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Help? From DC, visiting SD, need a GOOD Chinese Restaurant for X-mas day. Mandarin, not Cantonese, please.

pfish Dec 16, 2012 08:18 PM

Visiting SD from DC. Looking for the right Chinese Restaurant for X-mas day (a la "A Christmas Story" our traditional meal). Fwiw, Children speak Mandarin, not Cantonese. Point Loma/Coronado/Gaslamp/LaJolla.

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  1. ipsedixit RE: pfish Dec 16, 2012 08:37 PM

    Do you have a car? If so drive to Irvine and go to Tri Villiage or Capital Seafood.

    If you don't want to make the 50 minute drive north I would break with tradition this year. The Chinese food in SD is not worth the waste of calories.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit
      pfish RE: ipsedixit Dec 16, 2012 08:58 PM

      ah, okay I'd definitely be up for driving 50 min. to shop for the right ingredients, so that is good to know. very much so.

      still, the actual restaurant needs to be closer to Pt. Loma/gaslamp/Coronado.

      1. re: pfish
        ipsedixit RE: pfish Dec 16, 2012 09:12 PM

        If you must waste a meal on Chinese food in SD then go to China Max and ask them to order off their Chinese menu, which is basically an a la minute menu.

    2. RhonelyInsanediego RE: pfish Dec 17, 2012 07:40 AM

      The only place I can recommend (and it's north of La Jolla in Del Mar) is Rendezvous. CNN Travel had a list of the 50 best Chinese restaraunts in the US and Rendezvous was up there. Chef Mark Sun is the real deal and creates some amazing dishes. Warning though this is not traditional Mandrin, Sichuan, or Cantonese Chinese, but a little bit of everything, some traditional some with the chefs new twist. I have had a great experience, as have my guests I've brought, every meal there.


      The only other Chinese that I could recommend is Little Sheep Mongolian Hotpot. It is traditional Chinese Hot Pot cooking (think Chinese fondue or Shabu Shabu). Very good for what it is, but probably not what you're looking for. Still I love this place and their Spicy Sichuan Pepper Hot Pot.


      Chef Chin on Convoy is something to get feed back on from other SD Chowhounds as I haven't been since they got their new chef from Shanghai, but one of our best local Chowhounders and food blogger has:




      6 Replies
      1. re: RhonelyInsanediego
        Rodzilla RE: RhonelyInsanediego Dec 17, 2012 11:00 PM


        I did enjoy Rendezvous and Chef Chin's but I'm not familiar enough with the regional varieties to give much of an opinion, but it's very much "ABCDE" or American Born Chinese Dining Establishment as my most trusted resource for all things Asian would call it.

        I would ask Kirk of mmmyoso

        1. re: Rodzilla
          karaethon RE: Rodzilla Dec 19, 2012 01:22 PM

          Technically Rendezvous is out of the range of the OP, but did anyone check if they are open on Christmas?

          Chef Chin is more of a traditional chinese restaurant that wouldn't close unless the kitchen was on fire, so they'll definitely be open. I would recommend them for the best return on time/driving/taste.

          1. re: karaethon
            RhonelyInsanediego RE: karaethon Dec 19, 2012 02:07 PM

            Yes Rendezvous is open with special menus available Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Really not too far north of La Jolla. But if they want to stay in Coronado there's always Bistrod'Asia. Again, not traditional Chinese, but not bad for Asian/Chinese fusion.

            1. re: karaethon
              salustro RE: karaethon Dec 19, 2012 04:50 PM

              I called Chef Chin and they will be open on Christmas.

              1. re: salustro
                salustro RE: salustro Dec 26, 2012 12:59 PM

                Update - we had a lovely christmas lunch at Chef Chin's. I am no expert on chinese food, but I'd say it was on the high end of what we've eaten in San Diego. We ordered WAY too much food for two people, namely:
                - homemade potstickers
                - spicy green beans with pork
                - soft noodles (no protein)
                - lamb with cumin (very tasty).
                It was enough to cover christmas dinner as well.

                With two soft drinks, the bill was $50. Service was very pleasant. We'll go back again for sure.

                1. re: salustro
                  Rodzilla RE: salustro Dec 26, 2012 11:40 PM

                  Glad to hear! I really enjoyed my visit..we had WAY too much food and I remember the bill being very reasonable if not generous.

        2. w
          wanker RE: pfish Dec 17, 2012 10:27 AM

          I'd recommend China Max. It may not knock your soxes off, but it's better than spending 2 hours driving.

