I’ve stated this fact before, but it’s worth repeating. Any restaurant that has been around, in this case, 30+ years has something special going on. In the case of Ki’s, yes, their spectacular location and ocean views in Cardiff are a bonus, but restaurants do not survive on views alone. Obviously, the food, combined with the proprietor’s hands-on nature and involvement in the community are key elements to longevity in this business. Barry and Lorrain Holcomb have those attributes in abundance, and as a result, Ki’s has endeared itself to the community and is still going strong.
Going way back, Ki's was started as a simple idea in a small converted beauty shop in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. In 1980 Catherine "Ki" Holcomb partnered with her son, Barry, to provide the local community fresh juice and vitamins. Originally it was more of a grocery on Birmingham Street that sold organic fruits, vitamins, health products, and fresh squeezed juice, but Ki added smoothies and soup and sandwiches and it eventually became less of a grocery store and more of a juice bar/sandwich shop. Shortly after, Ki started cooking home style meals prepared in a healthful manner. The meals were a hit and the popularity of Ki's grew steadily.
In 1994, to facilitate ever-growing popularity, Ki's moved from its original location to their current two-story, ocean view home on South Coast Highway 101 where it resides today. From the Coast Highway location, Ki's has expanded by adding wholesale and catering businesses. Ki's salads, dressings, salsas and baked goods have become popular throughout Southern California, and the catering business has provided great food for family, social and business events in the local communities since 1997. They are active in fundraising for local schools and promote local organizations that promote environmental awareness like the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy. They have an ongoing plan that integrates environmentally friendly actions into their day-to-day business. They were one of the first restaurants in the area to use biodegradable brown napkins and there to-go containers and cups can be composted. That’s called walking the talk folks. Many restaurants preach it, but don’t actually implement it. Ki's has been privately owned by the Holcomb family since its inception. Besides continuing to grow the business and foster customer loyalty, the Holcomb family has looked to enrich the community by providing nutritious, great tasting food from an ever expanding menu.
And speaking of the menu, my initial perception of Ki’s back in the day was that it was primarily a vegetarian restaurant. And while that’s true that the menu has always leaned towards the healthy side of things, they do have a full range of meat and fish as well.
One of my favorites at Ki’s has always been the Nicoise salad with Ahi tuna. It’s actually one of my favorite salads period and Ki’s does it right. It consists of baby greens, fingerling potatoes, hardboiled egg, heirloom tomato, haricot verts, and olives tossed with lemon zest vinaigrette and topped with fresh Ahi tuna grilled to medium rare. It’s healthy, flavorful, and satisfied my hunger without being to filling. My only request is to offer a poached egg option. Nothing like breaking a yolk from a perfectly poached egg over a salad. That said, this is still a great dish.
Not to get too hung up on the salads here, but my dining companion Stefany Dybeck from Sadie Rose Baking Co. ordered the Asian Salmon Salad and that was a nice one as well. It should be noted that Ki’s uses Sadie Rose products, always a good sign. And while there is an emphasis on healthy fare along with a full vegetarian and vegan menu, there is also a full list of entrees for meat, chicken, and fish eaters. How about a Cuban pork chop with sofrito sauce, roasted Jidori chicken, Cioppino or Thai style seafood curry? Add to that a full line of burgers and starters that includes a stuffed artichoke that sounds amazing.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all available with breakfast dishes until 2pm. A full bar plus regular live entertainment and again, that coastal location on Highway 101 makes Ki’s worth checking out, or revisiting if it’s been a while. Location, hours and menu can be found at www.kisrestaurant.com