minh ky restaurant / city heights – san diego, ca
We went here because A) the place I originally wanted to go to was cash only and for the life of me, I could not remember my pin number that weekend and B) it had a fairly high rating of over 300+ reviews on Yelp. I’ve learn to take Yelp reviews with a grain of salt though, since people tend to rate with no rhyme or reason (“the parking sucks, 1 star” or “it looks dirty, I walked out and didn’t actually try any of the food, 1 star” or on the opposite end with highly overrated food and other shenanigans). We ended up here on kind of a whim, a second choice location, but as it turned out, it was a pretty good whim after all.
Parking here is actually pretty weird. There’s a tiny, almost unnavigable parking lot in front of the tiny strip mall and a sketchy parking lot in the back, behind the restaurant. We parked in the back since it was the only space we could find, though the area made me cringe with the obscene amount of trash littered about.
We went inside and saw a small, cozy, 12-table restaurant. Every table was full but we must have had a stroke of good luck since we didn’t have to wait long to be seated.
They have an enormous six page menu with over 200+ items on board. A little baffling, to say the least.
There’s also a specials board on the right side, listing about 5 different specials. We decided to try the Shrimp Tempura and BBQ Pork.
[tempura shrimp + bbq pork – $5.50]
Since neither Jake or T like shrimp, I got to keep that all for myself. The shrimp are butterflied and flattened and have a thin coating on the batter with what seemed to be panko crumbs. There was a side of Thai sweet chili dipping sauce for both appetizers. I enjoyed the shrimp – the batter didn’t hide the flavor of the shrimp and the shrimp was nice and tender on the inside.
The BBQ pork was a tad dry but a few pieces were perfectly sweet and tender.
[dumplings and wonton lo mien – $5.75]
This dish actually surprised me since it came out in two bowls – one with the noodles and one with the broth and dumplings/wontons. Lo mien makes me think of noodle dishes, sans broth, and nothing like this.
Here’s the broth by itself – you can see the dumplings and pieces of char sui pork just under the surface with the scallions scattered over the top.
And a closeup of the noodles with a hint of a sauce just underneath the pile of noodles.
Jake started to eat them separately, but me – I put those two suckers together and had myself a little lo mien soup.
I loved the flavor of the broth – it wasn’t overpowering, very nicely seasoned with a good amount of flavor and (as you can see) oil. The noodles were tender and delicious as well and the meaty dumplings were really nice with the broth. I liked the pork pieces in this dish more than the ones we had as an appetizer – they were more tender and flavorful, perhaps a result of sitting in the broth?
The dumplings were mostly pork with a little bit of shrimp (you can see a bit on the left one). The wrapper was very tender and created a nice wonton dumpling.
[orange chicken – $6.95]
Sticking to safe menu items, we also ordered the Orange Chicken. This dish, was again, nothing like Orange Chicken I’ve had in the past. The chicken was all white meat chicken in a light batter with a very thick, glaze-like sauce. The orange sauce was not very sweet, and if anything only had a mere hint of sweetness – also not like what I’ve had in the past. I kind of liked it, actually. Sickly sweet things can be overbearing and this one was just nice. Jake seemed a bit torn about it but ended up liking it after all.
Overall it was a nice experience and was pretty easy on the pocketbook. The dishes are overly large, but still shareable – just don’t expect an overabundance of food. Most items can easily be eaten by one person, but I think sharing makes for a better experience.
The place is very definitely in a “hood” kind of area though, but fear now – tasty food awaits you! We did eventually get to that other Chinese place I really, really wanted to go to… stay tuned for that review very soon!
Minh Ky Restaurant
4644 El Cajon Boulevard
San Diego, CA
Closed Wednesdays. Accepts credit cards.