OCEAN BEACH. The Joint sits in the center of downtown Ocean Beach, on Newport. From the sidewalk, it looks like a typical sushi spot. The menu, however, reveals that it is more. It is a sushi spot with excellent vegan options.
I love seaweed salad. And the Joint offers the Spicy Wakame Salad, a fun twist on the traditional dish. Chili oil, serrano peppers, and jalapeño peppers spice up the seaweed. Even better, the peppers are large enough so you can decide how many peppers to put in our mouth – it’s like having your finger on the temperature gauge.
The Joint offers three vegan rolls (nicely labeled with a “V” on their menu!): (1) Super Tempeh Salad, (2) Hippie Dream, and (3) The Green Machine.
The Super Tempeh Salad is my favorite vegan roll at the Joint. But first, a quick digression. I have received requests for definitions of the more obscure ingredients. Personally, I had never heard of tempeh until I moved to San Diego, so….
Question: What is tempeh?
Answer: A popular meat substitute made from fermented soybeans that has a nutty flavor.
If you want to learn more about tempeh click on this link: http://www.tempeh.info/
Now back to the Super Tempeh Salad roll! The inside of the roll is tempeh, avocado, and a salad made from veganaise (vegan mayonnaise), mango, macadamia nuts, cilantro, and lettuce. This vegan goodness is then rolled in soy paper and topped with a sweet chili lime sauce. For me, the magic of this roll comes from the macadamia nuts. The nuts provide a crunch and sweet taste, and in combination with the mango, give the roll a slightly tropical taste.
The Hippie Dream rolls up tempeh, enoki mushrooms, asparagus, pickled shallots, avocado, chives, kaiware, and hemp seeds in soy paper. Kaiware was new to me. Turns out it is a type of sprout popular in Asian cuisines.
The more “typical” sushi ingredients like the mushrooms, asparagus, avocado, and sprouts provide a satisfying base. The chives, pickled shallots, and hemp seeds give the roll a more complex and unique flavor.
The Green Machine is also a strong choice. It is made from cucumber, yamagobo, bell pepper, kaiware, chives, enoki mushrooms, and topped with avocado. I had not heard of yamagobo, either, but learned that it is pickled burdock root. Who can resist burdock root, I ask? All in all, the variety of color, texture, and taste makes the Green Machine another home run for the Joint.
Additional Vegan Things of Note:
Lunch Menu: includes a Tempeh Ruben that can be made vegan if ordered without cheese
Starters: Edamame, Miso Soup, and Shisito Peppers are available
Salads: Spinach Salad and Sunonomo (Cucumber) Salad are available
Hand Rolls: In addition to the specialty vegan rolls, the Joint also has a Cucumber Roll and a Veggie Roll.
Happy Hour Menu: includes the Veggie Roll
The Joint oozes cool. It is equal parts trendy bar and sushi bar. On most nights, it is packed, bustling, and full of happy patrons. And it has heart. Every time I have been to the Joint, a manager has come around to check on my table and make sure everything was going well.
4902 Newport Ave
San Diego, CA 92107