Thursday, June 5, 2014

In which we join forces with allied combatants!

Once again, Dede's was the site of our meeting with strangers from the internet...but this time it was with the mirror-universe versions of OUR VERY SELVES.  

You guys. There is another military-named Convoy food blog, called Convoy Recon! It is also run by two friends who love food, but they are gentlemen instead of ladies, and they are not librarians.  They are however completely charming and cool and have the nicest friends ever. And live in my neighborhood! They've gotten about halfway through the recon(quest) and were kind enough to invite us to join them in their visit to Dede's.

I'll let their writeup speak for the food experience (hooray, they liked both dishes we recommended, even though the cumin lamb is usually better than it was that day) but it was a lovely meal both food and conversation-wise.  We'd reconquer with them any time!

Some of the carnage.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Yu's Garden

Yang Chou fried rice -- not exciting but pleasant.

Beef fried noodles -- I usually don't like this dish 
because it's gummy and bland, but this one had a nice flavor. 
The beef was kind of weird, though.

I don't think these are supposed to be so doughy, 
but we like doughy things and the filling was tasty.
Rating: One thumb up (Miko), one sideways (Jenne)
Date: 5/9/14
Time in: 7:15 PM
Time out: 8:14 PM
Servers' recommendations: Pineapple seafood fried rice, Yang Chou fried rice, beef fried noodles
What we ordered:
Yang Chou fried rice, beef fried noodles, Shengjian bao
Number in our party: 3 (with Laura as a guest judge)
Final check amount: $23.65
Price per person: $7.88
  
Notes: 
  • We had very low expectations because they had a gigantic menu, and we were grateful that it did not suck.
  • The server totally gaijined us!  To gaijin (verb, from the Japanese word for foreigner) is to assume that customers can't handle interesting dishes because they are not of the restaurant's cuisine's ethnicity.  We asked her what her favorite dish was on the menu, and she answered the chow mein and fried rice.  Yeah right!
  • The fried rice was nicely seasoned and simple.  It could have used more pepper, though.
  • The beef tasted like it often does at Chinese restaurants -- strangely tender and gelatinous.  We both find that a bit too creepy to eat. 
  • We thought the noodle dish tasted like pretty good yakisoba, minus the worcestershire-ish flavor of yakisoba sauce.
  • They don't have any condiments on the table, not even soy sauce.  The server looked a little taken aback when I (Miko) asked for it.
  • I  had never had this type of bao before, and I liked them!  But not as much as I like good xiaolongbao.
  • In the end, we thought it was pleasant, but not remarkable.  Jenne commented that, while it tasted fine, we did not have the satisfied, happy-feeling in our stomachs afterward that Dumpling Inn gives us.

RESTAURANT INFORMATION  
Address:
4646 Convoy St Ste 110
 Phone number: 858.560.1888
Noise level: 2 (no music, which we enjoyed)
Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: It's the hideous Crab Hut parking lot.
Ideal group size: Any

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Voltero's Pizza

Very tasty cheesesteak!  I wanted the fries to be a little crisper, but Miko likes them soft.
Good LORD this slice of pizza was giant!  We were totally surprised by how good it was.  Miko's hand is there to show the scale.
Rating: Two thumbs up
Date: 5/4/14
Time in: 8:20 PM
Time out: 9:00 PM
Servers' recommendations: Philly chicken and vegetarian pizza
What we ordered: Server's recommendations
Number in our party: 2
Final check amount: $8.63 for the chicken sandwich, around $5 for the pizza
Price per person: $6.82
  
Notes: 
  • We liked the cashier a lot -- he was very nice and pleasant, and confident in his recommendations.
  • We were surprised by how good everything tasted!
  • We thought we were ordering small, since we only got a sandwich and a slice to share.  We did not know that the slice would be ENORMOUS -- like 4 slices of pizza in one!  We were both full, and I had quite a bit of leftover pizza afterward.
  • The pizza dough was crispy on the outside, just the right level between doughy and fluffy in between.  It didn't have too much sauce on it, either.
  • Between this and Rosa's, we have been pleasantly surprised by the pizza on Convoy!  If we wanted to eat pizza, which we rarely do, we would totally come up here rather than eat the Uptown hipster pizza in our neighborhoods.

