Pdho had mentioned Sushi Ota a number of times, but seeing as we rarely make our way down to San Diego, I’ve never had the chance to give this place a try… until now. The restaurant is nestled in a small non-descript strip mall and if you aren’t looking for it, you would surely miss it. The inside is pretty spacious (by Japanese sushi restaurants) with a sushi bar that seats 15 or so people and 4-5 sushi chefs manning it. We took our seats at the sushi bar and placed our order with our sushi chef, Mickey. As usual, Pdho was ready with his camera. The thing with sushi is that pictures from one restaurant pretty much look like pictures from another, and generally speaking, I find it hard to creatively describe the taste and quality of sushi in different ways. Nevertheless, it’s still my absolute favorite thing to eat in the whole world.
The Calamari Salad wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be slices of squid mixed with bamboo, fungus and seaweed, but it was essentially a leafy green salad with fried calamari rings. It was a pretty good salad, but I wouldn’t order it again, mainly because it is just filler that takes up space for the good stuff.
I always like hamachi and this failed to disappoint. It was tender, tasty and terribly yummy!
This salmon was even richer and fattier than usual. Yum!
When we ordered the kanpachi, our sushi chef, Mickey, commented, “Oh, you know the good stuff!” And yes, was it good! I don’t find kanpachi at too many places, but since discovering it, it’s always been really good.
It is so hard to go wrong with fatty tuna. So rich and delicious… it really melted in my mouth.
The Spicy Scallop roll was solid and with the right balance of rice and filling, I felt totally uncheated by this sushi roll.
Spanish Mackerel is another relatively new discovery which I really like. It doesn’t have the strong fishy taste of regular mackerel, and it is so much better in taste. The bit of ginger and green onion always balances the mackerel.
I’m never quite sure if Shima Aji is Stripped Amberjack or Trevally Jack. I’ve seen it referred to as both. Either way, it’s very good. It has a richness kind of like fatty tuna but a cleaner more interesting taste.
The albacore was particularly special and unique from any cut of albacore that I’ve had before. It was topped with some roe and green onions which was somewhat interesting, but it the was noticeably soft and juicy texture of the fish which was amazing. One bite into the sushi and it literally melted in your mouth. It was probably one of the stand outs of the meal for its uniqueness.
Upon Mickey’s recommendation, we decided to try the Fresh Octopus. The octopus itself was lightly sprinkled with some rock salt and ponzu sauce. It was surprisingly not chewy and the salty tang taste was quite interesting. It was also served with the tentacles which were topped with some spicy radish, shredded radish and yuzu sauce. Although the flavor was pretty good, it had a distinct crunch which was a little odd.
We were pretty full already, but we decided to end the meal with an order of Unagi and yes, it was delicious!
All the sushi chefs, especially Mickey, were really friendly. Even though they were obviously Japanese natives, their English was pretty good and they all seemed to enjoy talking to the customers a lot. It made for a very social eating experience. The nigiri were a good healthy size and the rice was kept very minimally sized. That’s usually my biggest complaint of any sushi restaurant, because I feel like they are trying to fill you up so you don’t eat all their fish. Best part was probably the variety of different fishes beyond just salmon and tuna, and even better, these fishes are equally fresh. It is somewhat reasonably priced considering the quality. Our meal turned out to be about $100 which isn’t cheap but about right for a good sushi restaurant. All in all, it was a fantastic meal and I definitely think it is worth the visit if you’re ever in San Diego!
4529 Mission Bay Dr.
San Diego, CA 92109
PAFO Ratings for Sushi Ota:
Price 3 stars
Ambiance 3 stars
Food 4½ stars
Overall rating 4 stars