Restaurant Review: formoosa


Jonathan Zhang, Staff Writer

Recently, I decided to get a haircut to make myself look even better (a tall order when you’re already perfect). First, I had to call my old barber, promising that I wasn’t “switching up on him” and explained to him that it just wasn’t feasible for me to travel back to Phoenix just for a quick snip. Next, I hopped on a crammed-to-the-brim bus before arriving at an Iraqi barbershop in god knows where. After briefly crying because the barber did me dirty, I noticed a Walmart nearby. So after playing real-life Crossy Road, I managed to make my way into my second favorite retailer (Costco > Walmart > Target. All other rankings are wrong). I decided to shop for some snacks since I suffer from a grave condition called chronic late-night munchies. It’s only curable with medications like Cheez-Its, Oreos, and other nutritious foods.

After buying an “unhealthy amount” of family-sized snacks, my tummy decided it was dinner time. I trekked up multiple hills while carrying enough sugary snacks to instantly finish off a diabetic. It was a true test of my physical strength, and I prevailed thanks to my ungodly physicality. I ended up at formoosa, a Taiwanese restaurant in the Convoy district (which I later found out was a mecca of heavenly Asian food). 

formoosa describes itself as a “fresh take on beloved Taiwanese classics.” It inhabits a small space, consisting of a couple tables and a plethora of bar seats. The aesthetics were immaculate, and the interior felt both sleek and modern. The pastel color scheme added a sense of warmth, and the walls were adorned with a beautifully painted mountainscape as well as a gargantuan-sized, fluorescent light fixture of their signature cow logo. Customers are free to walk in and choose any seat before being served by a waiter. However, beware of long lines as is typical with most Convoy restaurants. 

I ended up ordering the Chili Wontons ($12), the Taiwanese Beef Roll ($10.50), and the Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup ($14.50). As a growing boy, I need to have enough sustenance; however, I miscalculated this time and ordered way too much (a usual mistake for me). 

Despite only two people working the entire front of house, service was unbelievably fast as I only had to wait a mere 10 minutes before my food arrived. I started with the wontons — eight delicately wrapped wontons piled on each other while soaking in a bath of hot chili oil, Chinese black vinegar, and chili flakes reminiscent of those in Lao Gan Ma (a popular Chinese chili sauce). The skin was paper-thin, a hard to accomplish task that differentiates mediocrity from greatness in the wonton world. Additionally, the fatty pork and shrimp filling was in perfect contrast with the fiery and tangy sauce that the wontons were bathed in. 

Next up was the Taiwanese beef roll — a crispy, flaky scallion pancake wrapped around slow-braised beef and tiny cucumber logs. Typically, one eats these scallion pancakes by itself but using it as a make-shift tortilla and “burrito-fying” this classic Asian dish is innovation at its finest. One caveat to this dish is how fatty and oily it was; a side pairing of chili-oil or something acidic would’ve been much appreciated. 

Lastly, it was time to try their infamous Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup — blocks of braised beef, giant blades of bok choy, wide and wavy noodles, and anime-looking ajitama eggs which were all immersed in their homemade broth. Prior to serving, the server would blow-torch the meat, demonstrating the Maillard reaction and adding more flavor. Not only was the dish easy on the eyes, it also gave me a mini mouthgasm. It was an elevated version of the classic beef noodle soup, highlighted by its rich broth and exceptional execution. The only thing amiss was the egg; it was slightly overcooked, just shy of reaching that ideal runny consistency. 

Despite all the spectacular Asian restaurants in the Convoy District, formoosa represents the créme de la créme of restaurants in both Convoy, and dare I say, all of San Diego. Efficient service, stunning architecture, and unbelievable food make for an unforgettable experience and should warrant a spot on every foodie’s wishlist. 


Cuisine: Taiwanese

Address: 4646 Convoy Street, San Diego, CA 92111

Highlights: Chili Wontons ($12), Taiwanese Beef Roll ($10.50), Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup ($14.50)

Rating: 9/10


Image Courtesy of Jonathan Zhang of the UCSD Guardian