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best chinese food san diego

Is there any great chinese food in san diego

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  1. best and great should not be used in the same sentence with Chinese and food.

    2 Replies
    1. re: pantani

      Spicy House. Kung Pao chicken, fish filet in garlic sauce, eggplant with potatoes and jalapenos (di san xian), and cumin beef are some of the dishes I like there.

      1. re: pantani

        best and great should not be used in the same sentence with Chinese and food.

        Do you mean in San Diego, or just generally?

        The former, I concur. The latter, not so much.

      2. It's all relative.

        The Chinese food in SD, in absolute terms, is really just god awful.

        But if you are looking for the best of the pitiful lot to choose from, this is what I would conjure up.

        Liang's Kitchen (Taiwanese)

        Minh Ky (Canto Chiu-Chow Noodles)

        Cam Ky (Canto roast duck and congee)

        Dede's and Spicy City (Sichuan, although the latter doesn't use Sichuan peppercorns, but the dry pots are worth a visit)

        Dumpling Inn (Northern Beijing fare, dumplings are passable, but the star is the beef noodle soup)

        1. No great Chinese in SD, but Rendezvous in Del Mar is probably the best, though not strictly traditional Chinese fare.

          Surprisingly, they were ranked number 5 on CNN Travel Guides list of 50 best Chinese Restaurants in the USA.


          14 Replies
          1. re: RhonelyInsanediego

            Note that Del Mar Rendezvous is participating in San Diego Restaurant Week. But I'm not sure that if you do the math it is a significant discount, or a saving at all.

            1. re: RhonelyInsanediego

              Cmon guys there's decent chinese food all over esp right here in N county:

              We have Spicy King in vista which has excellent reviews on yelp but there seem to some 1 stars in there becaue of the service but I think that can really depend on which servers you get.

              Then there is Overseas Chinese Restaurant in Carsbad and a Peking Garden in the area.

              In San Marcos there is Happy chang and Panda Garden with also excellent 4.5 average on Yelp.

              Then you have the chain of Chin's which is also very decent.

              And one of my personal fav Mandarin Garden in Mira mesa

              On Balboa ave you have Mandarin Wok Restaurant and also Taste of China. And nearby Convoy there's the well known China max, Emerald and Jasmine for dim sum.

              And I'm just barely scratching the service here.

              1. re: zoey67

                Just had take out at Mandarin Garden and even though it was decent/edible it is very americanized chinese food. Nothing wrong with this kind of food if you want it but the discussion here is about more authentic chinese food which you hardly will find in SD.

                1. re: honkman

                  The chef that used to cook at Mandarin Garden (when it was allegedly considered good on yelp) now works the line at Chef Chin (under guidance of the chef from shanghai). I think he is in line to head another Chef Chin somewhere in the near future.

                  1. re: honkman

                    I'm sorry but all this talk about "authentic" is just really relative and silly. Look at someone like Ming Tsai who's restaurants are ultra "Americanized". They're so revamped to Ming's interpenetration of chinese food and catered to western's palette and appeal to the masses but the important question is it good? yes and that's what counts in my book.

                    And read again the the question asked by the OP: he just wants great Chinese food, he didn't insists on anything about authentic.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Uh huh,you're totally right on the money. Blue ginger is so over rated and just yucky. All the awards and accolades below are all fake and fabricated.

                        In its first year, Blue Ginger received 3 stars from the Boston Globe, was named "Best New Restaurant" by Boston Magazine, was nominated by the James Beard Foundation as "Best New Restaurant 1998" and Esquire Magazine honored Ming as "Chef of the Year 1998."

                        In 2007, Blue Ginger received the prestigious Ivy Award from Restaurants & Institutions for its consistent achievement in meeting the highest standards for food, hospitality and service and in 2009, Ming and Blue Ginger won IFMA's Silver Plate Award in the Independent Restaurant category recognizing overall excellence in the industry.

                      2. re: zoey67

                        Yes, the OP said they want chinese food but as popular as americanized chinese food is, it's still labeled as western chinese or americanized chinese so if the OP didn't state just that or re clarify then it's safe to assume that the OP wants at the minimum chinese that at least tries to be authentic. As far as saying that as long as it's good it doesn't matter? According to that logic, all chinese restaurants should serve fried chicken wings and sweet and sour pork.

                        Look I grew up in nyc where they have authentic chinese but due to takeout they have a LOT of americanized chinese as well, and yet people in nyc realize the difference and specifically ask for just that. Everyone has their own tastes and preferences and some people may enjoy panda express and pf chang but to call it chinese is to be brutally honest, a insult to chinese people.

                        I'd love to delve into how I personally believe that butchered authentic food is destroying cultures and their history but that's not for this board.

                        1. re: zoey67

                          Just to be clear, I'm citing "authenticity" as a measure of how good it is. I'm merely mentioning it to segment what people know colloquially as "chinese food" into 2 sub-cuisines:
                          1) authentic Chinese food
                          2) americanized Chinese food.

