Facing East Noodle and Bar – Kearny Mesa
This post will cover two separate visits to Facing East Noodle and Bar in Kearny Mesa off of you guessed it, Convoy Street.
Their menu might seem a little overkill at first glance, but it’s not as daunting as it looks if you know your target. If not, you could be staring at soup noodles, dumplings, fried rice, tea’s, smoothies, and freakshakes (yes that’s a thing) for hours.
But they have pretty pictures to look at to wrangle you into focus.
The restaurant opened in October of last year and I have mixed feelings going to new places. I get really excited to find something great, but also enter cautiously optimistic preparing for the worst. One of the best things about a new place is usually you can count on things being clean. But service might not be as speedy or effective as you would like.
One of their specialties are their soup dumplings, aka, xiao long bao, aka xlb. But they don’t serve just your ordinary xlb here. They have all kinds of interesting flavors I wanted to try. Unfortunately, on both visits they ran out of their Five Guys XLB, which is basically a flight of different flavored xlb’s. So we went with one of them they had available in the set which featured a squid ink skin, and black truffle. When choosing something you never had before, my doubt creeps in and expectations are pretty low. But the subtle truffle and overall delicate profile surprised the heck out of me. Anh and I actually really enjoyed these. The wrapper might seem a little off, but the chew was right up there with the best in San Diego.
Remember when I said a new place might have some hiccups in the beginning with service? Well, we couldn’t decide what we wanted and they actually let us order half and half of the original pork xlb and the squid ink/black truffle flavor. So the first basket of the black xlb was a mistake. No matter, we were trying to hedge our bets with half and half, but luckily, we really enjoyed it. Plus, in the end they removed it from our bill.
I guess you can’t really tell from the picture, but each dumpling had a good amount of soup in it. Pretty much every single one. Now at other San Diego establishments, this isn’t always the case.
Since I don’t like you calling me a liar, we have proof! Look at all that delicious soup about to go in my belly! Anyone who knows anything about xlb will tell you there has to be ample soup in it, and it has to not leak out or escape by the time it reaches your mouth. We had no issues with the leakage or amount of soup here.
Just to mix things up we also ordered the steamed pork and shrimp gyoza. These were good, but nothing spectacular. The sauce seemed a little sweet for me.
I liked them more when I dipped it in my soy sauce, chili oil, vinegar mix.
The cured meat rice kettle was quite salty. Not just regular salty. I needed at least 3 portions rice, 1 portion meat for this sucker to go down. I probably will stay away from this one.
On our second visit a few months later we actually happened to order the same things! And they were very consistent with our first visit.
Each xlb stayed intact and I think only one of them broke this time around. Their soup isn’t very sweet like some other places nor is it very salty or flavorful. But with a little of your sauce, it makes for a very nice bite.
Wontons in spicy sauce is a favorite of ours. This version was quite tasty and might have been tied for favorite dish so far from them. As much as it looks like send you to the hospital spicy, it was relatively easy to handle. The noodle wrapper was again very nice, and it made for a super satisfying mouthful with shrimp and fish mixed in.
This may look like a soup, but it is minced pork rice. Overall it also was a tad bit salty and the star anise hits you with a Miley Cyrus sized wrecking ball. I mean, if that’s your thing, no judgement.
Last up is another dish we always have to order if it is available, the braised beef noodle soup. I have high hopes for this whenever I order it. Unfortunately, here, a place where fresh noodles are made everyday, overcooked them. Instead of the bouncy nice chew you hope to get, they were soft and mushy. That’s really too bad because the broth was nice and spicy. It had more in your face spice seasoning than the typical clean strictly beef flavor I typically order the soup for.
Lately I haven’t really been feeling Dumpling Inn. Actually, ever since they moved to the bigger space I’ve been kind of disappointed in them. Tasty Noodle House has some nice food, but I actually might favor the xlb here at Facing East Noodle and Bar just a bit more because of the consistency and the amount of soup. But to each their own.
Facing East Noodle and Bar
4647 Convoy St., Ste 101C
San Diego, CA 92111