Hidden Fish Sushi | San Diego, CA Review
Getting in the Zone: Hidden Fish Omakase
Would you pay $1 per minute you were in a restaurant?
The most prominent thing you’ll notice in Convoy Street’s Hidden Fish is the timed “zones.” Boxed in white with bold black letters, you’ll see the 30 minute zone as soon as you walk in, making me think for a minute I was going to be playing some speed football game around the sushi bar.
Welcome to “timed dining.” And that’s not the only thing unique about Hidden Fish, it is also an omakase-only sushi experience. Since the chef is serving you each bite, I never felt like I had to look at the clock to make sure we were on schedule. Me and the four other seats in the 90-minute zone were served 18 pieces of sushi ($90). The other eight seats are reserved for 12-piece sushi experience, served more quickly over 50 minutes ($50). (While it’s labeled as 30 minutes, the entire experience lasts for 50 minutes).
Chef Kappa, as owner John Hong is called, sources his seafood from a variety of places, including the renown Toyosu Fish Market in Japan. He focuses on Nigiri, a type of sushi made of thin slices of raw fish over pressed rice. You might know Chef Kappa from Bang Bang, or studying with Master Ota at Sushi Ota. In some ways, he is very traditional, but takes risks with his flavor combinations that work in unexpected ways. Offerings change nightly, but recent highlights include the Hamachi belly with chimichurri and Bluefin tuna with truffle.
Omakase means ‘I’ll leave it up to you,’ a Japanese dining experience where you don’t order specific dishes, instead placing your trust in the chef to present fresh and flavorful dishes. For a creative sushi chef like Chef Kappa, this is the best way to experience delicious and unusual bites.
Dos and Don'ts of Omakase
Sitting at an intimate sushi bar with only 13 seats, you might be inclined to chat with the chef while he is serving you up delicious morsels, but refrain. Just because he is sipping on beer and sake during service doesn’t mean you’re drinking with a buddy. Chef Kappa shares his views of how to behave at his omakase. “Respect the chef in action creating each dish. Knife skills, precision and attention to detail are paramount.”
And while many San Diegians list Spicy Tuna Rolls as their go-to sushi order, expect a more elevated experience at the Hidden Fish omakase. Stay open to new seafood, flavor combinations, and textures. Chef offers, “The biggest false step I see from guests in dining are some are too eager to judge. Don’t expect Jiro dreams of sushi everywhere you go – have an open mind.” However, don’t worry if you have allergies or dietary restrictions. “We could work around any allergies that the guests may have. But coming into a sushi restaurant focusing on nigiri and asking for no rice is a bit funny.”
His best tip for properly enjoying the omakase experience is, “I would love to see all guests using their fingers to grab their nigiri pcs. The rice ball made by the chef is very delicate that it needs to be grabbed very gently. It became a world where guests are comparing and complaining about the type of chopsticks they are using.”
Michelle Stansbury is a food enthusiast and the founder of Eat, Drink, Be SD, sharing the best restaurants, bars, and happenings in San Diego. www.EatDrinkBeSD.com