HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >


Abalone in La Jolla?

I'll be out next week and one thing we don't have here on the East Coast is abalone. Any suggestions where I should seek this out for my first experience? Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Aren't abalone still on the endangered species list? I recall there were efforts to farm them, I'm not up to speed on whether farm raised abalone are available in commercial quantities.

    1. Catalina offshore has abalone to buy fresh.. They are farmed locally.

      2 Replies
      1. re: SDGourmand

        Yeah, I think it is farmed in Baja.

        Anyone tried it?

        1. re: stevewag23

          Most are farmed in Baja but the Carlsbad Aqua farm also produces them.

      2. Abalone is hard to find in local restaurants (though Mexican farmed abalone is available from Catalina as mentioned by SDGourmand) -- it's been years since I had my last abalone at Anthony's on the Embarcadero. China Max on Convoy for sure has it http://www.chinamaxsandiego.com/abalo... though I can't attest to how memorable it would be for a first experience. I'm sure someone will chime in with better recommendations if there are any.

        China Max Restaurant
        4698 Convoy St Ste 101, San Diego, CA 92111

        2 Replies
        1. re: bizzwriter

          Kaito in Encinitas might be a good option.

          1. re: SDGourmand

            Yes on Kaito for live abalone. Kaito gets their abalone from Morro Bay. They typically serve it whole on the shell, with the main meat sliced as Sashimi and the liver and fringe served as an accompaniment marinated in a deliciously savory soy/butter-based sauce.

        2. Sadly, I know of no restaurants in San Diego area that serve abalone, other than a few sushi places that serve it (usually canned from Japan). It has been at least 15 years since Anthony's stopped serving it (I paid $55 for a small serving then), and there is still a total ban on taking it commercially any place in the state. Even for recreational divers, it cannot legally be taken south of San Francisco bay. A combination of over-fishing and the "withering disease" (an abalone virus rampant throughout California waters) was the cause of this.


          I grew up in San Diego and was pretty much weaned to abalone as it was cheap and always in our freezer (my dad was a skin diver). You can purchase it from several aquaculture companies in California, most notably one in Monterey, and another in the central coast area (Cayucos) as I remember). I was just looking at a website that said there are actually 13 within the state. I purchased some on-line for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary dinner in 2000...received 2 lb. for $145 (frozen). My mother cooked it just as wonderfully as she did in my youth. I had some last year at Fisherman's Wharf and at the Aquarium restaurant in Monterey, and am puzzled why Anthony's has never offered the aquaculture abalone. While not quite a flavorful as the wild, it was still wonderful!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Splinter101

            Never had canned abalone at a sushi bar. Neither Kaito nor Sakura used canned. Sometimes canned abalone occurs in Chinese restaurants or in Mexican seafood coceteles - but not to my knowledge ever as sushi.

            1. re: Splinter101

              My father and uncle tell me that there were several Abalone burger places here in the 50's and 60's. To my knowledge this is the only local aqua farm growing abalone here now: http://www.carlsbadaquafarm.com/

            2. Bully's East is serving the Baja farmed abalone at least through the month of September. Very expensive. We sampled some in Ventura in May at about the same price point. Small, small portion, and unmemorable. Miss Los Tigres (?sp) in Ensenada.

              Bully's East
              2401 Camino Del Rio S, San Diego, CA 92108

              1. Thanks for all the quick responses! Everyone used to come back from California raving about abalone, but I guess I missed the boat. I did mention it to my sister whom I'm visiting, without realizing what a high ticket item it is. Hope she doesnt' run out and get some, in exchange for the knishes I'm bringing her from NY, that wouldn't be a very fair exchange. But if I can find a place in the area (she's in La Mesa) , it would be a great treat to take her out for. So I welcome any more ideas you have, and appreciate them very much.

                4 Replies
                1. re: coll

                  You could always skin dive for some. Although I think you need some licenses and is very hard to find.

                  1. re: stevewag23

                    Only if you are a poacher. It is ILLEGAL to take it at all south of San Francisco bay, and has been since 1997!!

                  2. re: coll

                    I wouldn't be so sure - hard to find a good knish here in San Diego. Throw a dozen bagels and she's surely getting the better end of the deal...

                    1. re: Ewilensky

                      So she says! The bagels are a great idea, I'm going to pick some up that morning. Thanks a million!

                  3. A little more research for you. I found pink abalone on the menu at De Medici restaurant at 815 5th Avenue -- market price, so caveat emptor. http://www.demedicisandiego.com/menu/...

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: bizzwriter

                      Here is the price list from the local source, probably where the restaurant buys it.


                      1. re: Cathy

                        I had hoped it was farmed, not wild, like the successful conch farm in Turks & Caicos. There is no future for open season in the wild.

                      2. re: bizzwriter

                        Thanks for the lead. I wonder how often they actually have it available. I will check it out and if they actually have it, give it a try for a splurge.

                        1. re: Splinter101

                          This would be the perfect place to take my sister for the special treat I want to give her and her husband, so thanks for all your research. Splinter101, if you go before Sunday, let me know what happens please!

                          PS I just looked up the full menu online and the abalone is listed at $85, so at least I'm prepared!

                          1. re: coll

                            Top of the Market serves abalone occassionally.

                            Top of the Market
                            San DIego, CA, San DIego, CA

                            1. re: wanker

                              So they do takeout? That would be a great alternative, I'll put them on speed dial.

                      3. Back in the 50's through 70's San Diego was well know for abalone in locally made food. That said since the early 80's a combination of over fishing and Asian abalone blight has meant that first commercial abalone fishing was outlawed and now even recreational abalone fishing has been outlawed south of San Francisco bay.

                        These days there are no local wild abalone on the menu and the only local sources are farm raised abalone.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: oerdin

                          Thanks for the info, I'm going to have to ask BIL (the big fisherman) when's the last time he got some himself. This is lots more interesting than I thought!