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Oct 26, 2009 06:00 PM

Fish tacos, sushi, thai and more [San Diego]

Hi all,

I will be in San Diego soon and I want to eat well and eat stuff that are hard to come by in my neck of the woods. I have done some preliminary research but need to fine tune my choices.

I love fish tacos and I am going to hit up Mariscos German and possibly Mariscos el Pescador and/or Tacos El Poblano. I am also looking forward to trying a gobernador, the description sounds fantastic.

I have also singled out Sab-e-Lee because I love thai.

I am also looking for great sushi and sashimi that is affordable. Will Kaito Sushi be what I am looking for?

I am also planning to hit a large Asian supermarket. Any suggestions? I know there is a Mitsuwa but that is mostly Japanese.

Any other suggestions that are better for the categories I mentionned? Is there something else I should put on my must eat in SD list?

I love Indian but I don't get the sense that it's something I should seek out in SD. Please correct me if I am wrong.

What about bahn mi and vietnamese in general...any great ones? If I have time I will also go to Ba-Ren. Are their XLB good?

Finally, I may or not have a car for my stay. Is it going to be difficult to reach these places? What hours do the taco trucks keep?

Thanking you in advance and sorry for the many many q's

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  1. "large Asian supermarket" - Ranch 99 might be your best option. There are many smaller ones all over SD, e.g. Nijiya, Vien Dong, Lucky Seafood, Zion etc.

    "Indian" - Your best options are in the Miramar area with Saranti Farsan, Punjabi Tandoor but Indian food is relative weak in SD.

    " Is it going to be difficult to reach these places?" Without a car definitely. If you are planning to explore all these areas you should better get a car.

    1. Please let us know how you liked everything. it can be a bit of an echo chamber here at times, and some feedback from an out of towner would be fantastic.

      Mariscos German and Mariscos el Pescador have nearly identical menus and only slight variations in the recipes. You can certainly taste and see the difference, but doing both might be a waste of a good opportunity. You might think about trying a place like TJ Oyster Bar which has the same quality but goes in a different direction. And....... don't burn me at the stake..... I actually like the traditional fish tacos at TJ Oyster Bar better than those two trucks.

      Mariscos el Pescador is waaaaay down in South Bay and will be hard to get to without a car. Mariscos German is closer, but I'm not sure if a bus goes by there. Where are you staying? I may be able to recommend something easier to get to.

      I'm not even sure if Tacos El Poblano has fish tacos. I didn't think they did......... But it's a great place for carne asada (I suggest getting it without guacamole). You should be able to get to it by bus, but I'm not positive.

      Also keep in mind that the "traditional" SD fish taco is not all that exciting. If you just want to try one the Rubio's chain actually does a nice version, if you happen to pass a Rubio's. The rest of their food is...... not so good.

      If I had to point a tourist to one Mexican seafood place of the sort you seem to be interested in, it would be Mariscos German, the one on University most likely. Go with an appetite big enough to try several things.

      Hours on the trucks unknown, but I think they are both lunch only trucks.

      3 Replies
      1. re: y6y6y6

        I am staying downtown about half a mile from the convention center.

        1. re: hungryann

          Great options for Mexican food downtown are very slim. It tends to be either overpriced or too common to go out of your way for.

          A bit east of the convention center are four standouts -
          La Fachada - rustic TJ style street tacos.
          Tacos El Paisa - more street tacos
          Mariscos German - their truck on Oceanview
          Las Cuatro Milpas - Unique old school SD place

          Captain Jack's recommendations below are spot on, as are Kirk's.

          A bit further from downtown, near the intersection of University and the 805 are three of my favorites -
          Marisco's German Taco Truck 3
          Super Cocina - Homestyle, freakin delicious. Try samples.
          El Comal - Authentic Mexican dressed up a bit

          As far as "must try" places, I think I would suggest either Mariscos German or Mariscos el Pescador for seafood tacos, and either La Playita or TJ Oyster Bar for ceviche/cocktails.

        2. re: y6y6y6

          I like TJ Oyster Bar but I am not crazy about their Mustard heavy batter for their fish tacos. Its too weird.

        3. Here's a thread where I left bus directions from downtown to the Mariscos German truck on University and 35th.

          It may be different depending where you stay, but as long as you find your way to route 10, you'll find the truck. The truck closes around 4-5pm. I've picked up tacos around 5ish before, but that's usually when they start closing up.

          Sab-e-Lee is a great choice. Ba Ren doesn't do XLB, but XLB isn't something that you'll find great versions of in SD. Search the board for xiao long bao and KirkK, b/c Kirk did a XLB servey a while ago.

