Japanese Restaurants in Lakeside

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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.

2986 Jamacha Rd
El Cajon,
CA
US

Understated and simple decor accent the walls at Arigato Japanese Restaurant?all the better to contrast with the artistry of its chef's sushi. Seated beneath the glow of paper lamps, diners savor elegantly plated sashimi and whimsical specialties such as the Dragon roll. The chef also fashions fresh produce, microgreens, and flavorful sauces into vegetarian rolls, perfect for those whose favorite fish is a cucumber. Noodle bowls and entr?es such as teriyaki steak fill out the rest of the menu, and rounds of beer and sake complete the dining experience.

5575 Baltimore Dr.
La Mesa,
CA
US

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.

5003 Willows Rd
Alpine,
CA
US

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).

13132 Poway Rd
Poway,
CA
US

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.

4191 Camino De La Plz
San Diego,
CA
US

Named for a Japanese raccoon-dog celebrated in myth for its roguish trickster image, Rocking Tanuki serves feasts of ocean-fresh nigiri and maki, tender katsu cutlets, and umami noodle soups and rice dishes. At the open sushi bar, chefs create inventive rolls such as an albacore and serrano-pepper Pancho Villa or a deep-fried California roll. Diners delicately munch on morsels of tuna and smoked salmon nigiri or show off chopstick skills as they pick up the pieces of tempura, chicken, and beef intermixed with udon and ramen. Deep crimson wallpaper, fluttering paper scrolls, and warm light from glowing paper lanterns unite to create a relaxing ambiance.

6110 Friars Road
San Diego,
CA
US