Azuki Sushi

Azuki Sushi is in Banker’s Hill and from the outside it’s an unassuming little house but when you walk in the inside is surprisingly nice. The decor is simple but trendy-ish with accent lighting and they project movies on one of the walls, then past a narrow corridor they actually have a large covered patio area. Oh and the sushi ain’t bad either.

Azuki Sushi

Azuki Sushi

While I love pricier sushi options like Hane Sushi (a couple blocks up the street, see a review on it here) and Sushi Ota in PB sometimes you just want yummy sushi that’s affordable. But not too affordable like the gross discount stuff filled with cream cheese they peddle at so-so places like PB Sushi or god-awful places like Yakimono’s by the Vons in UTC/La Jolla. It’s closed now but has anyone ever been there? Every underage UCSD student used to go there because they did not card at all but the sushi was SO BAD.

Anyways Azuki has turned into our go-to stop; really good sushi at good prices and great happy hour specials. They have really good traditional nigiri and sashimi as well as creative entrees and super creative (and delicious) rolls.

Azuki Sushi Rolls

Azuki Sushi Rolls

Azuki Menu

Azuki Daily Specials

Normally we come for happy hour because they have great deals on sake and beer as well as appetizers like the huge super-garlicky Garlic Edamame for $3 and their amazing Tuna Tataki with ponzu and jalapeño for $6 dollas. However this would be a great Valentine’s Day stop (HAPPY VALENTINE’S CHILDREN) because sushi in general is a much better idea than overpriced red wine, steak and chocolate lava cake dinners. We did that last year for Valentine’s and afterwards you feel like a beached whale and you just want to lie comatose on the couch and watch Netflix…which is perfectly fine every other day of our lives but perhaps not the best way to spend Valentine’s. Sushi on the other hand is sufficiently fancy and very delicious but also light and you feel great afterwards. Sprightly even.

APPETIZER: To start with we got their Root Vegetable Fries. These are super thinly cut super crispy strips of carrot, green beans, zucchini, and potatoes that are tempura-fried and served with a creamy aioli.

Root Vegetable Fries

Root Vegetable Fries

Of course we finished all the aioli before I remembered to take a picture. Yum emulsified oil and egg.

ENTREES: We’ve tried so many of their rolls and they are all awesome but a favorite is the By the Border Roll which has spicy tuna and avocado inside and seared albacore, sliced jalapeño, signature ponzu and spicy aioli on the outside.

By the Border Roll

By the Border Roll

The avocado, ponzu and jalapeño are a great way to add flavor to the tuna so that it’s a good roll for sushi neophytes who are not yet crazy about raw fish. At the same time you get a very decent serving of tuna and albacore and their fat little dot of spicy aioli makes it the perfect amount so its not one of those rolls that is swimming in mayo.

By the Border Roll

By the Border Roll

Me on the other hand, am all about the raw fish, no accoutrements necessary. I went with the Adventurous Nigiri course that comes with (from back to front, might have some mistakes): chu-toro (medium fatty tuna), saba (mackarel), sake (salmon), kanpachi (amberjack), ebi (black tiger shrimp), hamachi (yellowtail) and snow crab. The snow crab actually should have been uni but I hate uni so I asked to sub in ankimo (monkfish liver, tastes like foie gras, is awesome) but they said they couldn’t substitute that in so I left it up to the chef. I got fresh snow crab and I was pretty happy with that because it was delicious.

Adventurous Nigiri

Adventurous Nigiri

This was amazing and I love the way they do their nigiri here with only a small amount of rice and a nice huge slice of fish that drapes over both ends of the rice. I’m constantly picking out rice from rolls that have too much rice but this is never necessary here.

Perfectly Draped Sushi

Perfectly Draped Sushi

Overall it was a great dinner, as always at Azuki (alliteration). The only disappointment was that on OpenTable I mentioned it was our anniversary dinner so I was hoping for a free dessert but no one read the notes or asked if there was an occasion so no dessert for us. Our waitress misheard me when I ordered the Adventurous Nigiri and thought I ordered the Adventurous Sashimi and that was brought out then had to be sent back so I felt bad being all ‘hey its an arbitrary personal milestone for us give us a thing for free’. Nonetheless, can’t wait to be back.

