Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dede's Chinese Cuisine

Cumin lamb, yum.
Cold appetizers -- cucumber pickles, seaweed, "husband and wife."
Deep-fried chicken with dried pepper -- this was delicious and also good cold the next day.
Fish with pickled pepper -- meh.
Pea shoots with garlic -- I (Jenne) really liked these.
Dramatic adding of the chicken to the sizzling crispy rice!
Crispy rice with chicken.
Rating: Two thumbs up
Date: 1/26/13
Time in: 6:56 PM

Time out: 9:20 PM 
Servers' recommendations: Cumin lamb, deep-fried chicken with dried pepper, crispy fish with sweet and sour sauce
What we ordered: Cumin lamb, deep-fried chicken with dried pepper, fish with pickled pepper, crispy rice with chicken, pea shoot leaves with garlic (daily special, not on the menu), cold appetizers 

Number in our party: 6 (with Arun, Victoria, Dora, and Mara as guest judges--this was a first for us, guest judges who were strangers from the internet!  It was a Metafilter meetup, organized because someone had posted a link to the blog and people were curious to try a Convoy restaurant.)
Final check amount: $72.31
Price per person: $12.05
  • The cold appetizer that we tried was the "husband and wife" beef dish.  I (Miko) couldn't be a fair judge, since I can't handle offal in general, but Jenne reported that the tendon was a bit too chewy. (Tendon is usually kind of rubbery-firm, but you should be able to bite through it easily.  As far as I could tell there was no tripe in it, which is so totally fine with me. --Jenne)  The cucumbers were good in it, but the seaweed wasn't as good as others we've had.
  • The cumin lamb had a unique flavor that we hadn't tasted before.  Arun is half-Indian and eats a lot of cumin, but he had never had anything like this lamb.  The onions in the dish were nicely cooked -- not raw or limp.
  • The crispy rice was our favorite dish!  It wasn't spicy, so it was a nice break between the other dishes.  It had a comforting, home-cooked flavor, and it was seasoned just right. (Even though we asked for it without MSG!)
  • I would prefer the fish with pickles without the celery -- I thought that the celery flavor overpowered everything else.  Arun thought the fish was too soft.  Jenne and I wouldn't order it again.
  • According to Dora, the pea shoots were greasier than China Max's, but they were more tender.  Arun says they were standard -- not bad, not amazing.
  • The steamed rice was cooked well!  Rice that comes in big portions in plastic pots is often dried out, but not here!
  • I (Jenne) have been to Dede's several times before and I thought they were a bit off their game this time, but everyone seemed to enjoy it even so. 
  • The portions were giant! We ordered 5 dishes for six people, which is usually a bit on the low side I think, and we had a huge amount of leftovers. This is not a bad thing!
Address: 4647 Convoy St
Phone number: 858.297.5999
Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: Shared lot, very crowded at dinnertime
Ideal group size: 1-6
Available vegetarian options: We didn't check. There might be vegetable/tofu dishes, but we're not sure if we could trust that there's no meat product (like oyster sauce, for instance) hidden in it somewhere.
Noise level: 3, but it was a 3.5 or even a 4 by the time we finished because there was a big jolly party at the table next to us.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


It's very cute inside.
Lovely tomato?  Is it made with fish??
Tasty miso soup.
Rice cake yakitori -- it's a good idea!  Just needs better sauce.
This sauce was not delicious.
I think it would be good with just a little soy sauce and sugar.
They have a LOT of different rolls including something called the "Bill Gates Roll".
Does it use money instead of nori?
Okonomiyaki -- just kind of sad.
Miso salmon -- it sizzled excitingly as it came to the table, and we liked that it had a lot of vegetables, but the seasoning was kind of blah and the salmon was overcooked.
The rice was cooked well, but tasted of nothing.
Rating: Two thumbs down
Date: 1/19/13

Time in: 11:15 AM

Servers' recommendations: Miso salmon a la carte 

What we ordered:  Miso salmon a la carte, rice cake yakitori,
Number in our party: 2
Final check amount: I forgot to write it down, but according to my bank statement, I paid
$19.62 (including tip, and I tend to pay at least 20%)

