The Village House Kalina (La Mesa)
Anh and I went to visit one of the only Russian/Ukranian places we’ve been to in San Diego. The other that has similar food (to us at least) is Pomegranate. The decor inside is very interesting and there’s a ton of little random nick nacks scattered throughout. It does sort of feel like a village house even though I by no means am the authority on Kalina village houses. If anything the different furniture and tables make you feel homey and welcome.
With so many different items on the menu we couldn’t pronounce we asked our waitress and this is what we got!
It may sound like this is our first time here but we had been before and we always get the Ukranian borscht. Neither Anh or I are fans of beets but for whatever reason they know how to stew them and make them taste good. On a whim we got it our first time and it makes it into our bellies every time we visit. Something of this color would probably get Blade very excited but to us humans, it isn’t the most appetizing looking. But fear not, there are recognizable chunks of beef underneath and the first bite will send you to beet heaven. The cream on top also adds a nice touch and mixed in with the herby goodness makes it even better.
You can get rice or pasta with main entrees so we got one of each. The rice itself is actually sweet and if you aren’t one to mix sweet and savory then I suggest getting the pasta. I enjoy eating the rice on its own since it is so sweet and seems to overpower whatever I’m eating with it. The pasta is just plain old pasta, unseasoned, which is perfectly fine because the entrees are all very bold and strong on their own.
With the rice we ordered the zharkoe which is a beef stew with onions, carrots, and prunes. This too was a little sweet, but not over the top. The meat was tender and paired with the pasta tasted good. The little sweetness for me is enough for my internal meter to get out of whack. If that sweetness was replaced with a little bit of salt and spice I’d be set.
The second entree we ordered was the chakhokbili which had chicken, tomatoes, onions, basil, mint, and a ton of other herbs. Super aromatic! Wow. There’s nothing better than fresh herbs and spices complimenting a dish. The use of all of these herbs for me was borderline offensive. It’s like they wanted to slap me in the face with them and really show you they know how to infuse those herbs into the chicken…a little too well. Was it a little much? Maybe. But the chicken fell right off the bone and perhaps my palette is not trained to appreciate such a powerful combination of herbs busting its way into my mouth. Even though the chicken may not have been my favorite, it’s always an experience going here and there are plenty of other items to choose from that I’m sure any food person would appreciate.
The Village House Kalina
8302 Parkway Dr.
La Mesa, CA 91942