          1. s
            scottg RE: pfish Dec 18, 2012 10:27 AM

            While I am not an expert on Chinese food, I did live for 25 years in Taiwan, and my family has enjoyed the many meals we have had at the Dumpling Inn on Convey. The owner of the Dumpling Inn is from Tainan, Taiwan and the staff speaks Mandarin, as well as Taiwanese.

            2 Replies
            1. re: scottg
              RhonelyInsanediego RE: scottg Dec 18, 2012 11:46 AM

              I concur. I especially love their xiao long bao, seabass with black bean sauce, beef curry dumplings, and beef with Chinese greens, but lets face it, it's probably not the best place for a sit down dinner with a group, as it's very small and cramped inside. However their sister restaurant is Rendezvous, and this would be a nice place to celebrate X-Mas.

              See number 5 on the list:


              1. re: RhonelyInsanediego
                ipsedixit RE: RhonelyInsanediego Dec 18, 2012 09:30 PM

                That list has Din Tai Fung on it.

                'Nuff said.

            2. d
              daantaat RE: pfish Dec 18, 2012 09:27 PM

              honestly, there is no really good Chinese in SD. Rendevous is very Americanized. If you want da bien lo, Little Sheep is good enough.

              Head north to the San Gabriel Valley (90" w/o traffic) for the best selection in S. CA.

              KirkK's blog, already mentioned, is pretty accurate w/ reviews on anything Asian.

              If you still need something good in the Asian category, there are lots of really good Japanese places around.

              1 Reply
              1. re: daantaat
                startsev RE: daantaat Dec 19, 2012 07:02 PM

                Crazy. I was just about to post the same question. I am also from DC and looking for where to eat on Christmas Day. If not Chinese, what can you recommend in Mission Beach area?

              2. y
                youareabunny RE: pfish Dec 20, 2012 04:01 AM

                My family has been going to Imperial Mandarin for 20 years now. It's a mom and pop. Big selection, good prices. They recently had a revamp of the place.

                It's in Kearny Mesa which is 10 minutes east of La Jolla.

                Of course, I'm not sure if its mandarin. I mean, it's in the name, but it may not be accurate. I went to Happy Sushi once and nobody was very happy. Well you can call and ask.

                Good luck :) If you go make sure you ask for the house hot sauce. It's soooooooo good. But I do love hot sauce. There's a big screen tv in the main room and they usually serve dim sum.

                1. polldeldiablo RE: pfish Dec 24, 2012 10:49 PM

                  I know this is really late as Christmas day is tomorrow but if you're looking for a good authentic chinese restaurant in san diego located relatively nearby, there's a '99' ranch asian supermarket on balboa just off the 805 north. Inside there is a Sam Woo restaurant at the back right, (front left if you park in the back). I haven't seen it mentioned on the boards but imo it's the best authentic chinese food in san diego, downside being it's pretty dirty. It is one of the worst Sam Woo's I've been to, but it's still far far better than the 'best' in San Diego(china max, Jasmine, Emerald, Pearl).

                  Sam Woo
                  7330 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
                  San Diego, CA 92111

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: polldeldiablo
                    oleeami RE: polldeldiablo Dec 25, 2012 01:35 AM

                    Both China Max and Sam Woo are Cantonese. And the service from Sam Woo, well, may ruin the holiday spirits.

                    1. re: oleeami
                      polldeldiablo RE: oleeami Dec 25, 2012 10:40 AM

                      Well, service at most authentic chinese restaurants is based heavily on the person ordering being asian/speaking the language. Also from my experience in numerous outings to chinese restaurants in SGV and san francisco as well as being from nyc, alot of chinese patrons have low standards for service. That being said, if you're used to it, the service is 'fine' if you aren't asian looking/speak chinese and you're used to normal service, then yes Sam Woo will definitely leave a sour taste in your mouth(service wise)

                      1. re: oleeami
                        ipsedixit RE: oleeami Dec 25, 2012 11:03 AM

                        Both China Max and Sam Woo are Cantonese. And the service from Sam Woo, well, may ruin the holiday spirits.

                        And, what of it?

                        OP said they speak Mandarin, as opposed to Cantonese. That, ipso facto, does not mean that they are looking exclusively for Mandarin restaurants (whatever that term may mean).

                        As to service at Sam Woo ... if you're going to any Chinese restaurant for white table cloth service, then you might as well walk the Sahara for a big chunk of glacier.

                        1. re: ipsedixit
                          Rodzilla RE: ipsedixit Dec 26, 2012 06:36 AM


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