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Best sushi north of Mexico, south of Santa Barbara?

My husband, adult daughter, and I will be staying in Carlsbad in mid-December and we'll have a car. We would like to try the best sushi in Southern California. This is something of a "quest" for us. It can be very cheap or pretty expensive, just as long as it's really amazing. We are not sushi purists, and we like rolls as much as perfect sashimi. We also like other small plates that might be served alongside sushi. We would be open to a 12 seat sushi bar where the chef is "right there", but would honestly prefer a place with an extensive, innovative menu, or one which offers an omakase of 10 or more creative courses. I've been looking at Sushi Ota and Asenebo. Ideally, I would like to make a reservation before we come out there so we can plan our visit and driving. I'm posting this on the Los Angeles board, too.
Thanks!

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  1. In San Diego consider Kaito. Numerous other posts on the board with extreme detail.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JRSD

      Excellent! Thank you! I'll check it out!

    2. Sushi Ota, 4529 Mission Bay Dr, San Diego, CA 92109, is one of the best in Southern CA, certainly in San Diego. Don't let the strip mall setting put you off. It's really good. If you're going on a week night, call ahead and ask to be seated at Ota-San's corner of the bar. Put yourself in his hands and you won't be sorry.

      3 Replies
      1. re: sandiegomike

        Hi, sandiegomike! I already put Ota's phone number into my phone. Do you think reservations are hard to get? I heard they book up 8 weeks out.

        1. re: jilkat25

          Reserve as early as you can. Getting in is challenging but not impossible. Well worth the effort.

          1. re: sandiegomike

            Ok, thanks for the tip! I really appreciate your help! :)

      2. Sushi Tadokoro in Old Town is equal to Ota and Kaito with way better ambiance. Ask to sit at the bar by Take and do omakase. You will love it.

        3 Replies
        1. re: keena

          Thanks, keena! We wil definitely be in that area! I'll look up Tadokoro! I wonder if they serve lunch?

          1. re: jilkat25

            Take does not do lunch yet and I wish he did.
            I have not felt the love at Kaito that I do at Tadokoro. The quality is there at Tadokoro with a way better ambience and it is very much Jiro dreams of sushi. I live near Encinitas and prefer Tadokoro. But Kaito is quite nice especially if you are staying in carlsbad.
            Try both!

            1. re: keena

              Good advice, keena! I dream of Jiro's sushi! (And of going to Tokyo someday.)

        2. The tiny and inconspicuous Sushi Diner in Linda Vista (near Mesa College, behind K-Sandwiches) also serves up some of San Diego's best sushi and sashimi. Don't let their low prices and the simple decor fool you. Go at off-hours, don't try to park in their lot, and try to get a seat in the enclosed patio. Perhaps second place, but definitely gives Sushi Ota a run for the money. You decide.

          1 Reply
          1. re: DoctorChow

            Wow! Thanks DoctorChow! Good advice! I'll put it on my list!

          2. Seriously, between SD and SB are contained three sushi universes. Kaito is your only super special option in SD. Don't bother with Ota, which I like for what it is with some reservations, and go for the best sushi south of camp Pendleton.

            seriously, Kaito is it.

            7 Replies
            1. re: SaltyRaisins

              Well, if they're staying in Carlsbad, I suspect Kaito would be their best local choice.

              But super special? I thought it was good the one time I was there. Recommendable, yes -- but not "super special" -- in my opinion.

              Still, one of the best in our area.

              1. re: DoctorChow

                Hmm. I've not had anything comparable in the SD area. Tadokoro is my 2nd place. Anything you feel I should eat before getting all cgfan on this?

                  1. re: DoctorChow

                    We're staying in Carlsbad, so when we go into San Diego we might take the Coaster down on at least one day and ride the local buses around town. When we go to LA, we'll probably just drive. I don't know how many days we'll go into Los Angeles. Even though Carlsbad is between the two big cities, it feels like LA is a bit more remote. Maybe I'm wrong. I don't want my husband to get too PO'ed before we even get anywhere!

                    1. re: jilkat25

                      Driving to LA from Carlsbad--not long on miles but you risk getting into terrible traffic jams, not just at rush hour. My extensive experience is that horrific traffic jams can happen at almost any time (and then again at times we pretty much breeze through).

                      1. re: wrldtrvl

                        Best shots at bearable traffic are 10:30 - 11:30 and 1:30 - 2:30.

                        1. re: wrldtrvl

                          Yeah, I'm expecting that. We'll set out early and feed Dad some Xanax to calm our nerves.Thanks, wrldtrvl and Doctor Chow.