Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lunching @ Sushi Ota - Something For Everyone

I dream of the day supremely fresh Sashimi Fish Tacos like these will be served on Marisco trucks all over town.. Three on a paper plate. I may wash it down with some apple soda.

Until then I make them myself with my order of any Sashimi plate. An Ooba Shiso Leaf wrapped around some daikon tsuma and sashimi with a bit of wasabi and soy sauce.

I constructed it from this wonderful medium-fat Chu-Toro Sashimi I had ordered ($8.50 for 2-pcs). I was only able to have such a luxurious appetizer because I planned to fill up with something much more frugal, the Chicken Teriyaki with California Roll ($7.50) on the Lunch Specials menu.

In retrospect I should've chosen fried rice instead of plain because I already had the rolls. Imitation krab is used in these but the set also comes with a nice bowl of miso soup. All basic but good.

What I found lunching at Sushi Ota is that there is something for everyone on every budget. While my first example was a bit extreme I found the key for me was how I would divide up my lunch budget pie.. (the entire lunch menu here.)

Like I can have a few pieces of sushi from the bar..

[This day, Salmon Belly, Aji (Spanish Mackerel), and Ika (Squid).]

Then take another stab at the Lunch Specials menu like this Chirashi for $11.

Listed with Salmon, Shrimp, Tuna, Octopus, Yellowtail, Eel and Shiromi. (Fyi there is another Chirashi listed on the Entrees menu for $15 and yet another Deluxe version for $25.)

Another way could be to order a few small plates. It was nice to see that Sushi Ota had an extensive appetizer menu that can put some Izakaya's to shame.

The Saba Sashimi ($10). I've learned Saba is almost always lightly marinated because it has an extremely short shelf life raw. The "Shime" marinate was very light and I thought the Saba had a nice fine texture. A subtle light vinegary sweet. Made for a great appetizer but I admit it isn't for everyone.

And of course my Saba Sashimi Fish Taco.. :) Makes me want to invent a Wa-fu salsa for it.

The Asari Miso Soup ($4) was the lightest I had but good as well.

Although I was hoping for something a bit stronger, it was piping hot with fresh clams and I enjoyed this. The main dish I had was the Buri Kama (Yellowtail Collar - $8.50). Lightly salted and awesomely grilled.

Sometimes also referred to as the Hamachi Kama, the only difference is the age and size of the Yellowtail. Fyi, Sushi Ota offers three types of Kama. The other two are the Kanpachi and Salmon.
Was accompanied with ponzu to dip the amazingly fluffy and partially oily pieces.

I thoroughly explore the nooks and cranny of the irregular shaped collar bone to find every last bit of mouth watering meats! And of course when it comes to me and my grilled fish I must do this..

Place it atop a bowl of hot rice ($1.50). It is so instinctive that I'm convinced it's encoded in my DNA.
Another day was with chopped Toro (with quail egg, +$0.50) and Scallops.

I would've totally guessed that the chopped toro would come gunkan style with wrapped Nori..

But the quail egg was carefully nested in a shallow divot. This day I had also fancied myself with a bowl of Akadashi ($4).

A much darker and richer version of Miso Soup, Yum. This versus an Asari Clam verision is always a toss up for me. I was curious about the Chawanmushi ($7) which I also tried.

First half I enjoyed the great aroma of the Yuzu and Shiitake. It was quite light. While it did end more substantial with a few chicken and Shiromi white fish pieces, maybe it was a bit too jyouhin for my taste buds.

I splurged once on the Osusume Sashimi-A ($28).

Needless to say this is on the pricey side especially when you consider it is for the platter itself and does not include rice or soup. But it consisted of some amazingly fresh Aji (tataki), 2 Toro (tuna belly) and equally mouth melting pieces (2) of Salmon and Yellowtail Buri.

I have to say was worth every cent. I also noticed this was served with actual grated Wasabi (not the usual finer green paste) which was also great.

My Aji Tataki Sashimi Taco. In a way these are a highlight to my sashimi platters because you're usually given one Shiso leaf as a garnish.
Like with most Aji Sashimi the bones are later deep fried creating a tasty senbei cracker like snack to finish. Not sure how much of the head is edible though.

A few Nigiri's I had with. I'm still pretty basic when it comes to them. Usually always in the mood for some Ikura ($5).

Ota always delivers fine fresh bursting Salmon Roe. Tamago and Uni ($3 and $7.50 respectively).

While I already love Tamago, I especially love ones that have an original signature twist. Ota's is a giant block sliced half way to caress a small amount of sushi rice. You can see a few more Tamago variations on my Tamago Index post.

Shoot, I need my own Tamago branding iron.. Sounds like a great future project! The Uni was decadent as usual. Large.. thick.. mildly sweet but creamy with a hint of the ocean breeze. I personally like mine with a bit of shoyu. A tip I learned from an old friend is to use a piece of dipped Gari ginger to lightly mop. This technique is great with Gunkan style sushi which you can't flip upside down.

Just wanted to share the few lunches I had at Sushi Ota. Most were from last year (2008) when I was curious to see what they had to offer for lunch. So once a month usually after payday and/or consecutive inexpensive meals I allowed myself for this treat. Tough hobby this blog!?

One thing I didn't try was the Chef's Special Fixed Menu at ~$50. You must sit at the bar for this. I saw some people who looked like seasoned regulars have this and it was an amazing sight. Lunch at Sushi Ota truly is a full spectrum of something for everyone.. :)

Sushi Ota, 4529 Mission Bay Drive, San Diego, CA 92109


Brian said...

I love when the fish is twice as long as the rice. All sushi should be like that.

Dennis K. said...

Hi Brian, me too and I totally agree!

Masa Assassin said...

Sashimi Fish Tacos hmmmm I think your on to something, let me talk to some chefs I know in Baja :P

What an awesome post, I love Ota

Dennis K. said...

Hi M.A.! I just had an excellent plate of Hamachi sashimi at El Pescador Fish Market in La Jolla for cheap! On a foil wrapped paper plate of course.. :)