Colossal cuisine portions tip the scales of both locations' menus. The fresh spring rolls ($5.50) burst at their rice-paper seams with vegetables, tofu, and shrimp and come served with a peanut sauce, perfect for dipping and liquid-diet elephants. Poultry patrons can cast a vote for the panang curry chicken ($7.50), which mixes coconut milk with sweet, spicy, and thick curry, adorned with plump bell peppers, sweet pineapple, and affable basil. In the realm of classic tastes, the pad see iew ($7.50) allows noncommittal noodlers the choice of thin rice noodles or flat noodles with a savory synthesis of chicken, broccoli, carrots, egg, and sweet black sauce. The kitchen team can spicy up your dish as sweltering as your devil-may-care tongue can handle, and in emergencies, smoldering stamp-lickers can be extinguished with a tasty Thai iced tea ($1.95).
This favored sushi restaurant in Pacific Beach has a strong following of devoted fans who enjoy high-quality fish and Zen 5 Sushi’s inviting ambiance. Reggae music filters through the room, lending a nice beat as servers and sushi chefs dish out beautiful Japanese-style cuisine. Ambient lighting, colorful lanterns and pretty woodwork add to the appeal, and guests can tuck into black-padded booths or sit at the L-shaped sushi bar, where fun and flavor is at hand. Zen 5 stands out for its extensive roll menu, with more than 40 creative combinations that range from restrained to absolutely wild. Whether you’re craving sashimi or sushi rolls, spicy calamari, seafood tempura, salmon teriyaki, teppanyaki or bento boxes, the expansive menu has a dish that will excite your taste buds. And, as always, the mochi ice cream bon bons cap the meal perfectly.
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.
Hailing from Bangkok, the owners of La Basil Thai Cuisine treat guests to the flavors of their home with authentic recipes that balance fresh herbs and jasmine rice with meats and vegetables. After chopping up fragrant vegetables or preparing a sauce, chefs put together plates such as pad thai or sweet and spicy panang curry loaded with a choice of meat, tofu, vegetables, or seafood. Like the best chefs and the worst traffic directors, the kitchen staff adds their own flair to classic flavors by adding crispy salmon to fried rice or topping roast duck with sweet chili sauce.
Exotic fish waggle their fins at passersby from their aquarium at Fugu's Sushi & Wok, daring visitors to experience the ocean with all five senses. Yellow lights bathe dark wood tables in warmth as guests dive into fresh sushi, sashimi, and other cool treats. From behind the sushi bar, a skilled chef rolls and chops 60 types of maki and nigiri, including yellowtail hand rolls and two-piece bites of squid and octopus. Specialty rolls arrive accented by ingredients such as avocado, chili sauce, and white or brown rice and radiate more color than a rainbow trapped in a gumball machine. Warm Chinese entrees such as walnut shrimp and cashew chicken brim with earthy flavors, which pair nicely with the restaurant's selection of sakes and crisp white wines.