Sunny Spot (Venice, CA)

Sunny Spot
822 Washington Blvd
Venice, CA 90292
Dining date: 4/15/12

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Sunny Spot, to me, is an unexpected concept from Korean chef Roy Choi, a Venice “roadside cookshop” serving full-flavored Caribbean grub. Choi (whom I just met for the first time last week) is most famous for bringing the Kogi truck to the streets, as well as “modern picnic” A-Frame and rice bowl-based Chego. I’m a fan of Roy Choi’s food so this place has been on my radar since opening late last year.

I haven’t had a lot of Caribbean food at all, so I was intrigued to find something new. The menu is fairly lengthy, offering around 8 starters, 9 entrees, and 6 side dishes from around the region. Everything is served family style. Like other Choi ventures, it’s not short of personality with dish names such as ‘what a jerk wings,’ ‘cash money fried calamari,’ and ‘muh-f*k*n mofongo.’ Would the food have as much personality as the descriptions?

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YUCCA FRIES with banana Thai basil ketchup

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The yucca fries were cut thick (just the way I like them!) with a consistency very much like French fries. The dipping sauce is what separated the dish, having a sweet (banana) and aromatic (Thai basil) flavor.

MUH-F*K*N MOFONGO plantains, bacon, garlic, black pepper

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I remember hearing about mofongo on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and the word stuck with me ever since. This was my first time having the dish, a creamy and sweet mixture with just a touch of bacon flavor.

CASH MONEY FRIED CALAMARI marinated in coconut milk, tossed with chilis and mint passion fruit sauce

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I found this to be a fairly typical fried calamari, but I did like the sweet passion fruit sauce accompaniment.

BROILED HAMACHI COLLAR garlic-thyme butter, lime, banana chili glaze

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The hamachi collar came next with a nice char; a banana-chili glaze brought the recurring sweet-spicy flavor combination, balanced by a little bit of citrus.

TWO FISTED BURGER tomato jam, arugula, cheddar, herb mayo

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The burger came a medium/medium-well temperature (medium rare was requested) so I think it could’ve been juicier. Tomato jam was a difference-maker for me, providing a sort of savory sweetness that balanced well with the arugula.

JAMAICAN ROASTED LAMB with lettuce wedges and pickled mango

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This was probably my favorite dish of the night with hearty lamb chunks bathed in a slightly spicy sauce. Deep, rich flavors. Cool lettuce and pickled mango helped to offset that richness with their cool bite.

YELLOW SALTY RICE

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We opted for this side of rice, cooked well with a bit of spice.

WE BE YAMMIN’ sweet potato tart, walnut crust, toasted marshmallow ice cream

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HOUSEMADE CARAMELS Maldon sea salt, toasted cashews

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Once we were done with the savories, we ordered two desserts to finish. The sweet potato tart was both interesting and tasty with a sweet, creamy filling and crunchy tart. The toasted marshmallow ice cream was addicting to say the least. I really enjoyed the housemade caramels, which I think I’ve tried before at a bake sale. The chewy caramel was well-balanced with just the right amount of salt and crunchy cashews. Excellent!

Sunny Spot presented a solid meal full of bold flavors centered around the spicy and sweet. It was also something different; a change of pace from much of what I typically eat. Being so inexperienced with Caribbean food, I wonder how close this is to the real thing….though I know Roy Choi isn’t known for doing the traditional.


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