Friday, September 25, 2015

Xi'an Kitchen

Biang biang noodles -- so tasty, so spicy, so hard to eat elegantly...
The Fresh Three Flavor -- the three flavors are eggplant, potato, and bell pepper.  And deliciousness.
We were surprised that the shrimp dumplings came out in a soup! 
But we liked the soup.  It was sort of smoky-vinegary.
Miko clutching her Coke, the only panacea for spicy food.

Rating: Two thumbs up (Gold star potential)
Date: 9/25/2015
Time in: 1:25 PM
Time out: 2:30 PM
Servers' recommendations: Fresh three flavor, handmade biang biang noodle
What we ordered: Fresh three flavor, handmade biang biang noodle, shrimp dumplings, two Cokes.
Number in our party: 2
Final check amount: $35.61
Price per person: $17.81
  • We had a feeling this place would be good when we walked in and saw that:
    1. The place was busy at 1:25 PM on a Friday. Everyone was happily eating from giant platters of food.
    2. The captions for the photos of menu items on the wall were in Chinese. No numbers or English translations.
    3. We looked around, and it seemed we were the only American-born people in the entire restaurant. Jenne was certainly the lone white person.
  • The server was excellent at giving recommendations. He listened carefully to our preferences and was decisive! We hate it when servers walk us through the menu or suggest the most boring item, e.g. "How about the broccoli beef? Or the orange chicken?"
  • I (Miko) am a giant wimp when it comes to spice, and the handmade noodle dish was pretty damn hot. But the noodle was so yummy that I kept eating anyway.
  • The seasoning on everything was excellent.
  • The portions were generous. We had a good amount of leftovers, and by making a pot of rice, we had enough food for dinner for three!
  • Two top-notch Convoy Conquest meals in a row! We are falling in love with Convoy once again. Thank you, Kula & Xi'an Kitchen.

Address: 4690 Convoy St Ste 109
Phone number: 858.571.2788
Noise level: 3 when it's busy, 2 when it's not
Accepts credit cards? Yes, but only 1 -- no splitting the check
Parking: Shared lot -- not one of the craziest ones
Ideal group size: Any
Available vegetarian options: Tomato and egg noodles with pepper oil, baked bean curd, eggplant dishes (but they might have hidden fish or meat in it).

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Kula Revolving Sushi Bar

We have reunited with our now dear friends from Convoy Recon for a joint expeditionary force!

Prepare yourself for a highly automated, tasty, and extremely kawaii experience.
Here we go:
When you show up, you log in here and they'll text you when it's your turn.  There's even a website you can go to on your phone to see what number they're on.  This is a good thing because the wait can be over an hour.  Try to go at an off hour if you can--we were there at 7pm on a Wednesday and we waited about 40 minutes.
Here's where all the magic happens!  They even give you a short introduction on how to take out the plates.

You gotta be quick!

Here's where you can put in special orders.  It shows you on the screen how much time it will take to get there.

When they arrive, they zoom down the upper conveyor belt and stop at your table, and a lady who sounds like a train announcement says, "Without further delay, now arriving!" in Japanese.

Andrew, Andi, and me!

Django, Miko, and Beston!

We think Andrew could have a lucrative career as a sushi model. Here he is demonstating the shrimp and avocado roll (Jenne recommends!)

Jenne and Miko recommend!  Seared salmon with mayo nigiri.

Spider roll

Jenne recommends!  Golden crunchy roll.

Salmon roe -- only Miko ate this one.

Real crab roll

Andi recommends!  Crispy rice with crab mayo.
 Special-order it, don't get it off the conveyor or it'll be cold and kind of hard.


Andrew recommends!  Special order -- crispy squid.


Crunchy roll
Spicy salmon
Django recommends!  Tempura Philadelphia roll.

Sunomono: pickled...stuff.

Rainbow roll

Miko recommends! Warabi mochi. 
Miko says: This shit is pretty hard to find in a restaurant setting.  Thrilled!
Daifuku mochi
Mochi ice cream
Django recommends!  Soy doughnuts.
Every 5 plates, you get a little animated movie.
Every 15 plates, you get a prize!

Apologies for the vertical video--despite Andrew's objections, it's the only way I could get the whole thing in the frame.  

Django was not excited about this one.

It's hard to tell, but this is a tiny sushi-go-round container thingy!

