4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

A tale of two sushis at El Pez and Baja Oyster & Sushi Bar

“Today, it has to be the Crazy Caesar Roll.”

Sea Butter, eight sushi pieces loaded with clams
Sea Butter, eight sushi pieces loaded with clams

When it comes to sushi, the Southland is definitely rising.

I’m coming out into the sun from the dentist’s office, down here in the Otay area. Feeling a lot better. Ready to tackle — hey hey! Food!

And Lo and Behold right in the strip mall between me and the 933 bus stop, is this kinda corrugated iron place. Open, and even at this late lunchtime, crowded.

“El Pez,” it says. “The Fish.” And it’s showing a lot of sushi. That, I can definitely handle.

Nayeli: shares front of house duties

Girls and their doting boyfriends are sitting at tables, like they’re just out of school. They’re all eating sushi. Looks like California Roll. Only $4 each. Deal.

This is just east of Montgomery High School and the famous vertical wing that overlooks Palm City, exactly where San Diegan John Montgomery became the first person in America to actually fly in the air. He took off right here, in 1885, 18 years ahead of the Wright Brothers. How come he’s not more famous?

Meanwhile I’m feeling light enough to float away. I take a seat. El Pez feels more like a pub than a fish eatery. Clubby. Nayeli comes over. She has the menu. “Something to drink?”

Modest front, but deliciosity inside

Well, why not? Feel like celebrating. I get an IPA, $6 in HH (3-6, daily), and look over the menu. It promises Japanese with a Mexican touch. Interesting.

Prices are good. It starts off with “appz,” such as coco lime albacore tostada, for $2.50, a lot of $5 dishes like gyoza, karaage (basically chicken nuggets), or kura crab (soft shell crab with salsa negra), $6.

Main dishes such as bowls mostly hit the $10 mark. Poke bowl is $9.50. Pork katsu (pork loin, panko crumb-fried) is $9.50. So is carnitas ramen. Plus they do a $10 daily special. Today — Monday — it’s salmon kama, meaning the fatty collar of the fish. Comes with rice, salad, gyoza, and miso soup. Good deal.

Grilled oysters in garlic sauce

They have “saladz,” and I get the house ($4), which comes with lotus root croutons. But main dish-wise, the one that sticks out for me is called “sea butter” ($10.50). Comes with krab mix, avocado, and bay scallops, “baked with creamy Dynamite.”

Dynamite is usually mayo, sugar, and chili garlic so that’ll give them a sweet tang. And the little scallops on top sounds good. I go for that, and when it arrives it is a beautiful little package. Eight pieces of sushi on stripes of eel sauce (which is usually eel or clam broth, soy, maybe a bit of sweet sake, and sugar. Has an almost caramel flavor). They come with shredded salady strips on top, and then dynamite sauce leaking out from the pile. The surprise: it’s warm. And it all contrasts nicely with the hoppy cerveza.

Yes, I get greedy and go on to order a rainbow roll (a rich mix of krab, cucumber, avocado, salmon, albacore, tuna, and shrimp, $9.50), and it’s too much for me. But I’ll definitely be back for the sea butter.

Crazy Caesar roll: spicy crab, salmon, finished in the salamander

Not too far west down the road, I’m in the area again, this time with my friend Annie. We pop into another joint with some sushi I’ve hankered after. The Baja Oyster and Sushi Bar. The evening sun streams through the bamboo trellis windows. It just has an atmosphere that makes you think of like Saipan or Honolulu. Nazareth, one of the cooks, hands over cups of seafood miso soup, part of the welcome deal. “This is an oyster bar?” asks Annie, who’s Scottish. She knows what she likes. “I’m going for oysters. Do you have sautéed oysters in the shell?”

Chuy has come to take our order.

“I can do that,” he says. And ten minutes later, he turns up with a plate of bubbling grilled oysters in a very dark, garlic-filled sauce in each shell. It’s $11.95 for half a dozen.

I’m looking at sushi, natch.

Clam: a wealth of flavor hides inside

“Which would you go for today?” I ask Chuy.

“No question,” he says. “Today, it has to be the Crazy Caesar Roll.”

So I go for the Crazy Caesar, and man is it luscious. It has a lot of the usual suspects inside, spicy crab, cream cheese, avocado, cucumber. But then they put salmon on top and spicy mayo and later add eel sauce and kinda broil it in the salamander. It comes out wicked golden with blackened sesame seeds and fresh green onions on top. Costs $13.95. We get through our four chunks each lickety split. “Luath,” says Annie. “Fast, in Gaelic.”

Of course then Chuy comes around just when we’re taking a breath. “The clam is really good tonight too,” he says confidentially. “Chef’s putting every kind of seafood inside.”

“Clam? Dinna hesitate,” says Annie.

“‘Dinner’?”

“‘Don’t,’ you Sassenach.”

