Well, since we did Common Theory yesterday. I guess Nolbu deserves equal time, right?
Hidden behind the Convoy institution that is Chopstix, this tiny little place is easy to miss. I'm really not the Min Sok Chon, Thang Thang, soju bomb kind of guy, but I got a few recommendations from folks I knew. Though I still had reservations because when I quizzed these folks on the food, the standard answer usually included big portions, and not remembering much because they were...shall we say.....taste deadened and mush minded from overindulging a bit?
The bartender/server on both of my visits was a very nice and friendly young woman named Nancy...very calm, very chill.
The menu is full of what I call "Kogi-truckish" dishes...you know, bulgogi tacos, bulgogi quesadillas, bulgogi fries, stuff that's already kind of passe'
The dining area is set-up like one of those faux outdoor porch type of restaurants. A acquaintance of mine actually knew the Korean name of that style of set-up....but you know; old age and all that. I just can't seem to remember the term right now.
There's actually one reason I came to Nolbu...the Korean Spicy Wings ($8.99). Almost everyone I spoke to mentioned these wings, though none could not really tell me much about the flavor.
The wings are quite large, the flavor as you can imagine is based on kochujang and almost tastes like my Spicy Misoyaki without as much bean paste. It is indeed a basic sweet chili sauce...sticky, more sweet than spicy, perhaps in need of a bit more complexity. maybe a bit more sour/tart, or savory-garlic tones. The batter was nice at first, perhaps a bit too thick, but still crunchy, but it got really gummy in minutes. Not terrible....but definitely not... Kyochon by any stretch. In fact, this eerily reminded me of the stuff they used to serve at BBQ Chicken, though not nearly as crunchy.
I also decided to try the mandu ("Dumplings" on the menu - $6.99).
Overall, not bad and as always I thought a return visit should be done.
One funny thing; when I was waiting for my drink a guy walked in laden with bags....shopping for supplies I'd guess. All the plastic bags were from Zion Market! I guess that's where they do their shopping? I really think stuff like that should be done via the rear entrance.
This time I came with my friends YummyYummy and Candice. We had the spicy wings again, which were a bit better this time...less sickly sweet and the texture held up a bit better.
We also had the haemul pajeon - the seafood pancake ($12.99), a bit small for the price.
But with a pretty generous amount of well.....Zion Seafood probably..... I will say that in terms of texture it was less gummy and a bit lighter than what I'd had at Common Theory, though it was 2/3 the size.
I also wanted to try the Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings ($8.99).
A bit light in flavor, these wings swere pretty straight-forward...basically naked, without a coating, but not bad....I'd have these again, as these were nicely fried.
The same five beers on tap; my favorite being the Stone Arbalest since I do enjoy tripels, quads, and Belgian strongs. this one was pretty good, light citrus-woody flavor with a mildly boozy-hoppy finish.
While waiting for my friends to meet me, the same young man walked in ladened with plastic bags....again from Zion Market.
Anyway, in terms of food, this place serves up a more Asian flavor than Common Theory. I was surprised that the food wasn't as salty as, say Min Sok Chon. They do have a decent bottle collection, but only five draft beers and the temps on my second visit seemed a bit off. As much as I like the folks working here, there's really no working knowledge of the beer they're serving...it's more of soju service. As in the version of an umbrella drink - soju served up in a half watermelon.
That said; I might drop in again for some wings and a beer.....if I feel like eating groceries from Zion....
Nolbu Mini Gastropub
4633 Convoy St. Suite 102
San Diego, CA 92111