Off the Menu: Small Plates, Big Flavor at K’ya Bistro

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Roasted cauliflower with red hot pepper sauce and gorgonzola crumbles
Roasted cauliflower with red hot pepper sauce and gorgonzola crumbles

By Christopher Trela & Catherine Del Casale | NB Indy

We’re lucky to have so many noteworthy restaurants in Newport Beach, but occasionally we do cross the border into Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach and other nearby towns in our constant quest for excellent and interesting dining experiences.

We recently attended a show at Laguna Playhouse and decided to dine at K’ya Bistro inside the historic La Casa del Camino hotel in Laguna Beach. The restaurant has been there for more than a decade, but, as we sheepishly admitted to our server, this was our first time dining there (we’ve had drinks and appetizers on their rooftop bar, which offers splendid views of the Pacific Ocean).

We discovered to our delight that K’ya offers a diverse small plate menu that focuses on flavors from the Mediterranean with a California twist. We love to share, so this was a perfect opportunity to sample several items.

We started with roasted cauliflower ($5) with red hot pepper sauce and gorgonzola crumbles, and roasted Brussels sprouts ($7) with garlic, shallots,

Roasted Brussels sprouts with garlic, gorgonzola cream, aged balsamic, and an herb crust
Roasted Brussels sprouts with garlic, gorgonzola cream, aged balsamic, and an herb crust

gorgonzola cream, aged balsamic, and an herb crust.

We found the portions generous, and the flavors practically leapt from the dish into our mouths.

Next, being risotto fans, we ordered the lobster and truffle risotto ($15) with asparagus, caramelized onion, white wine, and parmesan. Again, the generous portion almost makes this dish a meal in itself.

“I could order this and a glass of wine and be fine the rest of the night,” said Christopher.

Luckily we were sharing (and taking leftovers home) so we ordered the roasted jalapeño and smoked bacon mac n’ cheese ($10), which tasted as sinfully delicious as it sounds.

Lobster and truffle risotto with asparagus, caramelized onion, white wine, and parmesan
Lobster and truffle risotto with asparagus, caramelized onion, white wine, and parmesan

Next, we tried the grilled octopus ($8) with “kim chee” vegetables, orange, jalapeño, and chili glaze. The dish had just right amount of heat to make it interesting and not overpowering.

We also tried the grilled filet mignon ($15) with mashed potato, spinach and caramelized onion, but by now were getting full. However, we talked ourselves into ordering dessert.

We could not decide between the banana pecan bread pudding ($6) with vanilla ice cream and bourbon sauce, or the brownie ice cream bars ($6) with warm salted caramel, so we ordered both. And of course, they both magically disappeared!

The service here was excellent, the ambiance fun and upbeat yet not loud. The prices are more than

Brownie ice cream bars with warm salted caramel
Brownie ice cream bars with warm salted caramel

reasonable for the amount and quality of the cuisine.

They have a nice wine by the glass program that includes half glasses of wine, making it easier to pair small plates with wine.

The K’ya menu has so many interesting options that we vowed to return soon to sample more of the menu—and order more lobster risotto!

Visit kyabistro.com for more information and to view the menu.

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