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Where to Eat Japanese Food in San Diego

From easy-going yakitori joints and izakayas to upscale kaiseki

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Diners don’t have to travel far for Japanese food in San Diego. Sister city to Yokohama since 1957, San Diego has plenty of restaurants specializing in traditional Japanese cuisine, including two sushi bars that were recently awarded with Michelin stars. From fancy outposts to neighborhood strip mall favorites, here’s where to go for Japanese cuisine in the county.

For a deeper dive into more specific Japanese fare, check out Eater’s dedicated ramen and sushi maps.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Kaito Sushi

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130-A N El Camino Real
Encinitas, CA 92024
(760) 634-2746
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This Encinitas spot prepares sushi in the classic Edo-style. With room for only 14 diners, the omakase is always popular and the a la carte menu expansive — think everything from fresh Hokkaido uni to big fin reef squid. Visit the restaurant’s Facebook page for sushi specials.

2. Himitsu

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1030 Torrey Pines Rd G
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 263-4463
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The sushi bar at this cozy La Jolla spot might be one of San Diego’s most intimate dining experiences so reservations are highly recommended to save a spot for one of the eight seats. Expect traditional high-end nigiri, small plates, and an omakase menu at this hidden gem (the restaurant’s name is Japanese for secret).

3. EE NAMI Tonkatsu Izakaya

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4706 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92117
(858) 246-6903
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Known for their tonkatsu, this family-owned and operated restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. For those new to the restaurant, order the katsu sando, a Canadian black pork fillet sandwich, only available on the lunch menu. Or taste your way through the small plates like chicken nanban, a deep fried chicken thigh served with tartar sauce and vinegar or any one of the rice dishes.

4. Okan Diner

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5430 Clairemont Mesa Blvd G
San Diego, CA 92117
(858) 278-4228

Craving traditional Japanese home cooking? Head to this sister restaurant to Convoy Street’s Wa Dining Okan where kamameshi, a rice dish cooked in an iron pot is a specialty. Standouts include the braised pork belly cooked in tonkotsu broth with poached egg, and chicken with mixed mushrooms, quail egg, and gobo.

5. Yakitori Hino

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7420 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 880-6048

This Japanese spot specializes in traditional yakitori grilled over Japanese bincho charcoal. Choose from skewers featuring chicken wing, heart, liver, and gizzard to beef with wasabi, and pork shiso. Or opt for yakitori sets of chef’s choice of four, seven and ten skewers. Small dishes range from spicy fried chicken and monkfish liver with plum sauce to rice bowls topped with poke.

6. Yakitori Taisho

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5185 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92117
(858) 752-0468
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This quiet spot is a favorite industry hangout, offering a menu of specialty skewers. Make a meal from from karaage, deep-fried wings, tsukune (meatball) or hatsu (heart) skewers.

7. Robataya Oton

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5447 Kearny Villa Rd D
San Diego, CA 92123
(858) 277-3989
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This Kearny Mesa restaurant offers traditional yakimono (grilled) dishes like marinated black cod with miso and yellowtail cheek, along with hotpot dishes (nabemono). Reserve a private table featuring private tatami screened booths; slippers are provided to all guests so shoes can be removed before entering. 

8. Hidden Fish

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4764 Convoy St ste a
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 210-5056
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This omakase-only sushi bar in the Convoy District has dining space for 12 diners. The 90-minute Omakase Premium meal is $135 and includes 18 pieces. A la carte dishes are available too, including chu-toro, sea bream and cured mackerel.

9. Hinotez

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7947 Balboa Ave
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 565-4244
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Find classic Japanese dishes like yakitori, ramen, yakisoba, udon, and rice bowls as well as comforting Japanese breakfast at this well-loved low-key joint. Contactless ordering via tablet leaves room to peruse the extensive menu.

10. Musashiya

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4240 Kearny Mesa Rd
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 292-9200

Find Japanese comfort food inside Mitsuwa Marketplace. Hot and cold noodle dishes are popular choices including rice bowls filled with tempura, tonkatsu and egg, or beef and onion. If you’re craving a little bit of everything, order one of the combination sets like teriyaki chicken or mabo tofu. All sets come with cabbage salad, potato salad, egg, pickled veggies, miso soup and rice.

11. Yokohama Yakitori Koubou

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3904 Convoy St #108
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 277-8822
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With 10 outposts throughout Yokohama, San Diego is host to the only U.S. location. Like the Japanese locations, the restaurant offers traditional kushiyaki skewers grilled over binchō-tan charcoal. Menu standouts are hatsu (chicken heart), gyu kalbi (prime beef short rib), and nasu (Japanese eggplant).

