…to the Great Convoy Recon, in which I and a varying number of co-conspirators finally come to grips with the very pith and substance of Asian food in San Diego.  As of January 16, 2015, we have visited EVERY Asian restaurant on Convoy, but I’ll be posting about new ones as they crop up.  Much like the painting of the Golden Gate bridge, the Convoy Recon is never truly done.

In the meantime, I’ve made up an admittedly subjective list of our favorites.  Speak, O lamp of sweet memory!

Best Korean PancakeNolbu Mini Gastropub

I’d never had one of these greasy little delicacies before setting out on the Recon, and what an oversight!  Eggy, savory, mushy on the inside, crisp on the out: there’s lots of good jeon to be had at the various Korean diners on Convoy, but Nolbu takes it by a nose. (runners-up: Friends’ House Korean, Chon Ju Jip)

Best Korean BBQJeong Won Korean BBQ Buffet

There are plenty of these All-You-Can-Eat Korean BBQ places on Convoy where you cook your own, because the American gut can never seem to get enough meat.  Jeong is one of the tastiest, and also the only one that spoke not only to my gut, but to my soul as well. (runner-up: Roadem BBQ)

Best Sea SnailsMin Sok Chon


Best Korean DinnerJosun Korean BBQ

Every dish just seemed a little bit more flavorful at Josun than at the many other Korean diners on Convoy.  Maybe that’s because every dish had little bits of pork, beef, or dried shrimp?  Vegetarians interested in Korean grub should probably head to runner-up Convoy Tofu House instead.

Best VietnamesePhuong Trang

A giant menu with everything under the sun. The pho may not be the best in town, but there’s plenty of delish to be had.

Best SushiSushi Dokoro Shirahama

The fish, the whole fish, and nothing but the fish. (runner-up – and completely different: Kula Revolving Sushi)

Best RamenYakitori Yakyudori and Ramen

Straightforward, great-tasting ramen. (runner-up: RakiRaki)

Best Japanese DinnerWa Dining Okan

Wa Okan is a gift to San Diego – a real sanctuary of little perfectly assembled dishes.  I’m also going to call it the best date-night on Convoy. (runner-up: Yokohama Yakitori Koubo)

Best Dim SumJasmine Seafood

My first love on Convoy and still serving up the best yummy brunch bedlam after all these years. (runner-up: Dumpling Inn)

Best Soup DumplingsRed Moon Noodle House

Xiaolongbao – sometimes these little bursting bombs of warm comfort are all you need to get by. (runner-up: Dumpling Inn)

Best Chinese DinnerFuAn Garden

The most hotly contested race on Convoy, at least in my mind.  It’s a pleasure to know there are so many good Chinese places. FuAn is fast, the food hot, the spices perfect, the pretension low. But invite me to any of the runner-ups and I’ll be there in a heartbeat, chopsticks at the ready. (runners-up: Szechuan Chef, Spicy House, Spicy City, Chef Chin, Jasmine Seafood)

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Crab Hut

crabhut24646 Convoy St., yelp review

The truth is we skipped Crab Hut on our initial circumnavigation of Convoy Street. Our mission statement only extends to Asian restaurants, and the giant neon “Louisiana Style” sign in the window suggested this place wouldn’t fit. But it turns out that – wonderful world that we live in – there is a decade-long tradition of fusion between Vietnamese and Cajun culinary cultures. The internet suggests Vietnamese restaurants began serving crawfish boils in Houston, mixing in heavy butter and lemon grass sauces to the standard cajun spices, and the idea moved to Southern California. The grub – sausage, crab, crawfish, oysters, shrimp, clams, potatos and corn – comes out in a large clear plastic bag which gets slopped all over the table and shared. Bibs and gloves are provided.

It’s a beautiful mess.

crabhut1We ordered the “Seafood Bucket” with the “Full House” sauce option, $55, but enough to feed 3-4 people fairly easily. It’s all good, but for some reason, I felt that the high points were the sausage and corn – cheapest things on the menu. It’s funny how that happens. Apart from the family-sized helpings of boiled seafood, there are a few things you can order a la carte.  We tried the fried oysters, which were excellent. I could order the fried oysters with nothing but sausage and corn and be perfectly happy.

If you’re hungry and you’ve got a posse of fearless seafood lovers at your back, this would be a good choice.

Posted in Vietnamese | Leave a comment

Lemon House

4681 Convoy St., yelp reviewlemonhouse2

Lemon House is a a new pan-Asian place – in this case Vietnamese, Thai, and Malaysian – with a menu like a small phone book (pictured at right: it’s that thick because there are like two items per beautifully photographed page). If you’ve read my blog at all attentively, you’ll know I was beside myself with excitement about the possibility of Malaysian food on Convoy.

lemonhouse1First impressions were good: the space is well-lit, the walls are largely bare of chic kitsch, and the waitstaff are charmingly inexperienced in English. A photoshoot proceeded in earnest in a corner, possibly they plan additions to the menu.

We ordered a lot of food. Scallops with vermicelli, Vietnamese bun with egg rolls, and fried pork ribs. We had stir-fried greens referred to as convolvulus, which Wikipedia tells me is a flowering plant in the bindweed family, probably Morning Glory. It made for a decent meal, but no dish stood out. Actually, most of the food was fairly mediocre – uninspired sauces and overcooked meat. The best dish we ordered was the seafood laksa – a Malaysian soup with a heavy yellow curry and coconut base. Damn tasty and available nowhere else in San Diego that I know of.

lemonhouse3The biggest disappointment was that nasi lemak – a delicious coconut-rice-based dish I became very attached to in my short time in Kuala Lumpur – was nowhere in evidence. Maybe it will make its appearance on the new and expanded menu they were photographing for. But sadly, I may not be returning to find out.

