Legendary | Worth driving from anywhere
Review by: Miranda Cilfone & Kris Masilamani
Nothing beats good sushi at happy hour prices! Zen 5 in northern San Diego offers terrific Japanese food at a great discount at the right time. A massive sushi bar, wrapping around an open dining area is managed by friendly and efficient staff that are able to give advice and recommendations based on any preferences. The happy hour special pertains mostly to appetizers and sushi, so that was what we ordered. No arguments here! Edamame and Grilled Asparagus apps started us off and, from a menu full of crab salad and spicy tuna based rolls, we chose a sampler of simple rolls and two specialties.
The steamed Edamame came with salt on the side, a great option for those who enjoy a little more control over the flavor. Grilled Asparagus was served over a lettuce leaf with carrots and mushrooms all sautéed and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. These apps tasted great and were a perfect light start to the meal.
The happy hour Roll Mix Combo included half portioned spicy tuna, California, salmon, and Rainbow rolls. They’re all fairly simple, traditional rolls, each outstanding. The Rainbow had huge fresh slices of fish on top that went flawlessly with the imitation crab and cucumber inside. The imitation crab in both the Rainbow and California were pretty creamy mixtures, definitely made in house. The spicy tuna tasted great, not too creamy and perked up with what seemed to be a balance of spicy mayo and wasabi. As for the salmon roll, the large fresh fish wrapped in rice could not be beat. All of these rolls were decent sized and had just enough rice.
We didn’t think that our specialty rolls could surpass the basic rolls in the sampler, but we were in for a surprise. The Ginza Roll came in 8 pieces; rice-wrapped spicy crab salad slathered in pieces of yellowtail, tuna, and salmon. Topped with masago and green onions, this roll was visually appealing and tasted even better than it looked. The spice mixed into the imitation crab was definitely the highlight of the roll, though it didn’t overshadow the array of fish on top.
The Rob’s Roll was so mighty it came in only 6 pieces. Soft shell crab and spicy tuna meshed perfectly inside with both avocado and cucumber, all of that wrapped in rice and topped with hefty pieces of seared tuna. This roll was so big it was almost too much for just one bite. After perfecting the art of eating without destroying the pieces, we had to prepare ourselves for the intense flavor within. The jalapeño and tobiko, what some may take as clashing flavors, were combined with spicy eel sauce to really enhance the unique variations in this roll. In one word: delicious. Once adjusted to the strong eel sauce, the roll tasted even better with each piece.
A place that can master the balance of traditional rolls while also serving unique specialty rolls is a restaurant that can win anyone’s heart. All the better when this feat is accomplished at affordable happy hour prices. Zen 5 Sushi has done it all; it is a legendary stop for sushi lovers.
Directions & Hours
- Monday: 12:00 – 10:00 PM
- Tuesday: 12:00 – 10:00 PM
- Wednesday: 12:00 – 10:00 PM
- Thursday: 12:00 – 10:00 PM
- Friday: 12:00 – 10:00 PM
- Saturday: 12:00 – 10:00 PM
- Sunday: 12:00 – 10:00 PM
|Meals Served||Lunch, Dinner, Late Night|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|