ISO Traditional sushi in SD

I’m going to Legoland and Seaworld for one night each at the end of June and I’m searching for traditional sushi in SD. I’m coming from Colorado where the best sushi place (Sushi Den) is full or cream cheese rolls with dynamite sauce. BLEH. They have other decent sushi but not the best I’ve had after 14 years in LA and being originally from Tokyo.

I’m going to be with my husband and 7 year old. The 7 year old has more of a taste for sushi than my husband who enjoys a california roll and a spider roll. Me, OTOH could stick with a place like Sushi Zo. But I don’t want to go to a place where people are enjoying “saki bombs” or they call those things. I also need to be slightly budget conscious. Any place in SD like Sushi Gen in LA??

So far I see Sushi Ota and Tadoroko? Are they expensive?

Ota, Tadakoro and Kaito are your best bets.

All are more expensive that Gen.

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Like Mori prices?

I think that would be comparable.

But you’ll have a far more pleasant experience.

Sounds pricey :cry: Probably won’t be happening.

You can definitely get out of Kaito less than you would at Mori (although I don’t get to Mori very often, or recently).

Maybe skip Legoland or Sea World?

Haha! I wish we could skip the Legoland and Sea World portion! No, the trip is for the kid. Just wanted something in it for myself!! LOL!

BTW, are you in SD now?

At this very moment? No.

Was there over the weekend.

Oh I see. Thought you relocated there!

I split my time between LA/SD/NYC.

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My recommendations for traditional Sushi (is there any other kind?) has not changed for many, many years, and not for a lack of trying to find others. If you’re after the taste of traditional Sushi from a chef who’s spent a lifetime studying it, (he began as a teen in Tokyo studying under two masters - the master’s master lived above the shop), then you can do no better than Kaito Sushi in Encinitas.

But Kaito’s as unique as they are good, and often in surprising ways. They don’t put on any airs like many a state-side Sushi bar will, and if anything the demeanor of the head chef, Kaz, is self-effacing even to a fault. And they’ll make almost anything a customer asks for, even the Americanized rolls. And while other Sushi bars will have the more “you’re in Japan” look - most notably Sushiya Tadokoro - Kaito’s in a completely different league.

What you’ll get is a shop with two near-Edokko’s who specialize in Edo-mae Sushi. They get deliveries from 5 distinct markets - two in Japan (including Tsukiji), the Boston area, the Pacific Northwest and the Mediterranean. And they are the rare stateside Sushiya who actually brings in fresh Anago and fillets it in-house every day.

My recommendation - sit in front of Kaz (head Sushi chef who mans the section up front and closest to the windows) and ask for Omakase. If you want the best selection, the best days to go are Tuesday and Friday, followed by Wednesday and Saturday - these are the days where they receive shipments from all of their markets. And don’t ask for a menu. It’s there for those who do not know the joys of leaving things in the hands of a very competent chef.

If you want something, say something from the kitchen, I always ask Kaz not what, but if, he recommends anything - and the difference is important. I’ve seen too many customers unknowingly handicap their own experience and derail their meal by ordering off the menu or off of a mental list of their favorite Sushi or ironically by not having what they think they don’t like. Go Omakase throughout your meal and leave things in Kaz’s hands. In fact as so often happens to new customers at Kaito, many end up realizing that what they think they don’t like in Sushi was only because they’ve never been to a good shop - good examples would be Tako (octopus - no, it’s not rubbery and it’s very, very sweet), Ebi (shrimp - yes, it is sweet) and Saba (Spanish Mackerel - no, it’s not fishy).

As to price I actually find that they’re less than most any other Sushi bar that similarly sources from the best worldwide fisheries. (But they’re also very practical about sourcing too - they buy with the customer’s interest in mind and won’t chase vanity prices at the market only to pass on the hurt to their customer.)


So, the “you’re in Japan” look diminishes your enjoyment of the sushi at Tadokoro?

Sorry about that - I guess it can read that way, ha ha. What I meant to say is that if one is just looking for the aesthetics, than Tadokoro is as close to the look of a high-street Sushi-ya in Japan as I’ve seen in SD.

I mention it as I come across many who are influenced by the look of a place - not that it’s completely unimportant - but for me execution and taste of the food trumps all.


Kaito isn’t quite that expensive, I don’t think. Partner and I stop in every so often when visiting friends that way and have even gotten out for ~$200 (inclusive of tax and tip, no alcohol) on some visits, and we’re decent eaters. Given that your husband won’t be going for the pricier stuff and if your 7 year-old doesn’t have an adult-sized appetite, it might be doable. Morita-san/Chef Kaz has always been very kind, informative, and welcoming, and I would be surprised if he was less than such even if you asked him to stay within a reasonable limit.

And if you do get to go, the fried eel bones are a fun treat! :slight_smile:

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You can always go to Tadokoro and just skip the omakase, sit at a table, and get plenty of fine sushi. That cuts the price back quite a lot.

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Yes, child usually gets a few nigiri like ikura and hamachi and then eats a part of a cut roll. Husband will eat a spider roll. I’ll eat the good stuff but need to keep within a budget as these parks are already killing us with cost!

Great idea. I don’t need omakase. As I stated I’m in a difficult sushi situation in Colorado. Think medium grain chewy rice and some old fish. People have the worst taste in sushi here and I’m at a loss.

A Matsuhisa just opened in Denver but I was never a fan of it in LA. I’ve been to the one in BH a few times and it was good but I preferred under the radar places and most importantly, I had choices!!

So with the recommendations you received for Tadokoro, Kaito, and Ota, you probably have the three of the four best sushi places in San Diego…

But I have a couple places in North County (so not too far from Lego Land) for you that although not very traditional, are still knocking it out of the park with high quality and innovative seafood preparations including sushi. I think both places would be able to satisfy and delight the entire the family. Wrench & Rodent and The Land and Water Co, are both helmed by classically trained sushi chefs who are now adapting their skills to Southern California ingredients and style.

“Wrench and Rodent”??? Their site looks great, and I’ll trust you on the quality. That name though? I’d love to hear the story behind it. Something in Japanese language or mythology, or just ‘they won’t forget THIS name’???

It’s going to be a craft brewery too. OK with me. I think San Diego County is trying for a world record in that category.