They serve hollowed-out watermelons full of soju here. That is entirely why I felt the urgent need to check it out. (Well, almost entirely. I also really wanted to try Bulgogi Fries and Cheese Corn.)
Korean bar food is a genre that I'm not entirely familiar with, so I had been looking forward to getting a face full of exotic yet fattily familiar delights. We met up with Michaela and Neal here to celebrate the high holy day of Friday.
Nolbu Mini Gastropub is located, like so many heretofore-undiscovered-by-me-yet-very-popular Asian restaurants, in a crowded strip mall in Kearny Mesa on Convoy. It's a small place with just a few semi-private booths scattered around.
The menu is a fusion mix of traditional Korean bar dishes (like Seafood Pancake or Spicy Wings) and California Mexican staples (Tacos, Burrito, or Quesadilla, but with Bulgogi). Most items are intended to be shared, so we got to try a variety of dishes.
WATERMELON FULL OF SOJU
This did not disappoint, because it's a genuine full-size watermelon-full-o-booze for $25. It was like a fountain of booze that never ran dry; it just kept giving and giving. It's a little sweet, but a nice complement to the spice and salt of the dishes. The chucks are actually frozen watermelon. (I was a little afraid I was going to knock the whole thing over though.)
Neil's choice. This was a very pleasant surprise. The calamari batter was very light, the squid itself had a silky not-rubber texture, and it was just the right amount of spicy.
Jason's choice. I have no idea what was in these (pork maybe) because all I tasted was BURRRRRRN. They came out so piping hot that Jason burned a hole in his cheek. He had already been deathly afraid of his food being too hot, so now he will probably only ever eat cold food. Thanks, dumplings. Potential health hazards aside, though, I'm grateful that they were so fresh out of the fryer. They were tasty.
My choice. I had seen pictures of Cheese Corn on various blogs and had to get in on the action. Despite the looks of it, I actually think it could have used more cheese! I thought this dish was gonna SLAP ME IN THE FACE with cheese, when in reality it was only mid-level cheesy. it wasn't terrible, but CHEESE, man!
Michaela's choice. They're not just Bulgogi Fries, but also Blugogi Sweet Potato Fries, Bulgogi Tots, and Bulgogi Superfluous Tortilla Chips. It needed a little bit of focus. I think just regular fries would have been quite good, but it stretched itself a little thin with all the different tastes jumbled together. (I wouldn't kick it out of bed though.)
Overall, the food wasn't transcendent, but it was a nice complement to the WATERMELON FULL OF SOJU. Without said soju, everything probably would have been a tad too salty (and I'm aware that that's the point).
Verdict: Not amazing, but it made us happy. Just look at these smiling inebriate goons...
4633 Convoy St.
San Diego, CA 92111