Laura’s Guide To The Convoy Asian Cultural District

convoy asian cultural district

The Convoy Asian Cultural District, also known as Convoy Street, is one of my favorite neighborhoods in San Diego. It recently received official recognition from the city of San Diego as a hub of Asian culture. While it may not look like much - picture a bunch of strip malls in an industrial part of town - it's actually a rich, vibrant and diverse community that offers plenty of culinary surprises. Convoy Street is a food lover's paradise that boasts a variety of restaurants, cafes, and specialty food markets. With influences from China, Japan, Korea and beyond, the district offers a unique opportunity to explore and savor the flavors of Asia. From sizzling hot pot and savory ramen to sweet boba tea and fluffy Japanese pancakes, the Convoy Asian Cultural District is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the best of Asian cuisine in San Diego. In this guide, I share some of my favorite restaurants, dessert shops, grocery stores, and spas. Please keep in mind this is far from an extensive catalog of the Convoy Street area. There are so many fun places to eat and explore - send me a message if you discover something worth adding to the list.

RESTAURANTS

CHINESE

Eastern Dynasty
4690 Convoy St #109, San Diego, CA 92111
858-836-1168
Website

This Cantonese style restaurant specializes in roast duck and pork, but has an extensive menu including steamed fish and lobster. My mom, who is from Hong Kong, gives it two thumbs up for authenticity.

Jasmine Seafood
4609 Convoy St, Suite A 1/2, San Diego, CA 92111
858-268-0888
Website

In addition to delicious seafood, this restaurant serves up beloved dim sum favorites like soup dumplings and shrimp balls. Dim sum, in case you didn't know, is a meal consisting of little dishes served with tea. Most commonly enjoyed on weekend mornings, you can think of it as Chinese brunch.

Shan Xi Magic Kitchen
4344 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
858-565-2688
Website

This restaurant is known for their tasty hand-pulled noodles and other classic Chinese dishes. In addition to the noodles, I recommend the lamb burgers, stir fried lotus roots, and crispy spicy chicken.

JAPANESE

CoCo Ichibanya
4428 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
858-900-3020
Website

The simple menu at this restaurant focuses on Japanese curry, a popular comfort food. Think breaded chicken or pork cutlets served with curried vegetables in a thick savory sauce. It's perfect for a rainy day or any time you need a little pick me up.

Kura Revolving Sushi
4609 Convoy St, Suite F, San Diego, CA 92111
858-715-4605
Website

While it may be gimmicky, a revolving sushi bar is also tons of fun. Scope out the dishes as they pass by on a moving conveyor belt, and pick out the ones you want to try. There may be many great sushi places throughout San Diego, but Kura is a must-visit for the unique dining experience.

RakiRaki Ramen
4646 Convoy St, #102-A, San Diego, CA 92111
858-771-7254
Website

One of my favorite ramen places in San Diego, RakiRaki serves hand-made noodles in signature savory broths. Head chef Junya Watanabe is dedicated to crafting an elevated and authentic culinary experience.

KOREAN

Bonchon Convoy
4690 Convoy St, Suite 102, San Diego, CA 92111
858-836-1287
Website

If you've never tried it, Korean fried chicken is like KFC, but even better. The light, crispy batter comes in two different flavors. I prefer soy garlic, but get the spicy if you're feeling brave.

Friend's House Korean
4647 Convoy St, Suite 101A, San Diego, CA 92111
858-292-0499
Website

This cozy restaurant serves up all your Korean favorites, from scallion pancakes to bibimbap, kimchi, and bul-gogi. Plus all the little side dishes, or banchan, are perfect for sharing with a group of friends.

Olleh Korean BBQ
4344 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
858-673-6350
Website

If you're a fan of grilled meats, than you will love Olleh Korean BBQ. I love the communal style of this restaurant where everyone cooks their food on the same hot plate. While there are many Korean BBQ places to try in San Diego, this is one of my favorites.

