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Anything extraordinary in or near Encinitas?

c
Canuck Jan 11, 2004 11:55 PM

My wife and I will be near Encinitas for the month of February. We love good ethnic restaurants with a flair - good food and good service! We intend to walk the beaches and try places for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Chowhounds have never failed us! Give us all you've got.

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  1. m
    MattofEncinitas Jan 12, 2004 09:56 AM

    Pannikins Coffee is a great breakfast place - sit on the patio of a converted Vicorian-ish train station have some baked goods and a cup of good coffee, and watch the world pass by...

    For lunch, try the paninis at Rosana's on HWY 101 in downtown Encinitas. Its a bakery too and the french and italian couple who own it are really nice people.

    Dinner try Especial Del Norte, its about a half mile north of the actual downtown strip - the Mexican Soups at this place are absolutely perfect.

    If you're into music, Lou's Records is worth a trip.

    Link: http://www.lousrecords.com

    1 Reply
    1. re: MattofEncinitas
      u
      U16 girl Jan 12, 2004 05:45 PM

      Lou's! I've been going there for years..I actually went to the Cardiff store(once..I'm probably one of the few people that remembers it..)then followed it to the downtown Encinitas store and now to their current location.

      Lou's is my go-to place for CD's especially stuff that's kinda obscure(in other words, stuff that the chain stores wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole). And their prices are certainly right.

    2. b
      buzznutter Jan 12, 2004 11:58 AM

      Savory is a new relatively new restaurant opened by the former Executive Chef of the Four Seasons Aviara. Wonderful food at very reasonable prices. Good service, well priced wine elist but a very noisy dining room. Reservations are a must. I would only go for dinner. The lunch menu is heavy on "tennis lady" salads.

      4 Replies
      1. re: buzznutter
        c
        canuck Jan 12, 2004 06:06 PM

        Thanks for the suggestion. Will definitely be on our list. Do you know of any good chinese restaurants in the area?

        1. re: canuck
          g
          Glenn D. Jan 17, 2004 07:56 PM

          The best Chinese is in Carlsbad, off of Marron Rd. and Monroe, next to the Greek Corner Cafe and Souplantation. The Golden Taipei has fresh food, fixed to order, clean, quiet and pleasant. Order a dish the way you want it; I get two-taste shrimp with onions and bell pepper, rather than the ingredients they offer on the menu. Everything is made to order, the service is gracious, the food outstanding. Nothing prepared in advance! Highly recommended. Not so it Chin's, where I found a Marlboro cigarette butt in my food...and when I complained I got a shrug and a "So what?" attitude! No more for me!! Golden Taipei is the place!

        2. re: buzznutter
          g
          G.R.D. Jan 17, 2004 07:59 PM

          I echo your sentiments about Savory. The former restaurant, La Affaire, was excellent; we went there for more than 14 years. Big menu, daily specials, good service and wonderful food.Sorry it's gone, but Savory is an excellent substitute. Also I can recommend Gusto on Encinitas Blvd. near I-5, and in the same area, Le Bonne Bouffe, and excellent country French restaurant with excellent dining choices, only open for dinner.

          1. re: buzznutter
            Ms. Verde Feb 8, 2010 08:14 PM

            I've been for lunch on many occassions--their fish specials and quiches are great!

          2. k
            kc girl Jan 13, 2004 01:57 PM

            I heard that Tip Top Meats is very good - has breakfast, lunch, or dinner menu. Dinner selections look pretty ethnic. See curent link. It is very near Encinitas in Carlsbad.

            We used to shop there when it was in Glendale, California. He taught my mom to make German Rouladen "Meat rolls (flank steak?) filled with bacon, onions and pickles. Delicious, easy recipe learned while visiting Germany." and if she could do that - well, he must be a very good cook!


            Link: http://tiptopmeats.com/

            3 Replies
            1. re: kc girl
              g
              gerhard d. Jan 17, 2004 05:18 PM

              Tip Top?? No-No NO!!
              BAD, and I mean bad with a capital BAD! Dinners are laughable, they're so bad. Breakfast? okay, crowded which means something; large portions at breakfast, but dinner? A complete disaster. Avoid it at all costs. The imported foods market adjacent has a cornucopia of good things, however. Their reputation was "built" on their butcher shop, but the meat we had on two occasions (the only two would we went) resembled burnt Bazooka Bubblegum. Chewy wasn't the word!

              1. re: kc girl
                r
                Randall D. in Carlsbad Jan 27, 2004 01:38 PM

                TIP-TOP meats is the pits! Stay away if you are looking for good food! Meat is tough, chewy and without flavor. Meals are sparsely populated with flavor and elan. Salad is pre-made, comes with dressing in a plastic pouch. Bad, bad-en-badder! Not worth the time to visit this joint. It's reputation as a decent place to eat is not true! Avoid this place, though the imported market has a lot of hard-to-find, though expensive, condiments and other Euro stuff. Restaurant is not good. Many good places to eat, this isn't one of them!!

