Sushi Ota
4529 Mission Bay Drive,
Pacific Beach
(858) 270-5670

Begin with the shrimp and vegetable tempura. Both the shape of the items -- a long, symmetrical oval of carrot -- and the close, clinging quality of the still-hot batter hint at the precision of the kitchen. After that, a surrender of the will: whatever $40 worth of sashimi will bring. First out, two small pieces of cooked salmon, sweet and fatty, sitting in a little pool of broth, tiny strips of ginger and lime mixing with the taste of shallots -- cool and delightful. Then the platter: two long strips of salmon resting on scent-lending lime wedges, four squares of tuna, four strips of mackerel. (If you are the sort who judges a sushi restaurant by either its tuna or its salmon, you may enjoy the debate as to which is superior.) On one side, a hollowed-out lemon rind holding two chewy, briny giant clams, and on top of them, two rich, buttery sea urchins. In the center, their noses pointed toward the ceiling, two large shrimp heads, their just-removed, still-pulsing tails a few inches away. The shrimp meat is gelatinous and delicate in flavor. Shortly after the empty platter is removed, the shrimp heads make a second appearance -- cooked now, and yielding intense sweetness.

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