HOT POT

Hot pot, a beloved communal dining experience, is a staple of Chinese cuisine and is one of my favorite meals. The concept is simple: diners gather around a simmering pot of flavorful broth, cooking and sharing a variety of meats, vegetables, and noodles. But don't be fooled by its apparent simplicity - the art of hot pot is in the broth, which is often customized with a dizzying array of spices and ingredients. From fiery Sichuan-style broths to milder, herb-infused versions, the possibilities are endless. I am a big fan of the communal nature of hot pot - there's nothing quite like the warmth and camaraderie of sharing a meal around a bubbling pot of deliciousness.

Liuyishou Hot Pot
4690 Convoy St, Suite B105-B106, San Diego, CA 92111
858-598-5300
Website

One of my go-to restaurants, I've enjoyed many meals here with friends.

Shangcheng Lameizi
4225 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
619-693-1026
Website

This restaurant is newer to the hot pot scene in San Diego, but also very delicious. The stylish interior features cozy private booths, and hot pots set right into the dining table.

BOBA / BUBBLE TEA

Bubble tea, also known as boba, is a Taiwanese drink that I'm completely obsessed with. From classic milk tea to fruity blends and creative flavor combinations, bubble tea shops are popping up all over the place these days. With its Instagram-worthy aesthetic and fun, customizable options, bubble tea has quickly become a favorite among millennials and Gen Zers seeking a sweet and refreshing pick-me-up. Boba refers to the chewy tapioca pearls that add a satisfying pop of texture to the drink, but you don't have to get it with the toppings. I actually prefer my bubble tea sans boba. Pro-tip: Most places let you customize your ice and sugar levels. I usually request 50% sugar and "less ice". 

Boba Bar and Desserts
4619 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
858-256-0506
Website

More than just bubble tea, this tasty spot also serves up ice cream, shaved ice, and smoothies.

Tan-Cha
4688 Convoy St #105, San Diego, CA 92111
858-737-9098
Website

Sweet and delicious, this is one of my go-to bubble tea spots. While there are many options in the neighborhood, some places use fake syrups and yucky powders. Tan-Cha uses only real fruit and tea with no additives or artificial sweeteners.

Wushiland Boba (OO Tea)
7330 Clairemont Mesa Blvd #106, San Diego, CA 92111
858-505-9535
Website

My personal favorite bubble tea spot, Wushiland Boba is located inside Ranch 99 Market. I recommend the Roasted Oolong Milk Tea for a sweet and earthy pick-me-up. I'm also a big fan of the yakult drinks which have a refreshing, tangy, yogurty flavor. You can request oat milk in your drinks instead of real milk if you have trouble digesting dairy.

DESSERTS

From delicate pastries and fruity jellies to creamy puddings and chewy mochi, Asian desserts feature a wide range of textures, flavors, and ingredients. Many Asian desserts highlight the region's love for fresh fruits, with treats like mango sticky rice, matcha shaved ice, and lychee jelly featuring prominently on menus. Other popular Asian desserts incorporate ingredients like red bean, sesame, and taro, adding unique flavors and textures that tantalize the taste buds. Check out some of my favorite dessert spots below:

Hui Lau Shan - Hong Kong Handmade Dessert
4344 Convoy St, Suite M, San Diego, CA 92111
858-504-6880
Website

This Hong Kong sensation serves up plenty of mango flavored treats as well as delicious dessert soups with sago and coconut balls.

MNGO Cafe
4176 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
858-956-5995
Website

Mango cannolis, mango sundaes, mango smoothies, and so much more. This is the perfect spot to satisfy all your mango cravings.

Sage French Cake and Coffee
3860 Convoy St #112, San Diego, CA 92111
858-571-3484

Inspired by classic French desserts, this cafe serves up delicate, fluffy cakes and elegant pastries.

Sul & Beans
4620 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
858-278-2204
Website

This place specializes in Korean bingsoo, which is like shaved ice on steroids. These giant, share-worthy bowls feature tons of delicious toppings from fresh fruits to red beans, Oreos, and more. Right next door you will find SomiSomi, which serves Korean soft-serve in adorable taiyaki, or fish-shaped waffle cones.

