Tuesday, September 28, 2010

True Food Kitchen: A really good salad

“That was a really good salad.”

“A really really good salad.” I agree.

“We need to go back for it. Soon.” My mom responds, her voice grave and far more serious than it should be for the subject matter of... lettuce.

I sigh, “I can almost taste the dressing now…”

“So good.” She says.

“So so good.” I say.

The salad in question is more than just a heap of lettuce. It’s a salad with body. With substance. With a tart and sweet champagne vinaigrette that I want to pour into my mouth like chocolate sauce.

It’s a salad that actually satisfies. And doesn’t require a dessert course of soup to keep hunger at bay the rest of the afternoon…

I had been excited when I’d heard that True Food Kitchen, a Zen-esque restaurant for health nuts and the environmentally and physically conscious, would be opening its first California location at Fashion Island in my hometown of Newport Beach. Not only because I am a health nut (emphasis on the “nut”), and need more Zen in my life (among other things), but also because I’d had a pleasant lunch at the original Phoenix location last December.

Aside from the hair I’d found nestled next to the butternut squash and pomegranates in my Harvest salad.

That wasn’t so satisfying.

Even so, it was still a “good” salad and the cleansing food and courteous service had left an impression. The hair situation had been handled graciously, and I was eager to try out the new location at Fashion Island for a hairless ladies’ lunch with my mom two weekends ago.

In addition to our “really good” Chicken Chopped Salads with mango, apple, corn, avocado, almonds, manchego cheese and the aforementioned drinkable champagne vinaigrette ($14), my mother and I also opted for an order of the Edamame Dumplings with daikon radish and white truffle oil ($9) served in a light ponzu-dashi broth.

The light starter comes with four delicate ravioli-type dumplings, judiciously stuffed with a smooth edamame puree and garnished with shelled edamame. The elegant broth floods into the corners of the thin dumpling sleeves imparting a salty finish that sharpens the nuttiness of the edamame. It’s a beautiful, clean dish with precise flavors – one that also belongs under the header, “really good.”

It’s the salads, however, that stole the lunch show for us on that day. Finely chopped mounds of sweet apples and mango, sharp manchego cheese, tender white meat chicken, crunchy marcona almonds, vivid hunks of avocado and corn, and glistening champagne vinaigrette – this is what happens when lettuce dies and goes to heaven.

My mom and I bleated. Gushed. Extracted every stray corn kernel and diced apple from the bowl.

And then we harmonized.

“A really good salad.”

“A really really good salad.”

We’ll definitely be going back for it. Soon.

True Food Kitchen
451 Newport Center Dr
Newport Beach, CA 92660

(949) 644-2400


Ashley said...

Man - Newport has got the healthy lunch spot act down to a science. Zinc, Native Foods, and now True Food. We may need a field trip soon.

nelehelen said...

what a gorgeous salad!

stuffycheaks said...

OMG truffle oil with the dumpling is brilliant. I love it when heathy food doesn't sacrifice on flavors

weezermonkey said...

Mmm. I do appreciate a really good salad. I don't know if I'd drive all the way for salad, though.

My fave salad is still the Caribbean cobb salad with grilled chicken at Prado. You should try it!

Esi said...

Well...you're definitely a nut :p I kid. Those edamame dumplings look amazing!!!

bagnatic said...

that's not a salad...that's a meal! looks good and filling..yay!

Anna A. said...

Hmmm TALF that does sound amazing (eeek sorry about that hair awhile back!. I am expecting a D to the B DIY version of this soon so I can make it (sans fowls, of course). I might have to beckon my mom to take me to lunch here as well (or maybe hit up your moms)... hmmmm

Diana said...

Ashley - Yes, please! I'll put in a request for my mom's ice cream roll cake too...

Helen - Gorgeous and delicious! What a combo! ;)

Stephanie - The dumplings were amazing! So delicate and flavorful!

Weez - Oh wow. Yeah I would like that in my mouth.

Esi - Haha, yep, full on certifiable!

Amy - It is a meal! It really and truly is!

Anna - I'll work on it. ;)

Healthy Coconut said...

My co-workers raved about this place and I was actually surprised they went since healthy food is not really what they would choose to eat first.

Thanks for the review. Now I really want to go, maybe I can get the fiance to join me :)

My work is 10 minutes from Fashion Island so this is not too far from me.

Thanks Diana!!