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Best Japanese Food in San Diego

Hi readers! Hope you’re having a wonderful day.

Today, I wanted to write about my favorite Japanese restaurants in San Diego. I’m surprised I didn’t write about them sooner- there’s so many amazing places! I didn’t want to limit this list to simply sushi, so you’ll find a range of places below. This list will be split into two, so make sure to read part two as well!

1. Chef Jun

My current go to sushi joint? Chef Jun. A traditional sushi joint that errs on the casual side, there’s nothing about Chef Jun’s menu that is crazy creative or inventive- the true star of the show is the quality of their fish and traditional sushi. When I first took a bite of their sashimi salmon, I literally gasped. In all of my sushi loving years of traveling I’d never had salmon so fatty, fresh and perfectly cut. My plus one was quick to agree.

Their sushi truly sets the bar in San Diego, and I prefer them over (dare I say it?) Sushi Ota themselves (a highly revered sushi joint in San Diego!). I highly recommend the Kappo by Jun, which is a set menu that starts with edamame and miso, and continues through chef’s choice of sashimi, sushi, hand rolls, and dessert.

The more expensive Kappo comes with udon and oshi sushi, which is a style of pressed sushi that hails from Osaka. This one was my personal favorite!

2. Menya Ultra Ramen

When I tell you I am a ramen lover, I mean it- I’ve been to every ramen joint in San Diego (20 and counting!). Only one spot has truly captured my heart and keeps me coming back for more. Menya Ultra, currently with three San Diego locations, was started by top ramen chef Takashi Endo, who was won multiple rewards for his ramen in Japan. Chef Endo runs his shops like a true Japanese chef- quality is always consistently high, eggs and noodles are always cooked perfectly. What I personally love about Menya is that their broth is lighter but still oh so flavorful. Places like Tajima tend to be way too oily/salty/fatty for my stomach and it’s hard for me to finish a bowl without feeling sick. Menya provides the flavor without the grease. I highly recommend starting with their negi pon fried chicken, which is their classic karaage with house made sauce added on top. It is DELICIOUS. They serve your classic tonkotsu ramen (pork broth), miso ramen and tantan (comes with a cutlet!).

I'd recommend all three. Keep an eye on their instagram for seasonal specials!

3. Yakitori Taisho

Have YOU ever had Japanese skewers? No? Get your butt to Yakitori Taisho RIGHT NOW. Besides having amazing tender meat, eating here is so fun- get some sake with your friends and sit right across the grill where you can watch the head chef grilling the skewers for you! Once you’re seated, you’re given an ordering sheet that has all their meats- you’ll see options like beef tongue, meatballs, chicken, scallops, chicken heart, beef belly, mushrooms, just to name a few! You select what you want with a pencil and the grilling begins.

I was blown away by how tender and flavorful everything was. It was hard for me to not order the entire menu multiple times.

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