          Indian... check out Punjabi Tandoor. It's in Miramar and you'll need access to a car. Also, on Black Mountain Road and Miramar Rd. there are Indian restaurants and markets worth trying.

          Vietnamese is plentiful in SD. My latest is Minh Ky, but it's not a pho place... egg noodle soups and the cuisine is Vietnamese influenced by the Chinese expats living in Vietnam. Minh Trung does a great bun bo hue. Decent pho is fairly easy to find around here... search the board and you'll find tons of recs. Pho ga (chicken pho) is done really well at Pho Cali in Mira Mesa (ask for the chicken on the bone... you'll get tender dark meat with skin on, which pairs fabulously with the rich broth and noodles). Banh mi is pretty good at K Sandwiches. I like to pick up a banh mi dac biet and an iced cafe sua da, which is coffee with condensed milk, and head to the beach. Cafe Dore and Saigon Cafe and Deli are also Chowhound favorites, so they're worth seeking out.

          What are you looking for in an Asian market? Depending on its regional specialties, each one will be different.

          Kaito's a Chowhound darling, but it's not cheap.

          For more Mexican, Super Cocina and Aqui Es Texcoco are two of my favorites. We also have great Ethiopian restaurants... I like Asmara in City Heights for mom-and-pop atmosphere and, for a slightly upscale feeling, Muzita in University Heights is a great place for a night out. If you're a beer fan at all, definitely try some of our local brews.

          Lastly, I strongly suggest having access to a car, otherwise you're going to be riding the bus for a while. Our routes tend to be long to maximize service area and they did a big revamp of the system a while ago where service concentrated on more heavily populated areas. Some of these restaurants are fairly easy to reach, others are located in areas that aren't really served by transit.

          12 Replies
          1. re: geekyfoodie

            So where to for good affordable sushi? I am thinking about 30$/pp for a variety of sashimi, maki and nigiri.

            1. re: hungryann

              If I wanted very good fish on a budget, I would go to Sakura and order a chirashi. It's like a selection of sashimi on a bowl of sushi rice. I think it's around $22-$25. There are other affordable sushi places, but usually the fish quality suffers.

              1. re: Ed Dibble

                Yeah, Ed's recommendation is probably one of your best bets. You can also do some of Sushi Ota's "sushi combinations", but you're not going to get a ton of food for $30/pp.

            2. re: geekyfoodie

              Geeky, have you tried the Pho Ga at Bolsa in MM? It is really hard to beat IMO, also across the intersection is Bale for my new favorite Banh Mi.

              1. re: stevuchan

                Is that the same Bale that used to be in Linda Vista?

                I need to go back to Bolsa. I've only been once (the eastern end of MM is a bit of a long drive from me... live in North Park, work in Torrey Pines) and I had a splitting migraine, so I barely remember being there, let alone what the food tasted like.

                A good pho ga is not to be underestimated. Chicken soup, no matter which culture it came from, is always a staple in comfort food.

                1. re: geekyfoodie

                  Yeah nobody in my family really eats pho ga at Cali. Its now called Pho Cow Cali btw, gotta be careful, many variations on the cali name now. :D Bolsa is the spot for pho ga for all of us. Cali for beef pho. But it's been years since we had pho ga at Cali, so it may be good. Some like the pho at Lucky Seafood across the street. i liked it when they were still 79 at the end of Mira mesa and it was 2 for 1 pho, and the pho was very good.

                  Pho Hoa in east san diego on Euclid and El Cajon is considered among vietnamese the best in the City, as was the Pho Hoa in linda vista (behind the skating rink) until it was taken over by my friends family. Haven't been there lately so not sure how good it is now (the son also opened on in Pacific Beach).

                  geekyfoodie, you've got that Vietnamese food list down! Weird thing is, I grew up with kids of owners of all the shops you mentioned, small world. I don't frequent East San Diego any more, but Dore (whose daughter owns Ebisu, a dear friend of mine) used to have a wonderful bale sandwich. Growing up my mom would buy me baked bbq pork buns (xa xiu in viet, I think char siu or something) next door in the bakery. Saigon I visited almost weekly when I was a teenager. 10 years ago - do they still have the fish tank in there?

                  What do you guys think of Pasteur, in Kearny/Linda Vista? That is our family's go to restaurant for special events. Bo 7 mon (7 course beef) is intoxicating. They also have a rice dish with a fried chicken (not breaded), Com Bat Buu Ga. The rice is fried (without any ingredients) and a cooked egg on top. Delicious. Their menu is awesome, but I noticed they took down all the pictures of game they used to sell, not sure if they still offer it or what, I never eat that stuff, my dad loves it.

