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I first found Trade Winds Tavern after my coworkers set up an impromptu happy hour there. We were lured in by the $3 craft beer special throughout the month of February! My existing go-to for craft beer was happy hour at Crab Hut Mira Mesa but this one was much closer to my workplace! I sipped on a Ginja Ninja cider while waiting for Dennis to pick me up for dinner. Since we were going to Tin Roof that night, I only tried a few bites of their miso cod special.
A few days later, unrelated to that visit, I received an invitation to a media preview. As you can guess, we were more than willing to explore their food and drink menu!
Usually there are more tables inside but they opened up the space for the media event. We grabbed drinks at the bar and sat down at a nearby table. A DJ provided some jams for the evening.
Strawberry Sojutini (left) - ty ku soju, lemon juice, strawberry puree, Blueberry Cucumber Cocktail (right) - tombo soju, blueberry cucumber puree
I'd been working overtime lately and was happy to get a drink. This sugar rimmed girlie strawberry goodness hit the spot for me. Dennis was intrigued by his dark drink, a healthy taste (like pressed juice rather than alcohol) that made him feel less guilty about all the upcoming samples that night! I think it's the cucumber influence!
They also have a decent selection of beers on tap but we were in that cocktail mood this evening!
Portabello Mushroom Gyoza - trade winds chili paste, house made ponzu sauce
Our first bite of the night. Even without meat, I wanted to eat this whole tray of fried dumplings! Here is when we found out one of the owners also ran Sipz cafe. They snuck a vegan dish into the gastropub menu that was quite wonderful!
Spam Musubi - furikake rice, sweet soy glaze, nori seaweed
We were both instant fans of this! Nicely fried spam and a little dipping sauce. The best part was how the rice was mixed with the furikake so it was flavored all around! This came in its actual portion size (everything else was sample size). You can order singles or a set of three. I'm going to buy my coworkers a round of these next time!
Fresh Tuna Poke - local ahi tuna, crispy shallot, radish sprouts, avocado, hawaiian sea salt, Seafood Ceviche - fresh white fish, scallop, shrimp, mango jalapeño, yuzu, house taro chips
Various bits 'o fish! I enjoyed the furikake rice but the poke sauce and onion were too heavy for my taste and covered up the fresh fish. The ceviche was more my style with the sweet mango nibbles and pieces of zesty seafood. Those taro chips were great!
Wings Sampler - huli huli, viet, and salt n pepper
These usually come all in one flavor but for this preview, they sampled one of each! We could really taste the smoked meat in the Huli Huli. The Viet one had a fine balance of fish sauce without being too pungent so worked well for us. The Salt n Pepper one was fried and flavored similar to the wings from Royal Mandarin in National City.
Baby Back Ribs - braised, smoked, grilled, hoisin bbq sauce, Fried Brussels n Cauliflower - pine nuts, golden raisins, white balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese
Dennis bit into the rib, then immediately prodded me to try it. The flavor was hard to place until we suddenly realized the similarity to beef jerky! The hoisin bbq sauce left a sticky mess on our fingers. On the other side, we dove into the flurry of superfine Parmesan cheese over richly roasted vegetables. Yea, I'd eat that again.
Bun Noodle Salad - Vietnamese grilled pork, rice vermicelli noodles, peanuts, cucumber, nuoc cham dressing, Slider - grilled pork
Yay for Vietnamese inspired dishes! The Bun Noodle Salad is similar to what you'd get from the Vietnamese restaurants except with thicker "bun bo hue" noodles! The pork slider mimicked a mini Vietnamese sandwich but the pork patty had the meat taste you'd find on sugar cane stick! The sliders typically come in a set of three flavors (grilled pork, fried shrimp, and beef burger) so we'd be interested in trying the full set.
Seared Ahi Salad - fresh ahi tuna, green papaya, soba noodles, roasted sesame dressing, sweet soy, chinese mustard
This fish was very fresh with a nice sear / crust and the soba noodles were lightly sauced. This sounds like something I'd eat for lunch!
Shrimp Pasta - black tiger shrimp, caramelized garlic and shallot, shrimp sauce, mushroom, edamame, linguine
There was something addicting about this shrimp pasta, especially how the noodles radiated garlic and shallot flavor! Shrimp were grilled normally on this dish.
Sizzling Cedar River Ribeye - mushroom, onion, cherry tomato chimichurri
When you're hungry, you can select from the "bigger" plates like this ribeye! We were amazed by how tender the beef came out! It's cooked to a nice medium rare and dressed with sautéed goodies!
Chevre Cheesecake - graham crust, pistachio brittle, lemon curd, seasonal berries
We rarely eat cheesecake but had to try out their dessert. It was goat cheese based and actually quite delicious! The lemon curd reminds me of frozen lemonade!
Jellyfish on some walls. Big octopus art on another. Do we detect a seafood theme?
Owners, chefs and friends/family at Trade Winds Tavern
We chatted with the friendly staff and the three owners Sylvia, Huynh and Rachel. Huynh also took on the role of executive chef and fired back answers to my many food questions. We also got to talk with consultant Chef Krizpin who brings many years of restaurant experience as well as Filippino and Hawaiian influence to the menu. After talking with the heart of the kitchen, we understand why the menu includes such a wide range of flavors. The combined effort of the owners and chefs is like handpicking the best of these different worlds! They are still adjusting the menu here and there but we're liking where it is going! We also bumped into Faye's Fork who wrote about it here:
Trade Winds Tavern has their grand opening on Saturday March 4 starting at 11am and there are various pint glass, tshirt, and other giveaways going on! The biggest perk is the first 200 to buy a beer and a small plate get the GOLDEN TICKET, which extends the $3 beer price for another three months! BOOM. That might be my new happy hour spot. Make sure to check out their facebook for more info on their specials!
Disclaimer: We were invited to this event and our food/drink were complimentary. We were not otherwise compensated and all opinions stated are our own
Trade Winds Tavern
7767 Balboa Ave
San Diego CA 92111