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Flying Fish and Hairy Crabs?! A Return Visit to Maki Zushi! [Review] w/ Pics!

e
exilekiss Jul 11, 2008 08:07 PM

(Formatted with All Pictures here:
http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2008/07/flying-fish-and-hairy-crabs-return.html

)

So I happened to have been in the area today and figured I might as well see how Chef Yoshio Sakamoto and Maki Zushi have been, and to see if Sakamoto-san would surprise me with more new offerings. The last few visits to Maki Zushi have convinced me that this is truly Top Class Sushi in Orange County, so I wasn't too worried about a letdown. (^_~) Instead, almost like the amazing discovery at Noodle House a few days earlier, I would've never thought I'd be able to experience the offerings put before me today...

We opted for Omakase and left it up to Chef Sakamoto. And the first thing that comes out to greet us was a *Live* Kegani (Japanese Hairy Crab), flown in overnight from Tsukiji, Tokyo, Japan! (O_o) I nodded in approval and Sakamoto-san sent it off to the kitchen for cooking.

While that was being prepared, Sakamoto-san presented us with Iwashi (Sardine) from Tsukiji, Tokyo, Japan. He said that it was also just flown in overnight along with the Kegani. The Iwashi was wonderful: A nice fresh, inherently oily flavor, and nicely balanced with the house-made Ponzu Sauce. I hadn't had Iwashi at Maki Zushi yet (and it had been awhile in general), so this was a nice treat. It was a nice cut, no tendon or gristle.

And then the surprises continued: Sakamoto-san presented Tobiuo (Flying Fish) Sashimi, from Tsukiji, Tokyo, Japan! Wow! The presentation was gorgeous, and this was the first time I've ever had Tobiuo, a rare treat here in the U.S. The meat was really nice, similar to Halibut, but more supple. The texture was really nice, with less chew than Halibut, and also cleaner. Sakamoto-san served this topped with a little bit of Masago (Smelt Roe), but it was fine without it. Now that I've had Tobiuo, I actually prefer the texture and flavor over Halibut!

After that, we were presented with Iwashi no Hone Senbei (Sardine Bone Senbei "Rice" Cracker)! Similar to the Aji Senbei he made last time, this time he fried the Iwashi Bone at an intense temperature to cause all the bones to become completely brittle and crunchy, and the taste was like a Senbei Rice Cracker again! :) It was delicious and a nice bonus course during our meal.

Continuing on, Sakamoto-san next prepared Aori Ika (Broad Mantle Squid) from Tokyo, Japan. I've never seen Aori Ika in Southern California before, so this was another nice treat. It was presented two ways: Aori Ika Sushi, and Aori Ika paired with fresh Uni (Sea Urchin) from San Diego. Taking a bite, the Aori Ika was much more creamy and smooth than the usual Ika found in So Cal restaurants, and slightly less chewy. It still fell short of the legendary Ika at Sushi Mizutani, though. The Aori Ika was good, but the Ika from Mizutani-sensei was so ridiculously good that I've been spoiled on Ika now. (^_~)

The Aori Ika paired with Uni was really nice, the San Diego Uni was pretty fresh (about a ~91%), but not as nice as the Live Uni I had last time. :) Still, this was a nice presentation of Aori Ika, two ways, and ultimately it was a creamy, understated taste.

At this point, the Live Kegani (Japanese Hairy Crab) had finished cooking and Sakamoto-san presented it in a striking plating. It was served with two types of sauce: A house-made Sweet Vinegar and Kegani "Miso" (Japanese Hairy Crab Roe), and a house-made Ponzu with Sake Sauce.

Sakamoto-san mentioned that this was his favorite Kani (Crab) in the world, and it was easy to see why: The Kegani was very fresh and the Crab Meat was less sweet than the usual local crabs. It had a taste that tasted of the ocean (in a good way), but also an aroma that I'd not experienced with the usual crabs found here. The texture of the meat was also a little firmer, but still soft, and Sakamoto-san picked out a female Kegani with Roe, which was really nice! The Kegani matched well with both the Sweet Vinegar + Roe Sauce and the Ponzu Sake Sauce, and even by itself. All-in-all, a wonderful surprise and really delicious! :)

After this, another fun, bonus dish came out of the kitchen: Aori Ika Geso Yaki (Pan-Fried Broad Mantle Squid Legs). The Geso were basically extras since it wasn't used in the Sushi, so Sakamoto-san had it prepared this way as a bonus. It was nice and crispy. :)

Then Sakamoto-san greeted us with a *Live* Tokobushi (Awabi) (Tokobushi Abalone) from Northern California (it was kind of freaky seeing it move about). Sakamoto-san explained that at this particular size, this "Awabi" is known as Tokobushi. The Tokobushi was extremely fresh and crisp. It had a nice snap to each bite, and was refreshing. It still fell short of the Awabi I had at Mizutani, though, but for So Cal, this was outstanding!

