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The Gossiping Gourmet: Zimzala a joy in any language

October 02, 2013|By Terry Markowitz
  • The smoked duck flatbread is made with mascarpone, toasted macadamia nuts, scallions and orange teriyaki served at Zimzala on the top floor of the Shorebreak Hotel in Huntington Beach.
The smoked duck flatbread is made with mascarpone, toasted… (KEVIN CHANG, HB…)

I first visited Zimzala three years ago when it was opening and executive chef Jenny Cox was refining the California/Mediterranean menu for this new restaurant on the top floor of the Shorebreak Hotel in Huntington Beach.

I had a delicious meal and gave it a glowing review. I was looking forward to seeing how things were going now in the hands of chef Roy Hendrickson, and was delighted to find that the food was still excellent.

"Zimzala," in surf lingo, means a free-spirited person who finds peace with sand between his toes. The attractive room has large, colored photographs of surfers and locals on the walls. The space has a casual feeling. There's a comfortable lounge area next to the bar, three dining areas and tables on an outdoor patio that has an ocean view.

The menu offers a number of options depending on your appetite. You can get small bites, greens, flatbreads, between the bread, large bites and desserts.

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We began with the Zimzala platter, giving us four different samples of the small bites. The hummus was really good, one of the best we've had. It had spicy undertones, a creamy texture and hints of garlic and was topped with crunchy roasted chickpeas.

The triangles of pita that had been lightly toasted were also especially good. We enjoyed the salad of marinated mozzarella and heirloom cherry tomatoes: red, green and yellow. The cheese was still a bit cold when it arrived, but it soon warmed and softened, and we could soak it up with the juices and the mildly spicy marinade.

Two grain salads, faro and couscous, were less interesting. The faro was just bland. It didn't seem to have any dressing at all, and only cubed carrots, onion and red pepper added a bit of flavor. The couscous was better after we added a dash of salt. It had grape halves that added sweetness and was infused with a light lemony flavor.

From the flatbread menu, we chose the one with duck breast, creamy mascarpone, thin slices of forelle pear, slivers of green onion and a gastrique of orange-teriyaki drizzled all over. It was sensational. The duck breast was thin slices of salty duck prosciutto that married perfectly with the sweet pears and melted mascarpone. We also liked the flatbread crust, which was crisp and flavorful.

Moving into the large bites, we were intrigued by the description of the accompanying ingredients with the cider-brined pork chop: a mélange of Nueske bacon, mustard-parsley spaetzle, caramelized onion and a sour cherry pork sauce.

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