My two best meals were Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot on Clairmont Mesa Boulevard, and the seafood taco truck on the Toys R Us parking lot in Chula Vista. Mongolian Hot Pot reminded me of Xian in China: divided pot on the tabletop stove, with half containing a milky rich chicken broth heavily flavored with garlic, ginger, scallions and a variety of seasoning pods, plus I think the soaking broth from shitake mushrooms. The other half with added dried chili peppers, a film of hot oil, and the great tingle of Szechuan peppercorns. We got a variety of meats and vegetables: particularly recommended are the triangular lamb wontons, paper thin slices of lamb leg and the vegetable combination, which included chrysanthemum leaves, watercress, bok choy, napa cabbage, spinach, tomato and a sample slice of pumpkin. There are many, many meats, fish, seafood, vegetables, noodles and varieties of tofu to choose from. Total bill for a feast of a meal was $23 each without drinks.
The taco truck is well known by hounds: it lived up to its reputation for freshness and zesty flavor: my favorite was the grilled marlin taco. Good one
Next came Prado in Balboa Park: refreshing pressed arugula salad, kebab trio of beef, tender chicken and nicely smoky shrimp over shredded napa with a creamy lemon-dijon dressing, virgin mojito filled with peppery mint. Another meal had duck breast with Thai curry—almost an east Asian version of a vindaloo with its vinegary bite. Gold and red beet salad was also good, with its earthy, meaty taste. As well as being an attractive restaurant, Prado is also a good place to take a fresh break from rich, heavy meals. Good selection of wines by the glass too, including a luscious Viognier.
I wish I had known specific dishes to order at Phuong Trang on Convoy; I chose a cook-your-own beef with onions and herbs that was good but not exciting. Any hints for another time?
The only bust among the Chowhound recommended places was OB Warehouse, a place we had partly chosen because we had a young teen with us. As soon as I walked in I could see that good food was not their primary aim, but on a Saturday night going elsewhere was not an option. Attempting to repeat the success of Prado’s beet salad, I received for limp thin slices of beet surrounded by a pile of dry, unexciting arugula and a few grains of goat cheese. I asked for my halibut to be rare: two thin slices came in a burnt panko crust drenched in a weak beurre blanc, and accompanied by the same arugula. One companion’s pork chop was tough, a fried chicken special was soggy.
But thanks for the treats! Now we’re off to Ventura and Santa Barbara