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good sushi in Orange County?

  • h

Can anyone recommend a good place? South Orange County preferred but anywhere in OC is fine.

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  1. WaSA in Irvine
    Shibucho in Costa Mesa
    Abe in Newport Beach

    an unbeatable trio for these parts.

    3 Replies
    1. re: kevin

      I was sure I'd find Sushi Wasabi - Tustin in one of the previous posts. It is the only omakase style sushi bar (they serve only sushi) I know of in Orange County, and if you are truly looking for an unforgettable and whole (i.e., NOT just salmon, tuna & cal roll) sushi experience in a most unlikely place, (old Tustin strip mall next to a 7-Eleven, I think), you MUST try this place!

      The chef/proprietor makes an early morning trip up to the LA fish markets and picks up what he thinks are the choicest items for the day - you just sit at the bar and let him present you with some of the sweetest scallops, buttery yellowtail, (actually) fresh ikura (which is to die for - this from someone who does not at all enjoy the regular ikura), sweet, nutty uni, supremely fresh monkfish liver, over perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned, just cooled sushi rice that stays together just long enough for you to get the sushi in your mouth (i.e., NOT a bunch of cold, overly sweet and sour rice packed into a paperweight). I could go on... Oh! and the perfectly pickled ginger - NOT pink - and REAL wasabi - NOT green...

      Be prepared to eat way too much, not even feel it because the selections are so delicate and melt-in-your mouth, and get a whopping bill. But SOOO worth it! Get thee to the Wasabi!!!

      Sushi Wasabi
      14460 Newport Ave
      Suite F, Tustin, CA 92780
      (714) 505-3496

      Also noted that Taiko was mentioned a couple of times. Taiko is pretty good, but there's an oft overlooked sushi place in Irvine named GORO (Alton and Culver in the Albertson's shopping center) that has never disappointed - foodwise, or costwise. Actually, I eat there fairly often, but I always expect the bill to be more. You will get a little more atmosphere at Taiko, I guess, but I think the predominantly Japanese customers at Goro speak for it much the way the predominantly Chinese customers do for Sam Woo.

      3831 Alton Parkway, Ste C
      Irvine, CA 92606

      Happy sushi-ing!

      1. re: bottomlesspit

        I'm going to try Goro this week. It sounds good (and within my budget, which at the moment is just as important).

      2. I like Maizuru in Irvine (Alton and Jeffrey, in Gelson's plaza). It is probably not as swanky as Abe, but it is certainly better and less crowded than Taiko (which is down the street on Walnut and Jeffrey) or Goro Sushi.

        I always order their rolls (spider, caterpillar, spicy tuna)...

        Their combination plates are really good as well. Cooked dishes like crispy oysters, baked scallops and teriyaki steak comes in a big plate with a green salad dressed in ponzu, a bowl of rice, and miso soup...costs about 12 bucks or so.

        Prices are reasonable...since this is more of a neighborhood eatery.

        Maizuru Japanese Restaurant
        5623 Alton Pkwy, Irvine, CA 92618
        Phone: (949) 551-6802

        1. The absolute BEST sushi in OC hands down is Taiko Restaurant in Irvine!! .. They do not take reservations and the wait is sometimes hours, so go for lunch or go in early for dinner (like 5pm) to beat the crowds .. Their sushi is very fresh and well-prepared .. Tempura platter is also awesome .. I would skip filling up on the teriyaki type entrees unless you really enjoy that type of thing

          14775 Jeffrey Rd Ste K
          Irvine, CA 92618-0403
          Phone: (949) 559-7190

          7 Replies
          1. re: TracyS

            I found Taiko to be highly over-rated.

            1. re: OC Mutt

              Taiko has been in business over 25 yrs, one of the first Sushi bars in Irvine.
              Has a Line a Mile long EVERYDAY before it opens, serves huge portions of very fresh fish at a low price? Over-rated Calif Style, hardly?
              Our favorites are:
              Sushi Wasabi - traditional Omakase
              Kasen- Fountain Valley
              Shubicho- CM
              Wasa- Fusion Sushi
              Abe- Matsuhisa Style

              1. re: OC Mutt

                I totally agree with you about highly over rated Taiko is. I think it's just a nice place to go if you have kids. The quality of the sushi is really bad. Their lunch combinations are worse.. I remember the rock hard tempura I had there. I am usually dragged there by co workers. It's a place to take people that like "Americanized Sushi" meaning california rolls. I really like Sushi Wasabi. Their omakase there was very memorable. Will run you about 100 pp... or you can order a la carte.

