Friday, November 19, 2010

Spicy City Chinese Restaurant

Shredded pork with Szechuan peppers
Deep fried chicken cubes
Cold noodles
Rating: Two thumbs up
Date: 11/19/10
Time in:
7:30 PM
Server's recommendations: Twice-cooked pork with garlic shoots, casseroles, deep-fried chicken cubes, shredded pork with Szechuan peppers
What we ordered: Cold noodles, shredded pork with Szechuan peppers, deep-fried chicken cubes, sauteed baby bok choi
Number in our party: 3
Final check amount: $36.84
  • Expect a line--we had to wait about 15 min.
  • Most of the food was just okay, but the cold noodles were SO AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS that it made the trip worthwhile.  When we go again, we're just going to each get an order of that and inhale it.
  • The server was very knowledgeable and had lots of recommendations.  We got the feeling he had literally tried everything on the menu.  And the menu is, in a word, extensive.
  • It was very like Ba Ren, only the flavors were more American-friendly.  Sweeter, maybe.
  • The deep-fried chicken cubes were very spicy.  Miko had to eat them with the baby bok choi.
Address: 4690 Convoy St, Ste 107 (Plaza del Sol)
Phone number: 858.278.1100
Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: Private lot shared with rest of plaza--spaces available
Ideal group size: 2-8
Available vegetarian options: There are a number of vegetable-only dishes, but make sure to ask because there can be hidden meat.
Who not to bring: People who can't eat spicy food -- there are non-spicy options, but the really good stuff is spicy.
Noise level: 3.5

Manna Bakery

Okay, so at last I will tell the story of Manna Bakery.  It was such a weird experience that we didn't really know what to say, but Miko insisted that I at least write something, so here goes:

As you know, part of the rules says that if we want dessert, we have to go to the next available dessert place.  And after our lunch at Dokdo Sushi, we wanted dessert, so we were excited to see that there was a bakery right there in the same plaza.  Hooray! we thought.  We can try some fabulous Korean desserts, whatever they might be!

It looks like it should be a bakery, right?
 So we went inside.  Inside, we found what looked like someone's house, with a large dining table, a couch, and a guy in an armchair with a giant cleaver and a big pile of roots. There was also a woman helping him.  Huh, we thought. Those look like gobo.  (Not a dessert food, as far as we know.)  There were also a lot of refrigerators with what looked like banchan in them.

Cleaver guy.
We felt very awkward, like we had accidentally walked into someone's living room, but since we were there to conquer, we forged ahead.So we asked him, Hey, what's that?  And he said, Gobo. 

Then, the door opened and two old white guys came in and looked around, confused, and asked the guy, Hey, what are those?  And we said, Gobo. 

The old guys apparently also felt awkward, and left, but we were there for dessert and by god we were going to get something, so we asked them, what do you have? 

This is what they had.

So we bought something that looked like mochi with kinako, and I (apparently in tourist mode) was like, HEY CAN I TAKE YOUR PICTURE? and then we left quickly, feeling like we had entirely missed the point.  Soooo...we don't recommend Manna Bakery as a bakery, but maybe it has some other purpose that we're not aware of.

This was $5, and not very good.

Dokdo Sushi

Salmon tempura roll.

Hot kiss roll!  Scandalous!
Side salad.
Miso soup.
Sushi guy.
Rating: Two sideways thumbs.  We actually had to come up with a "neutral thumbs" category for this restaurant, because while we didn't think any of the food was bad, exactly, we also wouldn't make any special effort to go back.  It was all just okay.  It's the kind of place you would go to if you worked nearby, but you wouldn't make a special trip.
Date: 12/3/10
Time out: After about a half hour?
Server's recommendations: Sushi lunch specials.
What we ordered: Hot kiss roll, salmon tempura roll (lunch special came with one special roll, spicy tuna/California roll, salad, and miso soup).
Number in our party: 2
Final check amount: $32.50
  • The server was very nice and helpful (as almost all the servers we've encountered so far have been).
  • There's a whole Korean side of the menu that we didn't even try.
  • The tuna in the spicy tuna roll was a little mushy.
Address: 4690 Convoy St, Ste 108 (Plaza del Sol)
Phone number: 858.278.1100

Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: Private lot shared with rest of plaza -- spaces available
Ideal group size: 1-6 for everyday dining, but there are party rooms available.
Available vegetarian options: Some vegetarian sushi options
Noise level: 2
Chopsticks: Provided without us asking  

Friday, November 5, 2010

China Max

Beef rice noodle.
BBQ pork buns.
Shrimp and spinach dumplings.
Shrimp har gow.
Baked custard buns.
Rating: Two thumbs up
Date: 11/5/10
Time in:
12:50 PM
Time out: 1:50 PM
Server's recommendations: Shrimp har gow
What we ordered: Shrimp and spinach dumplings, shrimp har gow, beef rice noodle, steamed BBQ pork buns, baked custard buns (We ordered from the Dim Sum menu but they have a lot of other things.)
Number in our party: 2
Final check amount: $21.40
  • The server was a very friendly and helpful "kind of adorable" older man.
  • We liked the shrimp and spinach dumplings best, but everything was good.
  • The bathroom was clean, but shabby.
  • Small plates were about $2.75, large were $4.50.
  • It has a very nice atmosphere (white tablecloths, nice patio).  You could come here for a celebration, but it's not too expensive and we didn't feel out of place in jeans.
Address: 4698 Convoy St
Phone number: 858.650.3333
Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-11pm; Sat-Sun 9am-11pm
Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: Private lot shared with rest of plaza -- spaces available.
Ideal group size: Any -- they even have banquet space upstairs.  Most of the dim sum came in multiples of 3, so keep that in mind.
Available vegetarian options: Mainly sweets; a few vegetable dishes.
Who not to bring: People who hate Chinese food?  Otherwise this would be a great place to bring almost anyone, including in-laws, children (if more or less well-behaved) or unadventurous eaters.
Noise level: 2
Chopsticks: On the table; no forks offered.