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Ocean Beach prices in Baja

Uh oh: the menu is in English, and the prices are in dollars

The two-piece sushi arrives first. There is nothing spectacular about it.
The two-piece sushi arrives first. There is nothing spectacular about it.

Between Tijuana and Rosarito, semi-upscale, gated communities catering to American ex-pats and retirees line the Baja coast. One of these communities, San Antonio del Mar, has been the subject of a lot of chatter lately because of a new sushi joint featuring reggae music as nightly entertainment. Sushi and reggae — how much more Mexican can you get?

Just west of the main highway at the San Antonio exit, Mata Ashta sits in the end of a multi-unit complex at the entrance of the gated gringo community. The cobblestone road is a little too rough for my motorcycle, and I’m forced to park at the curb of a playground across the street.

The food is overpriced, the service is shoddy, and the limited selection of drinks does not help

Though northern Baja is saturated with seafood restaurants, the sushi variety has not really taken hold. This place seems to have a draw. The dining area is buzzing, so I opt for a seat at the bar. The bartender takes his time coming around and is slow with both the beer (a Pacifico at $3.50) and a menu.

I balk when the menu finally does arrive — it is in English, and the prices are in dollars. This is a red flag in Baja, a sign of paying a premium for the comforts of home. Appetizer prices range from $3.50 for a small portion of pickled cucumber salad to $15 for sashimi salad, and run-of-the-mill sushi rolls range from $6 for a California to $12 for a Caterpillar. If I can get the same prices in Ocean Beach, I’m being had in Baja.

Two small pieces of boiled pork, two halves of a boiled egg, and two boiled mushrooms. Not worth waiting for.

Live reggae music flows from the patio as I sip the beer and wait for the grub. The two-piece sushi arrives first, two bits of tuna over rice. Mago, they call it. The tuna is flavorful, and there is no question that it is fresh. But there is nothing spectacular about the dish.

I feel compelled to nurse the pieces of sushi, as I suspect the main course won’t be following soon. And I am right. I finish the sushi and adjourn to the patio to take in the last of the day’s sunshine to the tune of Tijuana-style reggae. I enjoy two full songs before the barkeep lets me know that the food has arrived.

A bowl of Japanese ramen waits, and I’m hoping for something of substance. But all I’m presented with is a bowl of hot water and noodles with two small pieces of boiled pork, two halves of a boiled egg, and two boiled mushrooms. At least the sunset is appetizing.

Place

Mata Ashta

1033 Av. Estero, San Antonio del Mar, Tijuana, BC

It’s unfortunate that this place has taken hold in the mind of so many locals. The food is overpriced (a spicy tuna roll is $7.50), the service is shoddy, and the limited selection of drinks does not ease the experience. The live music is enjoyable, and I don’t doubt that it could be fun to drop in for a drink and a tune. But keep your sights on the appetizer menu.

Mata Ashta is a bastardization of the Japanese phrase mata ashita, which means “see you tomorrow.” I can assure you, if they see me tomorrow it will be for the entertainment or a refund. It won’t be for the food.

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Comments
18

You were 'being had in Baja' because you only travelled 40 miles into it. Try riding your bike to San Quintin, or further. only travelling 40 of 2,500 miles of coastline of fish-loving folks with wasabi and soy in their bodegas seems a harsh judgement for one apparently unwilling to put in the time. pffft.

July 23, 2017

I actually traveled 15 miles north from my home to check it out, because a San Diego mag is interested in coverage of restaurants that its readers would likely get to. If you'd like the Reader to have coverage of places south of Ensenada, put in the request. I know a lot of great joints to hit, and I love taking that ride.

July 24, 2017

Try Jardines in San Quintin, maybe Eucalypto. Parcel Doce is great for a buffet-style roadside dive in Pabellon. Cielito Lindo for the crab dinner. But a real good story on food might be a piece on Ron Gomez Hoff's oyster works, thier start up stand, his work in providing oysters to the market and even limpet research. Submit it to my Waterfront section right there in the middle of the Reader, then stop by and visit. I live on the bay just south of the Old Mill.

July 25, 2017

That ramen bowl looks disgusting. Yuck.

July 23, 2017

Since Asian has become such a dominating demographic in Southern California, why are there no decent authentic Chinese food places? There's a few specialties (dumplings, etc.) but no real authentic across the board place that is firing on all cylinders.

July 23, 2017

Goes to an obvious place that caters to tourists. Complains that it caters to tourists.

There are hundreds of great restaurants in Baja. There are also hundreds of shitty ones. It's easy to tell the difference.

July 24, 2017

Quite the insightful comment, amigo. There are many great and many shitty restaurants here, you're right. My job is to let readers know which are which. Tell me where you go, I'll get to work.

July 24, 2017

Alright!

