This article originally appeared in LOCALE Magazine.
North County Japanese Restaurant Brings Bold Flavors and Beautiful Design
San Diego has no shortage of sushi restaurants—raw fish restaurants are on practically every corner in the seaside city. But Carlsbad’s Blue Ocean Robata & Sushi Bar manages to stand out amongst the crowd with its stylish design and bold flavors that elevate the cuisine.
Opened in 2014 by the Love Boat Group, Inc. (known for Love Boat Sushi in Oceanside, San Marcos and Rancho Bernardo), Blue Ocean Robata & Sushi Bar is tucked among local businesses in Carlsbad Village. Unlike typical sushi restaurants, Blue Ocean is hard to miss—a pristine white building with a wooden geometric entryway resembling an actual fish. The modern interior is designed by Bells + Whistles, the firm responsible for Little Italy’s Bracero Cocina, Carlsbad’s Campfire Restaurant and downtown San Diego’s Starlite. Blue Ocean’s interior evokes that of a modernist aquarium: dangling glass lights resemble ocean bubbles, light fixtures look like sea urchins and the wood seating and floors brings to mind the color of sand. Black tones, origami-patterned ceilings and open shelving behind the bar complete the modernist style. Blue Ocean Robata & Sushi Bar
Blue Ocean’s menu consists of traditional sashimi and sushi rolls made of fresh, local ingredients stylishly plated (and perfectly colorful for your foodie Instagram). Sushi is made to order at a sushi bar, where guests can sit and watch acclaimed chefs James Pyo and Scott Yang prepare their rolls. The restaurant’s most popular specialty rolls include the Tsunami Roll, which contains tempura shrimp, avocado, cucumber, krab, gobo and is topped with seared tuna and garlic mustard, and the Albacore Delight, which includes albacore and krab mixed with miso sauce, cucumber and crunch powder, topped with albacore, avocado, green onion, chili oil and ponzu. Other guest favorites include the French Kiss and the Wasabi Roll. Ask for a side of “fresh Wasabi” at the sushi bar to spice up any roll. Blue Ocean Robata & Sushi Bar
Distinct from San Diego’s sushi scene, Blue Ocean also offers traditional Japanese robata grill menu items in addition to fresh sushi. Robata is historically traced back centuries ago to Japanese fishermen who needed to cook on their boats. Skewered, simple-seasoned seafood, meat and vegetables are grilled over binchotan, a clean-burning Japanese charcoal that heats to over 900 degrees F. Blue Ocean imports binchotan from Japan to preserve the culinary art’s authenticity. The restaurant serves robata items in two skewers and offers vegetarian options (including king oyster mushrooms, a guest favorite). Additional favorites include pork belly, black cod, quail egg and baby octopus. If you’re craving the smoky, traditional taste of robata, visit Blue Ocean after 4 p.m. when this menu is offered. Blue Ocean Robata & Sushi Bar
If you aren’t already stuffed, Blue Ocean offers a variety of contemporary dishes, including Stone Pot Bibimbap (similar to a traditional Korean hotpot) and Bluefin Tuna Carpaccio. A must-have off the contemporary kitchen menu: Kaboconut Soup, a warm, filling soup made of kabocha squash, coconut milk, hon shimeji mushrooms and brown butter. Blue Ocean Robata & Sushi Bar
The next time you’re craving Japanese cuisine, look no farther than Blue Ocean. One visit to this modern restaurant filled with bold flavors, incredible service and unique design, and you’ll be hooked.
Blue Ocean Robata & Sushi Bar
2958 Madison Street
Carlsbad, CA 92008