Last week my friend CC of Pink Candles at Ridgemont High came up my way to join me for lunch. Hooray! We decided to visit the new Gaya Gaya Bar & Kitchen, which was previously Sarap. And BEFORE Sarap, it was a South African restaurant called Capetown. It’s gone through a few changes and now Chef DJ Tangalin has taken over the menu and changed the name as well as given the restaurant a little bit of an upgrade.
There are a few booths inside Gaya Gaya and the space’s flow seem to make a bit more sense. The floors were weirdly sticky though? But maybe there was just a spill on the floor near our table… hmmmm.
The first thing we decided to get at Gaya Gaya was the Empanada [$9]. The menu describes it as mushroom adobo duxelle with caramelized onion and a confit garlic aioli. You get three to an order.
We cut them open and had a bite. The mushrooms are large chunks inside a very thick crust. They definitely have a distinct adobo-vinegar flavor to them. The crust is a bit too thick and CC noticed that the empanada was a bit raw on the inside. If you look closely at the photo, you can see that the dough isn’t cooked all the way and is dripping a little bit. It gave it a floury taste. They remade this dish for us after CC pointed out the raw dough. I had a bit of the newer empanada but still didn’t care for the flavor and the extra thick wrapper. This was the only “miss” of our meal though!
We got a large side of Garlic Rice [$6] to go with our meal. The garlic rice was quite flavorful and you could see lots of bits of fried garlic in the mix. I loved the addition of green onions as well. Yessssss to the extra garlic!
We ordered two entrees to share and they were both huge! The first entree from Gaya Gaya was the Adobo Fried Chicken [$21] which comes with Ube waffles.
We learned from the chef himself about the adobo fried chicken. They made regular adobo chicken and then use the adobo sauce to create a batter to dredge the chicken in.
This is a VERY generous portion with multiple pieces of drumsticks and thighs. The batter is quite light on the chicken and makes a crunchy outer skin. The chicken meat on the inside is really moist and tasty.
The chicken is paired with the lovely purple hued Ube waffles along with a scoop of purple ube butter. The waffle mosts just tastes like a waffle, the ube flavor isn’t too strong, but the color of it and the butter sure are pretty!
The second dish we tried at Gaya Gaya was the Crispy Pata [$19]. Crispy pata is a pork leg that involves boiling and then deep frying the pork. It creates this crazy crispy skin on the outside. CC and I weren’t totally sure of the greens on top but we think it was maybe some parsley on top.
The skin on the crispy pata was SOOOOOO GOOOOOOOD. It reminded me a bit of lechon but not quite as thick skinned. It’s almost like a cross between a really crispy chicken skin – but pork flavored! The meat was tender and flavorful and I really loved this dish. I haven’t had a lot of experience with crispy pata but I sure dug this dish a lot!
We had plenty of leftovers after our meal and I was able to make a really delicious fried rice using the leftover rice, chicken, and pork (along with some brown rice, egg, light soy sauce and a little sesame oil).
The chef also told us they were changing the menu that evening so I’ll have to revisit to see what’s new!
Gaya Gaya Bar & Kitchen (Yelp)
7580 Miramar Rd.
San Diego, CA 92126
CC just got back from a trip to Maui and she was nice enough to gift me a few items! One of the items were these yummy Macadamia Nut Shortbread Cookies.
They have a nice flavor and a nice crumble as you eat them. Heck yeah! I’m so grateful for my food blogger friends!