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Jun 20, 2010 09:49 AM

London chowhound looking for tips!

Hi there. British food fanatic, happy to reciprocate with London reccs for anyone coming over here...

In the meantime, coming to San Diego on the 17th July for a week for a work conference, staying at the Loews Bay Resort in Coronado, with my boss who is a marvellous and easy dining companion.

We'll get there late on the Saturday. Sunday is a day off, so tips for lunch and dinner warmly welcomed. I like all good food - sorry, know that's not a great brief! - but here in London am equally happy at 3* Michelin places and obscure, authentic, holes in the wall. There is no cuisine I don't like, as long as it has been prepared lovingly. And no ingredient. Well, apart from bell peppers that is. Which you guys seem to use all the time!!!

Decent Mexican I guess would be a wish, as we don't have much of that here, on account of Mexico being a tad closer to you than it is to us. Love Szechuan. Love a bloody steak. Don't really need Spanish/French/Indian as that's great here. Love the clam and lobster shacks of Maine, so not sure if there's a Californian seafood equivalent? So maybe something a bit homestyle for lunch? And then somewhere a bit more posh (but not stiff) for the evening? And what about cocktail bars?

I think we'll probably be having ghastly hotel meals for the rest of it, but I then have the Friday off as there are meetings I'm not in, so recommendations for solo lunch would be good. And then would be lovely for us both to have a blow out on Friday evening. Again, not all starched tablecloths though.

Also any tips for what to see/do/go/buy that ties in with recommended food locations would be great - mods, I know this is off topic, forgive me.

Yours in anticipation. And I mean it - will give you loads of reccs for London and beyond.


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  1. You're in luck.

    The restaurant at Lowes has been a very on/off again experience, at one time being one of SD's best. It's back as Mistral, and is reputed to be very, very good.

    Here's a hint:

    1 Reply
    1. re: Fake Name

      That looks gorgeous! So relieved, as I'm sure we'll be having team meals most nights in the hotel...any tips outside though would be great!

    2. Will you have a car?

      1. Is important to know if you'll have a car. Otherwise you are pretty much limited to Coronado. No matter. There are some good choices.

        Are you a beer fan? Would be good to sample some San Diego craft beer. Right in Coronado is the Coronado Brewing Co. I can't speak for their food (perhaps one of the other 'Hounds can) but I had a number of their beers in bottles and they are very good examples of the local beer styles.

        Beyond that there is Candelas at the Ferry Station; close to the hotel. Mexican-nouvelle cuisine.

        Bistro D'Asia is on Orange Ave by the Hotel Del.

        You should visit the Hotel Del Coronado for lunch or dinner, or at least a drink. They have a high end restaurant, 1500 Ocean as well as a casual restaurant, Shearwater. There's also a new wine bar, ENO as well as a really cool bar, Babcock and Storey.

        Your mention of Indian food in London reminded me of Brilliant Restaurant in Southhall. Is it still there? I love that place. Used to eat there every time I stayed near Herathrow.

        Enjoy your trip to SD.

        1500 Ocean
        1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado, CA 92118

        59 Replies
        1. re: steveprez

          Won't have a car, no, but presumably can get cabs if it's not hideously far?

          Yep to beer - I'm British!

          Brilliant still exists and is still, well, brilliant. Though there are a couple of new places taking people by storm - Indian Zing in Hammersmith for Maharastrian cooking including the most amazing biriyanis of all time, and New Taayabs in Whitechapel for grills, their lamb chops are RIDICULOUS!

          1. re: helen b

            If you're interested in trying some of San Diego's best beer, take the water taxi to Downtown and head to Downtown Johnny Brown's, and The Neighborhood. Food at both those places is pub grub, with higher aspirations at the latter, but the beer selections are great, with heavy local representation.

            Downtown Johnny Brown even sometimes has cask-conditioned ale on the beer engine.

            Avoid The Yardhouse.

            Downtown Johnny Brown's
            1220 3rd Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

            1. re: Josh

              Avoid DT Johnny Brown's like the plague, unless you are looking for a promotion with the SD Public Defender's office. Terrible food, terrible service, a few good beers but a total out of the way and obscure location. You'll end up wasting a lot of time trying to make it here.

              If you make it to Downtown, Cowboy Star would be something good to check out. Intensified American. There are a few pub type places with good food down the way from where the ferry lets off to maybe check out - Noble Experiment, Proper, Neighborhood.

              Mistral in Loews is definitely where you should start though being in the hotel. Chef Ponsaty has a good track history in San Diego. Being under Mark Erhler, who is a CMC I think is going to streach him to new highs. Hopefully. Have a good trip.

              Johnny Brown's
              1220 3rd Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

              1. re: mjill

                Note that I didn't recommend Johnny Brown's for food, but for beer. To dismissively state they have "a few good beers" doesn't do them justice. Their beer list beats anybody else's downtown by a wide margin.

                Johnny Brown's
                1220 3rd Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

                1. re: Josh

                  For someone catching a ferry and who doesn't know their way around downtown, it's a bad reco. There are a ton of DT places that serve local craft beer that are far less out of the way than Johnny Browns.

                  Will be interesting to see how the bar ends up fairing with the PD's office moving out of the building. They could be in trouble for sure.

                  Johnny Brown's
                  1220 3rd Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

                  1. re: mjill

                    Considering the OP said she'd be comfortable walking around, and considering she's from London, one of the most famously convoluted street plans in the world, I don't think she'll have much difficulty navigating our city's grid layout.

                    Also, proximity-wise, the ferry landing from
                    Coronado is closer to DTJB than to other pubs like Neighborhood.

                    Additionally, I'm pretty well versed in craft beer and where it's served, and I promise you that in terms of what's available downtown, DTJB is by far the best selection of legitimately good craft beer. I mean there's not even a comparison. Right now they have a bunch of obscure Allaash beers you rarely see on tap, and they have a number of rare beers lined up on deck.

