UPDATE: ALCHEMY IS CLOSED!! THE RESTAURANT THAT IS GOING TO TAKE ITS PLACE IS RUMORED TO BE 100% VEGAN!
SOUTH PARK. “Explore South Park” is on my list. No joke, it is on a written list, hanging in my kitchen, with relatively fine penmanship. So where to start in South Park? Alchemy. Without a doubt, Alchemy.
I am so hooked on this place that I have gone twice in the past couple weeks. Most recently, my friend flew to San Diego, demanded to celebrate my recent engagement, and we ended up at Alchemy. Did my friend announce to the server the reason for our celebration? Yes, she did. Did Alchemy provide the three of us with complimentary glasses of champagne? Yes, indeed. It was a generous beginning to a stellar meal.
We began with Thai Corn Fritters, served with sweet chili sauce and micro cilantro. Each fritter has a crispy – but not overly oily – exterior that houses an inventive mix of corn, chick pea flour, soy sauce, and green curry. Is fried food still healthy when it’s vegan? Probably not. But it’s delicious.
What’s that, you are craving more delicious fried food? No problem. Order the Quinoa Hush Puppies with curry ketchup. Again, we have a perfect crisp outer layer with an unexpected array of spices and flavor on the inside. And dunking a puppy in the curry ketchup is mandatory.
Next up was the tomato and lentil soup. This bisque was the table favorite. It is also an example of why Alchemy is so exciting. The menu is dynamic, because the owners and kitchen staff are constantly working to perfect the dishes. For example, when we had the soup, it was vegan, a bisque born of coconut milk. But Alchemy continues to experiment with the tomato and lentil soup, and as of today, the soup has shifted to a milk base. Vegans, however, do not despair. No menu item is etched in stone, so don’t be surprised if you see a vegan version return to the menu. And if it does return, order it. My only regret is that I did not take a drum of it home to freeze, hoard, and enjoy.
My favorite entrée at Alchemy is called Bi Bim Bap, a classic Korean rice bowl that is served with braised daikon radish, carrots, king trumpet mushrooms, marinated tofu, house kimchi, and a chili paste. (NOTE: I “veganize” this dish by asking to leave off the sunny side egg.) There is a lot going on in this bowl, but Alchemy again shows great attention to detail in the quality of each component ingredient. The mushrooms are soft and sweet, the tofu is firm, and the daikon and kimchi bring the harmony of sweet and sour. Fresh carrots add crunch to the bowl, and the rice provides a sturdy foundation to support and absorb the many flavors. You control the level of spice by adding as little or as much of the chili paste as desired.
Other menu items that are vegan or can easily be made vegan are the:
- Roasted Beets (without goat cheese)
- Trio of Spreads and Flatbread Crackers (currently, 2 of the spreads are vegan).
- Mixed Grain Salad (without feta)
- Alchemy Signature Salad
- Arugula Salad (without goat cheese)
- French fries
VEGAN NIGHT! Finally, Alchemy also offers a three-course, vegan dinner for $25 on the last Wednesday of every month. This will certainly be a future blog post! If you would like more information on the vegan dinner click on:
Inside the restaurant, soft lighting illuminates beautiful wood furniture, and the silver tree rising from the middle of the dining room floor provides a remarkable centerpiece. Art work adds to the eclectic atmosphere.
1503 30th St
San Diego, CA 92102