10 February 2011
The first time I stepped into Sushi Kaito, it was nearly empty. Given their reputation, that was a bit of a surprise. We were delighted to be able to sit at the bar. We had heard that omakase was the way to go. When we asked for that, Kazuo-san said, "I can't do that for you. I don't know you. I don't know what you like."*
No menu, no sake list, you order based on what you see and what you like.
We started off with the live scallop, which he showed to us, still healthy in its shell. Shaved thin, it had a sweet flavour. And the outside of the scallop peeled off and fried. Perfect. With that, Kazuo-san asked, "What do you *not* like?" Me: "Nothing." My wife: "Eel". "Then I will serve you eel tempura." This guy has cajones. His second dish is something we've just claimed we don't like. The tempura was sweet and clean. Perfect texture, perfect flavour. While we were eating it, he explained, "Most places use frozen eel. I have fresh eel. That's why I serve it with the spine, to show you I bought it fresh." The spine had been deep-fried. It was crunchy and delicious. Delicious. To say that I'm surprised that eel spine was delicious... Well, I'll say it, you need to eat some eel spine. As soon as you possibly can.
What followed was the most amazing sushi meal of my life. Kampache. Crunchy, spicy roll (which might just be the best thing I've ever had in my mouth). The strong-flavoured mackerel (saba in Japanese). Dish after dish surprised and delighted.
The sushi at Kaito isn't just great by San Diego standards, this is great sushi by any standard. I've been spoiled for other places.
*these aren't exact quotes, but paraphrasing written as quotes for dramatic effect.
130-A North El Camino Real
Encinitas, CA 92024
Mon-Sat: 5 pm - close
View Larger Map
Keywords: San Diego restaurants