                    I'd be really curious to know where this "ton" of other places downtown are. Either you're unfamiliar with craft beer, or you're letting your obvious animus towards DTJB color your perception.

                2. re: mjill

                  I have always found the staff at DJB to be extremely friendly and at least one of the bartenders is very knowledgeable about the beer they serve. Not the best place for food, but definitely the premiere place to sample craft brew downtown. Absolutely recommend the place for someone looking to try good beer.

            2. re: steveprez

              San Diego is a fairy spread out metropolitan area and it's easiest to get around by car. Taxi's are not inexpensive. However, there is the option of the water taxi from Coronado to the foot of Broadway St. on the SD side; be sure to check times for the last return to Coronado so you don't get stranded on the SD side. From the ferry landing you can get a cab or trolley into Downtown and the Gaslamp, or walk if it's nice and still daylight, it's only a few blocks.. The Gaslamp is geared towards tourists and young adults. There are, however, a few options for you.

              Cowboy Star for your steak request
              Cafe Chole, I know you said no French, but this is the SD intrepretation of a French bistro. The food is good.
              Grant Gill in the U.S. Grant hotel usually does high end pretty well

              1500 Ocean at the Hotel del does high end fish and seafood well. (Edward met Wallis here). The beach in front of the Hotel del is consistently rated as one of the best (usually in the top 3) in the world.

              Lowe's is a pretty well run property, contact the concierge and ask them for help with the transportation. I suspect requests for the easiest way to get to SD from the resort is not an uncommon question for them.

              You will probably find San Diego very laid back and casual. Other than the few high-end places, no one dresses up much when they go out. You will be between the bay and the ocean. Mid-July will be nice weather, there could be night and morning low clouds and fog that burns off mid morning and returns mid afternoon.

              1500 Ocean
              1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado, CA 92118

              1. re: DiningDiva

                Thanks for all this. Also have been 'told' to ask for sushi reccs....

                1. re: helen b

                  It'll be tough without a car... Though one can blindly throw a dart on a San Diego map and it'll likely land within blocks of a Sushi bar, most of them are not worth the time of day. I'll give you two of my standard recommendations, of which you'll have to see if you can arrange for the transportation to get there.

                  The best will be Kaito Sushi in Encinitas, but it's in the middle of San Diego's Coastal North County, roughly a 40 minute drive away. Search for the extensive reviews on these boards and on Yelp.

                  Second choice will be for Sushi Dokoro Shirahama; it's a bit closer, and can be found in San Diego's Kearny Mesa district.

                  I'm afraid that outside of those two Sushi bars, though much will depend on your experience with Sushi and your expectations, there is little to offer in terms of well-executed traditional Sushi for the discerning Sushi diner. On the other hand there are plenty of places with poorly-trained personal who, like the sandwhich makers at our chain shops, will throw together just about anything together and call it Sushi.

                  There is a small middle ground of Sushi bars in San Diego that, in spite of their many ardent fans and traditional offerings, still do not reach the levels of Kaito or Shirahama, a larger gap than what many of their fans can even perceive.

                  Since the ones that immediately come to mind will already be close enough to Kaito or Shirahama to not make it worthwhile, I'd still recommend the drive out to Encinitas or Kearny Mesa for Kaito (1st) or Shirahama (2nd). However my cousin from Tokyo enjoyed their meal at Taka Sushi in the Gaslamp, though I have not eaten there myself but have always been wanting to check them out.

                  (...and beware of suggestions for Sushi Ota, which gets my top toque for the most consistently overrated Sushi bar in San Diego...)

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

                  1. re: cgfan

                    I don't think we're doing the OP any favors by recommending sushi bars that are an hour away and costing over $100 in cab fare ($100 each way to go to Encinitas). There is plenty of good sushi to be had in San Diego without travelling that distance. Sure there are a few places that are over the top good, but the "average" level of sushi in SoCal is better that most anywhere in the world. My suggestion would be to find a place on Coronado. I'm not familiar with sushi on Coronado but I bet some of the other 'Hounds are.

                    1. re: steveprez

                      I have to disagree w/ you that there is "plenty" of good sushi in SD. There is plenty of average to below average sushi and only a few excellent places. I think cgfan's point is that if you want "the best" in SD, then head to Kaito. Granted, it's not the most practical, but it's the best.

                      1. re: steveprez

                        I disagree. Nothing wrong with giving the OP a range of options, especially when presented honestly and in good faith.

                        If only it were true that "there is plenty of good Sushi to be had in San Diego". It would make my personal search for good Sushi here so much easier.

                        If only it were true that "the 'average' level of Sushi in SoCal is better than most anywhere in the world". Unfortunately SoCal has in general turned Sushi into yet another caricatured cuisine, and through it's cultural influence largely became the standard throughout the U.S. If only Sushi had developed here as it did in Brazil, where I'm told that Sushi has by and large kept to its traditional forms.

                        1. re: cgfan

                          "...turned Sushi into yet another caricatured cuisine..."

                          Thank you, cgfan.

                          How true this is. So much so that I think many people who focus on the rainbow rolls, monster truck rolls and other monstrosities fail to grasp the whole intent of sushi in the first place. I think people may find a lack of excitement or thrill in true sushi.

                            1. re: Tripeler

                              Yes, pull your rickshaw up to Sooshe Barn, where our expertz have scoured the cheeze and condiment aisles from around the block to bring you the best in authentik Oriental flavors.

                              Our chefs have perfekted the ancient Oriental rice sandwich of Sooshe, with expert techniques that will combind anything that will fit in the roll you dezire. You, as the refined Sooshe Slut that you are, are in compleet charge of yur meal; chooz from a Tall, Grande, or Venti roll and your personully assigned Sooshe slave will mix and match yur favorite ingredientz. Who can ask for more?

                              Garanteed yull come home screaming this is the best Sooshe you've ever had, and then post yur experienz under "Best Sooshe in San Diego"!