The surprises didn't stop as next up was Shako (Mantis Shrimp) from Tsukiji, Tokyo, Japan! I was stunned by the striking visuals of this grey-hewn, strange-looking Shrimp. It was boiled first since the only way to eat raw Shako would be having it live, and Sakamoto-san couldn't get them transported live overnight. Regardless, I was excited and took my first bite: It was really firm, having the texture of something inbetween Lobster and Shrimp, and it was really dense. In addition, it had a nice sweetness that reflected something like Lobster, but also Shrimp. It was interesting overall, but next time, I'd want to find a place in Japan that serves it Live / Fresh, and see how it compares to Amaebi. (^_~)

The last item we were served was Kamashita Ohtoro (Fattiest Belly Portion beneath the Collar) from Hon Maguro (Bluefin Tuna) flown in from Australia overnight. Sakamoto-san said that this particular portion of the Ohtoro he gave us was the best part of the Ohtoro, right beneath the Kama, and that on his whole cut of Bluefin Tuna, he only gets 3-4 pieces(!) before it transitions to the rest of the Ohtoro. I was excited and anxious. It looked absolutely gorgeous, and upon taking a bite, it was so flavorful, buttery and while it was "melt-in-your-mouth," it actually had a nice firmness to the suppleness of the Ohtoro. It was so naturally sweet and buttery as well (delicious!), with the only tiny negative being one small piece of tendon that was in the cut. But the rest of the bite was truly perfect! If it wasn't for that tendon, it would be one of the best Ohtoro I've had in L.A./O.C.

Sakamoto-san gave us a complimentary dessert, the wonderful Green Tea Crème Brulee sprinkled with Almond Roca, which was my favorite from last time. :) Like before, the top layer was perfectly seared and had a nice top crust, and the Green Tea flavor was nicely understated and pairing wonderfully with the decadent Almond Roca sprinkles.

Service was about the same as last time, meaning that the waitress and busboys were busy around the restaurant, and you had to flag them down for refills on Tea, etc., but Sakamoto-san was perfect, always attentive to our every need. Our total this time was around ~$145 per person (including tax and tip).

Maki Zushi continues to astound with its ability to procure some pretty rare Seafood offerings in Southern California, from Flying Fish to Japanese Hairy Crab and much more. Chef Yoshio Sakamoto also continues to deliver extremely fresh fish, with some good knife skills, but still a bit short compared to Zo, Mori and Urasawa. Regardless, the ability to sample these rare fish and shellfish, and the wonderful freshness of ingredients makes Maki Zushi an upper echelon Sushi Restaurant in Southern California.

*** Rating: 9.0 (out of 10.0) ***

Maki-Zushi
1641 Edinger Avenue
Tustin, CA 92780
Tel: (714) 259-0783

Hours: Mon - Fri, 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Sat, 12:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Closed Sundays.

http://www.maki-zushi.com/

-----
Maki Zushi
1641 Edinger Ave # 101, Tustin, CA

 
 
 
 
  1. martiniman Jul 27, 2008 03:26 AM

    Checked it out....DISAPPOINTED!!!!!

    I would have to say the food is not bad, even good. But it was not good enough to compensate for the horrendous service. Yes, I'm sure the service would have been better if we had sat at the sushi bar, but that was not an option since there were no seats.

    The service was terrible was because it was slow, we got the wrong orders, and charged the incorrect amount on the bill. However, the worst part was the waitress (the dark Vietnamese looking one)....she had such a terrible attitude. She was unapologetic and just flat out wasn't nice. She should be fired. The other waitress on the other hand did seem nice.

    The Chef/Owner may be experienced at making sushi, but he didn't seem to be experienced in running a restaurant. Everybody in our group was pissed and it basically ruined what was supposed to be a good night. Unless the food is to die for, slow and terrible service will kill you. Suffice it to say, I will never go back.