                1. re: OC Mutt

                  I agree that Taiko is highly over rated. A place a would take a person who is having sushi for the first time. The quality is just alright and definitely not worth the long wait.

                  I prefer Sushi Wasabi for the freshness and the variety. Also recommend the omakase at Sushi Murasaki in Costa mesa. It was a mix of new age sushi and the traditional nigiri sushi. To a real treat I'd go to Sushi Murasaki.

                2. re: TracyS

                  If you a sushi/sashimi enthusiast then you won't want to go to Taiko.

                  1. re: mintchip62

                    I would hope that in the 4 1/ 2 years that this post was written they have found a good place to eat sushi.

                    1. re: cdmedici

                      LMAO... I just realized the original post started in Sept 2003... hahahaha

                      and we are now... Nov 2008 O_o ...

                3. p
                  Professor Salt

                  I am a fan of Taiko as well, because they are very generous with their fish. You get large pieces of quality fish for your money, and they obviously turn their inventory quickly (judging by the crowd x volume of fish served), which insures freshness.

                  However, Taiko only keeps the usual array of fish. It seems they never have anything out of the ordinary. For this, I recommend Gesshin in Westminster, which is in the Pavilion mall on Beach Blvd. just south of the 405. They cater to a Japanese clientele, but anyone who continues to order sophisticated sushi will be offered what's in the side fridge, where they keep the extra-prime fish.

                  I really like Fountain Valley's Shimura. They have a live tank in the back, and will have live shrimp and sculpin when they can get it. If you order live sculpin, they'll make a show of dispatching it in front of you. They will also offer to make a miso soup with the head. This is the best miso soup ever, so definitely accept the offer if you're not put off by half a fish head staring back at you. Shimura's prices are low for the quality you're getting. Gesshin is very good, but a little pricy, relatively speaking.

                  1. I haven't been in years, but when I lived in El Toro (that dates me!), Oami, on El Toro Rd., south side, near Raymond Way, was pretty good.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Curt

                      Oami is still very good (at least I think so). It gets very little mention on this board but is usually quite busy and getting a seat at the sushi bar can take a while. Not upper-upper tier, but good and fresh.

                      I've recently found a very small place, in Laguna Niguel, called Jizake (Crown Valley and Niguel Rd). I've been told the owner/chef was a partner (or at least a chef) at Gen Kai in Dana Point. Gen Kai is very popular and Jizake is becoming moreso as time goes on.

                    2. k
                      Kevin Fitzpatrick

                      WaSa in Tustin!!

                      1. b

                        Re-posted under original message because I just HAD to tell you all...

                        I was sure I'd find Sushi Wasabi - Tustin in one of the previous posts. It is the only omakase style sushi bar (they serve only sushi) I know of in Orange County, and if you are truly looking for an unforgettable and whole (i.e., NOT just salmon, tuna & cal roll) sushi experience in a most unlikely place, (old Tustin strip mall next to a 7-Eleven, I think), you MUST try this place!

                        The chef/proprietor makes an early morning trip up to the LA fish markets and picks up what he thinks are the choicest items for the day - you just sit at the bar and let him present you with some of the sweetest scallops, buttery yellowtail, (actually) fresh ikura (which is to die for - this from someone who does not at all enjoy the regular ikura), sweet, nutty uni, supremely fresh monkfish liver, over perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned, just cooled sushi rice that stays together just long enough for you to get the sushi in your mouth (i.e., NOT a bunch of cold, overly sweet and sour rice packed into a paperweight). I could go on... Oh! and the perfectly pickled ginger - NOT pink - and REAL wasabi - NOT green...

                        Be prepared to eat way too much, not even feel it because the selections are so delicate and melt-in-your mouth, and get a whopping bill. But SOOO worth it! Get thee to the Wasabi!!!

