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« A Hiyashi Chuka Comparison: Yakyudori, Santouka, and Izakaya Sakura | Main | Taco Loco- a little taco shop with Mexican food- in Santee »

Tuesday, 28 June 2011



Nice post, makes me miss the abundance of sushi in SoCal.


Wow, looks delicious! How much was the meal if I may ask?


Ditto on the wow. You are quite the pro. :)


I've always wanted to visit this place but never had the courage/chance!

The ama ebi looks delicious!

I've never heard of nama tako. How is that different from the normal 'tako'?

Also curious about the final tab if you don't mind us asking...I also read the reviews that said it's super expensive :(

Really nice post and pictures!

ed (from Yuma)

Thanks, all, for the nice comments.

The meal cost $96 (before tip). Out of my price range for ordinary fare, but I was just at a wine tasting where some single bottles were over $100, so cost is relative. I also got to taste many items I had never had before.

Normal tako, Faye, is boiled (I guess) so it is cooked. The octopus that I had that evening was totally uncooked, unmarinated, and raw.

I think that the restaurant would welcome anyone who wanted the sort of meal that I had. But I suspect that one would not be well treated if one come in ordering dynamite rolls, extra wasabi etc.

Black Belt

Thank you so much Ed. This is my favorite sushi restaurant in San Diego, and you've inspired me to go back (when I have the funds of course). I also appreciate you sharing how much your meal was so that newcomers can be prepared to splurge. Excellent post =)

ed (from yuma)

Thanks, Black Belt. Actually, I have spent that much at Kaito and at Sushi Yaro. At Sakura, I usually have more cooked dishes which keeps the cost slightly lower.

On a separate point, I was reminded today (a couple days too late) that amberjack is just the English word for kanpachi, so I have eaten that fish before.


Wow, this looks like another great place. I just experienced Kaito for the first time the other night, and it will be hard to look elsewhere - but I'm intrigued.

I think the unidentified piece may have been whelk.

Was there much interaction with the chef?

ed (from Yuma)

I read your Kaito post (that's where I got the amberjack/kanpachi connection). Great writing and wonderful pics. I've got you bookmarked.

It's inevitable to compare the places. Kaito is more varied, aimed at Americans, focused on a wider world of fish etc.

For me, it is also a long drive, and I some visits have not featured the variety that I know can be available there sometimes.

Shirama was far more Japanese. Even more Japanese than Sakura back in 2002 before gaijin like me started posting about this secret sushi bar. Still, the chef seemed pleased that I understood and enjoyed the sushi. While the young man spoke perfect English, I did not test the language skills of the itamae. Our interaction was limited to matters of cuisine, and he grew busier as the evening wore on -- though I was never ignored. I also enjoyed his focus on basic Japanese fish. I suspect that one or two visits a year will be necessary, but I also expect to be at Sakura, Kaito, and Yaro again (the economy willing and the quake don't come).


Looks like a great place...what an omakase set!


Thanks for the compliments and the reply, Ed. I've used your posts as a guide for many places I intend to or already have visited.


I ordered ama ebi and never recieved the heads, guess the chef didn't feel we we're worthy.


A friend had recommended this place, so my husband and I went about a year ago. I had called for reservations, and was told, "no spicy rolls!" So at least I knew going in what to expect.

The toro was the best thing we ate; it just melted in your mouth. Everything we ordered was great, and the tab for the two of us (no alcohol) was about $180. It was so good, but so pricey that I don't know if we'll return. On a spring weeknight, it was pretty empty at around 6pm - do the Japanese salarymen dine late?

ed (from Yuma)

Actually, r, I get the heads from ama ebi virtually every time. Sometimes in soup or served another way, but usually fried.

The best guide to whether you should return, Sandy, is how you feel about the value/food. If you end up questioning, then maybe it isn't worth it. I hate to feel like I did not receive what I paid for. As for the time of dining, I (being an old guy) usually eat fairly early. At 6:30, there was no one at Shirahama. By 7:30, it was full.

Great post, Ed. BTW the octopus that you had is a Mizudako, a large octopus that comes from Hokkaido. As a seasonal item, you're lucky to have had it when it was avalable.

I've had it at both Kaito and Shirahama. Kotani-san (Shirahama) tends to serve it as Nigiri, while Morita-san (Kaito) tends to serve it as Sashimi, but will also do it as a Nigiri.

My personal preference is as a Sashimi, where Morita-san will cut it into thin discs across the leg, then butterfly each one open even thinner like two pages of a book, and serve it with Yuzu-Kosho and Himalayan Pink Salt.

BTW though I don't go there as often as I should, I'm a fan of Shirahama. And though Kaito gets my top recommendation, Shirahama is the only other Sushi bar that I recommend to others.

ed (from Yuma)

Thanks, cg for the nice words and the info. I must have missed your comments back in September. Let me say that I truly appreciate your focus on quality sushi, and I think your posts over the years prepared me well for Shirahama.

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