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Restaurant review: Artifact at Mingei, San Diego

Serving of buckwheat noodle salad Buckwheat noodle salad with sesame collard green and enoki mushroom carrot slaw at Artifact at Mingei in San Diego.

Set in Balboa Park’s Mingei International Museum, Artifact is a gallery-like culinary showcase. The Mingei’s collection of folk art, crafts, and design, representing more than 140 countries, serves as inspiration for Artifact’s rotating menu, which draws upon the ancient cooking methods, spices, and botanicals of global cuisines.

The broad scope of the menu and its seasonal nature allow for variety and interpretation in the exploration of noodles and dumplings from all over the world; one might find takes on Italian agnolotti, Russian pelmeni, and the Chinese dim sum staple siu mai.

Rock shrimp gyoza in yuzu dashi

Rock shrimp gyoza in yuzu dashi at Artifact at Mingei in San Diego.

Among the best of its beautifully composed plates are a chilled salad of nutty buckwheat noodles tossed in creamy almond-butter miso dressing; and tender-skinned rock shrimp gyoza with charred shishito in a shallow pool of yuzu dashi. Order a snack tray for your table, laden with an international set of starters that include berbere-spiced crispy potato and cauliflower with mint and lemon labneh, and a Peruvian ceviche of albacore tuna. 

Beef shank and egg noodle with pickled mustard

Beef shank and egg noodle with pickled mustard at Artifact at Mingei in San Diego.

Then move on to larger plates, such as a riff on Taiwanese beef noodle soup with braised beef shank and egg noodles, or a Lebanese-inspired roast chicken with garlic sauce, fattoush salad, and eggplant. The coconut tapioca topped with mango, macerated blackberries, and yuzu granita makes for a delicately sweet finale.

Evenings in the park are still relatively quiet, so the restaurant has limited regular dinner service to only Thursdays and Fridays, and has started offering a monthly multicourse, family-style dining experience that allows the kitchen to do a deep dive into a singular country’s cuisine. This fall, diners will be transported to India and Japan, in addition to a globally inspired Sunday brunch. Closed Mondays.

Read more: Market on 8th: Eat globally at this San Diego–area food hall

Coconut tapioca topped with mango, blackberries, and yuzu granita

Coconut tapioca with mango, blackberries, and yuzu granita at Artifact at Mingei in San Diego.

Best dishes at Artifact at Mingei

Buckwheat noodlesalad, berbere-spiced crispy potato and cauliflower, rock shrimp gyoza in yuzu dashi, beef shank noodle.

Dinner prices

Starters, $10–$16; entrées, $23–$36; desserts, $9–$11.


1439 El Prado.

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