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Centrally located and only a short drive from downtown, the Convoy District in the neighborhood of Kearny Mesa is the heart of San Diego’s Asian community with a popular restaurant row and diverse mix of cultural offerings including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Vietnamese.
San Diego's rich pan-Asian culture shines year-round in the Convoy District where you can find door-to-door restaurants, tasty dessert shops, colorful Asian supermarkets and exciting nightlife venues for karaoke aficionados. The annual San Diego Night Market and fun neighborhood events also provide opportunities to meet and mingle with the locals.
If you're a fan of dim sum and Classic Chinese, head to Jasmine Seafood Restaurant or Emerald Chinese Cuisine for brunch. Both are set in large banquet rooms and have an army of servers pushing silver carts filled with delicious bites. To double your fun, head over to the Dumpling Inn for a drink at its Shanghai Saloon and then a hearty helping of its famed xiao long bao, which are broth-filled steamed pork dumplings. As the name suggests, Spicy City specializes in flavorful Sichuan dishes loaded with chiles.
If you're hankering for ramen, Menya Ultra is known for its made-from-scratch noodles. Celebrated food critic Andrew Zimmern heralded the place as possibly having the best ramen in the country. Rakiraki Ramen & Tsukemen is a trendy eatery with a vast menu, from sushi rolls and rice bowls to Japanese curry and a large variety of ramen. You get to be the chef at Tsuruhasi, a Japanese barbecue joint. The grill-your-own meal at an in-table grill is similar to Korean barbecue, but marinades are more miso-heavy. Sit back and relax at Kura Revolving Sushi Bar where authentic fresh sushi parades by on a conveyor belt.
If you're craving Korean barbeque, the Convoy District won't disappoint. At the Taegukgi Korean BBQ House, you can indulge to your tummy's desire at this all-you-can-eat spot where you grill your own meal. For a spicy hot meal, Tofu House is a popular barbecue joint serving steaming hot pot soups and hot stone dishes. Manna Korean BBQ is a meat-lover's paradise serving everything from beef brisket and tongue to pork belly and veal intestine. At Friend's House Korean, you can enjoy traditional dishes like kimchi fried rice and spicy seafood udon soup.
Using only family recipes, Chaba Thai Kitchen offers an authentic Thai dining experience ranging from traditional to northern and southern Thai cuisine. Named after Thailand's colorful national flower, Koon Thai Kitchen serves traditional dishes in a striking, colorful setting. Choose from an array of delicious dishes including pan fried noodles, Thai curry and seafood specials at Mekong Lao and Thai Cuisine. If you're a lover of pad thai, The Pad Thai Stand is the place to go.
Arrive early to favorite Phuong Trang, a family friendly restaurant serving nearly 250 traditional and inventive Vietnamese dishes. Steaming bowls of pho are must eats at Pho Fusion and Mignon Pho + Seafood where authentic dishes are made from recipes passed down for generations. At PT Eatery, your first bite of a fresh spring roll or crispy egg roll will start you on a culinary adventure through Vietnam.
Save some room after dinner for Iceskimo's Taiwanese shaved ice - a style somewhere between ice cream and Hawaiian shaved ice. The handmade ice blocks in flavors like black sesame and matcha green tea are shaved down and then topped with tantalizing extras like Nutella, lychee, bananas foster, and oolong milk tea.
This cozy, mod spot is the place to go for coffee and creative frozen desserts including Thai-style rolled ice cream. Watching the ice cream being made is almost as fun as it is to eat – emphasis on almost. Flavors range from green tea with mochi and strawberry toppings to black sesame with honey, mochi and sesame toppings.
Ice cream macaron sandwiches, churros, inventive Asian-inspired iced coffee drinks and cotton candy burritos - all of them wildly creative and eminently Instagram-able - are the name of the game at this Asian bakery with hints of a French patisserie.