                  Thanks to Chow, me and the lady ventured to Ba Ren. I was sick as a dog, but she dragged me out to Fashion Valley, so I said I wanted something spicy to kick my cold in the butt. And Ba Ren did the trick! Only two of us so all we had were the beef casserole (hot pot), cold nooldes, and smoked duck. I found the duck salty (but I'm used to that, wash down with white rice) but my lady who doesn't even like duck was loving it. It was good. The cold noodles were the highlight. I could eat those all day. The hot pot was good, but they sliced the beef along the grain and it made it quite hard to bite. I took a look at the cold counter and I knew I had to try that the next time. Lotsa goodies in there, beef tongue and tripe I have to buy some next time.

                  1. re: deeznuts

                    Your story reminds me of a student I had when I was TAing at UCSD. She's Vietnamese and we were talking about food. I mentioned that Phuong Trang was the first Vietnamese restaurant I found in SD and she laughed, because she'd grown up with the daughters of the owners, the same girls who run the register today. It was my student's family's go-to place for special events.

                    We had a Chowdown at Saigon restaurant a while ago (has it been more than a year... yikes)... it would have been great to have you there! We'll have to set up another one. I think the fish tank was still there.

                    I've been dying to try the banh mi at Saigon Sandwiches and Deli (next door to Cafe Dore), but they close by late afternoon on Fridays. I used to have a regular volunteering thing in City Heights on Friday afternoons and stopped by a couple of times. Must go back soon. Yet, I'm in the Convoy/Linda Vista area more frequently and K Sandwiches is so convenient.

                    I've been wondering about Pho Pasteur in the K Sandwiches plaza. I've never been, but is it separate from the Ahn Hong next door? There's an Ahn Hong in the San Gabriel Valley that specializes in Bo 7 Mon and I was hoping this one might be from the same family. I'm really excited to hear that there's good B7M in San Diego... I'd given up on finding a restaurant that did it well.

                    You know what? I think I was referring to the wrong Pho Cali in MM... I was thinking of Pho HOA Cali, which is in the same plaza as the Fresh and Easy. The food is mediocre, but their pho ga is definitely one of those surprisingly good items that one wouldn't expect them to have.

                    Thanks for the rec on Pho Hoa... I'm going to have to try it soon!

                  2. re: geekyfoodie

                    Not sure of the Bale lineage, Deeznutz seems to know a lot of folks in the biz. Liked everything I've tried at Bolsa so far.

                    1. re: stevuchan

                      The bale in Mira Mesa (next to Lucky and Tan ky mi gia) was actually opened by my Uncle. He is/was a horrible business person however, and I was waiting for it to shut down. Apparently they did sell it, but I have heard it was the LV bale owners, but cannot confirm it (my mom doesn't particularly care for my dad's brother, so yeah ... haven't spoken to them in a while lol.

                      geekyfoodie, pasteur is the same as Anh Hong. They sprawl the names out, Pho Pasteur, Anh Hong, and Bo 7 Mon but they're the same restaurant. They used to own Pho Tau Bay which is where K Sandwiches is now if you recall. I'm not sure that it's the same Anh Hong in SGV, as Vietnamese tend to copy names and just open stores with the exact same name (there were about 5 Pho Hoa Cali's until they all broke up, started fighting etc.). I have not had B7M in SGV, so maybe San Diego is not up to par, please give it a try and let us know if you do, if it's up to snuff. I've had it in Orange County but not for many moons. The only part that can be messed up is maybe the meat rolls, if they're too dry etc. Usually the veggies are fresh, the stinky sauce stinking (I love that stuff mam nem, my girl whose family is from the south do not eat that, they eat nuoc mam instead) She's actually up in Burbank for six months for work, so I may try the B7M up there to compare, is Anh Hong the best?

                      So the Pho next to Fresh and easy, ballys etc. is now Pho Hoa cali? It used to be Pho Hoa something else, but not cali. They must have changed names again. I hardly eat there because I moved out of Mira Mesa but I liked their take out pho, it always cooked up better at home than the other places.

                      It is kind of weird I have a personal connection to almost every restaurant mentioned. The vietnamese food and retail community is quite small. A lot of them are (and I'm butchering this just spelling it phonetically) Chu Chau chinese who lived in vietnam. K sandwiches (brother and sister there are my lady's long time friends), International/quoc te, Vien Dong, Shun Fan markets San Gabriel Superstore etc. (son is my lady's ex-bf ... jeez) gold stores etc. For some reason we don't eat at her friends places much, K Sandwich, Sorrento European Bakery, etc. But I hear K's is good. WE're always there to say hi, never to eat. Weird.