                        Sushi Wasabi
                        14460 Newport Ave
                        Suite F, Tustin, CA 92780
                        (714) 505-3496

                        Also noted that Taiko was mentioned a couple of times. Taiko is pretty good, but there's an oft overlooked sushi place in Irvine named GORO (Alton and Culver in the Albertson's shopping center) that has never disappointed - foodwise, or costwise. Actually, I eat there fairly often, but I always expect the bill to be more. You will get a little more atmosphere at Taiko, I guess, but I think the predominantly Japanese customers at Goro speak for it much the way the predominantly Chinese customers do for Sam Woo.

                        3831 Alton Parkway, Ste C
                        Irvine, CA 92606

                        Happy sushi-ing!

                        1. i live near mission viejo - so i have been slowly trying the sushi joints in the area. there are a one good one i have found so far that i find myself frequently alot.

                          sushi plantation
                          the sushi chefs are really friendly and they have really fresh good tasting fish. the rolls are also very imaginative and unique. you won't be eating the same rolls you always eat everywhere else.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: sweetdumplins

                            Have you tried Riptide in the Kaleidoscope shopping center? While I love traditional sushi, sometimes I enjoy some of the more inventive, very-American rolls. Riptide is, in my eyes, very American - club-type music blaring from speakers, special roll this, special roll that - teppanyaki tables around the restaurant with teppanyaki chefs clinging and clanging their tools around. But, all-you-can-eat sushi on Thursday nights is only $20 and while they don't have the BEST quality of fish, you get to eat a bunch of sushi and a bunch of very fun rolls. I really enjoyed their crunchy rolls and although it wasn't on their all-you-can-eat menu, their dynamite roll (i think) that they kept serving up to the other diners looked pretty good too!

                            1. re: redglowh

                              $20 all you can eat sounds great! Are there things on the regular menu that are not allowed on the AYCE menu? Do you know if this is served all day on Thursday, and I am assuming this is at the sushi bar only?

                              1. re: kingkong5

                                Yeah, its actually a pretty good deal.. I went awhile ago and don't remember the exact menu.. but its only at night on Thursdays - I believe it starts at 8:30?
                                There ARE things that are not on the AYCE menu - such as some of their more pricey special rolls - but the basics are on the menu... they also have some grilled fish (the grilled yellowtail and salmon were quite good)...
                                They have seats at the sushi bar and scattered around the sushi bar at the booths - you get these little colored sushi menus that you check off and give to the sushi chefs or waiters (if you're at the table) - I think you can also tell the sushi chef directly when you're at the sushi bar but when we went, they were kinda busy with making our stuff as well as other sushi orders for other folks.
                                When writing your sushi orders down, they do limit the number you can order at once - which isnt too big a problem..
                                But its quite popular and there will be a wait - if you go, I would suggest going a bit earlier to put your name on the list

                                Riptide Rockin' Sushi and Teppan Grills
                                27741 Crown Valley Parkway Suite 325
                                Mission Viejo
                                tel: 714-446-1346

                              2. re: redglowh

                                Try their freshwater regal crabs if you can :)

                            2. Tustin used to be a sushi town but many have sold off. However, a few gems still remain.

                              Wasabi, as stated in a previous post, is excellent and expensive.
                              Yoshino, on Newport south of the 5, is very good and old school.
                              Makizushi, on Redhill south of the 5 where the old Barn used to be, is very good and can be very expensive if you order anything with "market" as price. They also will do fresh wasabi here.
                              Sadly, Sushi Itto and Osaka Kappo are both dogs now.

                              Also try Sushi Island in Costa Mesa on the east side of the 55.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: holy chow

                                I found Taiko heavily overrated when I went, but that was 5+ years ago.

                                I often frequent I Love Sushi in Costa Mesa, on Harbor/Wilson (approx). While their fish isn't A+++, it's definately top quality and I have never left their unhappy. Portions are good, their "california pearl" is amazing, service is above average, and prices are very good (20-30/head).

                              2. Gotta put in my $.02 for Restaurant Koi in Seal Beach. Not your average sushi place. They have items that you won't find everywhere. Went last Friday nite and had fresh scallops, wild Yellowtail (very good), geoduck (had better when I was in Seattle, I think it was live up there), Albacore belly and my favorite, spicy soft shell crab hand rolls. There is usually almost always a wait, so be prepared. Of course I suggest you sit at the bar but not in front, b/c I don't want to wait to sit with Taka (LOL). Also, they love to be creative there.

