Sushi by Scratch Restaurants is an omakase-style sushi restaurant that focuses on fresh seafood found locally in Santa Barbara. The term “omakase” translates to “to entrust” and is used when ordering food to “leave it up to” the chef to choose. Created by the combined talents of chef-owners and husband/wife duo Phillip Frankland Lee (a contestant from TV’s “Top Chef Season 13,” “Chopped” and other shows) and pastry chef Margarita Kallas-Lee, the pair has done just that, meticulously crafting an incredible 17-course meal, one bite at a time.
The restaurant, located at Montecito Inn on Coast Village Road, is a dimly-lit wooden bar with a layout that allows guests to watch each course as it’s prepared. A team of expert chefs take care to hand-shape each bite and delicately apply freshly ground wasabi, bright red beet mustard, or house-made soy, among a handful of other unique sauces and dressings. A blowtorch is often used to crispen various fish dishes or sear the bone marrow and wagyu beef. Before each course, the chefs explore the flavor profile and explain their choices for that night.
Sushi by Scratch Restaurants‘ menu varies based on availability and the vastly fluid omakase experience, so you will never have the same 17 courses twice. A few menu highlights include the first course, a deliciously creamy bite of tuna tartare sandwiched between dried seaweed and topped with sturgeon caviar. That piece immediately sets the tone for the rest of the meal, which features hamachi, salmon, king crab, Santa Barbara uni, and a fan favorite, the seared unagi with bone marrow drippings. The toro quite literally melts in your mouth, and both the seared bone marrow and A5 wagyu beef will leave you asking for more. In between bites, make sure to nibble on the palette cleanser, pickled cucumber slices, to ensure you’re tasting everything to the fullest extent. Cool off with a remarkable bite of matcha white chocolate and black sesame seed-covered green tea ice cream to top off the night.
Not to be overshadowed, the drink pairings are worthy of praise as well! There are three pairing choices: the house pairing, the sake pairing, and the wine pairing. The house pairing offers a variety of sake, wine, Japanese whiskey and gin micro-cocktails, and local beer that pertain to each grouping of bites and encompasses the full experience. However, if sake or wine is more your style, those particular pairings are specially curated to enhance each piece’s grouping, so you can’t go wrong. The bar also offers drinks a la carte, including non-alcoholic options.
Tips for Your Visit
On the first of every month, the restaurant opens up reservations slots for the following month. You can check availability here. You will be given a choice of three nightly reservations available Wednesday through Sunday: 5:00 p.m., 7:15 p.m., and 9:30 p.m. There are only 10 spots at each intimate seating, so you will want to book at least a few weeks in advance. A $25 deposit per guest is required to hold your reservation, and the total prepaid amount will be applied to your final bill.
15-20 minutes prior to your reservation, you are welcome to enjoy a complimentary cocktail of fresh lime juice, ginger and Japanese whiskey at Montecito Inn next door. The pre-meal toast is sure to get you and your party excited for the one-of-a-kind dinner-turned-art to follow!
Costs & Parking
The omakase experience starts at $165 per person, and the additional options for drink pairings vary per choice, between $65 – $110 per person. Individual pricing for cocktails, whiskey, beer and wine a la carte vary by choice as well.
Complimentary valet parking is available at Montecito Inn and along Coast Village Road. If you plan on savoring the alcoholic pairings along with your meal, we encourage utilizing a designated driver or taxi/ride share app.