                1. re: Randall D. in Carlsbad
                  Ms. Verde Feb 8, 2010 08:17 PM

                  I gave up on it years ago when they grilled the corned beef for the sandwich and then defended the practice. Yuck!

              2. t
                Tina Jan 13, 2004 04:21 PM

                My favorites are:

                Chuao Chocolatier - gourmet chocolate, truffles, bon bons. At the Lumberyard in downtown Encinitas along Hwy 101.
                Potato Shack - great breakfasts. On I Street just went of Hwy 101 in downtown Encinitas
                Firenze - good pasta (Italian), nice atmosphere. On Encinitas Blvd just east of Manchester.
                Tuscan Sun Deli - take-out deli for panini sandwiches. On El Camino Real at Leucadia Blvd.
                Beach Grass Cafe - creative menu for breakfasts. Located in Solana Beach (just south of Encinitas) on Hwy 101, about 1/10 mile south of Lomas Santa Fe Dr.

                I haven't found any good Chinese restaurants in Encinitas. A passable one is Mandarin City, located just east of I5 at Birmingham. The waiter speaks Mandarin and might be able to recommend authentic. A restaurant in Carlsbad called Overseas Chinese restaurant serves a decent mix of Chinese/Malaysian/Singaporean food. The owner says they frequently have seasonal Chinese vegetables which are usually available only at Chinese restaurants down on Convoy.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Tina
                  s
                  Stanley Stephan Jan 17, 2004 08:43 PM

                  I second Chuao Chocolatier which I just found. The signature chocolate is the caramel passionfruit ... amazing. Bite into the dark chocolate shell and liquid carmel burts onto your tounge. Wait a beat ... there is the perfect tart passionfruit complementing the subtle caramel ... and I don't even LIKE caramel.

                  Wonderful Mexican hot choclate.

                  My favorite chocolates at Chuao are (in order of preference:
                  PARCHITA: Passionfruit hearts.

                  CHEVERE: who would have thought that goat cheese, pear Williams butter cream and crushed black pepper corns would be this good. Like tangy chocolate cheesecake,

                  CAMBUR: Banana and brown sugar caramel … mmmm …. You would think more chocolate makers would combine banana and chocolate.

                  PICANTE: I never imagined raisin, cabernet caramel, spiced up with pasilla chili and cayenne pepper could be such a winning combination

                  ZEN: I contemplated the lovely white chopped ginger. Missed the tea flavor, but it didn’t matter.

                  MELAO: A salt butter caramel with the salt enhancing the soft caramel interior. .

                  MARACA: macadamia nuts,dark caramelt, rum these flavors really worked well together and complemeted the dark chocolate coating.

                  GRAN CACAO: Wpmdered what 73% cocoa chocolate meant. It’s almost like chocolate liquer it is so rich. Really, it takes alcoholic, but it’s not.

                  HONEY TRUFFLE: Cream orange blossom honey ganache thin dark choclate shell, coated with powdered sugar … lovely. ,

                  MULATO: almond marzipan and fine pieces of roasted macadamia nuts just was tasty. The bronze glitter would make a nice presentation at a dinner party. Very elegant.

                  Really, don't miss this place. This year Saveur voted La Especial Norte's soups one of their 100 favorite things. I think they should consider Chaou's chocolates next year.

                  1. re: Tina
                    c
                    Carlsburg Local Jan 27, 2004 01:35 PM

                    CHINESE FOOD:

                    Under-appreciated, quiet, friendly and serving freshly prepared food is Golden Taipei, sandwiched between Souplantation and a tanning parlor off Marron Rd., down the hill from Monroe. Olive Garden (yeechh) on the corner, Golden Taipei behind. They'll prepare anything on the menu the way you want, excellent and extensive menu. Lots of take-out customers, never crowded, but these wonderful, friendly people are undaunted. The lumpen majority slog past on their way to Souplantation (yawn) without giving Golden Taipei a second glance. Their loss, that's for sure.

                    1. re: Tina
                      monku Feb 1, 2010 01:43 PM

                      The Potato Shack has "extraordinary" pancakes...."man hole cover size pancakes".
                      Potato Shack is great.
                      http://www.potatoshackcafe.com/home.htm

                    2. c
                      canuck Jan 15, 2004 04:54 PM

                      Thanks all. Especial del Norte is mentioned many times so we'll definitely be there for soup! We'll hit as many of the others that we can and I'll report via Chowhound when we get back home to good ol' Canada.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: canuck
                        s
                        Stanley Stephan Jan 17, 2004 08:33 PM

                        The soups are good especially the Chicken tortilla, pork pozole and eggplant.

                        However today I had the Chicken Mole Poblano, two whole chicken legs covered with at beautiful and tasty mole sauce. You could split this one.

