Best Eats: Umaga Cafe, Old River Grill, ice cream and homemade chili

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Baked goods at Umaga Cafe.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — With Jollibee and Umaga Cafe — and the upcoming Red Ribbon BakeShop — Bakersfield is experiencing an unprecedented surge in Filipino eateries.

And area residents have responded enthusiastically.

Wait times of 30 minutes or more have been experienced at Jollibee — apparently folks can’t get enough of that fried chicken — while the soft opening of Umaga Cafe on Saturday was greeted with a similar response.

A line stretched a couple dozen people deep at the shop’s Stockdale Highway location, customers patiently waiting their turn to snag the multi-layered dessert halo halo, doughnuts flavored with jackfruit or the purple yam called ube, or spring rolls filled with banana and peanut butter and topped with ice cream.

Banana and peanut butter roll topped with halo halo ice cream at Umaga Cafe.

The doughnuts are great, extremely moist and sold in four eye-popping colors. The ube muffin with mochi is even better, extra chewy and not overly sweet.

There are plenty of coffee drinks on offer, including one featuring the ubiquitous ube that’s playfully named Ooh-Bae Latte.

The cafe’s Facebook page says the menu was limited for the soft opening. I can’t wait to see what else they have planned.

Eggs Copenhagen, Old River Grill

For another breakfast option, Digital Executive Producer Trish Rocha had the Eggs Copenhagen at Old River Grill. The dish includes house-smoked salmon, capers, red onions and cream cheese on an English muffin topped with two poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce.

“So nice to have a perfect brunch meal at the new Marketplace location outside under the misters,” Rocha said.

Strawberry and banana crepe with pistachio and almond coffee ice cream from Cold Heart Ice Cream.

Afternoon anchor Nicole Gitzke went to Cold Heart Ice Cream for National Ice Cream Day and indulged in a fruit crepe with scoops of pistachio and almond coffee ice cream. She said the shop is a hidden gem that really impressed her.

Birthday cake and S’mores milkshakes, The 18hundred.

Gitzke also stopped at The 18hundred for their towering S’mores and birthday party milkshakes.

“They are heavenly but hopefully you’re not on a diet,” she said.

Korean-style ground beef by Mason Rockfellow.

Assignment Editor Mason Rockfellow braved the heat in the kitchen this week, cooking up his Korean-style ground beef and his spin on green chili.

“Two simple meals with a mouthful of flavor,” Rockfellow said.

The Korean-style beef can be made in under 30 minutes. It contained brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ground ginger, crushed red pepper flakes and pepper and was served on top of rice and garnished with green onions.

Green chili

For the green chili, Rockfellow used kidney beans and beef rather than pork. He seasoned the beef with salt, pepper and cumin and sauteed Anaheim chiles, jalapenos, yellow onion and five cloves of garlic. He threw everything into a pot, added 16 ounces of chile verde salsa and about a cup of chicken broth and let it simmer about an hour.

Eating chili in the midst of a heat wave may seem counterintuitive, but Rockfellow swears chili this good is perfect for any time of year.

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