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Feb 1, 2010 09:34 AM

Fine Dining for Oriental restaurants in SD.

Any recommendations for fine dining for Chinese, Japanese, Thai cusine in San Diego and nearby. Suggestions would be much appreciated for a special evening out.

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  1. Emerald for Chinese on Convoy St.. Hane, Sushi Ota or Toshi San for Sushi. I like Celadon on 5th towards Hillcrest for Thai although my Thai experience is somewhat limited.

    1. These are the best in each of their areas of expertise. Sorry, but for me fine dining is wherever there is good food. If you are looking for good food, then in many cases one must compromise on other aspects, particularly in the area of ambiance, location, and service.

      However I've listed the cuisines which are more likely to constitute a thrilling evening first, followed by those that are by their very nature more casual, though all of these eateries are inherently casual. (Good food well done is thrilling...)

      Thai: Sab E Lee (original chef/owner now runs Sab E Lee II)
      Shechuan: Ba Ren, Clairemont Mesa
      Sushi: Kaito Sushi, Encinitas
      Nabemono: Oton, Kearny Mesa
      Oozara Ryori: Okan, Kearny Mesa
      Yakiniku: Tsuruhashi, Kearny Mesa
      Izakaya: Izakaya Sakura, Kearny Mesa

      Yakitori: Yakitori Yakyudori, Hillcrest
      Ramen, Tonkotsu style: Santouka, Kearny Mesa
      Ramen, Shio Aji: Yakyudori Yakitori & Ramen, Kearny Mesa

      If glitz and glamour is a must, then you can throw your money at Nobu in the Gaslamp, but I would not have done you any culinary favor, at least in terms of authenticity, by sending you there. One can say the same about P.F. Chang's in the UTC area.

      8 Replies
      1. re: cgfan

        strongly 2nd cgfan's list.

        For Chinese, the Cantonese cuisine in SD is "eh." However, Ba Ren has excellent Szechuan--mouth numbing Szechuan peppercorns with different types of heat and flavor.

        Dede's Tea Juice on Convoy also does Szechuan. Their deep fried chicken w/ dried chilies is better than Ba Ren (bigger pieces of chicken and not so close to being burnt).

        1. re: daantaat

          My question is: Is there such a beast as a more upscale Chinese place, with more ambience than the mega dining hall places like Emerald or jasmine without going the PFC route. Or is it a rule with Chinese places that the nicer the place is, the crummier the food. Sorta like the view rule with beach restaurants.

          1. re: littlestevie

            Not that I'm aware of, I would consider Ba Ren as an upscale Chinese place for San Diego, it is after all "white table cloth".

            1. re: stevuchan

              Ba Ren as an upscale place, just because it has white table cloth? From posted reviews, it seems like the restaurant is doing a big service to the paying guests.
              So OK, how about nice ambiance asian restaurant and a compromise on the food?
              Thanks cgfan, may have to go to Nobu, which I am not too thrilled about, but will check out P.F.Chong.

              1. re: towkay

                towkay, if you go to Nobu or P.F. Chang's please don't thank me. I mentioned those options as pieces of "anti-advice" so you're on your own if you go. :-)

                If only we had Restaurant Yae still around. It was way before it's time, but would have fit the bill perfectly.

                1. re: towkay

                  That was my poor attempt at humor, my apologies. PF Chang's = Asian Denny's. Our San Diego outpost of Nobu is disappointing, but if you are trying to impress someone by dropping $300 on a sub par meal that's where I would go. :-).

                  1. re: towkay

                    What do you mean by this:
                    "From posted reviews, it seems like the restaurant is doing a big service to the paying guests."?

                    Ba Ren is a great place to eat.

                    1. re: Josh

                      Josh - He means the stuff from the four lettered site. All the folks who rated Ba Ren low because, well the food is "spicy". I also think there's a language problem at times as well. The same kinda folks that rated Mien Trung with only one star because they didn't serve Pho.
                      Folks like that deserve P(aul) F(leming) Chang's - heck they do serve "Oriental Food" after all.

          2. I know little about the food, however my impression is that Red Pearl Kitchen downtown might fit the bill as a "finer" dining restaurant than many of the other options. I agree wholehearted with many of cgfan's suggestions however they may not be up to snuff (date wise) with what you are looking for.

            I found little to no posts on here regarding the place, though the website looks decent and the reviews at other sites seem favorable. Maybe some of the more culinarilly (not sure if that's a real word, but you get my point) inclined could shed some light of the food quality?

            2 Replies
            1. re: csils

              "I found little to no posts on here regarding the place"

              That is because Red Pearl Kitchen is similar to PF Wangs.

            2. Oriental food? I haven't heard it described like that in years......just sayin'

              2 Replies
              1. re: freshdish

                Must be looking for a Chop Suey house...

                1. re: cgfan

                  Hey . I'm from the Far East, and I doubt any of the locals would know what a Chop Suey house is!

              2. Nice, fancy, Chinese restaurants with good food do exist, but seem to be a bit rare in San Diego. You might want to try Pearl in Rancho Bernardo.