  • The inside was very cute and carefully decorated, but even then, it doesn't quite have x-factor.
  • Everything was a tad on the expensive side, $1 or 2 more than we'd expect it to be.
  • The server was friendly and gave us one concrete recommendation.  We liked that, especially because the menu was very lengthy.
  • The miso soup was good.  It tasted like they actually made it.
  • The salmon was okay -- the thick fatty parts were pretty tasty, but the thinner half was dry and overcooked.
  • As Jenne said in the captions, the mochi dish would have been good if they had used a different sauce.  This one tasted like an overseasoned spicy ketchup.
  • The okonomiyaki was gigantic.  Anything tastes good with tonkatsu sauce and mayonnaise drizzled on it, but the pancake itself was gummy and chewy, and the bonito flakes on top tasted stale.
  • Jenne would disagree, but I'd rather go to Nozomi than Chopstix.  But that ain't saying much. 
  • Nozomi is kind of like a Japanese version of Ranchos in North Park.  Plants outside, lots of vegetarian options, and food that doesn't taste very good.    
Address: 4637 Convoy St, Ste 104
Phone number:
Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: Shared lot that's big for Convoy. It has spaces during the day, but hardly any at dinnertime.

Ideal group size: 1-6
Available vegetarian options: Very pescatarian, vegetarian, and vegan-friendly, with a menu specifically for them. More sushi roll options for vegetarians than other sushi spots.
Noise level: 3 with no one in the restaurant -- the music was loud, especially for an early lunch.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Jasmine Express

They are not kidding with this. 
While we were waiting around, a guy lopped off about half of it with a giant cleaver. 
I mean GIANT.

There are very busy ladies behind this counter. 
Make sure you know what you want!

They have a whole section of hot dishes that looked amazing--
we'll have to come back for lunch sometime.

Honey BBQ pork--
the container seemed to contain the same sauce that was already on it.

Fried ham-sui-gok, creamy egg yolk bun.
Inside the fried ham-sui-gok.

Shrimp rice roll.

Stir-fried sweet rice.

Steamed BBQ pork bun.

Elegant dining atmosphere.
Note: Our New Year's resolution is to post within a week of visiting a restaurant!
Rating: Two thumbs up
Date: 1/12/13
Time in: 11:10 AM
Time out: 11:55 AM
Servers' recommendations: We didn't get a chance to ask for one -- they looked awfully busy, and we were awfully hungry.
What we ordered: Shrimp rice roll, fried ham-sui-gok, steamed BBQ pork bun, creamy egg yolk bun, stir-fried sweet rice, honey BBQ pork
Number in our party: 2 
Final check amount: $20.95
  • Jasmine Express is the take-out section of Jasmine Seafood Restaurant.  We decided to count it as a separate place.  There are two picnic tables outside if you want to sit and eat. 
  • The BBQ pork was tasty, and it would be so good in fried rice!  I did run into some gristly bits though. 
  • The fried sweet rice reminds me of takikomi gohan.  
  • Make sure to come early in the day -- they run out quickly, and the food is freshest right when they open at 11. 
  • I love the gelatinous deliciousness that is the shrimp rice roll.  Yummm.
  • We were surprised when we took our first bite of the fried ham-sui-gok.  The outside crust is DELICIOUS, like a thin layer of really good fried senbei.  Underneath, it's a layer of mochi, and then pork filling in the middle.  The pork filling was a little sweet for our taste, but we liked it dipped in the tangy sauce for the shrimp rice roll.
  • The steamed BBQ buns were better than we remembered from our visit next-door.
  • The creamy egg yolk bun was also lovely. 
Address: 4609 Convoy St, Ste A
Phone number: 858.268.0888
Accepts credit cards? Yes, $10 minimum
Parking: Crowded shared lot
Ideal group size: Any
Available vegetarian options: Baked desserts, healthy vege dumpling (doesn't that sound sooo appealing...?), seared vege tofu rolls, vege rice roll, steamed Chinese broccoli
Noise level: 1

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Pangea Bakery Cafe -- CLOSED

Many delicious choices.

