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Five hand rolls at Temaki Bar. Photo courtesy of Arlene Ibarra
Five hand rolls at Temaki Bar. Photo courtesy of Arlene Ibarra
ColumnsFood & WineLick the Plate

Temaki Bar brings traditional sushi hand rolls to Encinitas

First, anyone living in coastal and inland North County should be very grateful for the region’s plethora of solid sushi joints. It’s almost overwhelming, and the choices generate a lot of debate among locals over which joint reigns supreme.

Well, now you all have another one to add to the long list: Temaki Bar, backed by a powerhouse restaurant group at its sexy new location in the heart of Encinitas along Coast Highway 101.

Temaki Bar, the latest restaurant concept from Clique Hospitality founder Andy Masi (a North County local), opened its doors on Nov. 4 under the talented hands of San Diego chef JoJo Ruiz.

Clique Hospitality is a boutique hospitality company with operations throughout Las Vegas and San Diego, known for specializing in upscale, comfortable dining.

“Translating to ‘hand roll,’ Temaki Bar celebrates the tradition that all perfect hand rolls should be eaten within seconds of when the chef passes them across the counter — while the rice is still warm and the fish fresh and chilled,” the website explains.

Admittedly, while I’ve had hand rolls before, I never knew they were supposed to be served in that manner. And it makes a big difference in the best possible way — I could eat a couple of dozen of them easily.

The 38-seat art-centric space is all bar seating in a horseshoe shape with a view of all the culinary and bartending action happening within eyesight.Temaki Bar

The modern interior at Temaki Bar. Photo courtesy of Lucas Parodi
The modern interior at Temaki Bar. Photo courtesy of Lucas Parodi

And I’m not sure if it was just because we were there close to opening night or what, but it was a very attractive crowd…with more of a club vibe than a natural beach style typical of Encinitas. Perhaps it’s the Vegas influence from Clique Hospitality.

But then again, the times they are a-changin’ in downtown Encinitas.

Fabulous people aside, the food is the star at Temaki and it’s well worth your time. The hand rolls are made-to-order for guests featuring freshly-caught blue crab, yellowtail, salmon and more.

Signature items include Crispy Bang Bang Shrimp with gochujang mayo and scallions, Dre’s Pop N’ Rock hand roll with pop rocks, bang bang shrimp and mango, and hand roll sets offered in quantities of three, four or five delicious varieties.

Temaki Bar also offers signature cut rolls, such as the Lobsta Queen with spicy lobster, caviar and crispy onion; The Kook…aka Cali with crab, avocado and cucumber; and West Coast Philly, featuring salmon with everything bagel seasoning and cashew cream cheese. (Is there anything out there that has not been given the everything bagel seasoning treatment?)

As with many area restaurants, there is a  nod to the North County community. An original art installation featuring local favorite and Mr. Cardiff/Encinitas Rob Machado Surfboards, designed in collaboration with Todd DiCiurcio, a renowned American artist, spans the entire space, with each wall transformed into a hand-painted mural inspired by a surfboard triptych.

For those not hip to the term (me included), a triptych is a work of art divided into three sections or three carved panels hinged together and can be folded shut or displayed open.

More local roots involved in the project include Solana Beach-based architect Andrew Crocker of T7 Architecture, who created a bright, airy space featuring coastal design elements and a welcoming vibe. While Encinitas-based potter, Michael Totah of The Wheel, provided custom stoneware to complement the cutting-edge culinary presentations.

So yeah, if you want to experience hand rolls from some folks that know how to do them right and an excellent menu all around, with a touch of glitz thrown in, give Temaki Bar a shot.

Temaki Bar: Handroll, Sushi, Sake is located at 575 South Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas and is open Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., closed Mondays.

Temaki joins Clique Hospitality’s other San Diego concepts, including Serēa, Lionfish, Oxford Social Club, The Pool House, Bull & Bourbon and Joya Kitchen in La Jolla. For more information or to access the waitlist, please visit www.temakibarsushi.com.

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