Whatever, I don’t hesitate, and Chuy goes off to put the clam order through. Costs $9.25.

And what a beautiful surprise. It’s a big clam shell inside foil. Hot! So you unfold the foil, then hinge open the clam, and voilà! A steaming, cheesy mess of scallops, calamari, octopus, and clams.

“Sautéed with pico de gallo,” says Chuy, “then grilled.”

It’s cheesy, a little spicy, and sitting on saffron rice. The shell itself makes it worth it.

We’re stuffed. Suavecito’s playing on the sound system as we head out. Sky’s going sunset-crazy over Saturn.

“Now that was a hoot,” says Annie.

  • The Places:
  • El Pez, 3404 Palm Avenue, Suite C, Otay Mesa West, 619-779-4886
  • Hours: 11:30am-9:00pm daily (till 10pm Friday)
  • Prices: Coco lime albacore tostada, $2.50; gyoza, $5; karaage (chicken nuggets), $5; kura crab (soft shell), $6; poke bowl, $9.50; pork katsu (pork loin) $9.50; carnitas ramen, $9.50; daily specials, e.g. salmon kama, $10; house salad, $4; California roll, $4; sea butter sushi roll, $10.50; rainbow roll (krab, salmon, albacore, tuna, shrimp), $9.50
  • Buses: 929, 933, 934
  • Nearest Bus Stops: Palm Avenue and Beyer Way (929); Palm Avenue and Beyer Way (933 westbound); Palm and Picador (934 eastbound)
  • Baja Oyster & Sushi Bar, 1912 Coronado Avenue, Suite 105, Nestor, 619-575-4606
  • Hours: 11am-9pm daily (till 10pm, Friday, Saturday)
  • Prices: Fish tostada, $3.95; mixed seafood tostada, $4.50; tuna sushi (maguro), $5.95; yellowtail (hamachi), $4.95; salmon skin hand roll, $5.25; crunchy roll (shrimp, cream cheese, avocado), $10.50; seafood-stuffed clam, $9.25; Crazy Caesar roll (spicy crab, salmon), $13.95
  • Buses: 901, 933, 934
  • Nearest Bus Stops: Coronado Avenue and Saturn Boulevard
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Nathaniel Hawthorne and his interest in history, morality and religion

The Scarlet Letter (1850), also carried over into his poetic output
Sea Butter, eight sushi pieces loaded with clams
Sea Butter, eight sushi pieces loaded with clams

When it comes to sushi, the Southland is definitely rising.

I’m coming out into the sun from the dentist’s office, down here in the Otay area. Feeling a lot better. Ready to tackle — hey hey! Food!

And Lo and Behold right in the strip mall between me and the 933 bus stop, is this kinda corrugated iron place. Open, and even at this late lunchtime, crowded.

“El Pez,” it says. “The Fish.” And it’s showing a lot of sushi. That, I can definitely handle.

Nayeli: shares front of house duties

Girls and their doting boyfriends are sitting at tables, like they’re just out of school. They’re all eating sushi. Looks like California Roll. Only $4 each. Deal.

This is just east of Montgomery High School and the famous vertical wing that overlooks Palm City, exactly where San Diegan John Montgomery became the first person in America to actually fly in the air. He took off right here, in 1885, 18 years ahead of the Wright Brothers. How come he’s not more famous?

Meanwhile I’m feeling light enough to float away. I take a seat. El Pez feels more like a pub than a fish eatery. Clubby. Nayeli comes over. She has the menu. “Something to drink?”

Modest front, but deliciosity inside

Well, why not? Feel like celebrating. I get an IPA, $6 in HH (3-6, daily), and look over the menu. It promises Japanese with a Mexican touch. Interesting.

Prices are good. It starts off with “appz,” such as coco lime albacore tostada, for $2.50, a lot of $5 dishes like gyoza, karaage (basically chicken nuggets), or kura crab (soft shell crab with salsa negra), $6.

Main dishes such as bowls mostly hit the $10 mark. Poke bowl is $9.50. Pork katsu (pork loin, panko crumb-fried) is $9.50. So is carnitas ramen. Plus they do a $10 daily special. Today — Monday — it’s salmon kama, meaning the fatty collar of the fish. Comes with rice, salad, gyoza, and miso soup. Good deal.

Grilled oysters in garlic sauce

They have “saladz,” and I get the house ($4), which comes with lotus root croutons. But main dish-wise, the one that sticks out for me is called “sea butter” ($10.50). Comes with krab mix, avocado, and bay scallops, “baked with creamy Dynamite.”

Dynamite is usually mayo, sugar, and chili garlic so that’ll give them a sweet tang. And the little scallops on top sounds good. I go for that, and when it arrives it is a beautiful little package. Eight pieces of sushi on stripes of eel sauce (which is usually eel or clam broth, soy, maybe a bit of sweet sake, and sugar. Has an almost caramel flavor). They come with shredded salady strips on top, and then dynamite sauce leaking out from the pile. The surprise: it’s warm. And it all contrasts nicely with the hoppy cerveza.

