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Ba Ren in SD - Recommended Dishes?

Will be making my annual visit to San Diego later this month and planning what has become an obligatory stop at Ba Ren on the way to North County. (At this point I'm not sure I'd be forgiven if I showed up without multiple dishes in tow.)

So anyway, would love recommendations for dishes to try at Ba Ren. Many thanks for any suggestions.

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    1. re: Josh

      The lamb is good, but after a few bites it becomes too heavy and rich.
      I dont mind fattiness in lamb but this was a little much. I might add, while I am not an opponent of MSG by any means, it was after eating this dish I had my only case of Chinese restaurant syndrome- my face became terribly tight.

      I can reccomend the cold appetizers. I could make a meal out of those and rice.

    2. Spicy cold noodles and any of the dry-cooked dishes.

      1. Fish Flavor Eggplant (no it doesn't have the remotest flavor relationship to fish), any of the rice crust dishes and the Jian Woo Fish, or maybe it's Woo Jian Fish. There is a stuffed kabota squash that is extremely good but must be ordered several hours ahead of time because it takes a long time to cook. The Chinese Pot Roast is also great.

        Don't overlook the cook appetizers which are located in the old converted steamtable by the front entrance

        1. Perfect - thanks so much to all.

          1. Most of the recs so far have been for things I like as well - though I'm not as fond of the dry cooked dishes as some others are.

            Additional favorites of mine:

            Ma Po Tofu - this is the way it is supposed to be done with sichuan peppercorns
            Ton-Nan Tai-An fish fillet - very hot spicy sauce with numerous fresh red chilies and a lot of tender fish fillets
            Chong Qing Hot Pot - A complex and very spicy stew of various ingredients

            I also have enjoyed the dishes with pickled peppers even though they don't have much pickled pepper taste. I've had both frog and chicken and enjoyed both.

            I should add that I have tried only a small portion of the menu as I am always torn between reprising the things I love and investigating something new.


            2 Replies
            1. re: Ed Dibble

              I agree with you ed on the dry cooked dishes.

              I havent had the pleasure of eating the Ma Po Tofu at Ba Ren. Could you describe it a little more?

              1. re: kare_raisu

                It's been a while, truthfully. Memory is that it was steamed tofu, spicy sauce with sichuan peppercorns also. It was the peppercorns that made the dish different from other versions I've eaten. Honestly, I wouldn't order it if I were by myself, but I liked the texture & spiciness at the feast we had at Ba Ren a couple (or three) years ago.


            2. Finally was able to talk a few asian co-workers to give this place a try. We had the Tong-Nan Tai-An Fish Fillet (very spicy), Dry cooked beef (medium spicy) and Smoked Duck (very smokey flavored). All were very, very good. Plus we had a combo cold appetizer plate (which for $5 is a steal): Sliced Beef and Tendon with special hot sauce, Pork cartilage (pig ear) with hot sauce and a pickled salad (celery and soy beans). The appetizer combo was the big hit. My favorite was the Sliced Beef and tendon.

              All in all a big thumbs up. Although Dede's on Convoy is very comparable, I might lean towards Ba Ren just because of parking and a bigger menu.

              2 Replies
              1. re: mikec

                Does a sd chowhound out there know of any other locales serving up cold appetizer a la ba ren? Its my favorite thing about the place.

                1. re: kare_raisu

                  Dede's does the cold appetizers, and if you enjoyed Dede's, one of the Chefs left(originally from ChongQing if I recall) and has opened his own restaurant:

                  China Chef Restaurant
                  9225 Mira Mesa Blvd #110
                  San Diego, CA 92126

                  Open Tues-Thurs 11am - 930pm
                  Fri-Sat 11am - 10pm
                  Sun 11am - 930pm
                  Closed Mondays

                  The menu is almost the same as Dede's, I find the heat to be a bit on the one-dimensional side(not enough peppercorn), and cooking skill in handling the food is not quite as good - though the food uses less oil, and the prices are cheaper. When you approach the restaurant go to your right, on the left is the fast food portion of the restaurant.

                  All of the dishes I've enjoyed at Dede's, weren't Sichuan per se, like the Cumin Lamb, and such.