My day job as a chemist has its hazards, but the most dangerous is the lack of good lunch options. To have a good lunch requires a commute, so it has to be worth the trip. On a slow day, I let the reactions cook away in my laboratory hood and escape to the Clairemont area for a good, usually hearty, always inexpensive, lunch.
When I want soup, I go to Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot (4718 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.) for its lunch special—$9.95 buys a heaping platter of noodles, vegetables and choice of meat for cooking in a pot of boiling broth. The best way is to grab a seat at the bar and have an individual pot. There are two choices of broth—one spicy, one not, but both flavorful. The indecisive can order a pot that's divided in half for each broth.
For lighter fare, there's the lunch menu at Wa Dining Okan (3860 Convoy St., Suite 110), which starts with the Basic Set: miso soup with bits of vegetables like lotus and taro, rice with grated Japanese yam, pickles and three kinds of salad. On my visit, there was a cooked cabbage salad, macaroni salad and seaweed salad. The cabbage seemed to be braised in broth and soy sauce, the macaroni perfectly balanced between sweet and slightly sour and the seaweed rich and salty. The menu continues with entrées that can be ordered a la carte or as a supplement to the Basic Set. On a recent visit, I replaced my rice and yam with rice topped with tofu and ground pork, which went well with the lighter sides.
Sometimes lunch has to be delicious and quick, so I like to drop by Tea Garden (4685 Convoy St., Suite 110) for takeout. I only have one dish there: the pork stew rice, with less-than-lean pork minced and stewed in a soy-sauce-based broth. It's simple and served with a side of stir-fried cabbage cooked at very high heat, lending it that essence known as wok hei. If you like tea drinks, there's a delicious oolong milk tea that's a departure from the usual milk tea with tapioca.
When it comes to a good lunch, the possibilities are endless. Where's your favorite lunch in San Diego?