Miss A Columnist

Grace Yco is the San Diego Editor for Miss A. Denying her writinglust finally caught up with her. She was forced to trade in biology for blogging and hasn’t looked back since (moments spent Hermèsmerized notwithstanding).

She grew up in Japan, considers California home, but feels like she belongs in Paris. In her bag, you will always find three books: one for reading, one for writing and one for planning. Yes she has tablets, but committing to them is another story, and so that relationship remains complicated.

You can find her scouring the web, musing over luxury elitism vs. fashion democracy, and dilly-dallying in rapturous moments of absolute silence (she is not a nun). Grace is also sensitive. And sometimes funny. She’s a professional bikini bard by day and a bookworm by night.

Cafe Japengo In San Diego

Cafe Japengo sushi

A selection of sushi at Cafe Japengo (Photo credit: Cecilia Fernandez)

There’s a certain sense of the exotic that comes to mind when hearing the words Asian fusion or Pacific Rim.  The seafood and the temptation of foreign flavors are as palatable as the cuisine itself and Cafe Japengo does not fail to deliver.  It is after all, the California Restaurant Association’s winner of “Best Sushi 2013.”

Cafe Japengo 1

Inside Cafe Japengo (Photo credit: Cecilia Fernandez)

Tucked within a cul-de-sac of other fine dining establishments that make up the The Aventine La Jolla, Cafe Japengo appears casually unassuming from the outside.  Upon entering the restaurant however, you’re immediately transported to a setting of Japanese design, where kimonos are tastefully erected on stands and traditional seascapes adorn the walls.  In prominent viewing is the sushi bar, with chefs intent on crafting artful arrangements of fresh sashimi.  Walk past the bar and every other table and booth is bathed in soft light, making for the perfect atmosphere for an intimate dinner or romantic night out.

Once settled, be sure to ask for tea.  Make your selection from an impressive list and watch as the presentation includes delicate pours from an old-fashioned cast iron pot.  The servers are intimately schooled in the restaurant’s main menu and rather than suggestions, provide recommendations customized to your palette—with gentle assurances that the chef will cater to your preferences.  Custom hand rolls, for example, can be whipped up to your exact liking.

sushi bar

Cafe Japengo sushi bar (Photo credit: Cecilia Fernandez)

There are secret appetizers off the menu known only to a select few, so be sure to ask for the soy braised short rib flat bread—it’s an old classic of the restaurant that reappears every once in a while at the behest of a veteran patron.  One bite and you’ll see why this dish can barely be kept hush-hush.

Most revered is the chef’s special of truffle yellow tail, topped with Black Tobiko.  Or for those wanting a heartier meal, the vintage New York steak is a favorite choice of Chef Warner’s, chief culinary master.  Is it sushi that makes you swoon?  Then order up the Ken Special, a delicious role of tuna, urchin, crab, avocado, shrimp, broccoli and squash.

Kens Special Sushi Roll

The Ken Special Sushi Roll (Photo credit: Cecilia Fernandez)

End the night over a medley of desserts because with choices such as chocolate brulée tarts or pan-fried bread pudding with poached Asian pears, you’re bound to select at least two to share.

Cafe Japengo is also perfect for small events or birthday gatherings and their happy hour boasts a lively crowd.  Specials include half price on half rolls of sushi and $3 draft beers.

General Manager Monia Tonazzo also stresses the establishment’s efforts on using sustainable fish and developing partnerships with local farms.  Additionally, the restaurant has recently expanded their gluten free menu, including several vegetarian friendly dishes using organic, seasonal produce.


Dessert at Cafe Japengo (Photo credit: Cecilia Fernandez)

Intrigued by the gastronomical delights that await you at Cafe Japengo?  For more information about one of the most consistently best ranking restaurant in San Diego, please click here.


WHERECafe Japengo
8960 University Center Lane
San Diego, CA 92122
Ph. 858-450-3355

sushi chef

Sushi chefs of Cafe Japengo (Photo credit: Cecilia Fernandez)



Monday – Friday 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Happy Hour
Monday – Friday  4:30 – 7 p.m.
Saturday all evening long.

Monday – Thursday 5 – 9:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 5 – 10:30 p.m.

Closed Sundays.


Tea presentation at Cafe Japengo (Photo credit: Cecilia Fernandez)

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