Oceanside’s Cosmopolitan International Cuisine
Did you know that Oceanside’s sizzling restaurant scene let’s you travel the culinary globe without leaving the city? Check out a few of our picks to kick off your epicurean journey.
Start off in downtown Oceanside where you can meet a culinary star! Tokyo’s master ramen chef Ryuichiro Shinagawa won the prestigious Michelin Bib Gourmand award four years in a row. This past summer he opened his first US location in downtown Oceanside off Mission Avenue.
Visit Ramen MENMA to savor authentic, handcrafted gourmet ramen. White brick walls decorated with colorful posters enliven this cozy spot. Enjoy friendly service at this Mission Ave noodle house. You can even watch chefs assemble dishes at the central kitchen prep bar.
The limited menu revolves around three types of heavenly ramen. First, the soy sauce based Shoyu provides the most typical meal. Second, the Red Hot Miso with mild cheese appeals to spice lovers. And third, the soup less Aburasso proves to be a customer favorite. Order hearty bowls standard or deluxe. The latter comes with added Chashu pork, soft-boiled egg and bamboo shoots. Each satisfying dish incorporates fresh ingredients created in-house. Envision tender slow-cooked meats, nutty fermented bamboo shoots and sweet soy-dashi flavored eggs.
Yet the signature Aburasso Ramen is exceptional. Experience comfort food bliss in the thick, chewy handmade noodles seasoned to perfection. A special blend of oils and spices gives this dish added umami kick. Vegans can choose ramen combining creamy soymilk broth with veggies and garlic chips. Finally, the Tsukemen Ramen combines cold dipping noodles with sizzling hot soup. Decide on your preference then slurp away! Side dishes range from Garlic Edamame to Karaage (Japanese fried chicken). Beverages include soft drinks, imported Japanese teas, beers and sakes.
Try tasty Vietnamese fare at the popular Pho Kitchen. Discover the restaurant in a shopping center off Oceanside Blvd at College. Wood paneling, monochromatic photos and industrial pendants enhance the casual modern dining room. You’ll find the swift service efficient and amiable.
Start with the ethereal Spring Rolls. Enjoy bean sprouts, mint, lettuce, shrimp and steamed pork wrapped in diaphanous rice paper. Dip these healthy morsels in a zesty peanut sauce to finish. Or begin with the crispy Egg Rolls presented with crisp lettuce, mint sprigs and tangy fish sauce. Then try a steaming bowl of classic Vietnamese street food: savory pho. The restaurant’s namesake pairs rich bone broth with delicate thin or flat rice noodles. Choose from a variety of proteins such as filet mignon, chicken and shrimp. Garnish from a plate piled high with Thai basil, bean sprouts, chilies and lime wedges. The extensive menu includes Com/Bun (rice and vermicelli noodle plates), vegetarian choices and kids’ meals too.
Looking for a caffeine fix? Order the sweet, strong Café Sua with condensed milk or the Tea Boba with Thai ice tea and tapioca. Or select the Café Den Vietnamese coffee brewed on your tabletop available either hot or over ice. Note that Pho Kitchen serves water in pitchers infused with cucumber, lime and mint for a nice touch.
This industrial-chic hotspot transports you to magical Bali. Owners Rob Jones and Simran Soin from Singapore teamed up with consummate chef Ryan Costanza to showcase modern Southeast Asian fare with a California twist. Edgy murals, imported wood and moody lighting infuse the cozy dining room with sophistication.
Delight in chef Ryan’s elevated take on classic Indonesian specialties made with locally sourced organic ingredients and house-fermented sauces. His artfully plated dishes are designed to share. Numerous vegetarian options include tasty Gado Gado with seasonal vegetables, slow roasted sweet potatoes and fried tofu dressed in tantalizing peanut sauce. Comforting Nasi Goreng with spicy fried rice, pork, shrimp and chicken comes topped with a sunny-side egg. Skewers grilled over Binchotan charcoal range from rib eye with green onion pesto to tiger prawn with grilled lemon and black garlic. If you’re a meat lover, consider the mouthwatering 24 Hour Pork Belly silkily coated in tamarind caramel. Beverages encompass a biodynamic wine program and array of exotic low-ABV cocktails such as the Lychee Camouflage, Red Lotus or Dija Monkey.
Head south to discover Latin-American gem Panca Peruvian Cuisine & Rotisserie. Enjoy friendly service in a casual rustic atmosphere enhanced by brick walls, repurposed palettes and colorful photography. Peruvian chef/owner Iole Revilla trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Mexico City before coming to Oceanside to share her love of South American cooking and baking.
Begin with the Ceviche incorporating fresh fish, lime, red onion, Rocoto pepper, boiled sweet potato and thick kernels of Peruvian corn. Then opt for the signature rotisserie chicken marinated for two days in an Aji Panca Peruvian red pepper blend, slow roasted to moist perfection then served with tangy dipping sauces, choice of salad and side. Other go to items are the Aji de Gallina in creamy, spicy sauce or Lomo Saltado combining sautéed beef with red onion and tomato over a mountain of hand-cut fries.
For dessert, indulge in decadent Caramel Crème Brulee or Alfojar shortbread cookies filled with luscious dulce de leche. In fact, Chef Iole plans to open La Bodequita de Panca market later this year to sell grab and go items like savory empanadas and her amazing desserts.
Drive inland to the Marketplace Del Rio shopping center for an Eastern Asian adventure. Brothers Min and Andy Son opened Maru Izakaya Sake Bar & BBQ last year to bring Japanese/Korean fusion cuisine to Oceanside. Flat screen TVs surround the modern dining room distinguished by sumptuous dark wood booths, crimson walls and stainless steel fixtures.
Built-in gas grills at every table invite you to participate in the fun of barbecuing tableside. Choose from an extensive variety of top quality beef, pork, chicken and seafood items paired with your choice of zesty marinades including miso, soy and ginger. If you’re in a group, consider sharing one of the combo options complete with an enticing assortment of sides.
For a traditional standout, try the Hot Stone Bibimbap: flavorful vegetables, Bulgogi (thinly sliced marinated beef) and steamed rice garnished with an egg yolk. Season to taste with spicy gochujang Korean chili sauce and/or kimchi, stir then dig in. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl for the crispy golden brown nuggets of umami rich rice. Thirsty? Check out their stellar selection of imported sakes.
About the Author
Jolee Pink is an Oceanside-based writer, designer and artist. She runs the popular Eat Drink SD Facebook group and her Wabisabi Green lifestyle blog focuses on art, design, food and travel. For more information, please visit wabisabigreen.com.