12. Wa Dining OKAN

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3860 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 279-0941
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Nestled next door to Nijiya Market is this intimate spot for Japanese comfort food. Okan dishes are presented on lacquered trays, like the salmon sashimi, which comes with rice, miso soup, and assorted tapas, like seaweed salad. Other favorites here include the pork cheeks, salted mackerel, and grilled duck.

13. Sushi Ota

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4529 Mission Bay Dr
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 270-5670
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Reservations are highly recommended for chef/owner Yukito Ota’s award-winning strip-mall eatery. If time and budget constraints allow, grab a seat at the sushi bar and go omakase. It includes courses of sashimi, sushi, a cup of chawanmushi (savory egg custard), plus a cooked seasonal dish.

14. Kokoro Restaurant

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3298 Greyling Dr
San Diego, CA 92123
(858) 565-4113

Omakase at this Serra Mesa spot run by chef/owner Akio Ishito requires three days notice for the chef to prepare. Head in on Saturdays for Shiraki Gozen lunch.

15. SOICHI

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2121 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 677-2220
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The 12-seat bar at Soichi Kadoya’s Adams Avenue spot has been a hot reservation since the restaurant opened and even more so since it won a Michelin star. The headliners are the two omakase menus. There’s a nigiri version for $95 and a two-hour experience for $135 that covers seasonal appetizers, grilled fish, sashimi and nigiri using pristine seafood like sweet shrimp, fatty tuna and sea urchin.

16. Izakaya Masa

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928 Fort Stockton Dr
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 542-1354
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Reservations are a must at this tiny restaurant in Mission Hills. Popular for its ramen and sushi, also try a selection of appetizers and a beer. Dishes include gyoza and agedashi tofu, or more exotic offerings include chuka karage (spicy jellyfish), takowasa (wasabi marinated octopus), and ankimo (monkfish liver with ponzu sauce).

17. Sushi Tadokoro

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2244 San Diego Ave
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 297-0298
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This Old Town restaurant serves Edomae-style (Tokyo) sushi. Don’t miss out on its uni. Much its seafood, including baby barracuda from the island of Kyushu, gets flown in from Japan. With just ten seats at the sushi bar and seven tables reservations are advised, especially since it’s now a Michelin-starred restaurant.

1. Kaito Sushi

130-A N El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA 92024

This Encinitas spot prepares sushi in the classic Edo-style. With room for only 14 diners, the omakase is always popular and the a la carte menu expansive — think everything from fresh Hokkaido uni to big fin reef squid. Visit the restaurant’s Facebook page for sushi specials.

130-A N El Camino Real
Encinitas, CA 92024

2. Himitsu

1030 Torrey Pines Rd G, La Jolla, CA 92037

The sushi bar at this cozy La Jolla spot might be one of San Diego’s most intimate dining experiences so reservations are highly recommended to save a spot for one of the eight seats. Expect traditional high-end nigiri, small plates, and an omakase menu at this hidden gem (the restaurant’s name is Japanese for secret).

1030 Torrey Pines Rd G
La Jolla, CA 92037

3. EE NAMI Tonkatsu Izakaya

4706 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92117

Known for their tonkatsu, this family-owned and operated restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. For those new to the restaurant, order the katsu sando, a Canadian black pork fillet sandwich, only available on the lunch menu. Or taste your way through the small plates like chicken nanban, a deep fried chicken thigh served with tartar sauce and vinegar or any one of the rice dishes.

4706 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92117

4. Okan Diner

5430 Clairemont Mesa Blvd G, San Diego, CA 92117

Craving traditional Japanese home cooking? Head to this sister restaurant to Convoy Street’s Wa Dining Okan where kamameshi, a rice dish cooked in an iron pot is a specialty. Standouts include the braised pork belly cooked in tonkotsu broth with poached egg, and chicken with mixed mushrooms, quail egg, and gobo.

5430 Clairemont Mesa Blvd G
San Diego, CA 92117

5. Yakitori Hino

7420 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92111

This Japanese spot specializes in traditional yakitori grilled over Japanese bincho charcoal. Choose from skewers featuring chicken wing, heart, liver, and gizzard to beef with wasabi, and pork shiso. Or opt for yakitori sets of chef’s choice of four, seven and ten skewers. Small dishes range from spicy fried chicken and monkfish liver with plum sauce to rice bowls topped with poke.

7420 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92111

6. Yakitori Taisho

5185 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92117

This quiet spot is a favorite industry hangout, offering a menu of specialty skewers. Make a meal from from karaage, deep-fried wings, tsukune (meatball) or hatsu (heart) skewers.

