SAN DIEGO – With the closure of popular Hillcrest restaurants including Ono Sushi and Sushi Itto, many sushi lovers felt a void in the neighborhood. Akinori Sushi, a full service sushi bar and restaurant, has been in business just over three months and hopes to fill that void with its high quality fish, daily specials and friendly staffers.
Located in a prime Hillcrest spot at 1417 University Ave., the restaurant offers a front patio perfect for people-watching, a large sushi bar, and plenty of tables in the space, adorned with art and modern Japanese décor.
The business gets its name from its owner Akinori Sato, who has worked as a sushi chef for more than 20 years and finally decided to open his own restaurant. Sato worked his way through the ranks and learned much of what he knows working at popular sushi restaurants like Surfside Sushi and Sushi Ota, both in Pacific Beach.
Born in Tokyo, Sato says he came to San Diego 20 years ago to study English and loved the place so much he couldn’t leave.
“I got a job cleaning the floor at a sushi restaurant, and learned so much along the way,” Sato said.
Although most of his work in sushi restaurants has been in different parts of the city, primarily in the beach areas, Sato is excited to be a part of the Hillcrest community.
“While there are great people at the beach, I think that [Hillcrest] is filled with more cutting edge, artistic people who want more creativity in the food they eat,” Sato said.
He believes that Hillcrest diners are more sensitive about presentation and are willing to try different things, so he works hard every day to bring in new items and the freshest of fish.
In fact, Sato says that his focus is quality fish and more than 50% of his fish comes from Japan.
“Japanese fish is important for me to carry, along with a local harvest, so that diners are exposed to different types of fish,” Sato said, noting that Japanese fish are rich in Omega 3 protein, which is good for the brain.
Sato wants his customers to have the best experience possible, and says that he and his team are able to provide that because of time living in Tokyo, and working in American sushi restaurants.
“Locals will love the casual yet stylish atmosphere here, while tourists visiting from Tokyo will feel at home,” Sato said.
The menu consists of a number of a creative sushi rolls, fresh fish, a hot appetizer menu, drinks, and dessert at a reasonable price.
Understanding that Happy Hour is an important part of the day for many Hillcrest residents and visitors, Akinori offers it twice daily.
The early evening Happy Hour is from 5:30 to 7 pm and includes $1 edamame, $3 appetizers, $4 House Sake and Sapporo, and $1 house wine. Starting at 9:30 pm until closing time, Akinori offers a Late Night Happy Hour, with $2 Sake Bombs, $3 house white wine and $3 appetizers.
Akinori is open 5:30 to 10 pm everyday, with hours extended to 10:30 pm on Friday and Saturday nights.
Akinori Sushi has a Facebook page HERE.