The short-lived lounge closed after public
outcry and orders from the city and the courts
that adult activities cease.
Kimura and Bertsch have remodeled
the cocktail bar and have ditched the many
TVs once mounted behind it. The once-blacked-out
windows are clean and open, and a breeze blows
through them. Neon signs denoting areas for
VIPs and private dances are long gone. So
is the mirrored stage and brass pole.
"A lot of times people still
ask, 'Where's the pole?'" quipped Bertsch.
Bertsch and Kimura explained
their vision for their sushi, seafood and
pasta restaurant during an interview between
the lunch and dinner hours this week. During
the conversation, Bertch's son, Sho, 2, climbed
onto his father's lap ---- clutching, appropriately,
a stuffed orange fish.
"We picked Encinitas because
it's a very popular spot for good dining,"
said Bertsch, 31, who lives with his family
in Vista. "We did our homework."
Kimura, 29, grew up in her father's restaurant,
Anchovies, an Italian eatery in Chigasaki,
Japan, a coastal resort an hour from Tokyo.
Kimura said her father also opened a Korean
barbecue and a Mexican restaurant in Japan.
Kimura had tried Mexican
food in California when, after her graduation
from high school, she visited the state
as a competitive golfer. At Shadowridge
Country Club in Vista, Kimura met the
man she would marry in 1999.
The young parents say Kaito
Restaurant is very family-friendly.
Kids dig sidling up to the sushi bar,
Bertsch said, to examine seafood displays
and to watch the chefs' busy hands.
Two of those hands belong
to veteran chef Kazuo Morita. Morita
was deftly assembling shrimp sushi,
but ran into trouble as he created a
seafood display on a round platter.
Still-living sweet shrimp (yes, that's
how they're served) wiggled and jumped
from the plate. The restaurant also
serves live sea urchin.
Kimura's creations include
pastas and seafoods with cream sauces
Sushi sampler plates look
like paintings on porcelain. The eight-piece
sushi (chef's choice) with eel roll
is $19. Shrimp, avocado and tomato salad
is served right in a hollowed half-avocado
($9.45). Entrees include Grilled Salmon,
Scallop And Shrimp Brochettes ($18.95);
Shrimp, Scallops And Vegetable Tempura
($12.95) and Chicken Teriyaki ($12.95).
Spiny sea urchins offer a taste
of the exotic, or there's a basic Grilled
Rib Eye Steak if you prefer. Then there's
the pasta. The spaghetti plate with soft-shell
crab, seasoned with mozzarella cheese and
caraway seeds, is $12.95, as is the Linguini
With Manila Clams. Penne With Shrimp ($14.95)
and Spaghetti With Smoked Salmon ($13.75)
are among other options.
Diners can joke with the fast-fingered
sushi chefs. "It's a very friendly, open
atmosphere," Bertsch said, "where
people can sit at the sushi bar and have fun
with the chefs."