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Zenbu Sushi Restaurant - La Jolla (San Diego), CA

Not the best sushi San Diego has to offer!


Restaurant Category : Japanese, Sushi

Zenbu Lounge - La Jolla, California: Located in the village of La Jolla, a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean is, as the concierge from the Hyatt Regency described it to me, the hip, trendy and happening sushi San Diego restaurant, Zenbu La Jolla.

With full anticipation for a great evening out, we headed over to Zenbu La Jolla for some wonderful sushi and interesting people watching.

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As we walked into Zenbu La Jolla, we took notice of their outdoor patio area, it was nothing more than a few tables and chairs parked close to the front of the restaurant, and looked much more rustic than chic and trendy. It was not exactly the type of restaurant for sushi San Diego would have.

Once inside the hostess, who lacked any personality, showed us to our table; a small wooden table, again, much more rustic than chic. We took in the atmosphere and decided that with rustic looking décor and country music playing the background, the restaurant was more on par with a county bar or an “up north” neighborhood restaurant, not a chic and trendy restaurant in San Diego. Apparently the concierge had never been here or she and I had different meanings as to what chic, trendy and “happening” meant.

After a long wait, our waitress, personality free like the hostess, brought us menus and took our drink orders. She was unsure of what they offered - Bloody Mary? She said yes, the bartender said no; Hendrick’s Gin, she said no, but the bartender said yes, they do have it. We were not off to the best of starts.

As we waited for our drinks, we looked over the menu and found a few rolls that sounded appealing (their list of rolls was quite boring, at least for our tastes). Again, after a long wait, our waitress came back with our drinks and took our dinner order.

We had asked the waitress to start us with edamame, our traditional sushi starter; it came out so quickly that it was still half cold – parts were warm, some cool, others cold.

As we were drinking our cocktails and munching on the edamame, the waitress brought our white wine for us to taste and then wanted to get us started with it. We asked to hold off until our cocktails were done. I guess she took that to mean that she should just leave it there, as she never once came back to fill our glasses; to make matters worse there was not room on our table so she put the wine on a nearby table, so each time we wanted to fill our glasses we had to get up from the table and go fetch the wine. I don’t think anyone would call this good or even acceptable service.

When our tuna, salmon and yellowtail sashimi finally made it to our table, I had my first good impression of the night. While the presentation was lackluster, the portion sizes were large and the sashimi appeared to be fresh. After tasting each one, I was very impressed with the quality. Two thumbs up on Zenbu sashimi. Maybe this would be the best sushi San Diego had to offer afterwards!

Our sushi came out a short while after we finished our sashimi. The rolls were huge, eight pieces each! We had the Eel Communication, made with shrimp tempura, spicy crab and tuna, freshwater eel, avocado, sweet chili and drizzled with eel sauce; TDF with shrimp tempura, spicy crab, cucumber, avocado, topped with spicy tuna and sweet pepper sauce; and the Mexicali with grilled Mexican white shrimp, crab, cucumber, avocado and daikon sprouts topped with spicy yellowtail, chopped cilantro, jalapeno and Fresno chili peppers and a garlic ponzu sauce.

The sushi was tasty, but lacked any redeeming or amazing qualities; it was not wow by any means, and they defiantly were not well rolled. I have eaten tons of sushi and never have I had so many rolls fall apart as I was trying to eat them. Only so-so tasting and poorly rolled, garnered the sushi a less than bombastic rating. This was not the best sushi San Diego had to offer!

As the night continued, Zenbu La Jolla continued to get busier, mainly in the bar area and with each new person, the decibel level seemed to go up. And as the night went by, we saw less and less of our waitress, it seemed anytime we looked for her, she was up at the bar chatting away.

Overall, our dinner at Zenbu La Jolla was disappointing. Fresh and tasty sashimi just could not make up for the extremely poor service and dull sushi rolls. Our rating for Zenbu La Jolla is between bombastic and not.

What I liked: Sashimi

What I didn’t like: The horrible service, dull and tasteless rolls

Rating: Between bombastic and not

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