CHECK:
– Root Vegetable Fries $6.95
– By the Border Roll $13.50
– Adventurous Nigiri $28.00
– TOTAL (w/ tax) $52.48

Azuki Sushi

2321 5th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101
619.238.4760

http://www.azukisushi.com/

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Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant II

The first time we went to Banker’s Hill we kind of have mixed reactions but loved the place and given it was new figured it just had to work some kinks out. We still haven’t been for the very enticing happy hour with $5 dollar appetizers…but we did stop by for SD Restaurant Week and I have to say this definitely won us over. Touche Bankers Hill.

Banker's Hill Bar & Restaurant

Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant

Banker's Hill Bar & Restaurant

Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant

Banker's Hill Bar & Restaurant

Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant

APPETIZERS: For the first course we got the Crispy Pacific Red Snapper with Lentils, Preserved Lemon and Remoulade. Although I didn’t realize the crispy meant fried this was a lovely dish. The fish was super crunchy and the beluga lentils were delicious, topped off with a tangy and creamy caper remoulade this was awesome. Didn’t really get too much of the preserved lemon but still overall my favorite appetizer.

Crispy Pacific Red Snapper with Capers, Preserved Lemon and Remoulade

Crispy Pacific Red Snapper with Capers, Preserved Lemon and Remoulade

The other appetizer I tried was the Bacon-Citrus Marmalade Bruschetta with Bucheron + Minted Apples on Grilled Levain Bread. Levain bread is an awesome sort of partially whole wheat sourdough and bucheron is a stronger goat cheese, it almost tastes like a mixture between brie and chevre. The bucheron was creamy and tangy and with the salty-sweet bacon citrus marmalade and crisp apples on the toasted bread this had a lot going on. In a good way. Couldn’t taste the mint on the apples but I was ok with that as I don’t know how mint would have tasted with everything else.

Bacon-Citrus Marmalade Bruschetta  Whipped Bucheron, Minted Apples, Grilled Levain Bread

Bacon-Citrus Marmalade Bruschetta
Whipped Bucheron, Minted Apples, Grilled Levain Bread

Bacon-Citrus Marmalade Bruschetta  Whipped Bucheron, Minted Apples, Grilled Levain Bread

Bacon-Citrus Marmalade Bruschetta Whipped Bucheron, Minted Apples, Grilled Levain Bread

ENTREES: My entree was a Mesquite Grilled Local Yellowtail with Roasted Garlic Masa, Corn & Pasilla Saute with Salsa Verde. The yellowtail was just charred on the outside and perfectly pink and rare in the middle. The roasted garlic masa was similar to grits or polenta and together with the tomatoes, corn and salsa verde this was a fresh but satisfying dish with that creamy garlic-y masa.

Mesquite Grilled Local Yellowtail Roasted Garlic ‘Masa,’ Corn & Pasilla Saute, Salsa Verde

Mesquite Grilled Local Yellowtail
Roasted Garlic ‘Masa,’ Corn & Pasilla Saute, Salsa Verde

The other entree I tried was Black Angus Bistro Tender with Crispy Bacon & Cheddar Twice-Baked Potato, Broccolini & Cabernet Reduction. This was cooked nicely to the requested medium-rare and its hard to go wrong with steak, potatoes, bacon and veggies. Nothing super inventive but still very tasty.

Black Angus Bistro Tender   Crispy Bacon & Cheddar Twice-Baked Potato, Broccolini, Cabernet Reduction

Black Angus Bistro Tender Crispy Bacon & Cheddar Twice-Baked Potato, Broccolini, Cabernet Reduction

DESSERT: It seems to be a recurring trend for me to not post dessert photos because everyone (read: me) gets too excited and it disappears before I think of snapping a picture. Either way we got the Spiced Apple Cobbler Walnut Streusel, Salted Caramel Sauce, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and the BH ‘S’more’ Ice Cream Sandwich Graham Cookie, Chocolate Sauce, Toasted Marshmallow. Hot apple cobbler + vanilla ice cream is a classic and this was no different. Great fall dessert. The s’mores ice cream sandwich came with a swipe of toasted marshmallow to dip your ice cream sandwich in and the ice cream was studded with crunchy almonds. Although it was served a bit too frozen this was pretty great.

