Vegan Friendly: Sushi 2 Launches a Vegan Sushi Menu

By / Photography By Kelly Bone | March 26, 2018
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The Veg Foodie, Kelly Bone, is on the hunt for restaurants and bars whose vegan options aren't just after-thoughts. This week she checks out the new vegan menu at Sushi 2 in downtown San Diego.

The Short and Skinny

After the wild success of their “All You Can Eat (and Drink!) Vegan Sushi” nights, downtown’s Sushi 2 has put their vegan sushi on the permanent menu.

The Vibe

Crowds clamor on the sidewalk outside of Sushi 2. The dining room windows seem to allow the baroque decor of the adjacent Spreckels Theatre lobby to spill inside, so much so that you might think the crowds are here for a show. But, don’t be fooled, they’re here for the sushi.

Owner Kuniko Holmes roams the aisles of her beloved restaurant, smiling over tables filled with colorful cuts and sparkling Sapporo towers. Warm red-orange walls rise high to the paper lantern lit ceiling.

Once the downtown outlet of the Sushi Deli restaurant group, Holmes’ dedicated management won her the opportunity to buyout location, whose menu still holds memories of its past, while carving out its own niche in the market. Ever popular for riding the cusp of quality and affordability, the vegan expansion (officially debuting on 3/28) is perhaps the clearest example of her thoughtful, purposeful changes.

The Food

All sushi begins with rice. Succulent grains polished white and spiked with rice vinegar, salt, and a touch of sugar. Clinging to each other through their own starch, Sushi 2 takes care to craft their namesake dishes with the utmost attention to detail, beginning with the base.

The vegan menu does not mimic fishy familiarity—it instead delivers a bounty of vegetables and tofu. Some raw, some blanched, and some tempuraed. The kitchen veganized many non-vegan favorites—like the fully battered and fried Vegan San Diego Roll in which avocado is swapped in for cream cheese and draping knots of seaweed salad deliver the taste of the pacific without the fish.

Delicate fillets of tomato drape the head of the Buddha Delight roll. Drizzled with a light fermented brine of miso and stuffed with tofu, avocado, gobo, lettuce, and cucumber—it is one of the stronger vegan offerings. Such complexity complements the frankness of the rolls, as is the case in the deceptively simple Shauna—brimming with avocado, tempura sweet potato, and nothing more.

The appetizer menu, enriched with ten new vegan items, explores styles of deep frying. From panko, to tempura, to karaage—each tempered around various vegetable bases. Lobs of panko crusted avocado burst with rich green flesh under a halo of shredded nori. Bite sized brussels sprouts pop with pungent spiced katsu sauce.

Not all are the offerings are deep fried—brussels sprouts are served sticky with teriyaki sauce over crispy noodles and bright yellow soy paper wraps a salad of vegetables in the light spring rolls.

Presented with colorful exuberance, the vegan rolls are humble at heart. Most a subtle play on textures—from the light crunch of cucumber to the rich starch of sweet potatoes. Cilantro leaves or the squeeze of fresh lemon can be easy to miss. While the festive cadence of the dining room drives the meal, take time to enjoy the details of each bite.

What to Order

  • Dipped in either the fruity spice of katsu sauce or a herbaceous cilantro vinaigrette, the panko shelled Popcorn Brussel Sprouts ($6.99) are a crowd pleaser.
  • Juicy chunks of tomato marinated in spicy sauce with bites of jalapeno and cilantro in the Inari Pico de Gallo ($2.99 for two pieces) is a Californian-Japanese mash-up of the utmost success.
  • Follow the tomatoes on the menu to the Buddha’s Delight Roll ($7.99), a feast for the eyes and belly.
  • Draped in sweet sheets of inari tofu, the Mango Punch Roll ($7.25) is stuffed with sweet potato, seaweed salad, cucumber, and avocado and comes with hints of heat from a drizzle of spicy sauce.
  • A fatty shell of tempura batter carries the flavors of the Vegan San Diego Roll ($8.99). An experience taken by many for granted, it is a rare indulgence for vegan fans of the restaurant.
  • The minimalist beauty of the Nigri ($2.50 for two pieces) offer pats of sushi rice topped with cuts of avocado, asparagus, or pickled gobo (burdock root).

Pro Tip: The lunch menu offers two additional vegan items: Tofu Poke Salad and Karaage Tofu Sushi Burrito.

Sushi 2

135 Broadway, San Diego


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