{America: Eat} Izakaya Masa, San Diego, California

ramen

In a Nutshell:

  • Where: Izakaya Masa 928 Fort Stockton Dr. San Diego, CA 92103
  • When: July, 2013
  • *Notes: Website, Avocado Salad ($5.95), Salmon Sashimi ($8.95), Katsu Don ($8.95), Soft Shell Crab ($12), Hakata Ramen ($6.95)

Full Report:

Last month M had to go down to San Diego for work.  Since he had to go see a client really early in the morning, he decided to get a hotel in the area for the night before.  He asked if I’d like to go along and I thought, “why not?”  San Diego is roughly 1.5 hrs south of where we live which isn’t too far….but it seems like the only reason we ever go down there is to hit up the casinos from time to time!

So on this visit, instead of losing a bunch of money and eating at casino buffets, we actually went to a couple of Japanese restaurants — one of which was Izakaya Masa.  Even with our GPS, this place was a bit difficult to find.  It’s tucked into the corner of a small business plaza with a dinky parking lot.  We drove past it the first time and had to come back around.  Luckily there was parking on the street because there was none in the plaza.

izakaya masa san diego

Front of the restaurant.

Upon entering, we were told that there would be a 20 minute wait.  The restaurant was on the small side, kind of hole-in-the-wall, but had a very nice atmosphere.

izakaya masa

One side of fhe restaurant.

izakaya masa

Counter area.

After only 10 minutes, the hostess let us know that our table was ready.  Isn’t it the best when the wait time turns out to be less than what your were told?  We were given a little table off to the side:

izakaya masa

Off center image of the little table off to the side. Sorry, I was trying to include the doorway leading to another room.

We were promptly given menus by a waitress and asked what we wanted to drink.  At Japanese restaurants, we always order ocha (hot green tea) to start off with.  She rushed off and we looked over the menus.  We’ve eaten at a number of izakayas in Orange County and Los Angeles and this one was a little different.  Most of the ones we’ve frequented concentrate on small dishes that are served tapas style.  This is because Izakayas are known as drinking places and the food is more like an accompaniment to the alcohol.  But here, there were a number of “entree” style dishes like curry and donburi and noodles.  There was also no yakitori (grilled skewers) and that was a bit disappointing.    Here’s a sampling of their menu:

izakaya masa menu

izakaya masa

As it turned out, because there was no yakitori, we each went with an entree style dish.  We also ordered a couple extra things because we were pretty hungry.

avocado salad

Avocado Salad, $5.95

The salad ended up being very good.  I am a sucker for avocados and these were buttery, rich, and just ripe enough.  There was roughly half an avocado on top of the greens.  The salad dressing appeared to be a ginger miso.  There was a lot of it but it wasn’t overpowering.

salmon sashimi

Salmon Sashimi, $8.95

The sashimi was not very good.  It wasn’t as fresh as it could have been but it was still edible.  I made sure to get a lot of soy sauce and wasabi on it.

katsu don

Katsu Don, $8.95

This was M’s entree.  Katsu Don is fried pork cutlet on a bed of rice topped with egg.  This one had such condiments as green onions, nori, and pickled ginger.  I’m not really the biggest fan of Katsu Don but I had a taste.  It tasted like…..well, like katsu don!  But M said it was very good and he gobbled it up.

soft shell crab

Soft Shell Crab, $12

We both LOVE soft shell crab.  This one was excellent as it was really meaty.  I say that because sometimes you order soft shell crab and it’s a bunch of little pieces without much actual crab to enjoy.  This one had nice chunks of crab and it was deep fried to perfection.

ramen

Half order of Hakata Ramen, $5.50

My entree was a half order of Hakata Ramen.  I didn’t want to get a regular size because I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it.  Hakata Ramen is made from boiling pork bones and the result is a very rich broth that is full of porky goodness.  This one did not disappoint, it was milky and flavorful and I ate every last bit of it.  The one thing I especially liked was the garlic chips floating in the soup.  They added an extra dimension of flavor.  I tried not to eat them because I didn’t want to stink, but I couldn’t resist.

The salmon notwithstanding, the overall meal was very good.  It had been a while since we’d eaten at an Izakaya and it was fun to be back in that kind of atmosphere.  If we’re back in the San Diego area again, we’ll definitely try and come here.