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San Diego Restaurant Week recommendations

the-merkWith more than 180 dining establishments to choose from, it can be tough narrowing down which ones to visit. One technique for getting to the core of your cravings is by settling on the type of cuisine you’re most in the mood for. Doing so at least cuts the way-too-generous grandma-sized pie that is the San Diego Restaurant Week playing field down to a manageable wedge of 20 or fewer eateries.

The Merk Bistro Italiano in downtown San Diego.

Courtesy Photo

When reviewing the menus being offered for this edition of Restaurant Week, I split out participating venues that fell into the world’s four most prominent cultural categories. The following are my recommendations and the reasoning behind them. If there’s a favorite of yours that you don’t see listed, please keep in mind thatfood is always a matter of taste (plus, if they’re enough of a fave that you’re sad to see them missing, clearly you’ve already made up your mind):

Asian: When talking about Asian cuisine, there’s two sub-categories—the raw and the cooked. When it comes to the former, it’s all about the sushi, and I’ll take any opportunity I can to get my chopsticks on some high quality nigiri or sashimi at a reduced rate. The best bets on the Restaurant Week list are La Jolla’s always fresh and delicious Café Japengo and Banbu Sushi, a little-known spot in La Mesa whose offerings include their shrimp and spicy crab-adorned Mt. Fuji Roll and a 10-piece nigiri plate for just $20 per person. For those craving a warmer option, there’s the salad with seared salmon sashimi or the barbecued freshwater eel with mustard-miso sauce at the Hard Rock Hotel’s popular Nobu. Or, you can opt for an Asian bill of fare prepared with English sensibility at Roppongi in La Jolla where you can start with tuna tataki, move to grilled chicken with ginger pesto and end with sticky toffee pudding.

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