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SD - If not Sushi Ota, Then Where?

I cant get a reservation at the sushi bar at Ota tonight and need a comparable sushi bar. Any suggestions?

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  1. Sakura 1 or Izakaya Sakura on Convoy (back of Original Pancake House stripmall, next to Army Recruiters, with no signage) is imho better than Sushi Ota. Wonderful cooked dishes. Great sashimi and sushi. Very Japanese atmosphere.

    Warning - Sakura does not/will not make American style rolled sushi (eg. Calif rolls, spider rolls, caterpiller rolls etc).

    Sammy Sushi on Engineer lacks the range of cooked dishes and is very American in atmosphere, but Sammy's sushi is very good.


    1. Have you tried Japengo? Prices are about the same.

      2 Replies
      1. re: normalheightsfoodie

        I've eaten at Japengo 2 times in the last 6 months (I am from San Diego and come back all the time from DC). Both times it has been underwhelming and overpriced to say the least. I'd say almost every place on this thread is better than Japengo. You pay so much at Japengo for the location and the swank factor, but the fish just isn't that great.

        1. re: normalheightsfoodie

          I'll have to respectfully disagree. While prices are the same, quality certainly is not. Japengo goes more towards Americanized sushi with mostly rolls and very little raw fish. Ota has a nice variety of nigiri and the quality of the fish is very good. For that kind of money, Ota definitely delivers better products.

        2. Kaito in Encinitas

          1476 Encinitas Blvd..
          Encinitas, CA


          1. If your near downtown, the sushi bar at the fish market has yet to dissapoint.

            1 Reply
            1. re: kare_raisu

              Agreed! Generous cuts, incredibly fresh.

            2. Zensi Sushi in North PArk is good too. Not overly pricy and kind of a fun area.

              1. If you want to remain in the PB area, my fall back places are Mr. Sushi (had amazing Ono last week, as well as live ebi, and good uni) and Surfside, although I have not been there in a while.


                1 Reply
                1. re: stevuchan

                  Glad to hear Mr. Sushi is still going strong. I used to go back when Ota was there but once he opened his own place I started going there. Do you have a chef recommendation at Mr. Sushi?

                  Tried Surfside last year and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality given it's location. I expected a healthy dose of CA rolls and warm saki but instead, had excellent sashimi and fairly decent saki. And there were even a few Japanese folks eating there - probably couldn't get reservations at Ota ;)

                  And tho I still love Ota, I hate the wait and the inability to get reservations without a week's notice. Our absolute fave these days is Sakura. Hands down the best quality we've found locally, and devoid of the attitude we seem to get at Ota. Have never needed a reservation at Sakura either.

                2. Just seconding the vote for Kaito. Day in day out they are consistently serving the best sushi that I've had anywhere in San Diego.

                  I don't think any other sushi bar in San Diego has even come close to what I've had at Kaito, though I did enjoy some outstanding meals at Matsuoka when they were still around.

                  Recently, however, I was very impressed with my first and only visit I've ever made to Shirahama. So good was the meal that I felt that it was no lucky "one-time" accident. (Like a cafe that can pull a perfect shot of espresso, one does not so easily stumble upon a sushi bar that can serve an extraordinary sushi meal other than by a deliberate commitment and attention to detail, and a complete mastery of all aspects of their craft.)

                  I've been to Sushi Ota and Surfside as well, both reputed to be amongst the best in San Diego, but I have yet to see anything special about Ota after three or four meals there, and was extremely disappointed in Surfside.

                  At Ota what surprised me the most was how they served some of their nigiri. (Was it perhaps the ika and the hamachi?) It was completely out of balance, perhaps more to wow and impress the customer by it's sheer audacity rather than trying to strike any semblance of balance between the shari (rice) and the neta (topping). The neta was way oversize, perhaps almost 3 times as long as the nigiri itself. Maybe this pleases the more is better crowd, but less is often more. (To reuse an analogy here, I'd much rather have a tiny thimblefull of a ristretto, [a very short espresso], than the over-extracted over-sized espresso's that can be found at almost any cafe in the United States...)

                  At Surfside I was excited to see a specials board written only in Japanese, though I thought that the list was suspiciously long. As I ordered off their so-called "specials" menu I found every single one to be remarkable only in their lack of "special-ness"; most were either either sub-standard or just plain ordinary.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: cgfan

                    I've noticed people ordering hamachi and salmon "belly" which are usually oversized like you're talking about. I'm with you though...I don't need that. All of the normal nigiri I've ordered has had a good ratio.

                    I've been hooked on their Kumamoto oysters lately and their mirugai has never disappointed. Just a couple of my favorites.

                    1. re: cgfan

                      I once had toro at Shirahama that looked like prime beef, it was so marbled.

                    2. Nobu in Solana Beach; have been going there probably since it opened and must admit probably get a bit better treatment as a consequence. I have been VERY underwhelmed with Sushi Ota which which makes me wonder why it tends to be so popular.