                        For tacos, just down the street is Juanitas tacos. The beef taco that has a deep fried shell is the best. Juanita is famous for her carnitas, so I recommend that as well. Do a takeout and then continue on PCK to Encinitas BLVD. Take a right and eat your tacos on the lovely beach. Lots of times the fire pits are burning. Very pretty.

                      2. j
                        Jess Jan 16, 2004 06:25 PM

                        Don't forget to go to Siamese Basil on South Coast Highway. Best Thai food in North County.

                        1. s
                          Stanley Stephan Jan 17, 2004 09:00 PM

                          In the next town over, Cardiff by the Sea, there's a breakfast place called Pipes. Maybe not extrodinary but a good place for breakfast.

                          I haven't tried it yet, but DB Hackers in Encinitas is supposed to have good fish and chips.

                          If you are walking the beaches you should travel up PCH to Oceanside. Beach Break Cafe has one of the best breakfasts on the coast. Get the coffee cake. THe frehs fruit is outstanding as well.

                          At the end of the Oceanside pier is Ruby's a chain, but the location is so cool. Loooong pier. There is a shuttle that will run you to Ruby's. In Oceanside is Johnny Manana's which has wonderful Mexican food and makes thier own Aqua fresca.

                          Back in Carlsbad, there is Samba which has brazilian food ... all you can eat meat. There is post way down on the board on it.

                          This link covers quite a few of the North Coast places. Please note though that the following places on this list get trashed quite a lot on this board:

                          Big Jim's Old South Barbecue
                          Cafe 101
                          Fidel's Carlsbad (but it LOOKS so pretty)
                          Tip Top Meats
                          Vigilucci's

                          I haven't been there yet, but the Village Grill is supposed to have a wonderful burger.

                          Link: http://www.sdreader.com/php/rrglist.p...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Stanley Stephan
                            t
                            Tommy's Pal Jan 18, 2004 02:40 PM

                            The VILLAGE GRILLE burger is the best you can find in Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos, Encinitas, Cardiff, Solana Beach, Del Mar or any place else north of the Crest Cafe in Hillcrest.

                            Fries are freshly made too. Thick milkshakes (no phony ingredients either) or a Coke rounds out the meal. Burgers are tops!

                          2. c
                            Canuck Jan 26, 2004 07:11 PM

                            I am impressed. I thought Encinitas was a small town. However, the number of recommendations makes me believe I am heading for a metropolis. Our daughter assures us it is definitely a small town despite the number of good restaurants.
                            Thanks all for the recommendations. I'll post our findings on our return.

                            1. m
                              ML Jan 26, 2004 07:14 PM

                              There is a nice small cafe on Coast 101 in Leucadia, east of Encinitas. Its called Bird House Grill-Kabobs and Greek salad- a Mom and Pop- very reasonable and good.

                              1. d
                                dchutc Dec 31, 2008 04:28 PM

                                For Japanese:

                                Kaito on El Camino Real, Encinitas might be the best sushi South of LA. Really.

                                Japanese saba (never frozen)
                                Freshly prepared anago (cooked sea eel)
                                The high grade local uni (blue label)
                                Kohada (gizzard shad)
                                Amiebi when they can get it (sweet shrimp)

                                Just to name a few favorites. I was just there last night. Phenomenal as always. (You'll see)

                                Also, don't miss YuMeYa (Sake House) on 101 in Leucadia for "Japanese tapas".

                                1. s
                                  stevewag23 Dec 31, 2008 04:59 PM

                                  "Extraordinary"?

                                  No.

                                  Encinitas falls under the "ordinary" category.

                                  I have heard Kaito is good though.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: stevewag23
                                    g
                                    giantstomoch Jan 30, 2010 09:55 AM

                                    Kaito is very good sushi (not much ambience - but the sushi is top quality). Bring your wallet.

                                    If you can make it down to Solana Beach (five minutes from Encinitas) - pick up a carne asada burrito from Rudy's Taco Shop. Get it to go and head down to Fletcher's Cove (little beach cliff park 2 minutes away) to enjoy the ocean views and much on some awesome carne asada.

                                    Also in Cardiff, (which borders Encinitas) check out VG's Bakery - everyone recommends their donuts (which are very good), but they have the BEST blueberry loaf in the world!

                                  2. l
                                    LAWoman Jan 1, 2009 03:13 PM

                                    Elizabethan Desserts

                                    http://www.elizabethandesserts.com/

                                    1. belsho Jan 31, 2010 12:17 PM

                                      Samurai Restaurant - 979 Lomas Santa Fe Dr Solana Beach, CA

                                      Best Japanese near encinitas, definite contender for best sushi in North County SD.

                                      28 Replies
                                      1. re: belsho
                                        d
                                        daantaat Jan 31, 2010 12:36 PM

                                        apparently you haven't been to Kaito yet....