    6 Replies
    1. re: martiniman
      Das Ubergeek Jul 27, 2008 06:33 AM

      How unusual. I've sat at tables (when you have a baby it's not really cricket to sit at the sushi bar) and never experienced it. Sitting at the table is always slower than sitting at the bar, but I didn't notice any attitude at all.

      1. re: martiniman
        w
        werewolf Jul 27, 2008 08:28 AM

        Are you people are talking about Kasen? The place was almost empty when i was there for lunch, and I sat at the bar. Nobody was rude. Nobody paid any attention to me, actually - same as when I was there two years ago. Same chef I think. As I said, i remember when I used to go there 3 years ago and there was a different chef. He didn't speak English, but he was very friendly. He even gave me some extra things to try, but most importantly the chirashi was fantastic then - and the place was packed. I won't go back again either.

        1. re: werewolf
          OCAnn Jul 27, 2008 04:37 PM

          Since martiniman is replying to the OP, it's my impression that he's reporting on his experience @ Maki Zushi.

          And to martiniman, I'd have to say, you might want to give it another shot. My neighbourhood sushi-ya has hour-long waits with terrible table service...but I'm a return customer b/c I love the sushi & the counter service. Though I wasn't blown away by Maki-zushi on my first try, I do plan to go back one of these days and again sit at the counter.

          1. re: OCAnn
            martiniman Jul 27, 2008 05:52 PM

            Yes I was talking about Maki-Zushi. I'm very tolerant of not so fast service, but this was riduclously slow. We were there for like 2 1/2 hours and it wasn't because of us eating. You combine that with the wrong orders, charges, and extremely poor attitude of that one waitress...it was inexcusable. She never even apologized or seemed sincere (which means a lot).

            The only way I would ever consider going back is if they fire that one waitress and hire 2 more nice ones to improve service.

            1. re: martiniman
              e
              exilekiss Jul 27, 2008 06:44 PM

              Hi martiniman,

              Ouch, I sympathize with your pain. I've never eaten at a table at Maki Zushi before (it's always been at the sushi bar, so Yoshi-san always takes care of us directly).

              I would encourage you to write a letter or call in and voice your complaint to the manager or Chef-Partner Sakamoto. A customer's feedback is definitely valuable and you could be help them improve.

              1. re: exilekiss
                martiniman Jul 28, 2008 10:31 PM

                Hi exilekiss,

                I enjoy reading your reviews and you have a terrific food blog. I thought about emailing them, but they do not have an email address at their site. And for me to call them or write them a traditional letter is just too much of a hassle for me. I simply just don't plan on returning since the experience was too negative (my friends were way more pissed than I) and the food was not compelling enough to elicit a second visit. Let's put it this way, the service you received at Kappo Seafood was about 10X better than the service I received at Maki-Zushi. Perhaps if you decide to go back there, maybe you can suggest to Chef Sakamoto that he hire another waitress and/or manager to supervise customer service.

                Keep up the informative reviews! Ja ne. -MM

      2. w
        werewolf Jul 20, 2008 10:09 AM

        Sounds good! Have you tried the chirashi?

        13 Replies
        1. re: werewolf
          liu Jul 20, 2008 12:52 PM

          We have not tried the chirashi, but I must say that we looked around at many other orders -- rolls, bowls, special plates -- and everything looked delicious!

          The decor is not fine dining, although their menu is extremely extensive. I would feel quite comfortable stopping in for a light meal. We also saw a few diners on their patio...although someone was smoking, so I wouldn't want to eat out there if anyone were smoking.

          They are open all day, and our chef did tell me that they are busy from 11:00am to about 4:00pm.

          1. re: werewolf
            OCAnn Jul 20, 2008 01:42 PM

            I saw someone with chirashi; it came in a bento box with slices of sashimi atop rice along w/gari, daikon & shiso.

            1. re: werewolf
              e
              exilekiss Jul 20, 2008 03:03 PM

              Hi werewolf,

              I haven't tried the Chirashi yet, either. If I get around to it, I'll report back. :)

              1. re: exilekiss
                w
                werewolf Jul 20, 2008 07:16 PM

                I haven't tried the Chirashi yet, either. If I get around to it, I'll report back. :)

                ___________________

                Thanks. I always order chirashi. Bento box sounds small, though. Also if anyone can comment on Kasen in Fountain Valley - see "Good sushi - orange county?" thread on this page - I was thinking of giving Kasen another try tomorrow.

