Saturday, February 23, 2013

Friend's House

I (Jenne) was just getting over a cold, and this was the most comforting thing I could imagine right then.

So many panchan!  I had trouble fitting them all in one picture.

A spinning wheel?

This was SO HOT it took me forever to eat but it was delicious.

Rating: Two thumbs up
Date: 2/23/13
Time in: 12:46 PM 
Servers' recommendations: #11 (Dol Sot Bibim Bap), #12 (Kim Chi Dol Sot Bibim Bap), #17 (Man Doo La Myun), #22 (Soon Do Boo), #27 (Gae Ji Jae) 
What we ordered: #11, #17 
Number in our party: 2
Final check amount: $20.50
Price per person: $10.25

  •  It's very cozy inside.  They have X factor!  The place is full of the strangest assortment of knick-knacks, so it really does feel like you're at a friend's house -- a friend with a kooky grandmother who collects all kinds of junk at flea markets. There's an antique telephone where you walk in, and the stereo looks like a fake plastic rock.   
  • The booths are private with high wooden walls, and the cushions on the benches are really homey and cute.
  • The panchan is especially good here; they must make it themselves.  The potato panchan is delicious and still a little warm.  We asked for a second helping.  The jelly is better here than at other places.  It's usually so bland.  We don't get the lettuce with the Thousand Island dressing though -- ew.
  • The ramen dish is very comforting and well-seasoned.  There are TONS of noodles (probably 3-4 packs of ramen noodles) that aren't overcooked.  It has scrambled egg (and we all know how I feel about egg on anything) and carrots in it, with furikake sprinkled on top.  It's just the right level of spicy.  And it has dumplings in it!  The dumplings might have been packaged, but they're flavorful.  This would be a great hangover/cold food.
  • The bibim bap is also yummy.  The vegetables in it taste very fresh and are nicely cooked.  The dish is REALLY hot -- it sizzled for almost the entire meal.  That means there's a lot of good rice crust.
  • The servers could check in a little more often with water refills, but they were really nice.
Address: 4647 Convoy St, Ste 101A
Phone number: 858.292.0499
Accepts credit cards? Yes, 25 cents for orders under $10
Parking: Shared lot, still crowded
Ideal group size: 1-4
Noise level: 2

The Fruit Shop

Dragonfruit are surprisingly bland (or should I say delicate?) -tasting considering what they look like.
These are what's inside the jackfruit.  They taste sort of like honey and gasoline-flavored cantaloupe, but in a good way.

Rating: Two thumbs up!
Date: 2/23/13
Time in: 12:38 PM
Time out: 12:43 PM  

Owner's recommendation: Mangosteens
What we bought: Mangosteens, papaya
Number in our party: 2 
Final check amount: $15.31 for a bag of a dozen or so mangosteens; $10 something for a smaller pack of mangosteens and a package of Hawaiian papaya

  • The family who owns the place is SO nice.  They make you feel very welcome, and they shower you with samples.
  • They like to tell you all about the fruit you're getting, but you might not understand a thing they say.
  • They have a lot of fruit that's been cut up beautifully and packaged.  Thank God for that; we would have no idea how to cut into a jackfruit.  Have you seen how giant those things are?  They look like creatures out of "Monster's, Inc."
  • I love getting a coconut juice there and taking it to Dumpling Inn.
  • This is one of the few places we know that carries mangosteens, which are apparently very difficult to import.  If you've never had a mangosteen (and I hadn't until Jenne bought some from this shop), you should go buy some RIGHT NOW -- it is mangosteen season!  They taste like strawberry Starburst in fruit form. 
  • They don't have the most reliable hours -- they told us that they close earlier in the winter because they're afraid to be there after dark.  Aww.
4619 Convoy St, Unit A3
Phone number: 858.268.0888
Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: Crowded shared lot
Ideal group size: Any
Available vegetarian options: ALL!

Noise level: 2

Friday, February 15, 2013

Off-Convoy: Yamadaya

They have a nice patio, but it was a little too cold to sit there.

Note that the kara-age is fried BROWN! not pale beige.

Simple yet tasty salad.


Miko's tonkotsu shoyu ramen with GIANT piece of kakuni.

Plain tonkotsu.

My tonkotsu shoyu "Yamadaya" style, with both chashu and kakuni.  Get this one!
Rating: Two thumbs up, gold star potential (two thumbs up from Glennis and Laura too!)
Date: 2/15/13
Time in: 6:46 PM, sat down at 7:07 PM
Time out: 8:02 PM 
Servers' recommendations: Tonkotsu ramen
What we ordered: Yamadaya ramen (tonkotsu shoyu broth) with extra firm noodles with kara-age and salad (Jenne); kakuni ramen (tonkotsu shoyu broth) with mabo bowl and salad (Miko); tonkotsu ramen (Laura); tonkotsu ramen (Glennis)
Number in our party: 4 (Glennis and Laura as guest judges)
Final check amount: $48.81
Price per person: $12.20 average