                          The point is not to judge that one type of cuisine is superior to another, but merely to recognize that we are talking about two completely different types of food.

                          To give an example that perhaps you can understand, if we are talking about "American" restaurants, would you compare In-N-Out and Phil's BBQ in the same category? I think most people would agree that you would place In-N-Out in a "burgers" category and Phil's BBQ in a "BBQ" category because the cuisines are not related. I merely referred to authenticity to determine if we are talking about "burger" restaurants or "BBQ" restaurants.

                      3. re: zoey67


                        I'm not contesting your recommendations specifically, because I've never tried them.

                        I am, however, contesting your use of Yelp ratings to justify them.


                        Here's a nearly 5 star review of a Subway shop

                        4 star Burger King

                        4 star Wendy's

                        Have I made my point? :)

                        Yelp has its value within the context of the bigger picture, but to use it exclusively to justify a dining decision is, in my opinion, ill advised.

                        Mr Taster

                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          That subway link you gave only has 7 reviews so of course right of the bat me or anyone would take that with a grain of salt.

                          But then also maybe that particular subway is one of the better ones with good service and management.

                          Yelp users know what to look what for. The scathing bashing review from the user with less than 5 reviews who just sign on less than a month.

                          It's all with discretion but for the most part Yelp is very insightful, useful,humorous and informative. I love it.

                          Ok so if you don't like Yelp then what should we use then? only CH? not me...why not utilize both and others like Zagat or word of mouth?

                          IMO not using Yelp is your loss. Using Yelp does more good than not. There's no one perfect resource.

                          1. re: zoey67

                            There's no magic bullet. Those mostly meaningless "star" reviews are so arbitrary they can mean almost anything. Context, as you pointed out, is always what maters, and Chowhound is great because it provides just that. But there's also alternative weeklies, local blogs, etc.

                            Mr Taster

                            1. re: Mr Taster

                              Exactly. But it gives me a good feel or barometer before I go there what to expect that's all. Is it casual or formal. How is the service there. I like to look at the pics to see how the dining is laid out, what the outdoor patio looks like. The many photos other users post of their dish. What the food looks like.

                              As helpful as a board like CH, we don't have the options like yelp to post pics of what that chow mein looks like. Or the google map and directions how to get there. The address, phone #, etc.

                              1. re: zoey67

                                Actually, we can post photos. And we had a restaurant address database function but they killed it a few months ago for reasons unclear to all.

                                Mr Taster

                    1. Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot is a chain, but for what it is (Hot pot - Essentially a spicy Chinese version of Shabu Shabu), it is wickedly delish.

                      1. great - no

                        Authenticity to taste ratio - Chef Chin (http://www.gastrobits.com/2012/09/che...


                        Authenticity to price ratio - Spicy City

                        Americanized to taste ratio - Del Mar Rendezvous

                        1. This is a problem in communication and definition as much as anything. Authentic vs Great is a special obstacle when discussing ethnic food.

                          I completely understand what someone is saying when they lament the absence in SoCal of "good Chinese food like they have in New York". What they are sometimes saying is "why can't I get the Americanized Chinese food that they serve in upscale restaurants on New York's upper west side?" not "why can't I get the kind of Chinese food that they serve in New York's Chinatown to Chinese immigrants?"

                          My wife saw the live snake market in Hong Kong where you choose your snake and have it skinned and cooked into soup while you wait (it is customary to offer you a shot glass of the snakes blood before it goes into the pot since it is held to be a virility enhancer in its raw state). A little too "authentic" for our taste.

                          The crux of San Diego's "Chinese Restaurant Problem" seems to be that we are short on authentic Chinese food as well as high quality "Americanized" Chinese food. I like them both and wish we could do a cultural trade with the San Francisco Bay area. We could send them some authentic and great Mexican restaurants and they could send us some authentic and great Chinese restaurants.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: sandiegomike

                            I think when you get into the authentic discussion, you then also have to address variety. There are all sorts of different types of Chinese food (take a look at the LA board for example). San Diego seems to have more variety for the Szechwan Variety, but lacks in other regional representation.

                            For example Dumpling Inn serves dumplings, but I cannot say which region those dumplings are representative of. Technically the xiao long bao are Shanghai style, but their noodles are not representative of Shanghai style noodles. This type of cuisine confusion is what would trigger comments such as "lacks authenticity"

                            1. re: sandiegomike

                              Mike, any reason you're offering to trade San Francisco's for their Chinese food when LA's San Gabriel Valley Chinese food scene is so much more diverse and vast in size, scale, and quantity:quality?

