Del Mar Rendezvous - Restaurant Week Fall 2012 + Giveaway

>> Thursday, September 6, 2012

Date of Dining: 9/4/2012
Price: $30 for 3 course prix fixe
Location: 1555 Camino Del Mar Suite #102, Del Mar, CA 92014
website

The Quick Bit

+ good tasty flavors
+ trendy chinese food
+ great service and great restaurant acoustics
Δ desserts could have been less sweet
Disclosure: This meal was provided as part of a media preview event by the restaurant
In preparation of Restaurant Week Fall 2012, Del Mar Rendezvous has been putting on a media blitz by going for a lot of coverage to preview their Restaurant Week menu. For a restaurant that San Diego magazine has voted Best Chinese in San Diego for three years running, you would think is unnecessary, but they did it anyway. You can see what my fellow food writers Rodzilla and Erin thought of their meals as well. Just like those other writers, I will have details about my giveaway later in this post.
This was my first experience at Del Mar Rendezvous, and I really appreciated the background that was given by the manager. There has been a long standing rumor that Rendezvous was owned by the same owner as Dumpling Inn on Convoy. Chef Mark Sun, the original chef of Dumpling Inn, first retired after opening that restaurant before being lured out of retirement to open Del Mar Rendezvous. He then passed the reigns of the restaurant to his nephew Tony, who was also the head chef at Dumpling Inn for four years. Today, Chef Tony remains the head chef of Del Mar Rendezvous. The style of Del Mar Rendezvous is to have modernized Chinese cuisine using the freshest and best ingredients.
Like all restaurant week menus, Rendezvous offers a 3 course meal with appetizer, entree and dessert, but only for $30. Additionally if you make it to the restaurant between 4-6 and mention "6 before 6" you can get either of the two restaurant week upgrades for $6 (normally $12). They also offer a lunch option that includes a noodle dish with appetizer or dessert for $20. Finally, Rendezvous is running restaurant week for 3 weeks - starting 1 week early and ending 1 week later (Sept 8-30) - so there is plenty of time to visit.

Appetizers

steamed dumpling sampler - har gau (shrimp), su jiao (vegetable), xiao long bao (pork)
The xiao long bao were excellent and the best I've had in San Diego. They really highlighted the entire dish. When I bit into it, I was able to sip the succulent and rich pork broth, and the wrapping was the perfect size and thickness. I would put these xiao long bao on par with Din Tai Fung in Los Angeles.
yu hsiang eggplant - eggplant, garlic, szechuan chili paste, soy, sugar, vinegar
One good rule of thumb is the order the "weird" item on the menu as it is usually something the chef really wants to prepare. I followed this rule and ordered the eggplant in this case and wasn't disappointed. When the eggplant arrived, it was extremely fragrant. The sauce reminded me of some dishes I had in China with a nice sweet and spicy contrast. Eggplant is usually an item I would never order from a restaurant, but I was happy to get this dish. I do wish that there was some rice to come with the because the sauce was so tasty and would have benefited from having some rice to carry on the flavors of the sauce.

Entrees

mongolian rack of lamb - lamb, green beans, bell pepper
The lamb was cooked to a nice medium rare, and was extremely flavorful. The sweet sauce added a real asian flavor to the dish, as I was constantly dipping the riblets to get more sauce. While this dish adds a $12 charge to restaurant week, it is normally $36 on the menu, so ordering this as the "6 before 6" special would give a "free" appetizer and dessert.
san bei ji (3 cup chicken) - chicken thigh, basil, garlic, ginger, red chili
This dish had to be special ordered, and I was glad that I did. This was easily the best dish of the night. The chicken was extremely tender despite the braising process, and was flaking off the bone. Rodzilla's review expands on how impressive this feat was. For my part, I was happy with how authentic the flavors to this dish were. This was not one of the "modernized" dishes, but that was a good thing. I especially enjoyed that the bones were left in the chicken as this is unheard of in most Chinese restaurants that cater towards Americans. Chicken is another dish that I would never order at a restaurant, but I was again extremely happy for ordering this.

Dessert

mango sorbet - mango sorbet, whipped cream
The portion size of this sorbet was extremely large. The mango shell was actually hollowed out and contained sorbet all the way down. This was an extremely generous portion and would be great for lovers of sorbet.
xiang jiao - egg roll, banana cheesecake, cinamon, powdered sugar, cream, caramel, chocolate
We decided to try the banana cheesecake roll dessert to finish off the meal as there actually is a similar Chinese dessert. This take really did modernize the classic dish as the egg roll paper was deep fried and extremely crunchy. This dessert should be versatile enough to appeal to lovers of bananas as well as cheesecakes.

Giveaway

I am allowed to give away a full meal for two at Del Mar Rendezvous during the Fall Restaurant Week Period (Sept 8-30, 2012), which includes upgrades. My family members, other food writers, and their significant others are not eligible to win the prize.
To enter the contest, please post a comment with your favorite Chinese dish in San Diego and where to get it. All entries must be submitted by 11:59pm PDT Sunday, September 9. Please make sure I have your contact information if you are submitting an entry so I can inform you that you have won.

3 entries were received (combined 3rd and 4th replies)
Congratulations to Grace Liu! You will be contacted to receive the prize.

Conclusion

Overall I was impressed with the food at Del Mar Rendezvous. I ordered two items that I would never order in a restaurant, but was happy with their flavors. I especially enjoyed the san bei ji preparation, and would order it again. The xiao long bao were also easily the best I've had in San Diego. While the food is not necessarily the most authentic Chinese food (this will be covered soon), it was definitely a very tasty and enjoyable experience. Another great quality of Rendezvous was that my party was able to talk normally and be able to hear the other side - this is a great rarity in San Diego restaurants.

5 comments:

Minxi September 7, 2012 at 1:38 PM  

Some favorites come to mind, but my current fave is the roast duck from Sieu Sieu BBQ (on Clairemont Mesa).

Vicky September 9, 2012 at 11:13 AM  

Orange chicken from Panda Express? Ok kidding.. I really like the ha cheong fun at China Max.

Grace Liu September 9, 2012 at 2:05 PM  

I have a few of favorite restaurants in SD. Spicy city on Convoy St has Good food and decent price. I LOVE spicy food so this place is right up my alley! Chef Chin is pretty good too. It is located between Armour St & Balboa Ave. If you're looking for authentic chinese food, try this place. It's a high-end Chinese restaurant.

Grace Liu September 9, 2012 at 9:34 PM  

Btw, my favorite dish at Chef Chin is Sautéed Live Crab with Rice Cake. It is one of traditional authentic dishes from Shanghai. Lamb w/ chopped hot chili pepper is one of the best choices at Spicy City. Mixed mushroom in dried pot is a good choice for vegans.

James September 10, 2012 at 8:57 AM  

Winner is Grace Liu! (see updated post)

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gastro bits is a blog that juxtaposes the geeky with the foodie; it is an attempt to be educational about food, yet entertaining at the same time.
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