  • The service was much friendlier than at Yakitori Yakyudori, but they weren't the most efficient.  The staff was always running to and fro and dropping things.  Seriously, we saw servers drop something at least 4 times during our visit.
  • The ramen broth was flavorful and fatty.  We liked the tonkotsu shoyu better than the tonkotsu regular.
  • Both the chashu and the kakuni were DELICIOUS. 
  • The kakuni ramen had a GIGANTIC SLAB of pork belly on top, and I can't tell you how satisfying it was to take giant bites of it.  I daydreamed about it for days afterward.
  • The marinated eggs were quite good.  I really can't do without the nicely marinated egg in my ramen anymore.
  • I do prefer the eggier, curlier ramen noodles -- they had straighter white noodles here.  I wish I could get just the noodles from RakiRaki and have Yamadaya use them.
  • I (Jenne) am a total princess and the pea about overcooked noodles, so I got mine extra-firm. Good call. They understand it better if you say you want "hard" noodles.
  • The kara-age was the best we've had in town.  It is SO DIFFICULT to find chicken that's properly fried on Convoy.  Here, it was crispy and well seasoned.  We were annoyed when the chicken came out with no mayonnaise on the side, but then, we didn't even miss it!
  • We liked that the salad was cabbage instead of lettuce, and the dressing was tasty! It was a nice break from the ramen and chicken, which can get heavy without a vegetable break.
  • The mabodon was just okay.  The rice was dry and rather flavorless.  Stick to the ramen + kara-age + salad combo.
  • Laura says that it was the closest she's had to the fabulous ramen she had in Yokohama on her Japan trip.

Address: 4706 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
Phone number: 858.483.3431
Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: A shared lot that's GIANT but still doesn't seem to have enough spaces
Ideal group size: 1-4
Available vegetarian options: Edamame and rice...?
Who not to bring: Vegetarians
Noise level: 3.5

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pho Convoy Noodle House

Egg rolls that don't make you wish you had ordered more?  Sad.

Broken rice dish -- I (Jenne) liked the chicken best.

Noodle dish--I thought it was kind of greasy and cafeteria-ish.

Beef wrapped in grape leaves.
They give you, like, an entire forest to go with the beef.  There are also rice paper wrappers that you dip in hot water.  I do always like an interactive meal...

Rating: Two sideways thumbs
Date: 2/13/13
Time in: Jenne arrived at 6:30 PM; Nick and I got there very late at 6:55 PM (Sorry, Jenne)
Servers' recommendations: #100 (Hủ Tiếu hoặc Mì Áp Chảo Gà (hoặc Bò): pan fried chicken with assorted vegetables with egg noodles)
What we ordered: #100, #56 (broken rice with pork and shrimp), Bò Lá Nho (beef stuffed in grape leaves)
Number in our party: 3 (Nick as a guest judge)
Final check amount: $45.85
Price per person: $15.28
(general comments in black; Miko's comments in blue; Jenne's comments in orange):

  • Sad.  Convoy Noodle House used to be our go-to for our weekly pho trips.  It was once a favorite.  Somewhere along the way, we started going to Saigon or Ca Dao instead, but we still thought Convoy Noodle House was good stuff.  At this visit, however, none of the dishes tasted very good.  Had we gotten snobbier or had the food gotten worse?  We think it might be a little of both.
  • The chicken in the broken rice dish tasted like grilled chicken sandwich at Burger King (which used to be called the BK Broiler, but now it goes by another name).  It was good, but that was a bit weird.
  • I have to say that I'm not a fan of the beef dish -- it's too sweet, and the meat's not fluffy enough.  My old roommate used to order it a lot because she was on a low-carb diet, and she really liked it.
  • The egg rolls were not great.  We didn't even finish the order between the three of us.
  • They packed up our leftovers for us.  We love it when restaurants do that.
  • I didn't try it on this visit, but I think the three-bean dessert here is my favorite in San Diego, and for that, I still give it a sideways thumb.  
  • I do like the beef dish, but I think it wasn't as good as it used to be.
  • We didn't have them this time, but their smoothie drinks are usually really good. Except the avocado one.  Gross.  I tried it once to be adventurous, but just.  No.
  • I do also like the bean dessert with the weird neon colored jelly things.  Yum!

Address: 4647 Convoy St
Phone number: 858.277.0133
Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: Shared lot, still crowded
Ideal group size: Any
Noise level: 1

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mapo BBQ Korean cuisine

Miko remarked on the "blinged-out" menu.
Bland panchan and weird-tasting kimchi.
I was charmed by the "Help Roaster" logo.
Bland mushy dumplings.
Bland tofu stew.
Rating: Two thumbs down
Date: 1/26/13
Time in: 8:46 PM
Time out: 9:31 PM 
Servers' recommendations: Tofu stews
What we ordered: Bean paste tofu stew, boiled dumplings
Number in our party: 2
Final check amount: $17.26

Price per person: $8.63 (but we were still hungry)

  • It was surprisingly spacious inside.
  • It was rather difficult to get a recommendation from the servers.  The first lady didn't speak a whole lot of English, but the fluent guy had trouble too.  They kept waving vaguely at the menu.
  • The boiled dumplings were clearly from a package.  In fact, they tasted suspiciously similar to the frozen Daylee Pride gyoza that I get at the Asian market.  I was not pleased -- for the same price I paid here for a dish of 10 dumplings, I could get a bag of 40.
  • The panchan was bland, and our favorites (potato salad, fish cake) were missing.  The kimchi had an odd flavor to it -- sweet and musty.  
  • Gah, the stew.  It tasted like miso soup, but with tough, stringy beef and clams that were definitely not the freshest.  We did ask for the stew to be mild, but it was so bland that we were forced to mix the kimchi into it.  And then we'd realize that the kimchi tasted funny and made the stew taste even weirder.
  • This was incredibly rude of me, but I called Red Moon Noodle House on my cell phone and ordered Singapore noodles while I was still sitting at the table, waiting for the check.  My mother would kill me if she knew.  I couldn't help it; the disappointing meal had taken away any shred of courtesy I'd had!  And we knew Red Moon was closing in just a few minutes!

Address: 4647 Convoy St, Ste 104 
Phone number: 858.565.0403 
Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: Shared lot, still crowded
Ideal group size: 2-6
Available vegetarian options: Vegetable tofu stew, chivas [sic] green pancake
Noise level: 2