                                        1. re: belsho
                                          cgfan Jan 31, 2010 01:43 PM

                                          Are you kidding? Sorry to say this but Samurai was an unmitigated disaster! I last went when Kaito was in between moving from their original location, and I was desparate to find some good traditional Sushi.

                                          Sure the bar was crowded with extremely happy customers, but they were all roll customers, no doubt all believing that they're all eating at some kind of Mecca of bastardized Sushi.

                                          I asked to be seated in front of their most senior chef, and waited to be seated. At this time I recognized one of the waiters, who was an itinerant chef who worked at some of the local Japanese restaurants. He made a space for me amongst the crowd and pulled in a new seat in front of their chef as he got me my beer and tea.

                                          I then proceeded to order a piece at a time. I cannot recall now more than a year later what I had ordered, but I was aghast at the lack of quality. In fact it was so bad that my instincts were to just leave after eating only my first Nigiri, but I stuck around since I didn't want to embarrass my friend. So rather than leave I ordered a second item, again just as horrid, and a third, ditto, and now I felt that I could leave.

                                          As bad as it was I left a healthy tip for my friend, and as I walked out he apologized about their cuisine. It was obvious that he was quite embarrassed too by this charade of a restaurant. No doubt though that Samurai does not rest alone. For lovers of real traditional Sushi the so-called "Sushi bars" of San Diego makes our streets a very dangerous place to tread.

                                          My only recommendations for Sushi in this vast county of ours are firstly for Kaito Sushi, followed by Sushi Dokoro Shirahama. There are no others, despite what the media or most Sushi diners would have you believe.

                                          1. re: cgfan
                                            SDGourmand Jan 31, 2010 03:19 PM

                                            Have you been Nozomi Carlsbad on pio pico? I think they are way above kaito.

                                            1. re: SDGourmand
                                              cgfan Jan 31, 2010 03:48 PM

                                              Yes, Carlsbad is way above Encinitas. North of Encinitas, that is.

                                              No doubt roll shops have their fans, but Nozomi is yet another bad restaurant, at least in what they purport to do, which is Japanese food.

                                              There is one item that I can recommend at Nozomi, and it's the only non-Japanese item (I'm being generous here as I can add all of their rolls too as being non-Japanese) on their menu, and that is their Green Noodle Soup. Amazing, wonderful, homemade, and healthy!

                                              In fact not only is this dish not Japanese, but it's not even Korean either! So what is it? It's the private recipe of the owner's mother, who would everyday cook down a huge pot of vegetables in order to make just one day's worth of noodles. It's something that she used to make at home in Korea to provide a healthy and delicious meal for her kids.

                                              They used to use it just for staff meals for their first shop on Convoy in Kearny Mesa, but eventually they put it on their menu. Honestly it's the only thing on their menu that I enjoy, and I say that without any reservation.

                                              Green Noodles yes. Everything else no.

                                              SDG: How have you concluded that Nozomi is above Kaito other than geographically? I find it astounding, but it does interest me how you arrived at your conclusion. One's a small regional McSushi chain, and the other is a specialist at Edo Mae Sushi.

                                              1. re: cgfan
                                                SDGourmand Feb 1, 2010 11:09 AM

                                                Nozomi Carlsbad is not part of the nozomi chain. I've been going to Nozomi in carlsbad since they opened about 3 years ago and the quality of fish is always been top notch. The toro, sake toro, uni, amebi, kohada all amazing. They get there fish fresh daily never frozen. The owner and chef really take pride in that. As they state it's a Japanese fusion restaurant, so obviously the dishes on the menu are not going to be authentic japanese. When I go all I eat his nigri and sashimi and a few little apps (gyoza,shumai, etc) not a roll person. Do you think the quality of fish is average here, because I've seen the fish personally when they get it in and it is by far the freshest and of the highest quality. I just don't understand how you can have such animosity towards this place when they are doing great work and take pride in it.

                                                1. re: SDGourmand
                                                  cgfan Feb 1, 2010 01:36 PM

                                                  SDG, my sincere apologies, I thought it to be the same as the Nozomi in Kearny Mesa & UTC. If it's not part of that chain and is truly trying to do traditional Sushi, then certainly it was a most unfortunate choice of names and I indeed did jump the gun.

                                                  If they indeed never freeze with daily deliveries, then that alone makes them worthwhile to be considered for a visit. But still troubling is that they are a fusion Japanese restaurant. I truly believe that any one attempting fusion should first master the basics of the underlying cuisine. By chance have you established that they excel, I mean truly excel, at the traditional items?

                                                  Also we're talking about a restaurant on 3 floors? To me that rings of a focus on revenue and profits over quality. I literally lose my appetite for Sushi if they are not 100% dedicated towards that single goal, and to do that well begs of a tiny and focused operation. And a head Sushi chef that has only 12 years experience?

