Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Inn of the Sixth Happiness

Hidden hotspot for Thai hot pot

My tom yum
My tom yum
Place

Chopsticks Inn Restaurant

8687 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa

So I was just leaving this kinda cute patio where I'd been having a late brekky with my friend Ernesto (La Mesa Bistro, more on this in upcoming Tin Fork), and, well, we talked a long time. An hour maybe. When I left, I was already starting to feel lunch pangs. And it's at this weak moment that here comes a li'l old place advertising "Sushi, Dim Sum & Thai Food" in the same shopping complex.

I stop, look, listen to my stomach.

Next to the sign, they have two way-big red and gold Chinese lanterns, and between them, in white letters, "Chopsticks Inn."

"Like something to eat?" says this Chinese lady coming out.

"I guess," I say. Because the other thing is I'm starting to feel stirrings again...for tom yum soup. Something about the sweat-sprouting heat combined with the taste of kaffir lime, galangal (Asian ginger), lemon grass, and all those swimming button mushrooms. Also the red flames of the charcoal fire shooting up the soup bowl's center chimney.

It's a Thai dish, of course, and this place looks mainly Chinese. But hey, if you don't speculate you can't accumulate. So a moment later I'm in a low dining room, with a big, golden, laughing Buddha on a shelf and a giant, jade frog with a gold coin in his mouth on the counter.

I set down in a comfy red leatherette booth. This gal Shirley comes up with a massive menu. Massive, but the items inside seem to be reasonably priced. Like, paper-wrapped chicken is $4.95, spare ribs are $6.95, hot and sour soup goes for $2.25, dim sum are about four bucks, and sushi rolls start at $3.25 and go up to $12 (for the Diamond Special, 8 pieces with spicy scallops, salmon, avo, masago, green onion). Noodle soups are eight at lunch, ten for dinner. Fifteen seems to be the top price.

So tom yum? Most soups are Chinese. But at the bottom, there they are, numbers 12 and 13, the Thai hot pots, tom yum and tom kah. Tom kah is pretty-much the same as tom yum but with coconut milk. It's totally delicious and sweet as well as sour and hot.

But for me the real thing is tom yum, with its ginger, lemongrass-y lime tartness combined with chicken or shrimp (my favorites, though you can get beef or pork too), and of course Thai chili to give that tart spiky thing that matures as you go down into a rich meaty taste storm that's hot in all senses to the last spoonful.

So I ask for the chicken version ($9.55, "for two." With shrimp it's $11.55).

"Shirley," I say. "Don't be kind. Have the cook put in extra chili. I like it hot. I won't sue for pain and suffering."

"Sure?"

"Sure."

And she's as good as her word. This lake of liquid is straight out of Mt. Pinatubo's crater, I swear. Okay, they don't have the flaming chimney bowl. But it does come in a sexy silver soup tureen with a plate of crispy noodles. You can see the chicken roiling with everything from snow peas to 'shrooms to onion and tomato and who knows what else. Shirley ladles some of it out into a smaller china bowl.

"I had to tell Annie that you meant it," she says. "She wasn't sure. Most people in La Mesa like gentle tastes."

Turns out Annie's the cook, the lady I met on the way in. They've been here since 1988. Came from Hong Kong. It feels old school. I like it.

So I leave totally burned out and stuffed full. This soup was a little more expensive because it was meant for two. But I guarantee, if you have it just for you, you'll have checked all the boxes for a total meal.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Antebellum: Janelle Monáe’s Moment

If one must remake a movie, make sure it’s a bad one.
Next Article

Nathan Fletcher, wife Lorena Gonzalez, and Ben Hueso roll in dough

Faulconer turns off police access to hidden cameras
My tom yum
My tom yum
Place

Chopsticks Inn Restaurant

8687 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa

So I was just leaving this kinda cute patio where I'd been having a late brekky with my friend Ernesto (La Mesa Bistro, more on this in upcoming Tin Fork), and, well, we talked a long time. An hour maybe. When I left, I was already starting to feel lunch pangs. And it's at this weak moment that here comes a li'l old place advertising "Sushi, Dim Sum & Thai Food" in the same shopping complex.

I stop, look, listen to my stomach.

Next to the sign, they have two way-big red and gold Chinese lanterns, and between them, in white letters, "Chopsticks Inn."

"Like something to eat?" says this Chinese lady coming out.

"I guess," I say. Because the other thing is I'm starting to feel stirrings again...for tom yum soup. Something about the sweat-sprouting heat combined with the taste of kaffir lime, galangal (Asian ginger), lemon grass, and all those swimming button mushrooms. Also the red flames of the charcoal fire shooting up the soup bowl's center chimney.

It's a Thai dish, of course, and this place looks mainly Chinese. But hey, if you don't speculate you can't accumulate. So a moment later I'm in a low dining room, with a big, golden, laughing Buddha on a shelf and a giant, jade frog with a gold coin in his mouth on the counter.

I set down in a comfy red leatherette booth. This gal Shirley comes up with a massive menu. Massive, but the items inside seem to be reasonably priced. Like, paper-wrapped chicken is $4.95, spare ribs are $6.95, hot and sour soup goes for $2.25, dim sum are about four bucks, and sushi rolls start at $3.25 and go up to $12 (for the Diamond Special, 8 pieces with spicy scallops, salmon, avo, masago, green onion). Noodle soups are eight at lunch, ten for dinner. Fifteen seems to be the top price.

So tom yum? Most soups are Chinese. But at the bottom, there they are, numbers 12 and 13, the Thai hot pots, tom yum and tom kah. Tom kah is pretty-much the same as tom yum but with coconut milk. It's totally delicious and sweet as well as sour and hot.

But for me the real thing is tom yum, with its ginger, lemongrass-y lime tartness combined with chicken or shrimp (my favorites, though you can get beef or pork too), and of course Thai chili to give that tart spiky thing that matures as you go down into a rich meaty taste storm that's hot in all senses to the last spoonful.

So I ask for the chicken version ($9.55, "for two." With shrimp it's $11.55).

"Shirley," I say. "Don't be kind. Have the cook put in extra chili. I like it hot. I won't sue for pain and suffering."

"Sure?"

"Sure."

And she's as good as her word. This lake of liquid is straight out of Mt. Pinatubo's crater, I swear. Okay, they don't have the flaming chimney bowl. But it does come in a sexy silver soup tureen with a plate of crispy noodles. You can see the chicken roiling with everything from snow peas to 'shrooms to onion and tomato and who knows what else. Shirley ladles some of it out into a smaller china bowl.

"I had to tell Annie that you meant it," she says. "She wasn't sure. Most people in La Mesa like gentle tastes."

Turns out Annie's the cook, the lady I met on the way in. They've been here since 1988. Came from Hong Kong. It feels old school. I like it.

So I leave totally burned out and stuffed full. This soup was a little more expensive because it was meant for two. But I guarantee, if you have it just for you, you'll have checked all the boxes for a total meal.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

One or two puffs for the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health

And so starts the procession of questions.
Next Article

“My favorite John Waters movie is…”

A quick dissertation on the correlation between organic food intake and jean skinniness
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close