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Sushi Kaito

Indirect Heat Feb 8, 2011 10:59 PM

Holy moley. Had my first Sushi Kaito experience tonight. I've eaten sushi in a lot of cities at a lot of restaurants. This is one of the best sushi places I've ever eaten in. The fish was solid. The preparation was more than solid. The sauces were delicate, designed to heighten the fish, not to hide it.

And the sushi chef there has big, brass balls. He asked us if there was anything we didn't like. I said I liked all fish. My wife said she didn't like eel. So the first thing he served us was eel tempura. My wife now likes eel. It's easier to provoke people with things they don't like when you know you're good enough to change their mind.

Until tonight, I thought the only memorable sushi in San Diego was Sushi Ota. Truth is, Sushi Ota is very good. Sushi Kaito would be memorable in any city, not just a city like San Diego.

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Sushi Ota
4529 Mission Bay Dr, San Diego, CA 92109

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  1. k
    karaethon Feb 9, 2011 06:51 AM

    I'm glad you enjoyed it. The funny thing is if you re-read what you wrote, it would sound like you were paid to make an advertisement for them. However, since most of us have been there before we know the exact feeling you have and that you were not at all coerced into posting that.

    2 Replies
    1. re: karaethon
      Indirect Heat Feb 9, 2011 02:56 PM

      Heh, true. I do sound a little over-the-top. Especially given that many of my other reviews of San Diego places tend to be fairly negative.

      If I were to be bribed to write good reviews, I would like my payment in fish from Kaito. Simply fantastic. It's the only restaurant in the San Diego area that I've ever gushed over. And now, I'm ruined for other places. *sigh*

      1. re: Indirect Heat
        Josh Feb 9, 2011 03:26 PM

        You might like Okan. It's not a sushi place, but the food is as good in its own way as Kaito, IMO.

    2. Josh Feb 9, 2011 07:34 AM

      Kaito is a ruiner. I have no desire to pay good money for sushi anywhere else in SD.

      32 Replies
      1. re: Josh
        cgfan Feb 10, 2011 09:00 PM

        So true... After Kaz's Sushi there's just no turning back.

        You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe about Sushi.

        You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and Kaz will show you just how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

        1. re: cgfan
          k
          kallisti Feb 15, 2011 07:55 AM

          Would it be rude to bring my camera? I would love to take pictures of the incredible meal I know I'll have whenever I go, but don't want to offend anyone.

          1. re: kallisti
            Josh Feb 15, 2011 08:06 AM

            Nah - they are very friendly to photographers. The lighting in there is actually not too bad, either.

            1. re: Josh
              k
              kallisti Feb 15, 2011 08:14 AM

              Great!

              Do I make a reservation, or do I just walk in? I'm not sure how many people I'll be with yet, but how many seats is the bar?

              1. re: kallisti
                Josh Feb 15, 2011 08:24 AM

                cgfan will be able to give you a better idea of seating count. I believe Kaz's corner of the bar will accommodate 10-12 people. I would make a reservation.

                1. re: kallisti
                  cgfan Feb 15, 2011 08:44 AM

                  It certainly wouldn't hurt, though realize that making reservations at any Sushi bar shouldn't be considered a guarantee at all. It's probably best to first call in to see if reservations are even necessary that day. Kaito can be anywhere from nearly empty to 1 hour + waits, depending on the day you go.

                  Also if this is your first visit, do set aside some room to get lost - it's a common occurrence... Just know that it's behind the Vitamin Shoppe, and several doors down from the new Five Guys location that's about to open, and yes, there's hardly any signage save for 2 large, but hard to see from a passing car, window decals - http://www.flickr.com/photos/renandrob/4363419104/in/pool-kaitosushi#/photos/renandrob/4363419104/in/pool-728706@N20/.

                  As to photographs at Kaito, well let's just say that I've personally taken nearly 1100! - http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayama/sets/72157594293451004/

                  A portion of these and many others by other customers are also posted on their Flickr group, of which there are nearly 1500 photos submitted so far... - http://www.flickr.com/groups/kaitosushi/

                  As to how many seats in Kaz' station, I'd say Josh's estimate is about right, though I'd estimate on his high side, around 12+...

