Exploring San Diego’s Best Japanese Food

Sushi Restaurant

Fancy a Food Crawl?

Exploring San Diego’s Best Japanese Food


Having recently returned home from Japan, I was still craving the delicious fare of the East. I had not had my fill or Nigiri, Tsushimi, Ramen, Udon and Maki. The only solution was to seek out the best Japanese food that San Diego has to offer. Come along with me on a Food Crawl to uncover the very best places to get traditional Japanese fare.


Shock yourself!

Beshock Ramen, 1288 Market Street, San Diego

In Japan a popular way to begin the day is by having a nice, warm bowl of miso soup filled with tofu and veggies. Starting the food crawl, then, with the best Ramen in San Diego, was a good way to set the tone for a successful day of Japanese dining. Having recently won local awards for being one of the best restaurants in San Diego, Beshock was first on the list. The name, which is inspired by the Japanese word "bi-shoku", means “the beauty of food”, and the purveyors of Ramen here live up to their name. All broth is made from scratch, and stocked with the most nutritious organic vegetables. The sake too, is brewed on sight, and is used in a variety of specialty cocktails. Doors open at 11:30, and the indulgence begins.  While the namesake bowl of Ramen, Beshock, is a must try, the classic allure of a spicy miso for brunch is a soul warming reminder of the streets of Tokyo.



Fresh off the beach at Shiku

Shiku Sushi, 1277 Prospect Street, La Jolla

After a little rest and relaxation on the shores of Windandsea, it was time to resume the food crawl with happy hour at Shiku. A small, but delightful find, right next to the beach, Shiku has the freshest fish in San Diego’s Japanese food circuit. The Nigiri (sliced, raw fish paired with vinegar rice), specifically the hamachi or yellowtail, was exquisite. The rolls here come with sass and character. "Indy-Ana Jones of the Tempura of Doom" should not be missed, with a shrimp tempura, nestled in crab, topped with avocado and drizzled in a spicy aioli and sweet soy glaze. This particular roll was so tempting, that I deviated from the Happy Hour menu. My meal paired beautifully with the $1.00 hot sake that is on special at Shiku’s from 3-6pm every week day. Throw in some of Shiku’s Jammin’ Salmon and their spicy Popcorn Albacore and you are certain to excite a seafood lover's palate.


Nocturnal nibbles at Nobu

Nobu San Diego, 207 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

After a leisurely stroll through the Japanese Friendship Garden, a 12-acre garden and exhibit hall, located in Balboa Park, we headed toward the Hard Rock Hotel in Downtown San Diego to seek out the artistry of chef Nobu Matsuhisa and his San Diego team. Already a notable establishment worldwide, we knew that the Black Cod Miso was a foodie favorite, and justifiably so. It was the likes of the King Crab tempura with Amazu Ponzu Sauce, however, that won my affections. I had yet to taste the familiar crunch of tempura, and doused in the zesty Ponzu sauce, I couldn’t resist. When it comes to crab, diners are often inclined to drink a light, white wine, but in this case, only sake seemed appropriate. My preferred drink was the Hokusetsu Junmai Sake. This delicious beverage, originating from the niigata region of Japan, presents a light citrus taste, that pairs well with the ponzu, but also surprises with a complimentary blend of spicy and dry notes to make the enhance the crab's flakey taste. Needless to say, Nobu is a decadent Japanese experience that is a keystone to San Diego's Eastern food scene. 


A little Bang Bang for dessert

Bang Bang, 526 Market Street, San Diego

What would the evening be without a little Veuve Clicquot and sushi? This unexpected, but surprisingly beautiful combination accentuates the overall sushi encounter. Bang Bang, located in the Gaslamp district, is a trendy night club with some of the best Asian Fusion cuisine in town. Upon entering the tunneled stairwell, guests will be reminded of the lively streets of a night out in Tokyo.  Before your moves make it to the dance floor, your taste buds are certain to be spoiled by the pairing of the feisty Bruce Lee Roll with a little French bubbly. This recipe features spicy yellowtail and cucumber wrapped with albacore and a splash of shiso and lemon, all coming together for a highly delectable roll. Other excellent plates include the Tuna Wasabi Poke and the Halibut Box. The club has a growing fan base, and reviews give special compliment to the cocktails, punch bowls, and party atmosphere. Boasting the largest disco ball on the west coast, Bang Bang features live performances from the hottest new DJs. With great food, and a spacious dance floor, a trip to this club will leave you feeling joyful and well taken care of. 


Needless to say, the Sushi food crawl was a complete success. I came home from Japan feeling crest fallen, only to embark on a journey to find the hidden jewels in my own hometown. Maybe we don't need to fly halfway around the world to experience the highest quality of cuisines from cultures across the globe. Be sure to stop by any one of these delicious establishments yourself, and sample the best Japanese foods in San Diego.