San Diego’s food scene is hopping, thanks in no small part to the huge variety of Chinese restaurants scattered around the city. From delicate dim sum to hearty bowls of noodle soup, spicy Szechaun dishes to sweet and sour chicken, there’s no end of places to enjoy some fine Asian cuisine. If you want a dining experience to remember, these are the top ten places to chow down on the best Chinese food San Diego has to offer.
10. Minh Ky Chinese, 4644 El Cajon Blvd, Ste 101
From the outside, this family-owned hole-in-the-wall restaurant looks unassuming enough. But you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and you shouldn’t judge a Chinese restaurant by the size of its neon sign. A local favorite since 2004, Minh Ky Chinese specializes in high-quality ingredients, good vibes, and a menu that’s as wide as it’s long. Expect a dizzying variety of dishes that includes crispy beef, wontons, handmade dumplings, egg noodle soups. duck, rice noodle soups, BBQ pork, and a whole lot more besides.
9. Emerald Chinese Cuisine, 3709 Convoy Street
Emerald Chinese Cuisine used to be all about the rolling dim sum carts. The carts disappeared circa 2015, but while there’s no denying they’re missed, there’s also no denying that the quality of the food has come on in leaps and bounds. Instead of the small steamers and covered bowls, there are now sticky, gelatinous chicken feet, made-to-order lotus leaf rice, bouncy noodles, steaming bowls of warming soup, crispy duck, and hearty BBQ. Options are available for both dining in and take out.
8. Del Mar Rendezvous, 1555 Camino Del Mar
This upscale restaurant in North San Diego knows exactly how to keep its customers happy. Delivering a huge spread of authentic Chinese fare served with a creative spin, it’s the ideal spot for date nights, family gatherings, business lunches, or any other occasion where Asian flavors, high-quality ingredients, and exceptional service are in order. The 100 plus dish menu includes all the Chinese favorites you’d expect, along with an inspired collection of over 40 dedicated gluten-free and vegetarian dishes. Pop by for “Happy Buddha Hour” to enjoy half-price dim sum and big savings on select wines.
7. Shan Xi Magic Kitchen, 4344 Convoy Street
As theresandiego.com says, for truly authentic Chinese food, this Kearny Mesa hot spot won’t disappoint. The star of the show is the hand ripped Biang Biang noodles – extra long, extra wide, and extra chewy, they come smoothed in a spicy ground chili and soy-based sauce that will blow your socks off. If you’re not in the mood for noodles, try the Tofu Pidan, a wickedly good combination of silken tofu, minced garlic, spring onion, and thousand-year-old egg liberally doused in Chinese vinegar and soy sauce.
6. Mandarin Wok, 4227 Balboa Avenue
Named one of the best Chinese restaurants in San Diego by kevsbest.com, Mandarin Wok has been dishing up some of the city’s most delectable Asian cuisine since 1982. Just a small sample of the dishes you can expect to graze on include salt and pepper chicken wings, shrimp tempura, Peking duck, fresh noodles, fried rice, egg foo yong, cream cheese wontons, sizzling rice soup, beef Scezhuan, lemon pepper chicken, Hunan beef, kung pao chicken, Buddha’s delight, Mongolian pork, and a whole lot more besides. Bring your appetite and your loosest pair of sweatpants – you’re going to need both.
5. Spicy City Chinese Restaurant, 4690 Convoy Street
As thrillist.com notes, the name says it all at this San Diego favorite where mala (i.e that numbing, tingling sensation that comes from the godly pairing of chilis and Sichuan peppercorns) dominates the menu. The dishes are hot, hot, hot, ranging from preserved chili dishes to traditional Sichuan dishes like ma po tofu. Even the simplest bowls of crispy veggies will set your tastebuds singing.
4. Jasmine Seafood Restaurant & Express, 4609 Convoy Street
This award-winning Chinese restaurant on Convoy Street has earned an army of loyal patrons with Chinese favorites like Peking duck, fried stuffed crab claw, and salt and pepper wings. It also has rotating carts of dim sum for those who prefer smaller bites. Vegetarian dishes nuzzle up alongside the meat offerings, providing plenty of choice for everyone. Takeout and delivery options are available, but it’s worth grabbing a table for the benefit of the tableside, Hong Kong-style dim sum service.
3. Liuyishou Hotpot, 4690 Convoy Street
Liuyishou Hotpot has over 1000 franchises worldwide, but only one in Southern California. Fortunately, the San Diego outlet lives up to the chain’s reputation and then some, delivering authentic hot pot & Chinese food at an affordable price and with great service. The broths are what it’s all about – seasoned with Sichuan peppercorns, chiles, and premium beef oil, they provide the perfect vehicle for mushrooms, handmade meatballs, offal, noodles, seafood, meat, and more. Patio dining is available if you want to eat in, or there’s a delivery and take-out option if you don’t.
2. Tasty Noodle House, 4646 Convoy Street
If slurping on a steaming bowl of chewy noodles is your idea of food heaven, you won’t want to miss a visit to this Convoy Street hot spot. As its name implies, it does noodles – and tasty ones at that. Open 7 days a week from 11 am to 3 pm and again from 4.30 pm to 10 pm, it serves up a lip-smacking menu of warming noodle soups (the ginger scallion beef noodle soup is particularly good, but so is the prawn with spicy minced pork sauce noodle soup, the beef brisket noodle soup, and pretty much every other option on the menu). There’s also an excellent range of entrees (the walnut shrimp shouldn’t be missed), rice dishes, and dim sum to get excited about.
1. Dumpling Inn and Shanghai Saloon, 4625 Convoy Street
For dumplings, Dumpling Inn and Shanghai Saloon is the place to go. Available in nine different varieties, these steamed, boiled, pan-sauteed, and deep-fried balls of deliciousness are good enough to make a grown man weep. If you want something a little heartier, the rest of chef Phat Vuong’s menu is equally tempting, with a stunning assortment of noodles and Cantonese comfort foods like pork sausage fried rice and crispy deluxe fried rice. There’s also a full bar (a rarity on Convoy Street) with a huge selection of vodkas, tequilas, scotches, and whiskeys (if you’re a fan of the latter, be sure to order the Founder’s Old Fashioned made from the house’s Maker’s Mark cask bourbon).