Kristin Díaz de Sandi’s Life & Food blog, created in conjunction with her husband Antonio, has helped drive recognition of the gastronomic resurgence of Baja California. She and Antonio have merged efforts with colleagues Bill Esparza and Jason Thomas Fritz to create Club Tengo Hambre, a roving supper club, that explores food and wine cuisine in Baja.
Enjoy the unique flavors and dishes made with fresh and local ingredients in Tecate, Baja California.
Asao translates to “comer” or to eat in Kumiai. Such a small word, with so much meaning, and more than fitting for the name of a restaurant. This beautiful restaurant is located in Tecate, and shares the property with their smaller restaurant called Bistro Med, and the up and coming Santuario Diegueño Hotel. The entire property, is absolutely gorgeous, and is so perfect for a small getaway. The hotel is expected to be fully accessible to the public within the next three months.
The walkway up to the restaurant is lined with olive trees, which are readily being picked and tossed into buckets. There was a nice breeze blowing, so the mid-90 degree weather did not even faze us. Upon entering the restaurant, my eyes didn’t know whether to be drawn to the right or the left. On the right is their beautiful open kitchen behind a huge glass window, and to the left the floor to ceiling glass windows lead out to the beautiful view, and outdoor seating. We met Chef Roberto Alcocer, who was about to present us with a tasting of the restaurant’s menu, and some of it’s most recent items.
The evening started off with an amuse bouche of a crostini topped with smoked oyster cream and sprouts. A wonderful crunch with a subtle smokiness and fresh sprouts.
The first course, was one of my favorites of the meal. Such a simple presentation of Avocado al vapor topped with a cold avocado ball rolled in dried beans. The wedge of avocado was in a warm tomato and basil broth. The textures of this dish were just phenomenal. Cold and warm together, and all of the flavors together actually reminded me of a Caprese salad, with the avocado and its texture very similar to that of fresh mozzarella.
The second course was their version of an ensalada de nopales. The nopales are cured in salt, which actually gives them a “cooked” flavor. That combined with minced onions, tomato, queso fresco, and a smear of the lemon puree, is so bright and bursting with flavor, and once again there are such wonderful textures.
The third course, Pulpo al grill with chorizo and Guajillo paper on top of black bean puree. Octopus has to be one of my all time favorites, and with salty chorizo, creamy beans, and a slight heat from the chile, it really was a delicious dish.
The fourth course, an enchilada made with wheat flour and stuffed with shredded duck, then covered in a Jamaica mole. I had never tasted Jamaica mole before this dish. It has such distinct flavors to it, with a nice overall acidity.
The fifth and final savory course, Cornish Game hen in Barbacoa. The barbacoa is made Southern Mexico style. An avocado leaf is used during the preparation. Nice and bold flavors, but they didn’t take over the tender meat of the hen.
The final course, was a last hoorah to mango season. The mango dessert shared the plate with fresh cubes of cooked mango, white chocolate syrup, and Salvia flowers. The texture of the dessert was in between that of flan, and panna cotta. It was unique in itself, and I couldn’t help but let my spoon lead me to finish up every last bite.
Just a short drive from the Tecate border, Asao Restaurante will delight your senses with the cuisine that characterizes Baja California.
Want to find out more about cuisine in Baja California? Read about it here!
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