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Asia-Vous (SD) closed

We finally wanted to try Asia-Vous in Escondido which some friends called the best restaurant in San Diego and contacted Chef Riko if it would be possible to get a tasting menu but unfortunately we got the response that the restaurant closed last Tuesday. It is sad to see that in the last year several good restaurants (Region, Cafe Cerise, Asia Vous) have closed in SD.

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  1. That's too bad, but I have to say I'm not tremendously surprised given that when we were in there a few months ago only a few tables were filled. Hopefully he will continue to cook in the area.

    It is sad that those places have closed, but several good places have also opened in the past year as well.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Alice Q

      Looks like the chef is moving to Maui.


      I have no association with that blog.

    2. good restaurants closing happens everywhere...I'm hoping this doesn't turn into another bash SD thread because we don't appreciate good food.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ibstatguy

        It shouldn't, Asia Vous closing isn't about SD or Escondido not appreciating good food. It's more about that old real estate maxium... location, location, location. Asia Vous was in the wrong location for what it was doing. The customer base in Escondido simply wasn't big enough to support it, the restaurant didn't (or couldn't) pull enough from folks in from RB, and the horrible weeknight traffic and construction on I-15 North were enough of a deterrent to making the trek for those of us more centrally located in SD. If I'm going to Escondido, I'm going on the weekend, not after work. Somehow, I don't think I'm in the minority on this.

        But, that said, there are still several upscale restaurants in Escondido that have survived and thrived (such as 150 Grand and Vincents). So why didn't Asia-Vous? Could have been menu mix (which I doubt) could have been price points, could have been under capitalization (most likely), could have been bad management, could have been spiraling costs. There are lots of reasons it closed, other than San Deigans don't "get", "do" or "understand" good food. I think not appreciating good food is probably pretty far down the list of reasons why Asia Vous closed.

      2. I am very sad to see Asia Vous go. Dining there was always a great experience and I never had anything I didn't like there, plus I got to try new things that I hadn't tried before.

        For my husband and me it was a special occasion place since unfortunately we couldn't afford to eat there all the time. We will be trying to find another San Diego restaurant that doesn't have a "fixed" menu and always looks for creative ways to use seasonal, fresh ingredients.

        I wish Riko and Kim and their family the best.

        1. I am sad as well...we celebrated many occasions there the last few years. We got our friends a nice gift certificate for CHristmas and I know they have not used it yet...oh well, their loss. We were planning to go there on the 31st for a friend's 40th bday, now we are looking for something else. considering El Bizcocho.
          what a huuuuuuge bummer!

          1. This is a huge loss to the dining scene because no one did asian fusion like he did. I was out of town for a month and came back to find the restaurant closed. If I had a sword to fall on, I would. Riko made the comment a few months ago after he was in a local cooking competition of local top chefs, that the judges didn't just didn't get his food. If he is going/has gone to Mauai, I suspect it is to work with Roy Yamaguchi who knows him. Riko was the only local chef Roy invited to a special dinner in San Diego several months ago. An exacting chef, a nice guy, an ever-evolving huge talent, I hope Hawaii "gets" him. He has worked there before, so.....good luck to Kim and Riko. I'm booking my tickets for Mauai this winter and hope my husband and I don't get arrested for stalking.

            4 Replies
            1. re: cinderz

              I am with cinderz 100%. We have been following Riko around the county from 150 Grand, to the W, to Maderas and then to Asia Vous. In my view no has been as bold as he in blending his flavors. And, while bold, and while their descriptions might often raise an eyebrow, the results were always wonderful. On top of that he and his wife were nice people who ran a beautiful little place there in Escondido that will really be missed. I am sure he is right -- that San Diego didn't "get him" -- and that is truly our loss.

              1. re: eatemup

                "I am sure he is right -- that San Diego didn't "get him" -- and that is truly our loss."

                Did he say that, or was it just the blogger?

                It wasn't San Diego that didn't "get him", they didn't get THERE (as Dining Diva said). Hell, I lived in RB, and getting up there for dinner before 8 on a weekday could be painful. Had Asia Vous been in many other locations, I think it would have been just fine.

                If one wants to claim that Escondido didn't get him, that is fair. But, without bashing Escondido too much, the number of people that dine at a place like Asia Vous, on a regular basis, is going to be quite limited. Even the customers that he could get are often commuting from elsewhere, and aren't in the mood to head out for a late dinner during the week.