Tous les Jours
7725 Balboa Avenue (inside H Mart), San Diego, CA 92111
858-836-1016
Website

I'm a huge fan of the Asian bakery. While inspired by classic European desserts, Asian pastries tend to be a bit lighter, fluffier, and less sweet than their traditional counterparts. I come to Tous le Jours (located inside H Mart), for their savory curry croquettes and heavenly cloud cakes.

Uncle Tetsu Japanese Cheesecake
4609 Convoy St, Suite D, San Diego, CA 92111
858-292-6638
Website

Last but not least, Uncle Tetsu is a relatively recent addition to the neighborhood. If you've never tried it, Japanese cheesecake is much lighter and fluffier than a traditional cheesecake. The cakes come in a variety of flavors like strawberry, oreo, matcha, and ube (purple yam).

GROCERY STORES

Asian grocery stores offer a unique shopping experience that's a feast for the senses. These markets are a treasure trove of hard-to-find ingredients, from rare spices and condiments to fresh produce and meats that cater to a diverse range of Asian cuisines. Strolling down the aisles, you'll find shelves stocked with imported snacks, teas, and beverages, as well as a wide selection of noodles, rice, and grains. Many Asian grocery stores also feature on-site bakeries, seafood counters, and deli sections that offer freshly made dumplings, sushi, and other specialty foods. Shopping at an Asian grocery store can be an adventure in itself, as you discover new flavors, ingredients, and cooking techniques that expand your culinary horizons. Whether you're a seasoned home cook or a curious foodie, a visit to an Asian grocery store is sure to be an inspiring and satisfying experience.

99 Ranch Market (Chinese)
7330 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92111
858-974-8899
Website

The OG Chinese marketplace.

Mitsuwa Marketplace (Japanese)
4240 Kearny Mesa Road, San Diego, CA 92111
858-569-6699
Website

Nijiya Market (Japanese)
3860 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
858-268-3821
Website

H Mart (Korean)
7725 Balboa Ave, San Diego, CA 92111
858-836-9230
Website

A beloved Korean icon.

Zion Market (Korean)
7655 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92111
858-268-3300
Website

Come for the groceries, stay for the mini-shopping mall and food court inside.

SALON / SPAS

If you're looking for a unique and rejuvenating spa experience, look no further than the Korean day spa, also known as a jjimjilbang. Originating in South Korea, these luxurious spas typically feature hot and cold pools, steam rooms, saunas, and various relaxation areas. What sets Korean day spas apart is their focus on communal bathing and relaxation, with separate facilities for men and women. Korean day spas also offer a range of traditional Korean body treatments, such as scrubs and massages, that leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Whether you're looking to unwind after a long day or indulge in some much-needed self-care, a Korean day spa offers a unique and immersive experience that's sure to leave you feeling blissfully relaxed.

Aqua Day Spa
4637 Convoy St #105, San Diego, CA 92111
858-279-8889
Website

While smaller than Yu Spa, this is also a great day spa that features all the essentials including body scrubs, steam room, and clay sauna.

Yu Spa
3927 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
858-987-0476
Website

My happy place. I like to come here once a month as my schedule allows. The saunas, relaxation lounge, and ice room are all coed spaces where everyone wears a cute little uniform. Prepare to get fully naked in the gender-segregated wet areas which feature a hot tub, steam room, and cold plunge pool. They also offer excellent spa services including massages, yoni steams, and body scrubs. I could easily spend all day here and leave feeling deeply relaxed and rejuvenated. The Himalayan salt sauna, pictured below, is my favorite.

Haircuts at Tiffany's
4344 Convoy St, Suite J, San Diego, CA 92111
858-242-8783
Website

This is not so much a spa as a hair salon, and the only place I get my hair cut in San Diego. The staff are Vietnamese and specialize in stylish cuts, elaborate color jobs, and balayage.

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