RESTAURANT INFORMATION  
Address: 4344 Convoy St
Phone number: 858.571.1550
Noise level: 3, just from the music (they were playing two different songs at once, which was pretty disastrous for ambience) but no one else was there.
Accepts credit cards? Yes, and they didn't seem to have a minimum.
Parking: Shared lot -- one of the best on Convoy.
Ideal group size: Any

Available vegetarian options: Many!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Szechuan Chef

Amusingly, all the vegetable dishes on the menu just had photos of the whole vegetable rather than the prepared dish?
The decor is very modern and non-Convoy.  Look at the exciting chandelier!
Sad mushy dumplings.  We didn't even finish them!  We always finish dumplings.
The pork dish was truly delightful.
This was my favorite thing.  SO DELICIOUS.
Fried pumpkin -- it tasted like something you'd eat at a fair and then wish you hadn't.
Xiaolongbao...but ugh they were terrible. 
Mushy wrappers, too-sweet broth, creepy meatball-like filling.
Rating: One thumb down (Miko), one sideways (Jenne)
Date: 4/25/14
Time in: 12:49 PM
Time out: 1:45 PM
Servers' recommendations: Mongolian beef, diced chicken with chili hot sauce, pepper-stir fried country style pork
What we ordered: Dumplings, the recommended pork dish, steamed pork buns, Chinese pancake, egg yolk pumpkin
Number in our party: 2
Final check amount: $40.99
Price per person: $20.50
  
Notes: 
  • The Chinese pancake was flaky, doughy, and delicious!
  • The pork dish was tasty and not too spicy.  It was especially good if you wrapped it in pieces of Chinese pancake.
  • The pumpkin tasted like it had been coated in boxed cake mix and fried.  It was very strange, especially since I'd been hoping for a light tempura.
  • Both of the dumpling dishes that we tried were terrible.  The wrappers on both were mushy, and the meat was flavorless.  The soup inside the xiaolongbao was viscous in a creepy way, and way too sweet.
  • We both felt gross after the meal.  I felt heavy and saturated in grease, and Jenne had a bad-food headache later that afternoon.

RESTAURANT INFORMATION  
Address: 4344 Convoy St
Phone number: 858.279.8881
Noise level: 3
Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: Shared lot -- one of the best on Convoy.
Ideal group size: 2+

Friday, March 14, 2014

iSushi

They give you free edamame and miso soup, which is nice.
The soup wasn't bad.  The edamame needed salt!
"Yellowtail Delight" -- it wasn't entirely delightful but it was okay.
It wasn't as spicy as it looked.
These were live shrimp just minutes earlier! 
Sadly, they weren't very flavorful.  I liked the fried heads though.
Rating: Two thumbs down
Date: 3/14/14
Time in: 1:51 PM
Time out: 2:25 PM
Servers' recommendations: Live shrimp sushi, Yellowtail Delight
What we ordered: 
Live shrimp sushi, Yellowtail Delight
Number in our party: 2
Final check amount: $21.85
Price per person: $10.93
  
Notes: 
  • The server was a pleasant fellow and very enthusiastic about his recommendations. It was clear he took pride in working at the restaurant. He asked us if we wanted the shrimp heads from the sushi fried, and he took the trouble to inquire with the chef which fish was freshest today.
  • Despite the adorable server, the meal was underwhelming in the most boring way. The food and the ambience of the restaurant was just so meh.
  • We went and had Sage Cake afterward as a palate-cleanser.

RESTAURANT INFORMATION  
Address: 4365 Convoy St
Phone number: 858.560.0990
Noise level: 2, but no one else was there at the time because we went at an off-hour.
Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: Shared lot; you have a decent chance of finding a space.
Ideal group size: 1-4

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Convoy Conquest Awards Season! - East Side

We are now done with Convoy's East Side!

THE BEST OF THE EAST: DUMPLING INN
Why?  It is kind of hilarious that after this whole journey and all this work, our long-time favorite still ranks first.  But now we feel extra-justified in loving it best!  Dumpling Inn was the first place we ever had xiaolongbao, and we have imprinted on them.  We've had beloved, reputable xiaolongbao in other cities, but they never tasted as good as our Dumpling Inn's.  We love that they've kept it small, because they could choose to expand in a bigger location on Convoy if they wanted to.  Yes, they have their off days, but that is because they actually cook their dishes from scratch.  It doesn't exactly have x-factor, but it gives us a happy-tummy feeling after the meal.  Even people who don't like vegetables (cough, Miko, Nick) like the crack greens!
Nominees: Chon Ju Jip, Pangea Bakery Cafe

Best Chinese: Dumpling Inn

Why?  For all the reasons above.
Nominees: Dede's Chinese Cuisine, Liang's Kitchen

Best Japanese: FAIL.
Why?  Chopstix, Katzra, Nozomi, Sushi, Roll Depot, Tajima, iSushi...  They are all terrible.
Nominees: Walmido?  But they were just okay, and they closed.

Best Korean: Chon Ju Jip
Why? Has a nice, homey feeling, and the restaurant feels like it's being itself without stepping down to a common denominator.  The ddukbokki and seafood pancake are the best versions we've had on Convoy.
Nominees: Dduri Ba, Josun, MARU

Best Thai: Thai House
Why?  We like them, and there are no other nominees.

