Friday, May 1, 2009


I don't do restaurant reviews. At least, I have never done one before on The Buddha Diaries. But, as they say, there's always a first time...

I write this one because you can't get a better deal anywhere in Orange County. Nor in Los Angeles, so far as I know. Like a handful of other enlightened restaurants, K'ya, on South Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, has offered the alternative of "small" portion dishes on its menu since its early days. More recently, they have changed their menu to consist of nothing but small dishes, all priced very reasonably at ten or twelve dollars per entree. And "small", for Ellie and myself, means more than adequate. These delicious offerings are a meal in themselves.

Now, in these recession days, K'ya has had the bright idea of offering even these small dishes at half price between the hours of 4:30 and 5:30PM on weekdays. For $10 you can get a great salad and an entree. Dessert adds a couple more dollars to your total. And wine, if you have a glass, is sold at regular prices.

Ellie and I went last night. She chose a beet salad and a portobello mushroom burger. I had an argula and grilled vegetable salad and a pork steak with mixed vegetables. I think I chose better: the pork steak was thick, tender, generously proportioned. Ellie had a small bottle of Perrier, I a glass of the house Sauvignon Blanc--a very nice wine. Our total came to less than $30. You wouldn't pay less at a fast food joint, and this was gourmet cuisine.

All that, and an elegant ambience. A little noisy perhaps--as are most restaurants, sadly, these days. We sat on stools at the bar, having arrived late-ish, toward the 5:30 witching hour, and our bar host was a delightful young man with just the right mix of friendliness and respect.

You'll love this place if, like us, you object to paying outrageous prices for so-so food but like a certain sophistication in your restaurants; and if you find that portions are generally much too large and you have to take half of them home. K'ya, obviously, is on to a great idea. That early hour is surely hard for restaurants to attract customers, and this one was already bustling with enthusiastic business. If you live in the Orange County area, you'll find it simply unbeatable for value. Eat an early, light lunch, and you'll be ready for a moderately-sized and moderately-priced feast.

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