Freshness and Creativity, San Shi Go’s Hallmarks


By Patty Pinto

The jewel of a town Laguna Beach has at least six sushi bars between north and south to satisfy your sushi desires. The one that has my heart is San Shi Go. My family and I have been loyal fans for 21 years.

The restaurant is located on the third floor in a three-tiered shopping center at the corner of Coast Highway and Oak Streets. In addition to a full sushi bar menu, San Shi Go offers a complete traditional Japanese lunch and dining menu

Yugi-San, our sushi chef for this particular evening, has served customers from behind the sushi bar for 14 years and we were pleased to have him wait on us recently. All the sushi chefs at San Shi Go (Koichi, Taku, Yoshi and Yuji) are wonderful, each with a special creativity.

My traditional favorite dish is the Spicy Seafood Salad with fresh ginger dressing (a top secret recipe).  This refreshing salad is a pleasant mixture of crispy romaine and iceberg lettuce layered with slices of salmon, yellowtail, albacore tuna, octopus, shrimp and crab meat then sprinkled with thinly sliced Thai chili peppers and drizzled with the famous house ginger dressing. I have had ginger dressing at other Japanese restaurants but San Shi Go’s ginger dressing tops them all due to the hearty flavor and lack of heavy oils in the ingredients.

Another favorite of mine is the Cajun Salmon Roll which is filled with lots of veggies, crab meat, shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber and a tad bit of spicy mayonnaise then rolled with Cajun seared salmon slices.  This cut roll is then drizzled with ponzu sauce then topped with either slivered greens onions or crispy fried onions and both toppings add a pleasant, distinct flavor. I could sit here and choose the perfect adjective to describe this cut roll, but you need to experience it for yourself to get my drift.

A local favorite amongst the non-fish eaters are the Shishito Peppers, which are vibrant little sweet-hot Japanese peppers.  At San Shi Go the peppers are served two ways…one wrapped with seared albacore tuna and the other sautéed and topped with bonito flakes.  For those with tender palates, do not let the peppers keep you from ordering them since they are only mildly spicy (humm…could that be an oxy-moron?). The sushi chefs are so creative, any vegan or vegetarian can easily dine at the sushi bar counter and the chefs will make up all kinds of non-fish cut and hand rolls.  Although, if you are a veggie head or vegan, you may want to dine in their dining room and make room at the sushi bar for the serious sushi and sashimi eaters.

San Shi Go offers a wonderful Spinach Mushroom Salad consisting of fresh spinach leaves which have been gently sautéed with sliced domestic and Portobello mushrooms.  Crispy thin julienned potatoes and a special dressing are the finishing ingredients.  Occasionally, my spousal unit has an order of Spicy Calamari pieces added to the salad…a nice crunchy bite.

Another favorite of mine is Kampachi Sushi.  Nice size pieces of yellowtail (a firm white fish) are sprinkled with uzu zest (Japanese citrus) then topped with a special black pepper paste.  It is a brilliant blend of lemon and pepper and very refreshing.

Friday night I had the Japanese Seafood Platter, which was a great value with lots of food.  How can one not be satisfied with four panko crusted large shrimps and jumbo scallops?  My medley of mushrooms, asparagus spears with chunks of halibut and a gentle-sweet sauce was very good and the accompanying miso soup, salad with ginger dressing and side bowl of rice filled my belly

I had no room for dessert but San Shi Go serves up a good-looking Tempura Ice Cream, ice cream wrapped in pound cake then tempura battered and deep fried.  This sweet, crispy dish is served to you with a mound of whipped cream…dig in!

This dining establishment has been doing great business because they have very fresh sushi, creative chefs, great service, an outdoor patio dining area for those sexy summer nights, sake, beer, wine and great prices.

The restaurant is also a favorite local dining spot for cast members of the former MTV reality show…”Laguna Beach” (bring your autograph book!).  Thanks San Shi Go…see you tonight for my sushi fix

San Shi Go, 1100 S. Coast Highway, #303, (949) 494-1551

See more of Patty Pinto’s reviews at

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