                  How large would your group be? Though I'd highly recommend sitting at the bar, large groups can get a bit unwieldy for them to seat. If it's a very large group for the bar, it'll probably be best to schedule a meal on the early side during the middle of the week - Tuesdays or Wednesdays might be a good compromise between potential crowds and selection of fish, but it'll be best to check with them first.

                  Enjoy, and make sure you post a review...

                  1. re: cgfan
                    k
                    kallisti Feb 16, 2011 06:19 AM

                    I'm not sure how many people I can convince to come with me (though I'm working on it!), but it probably won't end up being more than 5 or 6 total.

                    If they get fish delivered on Tuesday, then I'd just shoot for a Tuesday, as I don't have the constraint that it has to be on a weekend. Delivery is Tuesday, right?

                    I'll take your advice and call on the day we decide to go.

                    I'm so excited!

                    1. re: kallisti
                      k
                      karaethon Feb 16, 2011 07:38 AM

                      They get their big fish deliveries on Tuesday and Friday from what I've heard in the past.

                      1. re: kallisti
                        cgfan Feb 16, 2011 07:58 AM

                        Just a thought - the more people you have in your group, the more you should consider (assuming they're arriving in separate cars) setting up a reservation, say, 20-30 minutes AFTER the agreed-upon meeting time, as well as making doubly sure that all are going to be showing up. (I personally tend to avoid reserving the Sushi bar for groups larger than 4, and when I do I'll tell everyone a time that's 30 minutes earlier than the reservation time I call in...) Sushi counter space is precious space to keep open, and for large groups they need to start opening up the first few seats towards the total quite early.

                        BTW Kaito gets deliveries every day from U.S., European, and Japanese waters, but on Tuesdays/Wednesdays and Fridays/Saturdays they also get deliveries from Tokyo's mighty Tsukiji market on top of their other daily sources. (Wednesdays and Saturdays are good for selection as that is when they can reorder items that they may have sold out of from the day before. However particularly rare items may not be able to be restocked, giving Tuesdays and Fridays a slight edge in selection variety.)

                        And as always the day you go is more a matter of selection rather than quality.

                        If mid-week sounds good for you, I'd aim for Tuesday or Wednesday for your first visit; choose Wednesday to have better chances of a lighter crowd, but Tuesday if you want a higher assurance of exotic ingredient selection.

                        Also consider using their Twitter stream (@Kaito_Sushi - http://twitter.com/#!/kaito_sushi) of ingredient arrivals for last minute selection-based decisions to drop-in. (Though they post irregularly, lately roughly 1-2 times per week...

                        )

                        BTW kallisti, what are your recommendations for a traditional Sushi bar in the greater D.C. area?

                        1. re: cgfan
                          k
                          kallisti Feb 18, 2011 08:20 PM

                          Great, thanks for the info!! Sounds like Tuesday is the best bet.

                          Well, to be honest, I'm not sure I would be able to say what constitutes "traditional", but from what I've seen, and the posts of yours that I've read, Sushi Taro and Kushi are probably your best bets. I remember having good sushi at Makoto, but it was part of a larger omakase that wasn't sushi-focused, and it was years ago (though I hear it's still good).

                          The places I've been in San Diego (that I remember) are Sakura, Sushi Itto and Sushi Ota (the last two about 5 years ago, and Sakura 1.5 years ago). I'd say Kushi and Sushi Taro are definitely better than all of them.

                          Kushi vs Sushi Taro will be more of an atmosphere choice -- ST will be much quieter and a more formal environment (dark wood, not white-tablecloth formal), and Kushi's full name is Kushi Izakaya and Sushi, and it's livelier (esp on weekends) and therefore louder. It's also quite a bit larger than Izakaya Sakura, for example. I've found the quality of Kushi's fish to be very good, though, even though it's not the singular focus of the menu. The quality of the fish at ST is also quite good, and it's more of a menu focus. I haven't gotten the omakase at either place, though when I do, it'll be at Sushi Taro first (at the 6-seat sushi bar in the back). Unfortunately I don't really have a place in San Diego to compare it to.

                          I will say that the best sushi I've ever had was at Sushi Sasabune in Honolulu, and the quality of the fish at ST and Kushi is probably pretty similar, though at SS I got the omakase (sushi-focused), so it was obviously a different kind of meal (and an amazing one).

