San Diego
1. Ikiru Sushi
Liberty Station

This tiny shop tucked into the long corridors of Liberty Station’s The Quarter consistently turns out some of the finest, freshest nigiri in the city, as well as colorful, inventive rolls, which come fresh, seared, baked, or deep fried. We love the Orange Crush roll, with spicy scallops and cucumber inside, salmon, ponzu, and garnishes of scallions and sriracha on the outside, or the Panko Special Deep Fried Roll, stuffed with tuna, shrimp tempura, masago, gobo, and avocado inside, and lots of crunchy panko and a drizzle of eel sauce on top. Before you order, though, be sure to check out the chalkboard for specials, which features special fresh catch delicacies that aren’t on the regular menu. The restaurant itself is small, but there’s plenty of outdoor tables on the promenade to enjoy takeout.
How to book: Seating is on a first-come basis. Call 619-221-1228 for takeout.

3. The Yasai
Little Italy & Convoy District

Junya Watanabe’s latest concept combines his Convoy District and Little Italy restaurant clusters—The Yasai by RakiRaki, his vegan sushi spot, and Matsuoka, its non-vegan counterpart, along with Raki Raki Ramen and JCK, Junya’s Crispy Karaage, into one-stop open spaces. To replicate the texture and flavor of conventional sushi, chef Hajime Matsuoka ferments, torches, grills, smokes, boils, and fries various vegetables, depending on the type—each vegetable requires a different treatment, and sometimes a combination of two or more steps are necessary. Chef Matsuoka also helms the sushi menu at his namesake Matsuoka with nigiri, sushi rolls, temari sushi, a traditional ball-shaped sushi, and seasonal kaiseki bento boxes.
How to book: Reservations for The Yasai can be made online. Order takeout via your favorite location.

4. Mikami Bar & Revolving Sushi
Convoy District

Offering more than 70 types of sushi, the 6,000-square-foot, kaiten-zushi style restaurant is one of California’s largest revolving sushi venues. Head chef Aiden KT Lee’s menu includes a mix of innovative sushi dishes, popular rolls, appetizers, sides, and entrées that glide by diners on color-coded plates. In addition to the sushi options, booths are equipped with touchscreen tablets so guests can order appetizers, ramen, udon, yakisoba, fried rice, and additional entrees, domestic and international wine, and a wide selection of beer from local breweries.
How to book: Reservations can be made online. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.

5. Lumi
Gaslamp Quarter

Lumi, the Gaslamp Quarter’s energetic rooftop concept, features contemporary Japanese fare with Nikkei and Korean influences created by Michelin-starred chef Akira Back. The sushi menu showcases inventive specialty rolls, including luxurious Alaskan king crab, surf and turf, A5 Wagyu nigiri, and daily off-menu selections. Let the sushi chef surprise you with Nazo 9, a mystery box of nine dishes that aren’t revealed until they’re placed in front of you. Pair your meal with sips from the largest selection of top-tier Japanese whiskies in the city, Akira Back’s own sake, or a Toki Japanese Highball machine that yields ice-cold, lusciously fizzy, perfectly-blended cocktails.
How to book: Reservations can be made via SevenRooms. Order takeout by calling 619-329-5864 or delivery via third-party options.

6. Bang Bang
Downtown

Bang Bang was forced to shutter permanently during the pandemic, but we were thrilled to see it reopen this spring under new management. They’ve pretty much kept the place as it was, including the gigantic disco ball, and yes, the notorious Ryan Gosling ladies’ room. Expect a great selection of nigiri, sashimi, and a list of specialty rolls like Hello Kitty (spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, avocado in a pink soy paper topped with bay scallops, tempura flakes, chili aioli, and eel sauce). If you don’t like your Bruce Lee roll with a side of party, you can always mellow out in the sushi room.
How to book: Reservations can be made online. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.

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