                              [BTW where is that post? I search and search for "Sooshe in San Diego" and come up blank.]

                              1. re: cgfan

                                Have you had the "dank roll"?

                                I think it features cream cheese and orange colored mayo swirls.

                                1. re: stevewag23

                                  cream cheese and rice--feh feh feh

                                2. re: cgfan

                                  ROTFL - too true...the hype machine at full force :-)

                                3. re: Tripeler

                                  I disagree. Whilst I love traditional sushi, I also appreciate what American chefs like DK Kodama and Nobu Matsuhisa have done to expand the range. A good analogy for me is music. You have classical music which has been raised to a high art, much like traditional sushi, but both are rigid in their rules and narrow in scope. But life would certainly be a lot less interesting without blues, jazz and rock n roll (as well as rock n rolls ;) ). IMHO.

                                  207 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101

                                  1. re: steveprez

                                    We split a number of replies to this post over to the Not About Food board:

                                4. re: cgfan

                                  My personal take is that cgfan believes only the most authentically Japan style sushi is worth anything while local reinterpritations or variations (based on local tastes or available ingredients) are, in his mind, garbage or at the very least bad. Myself, I like to judge food on its merits. Does it taste good? Is the presentation well done? Is the service good? That should be the ultimate standards not "is it done the way they do it in X".

                                  1. re: oerdin

                                    "cgfan believes only the most authentically Japan style sushi is worth anything"

                                    One of my fondest food memories was when my mother and I were about the begin our drive back down from the Bay Area after having spent a week with my younger brother. Being anxious to get a good start I wanted to leave right away, but my brother insisted on preparing something for us to eat for the long drive home. I wanted to hurry but waited a half-hour before getting our start.

                                    Almost two hours into our drive we opened up the bag he handed us to find a bagged moist towel, paper napkins, canned green tea, and two neat rows of individually wrapped Spam Musubi. (His wife is from Hawaii...) We both looked at each other to say this will be the first time for either of us and laughed, especially my mother who never really adapted to anything but a Japanese diet; but our brown bag meal was delicious. But of course; it was prepared by my brother with us in mind, knowing that we'd be in the middle of nowhere, tired, hungry, and wanting nothing more than rice with something both savory and salty, and of course if possible with green tea. And as I've said in a post elsewhere, made with love.

                                    But there's something more to it than that. Growing up my mother would always comment from time to time that "so and so pours tea well", or "so and so forms Onigiri well". As a kid that would always puzzle me, as I saw it then as nothing more than its apparent recipe - hot water and tea, or pressed rice with some salty and/or savory condiment with Nori. At the time it felt like being asked "What is 1+1, and return with your answer in 10 years".

                                    But now I know what she meant, and as much as I like to cook I have my confessions to make: To this day I avoid making any form of Nigiri, concentrating instead on simply cooking Gohan (steamed rice) as well as I can. For the same reason I've mostly avoided pouring bulk loose leaf teas, instead usually pouring pre-bagged loose leaf tea less someone should confuse that I think I've mastered traditional tea. And only recently have I let myself make the first tentative steps towards constructing a traditional Dashi broth. Now imagine how it must feel to see some Sushi jockey claim that "they know Sushi".

                                    Japanese cuisine is as naked a cuisine as one can get, where the very basic elements must truly be mastered first and foremost. With this as a base most claims to a derivitive cuisine are bound to fail or smack of being phony less they truly master the basics.

                                    My regular Itamae, Morita-san at Kaito Sushi, would occasionally throw me a taste test using different techniques to form the Sushi with the same identical ingredients. One test was a blind comparison between the forming technique of a novice vs. his, in another test he presented a half-serving of a Kampyo-maki cut in 6 pieces along with another half-serving of one cut in the traditional 4 (all other traditional Hosomaki are cut in 6 pieces). In each case the results were as clear as day and I confidently told him which I thought tasted better and what the taste differences were.

                                    Well all I'm getting at with all of this is that it's next to impossible to be heard that there is a different level of appreciating a simple ball of rice amidst the clamor of so-called chefs who self-proclaim they know how to "make Sushi". Unfortunately most just don't get the point, and neither do their customers.

                                    As many have testified to on these boards Morita-san is humble to a fault, and will eagerly say that Kaito's Sushi is just average or just "alright". Sushi is not so much about a recipe, but rather about asymptotically approaching mastery of a series of humbly simple procedures, and yet being completely satisfied that you'll never be able to claim true mastery at any one of them.

                                    I'm convinced that that's what motivates the true Sushi chef, that they know no matter how hard they try day in and day out perfecting their craft that the brass ring will forever be just out of reach...

                                    ...and consider what it must feel for these dedicated souls to see so many other chefs handed their brass ring from some Sushi school, and on top of it turning in much higher profits using cheap ingredients masked by even cheaper condiments serving their high-margin style of so-called Sushi to a public that can't seem to get enough of these glorified rice sandwiches.

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

                                    1. re: cgfan

                                      It sounds to me that for you it goes into the direction of authentic vs. non authentic cooking and if people who are ignoring authenticity are cooking with less "soul" because all you have said can also easily adapted to any other cuisines, e.g. authentic pizza. I don't think there is a general answer but it depends on personal preferences and what somebody feels what "cooking" (as a craft or art) in general (independently of cuisine and dish) is all about. On one side I can understand your frustration about numerous "sushi" places being recognized as great even though you feel that they don't have much to do with sushi (as a craft or art) or are "soulless" but on the other side I can also understand people who don't see you point because everybody's approach to food, art, music etc. is always influenced by ethnic background, parents, social background etc. without one being better or worse than the other, IMO

                                      1. re: honkman

                                        Well there were so many things that I wanted to get across that I probably failed at conveying most of them, but certainly my post wasn't about authentic vs. non-authentic, which should have been clear with the anecdote about the Spam Musubi.

