Revisiting a Review: What Happened to True Food Kitchen's Chicken?

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Edwin Goei
Before I ate there, you would've found me in the camp of skeptics on True Food Kitchen. Like I mentioned in the review I wrote, it was that presumptuous name and the tie-in with, of all people, a physician. But the food turned out to transcend the New Age "phytonutrient" jargon and health-food talk, particularly the chicken chopped salad--something I went on to recall as one of the Top Five memorable discoveries of last year.

Recently, I went back to retaste the dish, but I was saddened to find it wasn't as good as the one I raved about. First, the marcona almonds that memorably broke into shards were no-shows, but worst of all was the chicken. What I described in that earlier review as tasting "like chicken should taste--perfectly poached, devoid of fiber and moist on a molecular level"--was now overcooked to chewy, some parts sinewy, and all of it dry.

I'll attribute it to an off-night, a different chef, faulty equipment, anything to explain its lackluster execution on this visit. I say this because I hope someone over there is reading. The dish deserves to be better.  It was great once, and it can be great again.

Others I revisted fared better than the chicken chopped salad. The onion-and-fig tart I enjoyed previously came out tamer than I remembered, without the almost-raw slices of garlic that made the last one dangerously exciting to bite.

The crudo--razor-thin slices of raw fish showered with raw vegetables colorful and crisp--was still bright and refreshing, an affirmation that not everything was lost. In fact, a dessert I neglected to try the first time around became the balm that soothed my disappointment with that salad. The banana chocolate tart, I'm convinced, has to be to the best use of banana and chocolate outside of banana and Nutella crepes. Okay, probably even better than that. The overlapping slices of the fruit on a disk of chocolate-rimmed crust was also brûlèed to form a thin sheet of crunchy, caramelized sugar. I hope this one stays the course--and that the chicken chopped salad follows.

Location Info

True Food Kitchen

451 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, CA

Category: Restaurant

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Their banana chocolate tart is downright amazing. Too bad about the salad! I hope to return here soon myself and hope the rest of what I had is still just as good.

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