Of all the types of cuisines offered around town, San Diego's sushi game is particularly strong. From splurge-worthy destinations for omakase to solid neighborhood spots, our city is blessed with some spectacular showcases for fresh seafood. While most of these sushi spots are practitioners of the classic and reverent style of sushi, there’s also a couple entries that veer off the traditional path, because sushi can be fun, too.Read More
San Diego’s 15 Essential Sushi Bars
How many spots have you tried?
Wrench And The Rodent
Popular local chef Davin Waite, who also runs several other restaurants in Oceanside, got his start in sushi and has developed a fervent following for his irreverent yet sincere approach to the cuisine, bringing together local seafood and creative sauces in unexpected flavor combinations. If you're going to take a turn from the traditional, do it here.
While Kaito might not offer the largest array of fish, you can be sure that the day's fresh selection will be prepared impeccably by Tokyo-trained Kazuo Morita, one of the undisputed sushi kings of San Diego. If his delicate version of saltwater eel, or anago, is available, don't miss it.
Ken Sushi Workshop
North County sushi lovers swear by this spot owned by another alum of Sushi Ota. It’s known to be pricey, as one can expect from a sushi shop that features luxurious bites like Japanese Wagyu beef nigiri and tuna belly topped with truffle and sea urchin.
With just eights seats at the sushi bar, as well as a handful of outdoor tables, this La Jolla spot offers an intimate dining experience in the hands of chef Mitsu Aihara, who spent 16 years at the revered Sushi Ota. Aihara does traditional sushi and offers an elegant omakase menu, but also features trendy dishes like the rib-eye katsu sando, a sandwich stuffed with a breaded steak and ginger-dressed cabbage.
One of the Convoy area’s best options for sushi, Hidden Fish’s 12-seat sushi bar offers a 90-minute, 18-piece omakase dining experience from executive chef John Hong that features a rotating selection of fish from Japan’s Toyosu Fish Market.
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For over a quarter-century, owner Yukito Ota showcased his tremendous sushi skills at his eponymous and unassuming strip-mall spot. Ota, who trained many of the city’s best sushi makers, recently retired and the restaurant is now being run by one of his head chefs.
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A bit off the beaten path, but worth a trip, Kokomo is a quiet temple to the art of Japanese Kappo cuisine where the restaurant’s minimal decor puts the spotlight directly on the plates of pristine fish. Chef Akio Ishito is classically-minded, sporting traditional Japanese elevated wood sandals while behind the bar.
Veteran sushi master Soichi Kadoya presides over this warm and welcoming family-run restaurant. There are a few tables, but the best seats are at the sushi bar, where Kadoya puts together customized and creative omakase menus that includes sashimi, nigiri, and seasonal appetizers. The Michelin-starred restaurant also offers an impressive array of sake.
With another well-established location in Coronado, this North Park favorite prides itself on an unparalleled sake program and a menu from executive chef and co-owner Anthony Pascale based on whole, locally-sourced fish paired with housemade ingredients.
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This intimate Old Town restaurant has established a reputation as one of the best practitioners of traditional Edo-mae style sushi, specializing in pristine sashimi and nigiri. Sushi adventurers swear by the Michelin-starred kitchen’s preparations of ankimo, or monkfish liver, and shirako, or cod sperm.
Yet another vet of Sushi Ota is behind this Bankers Hill restaurant, which serves lunch and dinner in a spacious and modern setting. Adept at faithful and fresh nigiri sushi and sashimi, Hane is also known for its creative license with off-menu specialties and rolls that range from the Fish and Chips Roll to the Pizza Roll.
One of the best dining options in Bankers Hill, Azuki is the local sushi bar that every neighborhood deserves. The modern lounge provides an intimate and friendly setting for food that's fresh and unfussy.
Shino Sushi + Kappo
Another disciple of Sushi Ota runs this small sushi bar near the train tracks on the edge of Little Italy. The ‘kappo’ in the restaurant’s name refers to skill not just in cutting fish and making sushi but also a mastery of other cooking techniques, from grilling and steaming to frying and simmering, all part of a well-balanced omakase menu.
This longtime Gaslamp staple is one of the downtown area’s sushi standouts and has been a launching pad for many of the area’s best sushi chefs. Consistently solid, with attentive service, the restaurant offers sushi, sashimi, and basic rolls along with handful of entrees ranging from baked black cod to salmon teryaki.
There is one restaurant in San Diego where guests can enjoy enthralling Edomae omakase while taking in the work of ‘90s hip-hop artists ranging from Tupac to Snoop Dogg. That place would be at Chef TJ’s sushi bar where the world-traveling cook prepares the 200-year-old style of sushi for delighted diners.