145 S. Coast Hwy. 101, Solana Beach
Once upon a time, Masuo Sato opened up a sushi restaurant in Solana Beach. He did well, endearing himself with the locals. His restaurant built a reputation as a reliable sushi joint where friendly people provide friendly service. Then, like many a reasonable business man, Mr. Sato sold his restaurant and moved on.
Apparently the new owner didn’t do very well, so about three months ago Masuo Sato returned. Now the restaurant flies a banner reading, “Under new ownership. Mas is back!”
That must be a wild ride: watching someone tear down a reputation you’d spent years building and then starting it up all over again after having moved on to another phase of your life.
For anyone out there who liked the old Masuo’s, get yourself back over there before the summer crowd settles in. I’d describe the style at Masuo’s as carefree, occasionally a little sloppy (but in a good way). It reminds me most of the sushi bar at Akinori, another spot where the overwhelming restraint of high-end sushi doesn’t always dominate the chef’s approach.
I generally abjure ordering elaborate specialty rolls, but I understand they appeal to the family crowd or anyone less enthusiastically nerdy about sushi. Masuo’s definitely caters to that segment of the populace, with several pages of elaborate rolls in the $12 to $16 range, most of which can easily feed a single person.
There are a few things for which Masuo’s deserves extra credit:
1) Keeping wahoo (ono) on the menu full time at $5 per order of nigiri. 2) Keeping prices on the low side. 3) Seasoning the sushi at the bar, so that all a patron has to do is heft and chew.
All in all, the locals should be pleased, and it’s worth a jaunt to Solana Beach for sushi fans from outside the neighborhood.