                                                  Of course none of this makes it impossible that they still might do well with the traditional items, it just makes it very unlikely. I promise, though, that if I do go and give them a try that I'll give them a fair shake.

                                                  My personal preferences are for the old school chefs like Morita-san of Kaito, Kotani-san of Shirahama, and Shibutani-san of Shibucho. They all run very tiny, Sushi-focused shops of utmost integrity and quality, and in particular Morita-san and Shibutani-san are both men of great humility.

                                                  1. re: cgfan
                                                    SDGourmand Feb 1, 2010 03:04 PM

                                                    I think Kaito is good don't get me wrong Nozomi and Kaito are the only two sushi places in SD that I'll go too, but I just happen to prefer Nozomi. I can see from the pictures on your flickr account that you have a love for Kaito ( I loved the video of the knife skills and prepping the eel) You are correct about the restaurant having 3 floors but there isn't much seating on each floor. The owner just loved the space and designed the whole thing himself. He takes great pride in his work and restaurant. I would just tell you to go and give it a shot. Sit by chef Ken Lee and let him take care of you. I really think that you'll appreciate the quality.

                                                    I've attached some pics of two special dishes that ken lee prepared and the toro and sake toro

                                                     
                                                     
                                                     
                                                     
                                                    1. re: SDGourmand
                                                      belsho Feb 1, 2010 03:21 PM

                                                      sorry chowpeople i like samurai. i like nigiri and i like rolls. and im pretty sure there is nothing wrong with that. and you never know what the people who started the topic (long ago) might have been hoping to get suggestions for so..... chill. and thanks! for the recommendations to Kaito it sounds great and now because of you i will definitely be going to eat there!
                                                      -belsho - i like to eat everything from junk to funk to padunkadunk
                                                      -chowhound not chownazi or chowsnobby

                                                      1. re: SDGourmand
                                                        cgfan Feb 1, 2010 08:15 PM

                                                        SDG, believe me I'm not trying to be contrarian, but the gulf between those who are minimally or improperly trained to those that are traditionally trained is quite large. (I'm saying this with reference to the Nigiri I see... Perhaps you may have some better examples?)

                                                        First with the two improvised dishes, I don't mind some new combinations bulit upon traditional taste philosophies for a change of pace, but I'm not sure what I'm seeing. Of course the Uzura, Tobiko, and Uni and a light sauce of some kind are obvious, but to me they do not make any sense together. And what else is there underneath? And to the second one I cannot make out any particular element at all, except for perhaps a Daikon that has been immeresed in water with red food coloring. Perhaps you can explain what I'm seeing.

                                                        To my eyes both Nigiri look way out of balance, and one absurdly so. I don't believe it's because I'm not much of an Otoro fan. However when I do (rarely) have Otoro I certainly wouldn't want it to be so dominant as I see in this photo. It's practially wrapped around all visible sides of the Nigiri as if it might err on the side of not enough Otoro. In the end without actually tasting this one I could only guess that it will taste of too much fat without enough balancing Shari to cut through and leave a pleasant and not cloyingly persistent (Shitsukoi) aftertaste and mouthfeel.

                                                        (I do enjoy a good Chu-toro though, but only when the lean and the fat are in perfect balance so as to not overpower the other, and where the lean caries the clear bright taste of iron.)

                                                        And then we have the salmon Toro Nigiri. This reminds me of the sad antics being played around at Sushi Ota to wow their customers. All gimmick and flash, and potentially something quite a bit worse. That must be where Ken Lee first picked up this quite unorthodox practice. To me it's an insult to the customer, almost like saying that Sushi for their customer is not about balance but simply about quantity.

                                                        And neither of these items would have appeared in traditional Edo Mae Sushi. Toro is a relative newcomer, increasing in popularity with the exposure of more Western-style diets in Japan as they grew more and more accustomed to the taste of fat. And salmon is generally not used for Sushi in Japan. One may find salmon being served in inexpensive Kaiten (conveyer belt) Sushi shops, but only because it is cheap and satisfies the younger palate that has been more exposed to Western diets.

                                                        I've always pondered why Sushi Ota practices this method of service; as I recall it was only done to specific varieties of Sushi, specifically with their Hamachi and salmon. If that is the case, that is only to their Hamachi and salmon, then I suspect it is done as a way to make a joke at the customer's expense. This may sound harsh, but here's my reasoning.

                                                        Both Hamachi and salmon are not traditional ingredients for Sushi. Both would be considered too unrefined for use as Sushi Tane, and both are heavily farmed and readily available at very low cost. Again perfect for perhaps the Kaiten Sushi places where the focus is more on a budget meal and food costs are strictly controlled to offer a product to the less-traditional Sushi diner. But in general you would not find these items at any proper Sushi bar in Japan.

