SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Four San Diego restaurants were awarded the highly esteemed 2021 Michelin Award stars this week. The winners are Addison (2-Star), Jeune et Jolie (1-Star), Soichi Sushi (1-Star), and Sushi Tadokoro (2-Star). The latter two sushi restaurants share a unique journey to the coveted distinction.
If you are not careful, you may miss it. In between a liquor store and a hair salon in Old Town is one of San Diego's newest Michelin Star restaurants, Sushi Tadokoro.
In the mid-1990s, owner Takeaki Tadokoro was a surf and snowboarder with a big dream.
"I want to come to the USA," Tadokoro said.
He came to San Diego and found a job as a cook in the now-closed Surfside Sushi in Pacific Beach. But after serving too many spicy, saucy, crunchy rolls, he wanted to return to his roots.
"After ten years, I knew it. I would like to make sushi as more Japanese style," Tadokoro said.
So in 2012, Tadokoro opened his own little store on San Diego Avenue, focusing on single-topping, Tokyo-style sushi, and he never looked back. His authenticity and attention to quality ingredients earned him a Michelin star.
A five-minute drive up into University Heights, Tadokoro's friend and fellow restaurant owner, Soichi Kadoya, was rooting for him.
"I think he's going to get it," Kadoya said.
Little did Kadoya know that he, too, would be given the same prestigious award on the same day.
"It's amazing. Yeah, definitely," Kadoya smiled.
Kadoya and Tadokoro share a special bond. The chefs both got their start at Surfside Sushi in PB in the 1990s. Kadoya moved to Japan for several years, but when he and his family returned to San Diego in 2012, Tadokoro hired him to work at his new shop. Fast forward six years, Kadoya acted on his own dream.
"Finally, I opened this restaurant in 2019 April," Kadoya said.
Specializing in 'Omakase-style,' Kadoya's modest shop became an instant hit, awarding him a Michelin star.
"We used to work together and two restaurants, at the same time, got Michelin stars. That's amazing," Tadokoro said.
The two men say they could not have done it without their vendors, staff, and of course, loyal customers. As for the future, you won't see a giant expansion or a sushi empire. Just quality ingredients served in an authentic way.
"I don't want to change. Just continue the same style," Tadokoro said.
"I just want to focus on the customer. That they're happy. And yeah, I'm going to definitely keep going," Kadoya said.
Reservations are recommended for both restaurants.