3298 Greyling Drive, San Diego
You have to want to go to a sushi bar such as Kokoro. Apologies to Serra Mesa residents, but this place isn’t near anything. Chef/owner Akio Ishito claims “many Japanese” seek out his restaurant, and the non-Japanese sushi nerds who may consider Sushi Tadokoro’s location next to that liquor store in Old Town much too mainstream seem to like it.
In fact, on any given day a handful of people have had the foresight to make a reservation three days in advance for one of Ishito’s $45, $65, or $85 omakase menus. They will “ooh” and “aah” over braised spinach with enoki mushrooms, skipjack tataki with yuzu ponzu, and a discrete sashimi plate bearing just the right amount of toro. Soups (such as a delicate clam dumpling version) in crystal-clear broths, braised duck with taro and potato dumplings, and grilled salmon with edamame paste demonstrate that there’s more to a tasting menu than sushi and sashimi.
Diners might find the nigiri plate somewhat meager, with just mackerel, shrimp, and eel to tide them over before fried smelts with curry salt. But probably not. By the time they arrive at gelato (delivered from L.A. in accordance with the chef’s old business affiliations), they should be happy.
The sushi nerds sitting at the bar should buy Chef Akio Ishito a beer before they leave. Especially on slower nights. Given that they have to be a little nerdy to go there in the first place, and they probably spent upwards of $100/person on a meal, they probably will.