concept, though still focusing on southern food. In the mean time my friend Alex and I headed in for some old staples.

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BBQ Chicken Wings. Mark makes some of the best wings IMO. The secret is they are smoked, par fried, and then finished in the fryer on order. This gives them a depth of flavor and nice crunch, while retaining their moisture.

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Half rack of ribs, fries, coleslaw, and their signature corn bread.

Everything you want from ribs, smokey flavor and fall of the bone tenderness.

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Fried Chicken Thighs ~ Coleslaw, their awesome mac and cheese, and cornbread.

This is my go to, either in platter or sandwich form. I love the use of thigh meat and the slight spiciness to the crunchy batter.

If you have not been to either of these Oceanside staples, go check them out. If like me it has been awhile, go see an old friend for dinner.

Coming up ~ A Panca re-visit and their goings on, new vegan fast food in Encinitas, and hopefully good Chinese and Italian in North County.

Privateer Coal Fired Pizza

1706 South Coast Highway, Oceanside

That Boy Good BBQ

207 N. Coast Highway, Oceanside

Northern Pine Brewing Co.

326 N. Horne St. (upcoming)

#food #foodporn #southernfood #privateer #tbgbbq #fsdm

 

Feast @ The Mission San Luis Rey ~ Oceanside

So, Wednesday the 26th marked the third incarnation of the Feast event at the Mission San Luis Rey here in Oceanside. Not only was this the third event, it was the biggest with 450 tickets being sold prior to the event online. With at the door sales the event attendance easily reached 500 plus.

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The crowd.

The atmosphere is one of the things that make this event so special. It is held in the Mission’s rose garden, normally closed off to the general public.

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The rose garden.

The event hosts 20 restaurants, including a few local breweries, and one distillery. It is pretty much impossible to try everything. Luckily my friend Cheryl of Cheryl’s Carmels housed me with a chair and water behind her booth as respite between food rounds.

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Cheryl’s Caramels ~ Hand made with love and no additives.

So, I started with Chef Willy’s offering from his restaurant 608. Last year he brought frog legs, this year was slightly more tame but still showed off why he is one of the most creative Chefs in North County.

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Tuna in Miso Broth ~ Grade A Tuna from Catalina Offshore in a light Miso broth. Instead of using Miso paste the broth was made with Sunflower seeds. Great refreshing dish.

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Cyclops Farms was there with fresh organic strawberries and wine pours from Chris Lobo of Native Wines. The strawberries could not only be sampled at their stand but found their way into the desserts of……

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Petite Madeline Bakery and Bistro bringing out their full spread.

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Those Cyclops Farm strawberries in action.

Making Their first showing at Feast, they are just coming up on their 1st year in business, was The Miller’s Table and Chef Stacy Miller.

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Watermelon and Feta Salad ~ A good choice to provide a fresh and light dish. There were a lot of tacos and sliders at the event so it was nice to have some contrast. She also brought her indulgent grilled cheese sandwich.

Two of the originals of the Oceanside food movement, as always, brought their A game.

Wrench and Rodent gave us two dishes.

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Wrench and Rodent’s Zucchini Gazpacho. Well it may have not plated the prettiest it was one of the top 3 dishes of the night. Full of flavor with a slight back heat.

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Opah Sloppy Joes and Cyclops Farms vegetables. The Opah Sloppy Joe was served on a bun which I forewent due to stomach space. A great tasty dish.

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Summer Squash Rillette W/ Peach Jalapeno Sauce on Crostini. The Flying Pig, two years in a row, produced what I thought was the dish of the night. A true “Chefs” dish, seemingly simple yet packed with technique and flavor.

One of my favorites, and on my revisit list for August, Panca Peruvian Cuisine and Rotisserie showed up with one of Chef Iiolie’s signature, and one of my favorite, dishes.

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Scallop Won-ton ~ seared scallop, lettuce, onion and carrot served with sweet and sour soy sauce, Huancaina sauce and cilantro.

A great dish that shows the cultural diversity of Peru.

These guys were new to me. I almost passed them up but I am glad I didn’t. Their presentation was spot on and the flavors were great.

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The Jennhouse Catering ~ Vegetarian Won-Ton Tacos and mini corn Elote.

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LTH did a Tuna  Ceviche Tostada. Super fresh tuna and I thought the addition of pine nuts in the ceviche was inspired.

The Privateer brought their classic cauliflower dish.

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Curried Cauliflower ~ A great, tasty vegetarian dish.

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Crostini ~ Tuna and house made humus (I love hummus so much)

Last but not least, Master’s Kitchen and Cocktail played it safe by deciding to roast a whole pig on site:)

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The Masters crew w/ owner Ryan in the back. There is deviance under that grin.

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Pork, pork, pork, pork..gotta be pork wonderful pork. If you change out the meat and know where that song is from you get +10,000 bonus points.

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Pork Taco ~ Tender delicious pork and a great salsa earn it a place in the top three of the night.

So, another great Feast event. I hit 4/5ths of what was there on offer. I do this professionally so I think I picked the right choices. If only I had an extra tummy.

There were a few places I did not try that I am now going to seek out as an individual restaurant review.  My only advice would be, remember people are eating a lot of food, keep portion size to 2 to 3 bites. Sure I can throw some away but that is not a good choice to have to make. Bring you’re A game because others are.

Top 3 of the night in order L to R….

top 3

Flying Pig’s Rillette                    Master’s Pork Tacos            Wrench and Rodent’s Gazpacho

Links are in the restaurant offerings highlighted blue in the post. If you did not get a chance to go this year I highly suggest it for the future.

#food #foodporn #Oceanside #restaurants