                                1. Sushi Shibucho in Costa Mesa -- great prices, even better food!

                                  1. Sushi Wasabi!!! It's our absolute favorite - so fresh and addictive. We've been going for 4+ years.

                                    Bluefin is pretty good - it's more Nobu/Abe style.

                                    These are the foodie recommendations - neither are cheap but so worth it!

                                    1. we were just at Sushi Wasabi during Memorial Day weekend through recommendations on this board. The food was sooooo good and we can't wait to go back. Not sure when you are planning on going or where. Just so you know, Sushi Wasabi is closed for vacation until I believe June 14th.

                                      3 Replies
                                          1. re: holy chow

                                            Uoko is on 17th Street between Prospect and Yorba in Tustin. It is in a strip mall next to Mulan Chinese food restaurant.

                                      1. For decent, pretty affordable sushi, sometimes I go to Kaiten Sushi in Costa Mesa - right next to Staples on Bristol.
                                        Its a revolving sushi place, i think its been there for about a year and a half?
                                        They have a pretty good menu, Japanese sushi chefs and you can eat A LOT for a good price. They have their good and okay days with some of the fish but overall, not bad - its the fast food of sushi, so you can't exactly expect super gourmet =)

                                        1. I'm partial to Zipangu in the Costa Mesa "anti mall" on Bristol. The chef/artiste is always a kick to talk to and they have some rolls I've not seen anywhere else!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: OCKevin

                                            Sushi Shibucho in Costa Mesa
                                            Sushi Wasabi in Tustin (also carries Kubota Manju Sake at a great price ! )
                                            Bluefin in Newport Coast ( formerly of Abe fame / Nobu like )
                                            Sushi Island in Costa Mesa ( best value by far )
                                            Shin Sushi ( in Mission Viejo off Margaruite and Osa, very decent, conveniently located in
                                            South OC )

                                          2. Kitayama in Newport Beach. A bit pricey but nice decor and atmosphere.

                                            1. Does anyone know if Shibucho raised their prices? I was just there last weekend and it was over 100 for two people for the "omakase" served by the son.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: oohenrioo

                                                I went to Shibucho in late May and it was $87 including tip for 2 people, no alcohol. I was also served by the son, Naga.


                                                1. re: arisu

                                                  I know the price varies depending on what fish they have that day, but I've only ever had it be over $40pp once, and that was a year or two ago. Usually it's in the low- to mid-30s; last time I went (Father's Day), it was ~$31pp. I don't know, maybe he likes me. Or maybe he takes a little off the price if you're unable to get a seat at the counter.

                                              2. I have been hearing a lot about Uoko. I looked it up online and there seems to be two on them, on in Tustin and one in Lake Forest. Are they under the same ownership? Which is the good one or they are both good.

                                                1. I used to work at two sushi restaurants in South Orange County - Gen Kai in Dana Point and WASA in Newport Beach.

                                                  Both of these places are amazing.

                                                  If you're going to go to Gen Kai make sure to get...

                                                  Nachos - spicy tuna w/ an avocado topping over freshly made wonton chips
                                                  Sashimi Roll - salmon, albacore, and tuna wrapped in soy paper served w/ a ponzu
                                                  Cruncy Roll - absolutely the best in OC!!!
                                                  Stuffed Peppers - a pepper stuffed w/ spicy tuna then deep fried

                                                  If you're going to go to WASA make sure to get...

                                                  Seared Yellowtail w/ jalapeno
                                                  Toro Sushi
                                                  Rainbow Roll w/ wasabi sour cream
                                                  Anything off the Treasures menu
                                                  Sunomono Salad
                                                  Anything off the sushi menu - the fish is absolutely the freshest!!
                                                  Tempura Ice Cream - a Japanese version of deep fried ice cream

                                                  1. I should probably start a separate topic on this, but I live in deep South OC and there are a large number of very small sushi places around here that I never see mentioned on CH. The presumption should likely be that they don't rate or the buzz would be out, but maybe not.

                                                    One specific one is Jizake (Crown Valley Pkwy @ NIguel Rd, Laguna Niguel) that was opened by a former sushi chef from Gen Kai in Dana Point. It seats maybe 10 at the bar and another 16 or so at tables. Quality seems very good though the menu is somewhat limited to items they use their own names for (so you have to ask). They have a chalkboard of special items but no prices so it encourages developing a relationship with the chef or server. They also do several kinds of Udon dishes too (which is a major plus for my wife). My overall impression has been very positive.