This mom and pop bakery has everything from pastry, cakes and breads to Vietnamese and Cantonese steamed buns and even fruit smoothies. Regulars rave about the authentic meat buns. Standouts are the pork with egg and sausage with taro and onion.
If you want to experience a bit of Korean culture, a shopping trip to Zion Market should be on your to do list. The sprawling Korean shopping center features a tasty Korean indoor food court as well as a French-Asian fusion bakery complete with cronuts on the weekends.
Ranch 99 Market is a great place to shop when you're ready to make your own Asian delicacies. You can find authentic ingredients for any Asian meal, from obscure items like duck embryo and Indonesian soy sauce to the slightly more common ones like fresh lemongrass and tamarind paste.
The sprawling Marukai Market carries everything from Japanese foods, seafood, bento and sushi to Japanese furniture, porcelain, electronics and kimonos. Many items are popular in Japan but can't be found stateside – it's like a shopping trip to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Anyone wanting to look their best should swing by the Face Shop, a popular Korean skincare and cosmetics store located in Zion Market. You'll find a wide variety of women's accessories and products for face, nail, body, and hair along with select items for men.
This 20,000-square-foot restaurant, bar, nightclub and arcade comes equipped with 14 private karaoke rooms for rent and could be considered the Convoy District's entertainment epicenter. After dinner, you can play pool, sing your lungs out and dance the night away with DJs. The Korean-influenced menu sports everything from kimchi fried rice to mushroom pork belly burgers, and the expansive drink list has a dizzying array of barrel-aged cocktails, tiki cocktails, 50 draft beers, and a lengthy litany of liquor.
If you're looking for an upscale scene to sing loud and proud, Melody Karaoke and Café might be music to your ears. It features opulent, mirrored private rooms of varying sizes and colorful cocktails to help unleash your inhibitions before you hit the mic. The café serves snacks, meals and items like fried dumplings, wonton noodles and BBQ Chinese sausages.
If craft beer is your passion, then Common Theory Public House is a great place to partake with an Asian spin. This warm, friendly pub features more than 30 rotating beers on tap, alongside a food menu inspired by Asian, American and Mexican cuisine.
Common Theory is also home to one of San Diego's swankiest speakeasies, Realm of the 52 Remedies. This drinking den's opulent décor, with its glowing jade bar surrounded by a mix of Asian and Tiki accents, is matched only by its sumptuous cocktail concoctions.
Local nanobrewery Kilowatt Brewing has a reputation for handcrafted, all natural, traditional brewing with unique ingredients. Its Kearny Mesa taproom offers 20+ beers on tap and a wide selection of bottles ranging from multiple IPAs and traditional styles to barrel aged, fruit and sour beers. Stop by to sample creations like the passion fruit green tea ale and coconut chai porter.
A great way to mingle with locals is by attending the San Diego Night Market, a two-day celebration during summer where the Convoy District's sounds and flavors intermix in one spot. More than 50 vendors sell Asian-inspired street food and goods, while a stage features live bands, DJs and traditional and modern dances. A popular beer garden also serves up local beers and spirits.
Start your journey through the colorful neighborhood at the Convoy District mural, painted on the side of the Cross Street Chicken and Beer restaurant. The mural depicts a rooster clutching a beer mug with the phrase “Made in San Diego” underneath the greeting “Welcome to Convoy” painted across a red arch, which is considered an auspicious color for many Asian cultures.
In neighboring Mira Mesa, the Filipino Sun Festival celebrates Filipino and Filipino-American culture. Held annually in April, highlights of the one-day event include Filipino cuisine, demonstrations, graffiti art and cultural performances. Watch guests compete for prizes during the hip-hop dance and karaoke competitions and enjoy a popular beer garden and kids' area.
This smaller, less-crowded local farmer's market occurs 3:00 to 7:00 PM every Thursday throughout the year in neighboring Linda Vista. Pick up fresh local produce, flowers and seafood along with specialty foods and items from a variety of vendors.
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