Tijuana: Cine Tonala, Oryx Capital, Taconazo, Tacos Las Amigas, Tacos los Compadres, La Justina, The new Birriamen place, Koi Sushi, Katai, Kimchimix, Komasa, The place that sells everything for $1, the new Teléfonica, Mision 19, Wicho's Tacos, Birra 24 Horas, Burritos Niko, Cevicheria Nais, Food Court Plaza Rio, and more (note: many have been reviewed by the Reader already).

Rosarito: Meh. Just skip this place.

Ensenada: La Guerrerense, Agua Mala, Baja Brew Collective, //C (doble c), smoked fish hut, Wendlandt.

Valle: Fuego Cocina, Cuatro Cuartos, Baron Balche, Finca Altozano, Doña Esthela.

July 24, 2017

Thanks for the list. Fuego and Cuatro Cuartos are two of my favorites. Don't be so quick to dismiss Rosarito though. The place has some amazing restaurants, just have to go a little east of the highway to find most of them. A couple of the more spectacular joints on the main drag (just south of the tourist district) are Tapanco, Pasta Pasta, and Angus. Give em a shot next time you're around.

July 24, 2017

A girl broke my heart in Rosarito. Then she stole my surfboard, my skateboard, and my favorite scarf.

I have a certain disdain for the place (though I've seen a huge burrito near Tacos el Yaqui).

July 24, 2017

Thank you for the recommendation Matingas. Please let me know next time you're coming to Oryx Capital. I'm glad to see a lot of great places on your recommendations. Cheers

Aug. 3, 2017

Some of the people´s court here could not care less if they ate tostadas de ceviche out on the street or at at a nice place, yet feel entitled to pass judgement and seed their biased views, the author does not appear to be able to distinguish between taco stands and restaurants.,

July 24, 2017

Touché Brother!! I remember my first job!!

July 25, 2017

Thank you. And if he actually read the prices our Pacificos are $3!? Hope to see you soon and remind me who you are and the Pacifico is on me!! You will be pleasantly surprised.

July 25, 2017

Sorry Steve , your answer the the price is in dollars due to the fluctuations does NOT hold water . Mexico has the Peso and just because the dollar is strong the price should not go up .

Heck even at Costco the prices are in Pesos. I for one will never eat or sleep at a business that charges only in dollars . Otherwise why not stay in the states .

Me thinks that IF the dollar fell to 3 to 1 you would quickly jump on the peso bandwagon , just sayin.

July 25, 2017

OK , I was wrong in my previous post . After reading Steves entire post I now realize he is buying his sushi grade fish in dollars.

Please disregard my post .

July 25, 2017

What would that sushi have cost in Bitcoin?

July 26, 2017

Or Starbucks gift cards?

Aug. 3, 2017

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The two-piece sushi arrives first. There is nothing spectacular about it.
The two-piece sushi arrives first. There is nothing spectacular about it.

Between Tijuana and Rosarito, semi-upscale, gated communities catering to American ex-pats and retirees line the Baja coast. One of these communities, San Antonio del Mar, has been the subject of a lot of chatter lately because of a new sushi joint featuring reggae music as nightly entertainment. Sushi and reggae — how much more Mexican can you get?

Just west of the main highway at the San Antonio exit, Mata Ashta sits in the end of a multi-unit complex at the entrance of the gated gringo community. The cobblestone road is a little too rough for my motorcycle, and I’m forced to park at the curb of a playground across the street.

The food is overpriced, the service is shoddy, and the limited selection of drinks does not help

Though northern Baja is saturated with seafood restaurants, the sushi variety has not really taken hold. This place seems to have a draw. The dining area is buzzing, so I opt for a seat at the bar. The bartender takes his time coming around and is slow with both the beer (a Pacifico at $3.50) and a menu.

I balk when the menu finally does arrive — it is in English, and the prices are in dollars. This is a red flag in Baja, a sign of paying a premium for the comforts of home. Appetizer prices range from $3.50 for a small portion of pickled cucumber salad to $15 for sashimi salad, and run-of-the-mill sushi rolls range from $6 for a California to $12 for a Caterpillar. If I can get the same prices in Ocean Beach, I’m being had in Baja.

Two small pieces of boiled pork, two halves of a boiled egg, and two boiled mushrooms. Not worth waiting for.

Live reggae music flows from the patio as I sip the beer and wait for the grub. The two-piece sushi arrives first, two bits of tuna over rice. Mago, they call it. The tuna is flavorful, and there is no question that it is fresh. But there is nothing spectacular about the dish.

I feel compelled to nurse the pieces of sushi, as I suspect the main course won’t be following soon. And I am right. I finish the sushi and adjourn to the patio to take in the last of the day’s sunshine to the tune of Tijuana-style reggae. I enjoy two full songs before the barkeep lets me know that the food has arrived.

A bowl of Japanese ramen waits, and I’m hoping for something of substance. But all I’m presented with is a bowl of hot water and noodles with two small pieces of boiled pork, two halves of a boiled egg, and two boiled mushrooms. At least the sunset is appetizing.

