619.281.9700

the sushi chefs

Sabuku Sushi, a contemporary Normal Heights sushi bar, is quickly becoming the first pick of sushi novices and discerning epicures alike, and the reason is clear: Sabuku’s traditional use of fresh seafood is combined with colorful twists to standard sushi repertoire, so palates are continuously kept guessing. We are ranked one of the best sushi restaurants in San Diego by Discover SD.

The menu at Sabuku Sushi is a testament to both time-honored sushi-making and the powers of the creative American imagination. In addition to classic nigiri, sashimi and rolls, Sabuku Sushi has developed its own distinctive creations, innovatively devised with additions like candied garlic, pineapple, filet mignon and mesquite grilled chicken. Two standout examples: are the innovative Bacon and Scallop Roll, and the signature Chillaxin Roll, made with shrimp tempura, spicy crab, a spicy ginger aioli glaze and baked Chilean sea bass. While Sabuku’s dishes exhibit a range of flavors and varying degrees of traditionalism, one thing remains constant: each plate is made-to-order with fresh, quality ingredients.

In harmony with its broad menu, Sabuku Sushi makes it a point to carry traditional filtered and unfiltered sakes, along with flavor-infused versions with hints of plum, Asian pear and coconut lemongrass. Even the cocktails are infused with sake, like the Mimosa Ke, a combination of sparkling sake and orange juice. As their drink menu demonstrates, Sabuku Sushi takes every measure to ensure that every taste preference is met.

Visually, Sabuku Sushi is host to a crisp, modern atmosphere. Sleek metal accents, dark wood tables and clean, simple lines compose the décor. Large windows provide a panoramic view of the street and allow natural light to flood the space. This minimalist approach calms and soothes, allowing the focus to fall where it should: on Sabuku’s delightful menu and quality sake.

With an eye on tradition and a talent for ingenuity, Sabuku Sushi provides San Diegans with the opportunity to experience sushi like never before.

Bob Pasela – Owner and Sushi Chef

If Bob Pasela had any early notions of becoming a restaurateur, he undoubtedly kept them a secret. As an East Coaster, born in Cleveland, raised in Pittsburgh, and attended college in Upstate New York (HVCC & SUNY Albany), where he certainly didn’t major in sushi. Shortly after, Pasela left all that behind and came to San Diego in 1990 where he spent the next 20 years in banking and finance, eventually leading him to a small practice as an independent Certified Financial Planner. Working in this industry, he was well aware of the rise and fall of many would be restauranteurs.

Pasela, an avid sushi fan, came across two problems when it came to dining out in San Diego. His neighborhood did not offer a sushi restaurant, and he wasn’t able to venture out very often due to raising two young boys. As a result, he began making sushi rolls at home, and this experience led to further creativity. After sharing his creations – with increasingly eager neighbors and friends, he chose to take his hobby to the next level as friends encouragingly asked, “Why aren’t you doing something with this?”

Pasela tapped into his financial planning experience and researched the demographics of Normal Heights, concluding that his very own neighborhood could support the restaurant of his dreams. He combined this fact with his cultivated knowledge of sushi and a capable staff, and Sabuku Sushi was born. On any given day of the week, guests can find Pasela working alongside his head chef, making sushi, chatting with guests and enjoying every moment of his new venture.

Zach Stofferahn – Head Sushi Chef

At the young age of 14, Sabuku Sushi’s Head Chef, Zach Stofferahn, was already on a roll with an entry level position at Windy’s Sukiyaki. This Utah native spent most of his teen years working his way through the ranks as a sushi chef and culinary phenom. His natural talent and passion for the culinary arts led Stofferahn to the semi-finals of Best Teen Chef in America at the age of 18, and soon after, he relocated to San Diego to begin his studies at the Art Institute of California. During this time, the budding chef expanded his culinary repertoire by working for Hyatt Regency in La Jolla, cooking and catering a wide range of cuisine.

In 2006, after obtaining his degree in Culinary Arts, Stofferahn returned to work in Utah at Hapa Grill and Ahh Sushi to further hone his sushi skills. Craving an environment that allowed room for inventive ideas, Stofferahn opened his own catering company, bringing his talents to such clients as the Sundance Film Festival. Stofferahn moved back to San Diego in 2010, and continued to cater private parties until he met Bob Pasela, when the two joined forces to bring Sabuku Sushi to the scene.

Stofferahn’s creativity is given no bounds at Sabuku Sushi. His greatest passion is to innovate, combining seemingly contradictory ingredients into decadent sushi rolls and unlikely dishes. As Head Chef, he also prides himself on his ability to choose the freshest, highest-quality ingredients, which he uses in his creations. Stofferahn’s success lies in his ability to raise the bar, bringing enticing flavors together into an impressive culinary experience at Sabuku Sushi.

Phonexay Rattanaphosy – Senior Sushi Chef

It’s been quite a journey for Phonexay, having been in & around the sushi business for well over ten years. He was fortunate to have had two apprenticeships under very different & amazing Master Chefs. Phonexay honed his skills further over the years, Chef’ing at several of San Diego’s most notable sushi spots. He joined Sabuku in July of last year, & since Phonexay was named Sabuku’s Employee of the Year and promoted to Senior Chef. Phonexay’s determination and focus keeps him at the top of his profession. Quite often you can hear his guests responding with oohhh’s & ahhhh’s as they marvel at his wonderful creations and artful presentation!

When not at Sabuku, Phonexay enjoys walking his dog Kobe, and playing with his lovely young daughter.