Qi Wei Kitchen kinda quietly opened just when we got back from our trip. I asked some coworkers and other folks who are tuned into Weibo and other social media and was warned off. Low quality products, off flavors, long waits (like over an hour), really made me hesitate. In retrospect, I should have done what I usually do, just plow in full speed ahead. The other thing being, it seems that only Sichuan and Hot Pot restaurants are interested in opening in San Diego. Also, unlike how things used to be, it seems to be all about portion sizes now(as in Szechuan Chef)....quantity is in, quality be damned. About 2 weeks ago, "YZ" gave me the all clear on Qi Wei and along with Lily, we headed down the street to Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.
Qi Wewi specializes in one thing; what they call Mala Xiang Guo - Numbing-Hot "dry" fragrant (Hot) Pot, which looks a lot like some of the dry cooked dishes I'm familiar with.
The drill is basically ordering a size of "dry pot"....the $10.99 version is only available for lunch from Monday - Thursday. You then choose the type...well ma-la of course; spice level. The $30.99 special gives you a choice of two protein based items (except for stuff like lobster and fish) to add to the base pot, which has four items....which I thought would be bad luck; but whose counting. Those four items, cauliflower, potato, bean sprouts, and celery. You can add proteins for $10.99 and vegetables and such run form 99 cents to $2.99. I think you get the picture, it can get pretty pricey, pretty quickly.
Anyway, we went with the Combo. Strong flavored and offal type items are a natural for this style, so ordered the duck gizzards and the ox tripe.
This was mostly mushy french fries and cauliflower. What gizzard and tripe existed was very salty. Not very......no numbing Sichuan Peppercorn, very blah. Plus, it took almost 30 minutes to arrive. Not terrible, but quite mediocre.
As it stood, most folks would say "meh" and never return. But you know me.....I just needed to verify. So I returned a while later, solo, since I didn't want to put anyone else through what we'd had before
The woman on this visit was very nice. I ordered the $10.99 deal, medium spicy, with mutton, a favorite of mine. Sadly, what I got was beef......the server was very apologetic and told me, "the beef is very good....my favorite". I'm sure she was embellishing things, but I have to say, the beef, though on the chewy side had some pretty decent flavor....the beefiness and five spice came though nicely. As you can clearly see, it looks much better than on the previous visit.
The celery, which was MIA on our previous visit was here.....the amount of beef was adequate....there was even a some decent heat, though still not enough of the Sichuan Peppercorn numbingness I adore. It wasn't as salty and had some decent flavor. I couldn't finish all that cauliflower and french fries so I took it home. The Missus thought it was decent.
Overall, not a great value, but if you're looking to fill up on potatoes and rice, I guess this might fit the bill. I might try to return for mutton or even better, intestine, though to be perfectly honest, I'd rather have some dry cooked lamb, intestine, or beef from Fu An or even Spicy City.....boy do I miss Ba Ren.
They also have a location in our old neck of the woods; Rowland Heights as well.
Qi Wei Kitchen
8058 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92111