                1. re: werewolf
                  e
                  exilekiss Jul 20, 2008 09:45 PM

                  Hi werewolf,

                  I haven't been to Kasen, but I took a good friend of mine from Tokyo who happened to have tried Kasen earlier, and was impressed with the selection and freshness of Maki Zushi. My tomodachi mentioned that for the OC places he's tried he enjoyed Maki Zushi the most.

                  If you happen to be in the area, give Maki a try; they have some good fish. :)

                  1. re: exilekiss
                    w
                    werewolf Jul 20, 2008 10:11 PM

                    I was trying to decide between Maki Zushi and Kasen. So your friend like MZ better? I read some of the not so glowing reports on it above, though...

                    1. re: werewolf
                      e
                      exilekiss Jul 21, 2008 06:24 PM

                      Hi werewolf,

                      Yes, my friend enjoyed Maki Zushi more. Ultimately only you can decide what tastes "good" to you. Everyone has different tastes and expectations, and what tastes "interesting" or "fresh" or "delicious" for one person may not be the same for another. All we can do is write about experiences we've had at various places and if it's useful / helpful for people to make a decision to try a place (or avoid a place), then that's great. If not, that's still cool. (^_~)

                      1. re: exilekiss
                        liu Jul 21, 2008 06:43 PM

                        Well said, exilekiss! And our difference of opinion is what makes these boards so exciting, interesting, fresh and delicious!

                  2. re: werewolf
                    n
                    ns1 Jul 21, 2008 06:54 PM

                    I have been to kasen and was pretty impressed. Excellent quality, nice guy, served both sushi/sashimi as well as a few japanese-style 'amuse bouche's' for lack of a better word.

                    I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, very traditional style. I think we spent 220 after tax/tip (omakase)

                    1. re: ns1
                      w
                      werewolf Jul 23, 2008 03:59 PM

                      I went to Kasen for lunch today and got the "deluxe chirashi". It was OK, nothing to write home about, nothing like it was three years ago. The awesome freshness of the fish and the exotic ingredients, like real wasabi and abalone, were absent, same as the last time I went there two years ago. Also, I remember how crowded it was when I went there three times three years ago, almost entirely with Japanese people eating chirashi. Customers were sparse at lunchtime today. I believe the place must have changed ownership between 2 and 3 years ago.

                      (I also posted this on the other thread)

                      1. re: werewolf
                        n
                        ns1 Jul 23, 2008 04:15 PM

                        Interesting. I went for dinner and got said fresh wasabi and whatnot.

                        It was also entirely filled with japanese people when I went (excluding myself). It was fairly sparse however.

                        Unfortunate your experience was not as good as mine though.

                        1. re: ns1
                          w
                          werewolf Jul 24, 2008 12:10 PM

                          You got REAL wasabi for dinner - as opposed to the usual mustard concoction?

                          I remember the sushi chef from 3 years ago. He didn't speak English, but he was very friendly. I think the chef yesterday is the same one that was there when I had my disappointing visit 2 years ago. He doesn't pay any attention to me. But even two years ago he was still serving real wasabi.

                          When I want another sushi fix while I'm visiting out here I shall henceforth repair to the Todai. I really don't find the quality of their fish much different from what I had at Kasen yesterday, and I can pig out on all I want! Unfortunately, there are no longer any Todais in my own state, Arizona.

                          1. re: werewolf
                            n
                            ns1 Jul 24, 2008 12:25 PM

                            wasabi root + grater

                            The sushi chef I had I do not believe spoke english. Had pretty much everything translated through the waitress hahah.

                            but srsly, it was leaps and bounds above Todai. Maybe they shaft chirashi customers lol I don't know. Sorry bud.

              2. liu Jul 20, 2008 09:10 AM

                exilekiss -- Hello!
                So once again you have taken us miles away from home to try one of your amazing recommendations!
                We began Saturday morning at the Mitsuwa Torrance Summer Festival and then "chased" (we live in Ventura County) to Tustin to Maki Zushi for dinner...and we are so glad that we did!