5185 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92117

7. Robataya Oton

5447 Kearny Villa Rd D, San Diego, CA 92123

This Kearny Mesa restaurant offers traditional yakimono (grilled) dishes like marinated black cod with miso and yellowtail cheek, along with hotpot dishes (nabemono). Reserve a private table featuring private tatami screened booths; slippers are provided to all guests so shoes can be removed before entering. 

5447 Kearny Villa Rd D
San Diego, CA 92123

8. Hidden Fish

4764 Convoy St ste a, San Diego, CA 92111

This omakase-only sushi bar in the Convoy District has dining space for 12 diners. The 90-minute Omakase Premium meal is $135 and includes 18 pieces. A la carte dishes are available too, including chu-toro, sea bream and cured mackerel.

4764 Convoy St ste a
San Diego, CA 92111

9. Hinotez

7947 Balboa Ave, San Diego, CA 92111

Find classic Japanese dishes like yakitori, ramen, yakisoba, udon, and rice bowls as well as comforting Japanese breakfast at this well-loved low-key joint. Contactless ordering via tablet leaves room to peruse the extensive menu.

7947 Balboa Ave
San Diego, CA 92111

10. Musashiya

4240 Kearny Mesa Rd, San Diego, CA 92111

Find Japanese comfort food inside Mitsuwa Marketplace. Hot and cold noodle dishes are popular choices including rice bowls filled with tempura, tonkatsu and egg, or beef and onion. If you’re craving a little bit of everything, order one of the combination sets like teriyaki chicken or mabo tofu. All sets come with cabbage salad, potato salad, egg, pickled veggies, miso soup and rice.

4240 Kearny Mesa Rd
San Diego, CA 92111

11. Yokohama Yakitori Koubou

3904 Convoy St #108, San Diego, CA 92111

With 10 outposts throughout Yokohama, San Diego is host to the only U.S. location. Like the Japanese locations, the restaurant offers traditional kushiyaki skewers grilled over binchō-tan charcoal. Menu standouts are hatsu (chicken heart), gyu kalbi (prime beef short rib), and nasu (Japanese eggplant).

3904 Convoy St #108
San Diego, CA 92111

12. Wa Dining OKAN

3860 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111

Nestled next door to Nijiya Market is this intimate spot for Japanese comfort food. Okan dishes are presented on lacquered trays, like the salmon sashimi, which comes with rice, miso soup, and assorted tapas, like seaweed salad. Other favorites here include the pork cheeks, salted mackerel, and grilled duck.

3860 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111

13. Sushi Ota

4529 Mission Bay Dr, San Diego, CA 92109

Reservations are highly recommended for chef/owner Yukito Ota’s award-winning strip-mall eatery. If time and budget constraints allow, grab a seat at the sushi bar and go omakase. It includes courses of sashimi, sushi, a cup of chawanmushi (savory egg custard), plus a cooked seasonal dish.

4529 Mission Bay Dr
San Diego, CA 92109

14. Kokoro Restaurant

3298 Greyling Dr, San Diego, CA 92123

Omakase at this Serra Mesa spot run by chef/owner Akio Ishito requires three days notice for the chef to prepare. Head in on Saturdays for Shiraki Gozen lunch.

3298 Greyling Dr
San Diego, CA 92123

15. SOICHI

2121 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116

The 12-seat bar at Soichi Kadoya’s Adams Avenue spot has been a hot reservation since the restaurant opened and even more so since it won a Michelin star. The headliners are the two omakase menus. There’s a nigiri version for $95 and a two-hour experience for $135 that covers seasonal appetizers, grilled fish, sashimi and nigiri using pristine seafood like sweet shrimp, fatty tuna and sea urchin.

2121 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116

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16. Izakaya Masa

928 Fort Stockton Dr, San Diego, CA 92103

Reservations are a must at this tiny restaurant in Mission Hills. Popular for its ramen and sushi, also try a selection of appetizers and a beer. Dishes include gyoza and agedashi tofu, or more exotic offerings include chuka karage (spicy jellyfish), takowasa (wasabi marinated octopus), and ankimo (monkfish liver with ponzu sauce).

928 Fort Stockton Dr
San Diego, CA 92103

17. Sushi Tadokoro

2244 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110

This Old Town restaurant serves Edomae-style (Tokyo) sushi. Don’t miss out on its uni. Much its seafood, including baby barracuda from the island of Kyushu, gets flown in from Japan. With just ten seats at the sushi bar and seven tables reservations are advised, especially since it’s now a Michelin-starred restaurant.

2244 San Diego Ave
San Diego, CA 92110

Related Maps