Kona Kai – VESSEL Restaurant, San Diego

Fotor010200296Darren and I recently joined a San Diego Media dinner hosted by the Kona Kai Resort on Shelter Island.  The Kona Kai recently completed a $22 million overhaul of the resort and revamped their flagship restaurant, Vessel.  Vessel includes a 360-degree bar with sweeping views of San Diego’s beautiful bay front.  The interior has been brushed with a vibrant sea foam green against distressed wood throughout.  I found the overall ambiance to be upscale, relaxing, and inviting.  Vessel is now headed by Executive Chef Roy Hendrickson.  As a native Southern Californian who has traveled and lived abroad in Europe, Chef Roy brings years of diverse experience and inspiration to his food and does his best to share that gift with this patrons.


The amuse bouche for the evening was a subtle beef carpaccio lightly dressed with olive oil, popcorn shoots, lemon, and crispy capers.  It was a delicate and great way to activate our palates.


Course One was a Heimloom Apple Salad – butter lettuce, apple (4 different types), humboldt fog, homemade granola, lemon olive oil, and petite celery.  I was a huge fan of this salad.  It had the perfect amount of sweetness and acidity from the apples.  The contrasting textures from the granola and cheese worked perfectly as well and made this salad a delight a eat.  I’d certainly order it again.


The Main Course was a Porcini Dusted Sea Bass with wild mushrooms, peruvian potatoes, smoke dijon emulsion, avocado mousse, and pistachio.  You can’t really tell from the picture, but the portion size was quite large (in a good way)!  I did hear from some other people around me that the fish was under-cooked, but for me, my piece was prepared to perfection.  The meat was very moist and favored well from the porcini and accompaniments.  I loved the avocado mousse!


Last, but certainly not least, was a playful dessert that was inspired by Chef’s travels to Europe and him reminiscing on the simple pleasure of spreading Nuetella over some toast.  This chocolate ganache in this dessert was served with grilled sourdough, olive oil, and a touch of fleur de sal.  It did not disappoint!   Made with Belgium Callebaut 70-30 dark cholocate, this ganache was super rich and creamy.  I pretty much spread every last bit from my plate and left with a childish grin when I was done.

Overall, I left feeling quite satisfied with what Chef Roy offered this evening.  His seemingly simple cuisine was anything but that.  His choice ingredients, attention to detail, and balance really took me on a journey of appreciation.  If this tasting is any indication of the remainder of the menu, San Diego is in for a real treat.  Vessel was really a wonderful venue as well.  The private room we were in would be perfect for parties, or corporate events.  I’m definitely looking forward to coming back.


Kona Kai Resort – Vessel Restaurant
1551 Shelter Island Drive
San Diego, CA 92106
(619) 221-8000

Vessel Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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About Michael

I couldn't be luckier to call San Diego my home the past couple decades. America's "Finest City" is bursting with delicious eats in nearly every corner. Whether you want savory or sweet, fancy or rustic, you can have it all! I have the awesome job of uncovering some of these gems, and sharing them with you. When I'm not chowing down, I also write about $$$ at www.financiallyalert.com. Thanks for stopping by!

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