Rating: Two thumbs up (Gold star potential)
Date: 9/16/2015
Time in: 7:00 PM (seated at 7:39 PM)
Number in our party: 6
Final check amount: $124.42
Price per person: $20.74
  • This meal caused some fits of uncontrolled giggling and cheering.
  • Once you sit down, there is immediate gratification.  Endless food with no wait!  If you want something specific that hasn't shown up on the conveyor belt, you can special-order it, and it'll come in just a few minutes!
  • For every 15 plates you drop into the deposit, there's a prize!
  • Our favorites:
    • Andi: sesame balls, crispy rice with crab mayo
    • Andrew: wasabi, crispy fried squid
    • Beston: umami oil salmon
    • Django: tempura philadelphia roll, Japanese soy donuts
    • Jenne: seared salmon with mayo nigiri, golden crunchy roll
    • Miko: umami oil salmon nigiri, seared salmon with mayo nigiri
  • I (Miko) am fairly picky about raw fish, especially salmon, which I find has too strong of a taste unless it's very fresh. I liked the salmon here, probably because they had the sense to marinate it in various flavors rather than leaving it plain!
  • We were ENTIRELY CHARMED by the experience.  We had grown a little wary of Convoy, what with all the fancy hipsterish developments, not to mention the drop in quality at some of our favorite restaurants, but this has restored a bit of our faith in our favorite street in San Diego. 

Address: 4609 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
Phone number: 858.715.4605
Noise level: 3
Accepts credit cards? Yes.
Parking: Shared lot, fairly crowded
Ideal group size: 2-6
Available vegetarian options: Dessert? It might have gelatin in it. Edamame, tamago nigiri, natto rolls, cucumber rolls.
Whom not to bring: Vegetarians who want a varied menu

Friday, July 17, 2015

Off-Convoy: DaoFu

Your meal always comes with a free salad that includes incredibly delicious braised tofu.
We were charmed by the adorable soy sauce pitcher and matching salt and pepper shakers.

We loved the tofu in the salad so much that we asked for other tofu recommendations.  This fried tofu was so good that we ate the entire block and wished we had more.

We had to ask for the tofu rice pot to be made with chicken since that wasn't an option on the menu.  Tofu is not just for vegetarians, people!
Me: Miko, what is this a picture of?  A fried hand??
Miko: That was fried fish.  Remember, you said it tasted like fish fingers!
Me: I do not remember that.  But it sounds like something I would say.
You also get free ice cream!  I think there was a choice of flavors, but I don't remember exactly what they were.  We think it was probably pineapple...with mango and strawberry sauce?  Whatever it was, it was good.  I think we went with whatever the tall waiter suggested.

Rating: Two thumbs up
Date: 7/17/2015
Time in: 8:49 PM
Time out: 10:10 PM
Servers' recommendations: Tofu rice pot, chicken curry, eggplant tofu.
What we ordered: Chicken rice pot with tofu, garlic fish, fried tofu.
Number in our party: 2
Final check amount: $26.27
Price per person: $13.14
  • The tofu is just so very delicious here. We could eat a mountain of the braised tofu in that complimentary salad. The fried tofu appetizer over a bowl of rice would make a fantastic, ultra-cheap meal.
  • The chicken rice pot tastes like something a traditional Japanese housewife might make for dinner on a weekday for her family. A bit bland, but homey, simple, and nutritious.
  • The restaurant has a nice, cozy feel, with low lighting and Sharpie scribbles on the walls. It would be a nice place for a date.
Address: 3332 Adams Ave
Phone number: 619.281.6888
Noise level: 3
Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: Street parking only. Luckily in walking distance of Miko's apartment!
Ideal group size: 2-8
Available vegetarian options: TONS

Monday, June 29, 2015

Off-Convoy: San Francisco!

We went to San Francisco partly for a library conference...but mostly to eat things.

"Paul Reubens" sandwich from Ike's Place-it was giant and I saved the second half, which I was very happy to have when I came back to the hotel...rather tipsy...from a vendor party at the Tonga Room with an open bar and a lackluster buffet.

Creme brulee and peach ice cream from Bi-Rite (with my charming and elegant college roommate Maria's coffee almond chip cone in the background).

Gorgeous pho from Pho 2000--we were going to go to Tu Lan but there was a huge line and this place was next door.

Almond butter, caramelized banana, and bacon toast from the super cozy Grove Cafe on Fillmore St.

Soft serve from the Straus Family Creamery in the Ferry Building.

Beard Papa!  I miss the SD location. :-(
I was excited that their flavor of the week was my favorite, caramel!

Burma Love in the Mission

Platha & dip -- this was DELICIOUS.

Chili lamb, yum.

Tea leaf salad-this is their famous dish but we thought it was kind of...too busy?

Izakaya Sozai -- we loved this meal so much that the taxi driver who took us home remarked that we were the happiest people she'd seen all night. 

Not too bad for three people!

Fried ramen egg!!

You really should have seen Miko's face while eating this.  It was blissful.


I will always order yaki-onigiri if I see it on a menu.  SO GOOD.

We may have gotten two orders of the chashu fried rice. 
Because chashu fried rice.

I'd never had corn yakitori before!

We were super excited about this bacon-wrapped mochi, but we weren't actually that wowed by it.

Bacon-wrapped okra, on the other hand, was amazing.

Simmered snapper with bacon broth and pea shoots

Seabass yakitori -- this just melted in your mouth.

Caramelized banana -- this was just okay.
Order another fried egg instead. Or several.