Sushi Ota

It’s that time again – omakase time! The one sushi restaurant in San Diego I kept hearing about was Sushi Ota. Located in a small strip mall, this restaurant was opened by Chef Ota back in 1990.

Dinner at Sushi Ota

Sushi Chef Ota has worked in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kobe. He came to San Diego in 1982 and was inspired to open a sushi restaurant after tasting the local seafood, specifically the sea urchin. I was so excited to be seated at his spot at the sushi bar! We were enthusiastically greeted by the smiling chef.

Chef Ota!

I made a reservation for the Friday night a couple weeks prior. I heard they can get pretty busy, especially on the weekend. I was interested in a nigiri omakase and let the chef know. I was also interested in some sake. Our waitress, Saori, recommended a nice and mild one.


My coworker decided to order a few a la carte items. A plate was placed in front of me and it was almost time to begin the omakase.


My coworker ordered the good ol’ California roll. This wasn’t your ordinary California roll. This was one was made with chunks of actual snow crab. She really enjoyed it.

California Roll

I started off my omakase with a tuna flight. From left to right, I was given toro (fatty tuna), chutoro (medium fatty tuna), and zuke. Zuke is an old school preparation where raw fish is soaked in soy sauce.

Tuna Flight

The fatty tunas were heavenly. The soy marinated tuna was delicious. It really brought out the flavor of the tuna without being overly salty.

Marinated Tuna

The next couple of pieces were specials for the night.

Next Plate

I was expecting a strong taste from the baby sardines, but they were pretty mild. They were really good.

Baby Sardines

The firefly squids were tender and not chewy at all.

Firefly Squid


The nigiri continued to be served in pairs, which was okay with me. Chef Ota explained each piece and paced the meal nicely.

Next Up!

The Spanish mackerel was topped with ginger and scallions. Thumbs up.

Spanish Mackerel

The sea urchin was amazing! My favorite type of uni is from Japan because it is so sweet. Well this local uni was super fresh and really sweet. I just wish I had more of it while I was there.

San Diego Uni

The next two pieces included Black Snapper and Kohada.

Black Snapper and Kohada (Gizzard Shad)

The next plate showcased a nice piece of octopus along with its suction cups. It was really fresh and topped with a bit of lemon zest. I usually expect some chewiness when it comes to octopus, but it was nice and tender.

Super Fresh Octopus

After a couple California rolls, my coworker ordered the shrimp tempura dinner. The batter was light and crispy.

Tempura Dinner

The sushi bar was hopping! Everybody was throwing back sake shots and enjoying all the tasty sushi and dishes of the chefs behind the bar.


The next melt-in-your-mouth pieces were yellowtail belly and salmon belly. They were very generous cuts! These were the only two pieces suggested to not eat in one bite.

Yellowtail and Salmon Belly

Chef Ota always checked on us and always had a smile on his face. I told him I could go for a couple more pieces. He happily delivered. I enjoyed a nice piece of giant clam.

Giant Clam

I also had some tasty orange clam. Both were tender

Orange Clam

The omakase was almost over, but not before having a delightful piece of anago with a dab of sweet sauce.

Anago (Saltwater Eel)

I was more than satisfied with the omakase. Although the nigiri portion ended, Chef Ota made sure we enjoyed a couple more items. A piping hot bowl of miso soup with clams came out. Good stuff.

Clam Miso Soup

After I finished the soup, we were given a plate of “special” tempura. It consisted of three types – shrimp, mushroom stuffed with tuna, and squid wrapped around crab and shiso leaf. It was served with lemon, truffle salt, and matcha salt. Awesome! I loved the stuffed mushroom.

Special Tempura

We ended the great meal with a sweet and tart berry mousse with fresh raspberries.  Thank you so much Chef Ota!

Raspberry Dessert

Dinner was great. Service was excellent. Saori was lovely. Head to Sushi Ota for terrific sushi using some of the best local seafood in the area. I’ll be sure to come back the next time I’m in San Diego. More uni please!

Sushi Ota
4529 Mission Bay Drive
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 270-5670

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