Japanese, Sushi

Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub

This post of Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub is over due as I visited this restaurant some weeks ago. It’s been a hectic week so it’s been hard to take a breather and write about food. I don’t know how other bloggers do it sometimes.

So I will do my best to remember what’s in these photos.

Ben mentioned some months ago that Wrench and Rodent was a restaurant he heard nice things about. I love sushi but I never, ever, drive to Oceanside to eat. It’s just too far and I didn’t have any restaurants in that area I wanted to try out. Besides, I always associate Oceanside with my long drives to LA.

Tommy told me he was meeting a few friends there one evening and it would be a nice chance for me to try out Wrench and Rodent.

There is no signage for the restaurant so it’s best to look for this building:

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Yes. A taco shop. Wrench & Rodent is located in the same location, just adjacent (to the left) of Bull Taco. I believe they share a small parking lot to the side of this building (I’ve just parked on the street though).

It is a small restaurant with a sushi bar, few indoor tables, and an outside patio. There’s no air conditioning but you can slightly feel the breeze flowing our way from the beach a few blocks down. I don’t usually sit at the sushi bar but I guess Tommy and his friends never NOT sit at the sushi bar.

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Who doesn’t love cold iced water served in a mason cup and seeing a panda cub on the chopsticks.  I thought the wooden plate was quite interesting and unique.

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That round hole must be for the wasabi and soy sauce right.

Tommy and Chef Davin said the plate is actually part of a skateboard. Take another look at the plate.

They suggested Tommy do the ordering and if I was ok with that. Looking back, did I just have my first Omakase (kinda)?

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Ironic how THIS was the first saba (mackerel) I’ve EVER tried. Like, in my entire life.

I didn’t try sushi until I was 21 years old. Just never wanted to and my high school/college friends never wanted to as well. My parents never pressured me (they sure did with school, piano, etc though). The ONE thing I remember my dad ever saying about sushi was that he HATED mackerel nigiri. He said it was too fishy for him (which I found odd as he loved deep sea fishing). But looking back, he never kept the mackerel he caught. He’d always throw them back to sea.

I watched Tommy eat his piece without his head combusting so I figured this would be THE DAY I finally try mackerel. And wouldn’t ya know it. It wasn’t terribly fishy at all. It perhaps had an oilier taste to it but the flesh was pleasantly firm/sweet.

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I was also surprised that this mackerel wasn’t overly fishy and that I actually enjoyed eating this saba.

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This was served chilled in a little bowl. I thought it was just a cold gazpacho type soup but was smiling when I found the treasure of beautiful bluefin sashimi at the bottom of the bowl.

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Chef Davin showed this to us. I think he was using the ginormous fish head for a future diabolical dish of sort.

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shitake mushrooms stuffed with krab, spicy tuna and avo, deep fried and saturated in rootbeer terriyaki w/ dried shaved bonita and scallion

I’m such a sucker for fried stuff. I was glad others that night like fried stuff as well. I loved this dish and when was the last time you had rootbeer terriyaki sauce drizzled over fried shitake mushrooms.

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Prepared a beautiful seared rare.

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Served with the prettiest and crispiest radishes.

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It’s hard not to stare at the pretty presentation. The beautiful delicate scallops were great.

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Now THIS is what I thought Mackerel would taste like.

I believe it’s a pesto sauce that tops the anchovy. I commented to Tommy that I have a hard time eating stronger fishy items but he said to at least try it. The pesto sauce was a nice way to tame the fishiness of the anchovy and I’m happy to say that I managed to eat 1/2 of 1 piece of this nigiri. We all have our own preference for what we like/don’t like and anchovy is not for me. That’s all.

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I could eat these plump mollusks all day. I’d like to see a raw oyster and a raw scallop fight for my affection. Like to the death. Preferably.

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I think another table ordered this sashimi plate wrong so it was returned to the sushi bar. Tommy told Chef Davin that he would take/pay for it. Then he gave it to another table, compliments of the restaurant, for the table (of strangers) to try.

