“We don’t see a lot of potatoes around here. We’re rice men.”
— Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) ‘Sleepless in Seattle’
At Z Café in Bonsall, diners will find an extensive and eclectic menu which includes several dishes inspired by the cuisine of Hawaii. Rice is the anchor for many of these dishes including one of the newer items dubbed, ‘Hawaiian Bowls.’ To a base of rice (either brown or white), broccoli and yellow squash is added. The diner may choose salmon, chicken or beef as the crowning element. I chose the salmon, which was slathered with rich teriyaki sauce, then sprinkled with sesame seeds. The teriyaki sauce seeped down from the flaky salmon onto the vegetables and then to the rice. The entire creation was a delicious, fresh, taste adventure.
The ‘Mac Salad’ is a recipe straight from the Hawaiian Islands. Eggs and a bit of tuna are added to this dish that begins with macaroni. The co-owner of the Z Café, John Toma, tells how this special recipe made its way to California. It was passed down from his grandfather, to his mother, and then finally to him. His grandfather was one of the original chefs at the Royal Hawaiian (The Pink Palace) on Waikiki Beach. This is no ordinary hotel, but a luxury resort catering to royalty, heads-of-state, and Hollywood elite. It is no wonder that Toma is so successful in the restaurant business. (He also owns Hukilau at the Fallbrook Golf Club.)
A must-have for dessert is the ‘Z Cookie.’ This scrumptious concoction starts with large cookie topped with vanilla ice cream, then whipped cream layered with stripes of dark chocolate sauce. Diners have a choice of three cookies: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Raisin. I’m sure that they are all delicious, but I recommend the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut – it’s another flavor from the islands – plus it’s just heavenly!
John Toma formerly owned the Sunrize Café, also in River Village, and opened the Z Café with his son, Michael, who also serves as chef. The establishment opened its doors about two years ago after the smaller space at Sunrize proved to be too cramped for their growing base of clientele.
“I’m extremely happy we’ve made this move,” noted Toma.
Sunrize offered only breakfast and lunch, but Z Café is also open for dinner. Chef Michael creates special dinner menus, including dishes with fresh fish, which are offered Thursday through Sunday.
Don’t miss ‘Game Nite’ on Monday and Thursday nights. San Diego Charger fans, and other football fans as well, can come out, cheer for their favorite players and enjoy specials including 25 cent wings, $1.50 hot dogs and ‘Stadium Nachos’ with stadium-style melted cheese. A rollicking good time for sure!
On a quieter, calmer note, the café has opened an art gallery downstairs, which is coordinated by artists Bob Abbot and Neill Ketchum. The duo displays artwork by regional artists with new works appearing every three months or so. Abbot, who creates under the name Jerome Gestaldi, has exhibited internationally. Ketchum, a Fallbrook artist, who is best known for her images of trees and prints of horses, has participated in exhibits throughout the United States.
In addition to great food, ‘Game Nites,’ and an art gallery – friendly servers and friendly bartenders abound at Z Café. This River Village establishment is open and airy with alfresco dining available on the second floor patio. What’s not to like?
Find Z Café in River Village at 5256 S. Mission Road in Bonsall. Call (760) 940-1751 or access www.zcafeinbonsall.com.