                          Other places that are often mentioned as in the handful of top sushi places in DC are Sushi Ko and Kaz Sushi Bistro, though I wasn't a fan of Kaz the one time I went (full disclosure, during a Restaurant Week years ago), and Sushi Ko was good but didn't blow me away (also about 4 years ago). I do hear that Kaz is possibly the only, or one of two places that serve fugu in the DC area, for whatever that's worth.

                          Anyway, there's some info for you :) Hopefully it's not deleted; I tried to keep it somewhat SD-relevant!

                          -----
                          Sushi Ota
                          4529 Mission Bay Dr, San Diego, CA 92109

                          Sushi Itto
                          409 F St, San Diego, CA 92101

                          1. re: kallisti
                            cgfan Feb 18, 2011 09:43 PM

                            Thanks kallisti - thought I'd take advantage that you're from D.C. I go there fairly often, but only have been to Makoto on my travels. Didn't think their Sushi was anything to rave about; just OK. Thanks for the recs, though I don't know when I'll be there next.

                            Back to S.D., the only really compelling Sushi bars are Kaito and Shirahama, in that order. I know Izakaya Sakura gets a lot of love, and from me they do as well but not for their Sushi. As to Sushi Ota, it's one of the most consistently overrated Sushi bars that we have around. I've been there multiple times and never did I have a meal that really lived up to their reputation.

                            -----
                            Sushi Ota
                            4529 Mission Bay Dr, San Diego, CA 92109

                            1. re: cgfan
                              Indirect Heat Feb 18, 2011 09:52 PM

                              Until we went to Kaito, Sushi Ota was the best sushi we'd had in the city. It's true, Kaito is *much* better.

                              1. re: Indirect Heat
                                k
                                kallisti Feb 19, 2011 04:42 AM

                                I remember almost nothing about Sushi Ota as it was so long ago :) So excited about Kaito though!

                                -----
                                Sushi Ota
                                4529 Mission Bay Dr, San Diego, CA 92109

                              2. re: cgfan
                                k
                                kallisti Feb 19, 2011 04:41 AM

                                Yeah I'm definitely looking forward to going to Kaito -- I was salivating over the Flickr pool earlier this week and sending it to all my friends out there and saying "We're going here."

                                1. re: cgfan
                                  k
                                  kallisti Feb 19, 2011 04:45 AM

                                  Oh, I did have one other question for you -- I typically don't drink sake because I haven't ever found one that I've liked, but what's the etiquette surrounding buying sake and sharing it with the sushi chef? Don't want to accidentally insult anyone while I'm there!

                                  1. re: kallisti
                                    cgfan Feb 19, 2011 07:44 AM

                                    kallisti - Thanks for thinking to ask. Here are my thoughts.

                                    First consider the chef's situation and ascertain first whether or not he could use a drink in the first place. That is, consider that he may already have had enough, or he may not even drink at all, or he may be a drinker but is trying to cut back; it's kind of a job hazard. (I've known Sushi chefs who have asked their management to water down their drinks in the back before serving it to them when a customer buys them a drink.) As a chef who directly serves their customer, Sushi chefs are normally very attentive to their customer's wants and needs; the least a customer can do in return is to try to ascertain when not to ask in the first place.

                                    So now you've decided that he may want a drink. Always ask the chef first whether they could use one or not, and never in a way that applies any pressure or puts them on the spot. You always want to say it in a way that allows them to say no, so my advice would be just to ask them "one on one", as if you're having a normal one on one conversation. And consider asking if he'd prefer a Sake or a beer. It's nice to be given a choice.

                                    Now this is a pet peeve of mine, but you may wish to consider it yourself. It always makes me cringe to see customers who buy drinks for the chef like children "feeding the ducks", ostensibly done for their own enjoyment or to do it "to look good" in front of others, and particuarly after the chef already has had quite a bit to drink. Just keep in mind that it is generally very difficult for them to say no in these situations, and perhaps even more difficult in a cross-cultural situation.

                                    Personally I almost never do it when at an establishment that does not have a primarily Japanese clientele unless it's particularly slow, as I can almost guarantee that there will already have been, or will be, enough customers that have already "fed the ducks", if you know what I mean...

