When he was named executive chef at JRDN last month, Danilo "DJ" Tangalin had one mission.
"Nothing can compare to the joy I have when a guest tells me that our kitchen served them the best meal of their life," Tangalin, 30, says.
Where: Tower23, 723 Felspar St., Pacific Beach
Phone: (858) 270-5736
The menu is slowly transitioning to a fresher, seasonal-driven selection. On a recent Saturday, a "farmer's market vegetables" special featured sugar snap peas, morel mushrooms, tomato confit and black sesame tahini. But JRDN fans need not worry - the menu isn't changing completely. There's a mix of old and new.
Our picks from a recent visit:
Meat lovers, rejoice
JRDN's steaks are still on the menu. Try the Schuyler Ranch New York Steak with the JRDN rub - slow roasted garlic confit and "lots of love," Tangalin says - and choose from a variety of sides, including smoked potato purée or grilled asparagus with bacon jam.
Too pretty to eat
Squash Blossoms were plated like a painting. They were filled with delectable goat cheese and mascarpone, but the tomato jam and lemon aioli pushed them over the top.
The market-driven Fish Crudo tasted fresh with olives, Fresno chili, crispy shallots in a citrus vinaigrette.
The Alaskan Halibut was meaty and filling, served with Weiser Farm potato, broccolini, olives and parsley-and-potato beurre blanc.
Coconut, currently Tangalin's favorite ingredient, is the star of the Coconut Panna Cotta, served with matcha tea powder, prickly pear gelee, passion fruit sauce, blackberry jam, fresh blueberry and sesame crumble. Watch for JRDN's version of strawberry shortcake: vanilla sponge cake, macerated strawberries, basil and strawberry sauces, basil seeds, malt "soil," finished with a white balsamic strawberry ice cream. JRDN's most famous dessert is the Macadamia Joy, a beautifully plated dish with white and dark chocolate, coconut, roasted banana ice cream and tuile cookie.
5 THINGS ABOUT THE CHEF
Meet Danilo "DJ" Tangalin, JRDN's new executive chef
1. He was sous chef at JRDN before becoming head chef in May.
2. Before landing at JRDN, he was chef de cuisine at PrepKitchen in Little Italy.
3. Born and raised in the Philippines, he loves to cook kare-kare, a traditional peanut-based oxtail stew. "I love my pressure cooker!"
4. The cooking gene runs in the family: They ran a small cantina in the Philippines, serving taxi and bus drivers.
5. His favorite ingredient right now? Coconut. It shows up in various dishes, including the seafood stew.