For various reasons, we recently have been traveling between Baja and La Jolla and ending up famished for sustenance midday in the Mira Mesa/Convoy/Asian triangle.
I picked Ba Ren because it was a perfect quick answer to, "How to take care of starving between appointment A and apppointment B".
What a perfect excuse to persuade the Grouchy Gourmet to try a hole-in-the-wall, out of the mainstream place that is convenient between A & B. (I know his weaknesses!)
2:30 pm, Wednesday, no customers. I went in and asked if they were serving. We were told yes and welcomed. When we asked for a table by the window on the street, they asked why, and we replied that we wanted to watch our car because our dogs were there.
They insisted that our dogs could come inside with us.
This was wonderful, we are used to dining in restaurants in Europe with our dogs, but, as you all know, the US is not that dog friendly and I hope that no one that reads this submission complains to the health department. Our dogs were perfectly behaved and we greatly appreciated the accomodation.
We ordered Beef Noodle Soup, Salt and Pepper Shrimp, and Kung Pao Scallops.
The soup had a rich and deep spicy note...star anise, clove...galangal? The beef was fatty and flavorful, the noodles chewy and very satisfying.
The shrimp were fresh and sweet in a puffy, cornstarchy breading, served on a bed of fresh cilantro with an accompaniment of garlic, red chiles, and a dark, slim pickled veg that I have had in bento boxes from Japanese restaurants, but I don't know the name of.
The kung pao scallop course was amazing. Small pencil eraser sized scallops with scallions cut to the same size and peanuts whose flavor never intruded, but contributed a satisfying crunch and enrichness. I can only guess about the spicing...cloves...anise...garlic...? Don't know, but every bite was different.