Best Dessert: Pangea Bakery Cafe (Jenne) and Fruit Shop (Miko)
Why?  Pangea has yummy breads (like the raspberry bun!) and they're open late.  It's a good place to bring a bunch of friends and talk after a meal.  The Fruit Shop introduced Miko to mangosteens, and they have really interesting varieties of fruit that are not often found elsewhere.  And they happily press samples on you!
Nominees: Pho Convoy Noodle House (just for their tricolor bean dessert)

Best Date: MARU Lounge
Why?  It's more sophisticated than the other restaurants, but it doesn't feel so try-hardy like Rakiraki.  It's cozy and not loud, and they're open late with alcohol options.

Nominees: Josun

Best Service: Cali Baguette Express
Why?  Mitchell Nishimura, who works at the Kearny Mesa Cali Baguette location, is a wonderful human being -- kind, considerate, with meticulous attention to detail.
Nominees: iSushi and Sushi, Roll Depot (terrible food, excellent servers), Fruit Shop

Best X-Factor: Friend's House
Why?  So many cute knick-knacks and cozy nooks!
Nominees: Cali Baguette Express, Chon Ju Jip, Thai House, Convoy Tofu House

Best for Kids: Cali Baguette Express
Why?  They have lots of fun snacks (like Hi-Chew, which is delish), and it's cheap!  Plus, Mitchell Nishimura is good with kids.
NomineesLiang's Kitchen, Pangea Bakery Cafe
Why?  It was dirty.  The teapot was gross, and there was a BUG crawling around in the cart of dim sum!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dduri Ba

We thought this was the nicest CASH ONLY sign we'd ever seen.
Usually they do take cards, though.
Ddukbokki (although they use a different spelling).
We wished this was as good as the one at Chon Ju Jip. :-(
At first we thought the thing on the left was soup,
but it's actually a white kimchi (or something like that).
I (Jenne) ate about 95% of those yellow pickles.
Kimchi was fine.
Nick's ramen had instant noodles but it was very tasty.
We all loved these dumplings, which seemed homemade!
Server recommendation #1.
Miko was still talking about this dish the next day.
Server recommendation #2, kimbap with fish cake. 
We were all surprised how much we liked the kimbap!
However, no one was surprised how much Miko liked the fish cake.

Date: 1/20/14
Time in: 6:12 PM
Time out: 7:12 PM
Servers' recommendations: 
Kimbap and fish cake, bajirakkalkuksu (noodle soup with short-necked clams)
What we ordered: Kagimandu (dumplings), kimbap and fish cake, bajirakkalkuksu, tteokbokgi
Number in our party: 4 (with Laura and Nick as guest judges) 
Final check amount: $37.20
Price per person: $9.25
  
Notes: 
  • The tteokbokgi is really spicy, and it's still not as flavorful as other versions we've had.  Chon Ju Jip's is better!
  • The noodle soup dishes are quite delicious.  The broth is yummy!  (I REALLY like the clam noodle soup.)
  • We greatly appreciate the homemade dumplings.
  • The kimbap is unexpectedly delicious and satisfying, although the fish cakes are a little too fishy.

RESTAURANT INFORMATION  
Address: 4425 Convoy St
Phone number: 858.560.0990
Noise level: 2
Accepts credit cards? Not at the moment
Parking: A pretty small shared lot
Ideal group size: 1-4
Rating: Two thumbs up

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Josun

We were STARVING as we usually are after work on Sundays, and we ate these in about 5 seconds.

The panchan were so good! I loved these yellow pickles, and Sarah and Miko loved the tiny fish. 
I tried the tiny fish.

I was obsessed with this salad and ate two entire servings.  Sarah and Miko thought it was too spicy.
We asked the server what the greens were, but he didn't know the English word and I've forgotten the Korean word.

We also really liked the zucchini thing on the right.

Here's the extremely large bowl of parched rice and chicken.  There is a WHOLE CHICKEN in here.
I think the twig thing on top is ginseng root.

From the second round of panchan--we got Miko's favorite fishcakes this time! 
Definitely the best version we've had.

Rating: Two thumbs up; from guest: one thumb up
Date: 12/8/13
Time in: 6:00 PM

Time out: 7:20 PM 
Servers' recommendations: #50 parched rice and chicken, #55 stir-fried squid with spicy sauce
What we ordered: Parched rice and chicken, 
3 hot teas, 2 orders of fried handmade dumplings
Number in our party: 3 (with Sarah M. as a guest judge) 
Final check amount: $37.79
Price per person: $12.60 each
  
Notes: 

  • This used to be Old Village. The server told us that the owner has changed but the menu is the same. Maybe it was the items we ordered, but this meal left a much stronger impression than last time!
  • The dumplings are lightly crispy all the way around! How do you do that??
  • We like the dumpling sauce. They must have mixed it themselves -- it has chopped green onion in it.
  • The panchan was delicious, probably the best we've had on Convoy! (The potatoes were a little undercooked, but everything else was amazing.) We've gotten used to seeing the same panchan over and over, so it was a nice surprise to see dishes that we didn't recognize.
  • The parched chicken and rice was definitely new to us, and we had no idea how to eat it. The dish could have fed 5 people. The chicken is soft and tasty, but the rice porridge is completely flavorless. Maybe it's supposed to be? They gave us a tiny dish of salt each -- definitely not enough for all that rice. Although we probably wouldn't order it again, we enjoyed trying it, and the whole experience made us want to try more food here.

