Tajima on Convoy St. is very hard to find, tucked into a narrow mini-mall strip that also includes Jamillah Garden Restaurant, and has parking slots only wide enough for Geo-sized or smaller vehicles. Tajima is on the end and, if you arent careful, you will walk into the cellular phone store instead of turning left for the door to the restaurant.
Nevertheless, Tajima is always busy and the very welcoming servers smile and sing out a greeting in Japanese, gesturing to sit wherever you wish.
Looking around the attractive, brightly lit and modern space, I take notice that English is not the language of choice amongst the many customers. I wished that I could eavesdrop on the many animated conversations.
The menu has the usual eclecticly spelled English descriptions, but each item has a four color picture of the dish.
Most of the tables are full of large bowls of ramen, but I am tantalized by the extensive appetizer menu, and I order:
Deep fried scallop croquette, $4.00 very good, greaseless crumb exterior enrobing scallops, mayo and small golden and sweet slices of garlic, plated on a nest of shredded cabbage with an accompanying lemon wedge and pitcher of a sweet/sour sauce (reminiscent of BBQ sauce).
Ikura Oroshi, $4.95 excellent, grated radish with a serving of brilliant, jewel-like salmon eggs, separated by a shiso leaf and with a wedge of lemon. The flavors sang on my tongue in an earthy, tart and briney combination.
Tuna Yukke, $6.95 Wow! A pile of chopped and marinated raw tuna, garnished with scallions and pine nuts, with a side garnish of sprouts, and topped by a raw quail egg with the top removed. I cant tell you how good this dish was, but, when I fumbled with my chopsticks and dropped a pine nut on the floor, I almost cried.
The Tajima sake sampler is a great bargain at $7.00 for a flight of three: Akitabare Koshiki Junzhuri, Northern Skies, understated refined evokes a sense of the northern province. Dewazakura Dewasansan, Green Ridge, freshness, a green apple tartness Dewazakura Izumi Judan, martini lovers sake, dry, clear with a hint of juniper
Tajima also has an extensive collection of sojus made from sweet potato, rice and wheat, with some aged for twenty years.
4681 Convoy St.
San Diego, CA 92111