                We arrived early, about 5:30, and requested an omakase dinner. Truly, I have nothing to add to your very complete report...everything was superb! There was nothing pretentious about our chef, Sakamoto. He is a master and very enthusiastic about everything he does. He always explained to us every order with much pride and he enjoyed talking "fish" with us.

                Everything was equally extraordinary (that will make sense only if you have eaten here!), but a couple of the extra-extraordinary items were the otoro, the uni paired with a toro and shiso leaf, and the complimentary dessert combo of green tea creme brulee coupled with a vanilla bean ice cream on top of a coffee jelly in a puddle of Kahlua. Both of these items were very creative...desserts we had never experienced...which makes Maki Zushi even more interesting!

                Our service was quite attentive. Although the genmaicha served with the meal was of good quality, I prefer a fine hot sencha with my sushi to be followed at the end of the meal with a cup of genmaicha. I found the genmaicha just a little too heavy to sip with the sushi.

                We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner here, and again thank you, exilekiss, for your enticing report! Please continue to post and we will continue to follow you anywhere!

                1 Reply
                1. re: liu
                  e
                  exilekiss Jul 20, 2008 03:03 PM

                  Hi liu,

                  Glad you enjoyed your meal at Maki Zushi! (^_^) Don't remind me about the Ohtoro and the Uni + Toro special! :)

                  Agree w/ you on the Genmaicha, but glad you enjoyed the complementary desserts as well. :)

                2. carln Jul 20, 2008 07:50 AM

                  FYI you can sometimes get live Mantis Shrimp at Seafood Paradise in Rosemead. I got a couple of pounds from there a few months ago.

                  1. OCAnn Jul 17, 2008 02:25 PM

                    Is this better than Shibucho? I'll be treating a guest w/a discriminating palate this wknd and I can't decide between the two.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: OCAnn
                      c
                      cdmedici Jul 17, 2008 03:50 PM

                      I have been to Shibucho and I went to Maki Zushi for the first time two days ago and had Omakase. This place rules!!!

                      1. re: OCAnn
                        e
                        exilekiss Jul 19, 2008 04:11 PM

                        Hi OCAnn,

                        I respect Shibutani-san a lot, and visit him often (at Shibucho), but Maki Zushi is the better of the two restaurants.

                        If you're on a budget, though, Shibucho's Lunch Omakase at only ~$26 per person is a ridiculous bargain. :)

                        1. re: exilekiss
                          OCAnn Jul 19, 2008 10:19 PM

                          ed & exile, thank you for the recommendation. I'll have to give Maki-Zushi a second try, since i left with my socks on. I had hoped that I'd be wowed, but I wasn't. Sakamoto-san had an impressive array of sashimi to offer, but that was about it. Yes, he gets his fish flown in on Tuesdays and Fridays, and had lots on his special menu...but his rice to neta ratio and the size & cut of the neta was just okay. To me, Maki-Zushi is like a kid with a lot of shiny toys and not much substance. I don't mean to be that harsh, but that's the best way I can explain my experience.

                          Here's the list of what we had-
                          Live Sweet Shrimp $16
                          Live Softshell Crab $15
                          Aji/Spanish Mackeral $8
                          Kanpachi/Amberjack $7
                          Kinmedai/Alfonsino $11
                          Inada/Baby Yellowtail $9
                          Yellowtail Toro $7
                          Hirama no Engawa/Halibut fin $6
                          Octopus $3.50
                          Iwashi/Sardine $10

                          His complimentary dessert was vanilla bean ice cream w/coffee jelly w/a touch of Kahlua--delicious! I think that was my favourite item from our meal. All told, lunch for 2 was $100. We ate well, but I'll have to give it another try since I wasn't as impressed as everyone else seems to be.

                          EDIT: exile, I'm always wowed by your reviews & wish I can eat out as often as you!

                          1. re: OCAnn
                            e
                            exilekiss Jul 20, 2008 03:00 PM

                            Hi OCAnn,

                            Thanks for the report back! Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy your meal. :(

                            If I may ask, what didn't you like about the ratio of the rice-to-fish? That it was too much... rice? or fish? Sakamoto-san did mention to me, he served a Kansai-style preparation for his Sushi, which may have led to your feelings on the ratio perhaps?

                            When you say you felt the cut of the neta was just okay, why was it only "okay"? (just curious.) Did you get a bad cut with lots of tendon/gristle? Or it wasn't fresh?