Yes, I get greedy and go on to order a rainbow roll (a rich mix of krab, cucumber, avocado, salmon, albacore, tuna, and shrimp, $9.50), and it’s too much for me. But I’ll definitely be back for the sea butter.

Crazy Caesar roll: spicy crab, salmon, finished in the salamander

Not too far west down the road, I’m in the area again, this time with my friend Annie. We pop into another joint with some sushi I’ve hankered after. The Baja Oyster and Sushi Bar. The evening sun streams through the bamboo trellis windows. It just has an atmosphere that makes you think of like Saipan or Honolulu. Nazareth, one of the cooks, hands over cups of seafood miso soup, part of the welcome deal. “This is an oyster bar?” asks Annie, who’s Scottish. She knows what she likes. “I’m going for oysters. Do you have sautéed oysters in the shell?”

Chuy has come to take our order.

“I can do that,” he says. And ten minutes later, he turns up with a plate of bubbling grilled oysters in a very dark, garlic-filled sauce in each shell. It’s $11.95 for half a dozen.

I’m looking at sushi, natch.

Clam: a wealth of flavor hides inside

“Which would you go for today?” I ask Chuy.

“No question,” he says. “Today, it has to be the Crazy Caesar Roll.”

So I go for the Crazy Caesar, and man is it luscious. It has a lot of the usual suspects inside, spicy crab, cream cheese, avocado, cucumber. But then they put salmon on top and spicy mayo and later add eel sauce and kinda broil it in the salamander. It comes out wicked golden with blackened sesame seeds and fresh green onions on top. Costs $13.95. We get through our four chunks each lickety split. “Luath,” says Annie. “Fast, in Gaelic.”

Of course then Chuy comes around just when we’re taking a breath. “The clam is really good tonight too,” he says confidentially. “Chef’s putting every kind of seafood inside.”

“Clam? Dinna hesitate,” says Annie.

“‘Dinner’?”

“‘Don’t,’ you Sassenach.”

Whatever, I don’t hesitate, and Chuy goes off to put the clam order through. Costs $9.25.

And what a beautiful surprise. It’s a big clam shell inside foil. Hot! So you unfold the foil, then hinge open the clam, and voilà! A steaming, cheesy mess of scallops, calamari, octopus, and clams.

“Sautéed with pico de gallo,” says Chuy, “then grilled.”

It’s cheesy, a little spicy, and sitting on saffron rice. The shell itself makes it worth it.

We’re stuffed. Suavecito’s playing on the sound system as we head out. Sky’s going sunset-crazy over Saturn.

“Now that was a hoot,” says Annie.

  • The Places:
  • El Pez, 3404 Palm Avenue, Suite C, Otay Mesa West, 619-779-4886
  • Hours: 11:30am-9:00pm daily (till 10pm Friday)
  • Prices: Coco lime albacore tostada, $2.50; gyoza, $5; karaage (chicken nuggets), $5; kura crab (soft shell), $6; poke bowl, $9.50; pork katsu (pork loin) $9.50; carnitas ramen, $9.50; daily specials, e.g. salmon kama, $10; house salad, $4; California roll, $4; sea butter sushi roll, $10.50; rainbow roll (krab, salmon, albacore, tuna, shrimp), $9.50
  • Buses: 929, 933, 934
  • Nearest Bus Stops: Palm Avenue and Beyer Way (929); Palm Avenue and Beyer Way (933 westbound); Palm and Picador (934 eastbound)
  • Baja Oyster & Sushi Bar, 1912 Coronado Avenue, Suite 105, Nestor, 619-575-4606
  • Hours: 11am-9pm daily (till 10pm, Friday, Saturday)
  • Prices: Fish tostada, $3.95; mixed seafood tostada, $4.50; tuna sushi (maguro), $5.95; yellowtail (hamachi), $4.95; salmon skin hand roll, $5.25; crunchy roll (shrimp, cream cheese, avocado), $10.50; seafood-stuffed clam, $9.25; Crazy Caesar roll (spicy crab, salmon), $13.95
  • Buses: 901, 933, 934
  • Nearest Bus Stops: Coronado Avenue and Saturn Boulevard
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Building Rancho Santa Fe mansion, Ramona grasslands, the Coaster's pluses and minuses

Harrowing Wildcat Canyon, importance of avocados, the scandal of Torrey Pines' bridge
Next Article

Prickles of pepper at Gaslamp Breakfast Company

San Diego is a breakfast city
Comments
1

Thanks for the Positive words! We Appreciate you guys stopping by!!

-Alex

Feb. 20, 2020

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close