In my continuing effort to highlight a mix of new restaurants and those that have stood the test of time, I’m highlighting Nozomi in Carlsbad this week.
Nozomi has a style all their own and has been packing them in for eight years now. They also have very interesting ownership whose day jobs and global experiences are worth of feature column on their own. I recently had an excellent meal there and a conversation with owner Devin Acklin about Nozomi and his career outside of the restaurant that led to this successful venture.
You and your partner have very interesting careers outside of Nozomi. What do you do and how did Nozomi come to be?
My business partner, Art, and I have had very exciting careers working for an aerospace company. This career has afforded us the opportunity to do some things that directly help support our nation’s defense goals.
From flight-testing aircraft, to directly overseeing and managing operations in foreign regions around the world, we have gained a wealth of insight on what it takes to take a small project and help it grow into something significant.
So when I returned home in 2012 from a yearlong assignment in Afghanistan, we decided it was time to turn this dream into a reality.
After months of planning, searching and negotiating to build at various locations throughout San Diego county, the opportunity of “Hope,” translation: “Nozomi”, was presented to us. We took one step inside the restaurant and fell in love. We instantly saw the potential the restaurant had. But most importantly, we immediately saw that Nozomi was built with love, inspiration and a dream. We we’re just lucky enough to make this dream become our own.
There are several attributes that make Nozomi unique including how you source your fish, fill me in on those.
Our vendor has been in the fresh fish business for over 20 years.
Our outstanding relationship with them allows us quick and easy access to their product.
However, it’s their Japanese branch office that allows them to have a strong connection with the Japanese Fish Markets, allowing them to directly import Japan’s highest quality of fish to our doorstep in little time.
You have a very experienced team behind the sushi bar at Nozomi. Tell me about the talent and where they came from?
We are very lucky to have the same head chef that opened Nozomi eight years ago. Francisco “Pancho” Lopez (“Pancho San”) has been the creative mastermind behind our new menus. His traditional Japanese sushi training began 14 years ago as an apprentice to a very well known, world-renowned San Diego sushi chef.
His perfection, flare for presentation and creativity is unrivaled in North County. Our other rock star, Lane Manriki (“Lane San”), provides yet another level of traditional professionalism, talent and cleverness to our team.
Besides sushi, you have an extensive menu with entrée’s and small plates, or tapas. What are some of the highlights from those selections?
The Blackened Tuna in Crispy Wonton is one of my favorite tapas on the menu. The spicy aioli compliments the blackened tuna extremely well, while the wontons provide just the right amount of crisp with each bite.
On the heartier side, the Sirloin Beef Sukiyaki with glass noodles, egg and mixed vegetables is a favorite of many our guests. We also have a Gluten Free menu that boasts Gluten Free recipes of our teriyaki dishes, salads, specialty rolls and many of our tapas plates.
The décor at Nozomi makes me feel like I’m in Japan. Can you describe that?
Perfect for date night, family dining, private parties or corporate events; Nozomi has three differently themed rooms. As you walk through our Japanese torrii (gate) outside and enter the restaurant, you’ll quickly notice the bottom floor with a waterfall and live turtle pond. This room is called the Yokohama Ocean, and provides an intimate setting for dinner on one side of the room, and a lounge area on the other side of the room for those that want to relax and enjoy our fine sake selection. The second floor was named the Osaka Room.
The bamboo accents, wall lighting and decor are meant to represent the older, traditional Osaka. Finally, if you head up the stairs you will step inside the Tokyo room. This is where the sushi bar is and where most of the energy of the restaurant flows from. With its own unique traditional bamboo Japanese decor, you can’t help but feel that you’ve stepped out of Carlsbad and into 18th century Japan.
Nozomi is at 3050 Pio Pico Drive, Carlsbad. (760) 434-1230 carlsbadnozomi.com
Lick the Plate can now be heard on KPRi, 102.1 FM Monday – Friday during the 7pm hour. David Boylan is founder of Artichoke Creative and Artichoke Apparel, an Encinitas based marketing firm and clothing line. Reach him at [email protected] or (858) 395-6905.