                                                        So now skip forward to the predominant taste preferences found amongst the bulk of Sushi diners in the States, with their heavy and almost exclusive focus on Toro, Hamachi, and salmon. Might the folks at Sushi Ota be making a statement at the customer's expense by serving what are to any traditional Sushi diner an absurdly over the top, almost clownish use of Tane on top of a ball of Shari?

                                                        One would never do that with expensive Tane, but farmed Hamachi and salmon are cheap, so why not? Not only might it be hilarious (in a wicked way), but the customer seems to love such monstrosities.

                                                        This reminds me of an acquaintance who as a college student traveling through Europe stopped into a pub and ordered a soda. The soda was sent to his table in a baby bottle! As in Bozo's floppy shoes, to my eyes the salmon Toro Nigiri that you show just has that kind of unrefined quality to it. The only difference between the pub and the Sushi bar is that with the baby bottle the joke is all too obvious to all, but with the Sushi it'll only be obvious to the chefs behind the bar and to any of the traditional diners within view of your Geta. But the customer is oblivious and even happy at the situation, ready to repeat the same joke upon himself on his very next visit.

                                                        There are many harsh realities that I find even the most frequent Sushi diner learns about when they first dine at a traditional Sushi bar that truly respects both their customer and their craft like at Kaito. All too often they find, for instance, that simple things like the Tako or the Saba that has been served to them at their favorite Sushi bars were only inedible because they were frozen. Things they thought they did not like they actually find they love. And then they realize the depths of the charade being played at most Sushi bars everywhere, and they suddenly realize that most of the Emperors (Sushi chefs) are wearing no clothes.

                                                        As I've previously noted in another thread on these boards, when you dine at Kaito the adulterated veil of frozen Tane that is served elsewhere is lifted, leaving only the clean, pure tastes of what was really practiced in old Tokyo (Edo). Items you thought were familiar is tasted anew; a whole new light is cast upon the Sushi experience, and suddenly one realizes the true seasonality and promise of this wonderful cuisine.

                                                        SDG, show up at Kaito while I'm there and I'll happily buy you a beer and point out all of the subtle things that normally goes by unnoticed at a traditional Sushi bar.

                                                        1. re: cgfan
                                                          PommeDeGuerre Feb 2, 2010 12:55 AM

                                                          Please define what you mean by the freezing of fish. The last time I checked the only safe way to make sure that you were not consuming live parasites when consuming raw fish was to at least par-freeze it. Done correctly, this should have little impact on texture or taste.

                                                          1. re: PommeDeGuerre
                                                            cgfan Feb 2, 2010 07:22 PM

                                                            PDG: The only Tane that is commonly frozen (if not smoked or otherwise cured) is salmon, which is not even in traditional use in Japan as a Sushi Tane. Of course many items at the Sushi bar are either marinated or cooked; after all not everything is consumed raw.

                                                            In the end I think your will find that your answer will fall on one of two sides, depending on whether or not you follow the guidance of, say, the USFDA, or of the cumulative wisdom collected over nearly 200 years of experience.

                                                            However I'd be much less confident if this is at your typical Sushi bar where the chef has not gone through a traditional apprenticeship, but then again they are the ones most likely to be using frozen Tane.

                                                            The same can be said about making beef safe to eat. It's just a matter of who you care to listen to. (BTW I prefer mine passed through a warm room...)

                                                            1. re: cgfan
                                                              PommeDeGuerre Feb 2, 2010 08:10 PM

                                                              I love both sushi and sashimi, but the best fish to ever pass across the most distinguishing palate of all time is not worth a parasite. No chef, no matter how experienced and selective can tell if they are in there in certain stages of their life cycle. I'll take a brief par-freeze every time, and in a blind taste test doubt that anyone would notice an appreciable difference. To each their own,

                                                              1. re: PommeDeGuerre
                                                                cgfan Feb 2, 2010 08:17 PM

                                                                BTW a brief par-freeze is not sufficient for treating salmon. (And the reason for treating salmon is that it spends part of its lifecycle in fresh water.)

                                                                1. re: cgfan
                                                                  PommeDeGuerre Feb 3, 2010 12:05 AM

                                                                  Was trying not to get caught up in too many specifics, but of course many fish must be handled differently according to their environment and place on the food chain.

                                                                2. re: PommeDeGuerre
                                                                  Ed Dibble Feb 3, 2010 04:49 AM

                                                                  I think your paranoia is largely misplaced. Most parasites are very host specific. While fresh water fish like salmon or coastal fish (say CA rockfish) may have some parasites that can live in mammals, parasites that would be found in deep sea fish would be no threat to humans. Our body temperatures etc are vastly different than those of a tuna for example.

                                                                  1. re: Ed Dibble
                                                                    PommeDeGuerre Feb 3, 2010 02:27 PM

                                                                    Precaution hardly indicates paranoia, but thanks for the concern.

                                                                    1. re: PommeDeGuerre
                                                                      PommeDeGuerre Feb 13, 2010 07:56 PM

                                                                      Might be of interest.

