822 Washington Blvd
Venice, CA 90292
Dining date: 4/15/12
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?
YUCCA FRIES with banana Thai basil ketchup
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
HOUSEMADE CARAMELS Maldon sea salt, toasted cashews
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.