Sushi Ota, located on the outskirts of Pacific Beach on Mission Bay Drive and Bunker Hill Street, has been serving handcrafted sushi and seafood preparations for years. As word spread about the freshness of their fish and the quality of the food, Sushi Ota became one of the best places to satisfy a seafood craving. This neighborhood Japanese restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner, offering a great selection of sushi and seafood for both meals. Ordering a Sushi Combo gives guests a good sampling of the fresh fish expertly prepared by the sushi chefs. For patrons craving cooked fish, hot dishes like the Seafood Dynamite or the Miso Sea Bass are just as tasty as the sushi. Take a seat at the sushi bar to watch the chefs at work, or enjoy dinner in the comfortable dining room. Sushi Ota is the ideal place to sample some of San Diego’s finest seafood.Read More ...
Being a coastal city, San Diego is blessed with the good fortune of having a wealth of great seafood at its disposal. The opportunity to dine on fresh, high quality seafood is everywhere, and one of the best places to find delicious fish preparations is at Sushi Ota located on the corner of Mission Bay Drive and Bunker Hill Street.
Sushi Ota is the perfect example of how first impressions can be deceptive; the parking lot is small, the tiny strip mall only housing about six business. A 7-11 flanks Sushi Ota which is tucked away in a corner of the building. At first glance, the restaurant looks like it has a 25 person capacity, but as soon as you step through the doors, the dining area seems to double in size. Numerous tables fill a fairly large dining area, and to the side, there is sushi bar seating where guests happily interact with their sushi chefs. Décor is clean and simple echoing the Japanese philosophy of creating balance and visual pleasure. The hostess kindly greets us and immediately seats us in the middle of the dining room, surrounded by a bustling lunch crowd.
Sushi Ota’s lunch menu is extensive, offering many of the same sashmi, nigiri, and sushi rolls that diners can find on the dinner menu. From the lunch menu, guests can order from the sushi bar and the kitchen, or both. All the hot menu items like the Seafood Dynamite and Teriyaki dishes come from the kitchen menu, while the cold sushi preparations are ordered from the sushi bar. For those just looking to order sushi, the bar seating is a great place to enjoy a meal while watching the chefs freshly prepare their food.
After perusing through the lunch menu, we decide to try the Sashimi Salad, Chirashi Sushi Bowl, and the Sushi Combo B. Our meal starts with a nice hot bowl of Miso Soup that accompanies all the lunch orders. The soup is a cloud of delicious Miso with thin rings of spring onions, tofu cubes, and seaweed. After warming up my palate with the bowl of Miso, I am ready to try the next item from our order. Our main dishes are served quickly after we finish our soup; the Sashimi Salad arriving with a healthy topping of fried calamari and sashimi pieces atop a bed of lightly dressed spring greens. One bite of this salad leads to a contrast of textures and flavors that all beautifully meld together. The frisee, oakleaf, mustard, and arugula greens are as fresh as the salmon and yellowtail sashimi. The crowning of calamari has a great crispy texture that is reminiscent of traditional salad croutons. Overall, the Sashimi salad is very well composed in both flavor and appearance.
The large Chirashi Sushi Bowl contains a foundation of sushi rice with a variety of ingredients precisely arranged in a seafood and vegetable bouquet. This bowl includes the same types of fish found in my Sushi Combo B: eel, yellowtail, tuna, and shrimp, with the addition of shiromi (white fish), octopus and salmon. Crisp snow pea pods, shredded egg, and cucumbers complete the rice bowl.
My Sushi Combo B is brought to the table in a large platter with neatly arranged nigiri, tekka, and kappa, accompanied by the traditional gari (pickled ginger) and wasabi. I decide to start off slow by eating the small sliced rolls wrapped in rice and seaweed. The Tekka Maki are bites of red tuna, and the Kappa roll is made from matchstick-sliced cucumber, all surrounded by sushi rice and seaweed. The Sushi Combo B comes with six pieces of Tekka and six pieces of Kappa which is more than enough for a satisfying lunch. The Tekka and Kappa pieces are the perfect introduction to Sushi Ota’s fresh fish; the reddish-pink tuna has a soft texture that is heightened by the addition of soy sauce and wasabi. I nibble on a few more pieces until I am ready to attack the nigiri.
The nigiri pieces include tuna, yellowtail, squid, shrimp, egg, surf clam, and sea urchin, a good sampling of the seafood that Sushi Ota has to offer. I love how the simplicity of nigiri spotlights the flavor qualities of the raw fish. This is why I grade a sushi restaurant on their sashimi and nigiri; any restaurant can make a roll taste good by covering it in sauces, but nigiri and sashimi can only be great if the chef starts with the freshest and highest quality seafood, and Sushi Ota’s nigiri is exceptional. Each piece is firm and a perfect specimen of that particular type of fish. The construction of the nigiri is also impressive. With one taste of the sushi rice, it is obvious that Sushi Ota’s chefs are masters of their craft. The slightly sweet sushi rice acts as an excellent bed for the fish. The sushi rice is molded to the perfect size for each slice of fish, and is firm enough to remain intact during the trip from the plate to my mouth.
As I continue devouring my lunch, I save the best part of my Sushi B Combo for the end. The single oval of Uni Nigiri has a gorgeous shaggy orange surface that delicately disintegrates once I place the uni on my tongue. It is like a whisper of seawater in my mouth, and in that moment my taste buds could not be happier.
Some must-have dinner menu items include the Miso Seabass that is expertly grilled to a flakey, firm texture and served over spring greens. Some nights, the Salmon Belly Sashimi is featured on the dinner specials menu, if so, it must be ordered. Salmon belly has white ribbons of fat throughout the pink flesh which adds a pleasing creaminess to an already silky piece of raw fish.
Sushi Ota’s popular rolls include the Softshell Crab and the Spicy Hamachi rolls. Platters sushi can be ordered for large parties to share, and are served on wooden boards for guests to feast on. For those who love Uni, Sushi Ota offers the traditional Uni Nigiri topped with a raw quail egg yolk that makes eating Uni an exceptionally luxurious experience.
Sushi Ota is a seafood lover’s haven. Guests can expect friendly and fast service in a comfortable and clean atmosphere. Many of the hot kitchen lunches can be purchased for under $10 and the sushi bar lunches average $15-$20, a bargain for the quality of fish patrons will receive. The fish preparations are visually beautiful, and engineered with precision and care. Sushi Ota is a great place for a casual work lunch or a dinner date. I would suggest bypassing all the popular sushi joints found just down the street in Pacific Beach and head over to Sushi Ota to experience some of the freshest fish in San Diego!
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