                            From the list you mentioned, on my multiple visits, I've enjoyed all those fish, except the Halibut Fin and Octopus which he never served me, but perhaps I was lucky?

                            1. re: exilekiss
                              OCAnn Jul 20, 2008 06:39 PM

                              It's not that I didn't enjoy my meal--it was good, but I wasn't wowed; I went in with very high expectations. Perhaps too high.

                              As for the rice-to-fish ratio, I thought the neta was of average size, though the rice may have been a touch too much. A touch. Usually, after ordering a couple sushi at other restaurants, the itamae instinctly reduces the sizes of rice for me...and after some conversation, the neta increases so it drapes over the rice on all sides. This wasn't the case here.

                              That's what I meant by cut of the neta; in part due to the size. A couple cuts were thin. One or two pieces were frayed on the side. No tendon, no gristle. Everything was fresh.

                              I did enjoy my meal...but again, I went in w/sky-high expectations.

                              1. re: OCAnn
                                e
                                exilekiss Jul 20, 2008 09:49 PM

                                Thanks for the clarification OCAnn. :) Well, I'm glad you at least enjoyed it then. That's interesting about the reduction in rice over the course of the meal (I've never requested that, nor given a hint that the rice was too much at any place I've been to, so I wouldn't know about that).

                                1. re: exilekiss
                                  OCAnn Jul 21, 2008 10:41 PM

                                  I've never requested or hinted for the reduction of rice...it's something a handful of places have done unexpectedly, but noticeably. Maybe they want me to eat/order more sushi? LOL...IDK. I've had one place cut sushi in half for me; and this was again, unrequested. (And it's not like I have a tiny mouth.) Particularly with sushi (or a watering hole), a great deal of the experience, IMO, comes from the interaction w/the itamae (or barkeep). The better the rapport, the better the service/the fish/the pour/etc.

                            2. re: OCAnn
                              m
                              mrhooks Jul 20, 2008 10:43 PM

                              Don't feel bad. My opinion/experience was the same as, or perhaps even lower than yours. I loved the live hotate, sayori, and o-toro, but everything else was just okay. If a meal is spectacular, I'll part with $300+ without guilt. At Maki-Zushi, I spent about $60+ and worried about how much I was spending - not a good sign. I plan to give it one more try, but Shibucho never fails to put a smile on my face, even if I don't factor in its lower cost.

                        2. e
                          epop Jul 13, 2008 10:36 PM

                          exilekiss, this is one of the best reports i've read. thank you for taking the time to introduce the virtues of this place so well. I plan to try it within 10 days and will report back.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: epop
                            e
                            exilekiss Jul 14, 2008 08:49 AM

                            Thanks epop. I hope you enjoy your visit and looking forward to reading your about your experiences with Maki Zushi. :)

                            BTW, if you're in the mood for something specific, you can always call ahead to make sure they have it in stock (or they can tell you when they might stock it) (e.g., the Live Kegani (Japanese Hairy Crab), or the Live Uni (Sea Urchin), etc.). Have fun!

                          2. d
                            Diana Jul 13, 2008 03:54 PM

                            Another great review! Looks like a sushi purist's dream! I wanna go!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Diana
                              e
                              exilekiss Jul 14, 2008 08:46 AM

                              Thanks Diana. If you end up going, please report back on your experience. :)

                            2. f
                              frank828 Jul 12, 2008 01:24 PM

                              maki zushi was the first place i had experienced kama toro also. it was amazing.

                              1. Porthos Jul 12, 2008 10:57 AM

                                Someone has been bit by the sushi bug. Very nice series of reports. FYI, I've had live mantis prawn at Kiriko and aori ika at Mori. Delicious.

                                What Yasuda in NYC does with Kama toro is to pair it with toro further back so the texture and flavor contrast between the two are highlighted. You should ask for this pairing the next time Kama toro is available at Maki and give us all a heads up!

                                My only concern is that wasabi/garlic dip. Does he ever use freshly grated wasabi without garlic? Are the pieces presauced (in the style of Mori and Zo, not Sasabune) or is dipping in this wasabi/garlic mixture necessary?

