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Many of the recipes at Lucky Liu's can be traced back to Taiwan. That's where owner Alex Thao's grandmother cooked up a storm for her three kids between shifts at the film and photography store she ran right below her kitchen, he told San Diego Magazine. In this humble setting, she mastered oolong sea bass, stir-fried ribeye, and other dishes that now grace the tables inside her grandson's restaurant.
Along with selections from grandma's not-so-secret "secret menu," Thao has put his own culinary spin on Chinese dishes such as hand-made pork and shrimp dumplings, egg drop soup, lo mein, and salt-and-pepper calamari. He serves these meals in an apt setting: less than a block away from the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum, where you're not allowed to eat anything on display. Lucky Liu's red ceilings, Chinese artwork, and green plants were dubbed "fabulous" by the San Diego Reader, which praised the "comforting, rustic element" introduced by gleefully mismatched chairs.