Thursday, November 17, 2011

Based on the recommendation of my close pal HT, who just became HM, I came out to try Ohshima and their omakase. It is tucked away in a strip mall. The outside decor is simple and misleading. At first I was a little worried at what kind of sushi place this is. Once inside, my fears were lessened as it was pretty packed with customers. It would be wise and recommended to call and make reservations to avoid a wait. If you choose to sit at the sushi bar then you must order the omakase, which was exactly what we wanted.
First they start off the omakase with a snack. That night they were serving house-made cold cooked tuna. I prefer this to pickled vegetables since I am allergic to all vegetables. O=) It was a nice nibble to get the appetite going.
We started off the night with Sea Bream. A fresh slice of fish that's lightly seasoned with salt.
Next came another delicious Toro, I think the first was chu-toro and this was o-toro. I really enjoy their precision in presentation. They actually take the time to mark the beautiful grooves into each piece of sushi. It really makes a huge difference in presentation. At first glance, I thought they were just perfectly textured cuts of fish but as I spent more time watching the chef at work to see his detail in slicing the fish. Bonus points for making each piece look like a masterpiece and taste just as fresh.
They were definitely pulling out the goodies in the beginning of the show. Next came the Hotate, Scallop, with a sprig of yuzu. The only way to eat scallops is with a touch of citrus to enhance the natural sweetness.
The Gold Stripe had a texture reminiscent to yellowtail. A slightly chewier but still delicious taste. This seems to be one of the signature items in their omakase.
As for the Sea Bass, they add a dab of yuzu chili pepper to kick it up a notch. Sea bass has a texture that is similar to snapper. I love my sushi with yuzu chili pepper to add that sour and spice flavor, which exemplifies the natural taste of the fish.
What Ohshima is most known for is there Cherry Salmon. I know you are all wondering if there is any difference from regular salmon? Well, I think there is. I think that the cherry salmon has a slight sweeter taste and a more delicate texture. A bonus is that this was a fattier cut. Yum!
I am normally not that big of a fan for mackerel, but I have had a really good Spanish Mackerel in NYC. Ever since then, I have been searching for the same mackerel again. The reason why I don't like mackerel is that it tends to be on the fishier side and they often use ginger to mask that taste. The mackerel here was decent but not the best I have ever had.
Ah, the sweet aroma of fish being seared. Normally I don't like having Butter Fish in my omakase because it is usually fully cooked. Here, they lightly seared the top so that the delicate texture of the fish can remain in tact and tasted. It's a personal preference, but I enjoy the slight burnt taste from searing.
One of my favorite fishes is Toro because it melts in your mouth. I really enjoy that the chef takes the time to finely cut the grooves into each fish, which makes it that much more appealing.
Recently I have fallen deeply in love with Blue Crab Hand Rolls. I was glad to see that they offered it here as well. They have all the blue crab pre-packed in saran wrap for each roll. Their blue crab does not have a heavy amount of mayonnaise. Instead, they add a dab of soy sauce on top. This is good, but I still have to say that Sushi Wasabi has the best blue crab in my opinion. I like the intense blue crab flavor that their hand roll has along with the mayonnaise. Here, it is lighter in taste but still enjoyable.
I recommend getting their House Marinated Uni cold dish. It's priced very reasonably and has a good amount of uni on top. They add a mix of savory and sweet together. The first time I had it, there was more of a citrus flavor. I actually just went again tonight and there wasn't much citrus flavor but more of a fruit flavor. Still, it was savory and satisfying.
Time for trying something new. They offered Neptune, which I had not had before. A seafood named after the Gods? Bring it on! =) The texture reminded me of mirugai, a chewier texture.
We have all heard of red snapper, black snapper, and now Blue Snapper. I thought the color was very vivacious. It was a lot of softer than I had expected because snapper can be chewier at times. This was light and fresh.
Who can resist Alfonsino when you see it on the menu. The difference here is that they seared the sushi. I thought this was an interesting take by adding the burnt flavor.
Since there wasn't much yellowtail on the menu, I had to get the Young Amber Jack. Got to love the soft texture with a slightly chewy texture. Always a safe choice for sushi, but I might be biased because I love any form of yellowtail.
We decided to try the Horse King Fish that was rubbed with sea salt.
Even though I knew this would be a chewier fish, I couldn't resist ordering the Thread Fin. It's a slightly chewier fish that they lightly brush with soy sauce.
Stay away from the Uni Spaghetti. I thought the uni they used happened to be muddy. The noodles were al dente but the sauce was just bad. I couldn't stand the uni part though because it was not fresh. The uni in the house marinated uni was much better.
Who doesn't love Santa Barbara Spot Prawns? Well, I do! I was crazy enough to drive all the way up to Santa Barbara to buy some live ones. They are just so irresistibly sweet and tender. Be sure to add a touch of citrus to truly bring out the sweetness. To show us that they are live and fresh, they even took them out to show that they are moving before they peeled the shrimp.
As always, they give you the choice of what do with the head of the shrimp. You can either have the heads made into a soup or fry them up. I usually choose to have it fried and dipped into ponzu.
One thing I always try to look for on the specials is the Orange Clam. Here they offer it live and plated it nicely. Unfortunately, the clam was extremely fishy and didn't taste very fresh. Normally they are very sweet and tasty but I thought that it was a miss that night. Albeit, I did enjoy that they separated the clam into three parts based on the cut and texture. I only wished it was as tasty as it was pretty.
On the specials menu they offered the Marinated Miso Cheese. It was an interesting pairing. They used fresh greens, pink peppercorn, and apples. I thought it was a nice mix of flavors across the board. The saltiness from miso plus the hint of spiciness from the peppercorn really brought out the sweetness of the apple cubes.
Since we had almost ate everything on the board, I decided to try the Black Cod before we started repeating some favorites. They rubbed sea salt on top instead of soy sauce.
Although not pictured again, I had to have some items again. We were totally cleaning up the fish and as a treat, they gave us an order of fish eggs on the house. That was nice of them but I wished it was more fish! =)
All in all the first time I went there, I had a great time and really enjoyed all the fishes. I actually just went there again tonight and now my opinion has changed. Don't know if it was an off night or what happened but I don't have an urge to come back any time soon. Unfortunately for them, I didn't write this review earlier or else it would be a highly glorified review. Maybe it was because I sat at the table and who prepared the fish made a difference? For now, I guess maybe one day I will give them a third try to redeem themselves because I had a great time the first time I went. I did enjoy my company tonight but I thought the food was really lacking and wasn't as beautiful as the first time I had it. Even though I came hungry, it didn't taste great. I will most likely stick with Sushi Wasabi for now. It's really too bad because I had such a nice feeling after the first time I went. Sigh! Oh well! Still, I did not change my review of what I had the first time but I must heed the warning to my readers on what happened tonight.

Ohshima
1956 N Tustin St
Orange, CA 92865
(714) 998-0098
Ohshima Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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