Jeff Roberto, a sushi expert, brings a plethora of experience to his San Diego sushi oasis. He has catered large events of up to 16,000 guests as well as the sets of such Hollywood films as Titanic, Pearl Harbor, and Elizabethtown. Inside SOAR (Sushi On A Roll) he constructs specialty rolls filled with shrimp tempura, seared tuna, spicy scallops, and sashimi and nigiri rolls featuring fresh water eel and squid.
Roberto also leads group explorations in the art of sushi preparation during interactive sushi-making classes held inside a private sushi bar. Two-hour classes commence with an assessment of how many edamame you can stuff in your cheeks before you begin tucking vegetable fillings in sheets of seaweed with the help of a bamboo mat. Students jot down notes on the proper consistency of sushi rice, when to sprinkle rolls with sesame seeds, and how to repurpose chopsticks as the mast of a ship-in-a-bottle.
A koi mural provides the backdrop for the expansive 30-seat sushi bar, which is outlined in neon to highlight the dramatic curve of the space. The expansive venue, which accommodates up to 100 people, is popular among large groups of friends looking for a fun outing and U.S. senators playing hooky. Free parking is also available.
Part wine lounge and part sushi bar, the sphinx-like Infuzon invites guests to dine on made-to-order sushi while relaxing with wine, beer, or sake inside a sleek space with warm, rustic touches. The contemporary space, which features exposed beams above the bar and flat-screen TVs throughout, offers a laid-back atmosphere for enjoying a weekend evening out and away from your pet howler monkey. The bartenders also create specialty drinks that infuse sake and fresh fruit, creating a deliciously unique twist.
Hive Sushi Lounge does indeed seem to be inspired by the artistry of bees. Though the sushi rolls aren't hexagonal, the chefs put as much thought into them as the insects would put into their royal honeycomb, crafting elegant plates of nigiri, sashimi, and more than 25 specialty rolls. Some of these dishes carry the hive theme even further—the nectar-style sashimi, for example, flavors salmon with orange-infused olive oil, and the queen bee roll wraps spicy yellowtail with yellow soy paper topped with red snapper.
Diners needn't leave all the construction work to the staff, however. Hive offers sushi-making classes six nights a week, teaching students how to make hand-rolls and nigiri at individual stations. If you'd rather sit and eat traditionally, sip a Japanese beer in the dining room, or head to the private Nectar Room. The event space provides parties with a sushi chef, a patio, and a PA system for announcing when someone doesn't know what tobiko is.
J.Wok was created with the idea that great food is best served as an amalgamation of Eastern and Western cuisine. Taking it's cue from the melting pot that is today's modern society J.Wok's menu utilizes authentic Asian recipes as a basis while creating inventive dishes with a distinct American sensibility.
This vestige of traditional cuisine presents an all-encompassing menu of delectable dishes made from a jet-setting fish set flown in directly from Japan. Commence consumption with time-honored entrees such as sunomono salad, a marinated milieu of seasoned seafood and cucumbers ($9.75), or a grilled salmon filet brushed with house-made teriyaki sauce ($18.75). Rice-wrapped sushi rolls ($5.50) stuffed with delicately diced albacore tataki ($5.50) please uppity palates, and inside-out rolls, such as the avocado-coated caterpillar roll ($12.25), transport diners to an alternate universe funded by Dwight D. Eisenhower. Walls adorned with Asian artwork, a regionally inspired dining room, and a marquee sushi bar support Nobu's traditionally inspired space, ideal for tipping back glasses of wine, beer, or imported sake.
Zen Cafe’s chefs have honed the art of inventive hand rolls, working in the media of seaweed, sushi rice, and fresh fish. Serious dinner diners can loosen up chopstick implants with manila-fried chicken skewers ($7) or a sashimi trifecta of maguro, hamachi, and nama sake pieces ($16). Wrapped-up eight-piece edibles include the assertive Seal the Deal roll ($11), stocked with crab and avocado before being deep-fried and decorated with shrimp, avocado, and eel sauce, and the classic california roll ($7). Brave eaters can conquer the Godzilla roll ($11), loaded with spicy tuna and tempura-fried, then garnished with a seaweed salad, seared tuna, and sriracha—a traditional sauce made from sun-ripened chilis and one-a-day whale vitamins. Swigs of Midori melon sake ($7) soothe hard-tasting tongues, and creamy swallows of white-chocolate-glazed ricotta cheesecake ($5) prep throats for singing to tunes on the dance floor.