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Hoxton Manor: Asia without rules

Favorite foods, magically transformed

The spare exterior and interior decor belie a riot of complex combinations in the kitchen.
The spare exterior and interior decor belie a riot of complex combinations in the kitchen.

Hoxton Manor’s theme of Southeast Asian inspired food with a California flair might seem a bit heady: the influences lean on Thailand and Vietnam, but there are no rules when it comes to flavor combinations, just creative fusion led by Japanese techniques.

Place

Hoxton Manor

3131 University Ave, San Diego

The black color scheme lends the place the dramatic feeling of a film noir set: moody, dim lighting and narrow seating. The simply designed interior and understated decor contrast with the bold and fiery food and enhance the feeling of intimate dining. Food here is meant to be shared, with portions perfect for two.

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All the items on Hoxton’s menu, which arrive on black plates, enticed me — from the Slow-Grilled Chicken Skewers with Peanut Condiment ($13) to the Wok-Fried Smoked Tofu with Green Curry ($24). But in order to best assess the kitchen’s craft, I chose to explore my favorite foods and see how they would be magically transformed. So I was sold on the Sri Lankan Coconut Roti with Smoked Eggplant Dip ($14) even before our server recommended it. (The service here is excellent: knowledgeable, attentive but not overbearing.) Warm, homemade naan accompanied a bowl of fragrant Thai chili-spiked eggplant nestled under a blanket of fluffy coconut cream that was topped with crisp, fried shallots. Smoky undertones balanced the mild coconut, and when smothered on the naan, the dish released an assertive punch of heat. Genius.

Smoked eggplant dip & Asian skewers: contrasting expressions of genius.

In contrast to the spiced eggplant, we tried Hoxton’s version of Asian skewers: Oyster Mushroom with Lemongrass and Jaew—a Thai sauce of lime, fish sauce, chili flakes, shallot and cilantro ($14), and Moo Ping Pork Belly ($15). The hot, sour, slightly sweet taste of the meaty oyster mushrooms enhanced with lemongrass made this one of my favorites. Cubes of skewered fatty pork belly, smoked with Japanese charcoal, delivered a soft sweetness that let the pork shine — enough satisfy any bacon lover. 

The Prawn Fried Rice with Cashew Curry ($28) was another tantalizing combination. The stunning visual display of cashew curry, ring-molded fried rice, and succulent, whole grilled prawns was spectacular enough. But the mingling of textures and added chunks of prawns in the rice made this dish a masterpiece for all senses.

After that, our bowl of saucy noodles peppered with beef brisket (Smoked Beef Brisket Fried Noodles, $27) and garnished with greens didn't need to dazzle — it provided a welcome dose of comfort food. Sassy, spicy, and salty good. 

Dessert is always my favorite part of any meal, and that’s why I look at the offerings first, before even ordering! When I spotted Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with Ginger Ice Cream and Cardamom ($10), I knew I had to try it. A slice of warm, delicate, pineapple-topped cake sat beside a large scoop of ginger-infused creamy bliss. Not overly sweet — this is not your old-fashioned brown sugar drenched cake. I savored every heavenly bite. My only wish is that the presentation of the cake lived up to the same standards as the rest of the food.

Stunning display: brisket fried noodles and prawn fried rice with cashew curry.

Hoxton’s serves wine and creative cocktails and invites guests to try their upstairs bar called Dolly’s. We chose to sip a light and crisp Sauvignon Blanc ($13) that worked to cool the spice on our palates.

To be noted: Hoxton Manor adds an 18% service fee for the staff to the bill. Yes, this is stated at the bottom of the menu — but not on the website. This fee, plus an additional 20% for our server, meant that we were tipping at 38%, which is steep. Many restaurants are choosing this option in response to rising costs, but I found it confusing and expensive. Make sure you budget for the service fee; for me, it came as a surprise.

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The spare exterior and interior decor belie a riot of complex combinations in the kitchen.
The spare exterior and interior decor belie a riot of complex combinations in the kitchen.

Hoxton Manor’s theme of Southeast Asian inspired food with a California flair might seem a bit heady: the influences lean on Thailand and Vietnam, but there are no rules when it comes to flavor combinations, just creative fusion led by Japanese techniques.

Place

Hoxton Manor

3131 University Ave, San Diego

The black color scheme lends the place the dramatic feeling of a film noir set: moody, dim lighting and narrow seating. The simply designed interior and understated decor contrast with the bold and fiery food and enhance the feeling of intimate dining. Food here is meant to be shared, with portions perfect for two.

Sponsored
Sponsored

All the items on Hoxton’s menu, which arrive on black plates, enticed me — from the Slow-Grilled Chicken Skewers with Peanut Condiment ($13) to the Wok-Fried Smoked Tofu with Green Curry ($24). But in order to best assess the kitchen’s craft, I chose to explore my favorite foods and see how they would be magically transformed. So I was sold on the Sri Lankan Coconut Roti with Smoked Eggplant Dip ($14) even before our server recommended it. (The service here is excellent: knowledgeable, attentive but not overbearing.) Warm, homemade naan accompanied a bowl of fragrant Thai chili-spiked eggplant nestled under a blanket of fluffy coconut cream that was topped with crisp, fried shallots. Smoky undertones balanced the mild coconut, and when smothered on the naan, the dish released an assertive punch of heat. Genius.

Smoked eggplant dip & Asian skewers: contrasting expressions of genius.

In contrast to the spiced eggplant, we tried Hoxton’s version of Asian skewers: Oyster Mushroom with Lemongrass and Jaew—a Thai sauce of lime, fish sauce, chili flakes, shallot and cilantro ($14), and Moo Ping Pork Belly ($15). The hot, sour, slightly sweet taste of the meaty oyster mushrooms enhanced with lemongrass made this one of my favorites. Cubes of skewered fatty pork belly, smoked with Japanese charcoal, delivered a soft sweetness that let the pork shine — enough satisfy any bacon lover. 

The Prawn Fried Rice with Cashew Curry ($28) was another tantalizing combination. The stunning visual display of cashew curry, ring-molded fried rice, and succulent, whole grilled prawns was spectacular enough. But the mingling of textures and added chunks of prawns in the rice made this dish a masterpiece for all senses.

After that, our bowl of saucy noodles peppered with beef brisket (Smoked Beef Brisket Fried Noodles, $27) and garnished with greens didn't need to dazzle — it provided a welcome dose of comfort food. Sassy, spicy, and salty good. 

Dessert is always my favorite part of any meal, and that’s why I look at the offerings first, before even ordering! When I spotted Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with Ginger Ice Cream and Cardamom ($10), I knew I had to try it. A slice of warm, delicate, pineapple-topped cake sat beside a large scoop of ginger-infused creamy bliss. Not overly sweet — this is not your old-fashioned brown sugar drenched cake. I savored every heavenly bite. My only wish is that the presentation of the cake lived up to the same standards as the rest of the food.

Stunning display: brisket fried noodles and prawn fried rice with cashew curry.

Hoxton’s serves wine and creative cocktails and invites guests to try their upstairs bar called Dolly’s. We chose to sip a light and crisp Sauvignon Blanc ($13) that worked to cool the spice on our palates.

To be noted: Hoxton Manor adds an 18% service fee for the staff to the bill. Yes, this is stated at the bottom of the menu — but not on the website. This fee, plus an additional 20% for our server, meant that we were tipping at 38%, which is steep. Many restaurants are choosing this option in response to rising costs, but I found it confusing and expensive. Make sure you budget for the service fee; for me, it came as a surprise.

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