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The Koreatown of San Diego

Convoy District is not common nomenclature in PLNU’s vocabulary. Not many people know about the select chain of ethnic bars, worship centers and restaurants located in the community of Kearny Mesa. Some may call it Koreatown, but its incredible diversity is part of its charm. Convoy District is a unique accumulation of many diverse cultures and backgrounds, creating a community much like that of Little Italy in downtown. Being one of a kind, this neighborhood has much to offer in the way of entertainment and delicious food. It’s a real-life San Diegan treasure for anyone looking for something new and interesting

I am not a casual observer; I like to engage. So at the Koi Bar & Lounge, I had the opportunity to speak with the bartenders, both of whom grew up in the Convoy area. One of the bartenders, Benson, illuminated that Convoy is known for being “the Asian place.” But the district is lively and open to everyone.

“Before, it was just little shops here and there,” said Benson. “Then, businesses started springing up with new fads, like Boba, and new desert places. Over the last twenty years, it has really been popping.”

Bao, an SDSU college student of Vietnamese descent, can be found sipping pearl milk tea at the Tapioca Express, at least when he’s not at the Chinese restaurant, Tea Station. Bao has been living there since he was a kid and had a lot to say about the area.

“Although Convoy is dominated by Asian cultures like Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese, the area is actually very fusion.” In other words, the area is a mix of all cultures, and it shows in the diverse choices of eateries and shops such as 99 Ranch, the main Chinese supermarket of the district.

“The Asian community is exponentially blowing up,” said Bao. “When we were kids living here, we would come over and have Boba, which is a Taiwanese tea-based drink turned mainstream.”

After visiting Koi, I was directed toward O’Brien’s. This modern, American Pub has been a part of the Convoy District for the better part of twelve years. Tyson Blake, the manager of O’Brien’s, says the Convoy area has a “rich history” and that the establishment was even a military base back in 1917. Once Convoy Street became a part of the ever-growing community, a myriad of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai eateries started moving onto the block, thus creating what is now the Convoy District, or Koreatown.

Drifting wherever the winds took me, I found myself at The Trade Winds Tavern, an Asian fusion restaurant. At this point, I was starving. After ordering my Dragon Rolls with caviar sprinkled on top, I sat in contemplation as I satiated the hunger. It was there I learned the Convey District’s true gift, the one quality that stands out above all the rest: its food. With that extra pizzazz of authentic Asian cuisine, Convoy District is the perfect spot for a night out whether it be spent at the Tijama Japanese Restaurant, the R&B Crawfish Lounge or the Café Stems (for all the vegetarians out there). Convoy is the place to come young and hungry.

About the author

Parker Monroe

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