                                                                      http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/08/nyr...

                                                                      1. re: PommeDeGuerre
                                                                        cgfan Feb 13, 2010 08:39 PM

                                                                        PDG: Right now I'm sweating bullets counting my many blessings. Don't know how I could have possibly survived this gauntlet of raw Sushi horrors in such good health: http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam...

                                                                        Swearing off of Sushi until the FDA opens up their own Sushi bars.

                                                                        The FDA: Don't go CH'ing without them...
                                                                        The FDA: We know how to live...
                                                                        The FDA: Our century of experience trumps the knowledge of generations...

                                                                        1. re: cgfan
                                                                          PommeDeGuerre Feb 14, 2010 12:06 AM

                                                                          It was purely informational. Like it or not, the FDA affects what can and can not be sold/served as food in this country. If you have an issue with it, attempt to change it.

                                                            2. re: cgfan
                                                              Tripeler Feb 2, 2010 01:30 AM

                                                              cgfan,
                                                              This post is one of the most informed and intelligent concerning sushi that I have read on the Chowhound boards. Thank goodness that here in Tokyo I am spared the strange horror of "not-quite" sushi executions, never mind the silly Monster Truck Roll sushi nightmares I often run into when I return to California.

                                                              1. re: cgfan
                                                                SDGourmand Feb 2, 2010 07:14 AM

                                                                I would really enjoy sitting with you and discussing sushi more. I'm not as knowledgable in this cusine as you are and would love to learn more. Nozomi is/will always be one of my go to places. I know the fish is fresh and that's more than I can say for most places. How often do you go to kaito?

                                                                1. re: SDGourmand
                                                                  chris2269 Feb 2, 2010 08:20 AM

                                                                  I back up SDGoumand on Nizomi. Yes its Fusion and I have eaten at Kaito. While if your a purist Kaito is the best around but Nazomi is better for rolls and I have talked with the owner/head chef on every visit and he is the real deal with his heart in the right place.

                                                                  1. re: chris2269
                                                                    cgfan Feb 2, 2010 07:35 PM

                                                                    It would be interesting to ask Nozomi if their spicy tuna rolls uses fresh, unfrozen unfarmed Blue Fin tuna.

                                                                    Though they are a traditional Sushi bar Kaito will fulfill any order, even the ones for non-traditional rolls. That means that for the most part their roll customers are getting a ridiculous upgrade in the quality of their roll ingredients that you probably won't be able to touch nearly anywhere else.

                                                                    Are you sure you're not tasting the seasonings rather than the fish itself by saying that Nozomi's rolls are better? Or perhaps that is what you are saying.

                                                                    1. re: cgfan
                                                                      honkman Feb 2, 2010 08:38 PM

                                                                      "It would be interesting to ask Nozomi if their spicy tuna rolls uses fresh, unfrozen unfarmed Blue Fin tuna" - I hope nobody is using Blue Fin tuna since it might be soon part of the endangered species list.

                                                                      1. re: cgfan
                                                                        d
                                                                        daantaat Feb 3, 2010 08:18 PM

                                                                        I 2nd the upgraded rolls at Kaito. One of my friends ordered a tempura shrimp roll and let me have a piece. I was blown away by the lightness of the tempura and the gentle balance between the crisp tempura, sweet shrimp, rice and other stuff that was in the roll. Night and day compared to other rolls I've had over the years. It was like the gourmet version of a mac and cheese compared to a Kraft mac and cheese.

                                                                    2. re: SDGourmand
                                                                      cgfan Feb 2, 2010 07:26 PM

                                                                      Sometimes I feel that I practically live there! Though they get shipments everyday, I'm usually at Kaito when they get shipments from all their sources, which is on Tuesdays and Fridays, or occasionally the day after those days.

                                                                      And I do promise if I go to Nozomi I will give it an honest shake for their Nigiri, though honestly I still am not expecting much at all.

                                                        2. re: cgfan
                                                          goodhealthgourmet Jan 31, 2010 03:33 PM

                                                          agree with cgfan that Samurai is FAR from the best...but just wanted to point out to all that this thread is from 2004 so i doubt the OP is reading anyway :)

                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                            WasabiBratwurst Feb 1, 2010 10:44 AM

                                                            Q'ero in Encinitas, South American/Peruvian.

                                                      2. r
                                                        RebJaeBoe Feb 1, 2010 03:53 PM

                                                        A few people have mentioned these but they're worth repeating:
                                                        Kaito - sushi
                                                        Elizabethan - yummy desserts
                                                        Savory - Sort of upscale by laid-back Encinitas standards
                                                        Bird House Grill - Go on a Friday or Saturday and stay for the belly dancing

                                                        A few that I didn't see:
                                                        Qero - Peruvian food that can't be missed
                                                        Tony's - Mexican, try the turkey tacos!
                                                        Jorge's - A little taco shop with two locations in Encinitas. Their Mexican soup is amazing and the ultimate cure for a cold
                                                        Honey's - on PCH for breakfast, owned by the same people that do Swami's and Beach Grass Cafe

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: RebJaeBoe
                                                          r
                                                          RebJaeBoe Feb 1, 2010 03:56 PM

                                                          Just realized I forgot Bety's Mexican food on Encinitas Blvd. Yum! The family is great and the food is even better.