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The collar is served with homemade bacon fat sauce. You can see the Chef using the blow torch to caramelize/brown the fat sauce. It produced a nice crispy layer to the outside of the collar. The kama was nice and meaty. I found the bacon fat sauce to be a bit too smokey/pronounced for the kama.

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Bacon, lettuce, tomato

I did not think I’d like this nigiri as a BLT ‘sandwich’ sounded horrible at the end of a stuffed meal. Surprisingly, this little BLT nigiri was such a great way to end dinner for me. The bacon was crispy and there was something about eating all the layers with vinegary rice.

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One of Tommy’s friend having this Breakwater Brewing Co on tap.

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This was Chef Davin’s latest creation that he wanted to show Tommy. It was made with Catalina Offshore’s uni I believe. It smelled like the fish flakes I used to sprinkle into my fish aquarium when I was little. I asked Tommy if he’s honest with people about their products (for example, this uni salt that he had not tried). He said absolutely as how do you help someone by lying to them. Nicely said. I hope to try this salt on a future dish at W&R.

My second visit to W&R was a bit last minute. I got a text saying it was a small group of people getting together for Tommy’s (pre)birthday. This must be a good group of friends to meet last minute in Oceanside for a sushi celebration.

Turn away if you have a fear of piranhas and/or fried fish face (ahem…you know who you all are…):

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Sitting at the sushi bar is actually fun. WTF. Granted, this isn’t a traditional sushi house like, let’s say, Sushi Ota. But Chef Davin comes up with some sensational presentations that make curious people like me very happy.  The fish here literally seems to be leaping, from the mound of greens, and moaning, tongue out and all, ‘I’ll kill you’

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They used a gold spotted seabass. I went straight for the cheeks. The roasted purple cauliflower was amazing as well.

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Tuna topped with scallops

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I heard about these critters from Tommy but stopped listening after he said slime eels. I have a horrible fear of snakes or anything snake-like. I wish I could say it’s faith wise but nope. It’s from seeing my gramdma freak the eff out at the mention of snakes. I won’t even eat unagi (eel).

But, this is 2014. I’m busting out people. This blogger is busting out. I tried it and if I had NOT known it was hagfish, I might have mistaken it for grilled calamari.  There was a nice charcoal-y taste to this hagfish.


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One of the best items of the evening. I asked Tommy and Chef Davin what oyster was used for this.  I think Tommy explained that it’s a new ‘breed’ that they’ve been experimenting with and will coin Catalina Jewel. So fitting don’t you think. The oyster had a briny sweetness to it and I wish I could remember what that orange liquid on top comprised of (was it kumquats?).

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shrimp tempura roll topped with seared albacore, roasted garlic, truffle oil, salt & pepper

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The seared albacore was delicious and I think this was the first ever roll I’ve ever had topped with TRUFFLE oil. Really delightful.

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I might be wrong about this one. I thought I heard Toro but perhaps it was just non-toro hamachi. It was a nice nigiri but not as fatty as I had hoped.

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Low carb lovers rejoice. Amen. The home made guacamole was creamy and worked well with the crispy fried salmon skin.

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I don’t usually eat pastrami sandwiches because of the peppery-ness of the meat. So if you like pastrami, you will love this fatty swordfish belly. It reminded me of the bacon lard salami I had once on a cheese board ( was it San Fran?) .

The atmosphere is incredibly laid back at Wrench and Rodent. Chef Davin works like a machine behind the small sushi bar. His use of greeneries, house made sauces, colorful radishes/beets/etc brought dishes to life for me.

He has one assistant, that’s by his side, pumping out items as they’re being requested to them. The place gets busy and I heard this is the spot where local chefs like to visit at the end of a day.

I’ve been driving to LA more often and always sigh when I drive by Oceanside (coming home). My head always chants ‘almost home almost home almost home as Oceanside is usually just a benchmark city for my mental timeline when I drive home. Wrench and Rodent closes at 10p most nights (9p on Mondays I believe) so this would be a great place for me to stop by and sit at the sushi bar to decompress a bit.

