The nutty, aromatic Egyptian spice blend dukkah coats chopped kale leaves in the Kali Bowl
3620 30th Street, San Diego
While there are a lot of big, notable restaurants lining 30th Street as it winds through North Park, there are a handful of blink-and-you’ll-miss-them spots as well. Apparently I didn’t blink overly much while driving through this week, as I spotted a sandwich board sign offering “take out made from scratch” from a fairly new restaurant called California’s Table.
I guess the last time I’d looked was 18 months ago when a restaurant called Good Life Eatery had just opened in this spot. I rather enjoyed that place, despite its low-key location and odd layout. It took up the front two suites of the building where the San Diego Pride organizers are headquartered. Good Life’s kitchen was in the right-hand suite, then across a small hallway its colorfully decorated dining room occupied the left.
Now the two suites are used by mostly separate businesses. The dining room looks mostly the same, except now it’s a shop called JinBuCha, a kombucha bar that also serves bao (Chinese steamed buns). The kitchen suite now belongs to California’s Table, which makes the aforementioned bao for JinBuCha in sort of a cost-saving symbiotic relationship.
The sandwich board sign helps you find California’s Table.
While the “made from scratch” convinced me to order something, I took up California’s Table on its offer for take-out. Though they do offer a limited amount of umbrella-shaded patio seating, the tiny operation best suits to-go orders, and I was pleased to see that the meal was served in a compostable container.
This conscious approach to dining continues on the menu. Chef/owner Marguerite Grifka lets local and seasonal produce determine daily specials and which vegetables lead the charge in various salads, sandwiches, and mixed bowls which include a root-vegetable salad bowl and a rice-quinoa pilaf.
That would be the Kali Bowl, which I chose for a couple reasons. First, I thought it would be a good vessel for the restaurant’s pasture-raised chicken. Second, it features fresh chopped herbs and an Egyptian spice blend called dukkah.
I’ve never heard of dukkah before, and that made it irresistible. What turned out to be a fragrant, nutty blend went into a Kali bowl that featured in-season veggies including kale and summer squash along with a garlic-lemon sauce, all for ten dollars.
On the first bite I just stuck in a fork and tried what I skewered, which earned me a good dose of the dukkah and a little shredded kale. The spice blend was gritty and flavorful and almost overwhelmingly aromatic. I wised up before my second bite and gave the bowl a good mix, so each bite featured a more balanced ratio of shredded chicken, pilaf, and vegetables. Taken in that context, the dukkah was fantastic. I’m sure in part because it’s new to me but also because the complex mix allowed me to search for hints of coriander, cumin, and cinnamon as I tried to figure out what was in it.
Overall, the fresh, quality ingredients tasted healthy and the meal settled so pleasantly in my stomach that I actually finished feeling light and energized rather than full and weighed down. I hope that enough people will find California’s Table so that another good, healthy, and interesting restaurant doesn’t fold before its time. Keep an eye out.