Find rainy day comfort in satisfying breakfast sandwiches from new downtown egg-themed spot Mad Yolks, shumai bento boxes from pop-up Yakitori Toriman and truffles at Mentone.
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Well, 2023 certainly started off with a bang. I hope everyone was able to stay dry and safe during this week’s storm. There’s more weather on the way — stay up to date on the latest news and safety alerts at Lookout’s Storm Central.
No surprise, I’m craving warm, comforting foods this week, and last Friday found cozy, satisfying breakfast sandwiches and tropical fruit teas at Mad Yolks, a new egg-themed café in downtown Santa Cruz. On Thursday, my family picked ups shumai bento boxes and tonjiru, a pork soup with miso and vegetables, from Yakitori Toriman. Details below on both.
This weather is a great opportunity to practice your winning clam chowder recipe for the upcoming Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-off. Registration for the amateur and professional contest is now open – more info on that below. And, after reporting the closures of Chill Out Café and Golden City Chinese earlier this week, Holy Smokes Country BBQ announced the Live Oak restaurant will close at the end of this month.
Finally, enjoy mushroom-themed dishes in downtown Santa Cruz all January during Mushroom Month and a special truffle-themed evening at Mentone on Friday. (One advantage of this rain — I can’t wait to go foraging once it’s all over!)
Calling all chowder heads! Registration is now open for the amateur and professional divisions at the 42nd annual Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off. This festive, tasty event takes place on Saturday, Feb. 25, and Sunday, Feb. 26, at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Whether your specialty is creamy Boston or tomato-infused Manhattan, sign up to compete if you think you have what it takes to bring home the coveted title. Enter online at cityofsantacruz.com.
Sadly, Holy Smokes Country BBQ & Catering Co. announced that the Live Oak restaurant will close at the end of the month, joining two other end-of-year closures, Chill Out Café and Golden City Chinese in Santa Cruz. The last day will be Friday, Jan. 27. The closure is due to difficulties surrounding unstable food prices and supplies, the cost of running a restaurant and a declining customer base, says owner Janis Cota on Facebook. But fans can still enjoy Holy Smokes’ 16-hour beef brisket, tri-tip and roasted garlic mashed potatoes. The owners will continue to operate the 25-year-old catering side of the business, which serves Santa Cruz, Monterey and Marin county areas. Now through the last day of business, join the Holy Smokes team for Last Call, with 10% off menu items and $6 draft beers. More info at holysmokescountrybbqandcatering.com.
Breakfast sandwich-lovers, you have new stomping grounds. Mad Yolks, a sunny, egg-themed café, opened its doors just before the new year with a menu of breakfast sandwiches, egg-topped entrées and refreshing fruit-infused iced matcha and green teas. On a recent dreary day, I found my b.a.e sandwich ($12.50) with bacon, avocado and soft-cooked scrambled eggs on a fluffy house-made brioche bun warm and satisfying. There are plenty others to choose from, including one with fried chicken and another with pan-seared Spam.
My husband, Mike, devoured his curry moco ($12.50), a riff on a loco moco with sweet Japanese curry instead of the traditional gravy over rice, hamburger patties and a perfectly over-easy egg, sprinkled with furikake. The mad yolk ($10.50), a little coddled egg nestled in a jar filled with soft potatoes, chives and bits of bacon, was unusual and comforting to eat smeared on crostini.
Don’t miss the fruit-infused teas. Both the matcha sunrise ($6.50) with fresh orange juice and the lilikoi green tea ($5.25) with jasmine tea and passion fruit juice tasted like sunshine in a cup. At the end of the meal, I felt like I was finally getting my day started off on the right foot — even if I technically went there for lunch. Mad Yolks is open every day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1411 Pacific Ave. in Santa Cruz. More info at madyolks.com.
It’s pretty difficult to grill yakitori when it’s raining. Instead, Yakitori Toriman owners Kaito Akimoto and Yuko Asaoka are offering shumai bento boxes and tonjiru, a Japanese pork and miso soup, for pick up at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing instead of their usual pop-ups.
My family picked up two orders of each on Thursday, and there’s another opportunity to pre-order for Saturday, Jan. 7. Don’t miss out — the bento box ($20.23) is stuffed with four plump pork shumai dumplings; takikomi gohan, or steamed rice with mushrooms; and tasty accompaniments like plump shitake simmered in broth, chewy kamaboko and namasu, a pickled slaw of daikon and carrots. The tonjiru ($6) is a cure for rainy days. Bits of pork, thick slices of Japanese sweet potato, burdock and bouncy konnyaku swim in a rich miso broth. Absolutely delicious and unlike any other meal I’ve had in Santa Cruz. Kaito and Yuko — I love your yakitori, but can you please do more takeout, too? Message Yakitori Toriman on Instagram at @yakitori_toriman to preorder.
Love truffles? Get down to Mentone in Aptos on Friday, Jan. 6 for Truffle Mania. Top capollini, risotto, pizza funghi or pizza fromage with black perigord truffles or white alba truffles for $3 and $7 a gram, respectively. Make reservations at mentonerestaurant.com.
January is Mushroom Month in downtown Santa Cruz, and 14 downtown businesses will celebrate the wonderful world of fungus throughout the month. In addition to mushroom-themed art, displays and products at businesses like Go Ask Alice, Artisans Gallery and Yoso Wellness, find special edible treats (no, not that kind) at Barceloneta, Mission Hill Coffee & Creamery, the Penny Ice Creamery and, of course, your year-round mushroom supplier Far West Fungi. See the full list of participating businesses at downtownsantacruz.com.