Decaf latte, since they tragically no longer have sea salt coffee.  WHY??
Our purchase.
Raspberry bun. 
I know it looks incredibly gross, but it is TRANSCENDENTLY DELICIOUS.
Taro bun.
Coconut buns.
The lady at the counter said that this is her dad's favorite.
It's one of mine (Jenne) too. :-)
Rating: Two thumbs up! 
Date: 1/6/13
Time in: 6:47 PM
Time out: 7:05 PM

Servers' recommendations: Small royal taro bun, raspberry bun, coconut buns
What we ordered:
Small royal taro bun, raspberry bun, coconut buns, decaf latte, white tea
Number in our party: 2 

Final check amount: $11.25
  • I (Miko) was feeling a trifle grumpy after my unsatisfying meal at Chopstix, and I demanded a dessert.  Luckily, Pangea was the next stop on the Conquest!  We've been coming here since it opened, and it's one of our favorite dessert places on Convoy.
  • The girl at the counter was adorable, and she had excellent recommendations.
  • The raspberry bun was exceptionally good, and it was a choice we would never have made on our own.
  • The taro bun was flaky on the outside, doughy on the inside, and absolutely delicious.  It's no wonder that it's a customer favorite.
  • Earlier in the day, you can grab baked goods that are fresh out of the oven at a special counter!
  • There's a LOT of space with lots of tables and comfy couches.  There was a group of 15 or so middle-aged Korean people having a meeting right next to us at this visit.

Address: 4689 Convoy St, Ste 100 
Phone number: 858.560.0688
Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: Weird one-way lot that never has any available spaces
Ideal group size: Any

Available vegetarian options:
Noise level: 1


Katsudon.  Pretty good! 
This reminded me of when I used to come here with my mom,
back in high school maybe?

Mabodon with tonkatsu.

This yakisoba made us very sad. :-(

Rating: One thumb down (Miko), one sideways (Jenne)
Date: 1/6/13
Time in: 5:52 PM
Time out: 6:50 PM
Servers' recommendations: Tonkatsu
What we ordered: Mabo don with tonkatsu, katsudon, yakisoba
Number in our party: 2
Notes (general comments in black; Miko's comments in blue; Jenne's comments in orange): 
  • The service was fine, but we wished they wouldn't keep switching servers on us -- they asked us the same questions right after each other. 
  • Our main server was quite handsome.
  • I have to admit that I had my mind made up about the rating before this visit -- I'd gone here with a friend before, and I had been terribly unimpressed.  They brag about how great their noodles are ("You have never tried Japanese food until you have tried our noodles!"), but the udon tasted like the instant packs you can get at the Japanese market.  Plus, the shiitake was bitter and awful!
  • ...And the mabodon was not much better.  I didn't even eat it all, and I always try my best to finish my rice.  The sauce was too sweet, and there was way too much of it for the amount of rice in the bowl.  The mabodon you can get in the prepared food section of Nijiya is way tastier and a little cheaper.
  • I'm going to sound like a snot here -- I'm not a great cook, but my katsudon is better.  It's not a hard dish to make, so even if Chopstix makes it okay, I wouldn't come here for it.
  • This restaurant has been here forever and used to be one of the few non-sushi Japanese restaurants around, so I still have a fondness for it, but for real you can get better versions of everything they have, somewhere else on Convoy.
  • I liked the mabodon the way I like Rice-A-Roni.  It tastes good, but you don't necessarily feel good about liking it.
  • I liked my katsudon, but Miko is right that hers is way better!
  • Yikes, the yakisoba.  It sure is difficult to find good yakisoba in San Diego, and Chopstix's was especially bad.  The noodles were the wrong kind and overcooked; there wasn't enough cabbage in it; the seasoning was bland and tasted artificial...  ALL WRONG!
  • The restaurant has almost-but-not-quite X factor.  It might be a good place to bring kids, since there's a lot of selection and the food is bland.

Address: 4633 Convoy St  
Phone number: 858.569.9171
Accepts credit cards? Yes 
Parking: A tiny lot shared with failed businesses. They have pretty good parking now, but if there were any other restaurants open in the same plaza, trying to find a space would be horrendous. 
Ideal group size: Any
Available vegetarian options: Many
Noise level: 3