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Jan 21, 2010 08:00 PM

San Diego - good Chinese?

Hi everyone! Any recommendations in SD for good Chinese food? Preferably Hong Kong style, but I'm not picky! I recently moved here from Vancouver, and miss some of my favorite restaurants there. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Check out KirkK's blog and also Candice's reviews on But Ba Ren does some serious Sezchuan!

    1. I like China Max, but I don't claim to be a Chinese cuisine expert.

      5 Replies
      1. re: stevewag23

        I was pretty disappointed the last time I went to China Max. And also by Emerald. Both seem to have dropped in quality by quite a bit in the last year or two.

        1. re: mikec

          Its probably been 2 years since I last went.

          1. re: stevewag23

            That's the thing about Chinese restaurants, they can totally change in just a few years. In LA I always had to keep up with which restaurant was "in". Problem is proper Chinese cooking takes 10 or 20 years of experience, and in LA they always hired some genius chef from HK/China/Taiwan and once he got his visa and a year under his belt he'd quit and double his salary elsewhere. But for that year, the food was spectacular.

            Needless to say no matter how good a place gets it's hard to sustain. I had great meals at China Max too both dinner and dim sum, but that was years ago and I haven't had a chance to go back. But I keep hearing about how they're not as good as before. I've seen no evidence one way or another, but it's been mentioned before.

            1. re: royaljester

              I went to China Max recently for dim sum. It was OK mostly, but I thought that their barbecue sauce for their pork (char siu bao, any of the other bbq pork things) was way, way too sweet. It was like dessert!

              Regarding dim sum -- because I haven't been to any of these for dinner: of China Max, Emerald, and Jasmine, my friends and I were least impressed with China Max. Emerald was the most consistent but doesn't really stand out, and while Jasmine is uneven, they have *amazing* chicken dishes and what seems to be a bit more variety.

              1. re: Jishin

                Great thing about Jasmine is they have Jasmine Express where you can order every dim sum on the menu to go. We've tried a lot and they have some real winners including the fried pork bun. Generally, Jasmine is our goto place for Dim Sum in Convoy. Someday I'd like to try Pearl again but it's hard to get in on weekends.

      2. I visited Vancouver a little over a year ago. That city is definitely a Chinese food mecca. I am afraid that you are likely to be disappointed with the pickings in San Diego.

        If you have experience with Chinese/asian cooking, you might want to check out the 99 Ranch Market in Kearny Mesa.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Encinitan

          Yeah, it's definitely going to be hard to find restaurants up to par with Richmond, BC quality in SD. For dim sum China max is really good but I would avoid them for dinner. For cantonese Emerald used to be good but its been a couple years since I've been there. Golden City is a little cheaper but their dishes seem to be hit or miss.

          In general SD is not the best place to find good cantonese food.

        2. I like Pearl in Rancho Bernardo and Peking Wok, which is way up in Bonsall, but worth the trip.

          1. sorry cdn_in_sd, but Chinese food here is not that great. I grew up going to Monterey Park/San Gabriel Valley area of L.A. for Chinese food and Richmond is of that ilk. But you won't find anything like that here, I'm afraid. There are a couple of good Szechuan places, though, like Ba Ren and Dede's. Dumpling Inn has decent dumplings/XLB but it's tiny and fills up quickly. If you like Chinese breakfast you should check out Chin's. And lastly, for Canto style food some of my friends like Hong Kong Restaurant. I don't remember being super impressed when I went there, but it's open late so I tend to go after drinking and wouldn't trust my judgment one bit!

            You'll soon find that out the big Canto joints (aka the ones that have cart space for dim sum) here are Emerald, Jasmine and China Max in the Convoy district and Pearl in RB (smaller, no carts). Emerald has a late night menu after 9pm, I think, of standard canto fare, but I don't think they'll hold a candle to Richmond, BC.

            Man, I wish we had Canto cafes here...

            Ba Ren
            4957 Diane Avenue
            (858) 279-2520‎

            4647 Convoy Street
            (858) 279-5999‎

            Dumpling Inn
            4619 Convoy Street
            (858) 268-9638‎

            9355 Kearny Mesa Road
            (858) 536-2300‎

            Hong Kong Restaurant
            3871 4th Avenue
            (619) 291-9449‎

            2 Replies
            1. re: RTee

              I can't disagree with this post except Pearl does do carts and is your best bet for dim sum but is way up in Rancho Bernardo which makes it a great place before hitting the Wild Animal Park.

              Jasmine, Emerald, and China Max are about the same in quality with Jasmine having the most room, despite what you may hear the dim sum is perfectly adequate.