Indeed a very satisfying meal.
A friend recommended this place the other day when I was looking for a chill and casual western restaurant around Orange County. Nothing fancy like Morton's or 21 Oceanfront around the area, but something close to Memphis or The Playground - if you know what I'm talking about.
There was a misunderstanding of reservation hours. As a result, the initial visit for me and my boyfriend got cancelled. The restaurant made an effort to invite us plus two additional guests back and everything will be on the house. Of course we didn't take such an advantage of bringing more people, which might further enhance the stereotype of cheap Asians in this case. On the side note, we left a good amount of tip as a token of our gratuity.
I have to say that everything I tried at Eva's was all so delicious and packed with flavors, flavors not so familiar with but in a good way. What's even more impressive? Eva's truly cares about their customers and I'm already converted to be one of their regulars from now on. In fact, I came back again with group of friends just over the weekend. The pictures throughout the post will be the munching results from these two visits. Just need to clarify here in case you're wondering how in the world I can fit in so much food and drinks in my stomach over a single meal.
Eva's is a cute petite restaurant located on Pacific Coast Highway. It might be hard to find for first visitors. However, just make sure to keep an eye on a palm tree with pink lights.
The restaurant arranged a spot for us next to the windows during first visit -
Media coverage hanging on the wall -
Other wall decor -
This place is pretty chill during weekdays.
However, Eva's might turn into a loud and party-like place on Fridays and Saturdays. Partly due to the beach crowd, but most likely it's because of Eva's wide collection of alcoholic beverages, particularly rums.
Notice that there are still many more pages for the alcoholic beverages menu?
Of course other "less aggressive" beverages are available too -
Something small to start with -
Our wonderful waitress Melanie brought us some drinks before we even get a chance to take a look at the menu. The one below is Eva's famous tropical rum punch -
"Made with mango, guava, passion fruit juices with rum."
I'm never a big fan of rum but this punch is totally doable for me. The amount of rum used is just enough to carry the oaky aroma without adding too much bitterness taste in the drink. High recommended for ladies!
Eva's also has other specialty drinks which I managed to try some more during second visit. First is the guava mimosa on the bottom -
My friends' drinks:
Left - Pomegranate martin (martini)
Up - Dark & stormy (Bermuda Gosling's dark rum and Jamaican ginger beer)
Right - Tropical rum punch
Key lime pie martini -
It was soooo good. It tastes exactly like a key lime pie but in a foamy liquid form. I can almost skip dessert and just have this drink instead of the real thing!
Brown suga -
This one was really good too. Made with 12 year old rum, sweet & sour, and a squeeze of lime. The rim has a thin coat of cinnamon sugar that adds a touch of spiciness and warmth to the drink.
Jamaican beer Red Stripe -
Bread basket -
The bread always comes hot. Not warm, but hot! The room temperature butter served on the side just melts on the bread right away. Of course you can also dip it with the extremely hot sauce from the Cajun prawns -
"Black tiger shrimp marinated in lime, garlic, and chili, then dredged in Cajun spices and seared in a black skillet. Served with a grilled pineapple, roasted pepper, and passion fruit relish."
It's not the Chinese oily kind of spiciness. You probably won't feel the heat right away. However, do be aware that the burn might slowly creeping up to your throat and linger through the next 10 minutes. Highly recommended if you can take the heat!
*Insider tip: Eva let the spicy sauce marinate for 3 weeks to intensify the aroma and "impacts!"
On the top is the only soup dish available at Eva's. It's called callaloo soup, which comes either in a cup of a bowl. Ingredients consist of spinach, okra, and coconut milk from Trinidad. Made with clam and lobster base, thyme, garlic, and shallots. Perhaps the best western style soup I've ever had. Highly recommended too!
We also ordered the St. Martin salad during my second visit. The pineapple on the salad surely helped in relieving the burn from the Cajun prawns -
"Mixed baby greens, red onions, pineapple, tomatoes, and tossed with passion fruit/raspberry vinaigrette."
Time for entrees. Let me start with what we had from the first visit, jerk pork loin -
The pork loin was cooked to perfection, just a slightly pink in the center -
It was juicy and packed with flavors as well. Eva makes all the sauces and seasonings all by herself, and for sure you do get authentic tastes from her awesome skills in the kitchen. There were allspice, brown sugar, garlic, cumin, and other "secret" ingredients used for the jerk sauce. You can also sense a slight minty taste from the cinnamon. This is the first time in my life that I like cinnamon so much in my food. Another high recommended dish.
Blackened salmon -
Slightly spicy but I can't really feel the heat anymore from the salmon after tasting the Cajun prawns. The spiciness level of the salmon and the prawns are like comparing water to coffee.
Underneath the blackened seasonings you'll find herb butter, which adds another layer of aroma for the juicy salmon.
The little dark thing on the left is plantains.
During the second visit, we tried some other entrees and below is the jerk steak -
I was so in love with Eva's jerk sauce so I ordered jerk-series again. Still as good as I remembered, but the pork loin was definitely my first choice for jerk dishes.
I also love how much veggies that come with the entree, making me feel like I'm having a well-balanced meal instead of overloading with meat and alcohol.
Jerk chicken -
Organic chicken by the way. This is the only dish that didn't perform too well due to dry texture of meat.
Pan roasted Chilean sea bass -
Seasoned and breaded with Japanese panko, seared in a black skillet and roasted in oven.
Curry snapper -
If you're a seafood person, Eva's really know how to prepare and cook a fish. All fish entrees were succulent and again, packed with flavors. I probably use this phrase way too much but this is truly how I feel about Eva's.
Crème brûlée with a slight touch of coconut and lots of vanilla beans -
Forgive me for not remembering the name of that creamy drink on the top right corner. Both visits my mind and body were already filled with food. As a result, towards the end of the night, the name of the drink can never find an empty spot to stick with me.
Goodie bag -
Carrot cake! -
The walnuts were a plus for this moist cake.
Towards the end of the night (on a quiet Thursday) -
There's not really a set time for closing hours, mostly depends on customer flows. Usually it closes around 10 p.m. during weekdays and the nights can last pretty long on weekends.
I rarely give out such high rating for a restaurant, not mentioning I was actually upset about the whole reservation mixed up incident in the beginning. If you ever decide to come and give it a try, tell them the Asian couple Cindy and Kenneth recommended this place. It's that good that I'm afraid to put our names on the table!
Cindy's rating: 9
Eva's - A Caribbean Kitchen
31732 Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
*Opens Monday - Sunday at 5 p.m.
*Parking spots can be easily found on the street
*Google gives the wrong direction, DO NOT USE Google Map
*Easiest way to get to there is to stay on PCH, Eva's is in between 3rd and 4th street
*Ladies, I didn't get any food smell on my hair nor clothes during both visits, if this matters to you