Banker's Hill Bar & Restaurant

Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant

Patio

Patio

Overall everyone really enjoyed their meals. The restaurant has a great sort of minimalist and masculine decor with all the dark accents and deer heads and whatnot. Hopefully we will get to enjoy happy hour on the patio which has a huge wall of succulents. I guess given its restaurant week its hard to comment on price but for $30 bucks this was a great meal.

CHECK:
Restaurant Week Menu $30 x 2
TOTAL: $69.94 (w/ tax)

Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant

2202 4th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 231-0222

www.bankershillsd.com

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Doods Foods

We’ve heard a lot of good things about Doods Foods, the place is a small independent owned counter slinging burgers out of a little stand in the Tin Can bar with stellar Yelp reviews as well as cheap, cheap prices.

Now we love Burger Lounge but sometimes you don’t really want to pay $15 dollars for a burger and fries no matter how great that grass-fed burger and crispy fries are. Sometimes its ok that your burger was fed things other than grass…

The Tin Can Bar

The Tin Can Bar

Perhaps the best part is that Doods Foods is super close to us, in Banker’s Hill on 5th. When you enter the Tin Can its the ideal dive bar. Small, dark, Christmas lights, a great beer selection, a small crowd, 70s game shows on the TV and quirky live music. You order the burgers from the Doods Foods counter where it’s just one guy doing all the work. Note that if they’re pretty busy it can be kind of slow because as mentioned its one guy. You can get burgers, grilled cheese variations, sandwiches + fries and/or a salad with your burger.

Tin Can Bar

I got the Doods Burger, a classic burger a.k.a. thin patty, American cheese, tomato, onions, lettuce and chipotle buttermilk on a bolillo bun. Ok. Everything in this was very well done. The bolillo bun is AMAZING. The perfect amount of soft and squishy yet still held up to the burger. The tomato/lettuce/onions are super fresh and they also slice the onion suuuuper thinly which is nice because I for one think super thick crunchy slices of onion can completely overwhelm if not entirely ruin a burger. Lastly, the chipotle buttermilk is a nice touch, creamy and flavorful it definitely added a little twist to the otherwise classic cheeseburger.

Doods Burger

Doods Burger

Now for the bad news. The meat. The meat they use is apparently sourced from a Mexican market and its more fatty than usual chuck and super finely ground. Its definitely a little more greasy which I didn’t mind but the fact that it was super finely ground and tightly packed made the patty seem a little too mushy and too dense. The outside bites where that extra fatty chuck crisped up were nice but once those crispy edges are gone everything just seems so mushy and sadly the same cheap meat that makes the burger so attractively affordable also tends to be not so flavorful.

Doods Burger Inside

Doods Burger Inside

I got a side salad and that was good but nothing crazy. Just simple lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrots and an Italian vinaigrette. I appreciated the freshness of the vegetables but I wish it had come with the chipotle buttermilk instead of the forgettable Italian vinaigrette.

Doods Foods side salad

Doods Foods side salad

The other more daring burger they have is the Flying Cheeseburger. This baby is a double patty, double American cheese, double bacon, lettuce, tomato, onions, chipotle buttermilk on bolillo bun MONSTER. Definitely a generous portion of everything but sadly the already kindof extra greasy pattys paired with all the bacon and extra cheese and whatnot makes this a super greasy mess. Tasty but hard to finish and afterwords you definitely feel a pang of regret for eating the whole damn thing. But then again maybe that’s how people like to feel after polishing off such a huge thing?

Flying Cheeseburger

Flying Cheeseburger

The fries are ok, a little too crispy/greasy for me.