                              By the way, no barter required.... we have plenty of outstanding Mexican restaurants already :)

                              Mr Taster

                            2. I'm really surprised as I just checked all the san diego boards for any mention of this place that it hasn't been mentioned, China Wok in Clairemont. This is a hidden gem within a hidden gem. The regular menu is for people that think general tso is a famous chinese general. The 'chinese' menu has authentic 'shandong' hand cut dry and soup noodles as well as soup dishes. I know for a fact that the owner husband and wife are from shandong also as my chinese grandmother (from shandong) loves talking to them about shangdong whenever we eat there which goes towards authenticity. Their prices for the authentic food are also very cheap probably due to the fact that nobody orders authentic chinese in that neighborhood. Their broths for the soups are also purely homemade so they are very good. The downsides are probably the reason most don't know about it. First of all, the decor is beyond horrible, the old '99 cent per item' crap chinese places 20 years ago in downtown looked better. Second their chinese menu is just that, in chinese. So if you want to order from the chinese menu, you will probably have to either bring someone who can read it or ask for the chinese menu and ask them to describe each item but to be honest, if you were to blindly pick 2 items, you wouldn't complain. The third reason is actually the only drawback that keeps me personally from considering this better than SGV chinese, the water they use for the soup noodles and tea is, bad tap water.... you can taste it. That being said, if you are in the area you should try to either bring someone who can read chinese or just ask what the items are as the owners are overtly polite and it's usually quiet so I'm sure they'll be happy to help. As far as my personal experience in chinese food goes, born and raised in nyc, half chinese, visit san francisco and los angeles alot for business.

                              Sorry for any grammar and typos:[

                              4310 Genesee Ave
                              Ste 108
                              (between Mount Etna Dr & Derrick Dr)
                              San Diego, CA 92117
                              Neighborhood: Clairemont
                              (858) 565-8555

                              11 Replies
                                1. re: deckape

                                  Yeah it's China Quik Wok sorry. I had forgotten the name prior to my post and saw it labelled as China wok and forgot that the name changed but the works outside still say China Wok. As far as the chinese menu goes, it's on the yelp page photo #18

                                  1. re: polldeldiablo

                                    To me China Quick Wok serves good "starving student" fare and the prices are right. I've had the niu rou mian twice and thought it lacked flavor and richness. The Dao Xiao Mian is actually better than Dumpling Inn, which really doesn't say much. Yes, the owners are from Shandong, my wife who is from there recognized their accents. In fact, my wife calls the menu a compilation of "homesick student favorites".

                                    I don't consider the noodles there to be Shandong style noodles, it's more like Shaanxi Dai Xiao Mian. The hand made knide cut noodles I had in Shandong are thinner, closer to udon, though I only had Jiaodong style not Jinan style noodles there.

                                    I was told that they had some connection with the China Quick Wok that was in Rancho Bernardo and opened in March of 2011.

                                    Ordering isn't too hard, Niu Rou Mian is easy, stay away from the scallion pancakes....last time around someone ordered it they pulled it out of a package from the freezer.

                                    1. re: KirkK

                                      It does seem to be "homesick student favorites" from the limited shandong dishes I've tried throughout SGV though I'm not sure if that's the case simply because they aren't in a 'chinese restaurant neighborhood(convoy) resulting in them not to have the confidence to focus a full menu on it.

                                      It's not the best Shandong I've had as you had said, but for San Diego it's a unknown restaurant that should definitely at the least be in the conversation of best in SD due partially to the lack of authentic chinese here.

                                      I personally don't speak or read chinese(my grandmother tells me to learn it every second I see her) so I unfortunately don't exactly know what they have on the menu aside from mother/grandmothering ordering. Do you know if they have meat pies and if they are good? Thanks.

                                      1. re: polldeldiablo

                                        If you're talking about Xian Bing (or 餡餅), then no they don't.

                                        The better question might be, why would they?

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          I think it's just ok. Interestingly the prices on their chinese menu are about $1-2 cheaper than the western menu

                                          1. re: karaethon

                                            That's because the ABC dishes have more protein in them, which costs more.

                                            1. re: KirkK

                                              It's because white people are more willing to oat more for Chinese food - good or bad

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                I'm calling bullshit on that. Bogus!

                                                1. re: SaltyRaisins

                                                  Not bogus. We're willing to tip more, too. A LOT more.

                                                  Mr Taster

                                              2. re: KirkK

                                                They are the exact same dishes (by name). It just has a chinese name or american name. If you order in mandarin, you get like 15% off

                                2. Yes, we have to go to Alhambra or Montebello to get the good stuff. No more Hunan, that's really sad. Where is the Spicy House?

                                  1. At the end of the day, the best way to get excellent Chinese food here in SD is to take along a friend who is from China and speaks the dialect of the restaurant proprietor, thus gaining access to the secret menu.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Dagney

                                      Agree. But don't have to be from China. Just speak the dialect.

                                      That's what I do when I go to Spicy House. Doesn't hurt to know the proprietors either.

                                      1. re: Dagney

                                        Hey, hey, hey, don't spoil a CH version of UFC throwdown by being the voice of reason.

                                        That's no fun!