Spicy City

This issue was months in the making. Since editorial calendars for magazines are planned way in advance, we decided to devote a special issue to the restaurants in the Convoy District back in fall 2020. The last time we did a guide to Asian food was 2014, and

in seven years a lot has happened in the neighborhood—and the country. Coming into spring 2021, we couldn’t ignore the headlines: Anti-Asian sentiment was on the rise, and in March, six Asian American women were killed in a mass shooting in Atlanta. It’s been a difficult year for people of Asian American and Pacific Islander descent, myself included. There came a new sense of urgency, a new mission, in putting this issue together. We wanted to do everything we can to show our support for San Diego’s AAPI community and businesses.

In “We Love Convoy”, we highlighted the people who put down roots on Convoy Street from the ’70s to the early ’90s, opening the area’s first stores, restaurants, and other businesses. Food critic Troy Johnson interviewed these pioneers, including the founders of Zion Market and Jasmine Seafood Restaurant, and delved into the history of the neighborhood. They never imagined that Convoy Street and the whole area surrounding it would become the Asian restaurant scene that it is today.

Troy also spoke with the next generation of Convoy restaurant owners— Junya Watanabe (RakiRaki Ramen), Tommy Nguyen and Grace Chi (CrossStreet Chicken and Beer, Bing Haus), and Cris Liang (Common Theory, Realm of the 52 Remedies)—about the district’s future. Writer Ian Anderson went a step further, researching the city’s long-term plans to turn the district into a walkable, liveable neighborhood with green spaces (page 64). And of course, we’d be remiss not to offer suggestions on where to eat while you’re there. Writer Sabrina Medora gave us a tutorial on the different styles of hot pot available and why you should try them in the summer, and Christine Pasalo provided a rundown on Convoy’s tastiest desserts.

Last, we surveyed local chefs, community members, and fellow food nerds (including Mayor Todd Gloria!) about their favorite picks there. The list of 25 dishes is a good primer for the uninitiated, and might even give Convoy regulars some new ideas.

This doesn’t aim to be a comprehensive guide to the county’s Asian food, of course; just what’s available in Convoy (Filipino cuisine isn’t prominent on the list, and it doesn’t include all the wonderful restaurants in National City, Mira Mesa, and North County). I want to give a special thanks to writer Helen I. Hwang for her help putting this issue together. She provided us with Mandarin translation when needed, and was even the hand model for our cover photo shoot!

Also in this month's issue is a preview of The Shell, San Diego Symphony’s new $85 million bayside venue, a fun look at San Diego’s roller skating culture, and an inspiring story about three locals who reinvented their careers during the pandemic, along with tips on how you can do it, too.

As of press time, the state of California plans to retire its COVID-19 tier system and fully reopen on June 15, and many of us are planning for when we can sit down at restaurants with loved ones over a communal meal once more. I’ll be sharing bowls of hot pot and plates of Korean barbecue (and some much-needed soju!) along Convoy Street. I hope to see you there.

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