Shoen Sushi presents a diverse selection of Japanese sushi made with fresh ingredients such as yellowtail, tuna, quail egg, caviar, and surf clam. Like well-oiled knife-fighting machines, the restaurant's chefs are efficient and precise. Their all-sushi menu covers maki, sashimi, and nigiri, including everything from spicy scallop rolls to sashimi platters of clean, thinly sliced tuna.
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.
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.
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.