                      Oops, sorry don't want to derail hungryann's thread, just enjoy to see Viet food get a lot of play in this forum. We kinda take it for granted, but when you step back, there are quite a few choices available.

                      1. re: deeznuts

                        No, definitely don't want to derail Hungryann's thread, but maybe she (and other CH'ers) might find all of this helpful.

                        I'm definitely going to make time for Pasteur/Anh Hong and I'll report back when I do. A few years ago, the Anh Hong on Rosemead Blvd. in the SGV was a great place for B7M, but I think they were hit by some kind of regulatory issues a year or so ago... not enough ventilation for table-top cooking, I think. They started serving the first two courses of B7M cooked (!!), which is blasphemous. Try it... things might have changed, b/c I haven't been in a while.

                        Btw, I LOVE mam nem... when I have B7M, I like it when the restos give out a little pitcher of it along with a little pitcher of nuoc nam. Can't have enough of either.

                        Yup, the pho place near F&E is Pho Hoa Cali... good for a quick lunch, good pho ga, not much else except that my boss loves to stop by Sorrento European Bakery (a great bakery... a bit underappreciated, IMO) for pate chaud.

                        It's great that you're connected to the community. My parents know a handful of people in the SGV restaurant scene and were briefly part of it themselves, so it's always fun to hear the latest on who's serving what and what ventures they're pursuing.

                        Actually, speaking of Mira Mesa and bakeries, to bring this back to Hungryann's request... two places to try if you're in the area and like sweets: Sorrento European Bakery and Opera Patisserie. They're both great stops for something quick and sweet.

                        1. re: geekyfoodie

                          Give the Com Bat Buu Ga a try when your at Pasteur.

                  3. re: stevuchan

                    Stevuchan, I went to Bolsa yesterday with a friend. Wrote it up on your Mira Mesa thread.


                    It was great, thanks for the rec!

                    Bolsa Restaurant
                    9225 Mira Mesa Blvd Ste 118, San Diego, CA 92126

                2. For your "Must Eat in SD" list, I would add a Baja style seafood cocktail. The ones at the tiny dive La Playita on Clairmont Mesa Blvd. are excellent. They get the tomato broth just right. My favorite is the Vuelve ala Vida.

                  I love fish tacos and have eaten them all over San Diego. I recently tried the Mariscos el Pescedor truck with Kirk K. on our South Bay taco crawl, and I must say, they are the best I have ever had. The bottles of orange sauce you find on the tables are excellent. Also don't miss out on the Mixto (mixed seafood) tacos. They are outstanding. I highly recommend this gem of a truck.

                  The barbacoa de borrego, and huitlacoche quesadillas at Aqui es Texcoco should both be on your "Must Try in SD" list as well.

                  The scallop sandwich at Point Loma Seafood is a favorite indulgence of mine. Order it with lettuce and tomato.

                  Breakfast burritos have been fueling local surfers for decades. The #1 egg burrito at Kono's Surf Club at Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach is the size of a small cat. This excellent version has sausage, cheese, onions, and avocado. Get an order of the tasty Kono's potatoes on the side, and watch the surfers in action while you feast.

                  San Diego's public transportation leaves much to be desired. I highly recommend that you rent a car.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Captain Jack

                    Thank you so much for your rersponse. I am a long time reader and fan of Kirk's blog, so I appreciate your input.

                    1. re: hungryann

                      My pleasure hungryann :) I really like geekyfoodie's rec to add the Little Italy Farmers Market to your list. I think you will have a blast there, and it is not that far from where you will be staying. If you are up for a Saturday morning hike, it is doable on foot.

                      1. re: hungryann

                        My girlfriend has rented from many times, and has rented a car from $11-14 dollars a day, after taxes! Give it a try. you may have to pay for parking still, but it's still a good deal. Also make sure you request a car for 3 people. They will always try to give you the smart car (which if you want that, it's fine).

                    2. Wherever you decide to dine for sushi, don't forget to sample San Diego's world class sea urchin (uni). It is so delicious that I often order uni sashimi. Live, crack open yourself sea urchins are available Sundays at the Little Italy farmers market.

                      3 Replies
                        1. re: Captain Jack

                          I think the Little Italy's farmers' market is a great stop for Hungryann... something for the "must-do" list. Knight Salumi, the uni stand, Loic Patisserie, and the orange coffee cart that churns out great cups of coffee.