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Two San Diego chefs are rockin’ the San Diego food scene by throwing out the culinary rulebook and rewriting the menu.
In a city with a culinary scene known for its daring and unique cross-border flavors, Animae takes the spirit of San Diego’s creative, collaborative culinary culture to the next level.
A Pan-Asian-inspired restaurant, Animae features an east-meets-west, anything goes, breaking all the rules menu created by celebrity restaurateur and former Top Chef finalist, Brian Malarkey, along with his executive chef Tara Monsod. But these two kitchen rebels aren’t just throwing out the rule book, they’re writing their own.
Inspired by their own unique culinary backgrounds, love of wild experimentation, Asian flavors and San Diego’s abundance of local ingredients, Animae is a true original – merging Italian culinary training, with traditional Asian ingredients and locally-sourced seafood to create something entirely new… like their broth-less ramen noodles, or their escargot butter dumplings with wagyu beef and lemon. Yum!
San Diego’s easy-going year-round climate, its location along the Pacific Coast, the abundance of rich, agricultural farms and energetic spirit, draws chefs from all over, and Brian and Tara acknowledge that it’s a great place for experimentation and invention.
“There are so many great farms,” chef Brian says, before also listing off the great fishermen at San Diego’s docks and fish markets, the great beaches he visits with his family during his off time, and all the great food and fun to be had in the city.
And Brian’s eager to reciprocate all of those fun feelings in his bold, fresh cooking, because San Diego’s creative and accepting atmosphere makes it “open to trying new things.” And its eagerness to embrace new ideas, experiences, and opportunities, makes San Diego the perfect place for Animae.
But the city itself is also an inspiration to the chefs. When asked what part of San Diego inspires their cooking the most, chef Brian neatly twirled a spatula and said with a boyish smile, “the WHOLE city inspires my cooking!”
And the interior of their restaurant is just as unique as the menu. It’s chic-luxury with a sense of humor and a fun, yet upscale vibe – because San Diego never takes itself too seriously. Imagine green velvet furnishings, ornate chandeliers, gold columns, and oversized cushioned booths as plump as bao buns sprinkled with hip, playful touches like Japanese toys behind the hostess counter and a massive fifteen-foot painting of a giant robot floating in a koi pond above the bar.
At first glance, it appears to be a mismatch. But in true San Diego fashion, it’s a melting pot of good things, coming together to create something new and exciting, proving that it isn’t a mismatch, it’s a mashup.
Animae is a place where different thoughts, energies, and perspectives come together to create an original. It’s reflective of the spirit of San Diego and serves as a reminder that fresh thinking (or cooking) doesn’t come in a vacuum, but through inspiration and collaboration.
From the fresh seafood coming off the San Diego docks, to the organic farms in the area, Animae brings in all the rich resources the city has to offer to craft its amazing menu. And you can sample it all, from corn scallion karaage, broth-less ramen noodles, wagyu porterhouse cuts cooked in miso butter, escargot butter dumplings, and kare kare short ribs with bagoong peanut oil, all prepared on a custom charcoal flame oven that delivers a one-of-a-kind taste in a one-of-a-kind city.
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