And, darnit, I so loved the name Lemon House!

Posted in Pan-Asian, Thai, Vietnamese | Leave a comment

Tasty Noodle House

tastynoodle4646 Convoy, yelp reviews

Tasty Noodle House is a nice new well-run Chinese place with a wide-ranging menu. If you’re willing to brave the single worst parking lot in San Diego (Convoy Street has most of the runners-up as well), then you’re in for some good food fast.

First off, the Xiao Long Bao – steamed soup dumplings – are some of the best on Convoy, which is funny because my personal favorites are right next door at Red Moon. They may share a kitchen. What’s good about these is the smoky flavor of the pork and the soupy filling. We tried the seafood chow mein (because hey! “Noodle House”, it’s in the name) but it was forgettable. Deep fried fish fillets with seaweed were delicious dipped in vinegar or chili sauce. And something called Braised Pork Belly with Tofu Skin was tasty – the meat meltingly tender – but I found the soy-based sauce a little cloying the next day as leftovers.

There are Taiwanese-style milk teas and other sweet drinks on the menu too. I got my yummy hot Jasmine tea in a glass stein – a first on Convoy.

Invite me! I’d go back.


Posted in Chinese | Leave a comment

K Cuisine

kcuisine4688 Convoy St., yelp reviews

K Cuisine is a small new Korean place, sharing a crowded parking lot with China Max. The decor is relaxed, entirely unpretentious, and the menu is very much standard Korean diner food, like quite a few others on this fabled stretch of road.

I’d put K Cuisine somewhere in the middle of the pack. The seafood pancake is excellent – perfect balance of mushy-on-the-inside and crispy-on-the-outside, and I love it when Korean places have that special red bean-tinged wild rice. But the banchan – all the little cold veggies – are just so-so. We tried the grilled pork belly: it was kind of bland but came with a nice soy-based dipping sauce. Maybe the beef ribs would have been better – I was watching the next table over eat them with envy in my heart.

Can’t exactly pass judgment without having gotten the soon dubu (the soft tofu pot), that looked good too. I don’t know – food doesn’t always have to have X factor or novelty. If you just want to sit down to a no-frills Korean spread, this is as good a place as any to do it.

Posted in Korean | Leave a comment

Green China Grill

4688 Convoy St., yelp reviews


beef brisket noodle soup (thanks for the photo Jenne)

It’s such a pleasure when a new place opens up on Convoy and takes us jaded food bloggers by surprise. Green China Grill is a clean medium-sized place whose most obvious feature is a staggering amount of bright parrot green on every surface, broken here and there with bits of brilliant orange. So, not particularly atmospheric, is what I’m saying.

When we went (invited by the gals of the Convoy Conquest!) there were only two items available, and they were both beef noodle soup. Luckily, the beef noodle soup is amazing – particularly the brisket. The noodles are hand-made – you can watch the lady slapping, stretching, and slicing them into submission through a big window into the kitchen. (Come to think of it – I think this may be the only Chinese place on Convoy with guts enough to let you see into the kitchen. It’s a brave new world!) The beef is very tender, but it’s the broth which stands out: not especially spicy but loaded with the famous Sichuan flower pepper that numbs your tongue and lips.  I’m told this is called Lanzhou-style soup. Tinglicious!

We also got a variety of items from the glass cabinet of cold veggies: lotus root, seaweed, cucumber, all excellent.

One assumes that as it grows up (only three weeks old when we visited) the other items on the menu will come online. I’d return to try the grilled corn and squid skewers. I’m not always in the mood for Chinese noodle soup, but when I am I certainly prefer Green China Grill.

Posted in Chinese | Leave a comment

Sang Deuan

sangdeuan3904 Convoy St. – yelp review

Sang Deuan is a medium-sized place, wonderfully unpretentious, with at least one super-friendly waitress. It says right out front in neon that it’s Thai and Lao cuisine, which means it’s not only the first Laotian food on Convoy, but also the first I’ve ever had, so I was chomping at the bit to try it out.

At first glance, the menu seemed to be all Thai dishes – standards like Pad Prik or Pad See Ew that every urban American knows like the back of her tongue. But on the Sang Deuan menu, many of these dishes can be had Thai-style or Lao-style. We ordered the green papaya salad (Lao-style), the Pad Lao (just like Pad Thai but more savory) and something called Choo Chee. Everything exceeded expectations. Lao-style seems to mean thicker, richer, browner, though I’m sure it’s more technical than that. The Choo Chee was chunks of perfectly flaky fish, deep-fried and left half-drowned in a thick creamy sweet spicy goopy sauce of whose ingredients I would not venture a guess. It was excellent. In fact, I would declare the Choo Chee to be 100% Must-Eat Convoy Grub. Do not eat here without ordering it.

I hope this place does well, I’ll certainly be returning. Now if only we could get some Indonesian food on Convoy…

Posted in Lao, Thai | Leave a comment


appethai4813 Convoy St., yelp reviews

Bad puns are not just for hair salons anymore, people! InfiniTea was leading the pack, but give AppeThai a close second. It’s a medium-sized place with not much in the way of fancy atmosphere, just a big chalk-board menu and plastic cups, but clean and modern. The food is reasonably priced and the service shockingly fast (though admittedly, there was no one there but us the whole time – they’re new).

The food is very good – standard Thai dishes seasoned well. We tried the pad see ew with chicken and appetizers of coconut shrimp and corn fritters – all very tasty. The Thai iced tea was of course the exact same Thai iced tea as everywhere else: there’s a whole aisle of the bright orange mix at Ranch 99. Something comforting about that.

I’d happily return.

Posted in Thai | Leave a comment