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high end sushi/japanese in san diego

pokergirl Sep 4, 2007 12:55 PM

We are going to the game this Sunday @ Qualcom and would like a recommendation for a good sushi or Japanese restaurant in the area. We are traveling so we don't mind going a little out of the way.

  1. c
    Cathy Sep 4, 2007 12:56 PM

    Izakaya Sakura on Convoy.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Cathy
      Josh Sep 4, 2007 12:58 PM


      1. re: Josh
        daantaat Sep 4, 2007 08:15 PM

        I third Izakaya Sakura. Great sushi. However, if your defininition of "high-end" includes atmosphere, Sakura is very casual and the anti-definition of "high-end decor." It is not a trendy atmosphere like Cafe Japengo or Sushi on the Rock.

        Oki Ton Japanese Bistro in the IKEA/Costco complex on Friars might be an option. More of a "higher-end" decor, although you'll be fine in shorts. We haven't been since they opened. I remember they had a sushi bar and sit-down menu. Can't remember much about the food except that it was decent and the prices were slightly higher than what you can get along Convoy. I do recall thinking that if we were in the area again, we would go again.

        1. re: daantaat
          Josh Sep 4, 2007 08:59 PM

          My last two visits to Sakura I had some items that were really amazing (non-sushi).

          One was a stewed pork dish - it was chunks of pork belly simmered in broth. Mind-bendingly good, melt-in-your-mouth stuff.

          Albacore tataki was also incredible. Perfect slices of seared albacore in ponzu sauce, with shaved onions, finely chopped scallions, and ginger shreds.

          Another interesting dish was chicken simmered in vinegar and soy sauce. Very simple, yet extremely tasty.

          Sakura is really one of the gems of San Diego dining.

          1. re: Josh
            trentyzan Sep 5, 2007 10:58 AM

            braised pork = buta kakuni

            1. re: trentyzan
              Josh Sep 5, 2007 11:29 AM

              Thank you! Was driving me crazy. I knew it was buta something.

            2. re: Josh
              daantaat Sep 5, 2007 10:01 PM

              ok, you're making me want to go back again this weekend! :-)

            3. re: daantaat
              MrKrispy Sep 6, 2007 10:00 AM

              oof we checked out Oki Ton last night because I read it here. The fish was fine but the rolls (ok, they aren't high end) all had spicy crab/tuna in the middle, which is usually grounds for cheap sushi a la Sushi Deli. That would be ok if expected, but the rolls are $15 vs. Sushi Deli's $6. The sushi chef was quick but the other servers were terrible and it was not busy. We had to ask for water 3 times and it took 20 minutes to get it, and 3 times for the check, which took 30 minutes to get. Not a great experience, but if you need a quick sushi fix after shopping at Lowes/Costco/IKEA it is close.

              1. re: MrKrispy
                Josh Sep 6, 2007 10:58 AM

                Zensei Sushi in North Park has some good rolls, if that's the style you like. Also, On Broadway (yes, the nightclub) downtown does some good sushi rolls, though only Friday and Saturday nights.

                1. re: MrKrispy
                  daantaat Sep 6, 2007 08:20 PM

                  I've been wondering how it's been. We were there shortly after they opened and chalked some of the stuff up to growing pains. Maybe they're still "growing??"

                  1. re: MrKrispy
                    phee Sep 6, 2007 09:31 PM

                    If you need a better quick sushi fix after shopping at Lowes/Costco/IKEA, you'd be better off heading to Rancho Mission Rd. and trying Chiba, or further east on Friars to Jump Tokyo or Sushi4U. I've been to Oki Ton once, and thought they were extremely overpriced for the quality of the sushi.

            4. BernaDiva Sep 5, 2007 12:51 AM

              On my most recent trip to SD, my friend and I stopped into TAKA, a sushi bar in the Gaslamp district. I was absolutely blown away by the quality of the fish and the price point - it is not a divey place by any means, but it is not a super high-end sushi restaurant (like Nobu or something). I highly recommend Taka...and I am generally pretty picky about sushi joints.

              1 Reply
              1. re: BernaDiva
                Beach Chick Sep 5, 2007 11:05 AM

                I second Taka..it is outstanding!
                I also really like Sushi Ota in Mission Bay.