                                    Hope this makes sense.

                                    1. re: cgfan
                                      Fake Name Feb 19, 2011 07:52 AM

                                      Oh, nonspecifichigherpower, more manners and customs to learn. I'm off to the Cheesecake Factory. Or Sergios drive through.

                                      ; )

                                      1. re: cgfan
                                        k
                                        kallisti Feb 19, 2011 06:57 PM

                                        Hah, yes it makes sense, but still leaves me a little bewildered about the method of ascertaining if he's had enough/doesn't want one :)

                                        I guess part of the question was, if my party isn't ordering sake, would it be rude to not ask the chef if he wants some since we don't have any anyway?

                                        1. re: kallisti
                                          cgfan Feb 19, 2011 07:10 PM

                                          It's never rude not to ask. Just ask him if he'd like a beer in a way that doesn't obligate him.

                                          1. re: cgfan
                                            k
                                            kallisti Feb 20, 2011 01:57 PM

                                            Thanks for all the help :) So looking forward to this meal!

                                      2. re: kallisti
                                        Josh Feb 19, 2011 09:16 AM

                                        First, give the Otokoyama a try. I was similarly cool to sake until I tried that one.

                                        Second, they have a selection of the usual suspect Japanese beers, but they also have Asahi Black, which is not usual. It's actually brewed in Japan, and is a delicious schwarzbier with a hint of a soy sauce-like flavor. It goes very well with sushi, IMO.

                                        Kaito also has a liberal BYOB policy, and I have brought various sushi-friendly beers there.

                                        1. re: Josh
                                          cgfan Feb 19, 2011 10:11 AM

                                          Although I personally prefer beer with my Sushi, whenever I see Otokoyama served it always brings a smile to my face. Not only has it been my "default house Sake" at home, but I was to find out later on a joint shopping run that my Mom was a close friend to the family who holds this generations-old (300+ years) recipe.

                                          1. re: cgfan
                                            Josh Feb 19, 2011 10:25 AM

                                            Agreed - I prefer beer as well. Interesting to know about Otokoyama. What's a good place to buy it locally?

                                            1. re: Josh
                                              cgfan Feb 19, 2011 03:26 PM

                                              Otokoyama is in good distribution, so you can find it at all three of our local Japanese markets. I just pick it up wherever I find myself shopping, which is usually at Nijiya. The Korean markets may carry it too; I just don't recall specifically if I've seen it or not at Zion. But certainly Nijiya, Mitsuwa, and Marukai all carry it.

                                      3. re: cgfan
                                        k
                                        karaethon Feb 19, 2011 07:44 AM

                                        Izakaya Sakura has good food, but I can't get past the price. I agree with you their sushi is not as good as Kaito's and once I order their cooked food and pay the bill, I generally realize I'm in for like 60% of the amount I would have paid at Kaito and regret not going there instead.

                                        1. re: karaethon
                                          stevuchan Feb 20, 2011 10:33 AM

                                          Try them at lunch and get the special bento, around $10.

                                    2. re: cgfan
                                      k
                                      kallisti Mar 1, 2011 10:45 AM

                                      Looks like 4 of us, around 8 -- do you think 4 is too many for the sushi bar? I imagine it can be a bit awkward if you're all in a straight line, unless the bar has a corner or something. I don't want to miss out on the sushi chef experience but also don't want to make things awkward for my friends :)

                                      1. re: kallisti
                                        cgfan Mar 1, 2011 11:28 AM

                                        If you want to avoid the "four in a row" deal, you'll have to see if you can get the one and only corner in the bar. There's probably a fair chance you can get it if you go on a day that's low to moderate in turn-out.

                                        Amongst their regulars 4 is about as large a group as it gets. But certainly I've seen larger groups come in as well. I think you'll do fine so long as one takes a Sushi Bar reservation with a grain of salt, and not as an entitlement.

                                        Arrive early, but don't be surprised if you end up waiting up to 30-45 minutes; it'll be worth the wait!

                              3. re: Josh
                                bizzwriter Feb 15, 2011 12:31 PM

                                Are there tables, too, or just the sushi bar?

