Panda Garden ~ San Marcos

So, one of the things I have been striving to find here in North County is a good Chinese restaurant. I have tried quite a few. The reason you do not see posts about them is that they did not meet the same level of quality as most of the restaurants featured on this site. Opinions, like most things, are subjective but I found nothing in the Chinese food category  I would feel comfortable sending someone to on a recommendation.  That has now changed, I can honestly recommend Panda Garden in San Marcos. It’s not on the level of Bay Area Chinese restaurants, but it is quite good.

panda garden (1 of 1)

Standard strip mall location. I have never been to a great “fancy” Chinese restaurant.

panda garden interior (1 of 1)

Nice clean interior. I liked the calmness of the bamboo green accents.

panda garden starters (1 of 1)

Lunch specials come with the Chinese version of chips and salsa, fried won-ton chips with sweet and sour sauce and hot mustard. I’m convinced good Chinese hot mustard is on par with Wasabi for sinus clearing ability. Also included with the specials are a bowl of egg drop soup and an egg roll.

panda garden chicken (1 of 1)

Yu-Shang-Chicken ~ water chestnuts, tree ear, white onions, green onions, bamboo shoots, celery, and carrots in a spicy garlic sauce.

Perfectly cooked vegetables and chicken in a spicy garlic sauce (not that spicy). The dish came out piping hot straight out of the wok and was very tasty. The egg roll was pretty standard.

One order? Ha, amateur hour with your “one order”.

panda garden black bean noodles (1 of 1)

Noodles in Black Bean Sauce ~ Shrimp, beef, and vegetables in black bean sauce.

This is under their soup section on the menu, but it does not resemble a soup. The black bean sauce has more of a gravy like consistency. It is hearty, a little earthy and very delicious. I also loved the noodles, thick, and slightly chewy similar to Udon style noodles.

This is one of the most popular noodle dishes in Korea, even though it actually originated in China, you can find it being served in almost every Chinese restaurant there.

So, I would reiterate that I think Panda Garden is the best option for Chinese food in North County ATM. As a caveat, I do have to revisit Spicy King in Vista for a second try as I think I just ordered wrong due to my lack of understanding the Chinese language when I was there.

As for Korean and Italian. I have a review of the new Manu Korean BBQ hitting later this week and an Italian place in my sites that looks promising. Right now my recommendation for Italian is Trattoria Itrulli in Encinitas we will see how Vista fares.


Panda Garden

742 S Rancho Santa Fe Rd, San Marcos

#food #foodporn #chinesefood #sanmarcos #foodie

Himalayan Dine Inn ~ San Diego

This place has been on my radar for so long. I finally made it a point to eat there. I am glad I did.

So, the Himalayans are a mountain range shared by seven countries.This food comes from Napal. The best I can describe it is China meets India. Mild curries and what I had, Momos. Little dumplings of love:)


These were perfection. Made to do understand why that is important. This was made with love. This with tip was under $15 dollars a steal.This is when words fail me..Go the best I got. I will be back.

Actually I have more the lamb..the filling was insane. This is why I love food. Simple brilliant..sorry you need to eat here.

Himalayan Dine Inn

1010 Broadway, San Diego

From Ends Come Beginnings​. BLVD Passes Girl N Vine Rises.

As some of you may already know Blvd Chinese Kitchen had its last day this past Sunday 7/31. Oceanside was lucky to have the best Chinese Fusion restaurant in North County while they were around. Not only did Chef AJ Shiek and his staff produce great food. “Best Fish Taco” Editor’s Choice San Diego Magazine, “Best Asian Fusion” San Diego Magazine. They also provided me with some great personal memories of hanging out with the staff. I walked away with great memories and some lasting friendships.

Blvd collage

Chef AJ and his food. BLVD closing earns 3 sad kittens…sad kitten

(If I can not amuse myself while doing this , what is the point? 🙂

I was slightly fearful BLVD would be replaced with a mediocre sandwich or taco shop.

I am happy to say a wine bar is going in that will serve small bites. Maybe some Charcuterie and cheese. I did meet the new Owner Staci Miller briefly, seemed really nice. I should have more info as it progresses. Do not know if “Girl N Vine” is going to be the name (It should its a good name) but it is the name of her LLC.

Stay tuned lots of events this month. Throw in a few restaurants should be a post heavy August.

Thanks, Peace:)


Spicy King ~ Vista ~ if this were Yelp ~ and my breakfast.

This will be a short but interesting post ( well interesting to me), I’m in a writing mood, so I kind of had to combine things to get a full post out of it.

First Spicy King. I have tried to eat at Spicy King twice before, the first time I was side tracked by discovering “When Pigs Fly BBQ” in the same strip mall and a second time I was foiled by the fact they are closed on Tuesdays, strange day to be closed.

Finally made it over.

spicy king exterior

Spicy King ~ 1233 E Vista Way, Vista

The interior is clean and very 80’s / 90’s American Chinese Restaurant.

spicy king interior

Spicy king does Chinese Cuisine and Spicy Szechuan Specialties, as well as Chinese North Favorites. There was a change in owner ship late last / early this year and the new Chef is from  Sichuan.

The menu is very extensive and the English translations do not give full description of the dishes. There is a heat meter based on stars with no stars being not spicy to two stars being the most spicy.


Won Ton Tossed with Chili Sauce

I love Won Tons, these were made in-house and cooked to order. The chili sauce did provide heat in the back of your mouth after eating but I would say it was mild, though I have a very high heat tolerance. I liked that the Won Tons were cooked like pasta should be, just slightly Al Dente. The portion could easily be split by two people. I ended up eating the dozen.

fried pork chop

House Special Spicy Pork Chop

This is where not knowing Chinese  failed me, I was expecting a pan-fried pork chop similar to those at Vietnamese restaurants (this was my fault) This dish was Pork Chops fried in a spicy batter much like fried chicken. The pork was moist and the batter crispy so the dish delivered on what it was supposed to be. This dish would be good if you were eating multiple plates with others to share, by itself it was kinda of a lot of fried pork.

See, I know this is on me (this is where Yelp comes in) If this was Yelp, and I was not me, I could easily see the review being ( it helps if you read this as a 20 something over privileged girl from LA..its more fun) ” I ordered the house spicy pork chop and it was not what I was thinking, it was a fried pork chop 1 Staaaaar.” This is the same person who writes reviews like “We went to the new super popular restaurant on Saturday night at 8pm and could not find street parking, then they made us wait in the bar because we didn’t have a reservation. One Staaaar” I won’t go into Chowhound:)

So, I will go back and try some other dishes like the Chefs’ Special Green Beans, and Clay Pot Beef to get a better over all feel.

The go to for Chinese in North County is BLVD Chinese Kitchen right now (and deservedly so due to the quality of food Chef AJ is putting out of his kitchen) but I would like to find a close second. I have tried about 5 others in North County and there are reasons they are not mentioned here.

My breakfast

I just want to shout out this dish because it was so good.

petite 1

Heirloom Tomato Tartine ~ Lemon cucumber, red onion, arugula, Andouille sausage aioli, dill and  feta yogurt sauce on house made rustic bread. @ Petite Madeline

This was a 9 out of 10 dish. The best yogurt sauce I have had, the feta added the perfect amount of salt to the dish. It would have been a 10 if the bread was toasted more to add textural contrast.

So, that was my day and my ramblings:)

Spicy King

1233 E Vista Way
Vista, CA 92084