Sport Sushi showcases seafood and rice in myriad combinations under the glow of six mounted flat-screen TVs that broadcast sports games. Spicy yellowtail hand rolls, stacks of nigiri, and salmon rolls fill the menu, which also boasts specialties including tiradito, a dish that pairs thinly sliced raw fish with spicy citric olive oil, and cabo tataki sashimi, seared tuna with spicy garlic and cilantro ponzu sauce. Parties can settle down at tables or perch themselves at the sushi bar where they can watch the chef’s agile hands through glass panels or simply stare lovingly at their own reflections.
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.
Whether you’re in the mood for Japanese specialties or Korean barbecue, Aria Sushi & BBQ offers flavors from both regions on its expansive menu. Taste soft tofu soup, spicy ramen noodles, bulgogi, bibimbap and other Korean specialties. Alternatively, Aria’s chefs can create specialty rolls for a tempting sushi dinner. Fresh rolls range from the Sumo, in which tuna and spicy crab are draped with white tuna, to the Spider Rainbow, whose soft-shell crab and four-fish blend refract into 56 shades of light.
Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach boasts a carnival of eating and drinking establishments, but locals in the know gravitate to PB Mika Sushi for fresh fish with a casual, friendly ambiance. For nearly a decade, amiable owner Asako Fujio has helmed this authentic sushi joint that seats 44 patrons. Fresh fish at supremely reasonable prices is the theme here, and it’s a good one. Diners enjoy yellowtail sashimi, oysters, octopus, uni and a variety of rolls, but simple and decadent. The Caterpillar Roll features eel, cucumber, crab and avocado with eel sauce, while the chef’s special Ryan Roll is a tantalizing beauty – spicy tuna, cucumber, albacore, avocado and ponzu sauce. The casual feel comes in the form of sake bombs, sports on flatscreens and savvy sushi masters enlivening the scene with their fun, upturned banter.
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.
Adhering to the balanced energies of Feng Shui, the dining room at Iron Wok Asian Bistro is captivating in its blend of romance, whimsy, and chic décor. A giant fish tank and strings of hanging lights illuminate the dining room, casting a warm glow over the full-sized trees and brick walls that surround the dining room’s booths.
Chefs mirror this balanced approach with their cooking, blending together the artistry of presentation with the classic recipes culled from numerous Southeast Asian cuisines. They use only spices imported from Asia, adding a subtle zing to dishes such as their honey-glazed shrimp tossed with walnuts. Chefs even roll together a selection of sushi, and specially prepare a full menu of vegetarian dishes for those who abstain from meat. Their dessert menu incorporates traditional Asian flavors to create dishes such as their mochi or green tea ice cream and fried bananas with coconut pineapple ice cream.