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Comfort Food for the Win at Tajima Izakaya

Tajima: (noun) cattle
Izakaya: (noun) shared/small plates

Tajima Izakaya: cattle plates?

Well, not quite. But that’s what this restaurant, part of the Tajima franchise, is named after. They are the only Tajima with a full bar and a full sushi menu, and when we were invited to check it out, those two perks were rather appealing to me!

The GM, Christine, is an absolute sweetheart and made us feel warmly welcome as we were seated in a cozy booth in the dim, romantically-lit restaurant (which was HOPPING on a cold January Saturday night.) We may live in San Diego, but even those of us used to warmth and sunshine appreciate a hot bowl of comforting noodles on a “winter” night.

Their menu is extensive, and truth be told, a bit overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re doing. Since I rarely do, I needed Christine’s guidance on what to eat — and we ended up with a dazzling four-course display of deliciousness, which I have laid out below:

I mean, first thing’s first: booze. These crafty cocktails were delicious, albeit potent. Mine was a lichi berry sculpin/gin hybrid, while Trevor got a mule.

Our “starters” were enough for a full meal, and we chose THREE at Christine’s recommendation — with the knowledge that we’d have take-home boxes, of course.

Chicken karaage is a seasoned, deep-friend chicken — delicious by itself, or with the aioli side.

Scallop croquettes! Delicious scallop cakes served with lemon and cabbage.

Our favorite: German potatoes – AKA garlic french fries with onions and pork belly on top. It didn’t taste Japanese (or…German), but it was delicious, and the fiance was quite happy.

I’m a sushi lover – Trevor isn’t – and I loved their signature Tajima roll (and the lovely presentation!)

Shrimp, avocado, kanikama, gobo, asparagus, kaiware, seared albacore tuna, and a side of butter ponzu cilantro sauce.

Then, I simply HAD to order the signature ramen (which I did), and Trevor HAD to order spicy ramen (which he did.)

Tonkotsu soup base mixed with special sesame paste, spicy ground pork, bean sprouts, chicken chashu, chives, ½ ramen egg, and fried garlic *Trevor got wide/fat noodles

original tonkotsu soup, ½ ramen egg, green onions, chicken chashu, sesame seeds, and japanese seaweed *I got thin noodles

As if we could possibly fit ANY more food in our stomachs, we opted for dessert…and since we couldnt agree on one, we got two. *facepalm* And they were spectacular.

Trevor got the green tea creme brulee — an amazing creation I have never heard of before. I wasnt overly fond of the warm ice cream, but Trevor loved it.

I opted for “plain” green tea ice cream, which our server lovingly arranged in a stem glass with flowers – easily the prettiest and best part of the night.

Tajima Izakaya proudly offers gluten-free noodles, but their broth is not yet GF (though they’re working on it!) Plus, they offer a full bar with a variety of specialty cocktails, a selection of Japanese whiskey, local craft beers, Japanese craft beers, sake and wine.

All in all, this was one of our favorite dining experiences lately — and we are already planning to go back and bring friends.

Tajima Izakaya
4411 Mercury St, Ste 110
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 278-5367
Open daily at 11:30am

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