Kai Ola Sushi

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Review #94

You will not find sushi boats at Kai Ola Sushi.  Nor will you find any “Happy Hour” or “All You Can Eat” specials on this menu.  You won’t even find nice décor, and you won’t think it’s the perfect place to bring all of your friends.  Kai Ola Sushi is a tiny, no-frills sushi bar.  Simplicity is their shtick.  But sometimes the most seemingly simple things are actually the most complex.  Like that last sentence itself.

Hubby and I made plans with a small number of friends to enjoy Kai Ola with us.  We knew the restaurant couldn’t accommodate very many, so we invited out some real foodies.  We were seated by a very nice gentleman at the biggest table in the joint.


As we looked over our menus we noticed one of the sushi rolls was topped with “Friend Onions”.

“What do you suppose Friend Onions are?” inquired Hubby.

“And why on earth does sushi have to be so damn friendly anyway?” added Jules.

This got us all thinking.  Sometimes when you get a really smart, creative group of food friends together, magic happens.  And that happened right here, at Kai Ola sushi.

“We don’t need “Friend Onions” on our sushi.  We already have “Hapifish” right down the 101.  What this town needs is something different.  Something dark and bad-ass.  Something a little scary even.” I added.

We were all quietly contemplating this when Dana pops out, “Demonic Sushi!”.

“Oooohhhhhh” agreed all of us at once.

“There’s already Rock-n-Roll Sushi.  We need to take it to the next level.” said Hubby.

“We need Punk Rock sushi.  And not pop, sing-song stuff others coin ‘punk rock’ like Green Day and Blink 182.  We need the real heavy stuff.  We need Black Flag and GBH Demonic Sushi.” I added.

And this is how our million dollar idea for Demonic Sushi began.  And trust me, it’s not over.

Here at Kai Ola Sushi, a much happier place where the onions are your friends, the small menu looked pretty pricey.  Our waiter suggested the Moonlight and Grandview rolls.  We took his advice and ordered a few other things as well.IMG_3747

We warmed up our palates with a cucumber salad that was small but quite elegant.  The mild sesame dressing did not overwhelm the delicate flavors of the vegetables.  This cucumber salad was definitely a step up from others I’ve had.


Only Jules, a true carnivore through and through would order the Kurobuta Sausage at a sushi restaurant.  He was happy with this plate, but he ate it alone.  The rest of us were here for surf.  Not turf.IMG_3749 (1)

Our Moonlight roll came out next.   Our server begged us to sprinkle the finishing salt on top instead of using soy sauce.  He was right.  The salt allowed the beautiful Hamachi to shine.  It was extremely fresh and delicate


The Grandview roll was delicious as well, and I agree that those onions on top were in fact, extremely friendly.

Kai Ola Grandview

My favorite sushi roll anywhere is a Protein roll.  It was a must for me to order here at Kai Ola.  This one tasted great, but was disappointingly small.  Instead of seaweed, each piece is cleverly wrapped in a $20 bill disguised to look like cucumber.


Dana ordered the Black Cod.  Sweet Dana.  Smart Dana.  Divided four ways, we each got to try only a small medallion of carrot, one bite of bok choy and about a one-inch piece of Black Cod.

It’s such a small plate of offensively expensive food, you have to do it right.  You start with a sliver of carrot.  It’s the most incredible carrot you have ever tasted.  Your bite of bok choy is the sweetest and most flavorful of all vegetables in the world.  But when you slip that small morsel of smooth cod into your mouth, the world around you freezes.  Your heart temporarily stops beating and your breath catches in your throat.  Nothing prepares you for this moment.  You have an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for all things good in the world.  The white rhino has just avoided extinction.  Trump’s term is almost up.  And there is something as delicious on this planet as this small piece of fish melting away in your mouth.  Crispy and soft.  Sweet and salty.  You take your napkin and wipe away your tears.

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There is only one thing to do when one finishes the Black Cod at Kai Ola.  Order another.

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Lynne showed up late and, not understand the foodgasims we were having, ordered the Teriyaki Chicken.  It was no Black Cod, but it was a very good dish, and much more plentiful than anything else that had shown up at our table this night.

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At Kai Ola Sushi, your meal is over when you are broke, not when you are full.  We got our check at the same times as the table next to ours, but theirs came with a small plate of mochi ice cream.  Mochi is typically given out at the end of a sushi meal at many places.  Lynne was aghast and went to ask where our complimentary mochi was.  She came back and let us know that the other table actually paid for that mochi.  We didn’t order any because it never tastes as good when you have to actually pay for it.

We put down our plastics and agreed that scaling down to a one car family is just better for the environment.  And only one of our boys actually needs to go to college anyway.

When we got home, Hubby did what Hubby does when he’s still hungry.


Bottom Line:

Kai Ola sushi is the perfect place to come for food when you’re not hungry.  Seriously, grab some tacos next door first, then come by for some sushi dessert here.  Kai Ola has nailed simple perfection in small pieces of extremely high quality seafood.  What it lacks in substance, it makes up for in flavor.  Eating here is a true treat.  More affordable options on the menu are the ramen and poke bowls.  Although not inexpensive either, they looked very good and may allow you to afford education for both of your kids.  The Black Cod might be the single best tasting bite of food I have ever had.  And if you are looking for a sure-thing investment opportunity, let’s talk.  Demonic Sushi is the next Starbucks, mark my words!

Something big is happening folks!  Next week will mark our official closing of the loop!  That’s right, Karina’s Taco Shop is the last stop needed to complete Dining on the 101 throughout all of Encinitas!  But don’t worry, we aren’t done, not even close.  We have tons and tons of new places to try that have opened up since we started.  We will try them all!

Please join us on our next blog, Sunday, September 22nd at 5pm at

Karina’s Taco Shop



Author: foodkibbitzer

I love to cook, especially soup, and bake challah. I ride horses, enjoy sarcastic people and am a food snob. I'm busy being mom to my two boys and I play mahj jong.

4 thoughts on “Kai Ola Sushi”

  1. Nice review. I like your idea of “Demonic Sushi” Great marketing idea.

    I am going to check this place out for sure. Seems a little pricy though.

    Your blog is great, I lived here for 30+ years and never discovered the Lanai until you came along. (Loved it!)



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