                                1. re: bizzwriter
                                  Josh Feb 15, 2011 02:00 PM

                                  There are tables, but I don't know why you'd want to sit at them. Kaz is a funny guy, and you will miss out on a lot of the fun of eating at Kaito if you're table-bound.

                                  1. re: Josh
                                    bizzwriter Feb 15, 2011 02:11 PM

                                    Thanks, Josh.

                                    1. re: bizzwriter
                                      j
                                      JRSD Feb 15, 2011 08:15 PM

                                      We sat at the tables since had the baby with us and its hard to feed him when no one is facing him. We still had a great meal (as usual). There are 2 tables for 4 and one for two.

                                      Agree that it is much better experience when you can sit at the bar and talk to Kaz or Joe who are both very personable.

                        2. phee Feb 9, 2011 03:42 PM

                          I had nearly the exact experience at Kaito last month. First visit, totally blown away, and now I know I do NOT hate octopus! Some of Morita-san's presentations were almost too beautiful to eat. Thankfully, my taste buds ruled over aesthetics.

                          1. k
                            karaethon Feb 9, 2011 05:39 PM

                            I guess just to add to this though, I have known some people to have had bad experiences when going on certain days (because they've sold out of fish). I think they get their main deliveries on Tuesday and Friday. I recommend Kaito to a friend, and she happened to go on a Thursday and was quite unsatisfied because the selection of fish was very small. According to my friend, Morita-san apologized to them and asked them for a 2nd chance on either a tuesday, friday or saturday.

                            1. d
                              daantaat Feb 9, 2011 08:42 PM

                              Kaito has ruined us as well for all other sushi in SD and most cities, to be honest! I fear wasting time and $$ in a city on so-so sushi when I could be eating in a good restaurant for that city.

                              Okan is excellent, although different food.

                              1. k
                                kallisti Mar 2, 2011 05:37 PM

                                Went last night to Kaito Sushi -- Kazu and Joe (Jo?) took great care of us. We did end up being 4 seated in a row, but it was fine. We ordered sake, and shared it with the chefs. We had a great meal -- long, slow, full of laughter and delicious food. I was so excited near the beginning, that I was doing what I dubbed the "sushi dance" in my chair -- just being happy about eating tasty food!

                                So, I won't go into a lot of detail, mostly because I can't remember what topped every piece cause I wasn't writing it down, but this is what we ate:

                                -tiny bit of octopus/cucumber salad to start
                                -kumamoto oysters with roe on top
                                -live scallop, in some amazing buttery brownish sauce
                                -mutsu nigiri
                                -amberjack nigiri
                                -anago tempura and bone
                                -saba nigiri and maki
                                -escolar sashimi
                                -i believe clam and scallop nigiri
                                -shad nigiri
                                -maguro nigiri
                                -toro hand roll
                                -toro bacon (omg)
                                -kelp (? is that what this slimy green stuff was? i can't recall) nigiri
                                -golden eye snapper nigiri
                                -chutoro nigiri
                                -anago nigiri
                                -uni and clam (i think?) maki
                                -tako nigiri
                                -tamago nigiri
                                -some kind of tamago that was less sweet, with veggies in it i think?

                                We also had some of the Otokoyama based on your recommendations here, which was a hit, and followed up by Kikusui Junmai Ginjo, which I really liked, actually. So now I like good sake, I guess!

                                There were other patrons in the restaurant when we got there, and one other person there when we left. As a result, we ended up getting a lot of personal attention from Kazu and Joe, and having a great great time talking with them and each other, and enjoying the wonderful meal.

                                Just for informational purposes, I think between everyone we had 13 sakes, and the total including tax was something like $500? I could be forgetting, because we split the bill and so I don't have the entire check with me, but I think it was around that.

                                Really a lovely time, and I'm definitely going back whenever I'm in town next. So, so, so glad I went! (And thanks for all the help in advance, cgfan!)

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

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: kallisti
                                  d
                                  daantaat Mar 2, 2011 08:44 PM

                                  now I'm wondering if we should go here instead of Okan for dinner this weekend!

