Manolin

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TMA'ed while listening to Candyman by Zedd ft. Aloe Blacc

Temi: Manolin has been on our list for a while. It was rated in the top 10 restaurants in America in 2015 by Bon Appetit.

Mari: We are always keen to try out top rated, unfamiliar restaurants so we ventured out to Fremont on a rainy ( no surprise there ) Friday night.

Temi: First, they don't take reservations, and since they are pretty popular we had an hour wait when we got there at 8 pm. An hour wait? That's okay, I've waited longer for Din Tai Fung

Mari: That was definitely not okay for me. I was on the verge of getting hangry and tried to convince Temi of going somewhere else. She reminded me of the time we decided to go to La Isla instead of Delancey and it shut me right up. At least, they made up for it with a bonfire patio as a waiting area.

Temi: We sat outside sipping on some drinks. Specifically water because we are hardcore like that. We also ordered some plantain chips to tide us over and keep Mari from going crazy.

Mari: Crazy?! Please, you know you were feeling those hunger pains too. The plantain chips were clutch, though. Just what I needed in that moment. A liberal squeeze of lime and a few chips later I was feeling like myself again.

Temi: After about an hour, our table was ready.  I don't know what got into me, but I was feeling adventurous with myself so I decided to order their white anchovy dish. Lord take the wheel and help me make better menu decisions. That dish was salty! Extra salty. It felt like I went deep ocean diving and was just using my mouth to catch anchovies.

Mari: LOL! Apparently the anchovies were brined in sea salt. Who knows why anyone would think it’s a good idea to brine anchovies. It came with an avocado, coconut mousse and beets, but nothing could mask the salt. To be fair, it grew on me, then it un-grew on me just as rapidly. The waiter did offer to switch it out for us, I don't know why we didn't comply. Instead,  we cleaned the plate. So maybe subconsciously we loved it? Who knows.

Temi: Moving on from the anchovy debacle, we got the rockfish ceviche. That was good, familiar and tarty. There was a very strong presence of lime.

Mari: Temi looked like she was taking a tequila shot after every bite. The struggle was real. I usually like tartness, but not so much this time because the saltiness from the anchovies was still lingering like a bad aftertaste in my mouth. Despite that, I think the rockfish was my favorite. The fish was so fresh it cleansed my palate with each bite. The avocado and sweet potatoes coupled with the jalapeños and chili sauce made the dish sweet and spicy. 

Temi: We also ordered their Kale salad and smoked salmon dishes. The Kale salad was a nice change from the strong flavored dishes prior. It tasted well balanced with just a hint of zest. I must admit though, by the time the salad came, my palate was mentally defeated and my stomach was still tasting those anchovies. 

Mari: I'm not on that kale kick like others, but if I had to eat kale I'd eat it with the garlic aoli dressing they used. The salmon was the least adventurous dish of the night. The mustard seeds and the sour cream added a unique delicious twist to the otherwise basic smoked salmon dish . Also how does one split a salmon that small with a big serving spoon? In hindsight, one benefit of getting none of the grilled dishes: our food was cold to begin with so we didn’t really have to rush taking pictures.

Temi: I think i need to go back and try everything with an anchovy free palate. I hate to admit it, but that spoiled a lot of the other dishes for me. Next time, i'll keep my adventures towards the end of the meal.

In Summary

We definitely went on a culinary adventure at Manolin. Although their outside patio was cozy, we recommend visiting them right when they open to avoid long waiting times. Our server said the sweet spot is usually between 4pm and 5pm. The food was probably the prettiest small plates we have eaten yet.  Their seafood dishes have strong flavors, for some folks that works, for us it didn't. In hindsight we probably should have gotten at least one grilled dish and not the anchovies.

Ambience: Fresh and casually intimate

Wait time:  An hour to be seated. Once seated, about 10 minutes for food

Food: Seafood with a twist

Would we go back? Mari: Not likely Temi: I may be crazy, but i have to go back sans anchovies

Halal Friendly?  Plenty of options for Seafood lovers

Price: not too cheap, not too bougie, just right

TMA Moment

The post anchovies face.

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