The Mira Mesa food scene has been blossoming right before our eyes with new restaurants like Little Sakana, an "All You Can Eat" sushi spot in the Mira Mesa Mall. It's across the walkway from the popular Crab Hut Mira Mesa and a few doors down from San Diego Snowy Village.
We were quite eager to visit and arrived promptly one Sunday at 11am, a week after their soft opening. The restaurant was spacious, clean and immediately more satisfying than the revolving retailers before it, which were mostly clothing stores and a temporary Halloween superstore. Food over retail for us always. We came with a giant appetite. The hostess sat us down at a table and provided us the menu options: All You Can Eat or A La Carte.
Gen Korean BBQ is a small all-you-can-eat KBB chain that recently opened its first location in San Diego. The restaurant is within the busy Edwards Theater plaza off Mira Mesa Blvd and I-15 so there's a constant flow of customers in the evenings. The price of $24.99 is slightly below the other KBBQ spots around town plus it offers over 35 menu items. We've visited twice for dinner since it opened. As far as I know, only Manna Korean BBQ and Roadem BBQ are lower priced but do have limited menus.
I don't do buffets or All You Can Eat (AYCE) much but when it involves Korean BBQ, I'm suddenly more open to the idea. Taegukgi Korean BBQ House happened to be my first AYCE KBBQ in San Diego and I found myself back for lunch two years later! My only other two KBBQ visits were at Manna BBQ in Mira Mesa and the original Manna BBQ in Convoy. I'll eventually get around to exploring others...
The restaurant is in the same plaza as Zion Market and has plenty of parking, plus you can get your asian grocery shopping on afterward! Dennis and two coworkers joined me during their Tuesday AYCE lunch special.
The restaurant is very spacious with a covered patio area that would be ideal for summer time. They sell macaron ice cream sandwiches from this middle stand and often have fresh made taiyaki, fish-shaped dessert with red bean in the evenings.
Manna BBQ opened a Mira Mesa location around Thanksgiving of last year. The biggest benefits to this location vs original in Convoy? A bigger parking lot and no crazy lines, at least for now! The mother-in-law wanted to give it a try so we visited on Sunday. Yay to my second KBBQ AYCE in San Diego, following Taegukgi just last year. Yeah I know, I'm late to the KBBQ AYCE train.
The restaurant opens daily at noon. We arrived around 12:15pm and there were already a few other tables occupied. Seating was quick.
An assortment of banchan was placed on the table. Dennis really liked the bean sprouts because of the sesame oil flavor on them. I tried the noodle item (similar to jap-chae), the potato salad stuff in the back, and one or two of those crunchy cucumbers. One strange thing is that they didn't have the normal kim-chi in our batch that day! It didn't really matter because we concentrated on meats anyway.
A large salad was served to every table, even for our party of 3! I'd say it was tossed with a light kim-chi inspired dressing, hence the occasional specks of red. This was sampled but for the most part ignored to make room for the meat!
Each person was provided a dual dipping sauce container, a zesty ponzu style sauce on one side and straight-up salt on the other side.
Manna's menu gives you two options, A1 (27.99) and A2 (21.99). The major difference is that A1 includes a few more meats such as seafood. We were okay with just A2 for this trip. Let's order!