                                  1. re: daantaat
                                    k
                                    karaethon Mar 4, 2011 08:46 AM

                                    I'm thinking I'm going this weekend also so maybe I'll see you there

                                  2. re: kallisti
                                    cgfan Mar 3, 2011 02:34 AM

                                    Glad you guys had a great time, kallisti. I must have missed you, as I was at Kaito that very same night. (Got there much earlier than my usual, perhaps around 6 pm...)

                                    The Nigiri you had would have been the Mekabu, which is the inflorescence of the kelp. I just love it when they feature it at Kaito, as I've yet to come across fresh Mekabu in the stores. (In the stores I always see it as part of some preparation...)

                                    BTW "Tamago" that you had was actually a house-made fish cake with chopped Mekabu in it.

                                    1. re: cgfan
                                      k
                                      kallisti Mar 3, 2011 07:23 AM

                                      Ah well! Yes we showed up right at 8 (three of us, and a fourth came in a bit later) and were seated in the middle of the sushi bar. Sorry to have missed you! :)

                                      Mekabu, okay. I found it interesting, but definitely didn't like it as much as everything else I had.

                                      Oh, alright, I don't think Kazu really said what it was that he was handing to us, he just handed it to us and we ate it :)

                                      1. re: kallisti
                                        k
                                        kallisti Mar 3, 2011 04:26 PM

                                        Just added some of my photos from last night to the Kaito Sushi flickr pool!

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

                                        1. re: kallisti
                                          cgfan Mar 3, 2011 04:50 PM

                                          Great pics, kallisti! Wow, what a meal you guys had!

                                          So now I can fill in a few more details now that I can see your pics. The Maguro that you had would be a Tsuke Maguro, which is a "very old school" Maguro Nigiri done in Edo-Mae times. That is when Tokyo was called Edo and Nigiri Sushi was just being developed. (As is the Kohada, or gizzard shad Nigiri...) As refrigeration was not very practical, Tsuke was developed as a preservation means, Tsuke referring in this case to the marination of the Maguro. Definitely one of my favorite ways of having Maguro.

                                          The scallop and clam that you had was actually Aoyagi. When Morita-san says scallop in this context, he's talking about the abductor mussel of the Aoyagi, and not the abductor muscle of the Scallop clam, which they also serve and what we commonly know as scallop. So you had Aoyagi with it's abductor muscle on top.

                                          The pic of the Maguro "bacon" brings a smile to my face. This has got to be one of the more out-of-this world taste experiences one can have at Kaito, one of the many culinary tricks that Morita-san has in his deep playbook when he wants to throw a little curveball in your meal sequence. For just the time it takes to consume those little morsels I'm transported to a steakhouse, only to return back to the Sushi bar when my senses return. Can I say that it tastes even beefier than beef?

                                          Looks like I had a subset of what you had that day - what a meal it was for me too. Just looking at your pics I can retaste my meal - in a good way!

                                          Again, great pics...

                                          1. re: cgfan
                                            d
                                            daantaat Mar 3, 2011 07:53 PM

                                            cgfan, is the Tsuke Maguro marinated in soy, rice wine vinegar and sometimes served over a bowl of plain white rice? Soba-Ya in NYC has this "marinated tuna" bowl that i have not been able to find anywhere else. I get strange looks when I describe it in Japanese restaurants.

                                            1. re: daantaat
                                              cgfan Mar 3, 2011 08:48 PM

                                              I'm pretty sure it's at least Katsuobushi (shaved dried bonita), Sake or Mirin and soy sauce, but that's just based on what I taste. I dont' taste any rice vinegar, though that'll be a perfect question for Kaz.

                                              Love Saba-Ya myself, though I don't ever recall having their Tekka-don. Wonder if you can get Kaz to make you one, Soba-Ya style?

                                              1. re: cgfan
                                                d
                                                daantaat Mar 4, 2011 04:04 PM

                                                the mirin is probably more accurate than rice wine vinegar. I think I'll ask Kaz about it the next time I'm up there.

                                            2. re: cgfan
                                              k
                                              kallisti Mar 4, 2011 01:06 PM

                                              Awesome, thanks so much for the info! Yes, it was quite the meal. Really just a lovely experience all round, talking and laughing with everyone.

                                              Yeah, the maguro bacon was definitely something special -- it was one of those "hold on, don't talk to me, because I'm fully experiencing this food right here" moments.

