Jeff Smith 12:30 p.m., Nov. 22
Sincerely Surprised: Samurai Japanese Restaurant
It’s a shame, really, but a lot of the time lunch is a chore. When you’re working, and time gets away from you, you suddenly find yourself starving and faced with nothing but places that serve mega portions of mediocre, greasy stomach bombs.
Frequently, I’ll stop in a sushi place, or a pho shop just to stay on the somewhat healthy side. You can nearly always find a dish that may not be stellar, but it’s tasty enough and healthier than the usual burger and fries. There’s nothing wrong with burgers and fries, goodness knows I eat them a lot, but still.
Anyway, I found myself short on time and long on low blood sugar the other day, so I stopped in the first sushi place I saw, Samurai Japanese Restaurant on Lomas Santa Fe in Solano Beach.
It’s bigger than most Japanese restaurants, with several Tatami rooms, a Teppan Yaki room and a long sushi bar, that is spacious enough so that you don’t feel cramped.
I wasn’t expecting much, and it didn’t help when, instead of the typical bowl of edamame, I got a bowl of cole slaw. Not even good cole slaw, either. Wilted, watery, stringy slaw.
In light of that inauspicious beginning, I just ordered a few pieces of nigiri sushi: maguro ($4.50), hamachi ($4.75), and sake ($5). I figured they would have the fastest turnover, and my chances of it being somewhat fresh were better.
I could not have been more surprised. It was beautiful. Red, red tuna, pink yellowtail with just a hint of rose blush, and lovely, deep apricot salmon, on barely warm little rice balls with just a hint of wasabi. The salmon was particularly delicious, fatty, tender and succulent. They were so pretty and so tasty that I felt obliged to slow down and enjoy every tasty bite.
On my way out, I noticed a framed review by Naomi Wise dated mid-2005. She gave Samurai 4½ stars for their sushi. Even seven years later, I’d have to agree.
979 Lomas Santa Fe Drive
Solana Beach, CA 92075
11:30am-2:30pm Monday - Friday
5:00pm-10:00 pm Monday - Saturday