                                        Rather it was mainly about two things: do not spin-off a cuisine unless you have mastered what it is based upon, (and as a corollary to this if it is not based upon a root cuisine then be honest and don't use the same term, e.g.: Sushi, to muddy the field), and make sure your heart is directed first towards respecting the needs of the customer, which ironically is often by not patronizing the customer by caving in to every odd request.

                                        A trained Itamae will see if you are tired or hungry, if you are drinking tea or Sake or beer, will consider what you had before, or with a new customer even observe how you hold your tea to see if you are right or left handed (in order to know how to arrange multiple items correctly on their Geta), all in order to assess how to best assemble *your* Omakase meal. (The logic of ordering what one wishes vs. an Omakase course seems irrefutable to a Western mind, but also happens to be one of the easiest ways to subterfuge one's own chance of ever discovering some of the subtler truths of the Sushi meal.)

                                        And most of what I've said in my previous post can be applied towards any cuisine, but due to the particular fragility (simplicity) of Japanese cuisine some of these cautions are amplified many-fold.

                                        Honestly I would not have a complaint in the world if the so called "Sushi" places were to be more honest and call their brand of cuisine something else. Otherwise it's akin to a cultural theft of sorts, committed under the lazy belief that it's fixed to be a zero-sum game fought between preserving old traditions and forming new ones. Rather it should be possible to keep the old traditions while still forming new ones, but let the latter be created under new or derivitive identities.

                                        For instance I have nothing against Molecular Gastronomy, as it's an exciting new approach umbrella'd under an exciting new, though still contentious, term, practiced as far as I am aware by people who have first mastered the basics. But let it be practiced by novice chefs who don't appreciate let alone haven't mastered any other traditional cuisine and call it, say, haute cuisine fran├žaise, then let's call them out on their charade.

                                        1. re: cgfan

                                          "do not spin-off a cuisine unless you have mastered what it is based upon, (and as a corollary to this if it is not based upon a root cuisine then be honest and don't use the same term, e.g.: Sushi, to muddy the field)" - I think you are too strict with it. Why is is necessary for you to master first a cuisine before you change/modernize it ? Isn't is possible that somebody who isn't influenced by "doing it the old way" might push the cuisine of a country more forward than somebody who learned it my mastering over many years but is too "caged" in his/her thinking that they are unable to "think outside of the box" anymore ? And when does one has mastered a cuisine ? (But as I said it before most likely we have with very different backgrounds also very different ideas about what we expect from "cooking" , "eating" and "creativity" in general).

                                          "and make sure your heart is directed first towards respecting the needs of the customer, which ironically is often by not patronizing the customer by caving in to every odd request." - How do you know the needs of the customers in San Diego ? The sushi places you don't like are doing often times very good in San Diego by offering their style of sushi. Perhaps, even if you don't like it, the majority of customers in San Diego who want sushi are looking for this kind of sushi.

                                          "The logic of ordering what one wishes vs. an Omakase course seems irrefutable to a Western mind" - Tasting menus are very well known in Western cusines for many, many decades. It might be less established in the US but is an often prefered form of ordering in Europe.

                                          "Honestly I would not have a complaint in the world if the so called "Sushi" places were to be more honest and call their brand of cuisine something else." - In the end all restaurants are businesses and they have to attract customers and give them a point of reference regarding their offered dishes. Isn't it more important that you know which restaurant offers your prefered style of cuisine, e.g. sushi ?

                                          1. re: cgfan

                                            "Rather it was mainly about two things: do not spin-off a cuisine unless you have mastered what it is based upon"


                                            Using the music analogy, we'd have some damn boring material out there.

                                            1. re: Fake Name

                                              "Using the music analogy, we'd have some damn boring material out there."

                                              Exactly. It's just snobbery for the sake of snobbery. But, it's a board full of food snobs (myself included) so what do you expect? ;)

                                              Sushi is not a perfect cuisine. No culture's food is. But everyone thinks there food is the best because they were raised on it. And any ex-pat living somewhere else knows the difference when someone not from their home country tries to serve them "authentic" food that really isn't.

                                              But it's an unrealistic ideal to expect otherwise. It's no different in any other part of the globe. Because if everyone in San Diego were only able to have an Omakase experience for every sushi meal, most people would have to make a lot more money than they do, and the population of true Japanese master Sushi chefs would have to expand to the point of quadrupling the Japanese population in San Diego with Sushi chefs only. It's a nonsense pipe dream, coming from people who are already living that lifestyle at the places that they've found that can fill that void for them. Good for the people that have their favorite Sushi Chef who takes care of them. Thank you for the recommendations that I can do likewise.

                                              But realize that recommendations like Kaito are oftentimes the equivalent of being best friends with the bartender at some hole in the wall bar. And every time you go to that bar, that bartender serves you free drinks or mixes something special for you. He only uses rare, top-shelf ingredients, and he makes the drinks in an old-school tradition long since thought to be non-existent in this country. Good for you to have a friend that does that. Enjoy what you have. But that doesn't entitle one to start telling others that only you eat or drink well, or that the rest of the people eating a cuisine similar to yours aren't eating "real" food. Because, the reality is, if that were me, I would never recommend to the public to go visit that bar that I go to 3 nights a week. Why? Because I would probably never be able to get that same one-on-one experience with my favorite bartender, and the experience would be ruined for me. Not to mention, I'm friends with that bartender to a degree that 100% of the customers walking in there could never have. So, recommending them to go to my favorite bar 30 miles away, telling them to expect a religious experience, only for them to end up being just another faceless customer is pointless. Besides, chances are that I'll already be there occupying the bartender's time. So, so much for a recommendation.

                                              The California phenomenon of taking food and making it something completely different (i.e. the California Roll, BBQ Chicken Pizza, Avocado on everything) is no different than what every culture does to the food it imports. This is flattery and food transformation, not an insult to other cultures. In the US we have the hamburger. In Japan, guess what? They have the Hamburg Steak. It's all relative. But it would be ridiculous for me to travel to Japan and then start telling every Japanese person I could that their Hamburg Steak isn't the real thing. For them, it is the real thing. It is a fixture in the cuisine that many of them grew up on.