                                              Thanks :)

                                    2. Rio Yeti Apr 13, 2011 01:46 AM

                                      Man all this sushi talk is making me crave the real stuff NOW ! Unfortunately I live in Paris, France *insert people crying and screaming of sorrow here*... and as some of you may or may not know, this is probably one of the worst places for sushi in the world.

                                      So I'm planning on coming to San Diego at the end of June, and would like a real omakase experience (as I've never had one). Based on what I read on Chowhound, I'm pretty sure Kaito's the place to go.
                                      But a few questions come to mind, should I make a reservation a long time in advance ? Or is about a week before enough time ? Should I precise that I want an omakase when I make the reservation, or can I just say that when I get there ? If I come through the Encinitas train station, can I walk to Kaito, or should I take the bus or taxi ? (being from Paris I'm used to walking everywhere, and can't really tell if USA distances are doable or not...) And finally, does the omakase have a fixed price, or does it depend on what you are being served ? (and how much would it cost considering I'll probably just have one drink ?)
                                      And, it may be easier for me to go at lunch, but do you think it would be better to go to dinner ?

                                      Also if anyone has any suggestions on how to fully experience the omakase and get the most of it, I'm all ears.

                                      Thanks a bunch !

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: Rio Yeti
                                        s
                                        shouzen Apr 13, 2011 07:59 AM

                                        1 week in advance is fine if it's a small party. You can just say you want omakase when you sit down at the restaurant. Encinitas train station to Kaito is ~5 km in a fairly hilly area - I'd take a taxi. Price will vary depending on what's being served. Kaito isn't open for lunch, but you could go for an early dinner right when they open.

                                        1. re: shouzen
                                          k
                                          karaethon Apr 13, 2011 09:40 AM

                                          I agree with everything shouzen said.

                                          As for price with a drink you're probably looking in the $75-105 USD range per person depending on what you drink and how much fish you're eating. Not sure what the Euro conversion rate from that is.

                                          Also I think it was discussed earlier in this thread but Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays seem to be the best days to go since they'll have deliveries from Tsukiji on those days.

                                          1. re: karaethon
                                            cgfan Apr 13, 2011 10:36 AM

                                            ...and Wednesdays...

                                            But note that they get deliveries every day from the other worldwide markets, including a second market in Japan.

                                        2. re: Rio Yeti
                                          bizzwriter Apr 13, 2011 09:49 AM

                                          If you take the train to Encinitas, keep in mind that your only option is the Coaster (the Amtrak trains do not stop at the Encinitas station). The Coaster is a commuter train that mostly runs in the direction of rush hour, during rush hours. Check schedules carefully (both to and from) before you make your dinner plans.

                                          http://www.gonctd.com/userfiles/image...

                                          1. re: bizzwriter
                                            Rio Yeti Apr 14, 2011 01:30 AM

                                            Thanks all for your answers !

                                            Good note about the Coaster... I may have to take a taxi for the whole trip (or take 3 buses, which I have to check the schedules as well...). Damn me, Parisian guy with no driver's license !!

                                            1. re: Rio Yeti
                                              cgfan Apr 14, 2011 01:54 AM

                                              Honestly that's probably the best way to go if you don't drive. As much as I wish it weren't so, most areas of SoCal suburbia are just not conducive to walking. A combination of too much (and poor) zoning / planning, with our huge store fronts & low density building.

                                              To think of the walk from the Encinitas Coaster Station to Kaito Sushi vs. the walk from the Bastille to the Musee L'Orangerie, an equivalent distance - the former I'd demand to be paid to even consider, and the latter I'd gladly do (and did just last year) in a heartbeat!

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

                                              1. re: cgfan
                                                Rio Yeti Apr 14, 2011 02:07 AM

                                                I understand, thanks.

                                                Every time I come back from the States I swear I won't go back until I get my driver's license, but every time I end up coming back (with having family there and all...). But in Paris I'm just not motivated to learn to drive, it's just useless...

                                                Anyway, don't mean to sidetrack this post, but do you think I should order (is that the proper term?) a taxi for after my meal at Kaito Sushi right from the start, or are there taxis that can come quickly if I just make a phone call after my meal ?

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

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