Plain Good Sushi

Does anyone have suggestions for good Sushi in Santa Barbara? I have lived here for over 15 years and enjoyed Ichiban's quality and selection of good fish. It has gotten kinda sad recently, and perhaps my standards are high, but I have not been satisfied and used to love it when my old Sushi guy was there.

I am looking for a place that consistently has good Uni and Toro and also has a selection of revolving seasonal fish for sushi. Not to sound snobby, but I am not looking for a Japanese/fusion burrito. It seems that recently all that is popping up in our tourist community are roll houses, which are cool on occasion, but not what I am looking for. Most of them use lesser quality fish since they can mask it with whatever sauce they come up with.

Am I just being picky or should I start buying my own fish?

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yin yang Aug 21, 2017 10:28 PM
Plain Good Sushi

Not exactly sushi, but I have not been to Yoichi's for Kaiseki.

yin yang Aug 21, 2017 10:15 PM
Plain Good Sushi

Dammit, the EDitors told me that Shift + Enter would make a paragraph space. I better review that email.

yin yang Aug 21, 2017 10:14 PM
Plain Good Sushi

I like Shintori a lot, went there after not eating there for years. I like the very casual ambiance and the food was good. Have not yet tried Sun; heard good things from a business owner in same mall. I've eaten most often at Edomasa because it used to be in my walking distance. Knowing the sushi chef does make a difference. He'd go to Freeman's for a Scotch many years ago; we'd show up for dinner a little later. He didn't pay for drinks! (Yes, I'm embarrassed to not remember his name; he's still there.) I ate at Arigato regularly very VERY long ago, when I had a sushi-eating crew I worked with. I'm obviously not too picky, but I hate rolls and americanized stuff, and scraped tuna with hot sauce to cover any funk. Though I don't eat tuna anymore. Hamachi? omg, Homer drool. I've only been to Kyoto a couple of times. Any thoughts?

alorsenfants Aug 21, 2017 01:55 PM
Plain Good Sushi

I am not a true purist or connoisseur, but sushi in America these days certainly seems to have gotten off course with the oversaucing and the misbegotten roll concoctions. In my visits to places here (been to most of them), I found this to be the case, especially with the talked-up Arigato and Sakana, also with the unmentioned Yume Sushi. I have been happy with Ichiban in the past, but haven't been there lately -- am sorry people are talking about a decline, although I wonder... the owners know the business. I love Edomasa's late-night, funky ambience. Certainly more fun than most places in this town, not only sushi spots... We do have a new kid on the block, and they are closer to what I want a sushi place to be than any other. It's Sun Sushi, in the old Ahi Sushi spot on upper State. They are old-school, high quality, and reasonable, and some of their fish is coming each week from Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. Busy at 8pm on a Wednesday night in a neighborhood that goes home early. This is a big welcome addition to dining here --

Lucky 777 Aug 21, 2017 09:53 AM
Plain Good Sushi

While tidepooling as a child in Southern California I remember my horror when I saw Japanese folks cracking open sea urchins and eating them alive. Fast forward to living in Santa Barbara as an adult, learning to develop a taste for uni, and eventually eating them alive right on the docks when the fisherman bring them in and offload their net bags. When you crack the animal open you get both the sperm, milt, and the eggs, and it is not suffused with the stabilizer that stiffens them for transport when they go through the processing. Eating gonads, epic aphrodisiac.

Mesarats Aug 21, 2017 08:07 AM
Plain Good Sushi

All the sushi bars use the processed uni in the trays. They don't have the space to store and they like the consistency. If you want really fresh uni see Ron at the Saturday fish market and you can buy them live and take them home, or set up a time to meet him at the boat, crack them and you can eat them out of the shell while they are still moving. As far as freshness in sushi bars, except for shellfish #1 is the quality of the product and how it was handled,#2 is that aging improves the texture and flavor, much like beef. Yoichi's on Victoria is a kaiseki, not a sushi restaurant and that is where you will find the absolute best quality and preparation of Japanese cuisine including raw fish. It will be wonderful, but it will not be cheap.

mtndriver Aug 20, 2017 05:09 PM
Plain Good Sushi

I love Arigato, freshest in town by far, well prepared. I'd be happy to hear of others that were maybe not quite as good but cheaper. And I second the suggestions about the fish market at the harbor, they almost always have local uni and often sashimi grade tuna, sometimes hamachi, sometimes salmon.

SBPaul Aug 20, 2017 04:10 PM
Plain Good Sushi

I have been to every sushi place except big eye and I guess I was looking for an insider tip. Arigato I feel is the best place to get a special roll. The sushi bar experience there is not really what I am looking for. I agree Ichiban was the best until they recently lost It and Sakan seems to bee the next best from what I can tell. I will be at Sakana for my Sushi fix for now and I agree its probably time to learn how to cut some fish and suck it up and make some rice. Thanks for all the help!

therealbebe Aug 20, 2017 02:50 PM
Plain Good Sushi

Sakana on Coast Village Rd is very good. I also used to frequent Ichiban, but it has gone downhill steadily. The fish market at the harbor often sells sushi-grade fish.

oceandrew Aug 20, 2017 12:48 PM
Plain Good Sushi

Definitely Arigato if you're a "sushi snob". Their fish is always several cuts above the rest. Itsuki is also a cut above Ichiban but it all seriously comes down to the sushi chef. I suggest you mix it up and not go to the same one on a regular basis as the one time they don't meet the quality you've come to expect it's over but to be surprised frequently keeps the magic alive.

a-1553529707 Aug 20, 2017 12:55 PM
Plain Good Sushi

Additionally.... has anyone tried Kai's lately? Kai used to be in the Von's shopping center in Montecito before moving to State St and was to die for. Besides the shabu shabu he does traditional sushi and I remember it being very good.

EMI Photo Aug 20, 2017 12:43 PM
Plain Good Sushi

New place on upper State St. Sun Sushi is very traditional and has good, fresh fish. My personal favorite is Shintori Sushi Factory at State and Calle Laureles but they do tend to have a lot of fusion/American sushi items. I'm not a fan of uni so can't speak to that for either of these places.

richyrich Aug 20, 2017 11:40 AM
Plain Good Sushi

Someone told me that Arigato on State Street has been rated top 20 sushi restaurants in the United States. I don't know if that's true. But I can say that Arigato is by far and away the best sushi in Santa Barbara. And yes I'm a total sushi snob. Stand out front at 5:15 and they will let you in at 5:30 and you can pick the best seat of the house.

TYH77 Aug 20, 2017 11:11 AM
Plain Good Sushi

Hey SBPaul, what places have you gone to so we might be able to narrow down some viable options for you? I completely understand how much of a bummer it is when you can't find what your taste buds crave. I think most people in Edhatland can relate. Side note, if you're looking for uni you could always pick some up from Fisherman's Market on Saturdays...can't get much fresher than that;)

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