Did you know that San Diego had a Chinatown and a Chinese Historical Museum? I certainly didn't. You don't immediately associate San Diego with Asians and/or especially Chinese. According to the San Diego County Government report on Demographics, Asians and Pacific Islanders make up 11.19% of the population. You might be surprised to know that Filipinos make up the largest ethnic constituency with 145,421 citizens that represent nearly 5% of the total population of San Diego County. Chinese (I'm combining Chinese with Taiwanese here) is the next largest population with 51,000 citizens represently 1.54% of the total population.
Maddie and I went down to visit the 35th Annual San Diego Chinese New Year Fair located in the historic San Diego Chinatown District. Who know there was a historic Chinatown in San Diego? I certainly didn't. The San Diego Chinese Center (SDCC) has been serving the Chinese and immigrant community for more than 38 years
We enjoyed the stage acts especially the Red Panda Acrobats (Well really acrobat, just a single dude) He had a great show and did some amazing things I didn't know an older dude could contort like that! There were the usual martial arts groups and a Lion Dance group. All great fun and great support from the community that came out to see them. We'll certainly come back to visit the Chinese Historical Society Museum and Sun Yat Sen Garden. We did have a Filipino snack some vegetable lumpia and turon (banana lumpia).
OK I know this is supposed to be the foodie blog post! so in honor of Chinese New Year Redux, we went to Spicy City for Dinner. Spicy City is an old school, no frills, family style Sichuan Cuisine spot located at 4690 Convoy St. Suite 107, San Diego, CA 92111. The portions were generous and flavorful and service was very efficient. The Seafood Hot Pot had fish, squid, shrimp, shiitake and white mushrooms, bamboo shoots and carrots in a light brown sauce. The Fish and Tofu in brown garlic sauce had whole cloves of garlic in it with bamboo shoots and carrots and mushrooms, Actually they were pretty similar. The spice eggplant was very flavorful and spicy, it was a good contrast to the fish, it featured all the tastes of classic Chinese cuisine, spicy (hot) sweet, sour, bitter, salty, it had visible chunks of chopped garlic and red peppers and was delicious.
Maddie & I visited Oscar's Mexican Seafood's newest outpost that recently opened in Encinitas. Oscars has 4 other locations situated throughout the San Diego area. Oscar's is located between Peet's Coffee and Trader Joe's and I've been walking by ever since the posted their menu on the window months before they opened. I was immediately drawn by the words; Smoked Fish Taco and I've been waiting for months until they opened. I convinced Maddie that we should go (really we had no food in the house to cook) We were there at least 30 minutes before they were supposed to be closed but they already had the closed sign up. We got out of the car and motioned to the manager in the window and he flipped the sign around and beckoned us in. After all there were 2 couples inside eating at the time.
We ordered a Mixed Ceviche, Cucarachas-Deep Fried Shrimp shells and all, a Taco Especial-smoked fish, grilled shrimp, Scallops and of course a smoked fish taco. We ordered it to go as it looked like they were jonesing to close up and go home, The manager said that we should eat it there as it's better fresh and hot, but we demurred and told them we'll take it to go. While we were waiting they gave us each a complimentary cup of their fish stew, which was light and yummy, great lime flavor, fresh fish and a savory broth.
Each taco had what had to be a half an avocado combined with shredded cabbage and pico de gallo. Each taco was housed in a homemade corn tortilla that was lightly grilled so it was warm and slightly crispy. The smoked fish was shredded and lightly smoked, it had a unique flavor that made you want to eat more of it it was a perfect bite, complex, fresh, unique, yet familiar. When combined with buttery scallops and spicy grilled shrimp the Taco Especial might be one of the best single most flavorful bites I've had in a quite a while. The Ceviche was fresh and perfectly bathed in fresh lime juice. The Cucarachas were crunchy and while Maddie at first tried peeling them, she eventually relented and ate them whole crispy shell and all. Oscar's also has a fresh salsa bar and their avocado salsa was just the right mix of spicy, creamy and fresh, they had a smokey hot chipotle salsa and they offered 3 flavors of El Yucateca hot sauce including the negro edition. We give Oscar's props for delicious unique fish tacos and we're (at least I"m going to go back to try their burritos and tortas, C'mon how can I resist a smoked fish breakfast burrito!
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