Matthew Lickona 5 p.m., Dec. 4
Eda-mami sushi in Del Mar has a few things going for it. A mere stone's throw from Torrey Pines, the patio looks out over the marshy lagoon, where wading birds catch their sushi on the run, and the sun drops into the Pacific in the distance with poetic grace. There are a few better views in town, but not usually without having a reservation and deep pockets.
It's not that the restaurant is cheap per se, but there's this "all day happy hour" pricing scheme in place that grants access to above-average rolls at downright meager prices. Classic maki, which are often overlooked in favor of elaborate specialty rolls, are all under $4 at Eda-mami and contain more generous portions of salmon, tuna, scallop, et. al. than one usually receives at more budget-minded sushi spots. Even some of the specialty rolls, like the Del Mar roll that has two different tuna preparations, achieve sub-$10 prices for HH. Gyoza, seaweed salad, and other popular appetizers receive similar treatment. Of course, there are beer and sake specials, too.
Eda-mami's food is quite good, certainly superior to more "proletarian" sushi joints, though it's not Nobu, either. The seaweed salad had been laced with just the right amount of goma (sesame seeds) and the sushi-rice was well prepared. After watching Giro Dreams of Sushi a while back, I've begun differentiating between sushi restaurants with greater consideration to quality of rice, and in that respect Eda-Mami delivered. It hadn't been allowed to get gummy and the level of salt and sugar were correct so there was no need to further season the fish. Here's a little tip: soy sauce is for flavoring fish, not rice, and it's rather bad form to dunk rice into the soy sauce. Try using a piece of pickled ginger as a brush to wash a light coating of soy over sushi; it achieves a much better balance.
Ample parking seals the deal in favor of Eda-Mami as well worth the drive for uptown residents, especially since the cost of gas can be offset by liberal application of happy hour pricing.
2282 Carmel Valley Road