Popular amongst locals, sushi spot San Shi Go has reopened in town, bringing a slew of customer favorites with it.
By Ashley Ryan
Ask a local to give you recommendations for San Shi Go and you’re likely to end up with a whole list of dishes to try—not that that’s a bad thing.
The restaurant has been a Laguna Beach sushi staple for more than 30 years, offering a menu filled with appetizers, sashimi, rolls, hot dishes and more. But the current location is new, after the original San Shi Go, a mere half-mile away, closed last February. It’s truly a battle of the sushi restaurants, as Seabutter moved into the previous space and San Shi Go took over the old Okura Robata Grill & Sushi Bar building in October. But after months with a soft opening, San Shi Go held its official reopening in January—and Laguna locals are already flocking.
It’s not hard to see why. The fish is fresh and flavorful, the menu combines classic sushi with innovative bites and the spacious patio, complete with warm heaters for cool nights, overlooks Pacific Coast Highway. The large indoor dining room also features a chef’s counter for omakase experiences.
When you arrive, start with something to sip on. The restaurant offers vino ranging from Italian prosecco and French chardonnay to red wines from Napa Valley as well as Japanese beers, premium sake and cocktails like the light and refreshing Yuzu Voodoo, crafted with silver tequila, Cointreau, yuzu and tangerine. Or, opt for the Japan Fashion, filled with Japanese whisky and garnished with an orange peel.
Ease into the menu with some appetizers while you try to narrow down your sushi selections. A fan favorite is the spicy tuna crispy rice, fried rice squares topped with a pile of tuna plus slices of jalapeno and slices of fried garlic. Equal parts crunchy and spicy, the dish is plated atop two sauces: unagi, or eel, and the creamy signature San Shi Go sauce.
For something lighter, try the red snapper appetizer, which offers thin, rolled slices of fresh Japanese fish drizzled in lime juice, yuzu and sea salt. (Pro tip: This pairs expertly with the Yuzu Voodoo cocktail.)
As you peruse the list of sushi and sashimi offerings, you’re sure to struggle with which to choose. I’m here to tell you that the yellowtail and bluefin tuna are both simple yet delicious, the extra thick cuts bursting with flavor. Other options include albacore, scallop, toro, sea urchin, sweet shrimp, octopus, halibut and more.
There are also over 15 rolls to choose from, including mainstays like the California roll, tempura roll, salmon and cream cheese roll, and rainbow roll. But there are two in particular that stand out, both in uniqueness and popularity. The Backflip roll, packed with spicy tuna, is topped with seared Cajun tuna, green onion, red chile sauce and ponzu. For a fresher, brighter option, diners can enjoy the salmon lemon roll, stuffed with chopped vegetables then topped with vibrant orange salmon and actual slices of fragrant lemon.
A seasonal menu is often offered as well, revealing the chef’s recommendations for specialty cuts and rolls. From this, the standout is the omakase sushi special, which offers diners a sampler of five pieces of delectable sushi. These can change by the day, but could include things like golden eye snapper, toro (or tuna belly), sea perch, red snapper, wild scallop and more—served simply, with sea salt, yuzu or pickled wasabi.
Those that aren’t big on seafood are covered, too, with chicken katsu, rib-eye steak, chicken teriyaki and a number of salads on the menu. And don’t skip dessert, as the matcha fudge, in which matcha espresso is poured over vanilla ice cream, is a great way to end the night right.
San Shi Go
858 S. Coast Highway
5-9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Photos by Ashley Ryan