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Yet another visitor to SD Convention Center

tipitina Dec 3, 2008 07:05 AM

Dear Fellow Hounds -
I have been searching your posts for leads on any authentic places, esp. focusing on Mexican and Japanese. Please let me know if I should add anything. I will be staying at the downtown hostel, but rented a car just so I can get around ISO unique places. This is what I have so far:

Tacos El Paisa
Aqui es Texcoco
Sushi Dokoro Shirahama
Okan
Kaito Sushi
Oto Sushi
Mariscos German
Nieveria Tourbu

I hail from the midwest and am always looking for new tastes that I can't get at home. I have to say I am impressed with the SD hounds for their great descriptions and passion for chow! Any comments or other recs greatly appreciated.

  1. d
    daantaat Dec 3, 2008 06:30 PM

    add Izakaya Sakura on Convoy for izakaya dining

    Tajima on Convoy for ramen

    Tsuruhashi Japanese BBQ on Convoy, same strip mall as Izakaya Sakura. May be a tad harder to sample more dishes if you're a solo diner or plan to eat lots.

    if you're willing to drive to Encinitas for Kaito, then hit up Yumeya in Encinitas on Hwy 101 for more izakaya dining.

    Definitely do not miss Okan! They are one of my favorite places right now!

    Mama Testa's has good tacos and a salsa bar. In Hillcrest.

    I have not been yet, but there's a yakitori place in Hillcrest on 6th Ave. I think it's Yakitori Yakyudori.

    4 Replies
    1. re: daantaat
      tipitina Dec 3, 2008 08:48 PM

      So how does Tajima's ramen compare to Santouka? Do they specialize in different style of ramen?

      Ya, all the talk about the gobo salad on the board really makes me want to go to Okan.

      Mama Testa's sounded very good too.

      1. re: tipitina
        c
        Cathy Dec 4, 2008 01:32 AM

        I like Tajima's broth more than Santuoka. I think Santuoka is overpriced.

        If for some reason Okan is way crowded (it is small), Sakura and Tsuruhashi are the next mini-mall North. You can walk to it around the corner.

        Just next to Okan is French Cake, which is very good if you are craving a bit of a sweet and some coffee.

        1. re: Cathy
          tipitina Dec 10, 2008 12:43 PM

          I am just now heading back to the snow and cold of Minnesota. I have to say this has been a great chow adventure. I made it to quite a few destinations. Without fail, I experienced the friendliest, most helpful, generous service that I have had anywhere with the exception of Shirohama, but even there I learned a few things.

          The first night I ended up at Sakura and ate as much as I could. It was difficult dining solo, but so worth it. The uni pasta, shredded vegetable tempura, uni shushi, anglefish liver and the sushi chef, Kazu, were fabulous. The uni was the very freshest I have had - even better than what Shirohama had the next day. Thanks to Kazu for introducing me to Tokoyama sake.

          The next night I had a reservation for Shirohama. They hadn't ask for my name when I called to make the reservation and since I had read mixed reviews about getting seated, I had a back up plan to head over to Okan if I didn't get in. I was disappointed when his wife said that there were no side dishes, only sushi that night. The place was empty, except their daughter. Although the sushi was not consistently mind blowing (I'm not sure that's possible anyway). His horse mackerel was wonderfully fresh and flavorful. The monkfish handroll was very good. The stand-out sushi that night was the salmon roe which he had steeped in sake and soy. It tasted crisp and bright. He was rightfully proud of it.

          The next day I made it down to Aqui es Texcoco and tried the head, rib and meat lamb tacos. They were all delicious, esp. the rib because it had more fat, but again what stood out was the caring and friendly nature of the people working there. Great place.

          For dinner I made my way back to Convoy to Okan. I arrived early and went next door to French Cake. I had a Teaima - pistachio and chocolate. Yum! Thanks Cathy for the tip! So my heart really belongs to Okan. Of all the places I went to, this place had it all. I loved the people, the space, the music and the food. Special thanks to Nanase and Beni for making my experience there so welcoming. I loved the spinach with cod roe, potato, onion, carrot, pork, fish cake and konyaku (?) simmered in mirin and soy, grilled saury and green tea tiramisu. Wow! You guys are lucky to have such a great place in San Diego.

          For my last meal I made it to Super Cocina. Between kare_raisu and Henri at the hostel recommending Super Cocina, I had to go there. Again someone magically appeared and insisted I tasted everything - that was the best. I settled on the puerco colorado and chilaquiles combination platter. The guy who helped me threw in a chicken taco that was delicious. Again, how nice is that? Everything was homey and tasty. We actually have a similar place in St. Paul at a mercado that I love. So it was fun to compare. Thanks again for the recommendations!

          1. re: tipitina
            kare_raisu Dec 10, 2008 03:41 PM

            Wow, that sounds fantastic and thank you for taking the time to report back. Thats the best part!

            I dont think anyone could have better a San Diego chow-tinery.

            Those chilaquiles are killer!

    2. d
      DougOLis Dec 3, 2008 08:32 AM

      excellent list and there's only a couple of places I might add:
      Santouka in the Mitsuwa Market for really good ramen
      Super Cocina despite some middling reviews lately (I haven't been in a couple of months)

      check out Kare_Raisu's post on this recent thread:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/573678

      Oto Sushi? Do you mean Sushi Ota?

      2 Replies
      1. re: DougOLis
        tipitina Dec 3, 2008 08:45 PM

        Thanks, at first I had really wanted to go to Super Cocina to check out their mole and puerco enchilados (? - I can't read my own writing!), but then I ran across the more middling reviews. I really only have 3 nights to get outside of downtown.

        Thanks for the lead on the ramen! We don't have any ramen places in Minnesota that I know of.

        Yes, I mean Sushi Ota.

        1. re: tipitina
          kare_raisu Dec 3, 2008 09:28 PM

          I think you should still check out Super Cocina. It will change your perception of Mexican food if you are from the midwest. It is our chowhound pillar in SD and I owe it a lot for cultivating my love for Mexican cuisine.

          Please go to at least SC, El Paisa or Aqui. That is the SD mex trifecta

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