Ai Sushi turns out to be quite a find — once you find it

You know, it’s time to differentiate the two of us a little. John is the geographer and the shmoozer and the gustatory expert, and Letty hides in the back room and writes these things. (Actually, she does have an educated palate.)
That’s why this week we’re reviewing a restaurant only a geographer could find.
It’s Ai Sushi, 1910 Shawdowridge Drive Suite 106 in Vista. Not only is it a hidden treasure, it is the product of a mother-daughter team who have been cooking Japanese food for eight years at this location.
When asked how do people find you, Ted, the daughter, replied they are often crowded. We noted a contingent from the Sheriff’s office. “Some days we run around like crazy,” Yoshigo, the mother, said. Ted does the elegant sushi and her mama cooks the main dishes; a happy division of labor. Obviously, word-of-mouth is working.
The nine-table strip mall oasis and sushi bar, with 10 chairs, is strewn with bamboo room dividers, Japanese screens and artifacts, and flourishing green plants.
The daily special, the Bento, is served in that compartmentalized enameled tray and includes a salad, three chef’s choice sushi, rice, and an attenuated main dish.
We ordered the special for $6.95. It was sesame chicken the day we were there and Yoshigo had done it perfectly. It was crispy chunks of fried chicken laced with sesame seed and a lovely teriyaki sauce. Our appetizer was Hiyayakko, which the menu said was cold tofu with a Japanese sauce. The salad and rice were unexceptional. Good, but nothing unusual. The serving was ample.
Ted fixed us three sushi of an unusual nature, not the standard California roll, and one was held together with a seaweed band. I have never seen another like it. John had green tea from a Japanese import, and I didn’t like it much. They don’t serve brewed iced tea.
If we hadn’t ordered the special, a sushi and beef teriyaki would have set us back $17.50. They also feature Letty’s favorite, tempura, which with chicken teriyaki is $13.50. For such labor-intensive dishes, the prices are pretty standard. There is no price break for lunch; the menu and prices are  for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and dinner from Monday to Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m.
The phone number is (760) 727-1671 and takeout is available. For our disabled readers, handicapped parking is available out in front.
We’re so funny. Every time we find another treasure we tell ourselves “this is the best restaurant, yet.” Evidently, we love the one we’re with.


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