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Is DeDe's as good as my e-penpal said? Whew, every bit! Over 100 items on the menu, and I really want to try another 30 or 40 of them — maybe not the Chinese-American standards, but certainly some of the universal pan-regional dishes like dumplings and wonton soup — what's a Szechuanese wonton like? And will the "special dumpling" be closer to a Peking pot sticker or to a Tibetan momo? Of all the lower-priced places I've been eating at lately, DeDe's certainly gives the most thrills for the money — it's actually the most rewarding meal I've had in months. The purring sense of well-being even carried over to the next morning, and as I worked my way through the leftovers, the warm glow rekindled after every "doggie's dinner." Those chili-endorphins in the good food of Szechuan — they can turn you into a human Olympic torch.

DeDe's Tea Juice City

  • 4 stars
  • (Very Good to Excellent)
  • 4647 Convoy Street (between Dagget Street and Opportunity Road), Kearny Mesa, 858-279-5999; 278-6358
  • HOURS: Monday, Wednesday-Friday 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., 4:30-10:00 p.m. Saturday-Sunday 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. Closed Tuesdays.
  • PRICES: Cold appetizers, three for $6; noodles and rice plates, $5.50-$8; entrées, $8-$13; hot pot buffet, $25 per person.
  • CUISINE AND BEVERAGES: Authentic Szechuan cuisine, often spicy. Tea, soft drinks, Asian beers.
  • PICK HITS: Pig-ear appetizer; boiled sliced fish in hot sauce (#14); mapo tofu (#93); hot and sour soup (#46); stir-fried pork kidney with vegetables (#16).
  • NEED TO KNOW: Simple decor, a bit noisy, family friendly (but no kiddie menu). Possible for vegetarians, but animal-based cooking stocks used in many dishes (ask!). Reservations accepted; English spoken okay. Many fiery dishes (accurately identified by one to three chili symbols on menu); plenty of milder choices. Food arrives quickly; consider ordering a few dishes at a time to space it out. Parking lot crowded but fast-moving: Seek and ye shall find.

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