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It’s a shame, really, but a lot of the time lunch is a chore. When you’re working, and time gets away from you, you suddenly find yourself starving and faced with nothing but places that serve mega portions of mediocre, greasy stomach bombs.

Frequently, I’ll stop in a sushi place, or a pho shop just to stay on the somewhat healthy side. You can nearly always find a dish that may not be stellar, but it’s tasty enough and healthier than the usual burger and fries. There’s nothing wrong with burgers and fries, goodness knows I eat them a lot, but still.

Anyway, I found myself short on time and long on low blood sugar the other day, so I stopped in the first sushi place I saw, Samurai Japanese Restaurant on Lomas Santa Fe in Solano Beach.

It’s bigger than most Japanese restaurants, with several Tatami rooms, a Teppan Yaki room and a long sushi bar, that is spacious enough so that you don’t feel cramped.

I wasn’t expecting much, and it didn’t help when, instead of the typical bowl of edamame, I got a bowl of cole slaw. Not even good cole slaw, either. Wilted, watery, stringy slaw.

In light of that inauspicious beginning, I just ordered a few pieces of nigiri sushi: maguro ($4.50), hamachi ($4.75), and sake ($5). I figured they would have the fastest turnover, and my chances of it being somewhat fresh were better.

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I could not have been more surprised. It was beautiful. Red, red tuna, pink yellowtail with just a hint of rose blush, and lovely, deep apricot salmon, on barely warm little rice balls with just a hint of wasabi. The salmon was particularly delicious, fatty, tender and succulent. They were so pretty and so tasty that I felt obliged to slow down and enjoy every tasty bite.

On my way out, I noticed a framed review by Naomi Wise dated mid-2005. She gave Samurai 4½ stars for their sushi. Even seven years later, I’d have to agree.

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Samurai Japanese Restaurant

979 Lomas Santa Fe Drive

Solana Beach, CA 92075

(858) 481-0032

Hours:

11:30am-2:30pm Monday - Friday

5:00pm-10:00 pm Monday - Saturday

4:30pm-10:00pm Sunday

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Comments

Ian Pike June 22, 2012 @ 1:22 p.m.

That tuna looks incredibly lean! I actually like it that way. Lots of flavor. Surprising to get nice fish from this unassuming place, but that's just how it happens sometimes! How did the rest of the menu look? Anything novel or promising beyond the nigiri?

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Mary Beth Abate June 22, 2012 @ 9:57 p.m.

I like lean tuna too, but they also have tuna belly which I didn't try. They have a variety of rolls, nothing revolutionary, but if they are as good as the nigiri, I'd be delighted. I love being surprised like that.

The regular menu items seem fairly standard. I didn't see any food other than sushi.

Naomi Wise's review gives 41/2 stars for sushi/sashimi, and 2 stars for the rest of the menu, if that helps.

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