Dija Mara Brings a Top Chef and Taste of Balinese Food to Oceanside

The Indonesian food hole in San Diego has been filled

Clockwise from tip left: 24-hour pig belly, charred eggplant, limp ceviche, and nasi goreng

Dija Mara

232 South Coast Highway, Oceanside



Nasi Goreng
Grilled Octopus
24-Hour Pork Belly

Smells like Fruity Pebbles in here. I’m certain there’s a some-more worldly culinary description. But for those of us who grew adult in a boxed sugar-food enlightenment of a ’70s, zero describes a juicy aroma of makrut orange base utterly like a Flintstones cereal. we fell in adore with a base by Thai food. It, along with lemongrass, lends curries like panang a bright, floral citrus note. Among a low chili lava and pleasant fat of coconut milk, a makrut base floats by any punch like a honeyed wind. For years we knew it as “kaffir,” though given that word is also a nasty abuse in several tools of a world, now we call it “makrut.” Whenever we emporium during Asian food stores, we buy 6 or 7 packets of makrut and store them in my freezer so that I’m never though it. It’s my favorite season in a world, and it’s a star of Oceanside’s Balinese restaurant, Dija Mara.

Much as a small, civic grill seems combined for me, husband-and-wife twin Rob Jones and Simran Soin built it as a adore minute to their favorite place on a planet. Soin is from Singapore; Jones is a grill lifer. They transplanted to San Diego final year and didn’t take shortcuts in a kitchen when they hired cook Ryan Costanza. His resume screams; he’s worked with two-star Michelin cook Daniel Patterson (Coi in San Francisco) and spent a final year as a executive of operations for Dominique Crenn (also a two-star Michelin chef).

From a roll-up garage doors out front, congregation dressed in their best roller grave clothes (anything with a collar, really) line adult and gawk over South Coast Highway. The place is small, moodily lit. Concrete arches built into a wall support Indonesian graffiti art and silhouetted island women. One wall is embellished white section with a hulk picture riff on a famed March of Progress expansion drawing. The halfway-evolved figure is celebration a Bintang Indonesian beer, and a complicated tellurian is wearing a coolie shawl and smoking what appears to be a brawny spliff. The soundtrack is hip-hop, that breathes a good kick and civic feel to a reclaimed timber and petrify room. Dimly illuminated during night, Dija Mara has a feel of a hip shade world.

A large, block bar centers a room, where locals hack adult for qualification beers, ciders, wine, and wine-based cocktails like a glorious Paloma #232, a brew of grapefruit-infused agave wine, passionfruit syrup, and uninformed lemon extract with a salt edge and a cut of candied Ruby Red grapefruit for garnish.

Makrut and lemongrass are all over a menu, whose dishes are Californicated versions of Balinese staples, all labelled greatly sincerely deliberation a mostly local, organic mixture and a cost of Costanza’s pedigree. Three elements that browbeat a island cuisine are coconut milk, plenty spices—shallots, garlic, turmeric, ginger, cumin, coriander, clove, tamarind, etc.—and sambal, an Indonesian prohibited salsa customarily done with red chilis, ginger, lemongrass, vinegar, sugar, salt, and orange zest. Pork and steep are both rite dishes, and beef is mostly abandoned due to a motherland’s vast Hindu population. Each image during Dija Mara starts with their nominal shrimp chips and housemade sweet-hot sambal.

Grilled octopus in lamb jus curry with sambal powder

Makrut creates a initial coming in a ceviche, that consists of an alien-green makrut oil underneath a little pile of red limp cooking in coconut divert and makrut orange juice, surfaced with fermented daikon and thinly sliced cucumber. It’s really good, this Fruity Pebble coconut-lime ceviche, and would be good if not for a somewhat sour aftertaste, that creates me consider makrut heart incidentally got into a dish. (The heart is impossibly sour and contingency be avoided). Their aristocrat salmon crudo looks like a so-so poke bowl, though a carol of flavors—lemongrass, blood orange, papaya, fish sauce, candlenut, and crispy coconut rice—is excellent. Fish salsa is another tack of Asian cuisine. Don’t let it shock you; anchovies are what make a western Worcestershire so delicious, after all. It takes a seasoned cook to use a manly elixir with restraint, and Costanza does. The Kobe beef tartare is usually about perfect, with black garlic, curry aioli, lemongrass, lime, and peanuts over toast. The crab and corn fritters arrive looking overcooked, though one punch proves otherwise—great seafood season with hearts of palm, lemon cream, immature chili jam, radish salad, and lardo (delicious aged pig fat).

For a little bistro, a use any night is excellent. Everyone does any job, though good so, and they’re good capable on a nuances of any dish—which is impressive, given a normal one has about 4,000 ingredients. The classical Balinese image gado gado, for example, has internal carrots and haricot verts, a hard-boiled egg, tofu, sunflower seeds, and prawn crackers, all tossed in a peanut salsa that has scarcely a abyss and season of a glitter or stock.

If there’s a slight censure to be found with Costanza’s creations, it’s that he can’t stop creating. With so many flavors on a plate, some get mislaid in a parade. But there’s some genuine large stars, like a nasi goreng, a play of boiled rice with brook shrimp, pig belly, confit chicken, and fermented prohibited sauce, all underneath a poetic tarp of a sunny-side egg. Or that Spanish octopus, tenderized and afterwards grilled and laid in a shoal pool of lamb jus for a surf-and-turf effect, seasoned with sambal powder and given service by cucumber and potato rendang. And a 24-hour pig belly, that doesn’t demeanour like much, though is done greatly juicy with tamarind caramel glitter and an eight-hour roasted pineapple. (Yes, even pineapple is given a full third of a day to turn a ultimate self.) The laksa is like an Indonesian ramen, a heaping play with prawns, chicken, honeyed Chinese sausage and thick egg noodles in a curry broth. Costanza’s steep leg—the simplest image on a menu and a classical that in Bali is mostly indifferent for rite dinners—is text confit, seasoned with calamansi and galangal (a mandarin-orange-kumquat hybrid and a base identical to ginger, respectively).

Beets by Bali done with beetroot-infused solitaire and uninformed lemon and black pepper

Costanza’s kitchen-sink proceed to cooking mostly works. The usually image that crumbles underneath a weight of a mixture is a makrut orange panna cotta, as it’s lonesome with screw hunger ice cream (excellent), swarthy cookie crumble, and a coulis of roasted blueberries. It’s simply too much, generally for a image like panna cotta whose interest is in a hardness and simplicity. Nothing wrong with a Strawberry and Coconut number, though: a ginger cake with coconut dulce de leche, glassy strawberries, churned coconut cream, and coconut meringue dusted with what appears to be droughty strawberries.

Strawberry and Coconut dessert with ginger cake, coconut dulce de leche, glassy strawberries, and coconut meringue

Dija Mara is ambitious. Everything is a riot. Nothing is understated, save for a mood lighting. So many flavors. The dishes are like that Coachella rope that brings 17 members onstage. There’s a tambourine, a cowbell, a glockenspiel, a palm clapper and a whistler. It’s sparkling and showcases one tip cook talent and a neighborliness of a owners, who reason justice behind a bar and revisit with a guests. There was an Indonesian food hole in San Diego, and it’s been awesomely filled.

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