By ROBIN DOHRN-SIMPSON
“Sushi is all about passion,” said 20-year veteran sushi chef and Konnichiwa Sushi & Bar manager Juan Cabrera. “Passion for the fish, passion for the freshest food, passion for the sauces, and passion for creating art. I tell my crew, that you have to have a passion for what you do, be it greeting the customer, serving them, or making perfect sushi rolls, ramen or yakisoba.”
When Cabrera took over the La Mesa restaurant, he set about changing everything about the place, from the menu to the staff.
“I always go to other restaurants and analyze what they do. I want every customer greeted immediately upon arrival. I want them to feel comfortable and at home. I want attentive and friendly wait staff who anticipate the diners’ needs,” Cabrera said.
Cabrera has worked with many sushi masters and studied ramen-making in Japan.
“I call our sushi American sushi. In Japan, they only use a couple of types of fish, and a couple of sauces and they don’t do rolls. Here, we have many types of fish we use and many sauces. When I make a sauce I know exactly what sushi roll it’s going to enhance,” Cabrera said.
Diner Debbie Dietrich said, “The pizza sushi roll has layers and layers of flavor and texture. Nice body and chewiness to the rice, creamy and warm. Mildly spicy jalapeno washed over my palate for yet another layer. After I swallowed it the flavors continued to evolve in my mouth, making me want to have another bite. Just lean back in your chair and enjoy the bite.” What better of a compliment can a chef get than that?
The sushi menu is extensive with around 25 choices. Each roll is a work of art. For non-sushi lovers, you can enjoy bowls such as a tempura chicken bowl or a beef bowl or beef, chicken, or shrimp yakisoba. For the gluten-free crowd, they offer rice beer and gluten-free soy sauce.
If you are looking for a party platter, they make beautiful works of art to take to any event.
Konnichiwa Sushi & Bar is located at 8350 La Mesa Boulevard. You can find their menu at konnichiwasushi.com/. Just know that it is constantly changing. Phone orders for takeout at (619) 466-6446.
— Robin Dohrn-Simpson is a local food and travel writer. Reach her at: robindohrnsimpson.com.