Hope everyone is enjoying the surprisingly beautiful weather. Happy Wednesday ya’ll –

Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub
1815 S Coast Highway
Oceanside, CA 92054


18 thoughts on “Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub

  1. Wow so much food! Everything looks so yum. I usually almost always get Omakase when getting sushi. It’s always a fun surprise. Half the time I eat out, I have a hard time trying to make up my mind what I want anyways, so I like that I don’t have to pick and choose for myself as much. I’m craving sushi now!

    I can’t remember when I first had sushi. I think I’ve been eating it since I was a kid. But I really got more into it in my teens.

    And I’ll say it for JS…your nails look polished lol. Does that mean you met someone recently?

    1. Hi Behgo,

      I’m surprised you get Omakase as I think you’d be wary of getting a nigiri/fish you didn’t like. Giving someone control over ordering worries me a bit but seeing it as ‘hey they’ll probably know what’s best to try’ helps me. So I will make it a point to try omakase on my next sushi jaunt. I totally had sushi for lunch today because writing this post made me crave sushi too!

      I hope you do a sushi post. I’m curious to see what type of sushi you prefer and what items you won’t touch.

      Polished nails have meant meetings and no martial arts recently. Ya freak.

      Hope you’re having a good Wed Miss Kim 🙂

  2. Nice! How much did the omakase cost? The fried salmon skin sounds really awesome, and so did the uni salt. I STILL haven’t been to Catalina Offshore Products yet – for some reason – and your posts keep reminding me that I really should go! 🙂

    1. Hi Jinxi,

      The chef’s omakase starts at $40 and goes up to $80 I believe. I hope you get a chance to check out Catalina Offshore. I’m hoping to head there this weekend to get some uni. I’d so love to know what you’d make (for S) with seafood from Catalina. Make something uni so we can swap recipes!

  3. I’ve been waiting for this post (I hope that didn’t sound creepy)! Glad to see you enjoyed your experience at the Seabasstropub – I still haven’t gotten a chance to try it out… but your post certainly makes me want to. Do you know where they source most of their fish from? Is it from Catalina Offshore Products?

    I’m surprised they served hagfish here – I’ve never, ever seen a restaurant serve it except for the time I went to Korea (apparently they like it in Korea). Was it slimy at all? Was the texture really similar to squid, since that’s what you compared it to?

    The opah cheek looks amazing, as does the swordfish pastrami. One thing that I noticed in particular is that there are sesame seeds EVERYWHERE! Okay, not on every dish, but a lot of the nigiri seems to have sesame seeds on it. I love sitting at the sushi bar – you get to talk to the chef and they’ll personalize your experience. You need to try omakase sometime – having a meal “personalized” for you is fun, although not every sushi chef will do a unique omakase just for you (If the menu has omakase on it, it’s usually not a personal one, just a set menu). You just have to have an open mind and eat everything – speaking of which, I’ve heard of sannakji being available in San Diego and Los Angeles… I know what I’m trying next!

    The big question is – would you drive to Oceanside to eat at the Seabasstropub now? Or would you rather stick around in San Diego and hit up places like Tadokoro, Ota, and Kaito?

    1. Hi Ben,

      I think I’ve tried all *your* suggested places before you ! So far Wrench & Rodent has been the best (of your recs). I believe Catalina Offshore supplies most of their fish inventory.