RESTAURANT INFORMATION  
Address: 4681 Convoy St, Ste B 
Phone number: 858.277.8625
Noise level: 2
Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: 
Shared lot that's pretty tiny, but there's decent turnover, so you can usually squeak into a spot that someone's pulling out of. 
Ideal group size: 2-6
Available vegetarian options: Stir-fried rice cake and vegetable, vegetable and egg bibimbap 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

HAPPY CONVOY DAY!!

The greatest day of all!

On October 3, 2010, we had our first official meal. 2 years, 10 months, 21 days, and 79 restaurants later, we celebrate the completion of our most noble quest. And what better way to honor our accomplishments than to spend a whole day on Convoy Street?


Miko provided the necessary uniform.
About to begin!  We parked in the middle of Convoy and walked everywhere we went. 
We logged over seven miles!
First stop: breakfast at Cali Baguette Express!
Here's Katie, our guest judge.  She makes lots of amusing faces.
We didn't want to get too full so we started out slow and shared a banh mi. Cajun shrimp with egg.
Me, devouring.
And a sesame ball, because I love them.
(Katie and Miko are not fans of these -- they taste a little banana-ey.) 
Next stop: breakfast dessert at Pangea Bakery!
Taro bun and coffee.  Part of your complete breakfast!
We had to take a photo in the FOTO (Fresh Out of The Oven) area!

Second breakfast: Jasmine Express!
Shrimp har gow and beef rice roll. 
The beef roll was even better than the shrimp one that we loved last time.
Look at this adooorable picture of Miko!
We found this EGGS box very entertaining.
Third breakfast/midmorning snack at Paris Baguette.  We were just here to kill time before meeting our lunch pals, but we saw this sandwich and HAD TO have it.  Sadly it wasn't quite as good as it looked.
The saddest face ever.
Lunch at Dumpling Inn!  We were each allowed to bring one guest.
My guest: Sarah!  Sarah was a guest judge at our very first conquest, so obviously she had to be here.
Miko's guest, Sarah P!  This is Sarah's first time as a guest judge, but she got right into the swing of things.

Ahhh.  What else is there to say.
We don't always get this dish (fish with black beans and asparagus) but I really love it.
Crack greens!! Look how shiny and delicious.
I'm so sad that I don't have this right now.
Katie making another enjoyable face.
Not quite sure why I took this, but it's such a typical Convoy scene that I thought I'd post it.
Lunch dessert at Sage Cake!
We really wanted to take a picture of the handsome baker but we couldn't possibly.
Caaaake!!
Pre-dinner drinks at O'Brien's!
Beeeeer!!



Pre-dinner foot massages at Lotus Spa!
Dinner at Sakura!  Our dinner guests were Howie and Laura, but we forgot to take pictures of them.
Miko's (and Howie's) favorite uni pasta (that I don't really like).
Everyone's favorite agedashi mochi!
Albacore tataki.
Another adoooorable photo of Miko!  She is just at her best when holding food.
I think this is still my favorite chicken karaage on Convoy.
Nikomi hamburg.
Tebashio.
Black sesame ice cream.
Done!  Time for karaoke!!

And the complete list:

Cali Baguette Express: $8.75

Green tea with boba
Iced Vietnamese coffee
Sesame balls
Cajun shrimp sandwich with egg


Pangea Bakery: $5.72
1 royal taro bun
1 caffe late

Jasmine Express
Shrimp har gow
Beef rice roll

Zion Market Paris Baguette Bakery: $9.95
2 iced black teas
California Roll Sandwich

Fruit Shop: $32
3 coconut waters
2 bags of mangosteens

Dumpling Inn: $51.05
3 orders of xiaolongbao
Chinese greens
Seabass with black bean sauce

Sage Cake: $24.57
2 fruit tarts
1 caramel mousse
4 iced teas

O'Brien's: $15
2 beers
1 glass of Chardonnay

Izakaya Sakura: $71.28
Uni pasta
Agedashi mochi
Salmon onigiri
Chicken karaage
Albacore tataki
Nikomi hamburg
Tebashio
Black sesame ice cream
Green tea

WHAT'S NEXT?
We have to catch up on the restaurants that have popped up after we had conquered the plaza already. Starting with the new year, we begin conquering the new Convoy!