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Laguna Beach

 Volume 13, Issue 47  |  June 11, 2021

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It’s official: San Shi Go is staying in Laguna Beach

By Diane Armitage

As of this past weekend, it’s official: The longtime local favorite San Shi Go is taking up residence in the old Okura building at 858 South Coast Hwy.

The San Shi Go “elves” have already been busy at work at the new location and Owner/Principal Koichi Sakamoto says they hope to open by July. 

It's official Okura building

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Diane Armitage

Popular San Shi Go restaurant has landed at the old Okura building 

“We’ve lived and worked in Laguna Beach for 32 years,” said Koichi. “Our customers have become our family. We knew we couldn’t leave this town.”

Koichi noted that the entire San Shi Go staff is returning. 

Unexpected closure, unexpected support 

San Shi Go startled the community with its unexpected closure on February 28th in the HIP District.

The restaurant first set up shop in late 1989 when the old Pottery Shack was still in business and its only food-and-drink neighbors were Gina’s Pizza (1975), Wahoo’s Fish Taco (1988), and The Sandpiper (the grandpappy, established 1942). The sushi restaurant, with its friendly staff and innovative chefs quickly made a name for itself, attracting a steady stream of locals and visitors, alike. 

“When San Shi Go closed, everyone started calling me,” said Commercial Broker Ryan Harman with Lee & Associates. 

It's official San building

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Diane Armitage 

San Shi Go was a foundational element in the HIP District since late 1989

“This was a hard hit for our community because so many of us practically grew up going to San Shi Go,” he said. “There was a lot of interest in helping Koichi and his team out so that they’d continue to be a part of Laguna Beach. This was one of those great cases where it was so important to a lot of people to help them find a way,” he added. 

As the San Shi Go team considered various options, the former Okura property owners stepped up. 

“Everything just clicked” 

The Okura restaurant, which also featured sushi, closed in November 2019 after a multi-year stint. The property owners are also residents of Laguna Beach. 

“Okura was our tenant for four years, and we really enjoyed working with them, but they felt it was better to move on,” said the landlord. 

Even through the long months of the pandemic, several restaurant concepts considered the Okura location as it is one of the largest restaurant pads in the city. 

“There were a variety of concepts, from Mexican to Italian to a fish house to everything in between,” noted Harman. “But when the landlord got together with San Shi Go, everything just clicked.”

Added the landlord, “The community was so disappointed when San Shi Go closed. I’m looking forward to the re-opening of a neighborhood favorite.”

New expansion ahead for San Shi Go 

The square footage at the new location is nearly double that of the former San Shi Go space. 

“At the old space, we didn’t have much room for group events or private parties, but this new location gives us three different sections with the furnished patio, the large dining room, and the bar,” said Koichi. 

“The patio, alone, can seat nearly 50 people, so even if restaurant restrictions continue, we’ll be able to safely seat a much larger number of our customers,” he added.

It's official sushi

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of San Shi Go 

San Shi Go’s famed sushi will be back in play in Laguna in a matter of weeks 

Koichi says that the expanded space also allows for an expansion of their menu. While the ever-popular sushi chefs are working out new menu items, the team is also looking to bring on an additional chef to help with the expanded space.

Keeping the legacy alive 

“It feels really good to do a restaurant deal in Laguna Beach that keeps a legacy alive. It feels good from a business sense, but it feels really good from a customer sense,” said Harman. 

Watch my @bestoflagunabeach social channels for updates on San Shi Go’s opening date. 

The best-selling author and blogger on The Best of Laguna Beach™, Diane Armitage is on an endless quest for the most imaginative adventures in Laguna’s restaurants, events, and lifestyle. Check out chef interviews, retail and restaurant news, and favorite events at and follow on Instagram @BestofLagunaBeach (look for Diane’s smiling face).


Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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