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Sushi Wasabi, Tustin, in Photos

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Finally made it to Wasabi after reading so much about it on this board. A lot of people say it's the best in OC, and that seems like a reasonable claim, though I still need to check out Shibucho in Costa Mesa. I had the 19-course omakase.

See all the pics here: http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fus...

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  1. Congratulations Kevin, You found it!
    Sushi Wasabi is definitely the Best in OC.
    We like Shubicho in CM also but it's not the same level by a long shot!
    Kar found S/W about 5 yrs ago and we have been going ever since.
    I used to take my own Kubota "Manjyu" with me and pay corkage but they finally offered to Bring it in and charge what has to be the Lowest price anywhere?
    S/W isn't for everyone? It's Authentic Japanese Style Sushi and meant to be very small bites (ala Urasawa) with is completely different than the Americanized Jumbo Portions with Crazy Rolls you find all over So Cal.
    Some people have complained about the fact that Katsu PreCuts a lot of the fish?
    The reason is there is no way to serve perfect pieces without a lengthy cutting time which would take too much time when your trying to serve in a reasonable time? Katsu actually cuts out the Muscle between the flesh which is one of the reasons it's so tender.
    Nozawa precuts a lot of his fish, along with Sasabune and some of the other LA Heavy Hitters.
    In short Sushi Wasabi is the best in OC and Kasen (fountain valley) is probably second followed by Shubicho (cm).
    We were at Urasawa last Tue and had another blow out meal! 925- per couple including Sake, it was fantastic!

    3 Replies
    1. re: russkar

      Seems like you're a regular at Wasabi (and just a sushi fiend in general!). Can you confirm Katsu's wife's name? Is it Tomomi or was I mistaken?

      Also, I just did a little Googling on Kasen, and they seem just as "hardcore" about their sushi. I'll put it on my list to try in OC.

      1. re: kevin h

        Your correct about Katsu's wife's name.

      2. re: russkar

        Russ--We've been to Bluefin many times, but have not been to S/W nor Shubicho. How would you contrast/compare them?

        Thanks!

      3. what was the tab per without the kubota and beer? and if the kubota manjyu is 75 per bottle that's not bad at usualy it's at least 125 per bottle. i've only had it by the glass once at WaSa in Irvine.

        speaking of which have you been to WaSa before?

        the only dish i truly don't like at Sushi Wasabe is the dynamite dish, with scallops in the shell.

        4 Replies
        1. re: kevin

          We never get the Scallops in the Shell so I can't comment.
          Normally the Sushi is about 75- ea at Wasabi without drinks.

          Been to both WaSa's(irvine-newport) many times. The owner went with me to Urasawa a few months ago. Also the Yahoo Scarfs (formally Chowhounds) hosted a dinner there a year ago.

          1. re: kevin

            The cost for food only that night was $85 sans tax. But since it is omakase I suppose it could go higher or lower depending when you tell Katsu to "stop." We told him to stop once we were the only ones left in the restaurant! And the Kubota Manjyu, is really the cheapest I've seen it anywhere.

            Haven't been to Wasa yet, though I've heard some pretty good things about it.

            1. re: kevin h

              WaSa is totally different. It's Fusion Calif Style Sushi not Traditional.
              When you go to Wasa , don't miss the "Treasures" which is one of their most interesting twist on Matsuhisa Style.

              1. re: russkar

                I just checked out their website, it's definitely not Wasabi-style, but I do also enjoy the fusion type food at Matsuhisa and Nobu.

          2. nice review, i'll definitely try this place out

            1. in your blog pic you had the "toro tartare" and said you think that it's because he ran out of regular toro. i haven't been there in a about a year or so but i always got that tartare and rarely if ever any slab of toro so it's not out of the norm.

              also i never saw ankimo there before your blog post. is this new or is my memory just faulty?

              8 Replies
              1. re: choctastic

                Hmmm interesting. I wonder why Katsu doesn't serve regular toro. Perhaps he has trouble accessing a suitable supply?

                About the ankimo, this was my first trip there so I can't really comment on whether it's new or not.

                1. re: kevin h

                  Answers:
                  Ankimo is a seasonal liver so Katsu waits till it's firm and at it's best , like oysters?
                  Katsu is very particular about which Tuna he uses, BIG EYE is the only True species so that's what it is. He normally serves us B/E Toro even thought it's very limited. I'm sure on you next visit he will have some if the Ocean hasn't run out of fish yet?

                  1. re: russkar

                    he never ever had ankimo even when in season when i would go there. perhaps i'm not a favored customer or something. interesting.

                    -- i asked about the ankimo at one point and remember being told they never have it.

                    1. re: choctastic

                      Katsu's had it every year for the last five, but only for a few months.
                      Maybe he doesn't think most of his customers always want it?

                      1. re: russkar

                        that's interesting. i specifically asked for it in season and he always said he did not carry it. and the last visit i paid was about a year ago. i guess we don't all get the same treatment. oh well. interesting to find out though.

                        1. re: choctastic

                          It's not a "Stock" item but an intermittent one. We had Ankimo a week ago (fri lunch) but he didn't have it last Wed. Hit and Miss.
                          Our favorite Ankimo is at Echigo (warm and covered in Miso)

                          1. re: russkar

                            i wish instead of saying he didn't carry it that he said he only had it sometimes. perhaps it was a language issue.

                  2. re: kevin h

                    I've been a regular at Wasabi since they opened. He does occasionally serve slabs of toro in addition to the chopped toro.

