Delectable Asian Fusion with a Touch of Nostalgia

October 10, 2022

Animae - Downtown // San Diego, CA, USA

After dining at Animae the first and second time, I was surprised by how often I wanted to return to go back and try something new. I was finding any excuse and any other human being who would accompany me back to continue sampling the Asian-fusion menu that played right into my ethnic roots and flavors I had the privilege of experiencing near my hometown.

Bao Bao

To address the former, my mother is Filipina, which happens to be the ethnicity of the head chef at Animae. A majority of the dishes pay homage to the Filipino flavor profiles that I grew up with in my household and community. For the latter - I grew up on a military base just south of Tokyo, Japan which allowed me to be immersed in the flavors of Japanese cuisine.

Tom Yum Mushrooms with Burrata

This being said, the menu consisted of Filipino inspired dishes such as wagyu lumpia, short rib kare-kare, lechon kawali, pandan malsadas, and an ube cocktail; and Japanese inspired dishes such as tuna crispy rice, tataki and sashimi prepared fish, A5 wagyu, and oolong strawberry swiss roll.

A5 Miyazaki Tenderloin

Although a good amount of the menu items are Filipino and Japanese influenced, the chef also includes a wide array of other Asian inspired dishes that taste amazing. My absolute favorite dish that I get every time I dine in is the caviar shrimp toast. This beauty consists of milk bread toast stuffed with shrimp paste, drizzled with a spicy aioli, topped with caviar, and finished with a sprinkle of nori furikake. This toast is all flavor, all umami, and has every texture that you could ask for in a perfect bite.

Animae Shrimp Toast

Coming in at a close second is the tuna crispy rice, which at first looks plain and unassuming, but once you give it a good mix and get that perfect bite with all of the food elements, it’s magic. I may sound like I’m over exaggerating, but this dish happened to give my sister a “ratatouille” moment, transporting her back to memories of our childhood. That sounds like magic to me!

Animae Crispy Tuna Rice

One thing to pay attention to is that Animae’s menu is seasonal, so don’t expect to find some of the dishes I mentioned when you decide to visit. From what I’ve been able try in the handful of times I’ve been there, these dishes would be on my all-star team menu:

  • Shrimp Caviar Toast
  • Crispy Tuna Rice
  • A5 Miyazaki Tenderloin
  • Tom Yum Mushrooms with Burrata
  • The Last Melon (cocktail)