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.)