                                              It has nothing to do with a people not being "worthy" of a cuisine, or not being smart enough to know the difference. Most cuisines don't ever make it out of the home country intact. Sushi in the US is no tragedy. In fact, it's the opposite, it's been one of the largest recent successes in American dining, getting more people to eat fish and to explore another culture's food. Yes, it's evolved into something completely different. But, wouldn't you know it, that fish/rice dish invented by the Chinese thousands of years ago got turned into Sushi when it reached Japan. Somehow what the Japanese did with it is better than the original Chinese dish?

                                              So, try telling some kid in Poway that his favorite Sushi place that his family has gone to every week for ten years isn't really sushi and that his food is terrible. Tell him that all of the great times he had eating there, and all of the memories he spent enjoying the company of his family and friends was really a wasted experience. Tell him that his Rainbow Roll is disgusting and that he should yell at the owner of the Sushi place for having opened the shop in the first place and attempting to call it "Sushi". Nonsense. If anything, it is that kid's exposure to American Sushi that would give him the best shot at graduating to the next level of appreciation. Not every American was born to love authentic sushi. Doesn't mean they can't enjoy what the cuisine has become in this country for most. Maybe one day a lot of people will get turned on to Omakase dining. That day isn't here, and probably never will be. For those that enjoy the uber-authentic presentation and style, you still have your Shirahama and Kaito and Urasawa.

                                              1. re: Fake Name

                                                Fake_Name, I probably did not make it clear enough that that was said under a rather specific context. Progress is made by the deliberate or undeliberate experiments that millions and millions of professional and home chefs worldwide do to put together their meals. Out of this mass will be born the next new and exciting cuisine.

                                                All I'm calling for is for some semantic honesty. If the cuisine is different enough, and I'd say it's an advantage to the very proponents of change to a cuisine, then call it by a derivative or entirely new name. In the end that's all I'm asking for. For a significantly different cuisine, such as Americanized Sushi, to be simply called Sushi, is itching for protests from those of us who realize that doing so locks these two cuisines into a needless semantic zero-sum game; needless since it could be simply avoided. ("Don't it always seem to go, That you don't know what you got till it's gone, They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.") I just don't want to witness seeing the word Sushi devolve into a colorless brown if we can otherwise easily avoid it.

                                                To take the musical analogy, what if Rock 'n Roll, R & B, Jazz, Soul, and all the rich derivative styles birthed out of Blues were all to be called Blues. Then we'd have a mess of a time talking about our music. Yet in spite of the richness of musical styles and their differing names, there's still a deep respect and knowledge amongst followers of each derivative's musical pedigree. By adopting new names Blues and it's derivatives avoided being caught in a semantic zero-sum game to each genre's benefit; they can both co-exist and develop independently without a needless loss of fidelity to what Blues music is.

                                                Perhaps what would avoid these skirmishes in the future is if we carefully post requests for shops by specifying either Traditional Sushi or Americanized Sushi. As we have all seen here to simply ask for advice on Sushi on these boards gets us into a tumble of arguments at the heart of which is just simple semantics. Unfortunately Sushi used to be a "safe" word, but I must admit now no longer is.

                                                And I hope we all realize that all of our advice on both sides is well-meaning; it's just the semantics that are getting in the way.

                                                1. re: cgfan

                                                  "what if Rock 'n Roll, R & B, Jazz, Soul, and all the rich derivative styles birthed out of Blues were all to be called Blues" - Do you really care how something is named as long as you can enjoy it ? There are many music groups and restaurants styles I enjoy which I found wrongly categorized but as long as they deliver what I like the enjoyment is not influenced by a wrong category.

                                                  1. re: honkman

                                                    Of course the name doesn't change the music, nor the cuisine, but it does affect its discourse to a great degree. You wouldn't be on these boards if you didn't enjoy talking about food, and I wouldn't either. These boards would be a mess if most of the things we talked about were just as blurred as the word Sushi has gotten to be.

                                                    1. re: cgfan

                                                      I guess the difference is that for me it is enough discussing about specific restaurants not so much about if something is truely this cuisine or if the style of the restaurant truely covers that cuisine. I don't think anybody has problems to understand what you like at Kaito without having a discussion what is real sushi.
                                                      In addition, you can have this discussion about any kind of cuisine, for example Italian or French or German cusine. But who sets the standard ? Because everybody has different opinions about the true meaning of sushi or Italian or German etc. I disagree with you that you give the impression it is mainly the word sushi that is so blurred compard to other things we talk on this board. You might have the highest interest in Sushi but I can assure you that I might feel the same if people talk about Italian, French or German food but I don't think it is helpful for a discussion to first try to define what the word "Italian" cuisine really means.

                                                      1. re: honkman

                                                        Each cuisine will have its defenders, and that's the beauty of it. What I don't want to see is a regression down to the lowest-common-denominator, where just because 1 out of 100 feels something is worth protecting it somehow is no longer worth protecting at all. It should be no skin off the back of the other 99.

                                                        I have deep and passionate feelings about Italian cuisine as well; it's just that it's not part of my cultural heritage and so I do not feel I can speak as authoritatively about it as on other subjects. But that should not be misconstrued as a vote by me that it is not worth protecting. (In fact, as I have said before on these boards, I sense an amazing similarity in the food philosophies of both Italian and Japanese cuisines...)

                                                        Slow Food's a great movement for it acknowledges that we face a great risk of losing much of the world's food heritage to what I call cultural entropy. It's easy to lose old traditions, particularly when they are under-represented. But it's just as easy to lose them when they are over-represented and turned into a caricature of itself, as has largely been the case with Sushi in the United States. As we all know success can also kill a cuisine. (Apparently Sushi has somehow avoided devolving in Brazil and has stayed largely close to its traditional roots, a phenomenon that must be worthy of some study...)

