There is no need to think about going elsewhere. Sushi Diner is easily one of San Diego’s best-kept secrets, well I guess until now. Extremely underrated, Sushi Diner is a broke college student/sushi connoisseur’s best friend.
The atmosphere evokes the coast with wall decoration covered with surfboards, Bob Marley memorabilia and breathtaking photographs of local beaches. Reggae music throughout the restaurant and awesome surfing and wildlife videos on the television bring the tiny diner to life. Sushi Diner owner, Daisuke, simply describes the reasoning behind the decor best. “My favorite country is Jamaica, my favorite music is reggae and what I like to do is make sushi, ” he says.
Sushi Diner represents a family atmosphere where patrons can feel at home and welcomed by the chefs and servers. There’s a wall of about 200 pairs of personal chopsticks for their regulars. From the restaurant’s ambience down to the menu names, Sushi Diner vibes a tribal feel with a Rasta touch and pinch of Dachshund.
From nigiri and sashimi to specialty rolls and bento boxes, Sushi Diner has all of your Japanese favorites. Lunch combo specials range from $5 to $10 depending on the amount of food you want and include miso soup, rice, salad and edamame.
Tried everything on the menu? The chefs will make your dream sushi roll. My favorite part of the restaurant, however, is their roll and nigiri combo menu since I’m incapable of keeping my sushi selections to a minimum. This menu is every indecisive person’s dream because it combines various rolls throughout the menu into one order so you get your favorite rolls without breaking the bank. I usually order the 18-piece “Ziggy” roll combo that comes with four rolls: Seared-Ahi, Bruce Lee, Tempura California and Crunch Roll. Oh yeah, it is also served with Miso Soup.
The only downside to this wonderful restaurant is its small size, not because it gets crowded but because it may require a wait since only a few people are able to dine in such little space. “People think it is very small, possibly the smallest restaurant in San Diego,” says Daisuke. Hence, don’t plan on having a large party here. There are four tables inside, a handful on the patio and a sushi bar that is every claustrophobic’s nightmare.
When the restaurant gets busy, they have a waiting list outside for patrons to fill out their name and the number of guests dining. Although there has always been a wait every time I eat at Sushi Diner, it surprisingly does not take long. The restaurant has the ability to turnover tables quickly without making the patrons feel rushed. Once you take your first bite, it becomes worth it. All it takes for me is a look at their menu and I’m fine with however long the wait is.
Lets talk about the food. The fish is fresh, the rolls are flavorful and the dishes are simply delicious. “One of the most popular rolls is the Smile Jamaican roll,” says owner Daisuke. It has eel, crab and shrimp tempura inside and seared smoked salmon, cream cheese, crunch flakes, eel sauce and spicy mayo on the outside.
“It was definitely the best sushi I’ve had for its price. I pass by all the time but never got a chance to try it out,” says Liliana Thomas, “It’s my new favorite place.”
As if their affordable prices weren’t great enough, their happy hour is amazing. You can get a choice of a sushi roll, small appetizer or sake for only $0.99 when you purchase one large beer or large house sake. Sushi Diner features a monthly special menu where they the pick items from the menu and list them for 30% off. Definitely a bargain since their prices are already low.
How could sushi be this delicious at such a low cost? “The reason why it is inexpensive is so people can come more than once a week. I want people to enjoy my sushi and if it expensive then people won’t come very often,” explains Daisuke.
When we think of inexpensive, we automatically think bad quality and small proportions. Not at Sushi Diner. The restaurant uses fresh ingredients on their phenomenal dishes and well thought of rolls. Don’t worry about size “you can’t move after two sushi rolls,” asserts Daisuke.
Although tiny, Sushi Diner speaks volumes. The restaurant’s eclectic personality and yummy food are what makes the overall dining experience exciting. Without a doubt, Sushi Diner is a win-win for those with profound taste buds on a tight budget.