Overall, I think Doods Foods is doing everything right except for the meat they use. Its definitely not a bad burger at all but it could be PHENOMENAL with a better meat selection. Then again that might be why the prices are relatively cheap compared to Burger Lounge.

Despite not entirely fulfilling our burger dreams I can’t help hoping that this place improves the meat and really nails it. Sitting in this hipster-ish little dive bar under the green glow of Christmas lights talking to the super friendly bartender, drinking good beer and listening to a girl sing about her crappy boyfriend from Riverside I can’t wait to be back and have a really great burger to top the whole experience off.

CHECK:
Doods Burger $4
Flying Cheeseburger $8
TOTAL w/ tax: $12.96

Doods Foods

1863 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 381-2756

https://www.facebook.com/doodsfoods

Hane Sushi

We live quite close to Hane and having heard the rave reviews and having constantly driven by their blue-lit restaurant at night we have always been meaning to try it for a while now. Well the day finally came and I have to say we were not disappointed. The restaurant itself is nice and sleek yet simple. I definitely thought it was trendier/fancier from the outside. We made reservations the day of and had no problem securing a table around 7 pm but I would recommend calling in and making a reservation as when we sat down there was a line of people waiting for tables.

Hane Sushi Interior

Hane Sushi Interior

The menu has a good mix of more classic authentic Japanese (sashimi, monkfish liver, hamachi kama…) as well as more fusion inspired rolls like their Diego roll with spicy tuna, cilantro and serranos; the Del Mar roll with seared kobe beef and seafood; and a Pizza roll. This is nice because it can cater to more traditionalist sushi lovers as well as people who are still warming up to the idea of raw fish.

DRINKS: We started off with a bottle of cloudy Nigori sake. They have a good selection of sake and this was quite affordable for $12. Cloudy sake is unfiltered so that there is still a cloud of the rice used to make the sake. This gives it a smooth, slightly sweet flavor which is very nice. I would almost say it gives it a hint of an horchata flavor if you will 😉 Super easy to drink and pairs really well with sushi throughout the meal.

Nigori Sake

Nigori Sake

APPETIZERS: We were pleasantly surprised Hane has many interesting appetizers, from calamari to the kobe beef carpaccio. However to start with we got their Edamame that’s served with wedges of lime as well as a sea salt and a chili powder mixture for you to sprinkle on as desired. This was a great mix of flavors, vaguely Mexican-y but it worked quite well with the edamame. Sadly we did not remember to take a picture of this for you guys, but for $5 its a nice and cheap way to start off a meal.

ENTREES: For the entree we ordered two rolls and then a sushi meal. For the rolls we got the Pizza Roll that comes with krab and is topped with creamy spicy mayo and baked. This actually makes the rice on the outside the slightest bit crispy which was different but yummy.

Pizza roll

Pizza roll

The other roll we ordered was a Crunch Roll this was a California roll that was topped with the crunchy bits that normally come with crunch rolls. Its such an easy to like roll, highly recommend this to anyone that is just starting to try sushi.

Crunch roll

Crunch roll

They have two sushi combos and we got the larger one ($37) which came with miso, assorted sushi (salmon, tuna, uni, mackerel, yellowtail, squid, eel, salmon roe…two other ones) and a daikon and shiso leaf cut roll as well as a tuna and shiso leaf roll. I am not a huge fan of uni (sea urchin) so I asked to switch that one out for ankimo (monkfish liver). I know monkfish liver sounds weird but if you like foie gras its very similar to foie gras, it definitely has the creamy consistency of foie gras but not the strong taste. And its not fishy at all. I would highly recommend this one, especially if you’ve been missing the foie ever since its been banned in California.

Sushi Combo

Sushi Combo

The sushi combo was quite good. And even though it is a bit pricey, considering its sushi and how much you’re getting I did not think the price was outrageous. My favorites were the ankimo and the mackerel.

