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NY/SF style Chinese food in San Diego

  • m

Now that Jimmy Wong's is gone, I don't know where to go for Chinese food in San Diego. I'm originally from NY and I prefer traditional style Cantonese and Hunan food. I mean god, greasy, large egg rolls, good egg drop and wonton soups, shrimp toast, real chow mein (not the stuff they call chow mein here, which is really lo mein), and, most importantly, egg foo young.

This is the type of stuff you find in Chinatown in both NY and SF. Jimmy Wong's on University was the only place I have found here in SD that qualified. Open till 3:00 AM (another important factor), a little divy, and good authentic food.

I think most San Diegans are used to restaurants like PF Chang's, which are overpriced, serve tiny portions, and have mediocre or worse food. Are there any transplanted New Yorkers or San Franciscans here in San Diego who know the type of place I'm talking about? If so, is there hope now that Jimmy Wong's is gone? Does anyone know of another good, authentic Chinese restaurant like I've just described?

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  1. From your description, it sounds like you're describing the old fashioned "Cantonese" style (but "made in USA") stuff. When I first came to San Diego, there were a lot of those places (Chop Suey joints), with the old China Land on Midway perhaps the foremost exponent. I seem to recall Jimmy Wongs having the same type of menu.

    Over the years, however, people have been introduced to a wider range of different dishes, arguably more authentic, and few diners (or chefs) have much interest in the old stuff. I'd bet you'd have trouble finding it even in NY and SFO. Having said all that, I fully empathize with you; I grew up eating in those kinds of joints, and occasionally get nostalgic for "Number 1 Family Dinner." Let us know if you unearth anything.
    . . . jim strain in san diego.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jim Strain

      What's the name of that restaurant in Hillcrest--the Hong Kong? That doesn't sound right. It's near University on 5th, if I recall correctly. They serve wonderful chow fun...and yes, egg foo yung, and lo mein that reminded me very much of the lo mein I used to eat in NY Chinatown, back in the 70s. There are pots of hot mustard on the tables, and sweet plum sauce, and fried noodles come before you eat.

      It just might fill the bill for the OP. But what the heck is the name of it?

      1. re: cristina

        Hong Kong is the name. It's on 4th, between University and Robinson, and is open until (I believe) 2-3am.

    2. If you're really feeling nostalgic try Mandarin House in Bankers Hill. I used to work right next door, and when I met him - my husband's apartment was in the same block, so we used to go there for takeout occasionally. They have good pan fried dumplings (dump the entire cup of chile oil in the carton and shake it up!) and I like the crispy beef and pan fried noodles, but stay far far away from the lemon chicken, it's doused in some sort of neon yellow goo.

      1. There is a place on Pearl St. in LJ that touts "NY Style Chinese Food" right on the sign. Located next to El Pescador, near Mitch's. I have not tried it. Mandarin Wok on Balboa sound like what you might be looking for.

        "I think most San Diegans are used to restaurants like PF Chang's", Ouch, this is kind of a sterotype, and a little insulting. I think most people on this board from SD know their Chinese food rather well.

        I hope you find what you're looking for, although it's not authentic Chinese food.

        Cheers

        1 Reply
        1. re: stevuchan

          Yeah, he has us totally confused with Orange County.

        2. It's not a stereotype--most people from SD wouldn't know good Chinese food--or most cuisines, for that matter--if it bit them in the nose. Please, the Chinese scene does not even come close to that in the cities the originator of this post indicated. If you think so, I encourage you to buy a plane ticket and travel.

          Best bet is to save it for a trip back to NY, SF, or LA (Monterrey Park or Chinatown)...I've tried the place on Pearl n La Jolla and it is not like what you are looking for and nothing special...downtown, I have been to Red Pearl Kitchen--which serves "Pan Asian", consisting of a choice of Chinese (very good, but not the NY style you have asked for) as well as Thai and Japanese/sushi dishes.....SD does a much better job in Thai cuisine than it does Chinese.

          9 Replies
          1. re: El Chevere

            Ouch again. I was not comparing NY,SF,LA to San Diego. Please re-read the post, don't just read...comprehend.

            1. re: stevuchan

              you may have not been comparing the Chinese food scene in SD to NY or SF, but the originator of this post was. Furthermore, you claimed that most people in SD "know their Chinese food quite well"--which, if they did, they would compare it to NY and SF and realize that the offerings in this region are weak....feel free to elaborate on the "non-authentic" offerings in these other 2 cities.

              1. re: El Chevere

                In cities like NY and SF, there are some amazing things to eat that aren't available anywhere else. That doesn't mean, however, that everything in those places is superior to what one can get in Keokuk or even San Diego. NY is home to lots of great pizza, for example, but that city also supports a lot of very successful Domino's stores operations. To quote Steveuchan, if you read carefully, I really think you'll see that the only one who has compared "the Chinese food scene" in SD to NY or SF is you.

