Food Trends: Pick of the Picklings

Pickled dishes take a starring role.
Photograph by Benjamin Epstein

Kai Lounge at Pacific City is a Tokyo-inspired restaurant and late-night destination with a lounge, sushi bar, dining area, and speakeasy from the group behind Shorebird in Newport Beach. Chef Tin Nguyen’s menu features sushi, skewers, and steak—and a colorful House Pickle Plate of rotating seasonal fruits such as pickled peach or green apple alongside beech mushrooms, daikon radish, pearl onions, and shiso leaf. Off-menu and always available: delicious pickled wasabi! The pickle plate also appears among the 18 changing courses at the omakase speakeasy. 21058 PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY, HUNTINGTON BEACH, 657-259-0010

Fermentation Farm has grown to seven nearly contiguous spaces in a strip mall, including three kitchens that offer a panoply of fermented foods and craft kombuchas promoting gut health. Weekend brunch served at its outdoor tables brings the popular Pickled Egg Toast: a pickled egg salad made with banana peppers, tomato, and turmeric. It’s served open-faced on house-fermented sourdough and topped with microgreens. The pickled egg salad is available by the jar in the grab-and-go section—as are pickles, here fermented instead of the usual store-bought brined. 1125 VICTORIA ST.,
COSTA MESA, 949-650-0830

The hyperseasonal omakase repasts at chef Susumu Ii’s Sushi Ii are never the same twice. But an immaculately presented dish featuring elevated pickled items from Japan virtually always serves as a between-course palate cleanser, as memorable as the sushi itself. On it might be burdoch root (yamagobo), koji-pickled daikon (bettarazuke), smoked daikon (iburigakko), and gourd pickled in sake lees (narazuke). The dish cannot be ordered on its own but rather arrives as part of three elaborate experiences ranging from $150 to $275 per person. 100 W. COAST HIGHWAY, NEWPORT BEACH, 949-287-6268

Pickled cucumbers, aka pickles, are a big dill at Pizza 900. You’ll find them on three of the woodfired pies. The Cubano—with pulled pork, pickles, mustard-cream sauce, and house-made mozzarella—tops “Jimmy’s Famous List.” The Cap, perhaps a nod to the pastrami destination The Hat, is a frequent “Jimmy of the Day,” a special featuring pastrami, pickles, and white chive horseradish cheddar. On the secret menu is the bacon cheeseburger pizza, winning fans with meatballs, bacon, pickles, cheddar, lettuce, heirloom cherry tomatoes, onion, and a secret sauce. 23020 LAKE FOREST DRIVE, LAGUNA HILLS, 949-328-9988