[Photos of most dishes can be found at my food blog - linked below]
I feel like KirkK with todays photo-laden report on one of the more obscure ethnic restaurants on the San Diego restaurant scene. (That's a good thing!) And I even ate something that many Japanese people are too nervous to eat! Im hardcore, man.
My friend Akiko was in town this week from Japan; specifically she lives just outside of Osaka. We spent Monday afternoon together, and even though she often pseudo-complains that everyone always wants to take her to sushi when shes in the States, she asked if Id be willing to go to sushi for lunch at a place she heard is really great. Of course I said yes! The sushi experience is always enhanced immensely when enjoyed with a native Japanese friend who can help kick the authentic factor up many notches with her suggestions and insight.
Akiko told me that there are special expert sushi chefs who specialize in opening new sushi bars around town and around the world. After they get the sushi bar set up properly for a hefty fee, they move onto the next new establishment. Until the end of this month, an outstanding sushi chef is finishing up his temporary stay at Bugas sushi bar which is called Pado. Buga is actually a Korean BBQ restaurant, so you might not think to try the sushi bar at first. But you should!
As soon as we sat down, Shin offered us a little portion of potato salad that was creamy and sprinkled with almonds and raisins. We started off with a K & S Roll, which at Ono Sushi is called a Triple Fantasy Roll. Its one of my favorite maki rolls - a shrimp tempura roll with spicy tuna and green onions on top. We also got an order of Tuna nigiri which we accidentally ate before taking a photo. Thats a novice food blogger maneuver. Oops!
Next Akiko ordered us Aji nigiri. Its Spanish Mackerel. Luckily, she didnt tell me that even native Japanese people find this fish a little iffy until after Id happily eaten it and proclaimed, That was really yummy! Wow! I felt pretty gangster afterwards. Or, should I say yakuza? :) Akiko said that some people dont like that its a red fish, instead of white.
However, I was quickly brought back down to earth with the next dish because I couldnt make myself eat the Clam nigiri. Akiko was on her own with this one.
The next nigiri was a lightly seared salmon with special ingredients. Shin told us his secret, but after he found out that I was planning to write about the meal in my food blog, he asked me not to reveal his secret preparations. Only he and his master prepare salmon nigiri in this manner in San Diego. Its very simple, but totally scrumptious.
I really like Caterpillar rolls, but my usual eating partner, the husband, doesnt seem to like them that much. So, I rarely get to enjoy them. Akiko was down for it. The avocado was thick and creamy and the eel sauce offered just the right amount of sweetness.
Next, Shin surprised us with a sweet and unique on the house treat that even Akiko had never heard of before. Theyre Ribs of Yellowtail. Basically, theyre cooked ribs of yellowtail that you eat just like beef or pork ribs by sliding the meat off with your teeth and leaving the bones. They came drizzled in eel sauce that made them sweet, almost like dessert.
With a light, refreshing treat of cut oranges, we were full and satisfied and so glad that we visited Pado before the expert sushi chef leaves at the end of the month. As for the total price, I think that Shin must have given us a really sweet deal on the bill because I expected it to be at least twice what it was. I dont think the total cost for our meal would be reflective of the normal amount that this much food should set you back at Pado.
Hopefully, Pado will be able to maintain the excellent quality that theyve enjoyed in recent months. If youre in San Diego, try and make it to Pado before November begins.
Howd I do, Kirk? :)
5580 Clairmont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92117