      The hagfish wasn’t slimy at all. I was researching a bit (about these things) and do you know the main concern, when shipping these slime eels, is that they don’t suffocate in their own slime. Yeah. You heard me. Their OWN SLIME. I would say the hagfish tasted like ‘tougher’ calamari (required a bit more a chew). Not because it was overcooked or rubbery. It was a ‘toothier’ kinda thing (gosh, I’m seriously having a hard time writing this afternoon). Ok – I got it. Like if you prefer pasta al dente vs cooked a bit longer. Hagfish had more of an al dente chew to it if that makes sense. Ha. That’s what I was trying to convey. Whew. Brain fart be gone…

      I just looked at the pics again – nice observation about the sesame seeds. I thought you’d be all about the greenery and foraging. Have you ever tried omakase alone? I find it tough to talk to complete strangers so I imagine it would be even MORE AWKWARD talking to an anti social sushi chef (I just assume they’re all anti social for some reason).I never realized there was a set omakase (on menu) vs a personalized one. Thanks for pointing that out. Akinori has a set omakase – what’s your take on that? That was going to be my first ‘official’ omakase alone. Should I try another sushi bar for a personalized omakase.

      I googled sannakji. WTH Ben. Let me know how it works out for ya when a suction cup gets stuck in your throat and you start choking. I was busting up laughing when I read this ” This can also present a choking hazard for some people, particularly if they are intoxicated.” Walmido used to serve live octopus. What ever happened to that place BTW?

      Oceanside is a really long drive for me (especially with traffic). I’d re visit again when I drive home from LA though. I’ve never drank the Ota kool aid but am curious to revisit (as sis swears by them). Kaito – gosh – I read about them years ago from Kirk. Might have to try that one if possible too.

      1. Urghh, gross. I just had the idea of hagfish, lightly grilled, served with an uni cream sauce or something, like a japanese pasta dish. If you’ve had octopus, is it like octopus when it’s grilled but somewhat “overgrilled” so instead of being extremely tender, it becames very… substantial? Toothsome? I think I know what you mean though. The al dente part made me think of a bunch of hagfish floating around in carbonara or something.

        Akinori is a pretty good example of textbook omakase if you go by the menu – if you check Facebook, they’ll post pictures of the omakase sashimi, which is really pretty and a decent value (I just noticed he also posted a picture of one of the courses from the omakase set, so I believe he’s going by seasonal items, served to everyone who orders omakase, but he may change up the nigiri course). That being said, I say definitely try both types – you’ll have to frequent a sushi bar a few times before the chef has an idea of what you like, or you can tell them your favorites.

        I’ve had omakase at Kaito and Tadokoro, and they’re both really good – Kaz-san at Kaito was able to pick up a bit of my likes and dislikes in one meal, which is pretty awesome. I forgot the name of the chef at Tadokoro. Speaking of which, if you like ankimo (Monkfish liver), you absolutely NEED to try the stuff from Tadokoro. The chef makes it himself and nothing else I’ve ever had even compares.

        Sannakji and live halibut sashimi are on my “eat this” list for the summer – branching out from raw fish from Japan. I actually went to iSushi (it’s a name change I think), and when I asked they said they still serve it.

        PS: If you think sannakji is weird, look up “Shirouo no Odorigui”. I won’t ruin what it is, but I think this one might be a little hard for me to swallow.

        1. Hmmm. Yes perhaps octopus would be a better comparison to the texture of hagfish. Toothsome – thank you. I swear I could NOT come up with that word. Al dente is the best way I can explain how I felt about the hagfish that evening. I take you don’t like Italian/Japanese fusion cuisine 🙂

          I wouldn’t even know what ‘textbook omakase’ entails. Sometimes I wonder, if you’re at the mercy of the sushi chef, if he just serves the items he kinda has to get rid of. That’s why I heard never order the ‘special of the day’ from a restaurant b/c it’s the restaurant’s way of getting rid of whatever item that’s expiring or needs to go. Not saying that’s true or not. Just what I heard. Tadokoro – in Old Town right – looking at a few pics right now. I cannot believe I haven’t visited all these Japanese restaurants yet. Question: I’ve seen Omakase pictures (as in Akinori and Tadokoro just now). The omakase appears to be served ALL on one plate. I thought traditional omakase entailed each item being served separately . Is it because these are ‘set omakase’ with a price listed on menu?