                                                        This doesn't make Slow Food proponents into Luddites. Again progress and tradition do not have to be locked in a battle against each other; but it does take an extra bit of care to ensure that the old traditions survive, as they haven't the energy to last for long under the excitement and energy of new or derivative cuisines.

                                                        So let there be other CH voices for other ethnic specialties as well. I'd welcome it and will be following the discussions from the sidelines.

                                                  2. re: cgfan

                                                    I hope you'll receive the comment in the good nature with which it was offered.

                                                    I understand and respect your position. It galls that Kaito Sushi and Harney Sushi appear at first glance to both be sushi restaurants.

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

                                                    Harney Sushi
                                                    3964 Harney St, San Diego, CA 92110

                                                  3. re: Fake Name

                                                    I think the music analogy is perfect. I've met a lot of people who love punk, and other really simple forms of music, and they often dismiss anything that takes skill to play as masturbatory. The idea that mastery is for suckers is a terrible development in our culture.

                                                    1. re: Josh

                                                      "The idea that mastery is for suckers is a terrible development in our culture." Agreed but it goes also the other way round. Many people dismiss punk, hardcore or heavy metal etc. as just noise played by people who don't know how to play instruments even though often it might be played with more "soul" and "heart" than music played by people who mastered their instruments.

                                        2. re: steveprez

                                          "I don't think we're doing the OP any favors by recommending sushi bars that are an hour away and costing over $100 in cab fare ($100 each way to go to Encinitas). "

                                          Agreed. There is too much of this kind of recommendation on this board. No offense to anyone, but it really doesn't matter how good a place is, or how much better it is than other places closer by. To suggest that someone make such a trek is simply unrealistic. I get the feeling that some people just don't understand what it is to travel to another country and try to visit a city while on a work trip or when on a relaxing vacation with a family. Nobody wants to go 30-40 miles just to eat a sandwich or try a bowl of soup. No matter how much of an expert the person making it is. One person's "ultimate sushi" is another person's "premium cuisine grassfed burger". We do visitors a disservice by recommending them to go to these out-of-the way spots, no matter how much we are used to driving these distances ourselves.

                                          The poster is from London, and to recommend them something 30 miles outside of the downtown area would be the equivalent of asking her to drive from London to Guildford just to get a plate of curry. Absurd.

                                          When people ask for recommendations in San Diego, they mean the city of San Diego, not the county of San Diego. Even then, our official city lines are too far to expect a tourist to travel. Getting from Coronado to downtown San Diego will require a 15 minute cab, and that's after waiting for the thing to show up on time. And, they have to be lucky enough to get the cab to take them back.

                                          My advice to the poster is to stick to Coronado, visit downtown and maybe try and get to Balboa Park/Bankers Hill to do some sightseeing and dining up there.

                                          - Coronado Brewing for an afternoon beer or three (afterwards, take the ferry from Coronado over to downtown to do some sightseeing and have a nice ride on the bay)
                                          - Moo-Time Creamery in Coronado for ice cream
                                          - Cafe 222 for casual breakfast in downtown, not too far a walk if you take the Marriott ferry from Coronado
                                          - Taka Sushi downtown
                                          - Cowboy Star for the best steaks and selection of cuts downtown. Excellent cocktails as well.
                                          - La Puerta Mexican and Cocktails (go at lunch for excellent takes on street style Mexican food and a great selection of cocktails and specialty margaritas, at night it gets more full)
                                          - Candela's on the bay for more upscale mexican with a great view of downtown (great for dinner after you return from downtown since it's also at the ferry landing)
                                          - Top of the Market for fine dining seafood overlooking the bay
                                          - Neighborhood in downtown San Diego for burgers and San Diego craft beers
                                          - Visit the beach in Coronado in front of the Hotel Del
                                          - Have a drink or breakfast at the Hotel Del Coronado
                                          - The Brigantine in Coronado, across from the Hotel Del for the BEST California-style fish tacos in all of San Diego. Sit at the bar and have a drink or two. Nice and relaxing bar area to quietly chill.
                                          - Cucina Urbana in Banker's Hill for dinner and cocktails. Just outside of downtown, but a great place to take a group if you can get reservations. upbeat and lively with a great menu and wonderful infused cocktails.
                                          - Altitiude Sky Lounge on top of the Marriott Gaslamp for cocktails and an open-air view overlooking the city and the ballpark
                                          - Do not venture down to Imperial Beach even though your hotel is just up the road from it. There's nothing noteworthy down there and the beaches are nowhere near as good as those in Coronado.

                                          1. re: cookieshoes


                                            "However my cousin from Tokyo enjoyed their meal at Taka Sushi in the Gaslamp, though I have not eaten there myself but have always been wanting to check them out."

                                            1. re: cgfan

                                              I think honkman and cookieshoes have already said pretty much everything I've wanted to say about "sushi" vs. sushi.

                                              I'd just thought I'd add my two cents and say I'd much rather eat a dozen bastardized rolls with fake crab, cream cheese, and condiments than have to listen to Lang-Lang's heavy-handed interpretation. He completely butchered Rachmaninoff the last time he was in SD.

                                              1. re: hye

                                                Really? How so? I was onstage at that concert, and it being a pre-season event, he was expected to do a bit of PR for the orchestra. In my opinion, and to the general agreement of the orchestra, his playing was very "Lang-Lang," yet unbelievably musical. I was transported in spite of the outward showboating, and I've played with them all.

                                                His mannerisms are absolutely secondary to his musicality, even if they can be distracting. Fake crab he is not- in my opinion, he is the real deal.


