Sensational Dining At Sirena Cocina

In Little Italy, San Diego there is such a great variety of restaurants! One great restaurant that I had a pleasure to visit was Sirena, Cocina Latina. They had amazing seafood dishes and wonderful staff, which I appreciate VERY much. I was able to interview the chef in charge of it all, Executive Chef Jaime Chavez. Here’s some of my interview with him:

Dean: Hi, thanks for having me, it’s great to meet you!

Jaime: Nice meeting you too, and we’re glad to have you.

Dean: I’m curious, what does Sirena mean?

Jaime: It means “mermaid”. That’s why our logo has a mermaid tail along the “S”

Dean: Ohh, clever! LOVE IT. So what type of food is your restaurant focused on?

Jaime: It has a South American influence. Our ceviches are all pretty different, though. We have Mexican Style, South American style, it just depends.

Dean: Did you create the menu? What are the menus influenced from?

Jaime: Yes, and most of the menu is influence from me. Things I experience or eat; just a little bit of everything. Our menu also changes twice a year. It used to be every three months, but that got to be too much.

Dean: What’s your most popular, must-have dish?

Jaime: Everything in the menu moves pretty well, nothing is really more popular than the other but if I had to pick it would be the seafood wings. My favorite dish is the octopus; all the vegetables are cooked in water and then grilled.

Dean: Is there anything you guys keep in the menus when you change them or is it always different?

Jaime: Some dishes are used again. Sometimes we’ll create specials and if they sell well, we will put it in the next menu.

Dean: Does the restaurant use local ingredients?

Jaime: We try to keep it as local as possible. It’s pretty consistent. All of the fish we use is in this area of Southern California and Mexico.

Dean: Is this a chain restaurant, or are there other locations?

Jaime: This is the only restaurant, it’s family owned. It used to be more towards the fine dining feel, but we weren’t comfortable with it. So we changed the name and added color. We’re also trying to bring the concept to Mexico.

Dean: It’s a process! Did you always want to be a chef?

Jaime: No, actually. I liked cooking but never thought I would do it professionally. I actually wanted to be an architect.

Dean: What separates you from the other restaurants around here?

Jaime: The concept of our restaurant is different, and we don’t look at what other restaurants are doing.

Dean: What dishes do you have for us here today? They look amazing!

Jaime: We have the grilled octopus with potatoes and roasted peppers. We have our ceviche sliders: the campechana, the tuna ceviche, and the chileno. And lastly, we have the seafood wings which are really delicious. It is breaded crab cakes with sweet and sour sauce. It’s line a boneless chicken wing.

Dean: This is to die for! So after being an executive chef here, would you ever open your own restaurant?

Jaime: I don’t think so. If I were to have one, it’d be more of a specialty shop. Maybe just sandwiches, or ceviche!