Overall we had a good experience at Hane. The service was good and though maybe not world class sushi its definitely pretty good for San Diego. Will return here, although we are sad that they don’t have a happy hour…

CHECK:
Edamame $5
Sake $12
Pizza Roll $10
Crunch Roll $10
Sushi Combo $37
TOTAL: $79.92 (w/tax)

Hane Sushi

2760 5th Ave #105, San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 260-1411

Related links:

Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant

Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant – sandiego.com

We were so excited to try Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant after hearing rave reviews from friends. The restaurant is one of Carl Schroeder’s projects, who was recently nominated for a James Beard Award and is the chef of Market Del Mar. Market does amazing very seasonal and local food and Bankers Hill Restaurant is supposed to be a casual, bistro interpretation of the same kind of fresh food.

The restaurant itself has that industrial/modern look: black walls, reclaimed wood, exposed piping and interesting chandeliers made out of recycled bottles. They also have a nice patio with a wall of succulents. They are fans of a very dimly lit interior, a little too dark in my opinion. We came here on a Sunday around 7 pm and were slightly concerned the restaurant looked so empty considering it was peak dining time.

Son of a Gun and Sidecar.

Son of a Gun and Sidecar.

DRINKS: The restaurant has a great cocktail and craft beer menu. The specialty cocktails are rotated and they are interesting without being too ambitious and have some simple and smart combinations. We tried the Son of a Gun and the Sidecar and we were big fans of both. Their beer selection is quite extensive and they have something for everyone. Including the Bruery‘s Tart of Darkness which I would have ordered were it not for its hefty price tag of $42.

Fries with truffle aioli

Fries with truffle aioli

foto-8

Yuzu-Apple Butter and Boucheron Goat Cheese Crostini

APPETIZERS: We started with the Truffle Fries w/ Aioli and Yuzu-Apple Butter and Boucheron Crostini. The fries are fantastic. They were thin-cut, crispy on the outside and doused in parmesan and parsley with yummy aioli for dipping. The portion is HUGE and would probably be sufficient for 5 people, which I suppose justifies its $10 price tag. The crostini also came with watercress and pistachios, and despite how promising it sounded it was underwhelming. The yuzu was undetectable and there was not enough apple butter or sweetness to play well with the Boucheron. Definitely a dish that sounded great on paper and failed in execution. As a third appetizer/main dish we got the Tuna Tartare with Lemon Aioli. This was a bit of a generic, forgettable tuna tartare. Dressed nicely and with chunks of cucumber and too-thin sesame crackers, but not much else. The lemon aioli was too thick and not very lemon-y, and the red pepper jelly that came with it did not mesh well.

ENTREE: As an entree we got the Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts its hard to screw things up when they are wrapped in bacon. This was tasty but nothing was really great. Good mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts and meatloaf but this could have been really good with a standout sauce or more creative sides.

DESSERT: After an ok meal we decided not to bother with dessert. We were also stuffed from trying to eat that basket-sized portion of truffle fries. Ordered an espresso and it was $3.95 for a huge espresso. I was hoping there would be a cookie with it. No cookie 😦

Overall, it seemed like nothing in the menu really stood out. Sometimes you go to a restaurant and something instantly catches your eye because it sounds that GOOD. Here we had a hard time deciding and it seems we might not have made the best choices. Most of their menu (with the exception of the fries, beets salad and burger) is seasonal and constantly changes. Perhaps it would be wisest to stick to their signature items that do not change. I was also minorly upset that we did not get a bread basket when after looking at some other reviews bread is normally offered.

CHECK:
Son of a Gun $10
Sidecar $12
Truffle Fries $9.95
Boucheron Crostini $11.75
Tuna Tartare $12.50
Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf $17.50
Espresso $3.95
TOTAL: $83.86 (w/tax)

Definitely a little overpriced, we could have gotten a comparable (and tastier) meal at Brooklyn Girl for 2/3 of the price. We will probably return for happy hour but overall it was a “just OK” experience.

Although I do think that we could have ordered better options I noticed other people had similar experiences so maybe they just haven’t hit their stride yet:

Two Foodies One Journey – Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant

Alice Q. Foodie – Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant

Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant
2202 4th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
http://www.bankershillsd.com