Monday, December 20, 2010

Kaito Sushi: Encinitas, CA

seasoned seafood salad

I don't consider myself an avid follower of Chowhound. I've tried in the past to regularly follow threads and get involved but honestly I just don't like the thread format as I easily stray into the tangents. I thinks its suppose to make it easier to follow discussions that stray from the original question/topic but I just don't like it. I do give it props for aggregating quite a bit of recommendations and I do find the recommendations to be a bit more on the credible side than Yelp

Anyways... I'm feeling like perusing Chowhound a few weeks ago and I come across a lot of trash talking about my beloved Sushi Ota. I see a lot of mentions for Kaito Sushi and how its far superior. So EHK and I decide to drop in and see what's the big deal. We had originally thought of ordering an omakase but weren't feeling terribly hungry so we decided to order some things we really wanted to try and maybe an item the chef would really like us to try.

Promptly after sitting, we were each presented with a small plate of the house seasoned seafood salad. Alright, we are off to a good start with a gratis nicely seasoned refreshing salad.

salmon belly

The first thing I was jonesing for that evening was the salmon belly. I heart just about any type of belly. What's not to love about flavor and fat? The fish itself was quite fatty and flavorful as usual but the real downer was the rice. I feel that with nigiri, the rice should be packed in a fashion that I can easily pick up the piece and season with some soy sauce/wasabi if I choose and deliver to my mouth where it tenderly breaks. This wasn't exactly the case as the rice broke almost immediately when I picked it up. EHK had the same experience. I wouldn't consider us barbaric with chopsticks as its a eating utensil we both remember using in our earliest childhood memories and we are both regular sushi eaters. Something must be wrong with how the rice was packed.

salmon skin hand roll

Then EHK ordered a salmon skin hand roll... an item he orders to test the skill of the sushi chef. We were both disappointed that the nori was not toasted and the salmon skin was a little on the chewy side. I was even more disappointed with the behavior of the chef. I truly believe it's a sushi chef's duty to figure out what it is the customer likes especially when sitting at the bar since there's a chance for discussion and deliver it to the best of his ability. Instead he pokes fun at our salmon choices and comments on how much salmon we are eating and how its very un-Tokyo like. Uhm... if you tote yourself as a Tokyo style sushi place and you want customers to eat in that fashion then maybe you shouldn't carry the fish in the first place? Also, it's only been two order and I'm paying for this meal when I'm done. If I like salmon then it's my prerogative and just make the order with a smile. If you want to educate me than maybe suggest something else along that flavor and texture that I may equally appreciate instead of making me feel self conscious for ordering it.

kohada - gizzard shad

So the next order we let the chef decide. The guy kept going on and on about how he's got kohada and its the shit and how he's the only sushi joint in San Diego county to carry it. Once presented, I was almost certain I've tried this before at Sushi Ota. The look, flavor and texture was so familiar to me but the chef refused to believe our claims that we've tried this in this county before. There was no breaking this man of his ardent conviction that he was the sole vendor of this prized fish in the area. The fish itself wasn't bad but the rice again was a disappointment. What's with the poorly packed rice. Very disappointing to pick up the piece and have a giant clump of rice just fall off :(


EHK had developed a little crush with oayko-don lately. Requesting it whenever he got the chance I kid you not. When done properly, I can't help but feel all warm and happy when eating it. It reminds me of a mom's food... homey and filling.  It really is a simple dish with few ingredients but seemingly can go very wrong as it did here. Way too salty and the chicken was on the rubbery side. Should have known when we saw it on the menu and asked about it. The chef said, "uhh" then paused and said "yea... we make that". Way to build some confidence.

pork katsu-don

Since I didn't want to get the same rice dish as EHK,  I got the pork katsu-don. The breading didn't even have a little crunch when it arrived. To me it honestly tasted like it was made ahead of time and then reheated in a fashion other than frying (a la microwave) when we ordered. EHK claimed that he even tasted a little funk in the piece of pork that he sampled. We should have probably known better than to order the oyako-don and pork katsu-don at a sushi joint. But why put things on a menu if you don't make them well? Is it for the sake of filling a half empty page?

I swear I'm not dogging on this place because we are Sushi Ota lovers. Those of you that somewhat follow this blog or are acquainted with EHK and I on a regular basis know of our eternal fondness for Sushi Ota. We've actually had pleasant sushi experiences outside of our regular spot such as at Kasen. We just expect a little more quality and service-wise for the amount of money we spent that evening. Maybe we really need to give it another try or go with the chowhounders that swear by this place? Perhaps we simply ordered the wrong stuff?

Kaito Sushi 
130-A N. El Camino Real
Encinitas, CA 92024
(760) 634-2746


  1. Happy Holidays!!

    Oh no! The pictures looked so promising and tasty, but I am sorry to hear that it wasn't a great experience. We should go out for some delicious sushi sometime. Looking at all the yummy pics, I have a sushi craving now. =D

  2. Hey Kat! I've actually been craving Viet or Thai food in the OC!!! Lets grab some sometime if you are down :)

  3. Hey Kat! I've actually been craving Viet or Thai food in the OC!!! Lets grab some sometime if you are down :)

  4. You ordered the wrong stuff. It's a sashimi place. The scallops are amazing. Toro is fantastic. Spanish mackerel, Needlefish. And not to be a dick, but I tend to agree with the chef on your salmon choices. The salmon comes from Scotland...that hot bed of sushi across the pond.


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