                                                          1. re: RebJaeBoe
                                                            Ms. Verde Feb 8, 2010 08:32 PM

                                                            A second for Tony's Jacal in Solana Beach. Turkey tacos and my favorite all time guacamole. This had been there since the 1940's for a reason!

                                                          2. s
                                                            scottg Feb 18, 2010 03:33 PM

                                                            I just returned from a three day mini-vacation in Encinitas, and here is my report on some of the restaurants mentioned.

                                                            Bull Taco was wonderful. I had a Bacon, Lobster and Chorizo (BLC) taco ($5) that was the highlight of the meal. The Ahi Taco ($2) and Duck Confit Taco ($2.50) were both very good. They have tables overlooking the ocean. Great location and great food. www.bulltacocardiff.com

                                                            We stopped at El Pescador Fish Market in La Jolla for lunch after enjoying Torrey Pines State Park. The Clam Chowder was very good and the Swordfish with avocado sandwich ($9.95) was excellent. I enjoyed El Pescador more than Point Loma Seafood, which I like very much. elpescadorfishmarket.com

                                                            Especial Del Norte was a disappointment. The Tortilla Soup and the Chicken Soup were very good. The Fish Taco was bad, very fishy tasting with bland cabbage. The Shrimp Burrito had plenty of shrimp, but they were fairly tasteless. www.laespecial101.com

                                                            The Golden Taipei has closed.

                                                            So we went to the Bird House Grill for Turkish food and were very pleased. Small, with no liquor license (other tables had carried in wine and beer) with pleasant but a little slow service. We shared a combination platter ($15.95) which came with chicken kebabs, gyros meat, and ground lamb kebabs. Flat bread, rice, and a yogurt sauce accompanied the meat. More than enough for two and everything tasted great.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: scottg
                                                              r
                                                              RMAnthony Feb 18, 2010 05:57 PM

                                                              Q'ero in Encinitas is the best of the bunch.

                                                            2. c
                                                              cmahlum Feb 19, 2010 03:13 PM

                                                              I'm a little late to this thread, but I'm a longtime Encinitas resident, everyone has their favorites, here's mine:
                                                              Trattoria I trulli for italian
                                                              Siamese Basil, I second the best north county Thai, one of my all-time favorite SD spots to eat
                                                              Honey's and St. Germain for breakfast
                                                              Ki's restaurant (technically Cardiff) for good healthy-ish food
                                                              La Especial is a good post-surf soup spot, but it's not amazing, just good soup.
                                                              Bull Taco is amazing, don't tell anybody
                                                              Pannikin for coffee
                                                              And of course, VGS.

                                                              I'm intrigued by this Kaito talk. I wrote it off as another strip mall spot, but I'll have to give it a whirl. I haven't been to Tomiko in years, but if my memory serves, it was good. There's also Bubby's in the lumberyard for gelato. There's quite a few new spots I haven't tried because I can't keep up with the rotation. Falafel burger at Roxy is a nice snack.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: cmahlum
                                                                cgfan Feb 19, 2010 03:50 PM

                                                                If you haven't been to Tomiko in years then your memories of a good place for Sushi is no doubt due to Morita-san opening up the Sushi bar there as their head Sushi chef, having been recruited out of Nobu.

                                                                I've been to Tomiko since he left and it was absolutely terrible. It was so telling, though.

                                                                A junior chef that was under Morita-san was still there at Tomiko, and he recognized me from my many visits with Morita-san. As I recall he was terrified, literally had shaking hands, and he apologized in advance for the quality of their fish before I even started to order. Alas there was no need to say so, as it was obvious.

                                                                Well Morita-san left Tomiko around 5 years ago to open up Kaito at it's original Encinitas Blvd. location, and after 3 years opened up in the new, more appropriately-sized ECR location just a half a mile away.

                                                                You'll find Morita-san there as Kaito's head Sushi chef, taking the spot closest to the front. You might also recognize his assistant Sushi chef Joe-san (Iwatani-san), who also worked under Morita-san at Tomiko. If they still recognize you, they're apt to say, "Where were you? What took you so long?"

                                                                Tomiko is special for me in that that is where I first had the revelation of tasting Morita-san's Sushi. Literally with the very first bite of the very first order of my very first visit at Tomiko I immediately knew that Morita-san was playing in a different league. To this day I can clearly remember that moment as if it were yesterday, and it still remains as one of the most instantly revelatory experiences that I've ever had with food.

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