                1. re: Jim Strain

                  Please, not every place in NY, SF, etc. is superior to Chinese elsewhere, such as Podunk or Ames, Iowa. Believe it or not, they do have crappy fast food chains, such as Panda Express, in NY malls that most people in San Diego would vote as "Best Chinese Restaurant" in a San Diego Reader poll. I also, never realized Domino's billed itself as "NY Pizza". However, having grown up in NY I Domino's never was nor never will be my 1st choice when I'm in the mood for pizza. Surely, you can distinguish the differences. What's next--will someone from Salt Lake City post they have waterfront places that rival La Jolla and you'll agree?

                2. re: El Chevere

                  The originator was looking for NY/SF style in SD, he was not comparing. Also I calimed "most people on this board from SD", this board being chowhound, which is a lot diffrent than most people in SD. The non-authentic I was refering to is "greasy, large egg rolls, good egg drop...".
                  I also dissagree, I think SD does Chinese better than Thai. Please post your favorite Thai spots, I've been to most (SD proper) and always on the look out for a new good one. Any way, if we define chinese food as food from China (all styles included, even greasy egg roll stlye) I would put Ba Ren up against any place in the nation (yes it's that good).

                  Cheers

                  1. re: stevuchan

                    This post may be off-topic.

                    Would you be interested in going to Ba Ren this Thursday? A few folks on the SDChow yahoogroup email list are trying to get together for that night (9/28). All chowhounds and wannabes (like me) should feel free to sign up; the more the merrier.

                    1. re: Joseph

                      Please post an email address for the Yahoo group, so that those interested may reply there. It sounds like fun, but organizing get-togethers are off topic for this board.

                      Thanks.

                      1. re: The Chowhound Team

                        In order to send an e-mail to the SDChow group you have to be a member. To become a member all anyone needs to do is send a blank e-mail to -

                        SDChow-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

                        or

                        SDChow-digest-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

              2. re: El Chevere

                Sorry. Posted a reply here, meant to reply to MVNYC. Have moved it.

              3. You mentioned egg foo young. The best I have ever had is at a tiny dive in Pacific Beach named Super Wok. I never even liked egg goo young until I had it here. The old chinese man who runs the kitchen cooks this dish one at a time, fresh to order, and the portions are huge. If there are people ahead of you there can be a bit of a wait as he is the only person in the tiny kitchen, working with only four burners.

                Super Wok
                4468 Ingraham St. (SW corner of Garnet behind Chevron)
                858 270 4859

                4 Replies
                1. re: Captain Jack

                  Nice to see Super Wok still doing well. It was my favorite for takeout when I lived in PB. Don't really recall much about the style of the food any more. Good but not memorable, I guess.

                  The OP should check out Kirk's blog as Kirk has definitive and informative reviews of numerous Chinese restaurants. I think the OP is looking for what Kirk calls ABCDE places: American Born Chinese Dining Establishments. Here's a link to Kirk's Chinese restaurant posts:

                  http://mmm-yoso.typepad.com/mmmyoso/c...

                  good eating,

                  ed

                  1. re: Ed Dibble

                    Strangely enough, there's not really that much classic "Chop Suey House" type cuisine(i.e. Egg Foo Yung, General Tso's chicken) in San Diego. I can think of Mandarin Wok(There's an article on the wall saying best Chinese Restaurant from something like 1984???), the afore mentioned Mandarin House(a few coworkers love this place - food was so sweet it hurt my teeth) and Szechuan Mandarin - who a former coworker from NY said was really good, it's on Mission Gorge Road - I've never been there, though. Here's the website.

                    http://www.sze-man.com/

                    Good Luck in finding New York Regional Chinese Cuisine. It's rather funny, when I moved from Hawaii to the West Coast I found that Chow Mein in LA, is what I knew to be Lo Mein in Hawaii......

                    1. re: KirkK

                      Szechuan Mandarin is in my neck of the woods and I used to eat there occasionally when I still worked in Mission Valley. My under-edcuated Asian tastebuds liked it and their lunch special is a pretty good value, and at lunch they are f-a-s-t. They do a nice job on their fish and noodle dishes.

                      One day a co-worker and I arrived early for lunch, before the crowd. At the table across from us was an elderly Asian woman cleaning and stringing an enormous mound of snow peas that covered nearly the entire table.

                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        Wow this has become a really informative post. Just had my memory jogged, China Inn on Hornblend in PB, fits the bill for Egg Foo Yung, Gnrl Tso chicken, Poo Poo plater, egg drop, etc.

                        Cheers