Monday, April 27, 2009

Sushi Ota: Did it deserve to win the Top Food Title for SD in 2008? (San Diego)

Outside Sushi Ota

Sushi Ota from all aspects (along with online reviews) is the best available sushi restaurant in San Diego. Even though I recently had experience sushi nirvana at Urasawa, my brave friend still added Sushi Ota on our food agenda for that day. Yes, brave would be the word since I did not plan on eating sushi for 3-4 months after Urasawa. Since we just munched on some carne asada fries, pollo asada burrito, and rolled tacos earlier at Super Sergios, we were just going for a "light" snack at Ota.

Kumamoto Oysters (w/ponzu sauce, grated daikon, and scallions)

Being a fan of raw oysters, especially the Kumamoto oysters, this was a must order. The kumamoto oysters, native of Ariake Bay in Kumamoto Prefecture, on the southern island of Kyushu were fresh and delicious. The ponzu sauce added a nice touch to the dish, along with the grated daikon and scallions. This dish actually exceeded my expectations, and I was ready for the upcoming sashimi and sushi orders.

Sashimi duo of Hamachi (Yellowtail) and Sake (Salmon)

Closeup of the Hamachi

What else is better to test out the freshness of the fish used at a sushi restaurant than trying out their sashimi? We went with the hamachi (one of my favorites) and sake combo. The hamachi sashimi was fantastic, one of the better versions I've had. The fish was buttery, fatty, and the richness was enhanced with a slight dab of wasabi and shoyu. Although the salmon is a fairly common cut of fish at any sushi restaurant, the cuts served here also impressed. Both the hamachi and salmon pieces were great. Not much more to add other than fresh cuts of fishes will always get thumbs up from me!

Ankimo (Monk Fish Liver)

Ankimo, another one of my personal favorites, but, it's also something that I'm a bit more stringent in grading. The steamed monk fish liver pieces were served in ponzu sauce, with grated scallions daikon, similar to how the kumamoto oysters were served. To me, and to many others, ankimo is the Japanese foie gras, but just not as rich as the authentic item. I enjoyed the ankimo offered at Ota, and like with many I've had previously, the ponzu sauce was an important complement to the dish.

Spider Rolls (Foreground), Ebi Sushi (background)

I don't have too much to comment with these 2 items. I didn't try the ebi (shrimp) sushi, as I've never been interested with it, and the spider roll was fairly pedestrian, but enjoyable. Wrapped in tofu skin, it contains nori, rice, fried soft shelled crab, avocado, cucumbers, and imitation crab meat. This wasn't the hightlight of the meal, but it wasn't too shabby either.

Amaebi (Sweet Shrimp) Sashimi

Another shot of the amaebi

One of the reasons I don't care too much for the ebi is due to my love of the amaebi. My take is, why eat the ebi (shrimp), if I could have something better in the amaebi (sweet shrimp). The presentation and the freshness (I'm using this word too damn much!) of the amaebi impressed me. The shrimp was so fresh that its antennas were still moving during the time the plate was in front of us. Along with the antennas, the eye(s) of one particular shrimp was also moving. Eating these shrimp reminded me of eating some freshly cut up octopus back in Japan that were moving continuously on the plate, which didn't stop even as it was going down my throat. The amaebi was the highlight of our meal and I enjoyed every aspect of it, including the fried shrimp head (as shown below):

Fried Amaebi Heads

All in all, I was quite pleased with Sushi Ota. I was fairly skeptical at first, especially seeing most of the clientele were *ahem* non-Asian, gwai-lo/bai ren. Most of the time, that would have sent up red flags in my brain, especially us experiencing the worst boba we've ever had in our lives earlier in the day made by a *ahem* non-Asian, a hak gwai/hei ren. Even after eating at Urasawa the week before, I can still confidently say, although the price isn't cheap, Sushi Ota serves some pretty decent cuts of fish. I recommend this place if you're down in the area looking for some good sushi.

*Note* Thanks again to my special friends that took me down to San Diego for the day. Yes, I will forgive you for taking me to that horrible boba place on Convoy :)

Final Grade
  • Taste: 4 out of 5
  • Decor: 3.5 out of 5
  • Service: 3.5 out of 5
Sushi Ota
4529 Mission Bay Drive
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 270-5670
Add Image


Food, she thought. said...

Thanks for the gorgeous review! Planning on doing time in San Diego this summer...will definitely hit up Sushi Ota.

dustin said...

mmm...looks delicious. expensive?

Gastronomer said...

Sounds like the perfect place for my brother to take me the next time we're home for the holidays ;-)

The best place to eat in San Diego is grandma's house. I'll take you sometime!

ila said...

this is one of my favorite sushi places! their daily specials are always weird and exciting. had the *bestest evar* surf clam here.

Kung Food Panda said...

Food, she thought: I highly recommend the amaebi here. The fishes were fresh and delicious. They also have a pretty decent sake selection too if you're interested.

dustin: $30/pp, we didn't get much, so it's not the cheapest place around, but I think it's probably the best in SD.

Gastronomer: Ya, you should check it out. Your grandma's house? I'm sure she can cook some mean grub! :P jk!

ila: I need to try the surf clam next time then! :)

Kat said...

This looks pretty yummy. Maybe I will have to brave the horrible drivers down there to try this place out. After all, Comic-con is coming up again ^_^

igigsti said...

dang those fried shrimp heads look good....

igigsti said...

i'm loving your blog bro! how u been? when are you gonna visit me in the ghetto?

Kung Food Panda said...

LOL, Thanks G :)

Soon my friend, but I'm always rushed when I'm up North. YOU should come down!

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Kung Food Panda,

Thanks for the review. :) I'll be sure to keep it in mind when I'm down in SD next time.

Kung Food Panda said...

Exile Kiss: I was definitely surprised about this place. It's not cheap (of course, relatively speaking since it's a bargin compared to Urasawa), but I was very impressed.

joanh said...

ooh yay! will be hitting san diego in july.. will have to make a mental note to go here!

Kung Food Panda said...

joanh: where else do you plan to visit in San Diego? I heard of some bbq and other joints that's worth visiting. I'll ask the bloggers about it if you're interested! Ota is definitely good, but it's not cheap.

Pandalicious said...

hmmm never had amaebi, but would be willing to try. sounds fun.

Kung Food Panda said...

Amaebi is good stuff :D