If the name didn’t clue you in, the choices at Taco Asylum are quite demented. It’s a place my fellow LWDer Sandy has been chatting up since it opened back in 2011, though her fear of the menu kept her from trying, with options back then for tacos stuffed with grilled octopus, lamb, beef heart, curried paneer, and duck. While perhaps gourmet, I wasn’t interested – those unusual fillings did not get me hankering.
Enter Summer 2014, an adventurous and tasty summer for a more courageous me. It was William’s pick for our August outing, one that he did not seize, instead over-analyzing, debating, second-guessing. As Sandy and I mused aloud as an assist to him, Sandy again threw out the idea of Taco Asylum. Remembering their menu, I didn’t immediately co-sign her suggestion, giving instead a non-committed maybe, determined to come up with a better pick for William when I had some Googling time. But at some point, I thought it might be fun to look up Asylum’s menu to see what had had me so scared of this place years before.
To my surprise, I found that TA had had a change. The duck taco was still there, and too was the paneer, but there’d been additions. Playful, less intimidating tacos, like the Bacon PB & J with carrot ginger jam; or the Fried Chicken with a watermelon-feta salad and a Fresno chile hot sauce. Although my palate has come a long way in the last couple of years, their new menu was just my speed. So it was only then that I seconded Sandy’s idea for William’s choice (basically, he let us wrestle his choice away from him), and the rest was history.
With five us us there, we were able to order plenty of tacos and several mixings of flavors, textures, and heat. The Banh Mi was tangy and citrusy, the Wasabi Shrimp surprisingly (at least to me – I didn’t read the description first) luscious and sweet to temper the heat of the wasabi, I suppose. But it was the chile sauce from the Fried Chicken taco that, while perfectly unctuous and flavorful, got me sweaty, caused me to chug down my ice water faster than I did my chilled cider.
Speaking of hot, William ordered the Firepig, a Ghost chile-braised pork taco that comes with a warning to its consumers. He told us his reddening skin was due to his beer, blaming his ethnicity; but I think it was the taco, which he said was pretty darn spicy. Torrid.
My favorite taco of the night was the BBQ Chicken, with peach salsa and scallions. It was initially forgotten by the kitchen so I had to wait for it, but that turned out to be a good thing as it was served fresh and steamy. There was a slight crispiness to the chicken that I really appreciated and the sweetly acrid sauce made me dance in my seat. Full as I was, that taco went down in a couple-few minutes. Next time I’m in the neighborhood, I’ll surely pick up another one. Or seven if my husband’s treating.
So our last LWD outing of the summer ended with a fiery bang wrapped inside a toasty flour tortilla. And a little bit of shopping, thanks to all the boutiques at The Camp, where Taco Asylum lives. Hope your summer’s been as tasty as ours.
at The Camp, 3947 S. Bristol St. in Costa Mesa
What we tried:
Meat & Potatoes
Shrimp Pad Thai
Paneer (Indian Style Cheese)
Mushrooms and Brie
Corn Off the Cob