Vaga in Encinitas, CA

 The menu at Vaga is eclectic.  There are updated versions of classic Asian dishes, like dan-dan; traditional fare, like an aged steak; and fusion dishes with Mexican and Asian influences.  My friends found the menu confusing.  I thought it was creative!

We started with cocktails and an order of house-made bread.  For "mid", we had the heirloom bean soup, crispy root salad and avocado citrus salads.  I had the avocado citrus salad and it shouted California with avocado, burrata cheese, imperiled oranges and pistachio crumbles.

For mains, one of us had the sea bass.  This was a large portion of fish served with an amazing side dish of basmati pilaf with Marcona almonds.  The rice was outstanding and not anything I have had before.

The rest of the table had the "maizotto".  This was a true cuisine fusion.  It was hominy corn cooked risotto style with roasted cauliflower.  I love hominy and I loved the taste and texture of this.  It was chewier than a rice risotto, which is often mushy.  My friends thought the dish was too salty, but it was perfect to me.

For dessert, we had a spin on a candy apple.  This was a pretty and tasty plate.

The restaurant is located in the Alila Marea resort.  We sat outside and would have had ocean and lagoon views, except for the fact that it was a pitch black, moonless night.  It was completely comfortable outside - even a December night can be warm in San Diego.  The interior of the restaurant is attractive, sleek and modern.  I also really like the serving dishes.  They were simple earthernware, but extra deep.  I think they are perfect!  Sauces can't slosh off the plate.

I think the descriptions of the dishes make them sound a bit exotic and maybe just for foodies.  However, everything was well composed, balanced and flavorful.  I would return and try another set of dishes, but would definitely want the maizotto again.

                                                        This the candy apple with a cute pastry leaf


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