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An unexpected fusion

Chopsticks in a Mexican restaurant

Sliced bits of cream cheese in a Mexican styled fried rice, along with spicy crab, avocado, micro cilantro
Sliced bits of cream cheese in a Mexican styled fried rice, along with spicy crab, avocado, micro cilantro

There are plenty of items I expect to find on a Mexican restaurant menu, but here’s one that I don’t: fried rice.

Place

King and Queen Cantina

1490 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego

I’m at King and Queen Cantina, the upscale casual restaurant that took over the Romesco Mexiterranean Bistro’s Little Italy location last year, after that spot briefly replaced Bracero Cocina before that. It’s been a tumultuous couple of years for Baja Med restaurants at the corner of Kettner and Beech, so finding an entirely different sort of Mexican fusion catches me off guard.

Granted, I had to look past a lot of tantalizing dishes to spot it. The first page of the menu offers a litany of tacos, burritos, asada fries, asada plates, and a couple of burgers. I don’t know what inspires anyone to flip the menu in the face of all that, but I do it, and immediately get lost in descriptions of ceviche tostadas and shareable fajita platters tossing out terms like saffron rice, garlic chipotle butter, and guajillo achiote vinaigrette.

Only then, tucked at the bottom of the back page, do I see a small section dubbed “Japamex at King and Queen.”

I’m not sure I want to call anything “Japamex” out loud, but I am attracted to that fried rice, and I believe with good reason. It combines spicy crab, egg, cream cheese, sesame seeds, and avocado. I’ve had a lot of those things on the same bagel before, but not mixed with radishes, carrots, scallions, and micro cilantro, and there certainly wasn’t any rice involved. This mixed up dish is also flavored with what the menu calls “Chingon sauce” and “Chingon black sauce" – chili and ponzu sauces.

Crab fried rice with the addition of avocado would be interesting enough on its own — kind of a spin on a California roll. But the smooth tang cream cheese somehow cinches it for me, acting as the glue between two culinary traditions that don’t traditionally use a lot of the spreadable American invention.

The $15 dish is gone way too fast, before I can even come to grips with the fact I’m using chopsticks in a Mexican restaurant.

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Sliced bits of cream cheese in a Mexican styled fried rice, along with spicy crab, avocado, micro cilantro
Sliced bits of cream cheese in a Mexican styled fried rice, along with spicy crab, avocado, micro cilantro

There are plenty of items I expect to find on a Mexican restaurant menu, but here’s one that I don’t: fried rice.

Place

King and Queen Cantina

1490 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego

I’m at King and Queen Cantina, the upscale casual restaurant that took over the Romesco Mexiterranean Bistro’s Little Italy location last year, after that spot briefly replaced Bracero Cocina before that. It’s been a tumultuous couple of years for Baja Med restaurants at the corner of Kettner and Beech, so finding an entirely different sort of Mexican fusion catches me off guard.

Granted, I had to look past a lot of tantalizing dishes to spot it. The first page of the menu offers a litany of tacos, burritos, asada fries, asada plates, and a couple of burgers. I don’t know what inspires anyone to flip the menu in the face of all that, but I do it, and immediately get lost in descriptions of ceviche tostadas and shareable fajita platters tossing out terms like saffron rice, garlic chipotle butter, and guajillo achiote vinaigrette.

Only then, tucked at the bottom of the back page, do I see a small section dubbed “Japamex at King and Queen.”

I’m not sure I want to call anything “Japamex” out loud, but I am attracted to that fried rice, and I believe with good reason. It combines spicy crab, egg, cream cheese, sesame seeds, and avocado. I’ve had a lot of those things on the same bagel before, but not mixed with radishes, carrots, scallions, and micro cilantro, and there certainly wasn’t any rice involved. This mixed up dish is also flavored with what the menu calls “Chingon sauce” and “Chingon black sauce" – chili and ponzu sauces.

Crab fried rice with the addition of avocado would be interesting enough on its own — kind of a spin on a California roll. But the smooth tang cream cheese somehow cinches it for me, acting as the glue between two culinary traditions that don’t traditionally use a lot of the spreadable American invention.

The $15 dish is gone way too fast, before I can even come to grips with the fact I’m using chopsticks in a Mexican restaurant.

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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
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