At Nori Sushi Bar and Grill, chefs fuse traditional methods with new-wave techniques to transform fresh seafood into more than 20 specialty rolls. These include rolls stuffed with shrimp tempura and Red Dagon with spicy tuna, cucumber avacado, topped with cajun tuna and habanero masago that looks just as good on a plate as it would beneath a Christmas tree. But Nori’s selection stretches beyond sushi to full entrees, such as the teriyaki steak topped with a house teriyaki sauce. Diners enjoy the dishes inside the restaurant, which is adorned with bamboo plants and cat statues, or outside on the patio, next to the sand-colored exterior and underneath crimson umbrellas.
Because their art has a small and edible canvas, sushi chefs must specialize in precision. They pick tiny yet often intense ingredients, packaging them neatly together for the best visual and flavorful presentation. At Tabu Sushi Bar & Grill, the challenge of their task is doubled—they wield spicy add-ons whose heat must balance the crispness of the seafood. The spicy lobster roll, for example, tops its mix of lobster, cucumber, and avocado with a drizzle of Sriracha sauce. There's also the sushi burrito, one of several fusion appetizers that wraps shrimp tempura and crab in soy paper, primed for dipping in house salsa.
Stuffed jalapeños, sushi tostadas, and rolls with habanero sauce bespeak the restaurant's fascination with the southwest. Still, there are classic Japanese dishes to be had. Entrees of chicken katsu and miso-glazed Chilean sea bass make for filling dinners, whereas bento box and teriyaki bowl lunch specials satisfy afternoon cravings. Hand rolls package eel and salmon skin inside seaweed shaped like a cone hat, which the staff imports directly from mermaid parties.
More than 15 HD televisions illuminate the bustling interior of State St. Grill, located steps from San Diego State University. Though its burgers, such as the bacon-topped Hall of Flame and the pineapple teriyaki, satisfy traditional sports-bar cravings, its impressive lineup of sushi and sashimi dominates the menu. Many rolls are served in unconventional ways, such as the sushi burrito, one uncut roll of shrimp tempura and spicy crab wrapped in soy paper, or the lollipop roll whose pieces are served on sticks. SDSU games make regular appearances, allowing guests to cheer on the Aztecs as they sip on hot sake, cold beer, or room-temperature air.
Poway Sushi Lounge celebrates the grand economy of flavor that can be packed into a singular, satisfying chomp. Starting appetites simmer under the spell of chipotle-baked mussels ($6) and agedashi tofu that's flash-fried before a soothing bonito bath ($5), bracing the palate for the dynamic rolls ahead. Handmade sushi rolls cater themselves to all hankerings with refreshing bites of spicy crab in the Red Dragon rolls ($12) and Tsunami rolls that unite shrimp, crab, avocado, and asparagus layered in Cajun-seared albacore and roasted garlic ($14). A diverse nigiri and sashimi menu focuses on individual ingredients, while the kitchen's selection of entrees ushers in classic plates of sesame chicken ($12) and charred salmon with asparagus and baby spinach ($14).
At Tony's Sushi, guests feast on delicate plates of Japanese cuisine, ranging from sashimi and nigiri to steaming servings of chicken katsu curry and udon soup. The chefs concoct inventive rolls, such as the tempura shrimp Manager roll and the fried calamari and spicy tuna Alaska roll, to complement an array of classics. They stray from the conventional with oven-baked rolls, which they stuff with yellowtail, salmon, or crab and dare to omit adding the traditional requirement for oven-baked cuisine—pie crust.
Hanging lanterns spotlight the sushi bar at Yummy Sushi, causing the chefs' knives to glimmer as they slice fresh fish before an audience of captivated diners. Servers whisk the colorful plates of tempura, baked, and traditional rolls into the dining room, along with steaming bowls of udon, platters of teriyaki or tempura entrees, and glasses of sake, wine, and beer. Booths and tables line up along the dining room's walls, where a tropical mural transports guests into a serene junglescape and ancient-looking pottery pieces bask atop illuminated shelves. In the center of the room, palmed plants flank fish tanks housing colorful fish that have sworn to the chefs that they taste horrible.