                    Monkfish liver is seasonal - we just had it on Wednesday night. You do have to ask for it, but he may not always have it. He calls it monkfish liver so that's what I've always asked for. Thanks to Katz, I now love fois gras, having tried monkfish liver! Ditto for scampi carpaccio in Italy after having sweet shrimp!

                2. Anybody know what days they are open and the hours?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jkao1817

                    OPEN TUES.-FRI., NOON-2 P.M.; TUES.-SAT., 5:30-8:30 P.M.

                    according to http://www.ocweekly.com/food/feature-...

                  2. Thanks for the review and photos, my mouth is watering.

                    1. I'm actually going up in a couple of weeks. Since I couldn't get into FL, I'm heading to Bouchon and Ad Hoc and will try to make reservations for FL in person while I'm up there.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: kevin h

                        I'm pretty sure they'll "politely refuse" if you walk up for a reservation as they did for me and countless others, but hey Yountville is nice regardless. Don't forget to scope out Chef Keller's pumpkin patch and cornfield across the street from French Laundry.

                        1. re: kevin h

                          Kev,
                          Your best chance to obtain a Resy for FL is to call 60 days in advance at 10am exactly, expect to hit your re-dial button several times. Always put yourself on the waiting list and do the same the following day.
                          We have had fantastic results doing this and been to FL more than 15 times.
                          Sometimes we go two days in a row. The 16 course menu is our favorite.
                          FL doesn't allow walk in Resy's ever! All Resy's must be made by phone like discussed above!

                          1. re: russkar

                            Sauce and Russ, those words are not encouraging. I somehow got the idea that one could just walk up (probably read it on the 'Net somewhere) and make a reservation for 2 months in advance. I'll give it a try though, since I'll be staying within walking distance of the restaurant.

                            1. re: kevin h

                              Don't try it Kev, there is no way!
                              I already have a resy for May.

                        2. russ, have you been to kasen? i'd like to know what you think of it...
                          looking at the sushi in kevins pictures, it actually looks like the tunas not that great quality and the number of dishes with ponzu to me is a little unsettling.

                          i've had lots of that canadian albacore when i worked in vancouver for two months, which i agree is delicious and costs only pennies over there!

                          spicy tuna and sesame on the salmon are also "non traditional" although tasty.
                          for me, kasen is tops although i havent been to wasabi.

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: modernist

                            wasabe is in the style of nozawa, sasabune, echigo, zo, et al. on and on.

                            Kasen if i remember correctly is pretty traditional and very reminscent of shibucho in costa mesa or the old location of shibucho on alameda.

                            so if you don't like the former style you probably won't like wasabe.

                            1. re: modernist

                              Kasen was pretty good, though it's over twice what I would normally spend for better (in my opinion) at Shibucho.

                              We also tried Wasabi once, and wasn't particularly impressed with how they mask everything with ponzu sauce. Some people really like the sauce. Me, I'd want to taste more of the fish.

                              1. re: modernist

                                Have I been to Kasen?
                                Maybe only 20 times? Maybe 30 times according to Kar.
                                Why do you ask?
                                It was the best before Wasabi and Shibicho. Now it's in a tie for 2nd with Shubicho.
                                Still is very good, just there last month.

                                1. re: russkar

                                  russ, i asked only to find out what you thought of it in relation to wasabi and the others, to put your comments into a context of something that i've tried.

                                  i hope you didnt take it as a challenge or criticism. that was not the intent at all.

                                  1. re: modernist

                                    Didn't take it as criticism at all just relaying my experiences which obviously have been many at Kasen because it was the best in OC for many years, still is very good. Sorry if my reply was flippant , it wasn't meant to be. Still love Shubicho but my tastebuds take me to Wasabi.

                                    1. re: russkar

                                      How do you compare Bluefin with Shubicho and Wasabi? Have been many times to Bluefin but have yet to visit Shubicho or Wasabi.

                                      1. re: Philly

                                        No comparison.
                                        I like Abe at Bluefin a lot but wasn't impressed with our recent Omakase, but then again it's OC on LA?
                                        Shubicho does an incredible job of authentic Sushi and well "aged" cuts of fish but they are not anywhere as "tight" as Wasabi.
                                        Wasabi cuts small bite-size perfect pieces of Fresh Fish and serves them on Warm Rice , the best OC has to offer at this time. Expensive , but worth it!

                                        1. re: russkar

                                          Thanks, Russ. Will definitely go to Wasabi!

                                2. re: modernist

                                  Modernist - don't knock it until you've tried it. The fish at Wasabi is amazingly fresh. The ponzu enhances the freshness and flavor of the fish. It isn't meant to mask poor quality fish.

                                  I've not been to Japan, but have eaten in at Nobu in NYC and London and Matsuhisa in BH. Wasabi's fish is as fresh and I would argue better prepared than those restaurants, as much I love the Nobu restaurants.

                                  1. re: cqt

                                    It's a matter of preference of course.

                                    I might like a girl with just the slightest whiff of Chanel No. 5, but that doesn't mean I'd want her to bathe in the stuff. ;)

                                    1. re: cqt

                                      i had a very disappointng meal at nobu london a few years ago (it was not my suggestion to dine there)

                                  2. as "traditional" and "purist" as that list claims to be, that sushi nazi thing seems like a marketing "schtick" very specific to LA.

                                    of that list, i only like sushi zo.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: modernist

                                      Sorry , there is no comparison between both places.
                                      Nozawa is unique (not traditional) and Zo is good but not earth shattering.

                                    2. "To my left, a group of loud-mouthed, Dior-wearing, high-maintenance-looking Vietnamese girls."

                                      omg, that had me rolling. great review and great pix!