                                            2. re: cookieshoes

                                              Blimey, this board is even more heated than the London one on the whole ethnic authenticity front! Though I understand the sentiment...But cookieshoes is right. If someone were coming to London and asked for fish and chips, well, the best are probably to be found on the coast, maybe a 2 hour drive...and I could opine at length on why they're the best, the beef dripping the chips are fried in, the air in the batter...but they've only got a few days in London, and there are some perfectly B+ ones here. So, I guess I'm happy with B+ San Diego options that are easy to get to, as the conference and being on Coronado will make venturing difficult. Anyhows. Now have a very long list of places, have googled most of them, they all look fantastic. It's just a shame my conference is for a rather well known diet brand otherwise I'd try them ALL and drag everyone else along with me! Thanks all. One day I'll get to Urasawa. For anyone who's's a fellow Brit's take on it. Extraordinary...Interestingly, he seems to be serving something of a 'mingled model' too. But maybe when the adaptations include truffles and foie gras that's somehow more permissible than avocado?!


                                              1. re: helen b

                                                Glad to see that you're still with us!

                                                Would love to have you follow up after your visit with a report on this thread!


                                                1. re: cgfan

                                                  I will, don't worry. I've been stalking this board for a few weeks by the way. There is a distinct possibility that, coming out of this conference, I get to relocate to San Diego in a couple of years, so have been doing my research! And I would be located much closer to Kaito than I will be when I'm at Loews...

                                                  1. re: helen b

                                                    Then hope to see a future post from helen_b_in_SD! (Though perhaps you could specify authentic or Americanized next time; sometimes we get all bunched up on this board if left to our own to decide... ;0 )

                                                    1. re: cgfan

                                                      I'm Scottish! I have no idea what 'americanized' (and we'd write 'americanised' anyway ;)) sushi is! Now, Scottish sushi...

                                                      1. re: helen b

                                                        Haggis sushi nigiri would be Scottishized.

                                                        1. re: Captain Jack

                                                          Or Itamae Ohara-san's Irish Sushi...

                                                          1. re: Captain Jack

                                                            Well, we do have the best salmon in the world (I'm looking at you, Alaska), so I guess you could just do a normal salmon nigiri. But then dip it in batter, deep fry, douse in vinegar and brown sauce...yum ;)

                                                      2. re: helen b

                                                        Helen, what a wonderful was to get introduced to our city. I suspect you'll love San Diego. Yea, we can be a contentious lot, but mostly we're just people that, for better of worse, do kind of like the food in our town. In spite of not really being a fine dining town, San Diego is truly a great place to live. I hope you get to move and find out why :-)

                                                        1. re: DiningDiva

                                                          "Yea, we can be a contentious lot"

                                                          No, we're NOT!

                                                    2. re: helen b

                                                      Have a great trip! We'll look forward to your report.

                                                2. re: cgfan

                                                  You know what's funny cgfan. I ended up at Taka sushi (my lady's coworkers from LA were looking to go to another restaurant but it was so full they just filed in here because it was there ... no other reason than that). Thinking it would not be a good experience because it was a random sushi place I was utterly surprised. Now, I am not a sushi expert (never been to Kaito, Ota or other high end sushi places in LA etc.) but the sushi that night blew me away, it's better than anything I've had.

                                                  With your sushi expertise, and this thread, I was going to ask if this place was any good in your eyes, and there you go mentioning the exact place. It was very traditional compared to the multitude of sushi restaurants in this city. The Toro and yellowtail belly were just plain awesome. Dunno if those are traditional fish selections but what's good is good and they were good.

                                                  IT was refreshing to have sushi rice that tasted like something other than plain rice. It was enjoyably (mild) sweet and tangy. If you ever get out there I'd love your opinion.

                                                  1. re: deeznuts

                                                    deeznuts: I wish I could give you my take on Taka but I have yet to go there. I mentioned it above as a possibility only because a visiting relative from Japan went there one night for their dinner and enjoyed their meal. I haven't gone there yet as deep down inside I'm still not expecting much.

                                                    When I do make it out to Taka though, I'll be sure to post a report!

                                                    BTW yellowtail is generally not considered fit for Sushi in Japan, and so is relegated for use in cooking (Ryori). However one might find it served at the low-end Sushi shops. (And Toro was actually not used in Edo-mae Sushi but Maguro was, in the form of Tsuke-Maguro. It eventually was used as a Sushi Tane as the Japanese palate got exposed to Western diets.)

                                                    1. re: cgfan

                                                      Yup I remember your informative post from before about western diets and traditional fishes. AS I have a western diet that's why I find them so delicious! (although I have a hybrid palate some days western some days asian).

                                                      Again, I think it's an above average, not excellent place I'm sure. I was more surpised thinking I was in for a Sushi Deli type experience but ended up with pretty darn good sushi so I was happy.

                                                3. re: helen b

                                                  I have heard Taka downtown is good, and probably not too tough for you to get to once you figure out getting downtown. I haven't been there so I can't vouch for it personally. Of course Kaito is great but probably not practical for your trip.

                                                  1. re: mayache

                                                    I have dined at Taka downtown. It is better than most San Diego sushi bars, but is by no means anywhere near in the league of Urasawa. helen, you must try the sea urchin (uni) in San Diego. It is some of the best in the world.

                                                  2. re: helen b

                                                    Hane is probably the best that is very close to downtown.

                                                    1. re: stevewag23

                                                      Sushi bar at the Fish Market is right across the bay from her - and walking distance from the ferry landing. Consistent sushi with a great waterfront view. Very San Diego and a great place for a meal (sushi bar only). Yes, Kaito is the best but Kaito is not very realistic for someone without a car. Heck, Kaito's not often realistic for people who have a car considering Fair traffic this month...

                                                    2. re: helen b

                                                      Oh where where we?

                                                      "Thanks for all this. Also have been 'told' to ask for sushi reccs...."

                                                      That's right. Sorry helen_b about the sub-thread above raging like a wildfire. Sushi is just one of those topics on these boards.

                                                      If you're still with us, and I hope you are, I don't think any of us thought enough to ask you, were you looking for Traditional Sushi, or Americanized Sushi?

