Animae is a new Asian-inspired restaurant by Brian Malarkey. The lavish restaurant is located in downtown on the ground floor of Pacific Gate by Bosa, a luxury condo development.
We recently dined at the restaurant and had a wonderful meal. The restaurant is even more stunning and beautiful in person than in photos, with plush carpets, velvet booths and curtains adorning the restaurant.
Once seated, we knew we were in for a different kind of experience. Our meal started off with lemongrass-scented hand towels to awaken the palate. Our still water arrived at the table with a charcoal filter inside.
PURPLE POTATO PAIN D’EPI miso butter
I was drawn to this dish because of my love for purple. The lightly sweet pain d’epi was a beautiful shade of purple from the use of purple potatoes. The purple color is much deeper once you bite in.
BUTTER DUMPLINGS escargot & wagyu beef carpaccio, lemon, cabbage
This has become a signature dish at the restaurant, so of course we had to order it. It’s a very creative spin on Chinese soup dumplings. The dumplings are wrapped with gels of butter which melt as the dumplings cook. The dumplings are meant to be opened over the carpaccio, letting the hot butter spill across the meat.
This was a fun dish to try. It wasn’t my favorite of the night but I didn’t expect it to be because I actually don’t usually enjoy eating melted butter. I do think it is worth trying though.
BAJA ASIAN STREET CORN kimchee aioli, cotija, almond, togarashi
This was tasty and flavorful Asian spin on Mexican street corn.
BLACK GARLIC UDON NOODLE lobster, chili, choy sum, bisque and espelette
Our favorite dish of the night. The black garlic udon noodles were wonderfully thick and chewy and paired with a rich bisque spiced with chili and lemongrass. Tender chunks of lobster were mixed in as well. We really enjoyed how flavorful the bisque was, hitting on all the taste senses.
BROTHLESS RAMEN beef cheek, shitake mushrooms, egg jam, bok choy
This was an interesting play on ramen. According to our server, Brian Malarkey did not wish to have any soups or broths on his menu so this was the compromise.
I was pleasantly surprised at how this dish managed to capture the essence of ramen even without the broth. It was comforting and rich, and I enjoyed how tender the beef was. The noodles were a tad too soft for my liking, especially after enjoying the black garlic udon noodles.
Plum Wine Spritz
I don’t order cocktails often but this one was so pretty that I couldn’t resist.
MALASADAS coffee, coconut filling, passion fruit, green thai curry ice cream
I don’t always indulge in dessert when dining out, but I made sure to save some room for the ones here because the dessert menu was designed by Pastry Chef Adrian Mendoza and we love his creations. (He also oversees the desserts for Herb & Wood and Herb & Eatery.)
We were told not to miss out on the malasadas and they did not disappoint. This ended up being one of the best bites of the night and one of the best versions of malasadas I’ve ever had. The malasadas were incredibly tender, dusted in a sugar coating that created a melting sensation as you bite in. Each doughnut oozed with a light coconut cream filling.
The green Thai curry ice cream was spicier than I expected but really tasted like green Thai curry.
BLACK VELVET charcoal sponge cake, banana caramel, miso, ancient grain brittle, raspberry ponzu
This was a beautiful dessert and I especially liked the pieces of meringue surrounding the cake.
Overall, we had a wonderful first visit to the restaurant. The menu is creative and the food was all well executed. In addition, what really impressed me was the service. Our water glasses were never more than half empty, our empty dishes cleared within seconds. It was the best restaurant service we’ve had in San Diego all year and I personally don’t mind the surcharge included in the bill if this level of service is maintained.
969 Pacific Hwy, San Diego, CA 92101