Monday, February 23, 2009
I have finally gotten to this post. Due to some pressures by PK I have bumped up the rating of Sushi Wasabi. We were on a sushi crave a month or so ago and debated on which place to go. I thought I have been here before because a long time ago I went to a place that was probably called Wasabi Sushi or something of the same sort and it didn't impress me. So you can understand I was not too inclined to try this place but luckily I keep an open mind. As it turns out, this is definitely not the same place. Sushi Wasabi in Newport Beach is like a hole in the wall in a strip mall, but don't overlook this delectable place.
It wasn't that busy or crowded due to all the rain on a Saturday so we were able to sit down at the sushi bar without any troubles. I like that it was not super crowded as you get more one on one time and the dishes just keep coming. It's definitely a mom and pop shop with great food. Most of the fishes are pre-sliced and displayed in the case. The chef adds the sauces or extra ingredient before serving the fresh fish. If you sit at the sushi bar you must "trust the chef" and have the omakase. As the sign says, don't expect to get California Rolls here. This place is for serious sushi lovers ^_^.
To start the night off we received Albacore Sashimi from Canada swimming in a sea of Ponzu and chopped Green Onions. Each piece melted in my mouth and they were all generously cut. The texture was on point and it was different from your typical albacore lightly seared on the outside. It's simply fresh cut fish. They sure don't skimp in quality or quantity.
It's really hard to tell which piece is which since they both look so tasty. The closest piece was the Ahi Tuna from Hawaii that just melted in my mouth as well. Normally I am not a huge fan of Maguro except the belly, Toro. This cut had the right smooth texture that sang in my mouth.
The piece next to it in the back was the Toro from Boston. It was quite hard to differentiate the 2 by looking at the photo but they pack quite a different punch on the palate. Brace yourself.... I thought the texture was way too fatty... **the crowd faints** I know it is blasphemy for me to say this but I felt that the spectacular flavor of Toro was masked by the fatty texture. Still, I will never look a gift horse in the mouth. I love all Toro and am glad to eat it any time, any day! lol
Next he served us Red Snapper from New Zealand with Shiso on one piece and without on the other. They were both topped with chopped Green Onions, grated Red Daikon, and Ponzu. The Tai was fresh and nicely prepared. If you look carefully you can see that some parts of the fish were even translucent. =9
Our first hand roll was Blue Crab from Seattle. This was tasty but the Blue Crab flavor was a little bit more powerful than what I normally like. Still I thought the taste and texture were on point. The flavor was good and the portion generous.
These were pretty big Kumomoto Oysters from Seattle. The 3 pieces took up the small plate and were very succulent. I have rarely seen Kumomoto Oysters so big and juicy, which can actually be a bad sign. The reason Kumomoto Oysters tend to be so sweet in taste is due to their small size. I also felt that putting chopped Green Onions, grated Red Daikon, and Ponzu took away from the natural sweetness of the Kumomoto Oysters. The best way is to keep it light and let the oysters shine in taste. *sorry to sound so "Iron Chef"-ish but I am a purist at heart* O=)
One of my favorite sushi is Hamachi. We were served fresh Hamachi sushi from South of Japan. They were nicely cut pieces with no special sauce, just Soy Sauce and Wasabi. This was just simply fresh fish. It didn't melt in my mouth or pop in my mind like the other fishes, but this was solid.
As many of you might know, I "used to" detest Uni... notice the words in parentheses? One of Ms. Lin's favorite sushi is Uni and I have always backed off to let her enjoy it since I was never a fan... until recently! The liking has been building and building since Tabento Sushi. Beware Sea Urchins everywhere. You are now on my list of Yummy Foods that I will devour. Sadly this will drain my wallet and cause a fight between Ms. Lin & me. lol PK and I were given Uni from Santa Barbara that photographed beautifully! At this time I was playing around with one of the new cameras and it was able to capture the tiny buds of the Uni. Mmmmmm GOOOOD... until I saw the bill for this! $11 for the 2 pieces... as a new fan of Uni, I almost fainted! The Toro wasn't as expensive as this. I rather have Toro then! lol
The Ankimo from Boston was my least favorite dish of the night. If it weren't for this utter failure, I would have only sung heavenly praises for this place. We were given a plate of Ankimo Sashimi to share with Seaweed, chopped Green Onions, grated Red Daikon, and Ponzu. The Ankimo had absolutely NO flavor at all and the texture resembled that of watery coagulated egg whites. It was just a gelatinous mess of nothingness. Both PK and I were super disappointed by this dish and didn't want to finish it.
Every dish was served in multiples, but as you will see this dish only has one piece. Here is the joke; I am normally pretty good at remembering to take the photos before I eat. As many of you might know this is quite a big sacrifice and trial to resist from eating the yummy food to capture it digitally first! lol To top things off I had to type into my sad cell phone some info on where each fish comes from... I almost forgot to snap this photo. Luckily I eat super slow and recalled that I hadn't done my duty as a foodie yet! lol Hence, there is only ONE Mirugai from Seattle in the photo. Again, one piece was with Shiso and the other without. I really liked that he grated some fresh Citrus peel on top to give the Mirugai an extra kick. This technique really helps eliminate the fishy taste, but the Mirugai here was very fresh so it didn't have this problem.
I really enjoyed their Salmon from Scotland with Kelp and toasted Sesame Seeds. Besides looking great digitally, it tastes just as wonderful. The thin slice of Kelp on top really popped because it enhanced the sweetness of the fish. It added another level to the complexity of this simple sushi and the Sesame Seeds added to the texture.
Fresh Hotate is always sweet and tasty. We were given Hotate from Hokkaido, Japan and Lime. The only that was missing for me was the oh so wonderful Yuzu Chili Pepper. I thought the Scallop was very fresh and tasty. It's simple and good. A citrus really helps make the Scallop pop.
Since I wasn't too wowed by the Toro from Boston, I was a little skeptical when I saw that the next dish was Chopped Toro from Boston. Still, I love my Toro and will eat it happily! lol To my surprise I really enjoyed it chopped. I think it was smart to add the small piece of Shiso to add to the complexity. Shiso makes anything better IMHO. The texture changed a bit when chopped and allowed me to taste the Toro better over the nice fattiness.
Just looking at the picture makes me want to drool. The Albacore Belly from Canada was nicely marbleized yet retains texture of Albacore. It is the best way to cheat on Toro. Albacore Belly is nowhere near as expensive yet it is also the fatty part of a type of Tuna/Maguro . Close enough when you get a craving and want to maximize your dough. O=P
After many plates we took a glance at what they had to offer and choose from. Sadly a few items were not available so we decided to end with a Spicy Tuna Hand Roll. The Tuna was fresh but it wasn’t that spicy. It was just alright for me. A little more spice and flavor would have been good.
All in all I was pretty impressed with this place and we all know how rare this happens. O=) It is now one of my new top sushi locations for OC since there aren’t that many choices to begin with. I liked quaintness of this place and I am scared to let the secret out even more because then I will have competition! Haha PK and I actually had Jack’s Bakery for the first time before we came here and we were “supposedly” stuffed yet we were able to gorge ourselves full of sushi. O=9 Then…. We …. Tee hee
14460 Newport Ave
Tustin, CA 92780