My birthday was on a Wednesday this year.
So Amit decided to somehow make it a fabulous one anyway by taking me to The Rooftop Bar & Lounge in Laguna Beach.
After enjoying a sangria (red wine, with peach Schnapps, mixed berries, brandy, orange juice and ginger ale), which I didn’t like much, I ordered a champagne mojito (muddled mint and lime thrown into a glass of champagne) which I thought was, combined with the view of the sun setting over Laguna Beach, amazing!
An entirely separate post can be done on The Rooftop, however, so I will say no more. After the sun had completely set and our 8:00 pm reservation time approached, we headed down to k’ya Bistro for dinner.
For those of you who haven’t yet heard of this gem, or, like most, who pass by it on your way up to and down from the rooftop lounge, k’ya is an experience worth having.
My favorite part of this place was the fact that I got to play food critic like the rest of their guests. That is, they serve teeny, sharable portions so that you can order quite a few different menu items and satisfy your hunger for variety along with, well, sustenance. To start, Amit had the Blood Orange Jalapeño Margarita, while I opted for the Strawberry Mojito.
As far as the drinks go, the captions say it all. For my next visit, I will definitely be ordering just water instead of drinks, unless the drinks are for consumption prior to our meal.
After looking at the menu for what felt like an eternity (there is just SO MUCH to choose from!), we decided on the following: the Sautéed Pesto Mushrooms to start with, followed by the Lobster & Crab Cake, the Three Cheese Macaroni, the Hibachi Salmon and the Braised Beef Short Rib. At this point I should provide you with the following disclaimer: when I first met Amit, I made it very clear to him that although I like experimenting with new foods for the sake of my adventurous palette, I am a red meat eater, born and raised. So, on my birthday, I got to make the big girl decision to not order any chicken.
The Sautéed Pesto Mushrooms are listed under the Snacks category on the paper (a.k.a. ever-changing) menu.
That’s a complete understatement. Don’t get me wrong, the mushrooms were absolutely delicious – says even Amit, who is known as a mushroom hater. However, a snack they were not! I was personally really happy with the decision that I saved some mushrooms to mix into my Three Cheese Macaroni ~ but you’ll hear more about that in a bit!
The Lobster & Crab Cake was also a very rich dish. The Madras curry sauce it came with was savory. I’d say this dish was pleasing for about 3-5 bites before kind of becoming a pain to finish. The large size of the cake, paired with dense Madras cream curry and protein-packed, filling edamame beans was a bit too much all at once.
That being said, I think the curry sauce went really well with the fish we enjoyed later on.
I think the most frustrating part of this experience was how long the orders were taking to come out. We waited 40 minutes for any sight of our first dish.
For a Wednesday weeknight, it was as packed as you would expect any other establishment to be on a Wednesday. We were seated early (~7:40 pm), ordered everything by 8:15 pm, and still managed to be stuck there until 11:00 pm! It wouldn’t have been an issue if the portions were slightly larger, so that we weren’t left with awkward pauses in between dishes, wondering where our food was.
When the food wasn’t lagging, it was pretty good. I’m glad I was able to pull the birthday girl card and convince Amit to order the short ribs instead of the filet mignon. After he’d admitted he had never had short ribs, I decided to be the one to put an end to his misery. The braised beef short ribs, with mashed potatoes, crispy onion straws and porcini sauce were truly perfection. We finished the dish in minutes!
Trying to savor every bite was a little tough as small food portions can get cold very quickly. I did, however, enjoy every last second of the deliciousness that was mashed potatoes, beef short ribs, and crispy onion straws piled high into each bite.
The Three Cheese Macaroni was just as good. Enter the sautéed pesto mushrooms – I found the thinly sliced mushrooms that came in the mac & cheese a little too, well, thin for my liking. So, I improvised and threw the mushrooms from our starter dish into our mac & cheese. I was quite pleased with the dish once that happened; the pesto complimented the cheeses in the macaroni dish quite well.
The Hibachi Salmon was…well, it just was. Amit really enjoyed it when he paired it with the Madras curry sauce from the Lobster & Crab Cake. I have to admit – this made it a much better dish. After trying that combination, I secretly did wish I hadn’t given up my half of the salmon to Amit!
So, in retrospect, I guess combining some elements from previous dishes into the forthcoming ones is what made the experience much more palatable. As negative as that sounds, what I took from this experience is that the concept of k’ya bistro is done best by them – small bites of rich foods. Anyone can try their take and succeed on that concept, but the genuine appreciation for flavors that pair well together is what made this experience a great one, despite the wait and indecisive server.
We found ourselves completely on our own in regards to the menu – there is SO much to choose from! When asking for some help from our server, she did continue to reply repetitively that pretty much every dish is her favorite and a crowd favorite and really, really good. While that could very possibly be the case, it didn’t help us much with the decision-making! In the end, I did feel more satisfied knowing that everything we liked and didn’t and paired together from different dishes was all our own fault ~ and I enjoyed every last bite of it!
Although Amit says he didn’t really enjoy the meal, I couldn’t be happier about his choice for my birthday dinner. I fell in love with the concept and experience k’ya Bistro has to offer. Perhaps the execution could use some improvement. When the weather makes the leaves and skies change, however, you can be sure that I’ll be going back to see what the menu changes at k’ya Bistro hold in store for me!
k’ya Bistro is located at 1287 South Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, in the historic, coastal La Casa del Camino hotel.