                                                4. Check with the water taxi people- I believe they have a run from Lowes to the Convention Center, which would make Cowboy Star a much easier option. Lowes is pretty far out there, not an easy cab ride. But the water taxi would be a great way to see San Diego.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                                    Woah, I seem to have inadvertently kicked off the Great Craft Beer Wars!

                                                    OK, so Mistral is a definite then. Del Coronado for cocktails. Will check out the new wave Mexican place...anywhere more down to earth for lunch?

                                                  2. Just to add to the mix on some great suggestions..
                                                    Las Cuatro Milpas under the Coronado bridge is a classic hole in the wall Mexican resto that are known for their sauce kicks some serious ass and love the home made tortillas.
                                                    In Coronado, you can go for happy hour at the Brigantine..they have great $3 fish tacos and you can have a door is Miguel's for's across from the Hotel Del.
                                                    Loew's may have a shuttle service and slip the driver a buck or two each way and get his cell to come pick you up.
                                                    Drinks at the Hotel Del Coronado is a nice thing to do and 1500 Ocean would be a good call.
                                                    Danny Palms for a burger and a beer is a classic dive but in a good way.
                                                    Water taxi over to the downtown SD is the perfect way to get around for under $10.
                                                    I love eating at the oyster bar at the Fish Market next to the USS Midway..cocktails on the bayfront deck..good sushi bar too.
                                                    Go to Dobson's and have the mussel bisque en croute..outstanding!
                                                    Maybe head up to Island Prime for drinks and app's..happy hour M-F and head up to the Bali Hai for a mai tai and dinner overlooking the SD Bay.
                                                    Have a great time and report back!


                                                    Bali Hai Restaurant
                                                    2230 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106

                                                    Island Prime
                                                    880 Harbor Island Drive, San Diego, CA 92101

                                                    9 Replies
                                                    1. re: Beach Chick

                                                      Guys, thanks so much for all your tips, feeling thoroughly armed now! Will report back next month.

                                                      1. re: helen b

                                                        Guys, sorry to reignite this. Fly tomorrow - yay! Am now treating myself to a final day/night at Tower 23, so any tips for solo lunch and cocktails/dinner for 2 in the vicinity? From hole in the wall to upscale - just needs to be chowsome.

                                                        1. re: helen b

                                                          Go to George's at the Cove in La Jolla about 10 minutes north of Tower's the next town up..take Mission blvd to LJ Blvd..they have valet and it's on Prospect.
                                                          Sit up top on the ocean terrace and enjoy the ocean view, good food and drink.
                                                          Make reservations!


                                                          1. re: helen b

                                                            I know it was mentioned to not go to Imperial Beach as there was nothing special there, but I have to correct that a bit. IB does have one of the better beer stores in San Diego County, and the closest best one to you in Coronado:

                                                            Don't let the name fool you.

                                                            Go there, get your beer and then get the heck out of IB.

                                                            1. re: helen b

                                                              For a hole in the wall try Latin Chef on Garnet Ave. a few blocks east of your hotel. Owner Freddie's Peruvian and Brazilian fare is quite good. I like the anticuchos, Aji de Galina, and Ceviche.

                                                              Latin Chef
                                                              1142 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

                                                              1. re: helen b

                                                                Couple of places for lunch that are nice in Pacific Beach:

                                                                Isabel's Cantina -- latin asian fusion with a healthier bent
                                                                Fred's Mexican Cafe -- casual non-authentic Mexican but reflects the area well

                                                                JRDN at Tower23 itself is also a very pleasant place for lunch.

                                                                966 Felspar St, San Diego, CA 92109

                                                                Fred's Mexican Cafe
                                                                1165 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

                                                                1. re: CTDub

                                                                  Thanks y'all. My cab arrives in 3 hours. I am one excited hound! Though one still not quite packed one too...

                                                                  1. re: helen b

                                                                    Hi there, thought I owed you a report back! In the end, hadn't fully appreciated how far out Loews was which, when combined with the Comic Con, made venturing out for meals a bit tricky, seeing as I was there to work after all...That said, lovely lunch/afternoon at Fishmarket. Service wasn't impressive but I had a gorgeous plate of plump, sweet oysters and some passable fish tacos (are they meant to be spiced? because none of the ones I had all week ever were...) followed by lounging for far too long with a bucket of wine on the deck...Dinner at Ocean 1500 was gorgeous. Yellowtail sashimi - fish was a bit bland, but came with a lovely scattering of pistachio and tiny slivers of lightly braised fennel, which made it. Then a filet which was butter-soft. Loved the sit up bar too. Dinner another night at Mistral. Had the jumbo blue prawn with truffle canneloni, scattered with thyme flowers - pretty as a picture. Then a roast duck breast with szechuan peppercorn and onion marmalade. Good stuff. Finally, dinner at JRDN (how annoying is that abbreviation!) at Tower 23. We lucked out and had the al fresco table by the firepit, terribly evocative setting, listening to the surf, gazing out at the pier. Oysters again, filet again, some well kept fireworks but the service and ambience were fantastic. At both JRDN and Ocean 1500 the wine advice was also spot on, and therefore enjoyed some really interesting Californian wines, which have piqued my tastebuds for further exploration.

                                                                    So, thanks all. Next time I need to fill some huge omissions - can't believe apart from that one sashimi starter I had no real sushi, no real Mexican (I had been craving carnitas), didn't net a single burger...but I'll be back. And this time hopefully staying somewhere a bit more geographically convenient, and where Ms Jolie isn't snarling up the whole of Downtown with her make up truck ;)

                                                                    1. re: helen b

                                                                      Sorry, this review seems to have disappeared, so just bumping it. Next time it looks like I'll actually be in Carlsbad. I think that's nearer to the sushi place in Encinitas, so looking forward to trying it and wowing my hosts with my insider knowledge!