              2. cgfan Sep 5, 2007 09:36 AM

                I would wholeheartedly recommend Shirahama. It's very non-descript on the outside, but once you step inside you're treated to a very traditional, and traditional-looking, cozy sushi bar that not only looks the part, but is run solely to serve sushi. The atmosphere is serene, all the better to allow one to focus on the food. For me the quality and consistency of the tane used at this shop places it in the top two of sushi bars in the S.D. area.

                The only caveat would be that if you are looking for Americanized sushi, you will not find any served here.

                As far as non-sushi places there have not been any good classical Japanese restaurants since Restaurant Yae closed down so long ago. What is good, however, are the more recent arrivals of specialized but casual types of eateries that you will also find in Japan. (These are the types of places where "sarariman" (salarymen) congregate w/colleagues after a late night at the office to loosen their ties, have a meal, and unwind.) These are almost always open late as well, into the early A.M. hours on peak days. These include: Yakitori Yakyudori in Hillcrest (yakitori), Tsuruhashi in Kearny Mesa (yakiniku), Sakura in Kearny Mesa (izakaya), and Tajima Ramen House in Kearny Mesa (ramen - Thursday-Saturday 10pm-3am). (The latter is in the same space as Tajima, but operates under different management/different menus/same staff as the clock advances.)

                There's also Yumeya in Leucadia/Encinitas (a rather unique interpretation of an izakaya - huge sake selection w/a small, focused menu compared to the typical izakaya w/contemporary fusion touches). I'd rather see a more traditional approach, but it's been a runaway success ever since they opened...

                6 Replies
                1. re: cgfan
                  PommeDeGuerre Sep 5, 2007 01:49 PM

                  If we are going to discuss sushi/Japanese restaurants as far north as Encinitas, I believe that Kaito must be mentioned. It is more of a sushi place than an izakaya.

                  Kaito Sushi
                  130-A N El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA 92024

                  1. re: PommeDeGuerre
                    Pablo Sep 5, 2007 03:01 PM

                    Kaito is closed on Sundays.


                    1. re: Pablo
                      PommeDeGuerre Sep 5, 2007 04:10 PM


                      1. re: Pablo
                        cgfan Sep 5, 2007 05:02 PM

                        PommeDeGuerre: A good mention nonetheless! I mentioned Shirahama as they were coming from downtown, and I too didn't notice the Sunday mention. (BTW Kaito was the "other sushi bar" when I mentioned Shirahama as being on my S.D. top two list for sushi...)

                        Pablo, your Kaito pics are looking great! Nice and bright, w/good color. Do I sense a new camera?

                        1. re: cgfan
                          PommeDeGuerre Sep 5, 2007 05:38 PM

                          I only threw it out there because you mentioned Yumeya, and I thought that if someone mentioned Encinitas, it should be added as well. I hadn't originally noticed that the OP was making a Sunday specific request, otherwise I would have qualified my selection.

                          1. re: cgfan
                            Pablo Sep 5, 2007 05:44 PM

                            Thanks cgfan, last seat at the sushi bar by the window closest to Morita-san has good light at about 6PM. Might not work out so well for me in the winter without a flash or a tripod. The sushi has been so amazing lately I cannot afford not to take photos!

                    2. m
                      MrKrispy Sep 6, 2007 10:01 AM

                      I have always been fond of Kazumi in Hillcrest across from Kemosabes. The chef is traditional so you don't get a lot of SoCal style rolls. However, the fish has always been top notch. I haven't been there in a year or so since we moved from Hillcrest.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: MrKrispy
                        mikec Sep 6, 2007 11:19 AM

                        I went to Kazumi about three months ago with a group of eight. We had Omakase and it was very good, and quite reasonable (about $30 per person). Their Uni+Oyster Nigiri was a revelation. I also like Kazumi's Uni soup and also their Udon.

                      2. nomnomnoms Jun 19, 2008 05:54 PM

                        Sushi Ota. No questions asked.

                        I really like the fact that they have all these rare fish to eat. When I went in April, they had torigai, kasugo, hotaru ika, which are all things I've never seen anywhere else. And their mirugai is like heaven.

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