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Best Korean in San Diego for Korean person raised without Korean food?

  • c

A friend and her daughter are coming from Montana to visit next week. My friend is Caucasian, and her daughter, now a teenager, was adopted at birth from Korea. Her daughter is very interested in exploring all things Korean; unfortunately, they don't have any Korean restaurants in their Montana town.

So, we'd love to eat some good Korean food while they're here in San Diego. They're adventurous eaters but probably not drawn to super spicy food (and, yes, I realize Korean can be very spicy), but probably will be open to whatever is authentic. The only Korean place I've been to is Buga, and liked it but haven't been back in a couple years.

Are there better Korean restaurants in town? I've come up with the following list from looking on Yelp but am wary of the reviews: Do Re Mi, Dae Jang Keum Korean BBQ, and Chon Ju Jip. Also, I figure we'll take a trip to Zion Market.

Anything that I should knock off or add to the list? Any further comments on these? Any additional Korean stores to check out?

Thanks in advance!

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Dae Jang Keum
7905 Engineer Rd, San Diego, CA 92111

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  1. DEFINITELY take time to get to Zion -- it will blow their minds!

    1 Reply
    1. re: bizzwriter

      But don't go on a Saturday! We made the mistake of trying to find parking today and it was packed, even in the lot across the street.

    2. I would pick Buga ore Dae Jang Keum. Went to DJK recently and the quality of meat isn't as good as Buga and neither were the panchan. Buga's marinades are also more flavorful. The good thing about BBQ is that you don't have to eat spicy to enjoy it and it's pretty accessible for most people to enjoy. Just warn them about coming out smelling like garlic and smoke.

      There is a homestyle Korean restaurant on Convoy and unfortunately I don't know the name. Menu was in Korean and I have a recollection there was very little English on it. I think it's in the same plaza as Noodle Town, on the left side. Waitress spoke very little English (someone else ordered for us).

      I'd add Tofu House and Convoy Tofu House. Tofu House is the one next to O'Brien's and Yogurt World. Convoy Tofu House is south of Balboa. Convoy TH also has naeng myun which is pretty good.

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      Noodle Town
      4647 Convoy St Ste 105, San Diego, CA 92111

      Convoy Tofu House
      4229 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111

      Tofu House
      4646 Convoy St Ste 116, San Diego, CA 92111

      Dae Jang Keum
      7905 Engineer Rd, San Diego, CA 92111

      Yogurt World
      4646 Convoy St Ste 113, San Diego, CA 92111

      3 Replies
      1. re: daantaat

        Great. Thanks, bizzwriter and daantaat! Good to know that Buga is the way to go for bbq and we'll definitely hit up Zion.

        Daantaat, is the place you're referring to (near Noodle Town) called Friend's House Korean? That was also on my list as a possibility, but I'm a little intimidated by not speaking Korean since we'll be two Caucasian women showing up with a non-Korean speaking teenager of Korean heritage!

        I really appreciate the suggestions and feedback. Please keep 'em coming!

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        Noodle Town
        4647 Convoy St Ste 105, San Diego, CA 92111

        1. re: carli

          I think it is Friend's House. I think for a novice, I'd stick w/ Korean BBQ and soon dofu.

        2. re: daantaat

          Convoy Tofu House also has better BBQ and panchan, though I prefer the tofu at Tofu House. Having the raw eggs out on the table is also a bit weird, since they go bad pretty quickly at room temperature. I am also amused at the thought of one day swapping them all for hard-boiled ones to see how people react.

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          Convoy Tofu House
          4229 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111

          Tofu House
          4646 Convoy St Ste 116, San Diego, CA 92111

        3. TOFU HOUSE is a nice place for a reasonable variety of dishes. They are not hot unless you add your choice of mile, medium or strong spicey sauces. The waitress will ask what is your preference, then you cn add as little or as much heat as you want. A basket of fresh eggs are on each table for added protein and vitmins.
          Easy mall parking lot right outside the front door.
          There are enough choices of dishes to satisfy everyone.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nutrition

            I'd have to disagree w/ the "easy" mall parking at Tofu House. It can be the parking lot from hell, esp on weekends. Their bi bim bap (rice bowls) are very good and you can control the spice level by adding a little, a lot or none at all to the bowl.

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            Tofu House
            4646 Convoy St Ste 116, San Diego, CA 92111

          2. Let me add Hal Mu Ni (Halmouny) to the list. I've had a couple of meals there recently and been very impressed. Certanly the friendliest service and a nice "down-home " atmosphere. Meats not as primee as Buga, but otherwise, I really enjoyed.

            Here's a post by Kirk:

            http://mmm-yoso.typepad.com/mmmyoso/2...

            Hal Mu Ni
            4425 Convoy #217

            1 Reply
            1. re: Ed Dibble

              I'm going to second this. I've been to the other restaurants mentioned above, but I enjoyed the Korean food from this place a lot more than the other ones.

              As a bonus, the parking here is way easier than any of the other restaurants.

            2. I'd say Buga. It's the best and has actually gotten better the last few years. Great panchan, and I love their yukgejan.

              1. If she is really that interested in Korean culture then a day trip to Korea Town in Los Angeles might be fun. You could combine it with other sight seeing in the LA area.