I’ve been going to Convoy Street for a while now. I’ve eaten at their restaurants, drank at their tea shops, knocked back a few brews at the bars, and for the most part, those places have one thing in common. They seem to be more catered towards an Asian crowd. Makes sense, as Convoy Street is San Diego’s version of Chinatown, or Little Seoul (it depends on where you are, I guess). And the only way to survive on that street is to blend in.
Nolbu is a bar that flies in the face of those conventions. Managed by Patrick Chan, Nolbu is a bar that, in his words, “reflects what growing up as an Asian-American was about.” While you’ll find Korean food on the menu, their drink selection is not what you’d expect to find at a bar on Convoy Street. They carry a lot of local craft beers. Ballast Point IPA’s, Blue Moons, Arrogant Bastards, and many other craft beers are being served, and according to Patrick, they go well with their normally spicy Korean dishes. I’m not one to argue that, since I’ve got a cat’s tongue. Plus, my love for beer helps things.
Earlier today, I had a chance to sit down and chat with Nolbu’s manager, Patrick. However, things got busy and I had to order up a Soju Melon or two. That wasn’t a complaint.
You know you’re facing some stiff competition, how do you stick yourself up against all the establishments already here on Convoy? – It’s got an Asian-American flavor, WE ARE SAN DIEGO, and we have the San Diego lifestyle down pat. We’re small, so we’re intimate, but large enough that we can offer something for everyone. We are the one spot on Convoy that isn’t…Convoy. We’re doing something that encapsulates San Diego, not Convoy.
(Did I mention that they also sell craft beers? This is important. Write it down somewhere.. -twitch)
What has been your biggest hurdle since starting Nolbu?
Setting our standards high, and keeping the standards high. As the originators of the Soju watermelon and the white gummy Soju, we know that we have to keep our standards high because, well, there will eventually be copiers. We can never be satisfied, and we believe there always is room for improvement.
How did you come up with the Soju Melon? And how do you make one?
Through traveling, we found that a lot of people already do this in Asia. Summer’s coming, so we figured, why don’t we give this a try here? We hollow out the watermelon, take the pulp out, and fill it up with Soju. Any Soju will work. We tend to use the more popular ones.
What is your favorite food here?
Definitely the bossam. (Pork underbelly with pickled vegetables.)
What are your hopes for Nolbu?
Our hope is for Nolbu to be the premier spot for Asian/Korean food and local craft beers.
What do you have to say to our readers?
Nolbu is a place where you can stimulate your palate and feed your soul. If you’re looking for a chill bar, with good food and a chill atmosphere, then look no further! We’d love to have you over.
So would I recommend this place? You bet. Not only is the décor awesome and inviting, it’s really fun to look at! The food’s delish, and nothing is too overpowering. Every one of their dishes is presented tastefully and appetizing. The staff is really helpful and friendly. My only gripe? I’ve got a cat’s tongue, so eating some of the dishes require me to drink lots of liquid to keep my tongue cool. The liquid may or may not have alcohol in it.
4633 Convoy Street #102, San Diego, CA.