                                Thanks again for a stellar report.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Porthos
                                  e
                                  exilekiss Jul 12, 2008 01:08 PM

                                  Thanks Porthos. :)

                                  I missed the Aori Ika at Mori when I went, that's good to know, doumo! :)

                                  The Toro pairing at Yasuda sounds incredible (and smart). You've only got me even more excited to try it next time I'm in NY, thanks! (^_^)

                                  The fresh-diced Wasabi / Garlic sauce isn't necessary, but it's an interesting accent that I use once in a while (since he usually serves two pieces of each fish for the Nigiri portion). Unfortunately he didn't serve the traditional fresh-grated Wasabi when I went, so either the regular Wasabi or the diced Wasabi creation that he's made were my options.

                                  Most of the pieces weren't pre-sauced (like Mori or Zo); a few pieces were presented paired with his house-made Ponzu, or were specialty presentations with custom sauces like the Live Kegani, or the Aji with the Sake+Ponzu house-made sauce as an alternative.

                                  1. re: exilekiss
                                    k
                                    kobetobiko Jul 12, 2008 01:41 PM

                                    Hi Portho and exilekiss,

                                    I absolutely love kama toro and he was right that it was hard to get part as each fish yields just a few pieces. It is surely melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Sometimes I will reserve it when I make reservation in case they are sold out.

                                    As for shako, were they small (about the size of normal shrimps) or the gigantic ones? I found the small ones to be quite bland in taste usually, but this size is usually served as sushi. I had tried the gigantic shako which was the size of a small lobster (about 1 lb or more) and it was seriously the sweetest shrimp I had ever tasted. It surpassed the sweetness of lobster (and so was the price ;D). I have seen live ones locally in NYC (which I think may have come from Maine) but don't think they travel well in Japan.

                                    Anyway, great report and thanks for sharing!

                                    1. re: kobetobiko
                                      e
                                      exilekiss Jul 12, 2008 11:41 PM

                                      Hi kobetobiko,

                                      The Shako was the size of normal "Ebi" that you'd find for Nigiri Sushi.

                                      It wasn't bland at all, but it wasn't the "sweetest shrimp" either as you describe. :) I can't wait to try some Live Shako in Japan soon. :)

                                      1. re: kobetobiko
                                        Porthos Jul 13, 2008 04:24 PM

                                        Kobe,

                                        Good hearing from you again. The shako I had at Kiriko was the size of a very, very large tiger prawn but definitely no 1-lb baby lobster. The texture was firm, and very sweet but about as sweet as the botan ebi I had at Mori.

                                  2. Das Ubergeek Jul 12, 2008 10:53 AM

                                    Sounds absolutely incredible. And for those of us who live in Orange County and don't want to drive to LA in traffic for sushi, a great destination. (It's also a third of the price of Urasawa.)

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                      e
                                      exilekiss Jul 14, 2008 08:46 AM

                                      Thanks Das. Couldn't have found this restaurant without your great review in the first place. (^_~) Now I can't wait to go back.

                                    2. Perceptor Jul 11, 2008 08:51 PM

                                      dude.... this place is serious..... i need to make a drive down there...

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Perceptor
                                        Das Ubergeek Jul 12, 2008 10:49 AM

                                        It is absolutely serious. It doesn't look like it -- it looks like it should be one of those "awful gloppy mayonnaisey seafood over California roll" places in an anonymous strip mall in an absolutely dead section of Tustin. You would never expect the quality of the seafood you get out of that place -- but it's well worth the drive.

                                        Do bear in mind that eating like exilekiss has described is NOT cheap -- but if you go in expecting to pay for quality, it won't shock you either.

                                      2. trojans Jul 11, 2008 08:20 PM

                                        Wow! it sounds great! and that flying fish looks spectacular. I don't think I can convince my wife to drive to Tustin for dinner but after reading your post and looking at the pictures I might have to get a divorce so I can do the drive out to Maki Zushi.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: trojans
                                          e
                                          exilekiss Jul 11, 2008 10:28 PM

                                          Hi trojans,

                                          Thanks. :) Yah, the Tobiuo (Flying Fish) was delicious, but Sakamoto-san says he doesn't carry it all the time, so call ahead if that's what you're going for. Besides that he always stocks lots of interesting fresh fish / shellfish, so you can't go wrong.

                                          As for convincing the wife, just an FYI that Maki Zushi is only ~7 - 10 minutes from South Coast Plaza, and just up the freeway from Fashion Island in Newport Beach. (^_~)

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