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Tabu Knows What to Do with Sushi

Casual restaurant serves fine fish, entrees and desserts in Rancho San Diego.

I admit it up front: I love sushi. I’ve eaten it for years but have never written about it. So the time has come, and Tabu Sushi in Rancho San Diego is the recipient of my barbed chopsticks.

It’s a casual, hip-looking place, with a hip-looking website that also highlights sister restaurants in Del Mar and La Jolla. The RSD Tabu has a nice long sushi bar and lots of indoor-only tables. The crowd was mostly young on the weeknight we dined, although families with kids and younger codgers like us also were being served. The music was uncomfortably loud at times but fine for conversation at others. Lots of HDTVs adorned the walls, but many of them just displayed an ad about who to contact to advertise on them.

We started with a traditional appetizer of edamame ($3).We asked for no salt but the beans arrived covered in it. We devoured them anyway and liked that they were served warm, unlike the cold edamame we’ve had at most Japanese restaurants.

For the main course, we stuck to two other favorites: crunchy rolls ($9) and rainbow rolls ($11). The crunchy consisted of shrimp tempura, avocado and cucumber topped with tempura crumbs, spicy mayonnaise and eel sauce. The crunchy were fine although the rice wasn’t as tasty as we’ve had at our usual sushi place in East County. The rainbows were filled with crabmeat, avocado and cucumber with fish slices on top. Again, the rice wasn’t the best but the roll itself was very good. We also tried the thick slices of sashimi tuna ($10). They had a clean, fresh, non-fishy taste and were more filling than we’re used to.

The menu also had plenty of other choices, including hand rolls, bento boxes, yakisoba teriyaki entrees and vegetarian specials. All were reasonable priced, and we’d like to return to sample the variety available.

Desserts aren’t always on the menu at the sushi places we’ve been to, but Tabu’s got ’em and they’re great. We had one scoop each of mango, chocolate and vanilla mochi ($5), a refreshing Japanese sweet made with pounded sticky rice over an ice cream filling. I’m a chocoholic but the mango had the sweetest flavor.

We didn’t think we could do it, but we also polished off the banana tempura ($6), a huge serving of strawberry ice cream ringed by soft, warm, fried bananas and drizzled with chocolate syrup. We’d go back for that alone to satisfy an ice cream craving. The dish is about the same price as two scoops at B-R and certainly more exotic with the contrasting hot and cold flavors.

Service was decent, but the waitress did commit a few restaurant no-no’s. She brought the dessert before clearing our used plates, leaving us with yucky plates to look at while finishing the meal. When she did come for the plates, she was carrying another table’s used plates, which she put on the just-cleaned table beside us before picking up our scraps. Not to be germophobic, but we really don’t want to sit at a supposedly clean table where another table’s dirty plates and utensils have just been parked.

But everything we had was nicely presented and appetizing-looking. Unfortunately, my PDA’s camera had the hiccups on our visit, so the photos here aren’t the best. You can see better images on the Tabu website.

The total bill including tax and before tip was $51.11—pretty good for two people. We plan to come back. And judging from the rapidly filling dining room as we left, a lot of other people have already decided to do the same.

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