          Tried monkfish liver once and about died. It was incredibly fishy and pasty. Maybe I tried the dried version or something. It was terrible. My parents made me take a bite and it ruined me.

          I saw the live halibut at Walmido/Isushi. The sushi chef gave me a sample of the halibut and I found the flesh to be too chewy for my taste. I heard that’s the way it’s supposed to taste though.

          I about gagged when I read the translation of Sannakji. I read it as Dancing LiceFish. I’m trying to understand what these things taste like. It seems more of a novelty dish to me. Not sure I want skinny guppy fish dancing in my mouth before I eat it – and how good could it taste being that skinny. SHIRAKO – I want you to try that one. Gross.

    1. Hi Mary!!

      Come on – what, no likey slime fish? No likey fried angry piranah? J/k! I think you’d like the wetbrains though. Hello – fried mushrooms! You love mushrooms!

      We must make you a meal of brussel sprouts and raw sushi. Okcoolthanksbye. 🙂

        1. I’m glad you can kinda eat sushi if it’s stuffed in a fried mushroom. Maybe that’ll be the trick. To put everything you hate into a fried mushroom so you’ll actually try it (be it brussel sprouts, slime eel, eye balls, etc). It’s like a donut. Stuff anything in a donut and I’ll probably try it.

          kthanksbyebacktootles 🙂

          1. Hahahah. Put everything I don’t want to eat into a mushroom. Funny. I’ll try not to just scoop that crap, er, stuff, back out.

            I’m pretty sure you would NOT eat a blue cheese stuffed donut so don’t even tell me that hahah 🙂

  4. This place sounds so awesome!!! Ahh this is like level 100 major foodie points with your fancy omakase meals and top-secret soon-to-be-released jewel oyster preview 😉

    Random comments (I had more but there were so many dishes I forgot some of my comments…):

    -The Opai cheek looks amazing
    -I would never order something called ‘wetbrain’ WHAT.
    – Adore hamachi kama.
    – Usually the fish faces look sad and it makes me sad but that fried fish head looks PISSED. He is baring all his teeth and probably died trying to kill someone.
    – The Catalina Jewel oyster looks really really good.
    – The swordfish pastrami is an interesting idea, I don’t like regular pastrami but I think I would like this.

    Oh and also I realized another factor that makes your nails look so nice, its not just the polish you have a super nice nail shape. You are just blessed by the nail gods really. Rejoice.

    1. Hi J.S.,

      I wish we could find an AYCE oyster place for the both of us. I think I’d smash you in that competition. Just sayin’…

      I forgot your love of raw oysters. The one I had here was truly delicious. I wish we could find that oyster (prepared WR style) on an AYCE menu.

      I think they call it Wetbrain because it looks fleshy (spicy tuna) and oozey (from sauce) once you bite into it. Yums.

      Your comment about the fried fish was too funny. Died trying to kill someone?! I want to do a Rorschach test on you. I would like to understand, through inkblots fashioned after dead animal faces, what provokes such emotions from you. Talk to me. Must be some deep rooted stuff. I will figure it out thru Rorschach. Don’t worry…

      HAHAHAHAH!!! I’m seriously doing the test on you though if we ever have an uni/crab/lobster dinner thing.

      I heart my nail polish color. It’s so un-me. I’m not a fan of pink (at all) but I love this pink. The nail shape is called square-round and I wuv it. Stop jinxing it – you’re going to give off bad jujus to my non-chipped nails! You’re doing it on purpose aren’t you. See. Rorschach.

      Hope you’re having a good week J.S 🙂

  5. Wow! That’s so awesome you are in the close circle of friends of a local celebrity! 🙂

    Good photos! I gotta visit Bull Taco sometime. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Hi Soo

      The sushi group that night was great. It was fun being a part of that dinner get-together.

      I’ve never tried Bull Taco so let me know about the food if you visit. I think I’ve exhausted my freshly fried chips allowance from the event last night. No more yummy carbs for me this week 🙁

      Hope you’re enjoying this Thurs –

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