                1. re: RB Hound

                  Actually, that is exactly what Riko said - but he was referring to the judges of the cooking competition NOT the diners or San Diego customers. . He had come into the restaurant right after the end of the competition; I believe the winner was Patrick Ponsaty of Bernard O's in RB that won the competition with some sort of pork belly dish . Diners seem to be more comfortable with French when it comes to more upscale dining (and my son owns a French bistro) but I always felt that Riko's take on asian fusion was far ahead of anyone else. After I got over my initial deep funk on the demise of Asia-Vous, I thought that this was probably a great move for Riko who has cooked in Mauai before and obviously will find a customer base more used to his approach. No tears need be shed for anyone relocating to Hawaii, just the cust omers who will miss his innovative food.

                  By the way, I live in Rancho Bernardo and never had a problem with the commute. 15 minutes off the Pomerado Road exit in RB to the parking space in front of Asia-Vous. I suspect there are a lot of factors in the closing of Asia-Vous; but as they say at funerals, they're at a better place. And, if anyone cares, Riko felt that the best restaurant he had eaten in recently was Market.

                  1. re: cinderz

                    A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to do a special night at Parallel 33 in which Riko and Amiko Gubbins cooked in tandem. It is still one of the best meals I've ever had in SD. Creative, light, sophisticated, Asian inspired but not really, it was just a phenomenal combination of dishes and flavors. Sadly, neither one of them is cooking in SD anymore , which is our loss.

            2. I am still crying... we tried to support it as much as we could. Told everyone we knew and bought a few gift certs as gifts for Christmas last year. I love the tuna tartare, the pork and the steaks he usually had. I begged for the yuzu curd napoleon and the yuzu cosmo was very refreshing. I am going to Maui on Friday, too bad he is not there yet.
              Once I went there for lunch and I got the pork to take home for dinner. He wrapped up all the ingredients separately and wrote instructions on how to heat it up and how to assemble it...it was great.

              ahhhh I forgot the amazing fries at lunch.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Ela0427

                I'm glad somebody is as devastated as I was rather than the usual monday morning quarterbacking as to why the restaurant closed. I always ordered the tuna tartare unless I forgot the diet and got the truffle fries. Riko would fix the sweetbreads for my husband at lunch even though they weren't on the menu until evening as an appetizer. If you find out where he will be in Mauai, please post it on this board. From the time we first met him at 150 Grand, he has evolved significantly as a chef. I wouldn't compare 150 Grand to Asia Vous. And Sirino's is traditional (and very good) French. Riko was/is an original. He really is TOP CHEF ! Upwards and Onwards, Riko.

                1. re: cinderz

                  He will most likely reopen the restaurant in Kapalua, Maui using the same concept as with Asia-Vous but also add a full service sushi bar.

                  1. re: honkman

                    As I recover from the mortification of my misspelling "Maui", I would like to so sweetly ask if this could be true: that Riko will be reopening the same restaurant in Maui? My pillow won't be so tear-stained if this comes to pass.... Or I could spend the next year googling his name to find out where he landed. I hope this doesn't sound pathetic, but Riko's openess with anyone interested in his food and willingness to share recipes really gave me more guts in my own kitchen. I think I appreciated his courtesy as much as his cooking.

                    1. re: cinderz

                      I contacted him by email and his response was that they are planning to open a restaurant in Kapalua using the same concept but adding a full service sushi bar. He didn't give any timelines when they are planning to open.

                      1. re: honkman

                        Thank you SO much. I can rest easy now and retire from this particiular board. I'm just sad I didn't have the chance to say goodbye. If you ever do have contact with him again say Cynthia and Dick, the Bicoastal couple, wish them the absolute best and may even see him/them in Maui if my cousin lets me use her condo. Thanks again, Honkman.

                        1. re: honkman

                          Honkman, these comments are mostly for you...Out of the blue, Riko emailed me and he IS in Maui but has no intention of going back into the restaurant business for a couple of years. He has landed in a pot of jam as a private chef to some very devoted former customers at Asia-Vous, and will be working on a cookbook. He apparently recognized me from the comments on this board and emailed me at an old email address that I haven't used in 2 years. (I actually suspect that his wife Kim wrote the email I got). Anyway, he sounds very happy with his current situation. I really hope that the public at large gets to eat his food again one of these days.

                          1. re: cinderz

                            Cinderz, thanks a lot for the update. I am looking forward to read his cookbook. I am collecting cookbooks and his might be an interesting one.