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Best Things I Ate This Month: April 2015

Yellowtail Crudo at Oceana Coastal Kitchen, Short Rib Slider at BLVD Chinese Kitchen, Foie Gras at Stake Chophouse & Bar

By Troy Johnson

Yellowtail Crudo @ Oceana Coastal Kitchen

Best Things I Ate This Month: April 2015

Best Things I Ate This Month: April 2015

Checked out the $2.1 million renovation of the restaurant at the Catamaran Resort. $2.1 Million is no small investment for a restaurant re-do. It’s a San Diego legend, the Catamaran. As natives, we’ve all slurred through a toast at a wedding here. Beautiful perch along Mission Bay, dangerously adjacent to the tribal tattoo skin party at Pacific Beach. The biggest attributes of the new Oceana Coastal Kitchen are a giant column-shaped aquarium filled with jellyfish, a significant raw bar (every food operation along the coast, save for a burger joint or gas station, should have this), and loads more patio seating to watch the bicyclists, boats and bodies on the boardwalk. I had a good meal, the best of which was this simple treatment of a great piece of fish: yellowtail crudo (slices of raw tuna) done aguachile style (a lime-heavy ceviche treatment that originated in Sinoloa, Mexico) with avocado and lightly pickled radishes. A testament to quality ingredients, lightly but interestingly treated (you don’t see too many aguachiles outside of Mexican joints). A chef who knows creativity shouldn’t always trump quality and restraint.

3999 Mission Boulevard, San Diego

Short Rib Slider @ BLVD Chinese Kitchen

Best Things I Ate This Month: April 2015

Best Things I Ate This Month: April 2015

Took a trip to Oceanside. Nearly got killed mostly because people in this town drive like they’re currently in the midst of an energy drink overdose.  But discovered this little hole in the wall. A tiny box, really. Painted goth black. Some reclaimed wood on the wall. Real nice crew of tattooed friends work it. I didn’t expect much of the food, though, to be honest. And the chef proved me wrong with two dishes. First, a fish taco made with condensed milk (sounds gross, is intriguingly sweet and pretty great). Second, this short rib… slow-cooked with Asian spices and aromatics (lemongrass, Chinese rice wine, star anise, etc.) and placed on a sweet Hawaiian roll that’s brushed with sesame oil before being toasted, then lightly salted. I’ll take 32 of these please.

514 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside

Foie Gras @ Stake Chophouse & Bar

Best Things I Ate This Month: April 2015

Best Things I Ate This Month: April 2015

Stake is a really top-notch steakhouse. For years, chef Tim Kolanko was right-hand man to one of the country’s best chefs (Jeff Jackson at A.R. Valentien). Wine director Greg Majors was with Tom Colicchio at Craft. They have what we call an embarrassment of talent. At a recent tasting we had a few phenomenal dishes (the steaks were seasoned and cooked perfectly), including a few ounces of A5 Wagyu that blew our minds. But Kolanko’s treatment of foie gras that was truly excellent. I’ve made my case for why I don’t believe foie gras in the hands of humane farmers is the monster people claim it to be. So now I’m glad it’s back on menus in California, and in the hands of chefs like Kolanko. The ingredient itself is godlike. The real skill is in tweaking it just enough without finger-painting on a Picasso. And that’s what Kolanko simply sears a lobe along with caramelized pear over a touch of quince jam on a crostini. One of the best bites of food on the planet.

1309 Orange Ave, Coronado

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