Sushi Ota – San Diego, CA

This was “the” restaurant I was most looking forward to before we even left San Jose!! I didn’t even mind too much that we missed out on Nobu the night before because I rather give that up than this restaurant. Why? I don’t know, from what I have read and the fact that Nobu is a chain that is more accessible: Sushi Ota was the one to go to for our short weekend in SD.

Meep was definitely skeptical when he saw where we were headed – a run down little strip mall, next to a gas station and nothing really around. (sorry for the fuzzy picture of the sign.)

The restaurant was a lot bigger than I expected with a bustling sushi bar. I made a reservation but didn’t specify I wanted the sushi bar, so when we got there and I asked – the hostess said I could dine at the sushi bar but we had to be done in an hour.

Menu; this is a little extensive but since there are no online menus available I figured I will try to showcase what they serve:

I read about the Omakase and asked about it. It is not on the menu but the Chef said we could have an Omakase with just sushi/sashimi or combination (including cooked dishes). I opted for the combination so we could try a bit of everything that the chef deems the best!

While we sat there and watched the chef prepare our dishes, we could see other chefs preparing dishes for other guests at the sushi bar and for the rest of the restaurant.

It was super entertaining and we got to see some amazing dishes get picked up. My favourite of the night is another special that is not on the menu: Uni, Otoro & some weird white goopey stuff. It was called some Trio special (I missed it when he explained it).

We also got the chance to marvel at all the amazing fish especially the Chutoro & Otoro! Look at that – looks like a piece of Kobe:

Chef’s Omakase $80

We started of with

Little baby squids that had some sort of roe in them. Served cold on top of a bed of seaweed with a creamy sauce – sweet and salty. The squid was really tender and packful of flavour. It definitely got us excited for the rest of the meal.

Sashimi Platter:

Uni/ Sea Urchin (San Diego)

Mindblowing! Best sea urchin I have ever had in my life (this statement is going to become a recorded line throughout the dining here but I will try to restrain myself). I was used to Uni that had a strong metallic aftertaste or is a little too slimy but this was nothing but perfection. The uni was actually almost spongy, rich and creamy with no aftertaste at all! I swear, it was the best thing I have ever had that night and I don’t even like uni!

Kanpachi / Amberjack (Japan)

The sashimi was so smooth and had a little crunch when I bit down on it. It was one of the lightest tasting fishes for sashimi and a good contrast to the next item, the chutoro.

Chutoro /Medium Fatty Tuna Belly (Spain)

I have only had toro but never tried chutoro and it was definitely an experience – the fish was very lemony but meaty. It was so fatty and rich that it was almost like eating meat. .

Amaebi / Sweet Shrimp (San Diego)

The shrimp was still alive when they decapitated it and placed it on my plate. When I was looking at it, it was still breathing!!! Creepy but man, it tasted freaking amazing. I have never been a huge fan of amaebi because they tend to be slimy but this was so crunchy and sweet! Not the least bit slimy and so clean tasting.. You know the expression about eating something and all you taste is the sea – this was it (along with the sea urchin).

After eat finished with the sashimi, we were asked how we liked the shrimp heads to be prepared; soup or deep fried.

I didn’t care much for the puree it was sitting on but the shrimp was fried to a delicious crispy morsel.

Cooked dishes included:

King Crab Leg, Bamboo Shoot, Sweet Potato Lolly, Hamachi, Grilled Vegetables

The king crab leg was disappointingly overdone and rubbery, pretty much the only item of the evening I was underwhelmed by. The bamboo shoots and lightly grilled veggies were nice palate cleansers after trying the rich creamy roll (I can’t remember the details but it was a fish that was stuffed and rolled and topped w a sweet mayo sauce and grilled. Sweet salty moist tender morsel. The lollypop was a sweet potato mash that was coated in panko and deep fried. Pretty good. I really like the grilled hamachi filet that was nice and crisped on the top and flaky moist flesh that is light marinated.

Assorted Sushi

Negitoro (Fatty Tuna roll), Ume shiso yamaimo (Yam w Pickled Plum and Shiso leaf roll) , Unagi (Eeel), Uni (Sea Urchin), Sawara (Spanish Mackerel), Hamachi (Yellowtail Tuna), Chutoro (Medium Fatty Tuna Belly), Tai (Red Snapper)

I did care much for the Ume or Unagi but the other sushis were just as freaking good as the sashimi! Not to sound like a broken record, the fish was really crisps and fresh with nothing but a clean aftertaste. The uni was great with and without the sushi rice. The sushi rice was cooked and seasoned to perfection and each sushi had just the right amount of rice to fish.

Miso soup w Clam

Light and packful of miso flavour with plump tender clams.

Green Tea & Black Sesame Ice Cream

Great way to end the meal.


2 Green Tea
Salmon Belly Sushi (2 pieces) $6

A nice alternative to the fatty tuna belly, a lot lighter in flavour and still as delicious but less lemony.



Total Damage: $220 (Including tax & tip)

Personal Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (Excellent)

From the moment we started eating, we were blown away multiple times from the quality of the food. The sashimi was the best I have had to date in all the cities I have dined it. Everything tasted so clean with great texture and this is now the new benchmark for amazing sushi! The fish was so good that I did not even want to eat it with soy sauce and instead let the natural sweetness of each cut shine on its own.

The Omakase was a great way to gauge how good the food is, from raw to cooked. The cooked dishes paled in comparison to the raw but we were glad to have tried it. Definitely gonna have to plan another SD trip and stop by here for the Ota Sashimi (which pretty much featured all the sashimi we had) and the Sushi Platter.

The price is not cheap but it was worth every dollar spent! The service was excellent, our server and sushi chef were courteous and very patient in explaining what we were having in detail. It was a tad rushed since we only had about an hour or so before the diners who reserved the sushi bar got there and the Sushi chef did apologize for the rush, which was nice of him since it was our choice when we agreed with the time constriction.

Neways…. after all that, there is only one conclusion to be made: Sushi will never be the same!!



Sushi Ota

4529 Mission Bay Dr
San Diego, CA 92109

(858) 270 5670

Sushi Ota on Urbanspoon

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