Place

Mata Ashta

1033 Av. Estero, San Antonio del Mar, Tijuana, BC

It’s unfortunate that this place has taken hold in the mind of so many locals. The food is overpriced (a spicy tuna roll is $7.50), the service is shoddy, and the limited selection of drinks does not ease the experience. The live music is enjoyable, and I don’t doubt that it could be fun to drop in for a drink and a tune. But keep your sights on the appetizer menu.

Mata Ashta is a bastardization of the Japanese phrase mata ashita, which means “see you tomorrow.” I can assure you, if they see me tomorrow it will be for the entertainment or a refund. It won’t be for the food.

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Comments
18

You were 'being had in Baja' because you only travelled 40 miles into it. Try riding your bike to San Quintin, or further. only travelling 40 of 2,500 miles of coastline of fish-loving folks with wasabi and soy in their bodegas seems a harsh judgement for one apparently unwilling to put in the time. pffft.

July 23, 2017

I actually traveled 15 miles north from my home to check it out, because a San Diego mag is interested in coverage of restaurants that its readers would likely get to. If you'd like the Reader to have coverage of places south of Ensenada, put in the request. I know a lot of great joints to hit, and I love taking that ride.

July 24, 2017

Try Jardines in San Quintin, maybe Eucalypto. Parcel Doce is great for a buffet-style roadside dive in Pabellon. Cielito Lindo for the crab dinner. But a real good story on food might be a piece on Ron Gomez Hoff's oyster works, thier start up stand, his work in providing oysters to the market and even limpet research. Submit it to my Waterfront section right there in the middle of the Reader, then stop by and visit. I live on the bay just south of the Old Mill.

July 25, 2017

That ramen bowl looks disgusting. Yuck.

July 23, 2017

Since Asian has become such a dominating demographic in Southern California, why are there no decent authentic Chinese food places? There's a few specialties (dumplings, etc.) but no real authentic across the board place that is firing on all cylinders.

July 23, 2017

Goes to an obvious place that caters to tourists. Complains that it caters to tourists.

There are hundreds of great restaurants in Baja. There are also hundreds of shitty ones. It's easy to tell the difference.

July 24, 2017

Quite the insightful comment, amigo. There are many great and many shitty restaurants here, you're right. My job is to let readers know which are which. Tell me where you go, I'll get to work.

July 24, 2017

Alright!

Tijuana: Cine Tonala, Oryx Capital, Taconazo, Tacos Las Amigas, Tacos los Compadres, La Justina, The new Birriamen place, Koi Sushi, Katai, Kimchimix, Komasa, The place that sells everything for $1, the new Teléfonica, Mision 19, Wicho's Tacos, Birra 24 Horas, Burritos Niko, Cevicheria Nais, Food Court Plaza Rio, and more (note: many have been reviewed by the Reader already).

Rosarito: Meh. Just skip this place.

Ensenada: La Guerrerense, Agua Mala, Baja Brew Collective, //C (doble c), smoked fish hut, Wendlandt.

Valle: Fuego Cocina, Cuatro Cuartos, Baron Balche, Finca Altozano, Doña Esthela.

July 24, 2017

Thanks for the list. Fuego and Cuatro Cuartos are two of my favorites. Don't be so quick to dismiss Rosarito though. The place has some amazing restaurants, just have to go a little east of the highway to find most of them. A couple of the more spectacular joints on the main drag (just south of the tourist district) are Tapanco, Pasta Pasta, and Angus. Give em a shot next time you're around.

July 24, 2017

A girl broke my heart in Rosarito. Then she stole my surfboard, my skateboard, and my favorite scarf.

I have a certain disdain for the place (though I've seen a huge burrito near Tacos el Yaqui).

July 24, 2017

Thank you for the recommendation Matingas. Please let me know next time you're coming to Oryx Capital. I'm glad to see a lot of great places on your recommendations. Cheers

Aug. 3, 2017

Some of the people´s court here could not care less if they ate tostadas de ceviche out on the street or at at a nice place, yet feel entitled to pass judgement and seed their biased views, the author does not appear to be able to distinguish between taco stands and restaurants.,

July 24, 2017

Touché Brother!! I remember my first job!!

July 25, 2017

Thank you. And if he actually read the prices our Pacificos are $3!? Hope to see you soon and remind me who you are and the Pacifico is on me!! You will be pleasantly surprised.

July 25, 2017

Sorry Steve , your answer the the price is in dollars due to the fluctuations does NOT hold water . Mexico has the Peso and just because the dollar is strong the price should not go up .

Heck even at Costco the prices are in Pesos. I for one will never eat or sleep at a business that charges only in dollars . Otherwise why not stay in the states .

Me thinks that IF the dollar fell to 3 to 1 you would quickly jump on the peso bandwagon , just sayin.

July 25, 2017

OK , I was wrong in my previous post . After reading Steves entire post I now realize he is buying his sushi grade fish in dollars.

Please disregard my post .

July 25, 2017

What would that sushi have cost in Bitcoin?

July 26, 2017

Or Starbucks gift cards?

Aug. 3, 2017

Sign in to comment

Sign in

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