Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Night Out at Izakaya Naruto

My husband had heard of a new place in west Chula Vista called Izakaya Naruto. "Izakaya" refers to an informal Japanese pub/bar. "Naruto" is a fishcake. You can see it in the background of the signage.  My family loves Japanese food. My daughter took Japanese in college for two years, the hubby rolls sushi as a hobby, my son lives on a ramen diet and I want to go to Japan some day! We decided to go try Izakaya Naruto.  It is located on 3rd avenue in the same strip mall as Hogetsu and Utage.  It is a very quaint space as there are only three tables and the bar.   There is a section closed off though so perhaps it will be expanded in the future. We were warmly greeted by Natsuki, our server and Chef/Owner Go Uchida.  The place has only been opened for four months.

Because we were the only customers there at the time, we got a lot of attention!  We learned that Chef Go used to be a bartender in Japan and has worked in various sushi restaurants here in San Diego, including Shibashi Izakaya in Del Mar, Sushi Todokoro in Old Town, and more locally Valentino's in East Chula Vista.  Now his dream of owning his own place has come true!

We were glad to see that ramen was served here! My son got the salt ramen and karaage (fried chicken nuggets). (Do you see the naruto on the ramen?)  He must have liked it because he ate the whole thing! It was a pretty big bowl too!  There's a "Chula Vista" broth on the menu that was described to me by Natsuki as spicy.  My husband wants to try that next time.

I asked Natsuki if there was any green salad offered. Need to balance the carbs with greens, right?  Unfortunately on the menu were only seaweed salad and sunomono (cucumber) salad.  Chef Go overheard me while he was behind the bar and asked if I wanted a green salad, the kind with tomatoes and lettuce.  I said "yes". The hubby chimed in if he could make a salmon skin salad.  Chef Go said, "Yes, I could do that!"  Off the menu, here is what he made for us:

Then the rolls came.  This one is the Creamy Lemon Roll, made up of imitation crab, albacore, cucumber covered with avocado slices with lemon aioli.  
That sauce on top could have easily been a salad dressing, it was light and citrusy, good enough to use on a dessert tart too!

We also had the Naruto Roll, made up of shrimp, imitation crab, avocado, cucumber, topped with spicy scallop and scallion, also with lemon aioli. When you order a specialty roll, you can add on a California Roll for only $3.80!
We also ordered two classic rolls, the caterpillar roll with eel and avocado and the spicy scallop roll.

Not sure what to order?  Just look on the wall.  

Everything was delicious, appropriately sized in portion, and very reasonably priced.  Nothing we ordered was over $9! The menu is not big, there are no chicken teriyaki bowls here, (and no salads, yet anyway!) really mainly sushi/sashimi! And sake!  Happy Hour is from 4-7 daily.  Because the food is great and Chef Go is so humble, easygoing and accommodating, we'd love to see this place flourish.  It is really a neighborhood restaurant where the staff makes you feel at home. The hubby wouldn't mind coming back for an omakase experience.  I'll make sure to tag along! 

For more information visit them at: 


  1. We tried going a week ago and there was a closed until Sept 13 sign. We'll definitely have to go here next time. That Lemon roll sounds intriguing. For the record, this restaurant replaced the enigmatic Kaga Sushi, an old school Japanese sushi place (no rolls and no English spoken).

    Hogetsu nearby is one of my favorite dessert shops. They are the ones who supply mochI to Nijiya and Mitsuwa. The Takedas have been there for nearly 30 years. No one else in SD makes handmade mochi) like they do.

    1. I really wanted to get some mochi at Hogetsu, and Mrs. Takada was inside but she was cleaning and it was already closed :(.

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