Monday, June 6, 2011

Some San Diego Love on a Hot Kansas City Day

Last month I wrote a story recounting my ten year love affair with Harney Sushi in San Diego. That story was picked as a finalist for Harney's 10 Year Anniversary party and I was invited to attend the party for free!
Celebrity chefs, live music, and ALL YOU CAN EAT SUSHI!!! Amen.

Here's a little video of the fun times followed by the story I wrote ;)


Harney Sushi 10th Anniversary! from mac nguyen on Vimeo.

My Harney Story
By Amanda Steinhaus

Harney, oh Harney…

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I must begin with your birth. When you first sprung out of that small space on Harney Street in Old Town, I was there. We celebrated my best friend, Pammy’s 21st birthday that year. You were just one side of that building back then, but you had so much promise, I knew you would be our celebration vessel for many years to come.

I do recall the trials and tribulations of that first year, but as all great things come to life, with the support of dedicated family and friends, so did you. You thrived on the business of locals and your success stemmed from countless man hours invested by those who to-this-day wear your heart on their sleeves.

I visited you many times throughout my years in southern California. I cherished the close friendships I held with your owners, the sushi chefs, the servers and the bus boy that always brought me cucumbers for my water.

I specifically recall a night of debauchery that began with countless sake bombs taken in one of your high backed corner booths. It was my 24th birthday and I wore a purple wig to add to the festivities! Our celebration was so infectious that the diners in the neighboring booth couldn’t resist joining in on our fun and even bought a few extra rounds! Needless to say, the wig came off and I let my wild hairs flow!

When I moved back to San Diego after finishing up my degree in LA, our relationship really blossomed! You had grown so much while I was away and one of your best attributes became the VIP booth that you boasted with so much grandeur! It became the stage for my next three birthdays, as well as any fun dinner parties with which I longed to impress my guests. The privacy of its curtains, the sexiness of the soft leather cushions surrounded by those deep red walls, and the authority it commanded by sitting a bit higher than the rest of the surrounding tables. You had created the ultimate “cloud” in sushi heaven!

It was from this booth that I ate countless sushi surprises, like my favorite “Todduritos,” and sipped sophisticatedly on lychee martinis. I shared bottles of Moonstone Pear sake and J. Roget sparkling wine with countless friends and what happened behind those curtains, only you and I know. You made me happy Harney, oh so happy.

Then, when I thought it couldn’t get any better, you stepped up your presence in my life by sponsoring the community art shows that I organized at Rock Paper Scissors in Ocean Beach. You didn’t hesitate to provide beautiful trays of assorted sushi that disappeared as soon as they were set out for guests! And what was even better than that -- was that your owners always came in person and on a few occasions they purchased pieces of artwork, like the one pictured, that decorated your Old Town walls for quite some time.

Harney, when it comes to sushi, you complete me. Throughout the last ten years, we have built a lasting relationship that no other even comes close to in comparison. You have taught me about the amazing flavors of sushi, like my favorite albacore belly, and in my opinion, you hold the quality standard in sushi. I have watched eagerly as you have grown and expanded your vision of exactly what a sushi bar can be. You opened another location in Oceanside, which is like Old Town on steroids (in all the good ways). You hired amazing new chefs that have taken the unique Japanese ingredients that a sushi bar offers and created mouth watering dishes that win culinary awards left and right.

Your presence in the world of sushi has far outgrown you and I can only sit back and applaud your successes. You have made me proud, Harney, and I will always cherish those days when it was just us. But now is your time! Happy 10th birthday and cheers to many more wonderful decades to come.

Love always and forever,


  1. This story made me hungry. ;)

  2. It's pretty awesome that you have such a history with this restaurant, and how neat that they invited you to their celebration!

  3. The first few times I read my story out loud it brought me to tears...
    I am so lucky to be so deeply connected to Harney!!!