by Maggie Zeibak
Are you a little intimidated by ‘foreign’ menus? Confused by strange sounding names? You’re not alone … and unless you’ve had experience in those particular countries you might not know how to eat their local foods – let alone how to order in a local restaurant. Knowing the pronunciation is another story and you might find yourself standing there dithering, perhaps holding up the line. That’s when photos on the menu or overhead display board come in very handy indeed.
Here’s what you can do on a day you’re feeling a little venturesome – a day to get out of the rut and try something new. Sample a bowl from a triple-header of dine in or takeaway restaurants. Bowls are big, both in popularity and size; poke and protein bowls can be found all over town, and most of them are reasonably priced under $10.
Newly opened in the Starbucks Center in Talega on Pico, Café Mint owners Minal and Sam cook and prepare Middle Eastern food authentically.
The word to learn here is “Shawarma” which is meat (lamb, beef, chicken) placed on a revolving spit and vertically grilled for a long period of time. The tender, cooked meat is shaved off and used in a wrap, plate or protein bowl. The protein bowl has a salad with it, while the Pita Bread wrap can include Hummus, Tomatoes, Onions and Pickles.
Or, step out of your comfort zone and order the vegetarian Falafel Bowl (spiced, mashed Chickpeas formed into balls) with a whopping big salad; and, if you’re really hungry or want to save half of it for a second meal, try a Chicken Shawarma Plate which comes with rice and two side orders (don’t pass up the very-green, healthy Tabbouli with just the right amount of lemon).
Order from the overhead menu but don’t overlook the desserts on the counter which can include addictive Baklava and Kunafe. The sweetness of honey-drizzled pastries and the date and walnut-filled Mahmoul, can leave you craving for more.
Complimentary flavored water is offered from a decanter, and you may find, orange, lemon, cucumber or mint – all traditionally refreshing tastes that are changed frequently.
Ask them about catering your next party as they will be happy to do that.
Contact Café Mint @ (949)940-0224
Super Bowl Express
Conveniently located in North Beach near the train station, on N. El Camino Real, this busy Asian food restaurant has something for everyone’s taste. Mr. and Mrs. Kim are Certified Sushi technicians and offer a varied menu – selections are pictured just behind the door and you can order by the number.
Specializing in Teriyaki BBQ, Korean/Japanese Food, Super Bowl Express bowls are served with steamed rice and topped with scallions and sesame seeds. Veggie and tofu options are available, along with Lunch Special Bowls with a 60cent drink, and Kid’s Meals … all served very quickly so you don’t have to wait long.
You might want to try a Spicy Chicken Veggie Bowl. Or, if you’re famished, go for the “Super Bowl Special” which is Teriyaki Chicken, Rice, 2 California Rolls, Tempura Vegetables, and 2 Gyoza Dumplings - you won’t be hungry after that one. For a lighter option consider the Wonton Soup and a side dish of Egg Rolls, and don’t worry about fumbling around with chopsticks, forks and spoons are provided.
Always busy with regular patrons, the spotlessly clean, limited seating, walk-up counter-service venue, will prepare a variety of Sushi Rolls, particularly Party Platters, including the intriguing Caterpillar and Rainbow Rolls.
Contact Super Bowl Express @ (949)366-2042
Close to Del Mar on S. El Camino, resides the perfect drop-in spot for a very yummy treat. A laid-back place with an impressive display of skateboards on the wall, Bonzai Bowls offers healthy and delicious smoothies and bowls. Be warned, decision-making is challenging once you see the enticing overhead menu, as there are many combinations, both large and small.
What-to-order, what-to-order, when you don’t know what Acai (ah-sah-ee) or Pitaya are, and they are the predominant types of Bowls. Well, they are exotic fruits and ones we don’t often see at the local supermarkets. Hailing from the Amazon rainforest in South America, the Acai berry, similar to a grape, boasts lots of vitamin A and C, Calcium, Fiber and Minerals. Pitaya, also known as Dragon Fruit, is popular in South East Asia and is recognizable by its red skin and edible black-spotted white flesh. Excellent for helping anti-oxidants neutralize free radicals, it has good fiber and loads of magnesium for our brains, muscles and bones. Used as a frozen pulp, it’s almost like eating an ice cream for breakfast.
Order a ‘Makaha Bowl’ and enjoy the colorful, artistically arranged Banana, Chia Seeds, Mango, Raspberries, Kiwi with Granola, Pitaya, Apple Juice and Honey. Served in a deep, white, china bowl with a sensibly sized spoon you can eat this at any time of day under the pretense of eating more fruit.
This is a great place to bring the kids to check the Surf Report Board for T-Street tides, swells and water temperature, and they offer Gift Cards as well.
“Live Life in the Bowl,” as they say.
Contact Bonzai Bowls @ (949)218-4533