Monday, February 11, 2008
I went to this place a few weeks back with my sister. One thing we noticed for sure was that almost everyone there was Japanese, hence it must be pretty authentic. We made reservations for the sushi bar just in case. If you go early, you don't really have to worry but it never hurts to make one. The decor was very simple and modern. They have a huge menu and specials. There were a lot of fresh fish from Japan that were very unique. So began our journey into unchartered water with some familiar faces...
Fresh Oysters with Sea Salt & Japanese Sudachi Citrus. The oysters were not too fresh in my opinion. There was nothing special about the flavor. Sudachi is a small, round, green citrus fruit that is relatively unknown outside Japan. I couldn't really taste the flavor of the sudachi. The concept sounded very interesting but fell short in execution.
Carpaccio of Pen Shell with Black Truffle. As you know, I LOVE truffles. You can definitely taste the truffle flavor. They sprayed truffle oil as well. It was a nice combination of flavors, but the aromatic flavor of the truffles almost masked the pen shell. The presentation was nice. Honestly, the pen shell at Sushi Sasabune was much better. You should try pen shell if you have never had it before.
Fresh Octopus (Tako). This was my first time trying this. It was completely different from what I normally saw at sushi bars. You can really see the chef's skill as he added the gradients and texture into the generous cut. The nigiri really reminded me of Ika, squid. I am not a big fan of chewier texture, but I would recommend people to try this so they can experience what fresh octopus is like.
Alfonsino belongs in the Berycidae family. I have had this fish many times and I love the texture! Even though this fish is a little chewy, there is just something about its flavor that I always love. The sushi chef here tends to add sea salt and Yuzu to all the nigiri, which is fine by me. You can taste the purity of the fish as the components bring out the flavor.
Tile Snapper. As usual, it was flavored with sea salt and a type of oil sprayed on. Snapper is usually a very chewy fish, so I was not too thrilled about this piece. I feel chewier fishes have a paste-like texture and taste very bland. Since I have not had this before I definitely had to give it a try.
Wild Small Yellow Tail. Shoyu, soy sauce, was brushed onto this piece. The saltiness really brought out the sweetness of the fish. The texture was a little bit more chewy, which reminded me of Kampachi. I liked the yellow tail, but I think I still prefer regular Hamachi.
Japanese Groom Fish. This really reminded me of Tai, snapper, because of the chewy texture. It was very lightly flavored with sea salt, but there wasn't a sweetness to this fish. The chef had to use tweezers to make sure all the bones were taken out.
Large Scale Black Fish. The texture of this fish was softer on the palette. I actually really liked the flavor that the Yuzu and sea salt brought out. This fish was also fattier than the other chewy fishes. I would definitely recommend trying this fish.
Sting Fish. This was another chewy fish, but having Yuzu and sea salt made it more flavorful than the previous ones. The texture was closer to the black fish, but not as tender.
Blue Fin Sea Robin. This was actually one of my favorites that night. There was a sweet flavor that remained in my mouth afterwards. Even though this fish was chewy, it wasn't tough at all. I definitely would order this fish again!
Wild Amber Jack. This is a type of yellow tail. It was lightly brushed with shoyu. The texture is a little chewier like kampachi. I still love all types of yellow tail. The shoyu really brought out the sweetness of the fish and it wasn't too tough.
Jack Mackerel. There was ginger on top to offset the fishiness. At first I was going to take off the ginger, luckily I did not because it really complimented the shoyu & flavor of the fish. The texture was very consistent and just the right chewiness. One of the better mackerels I have had.
Uni, sea urchin. As always, my sister has to get an order. I recommended this to her because I have read the reviews online at how generous a piece they give you. They give whole slices on top of rice. Most places don't do nigiri style like they did. It was fresh but nothing that wowed me like Tabento did. My sister was surprised at the generous portion.
Hamachi, yellow tail. Most of you must have noticed my love for yellow tail. Of course I had a few orders. It was very fresh and reasonably priced. The portions were very generous and each piece was cut delicately. The soft texture was only enhanced with the shoyu brushed on and delicious fresh wasabi I added on top that brought out the flavor of the fish.
Hotate, scallop. How can you go wrong with a lime flavor, Yuzu, & sea salt! This really brought out the sweet flavor of the scallops. I really think this is the best way to eat fresh scallop nigiri.
Seared Toro, fatty tuna. Of course I always have to end a meal with Toro. We only ordered one order because their Market Price was on the higher side. Lucky for me that the Toro was not to die for, or else I'd want to order more. The fish was not very fatty so a lot of the buttery texture was lost. It almost tasted like regular tuna. There was nothing out of the ordinary in their preparation, just a brush of shoyu. I would still order it the next time because it could be just the cut they had that night.
We wanted to try one of the desserts because it sounded very interesting. It was the Black Sesame Ice Cream with Poured Hot Coffee & Sesame Seed Paste. The presentation was lacking because it was a melted mess in my opinion. I wouldn't recommend this dessert because the concept was very intriguing, but fell short in execution. The dish was bitter overall. The black sesame ice cream was good but everything else lacked flavor.
All in all I really liked the different options and traditional Japanese style food they offered. We only tried the unique fishes they had. I would go back to see if they change the choices, also their normal menu dishes looked delicious. The ladies who sat next to us ordered a lot of dishes off the menu that looked wonderful. You can definitely feel the traditional Japanese aura at this place. I would definitely recommend this place if you are looking for traditional fresh fish and unique Japanese dishes. Do keep in mind that it can get kind of pricey, but you get what you pay for.
Ikko Japanese Restaurant
735 Baker St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626