There are hidden gems in the wall- and then there’s Sushi Ota.
Hidden in the corner of a tiny strip mall next to Seven Eleven, Sushi Ota is one of the best sushi restaurants in the world.
But don’t just take my word for it, among their many accolades, Sushi Ota was recently selected as one of 2013 America’s Top Restaurants by Zagat which bases its choices on food, décor, service, and cost.
The moment you walk into the restaurant, Mr. Ota and his staff are behind the sushi bar greeting their customers as they walk through the door. The bar on the right side sits 10-12 people and are the best seats in the house, requiring reservations well in advance.
Eating here over a few dozen times, there hasn’t been a time I’ve been disappointed- from the quality of the fish to the quality of the food, my meal has always been exceptionally consistent.
Sushi is not just food here, to these Japanese chef’s its an art form where they take the presentation of food very seriously. If you ever have the luxury of sitting at the bar, you’ll notice that the chefs are very meticulous about how they cut and present each dish before handing it to their customers. Each one of these chefs are willing to go beyond what the restaurant menu offers.
You can even tell them what you like and certain flavors you don’t like, for instance I’ll ask for “something spicy, with salmon, shrimp and tuna” and they’ll always surprise me with something amazing- it can range from traditional Japanese flavors to unique blends of your choice.
I had the luxury of talking to Mr. Ota and to my surprise, he has vendors from all over the world. He sources his fish not just in San Diego, but also from Japan, Spain, Australia and wherever the best cuts of fish are at the time. For such a small store front, Sushi Ota runs a successful operation by bringing the freshest fish in the world to its loyal customers.
Although Sushi Ota has a reputation for exceptional food, it does not feel like an uptight environment. You can even joke around with the sushi chefs, making it a very relaxing and funny experience. There are a couple ways of dining- omakase with any of the sushi chefs, ordering off the menu or ordering at the sushi bar as you go. There is no wrong answer at Sushi Ota- although if it is your first time, I would highly recommend sitting at the sushi bar to get the full Ota experience.