Blush Ice Bar + East-West Kitchen

photo of the outside of Blush Ice Bar + East-West Kitchen

Blush Ice Bar + East-West Kitchen recently opened in San Diego. Blush Ice Bar is a popular bar and raw kitchen concept with a location in San Jose. The San Diego version also adds a East-West kitchen menu designed by Chef Daniel Barron.
photo of the inside of the restaurant
I have to confess, I was interested the minute I saw their signature pink Blush cocktail. They actually offer a range of blush cocktails, a mix of spirits, fruit puree and frosted ice and you can even build your own version.

I was also curious about the East-West Kitchen menu. We experienced Chef Barron’s food during one of his pop-up dinners a few years ago and had a good time.

Lychee Passion
photo of Lychee Passion cocktail

We tried three different blush cocktails and my favorite was the lychee. Made with Three Olives Vodka, Alize Red Passion and Soho Lychee, this drink was lovely shade of pink and full of lychee flavor. 

Hamachi Spoons
close-up photo of Hamachi Spoons
We started our meal with a bite from the raw bar. These spoons ended up being the perfect fit, where you could eat everything plated on it in one bite. I felt a little like one of the judges on the now cancelled The Taste show.

Hudson Valley Foie Gras Ramen
photo of Hudson Valley Foie Gras Ramen
I completely honed in on this dish when I saw it on the menu and just had to have it. Crispy chicken skins, poached duck egg, seared foie gras, and bacon dashi broth. The dish promised a lot of flavor and it really delivered. We enjoyed all the elements, especially the chicken skins and foie gras.

House Special Garlic Noodles
photo of House Special Garlic Noodles
Whenever I read garlic noodles, I think about the famed garlic noodle dish I had at Crustacean in San Francisco (which I never did post on, but here is my take on the recipe). It appears East-West Kitchen was trying to create their own version of it because they also offered a whole roasted crab dish which comes with a side of garlic noodles, just like in SF.

Unfortunately, the noodles were far too salty. We tasted more soy sauce than garlic and felt like we needed a side of rice just to eat the noodles with. Interestingly, I didn’t see any rice on the dinner menu, despite the strong Asian influence in almost all the dishes.

Char Siu Smoked Natural Pork
photo of Char Siu Smoked Natural Pork
We loved that the Asian-style bbq pork was first smoked. You could see the pinkness on every slice.

close-up photo of a slice of Char Siu Smoked Natural Pork

We did feel though, that this dish was a little hard to eat on its own. It needed rice or some other accompaniment to balance it out. I realize that the menu is a la carte, but we couldn’t find any sides on the menu that weren’t already super flavorful too, so I still felt like this needed rice or some other neutral offering to balance it.

Smoked Miso Cauliflower Gratin
photo of Smoked Miso Cauliflower Gratin
Since I love making cauliflower dishes, I was quite curious for this side dish. The description on the menu said it also had a “Szechuan and flaming hot Cheeto’s crust.”

The crust, however, just appeared to be a sprinkling of hot Cheeto’s crumbs on top. I didn’t really taste the cheetos beyond that and they didn’t really hold up well. The cauliflower gratin itself was very creamy and cheesy. It reminded me of mac n cheese, except replacing the pasta with small pieces of cauliflower.

Kiwi Punch
photo of a Kiwi Punch cocktail

Blush
photo of a blush cocktail

We also tried two other blush cocktails. The original blush is their signature one. Both tasted fine and I think it just comes down to which flavors your prefer.

Overall, I left with mixed feelings about this place. The restaurant just opened so I realize that some of the food issues could have been due to opening kinks. The signature cocktails, while pretty and fun, didn’t really taste that special to me. They use real fruit in their ice and purees, but the artificial flavors in the spirits made it hard to distinguish the natural fruit flavors. The food was also a bit hit or miss. We loved the ramen but felt the garlic noodles were too salty and that the other dishes were in need of rice or something similar to balance them out. We did like the generous portions though. We’ll come back again once the place settles in.

Tip: If you are here for the food, I’d recommend dinner over lunch. We originally planned on coming for lunch but the menu was a lot more limited, so we opted for dinner instead.

Menu:
photo of the menuphoto of the menuphoto of the menuphoto of the menuphoto of the menuphoto of the menuphoto of the menu

Blush Ice Bar + East-West Kitchen
555 Market St
San Diego, CA
https://sandiego.blushicebar.com/
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6 comments on “Blush Ice Bar + East-West Kitchen”

  1. After reading your post, I made my way to Blush. I was so excited to try the drinks and ramen. I actually left with mixed feelings as well. Our ramen was in face very flavorful but the noodles were over cooked! 

    But I was honored to be able watch Chef Daniel Barron in action at the oyster (dessert) bar area as he was training a couple guys on how to make the banana fritters (i recommend that dessert). And happy hour is a good option! $1 oysters!

    • I was really curious about the desserts! maybe next time. I think i’d like to wait for the place to settle in and work out any opening kinks

  2. After I read about how you could have used rice with the noodles and then I saw the bbq pork picture I was saying to myself, “wait, NO RICE!” How can you eat bbq pork without rice? Their presentation looks amazing though. 

  3. Wow, we got 5 days to open and work out the kinks prior to a review? We have been working since opening to nail down consistency and tweaking our menu. We are a family style ala carte restaurant where rice is available if requested. We also have many sides other than rice to choose from. The cauliflower is a take on mac and cheese and an option for the gluten free crowd. We put the cheetos for a fun hit of flavor as garnish. If the crust was solely cheeto it would be too aggressive and overpower the smoked miso.
    But i invite you to come back in as we are still working out small kinks but in a much better place than after 4 days open.
    Let me know and we will take care of you.
    Thank you
    Daniel Barron

    • Dear Chef Barron, Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. I’ve enjoyed your food and creativity throughout the years and I realize that there are a lot of kinks and tweaks to menu the first few weeks of a restaurant’s opening. We’ll definitely be back later on and i’ll provide a follow up post when we do. But even though the restaurant is going through some opening kinks, the fact remains that eager diners are coming in and paying full menu price for their dining experience. I think it’s important to share what we experienced during our visit for those who are interested in trying out this place. I’m not trying to discourage readers from coming. I just think that people should maybe wait a few weeks while the restaurant settles in. We actually did inquire about rice, but was told it wasn’t served. And while I understand that a crust made of only cheetos would be overpowering and soggy, perhaps it should be clarified in the item description as cheetos crust brought an image to me of a crust around the mac & cheese made mainly of cheetos which is why I was so curious.

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