Thank you all so much for the recommendations.
I went last night and had a fabulous time!
Here’s what the 3 of us ordered:
1. An exotic mushroom salad (can't remember the name of the rare, in-season mushroom), which was one of their daily specials – the mushrooms were very woodsy and interesting, which went well with the arugula and frisee
2.Black Cod with Basil – fantastic. Usually I prefer Miso Black Cod, but this was just as good.
3.Smoked Salmon Croquettes – Small portion but very good
4.Lamb Carpaccio – nice combination of flavors. Would have preferred a touch of acidity or sharpness to compliment the rich lamb and cheese, but it was still very tasty
5.Ravioli with Shrimp Mousse – the highlight of the night. I could have eaten a whole entrée-sized portion of it. I’m glad this is a standard on their menu and not a special so I can get it next time
6.Squash Blossoms with shrimp mousse – We made the mistake of ordering this after the ravioli, which had such strong flavors. The delicate flavors of this dish were lost on us – but I’m sure it would have been more enjoyable if ordered before the ravioli
7.Chocolate soufflé cake – the cinnamon was a nice touch. Not particularly memorable, but still very good. It’s hard to make chocolate soufflé cakes stand out since they are so common, but they did a good job.
I plan on going back and trying the other dishes we couldn’t squeeze it. Thanks again for the recs!
So many choices, so little stomach! The menu changes daily but the following particular delights are frequently on offer: Ahi tuna tartare, Black cod with basil, Apple tart, Crab and cucumber salad, Crabcakes, Fried squash blossoms stuffed with shrimp mousse with a kalmata olive tapenade, Japanese-style fried chicken (I usually get it with the curry sauce rather than the sweet and sour sauce it normally comes with), King Crab leg, Lamb carpaccio, Ravioli stuffed with shrimp mousse in mushroom sauce, and Seared tuna sashimi. I am sure there are a few more I love there that are just slipping my mind. Also, nice (and interesting) selecion of wines by the glass, priced to move. The dates and friends I have taken there have all loved it.
I was there last night and had no trouble getting seats at the bar at 7. Three of us shared:
Asparagus salad with a tarragon dressing - good flavors, but a little over-dressed.
Shrimp tempura with curry dipping sauce - I liked this, my husband not so much.
Filet mignon with roquefort butter - very good
Black cod - good but by the time this came I was finally getting full. My son complained about all the bones he had to pick through.
Lamb carpaccio - definitely order this if it's on the special tonight. The best dish of the night.
Ahi tartar with raw quail egg - very good and a generous portion. I think it was a special.
Foie gras served with Japanese eggplant - very, very good. This shares in the best dish of the night. Definitely order this if it's on special and get your own so you don't have to share.
Snapper carpaccio - do NOT order this. I think it was a special and it was god-awful. The fish was smothered with an overwhelming garlic and ginger paste.
We had one more thing, but I can't remember what it was. Enjoy!
I love this place. The owner and executive chef, Hideo Yamashiro, is masterful. He also owns Shiro's in Pasadena. I highly recommend that restaurant, as well. Back to Orris. Unless they've changed their policy, reservations aren't excepted, so try to go early if you can. I believe it opens at 5:30. Even on a weekday, I've seen lines to get in by 6:30. You can either sit at the bar (not a sushi bar) or at tables. Don't be surprised if you get into a coversation with the people sitting next to you. Tables are close together, but not communal. Like AquaW mentioned, reading the outside chalkboard for their specials is a good way to go. In the past, I have had some pretty amazing cuisine: crab and cucumber salad, albacore lettuce cups, squash blossoms, mousse shrimp ravioli, seared tuna sashimi, black cod, etc. They even have a version of fried chicken, small spicy bites. You're going to have a good time. Wish I was going with you.
I would go for the blackboard specials they put out on the sidewalk. So keep an open mind when heading there.
As for things to avoid, I skip desserts--only because I'd much rather get crepes from that little joint across the street a block down (in the "Tomato Bank" plaza).