Global Dishes Round Out Sapphire’s Menu
Well-known to Laguna Beach locals as the location of the old Pottery Shack, Sapphire Laguna has been offering cosmopolitan dishes since 2007. The restaurant’s indoor-outdoor dining areas – enchanting outdoor fire pit, warm dining room ambiance, global cuisine and chef-inspired signature cocktails lure loyal locals and tourist alike.
When executive Chef Azmin Ghahreman, formerly of the St. Regis and Four Seasons, is not overseeing kitchen prep and creating new menu items, he chivalrously spends time helping the children of our community by creating alternative healthy, low-fat meals for our local school cafeteria lunches.
I have dined at Sapphire on a handful of occasions for lunch and dinner, sampling many different dishes. My favorite is the Hawaiian-style steamed barramundi, a dense fillet, moist-tender that melted in my mouth. The fish was served with a mixture of fresh ginger, shitake mushrooms, cilantro, green onions and shoyu.
A big hit at the restaurant are home-fried potato chips, which are lightly sprinkled with sage-rosemary sea salt and for a mere $4.75 should be ordered by every potato chip aficionado. They are pure potato chip perfection. There is nothing better than fresh and warm, thinly sliced potato chips.
My most recent dining experience at Sapphire involved sampling three items from the global cuisine menu to see for myself what this was all about. With seven different small plates to choose from, I decided on the “Tak-Koji Tacos”, “Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Skewers” and the “San Francisco Rickshaw Pork and Shrimp Dumplings”.
The shrimp skewers were so-so and in need of a little more gusto. The pork and shrimp dumplings were also pretty average with subtle flavor. (Periodically, I stop in Westminster’s Little Saigon where Chinese and Vietnamese dumplings are perfected, hence, a tough standard to live up to.) But I did click my heels with joy when I tasted the Korean style tacos with tender grilled chicken in a spiced marinade sauce, served with freshly chopped cilantro and a lime sour cream. The accompanying crunchy sesame slaw was slightly sweet and refreshing, creating a nice balance with the savory spiced chicken.
During one afternoon repast my dining partner and I shared the Lunch Box, which offers a handful of “surprise” samplings. The southern fried chicken salad left no noticeable impression on my taste buds, over saturated with dressing that made a soggy salad. We concurred that the Thai chicken lettuce wraps were unexceptional. But we thoroughly enjoyed the sesame crusted ahi salad with lightly seared ahi and enoki mushrooms and the delicious sautéed jumbo shrimp in rosemary-garlic milk, ultimately leaving us totally satiated!
Chef Azmin’s menu includes international dishes such as Greek octopus salad, Hong Kong style shrimp, and Tiradito of Kampachi, to mention a few. Although I have yet to taste all the various menu items, I am sure more than one of them will satisfy my finicky palate.
Sapphire Laguna, 1200 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, (949) 715-9888, open daily for lunch and dinner, Sunday for brunch. Reservations recommended on a beautiful Laguna day!
More reviews at South Laguna resident Patty Pinto’s blog: p3shotdish.blogspot.com