                                                    Nothing of any substance turns up for this place on Google or on a CH search, so it is undiscovered or ?????

                                                    1. I'm shocked I never see Ango Tei in Costa Mesa (Bristol and Paularino) mentioned in these OC sushi threads. I've been eating there for 20 years and I've never talked to anyone there who doesn't say that it's their fave sushi joint. Prominent Japanese clientele, great selection, been in their little strip mall location forever (did an interior facelift a few years ago), identical high quality every time, even the wasabi and ginger tastes better there. I can't be the only hound hip to this place...somebody verify that for me. Anyway, you won't be disappointed. period.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: onedrummer

                                                        Sssshhhh. No one else needs to know. It is already a two hour wait on the weekends.

                                                        This is really two sushi bars. It seems to be one experience for newcomers who order off the menu and a whole different experience for people like me who have been going for 15 years and have never even cracked the menu.

                                                        This is the first place that made me love sushi. I was doing omokase and never even realized it. It was ten years before I ever heard the term. I feel like I have grown up with Goro or Judy.

                                                        You gotta love a place that stores a huge bottle of premium sake with our name tag on it and has it waiting for us before we sit.

                                                        1. re: cdmedici

                                                          I used to go there as well, but the wait...

                                                          still waiting....

                                                          and waiting....

                                                          While they don't seem to need my business, the wait got me to stop going there.

                                                          1. re: cdmedici

                                                            is there a long wait during the week? do they have cooked food for non-sushi eaters?

                                                            1. re: raider

                                                              It is not too bad, especially if you get there right before they open. Walk on in even though it says closed. They will put your name of the list.

                                                              There are many many cooked things that are good there. Most of them are not on the menu. Just tell them what your favorite fish is.

                                                              The last time there is had a spicy seafood platter with the wonderful creamy, spicy miso sauce and a spicy poached salmon.

                                                        2. Gen Kai in Dana Point is my usual - always good and reasonable. I'll have to try Jizake if it was started by a former sushi chef at Gen Kai.

                                                          Wasabi in Tustin is my favorite.

                                                          Tried Uoko in Lake Forest - not as good as the posts I've seen. The fish looked tired!

                                                          Ichibiri is decent (Dana Point or Laguna Niguel) and has teppan.

                                                          Good Choice Sushi - average neighborhood place, but the sushi floating by in a moat is fun for the kids.

                                                          Riptide Sushi in MV - novel, noisy and fun. Don't eat the raw crabs! (I'm sure they are gone after the big parasite issue).

                                                          Moisun Sushi - Laguna Beach - I mean to try as it has local specials and has some good reviews.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Fesdwino

                                                            Love to know what you think if you try Jizake. We tend to avoid Kaleidoscope (where Riptide is) due to parking problems on weekends and overflow of local kids. Mosun (Laguna) can be quite good and gets very crowded on the locals nights when it's half price. Club M is upstairs and adds to the crowd.

                                                            1. re: Midlife

                                                              Tried Jizake last night. Excellent, on par with Gen Kai (our favorite in South OC). Small but fresh and clean Not many people at 6:00 pm. Seemed a bit more expensive than Gen Kai but that could have been what we had - Blue Fin sashimi, Hawaiian roll (spicy tuna with seared albacore) Double Double roll (similar to a crunchy roll but wrapped with tiger shrimp) Uni sushi. Sushi Burrito. Total was $60 before beer, tax & tip. No prices on the menu. Everything we had was excellent -- we will be back.

                                                          2. Maki Zushi, on Edinger Ave in Tustin is my favorite sushi place in OC (so far). I've tried a few others but have found their sushi and sashimi to be of not only high quality and fresh but also excellent value. Though I am still a relative novice to OC sushi bars.

                                                            1. i've gotta say that there are NO good sushi places in oc... it's very disheartening, but there are NONE. just head out to LA ... :)

                                                              10 Replies
                                                              1. re: namstermonster

                                                                It hurts Orange County's feelings when you say such bad things about the little guy. Have you tried Shibucho and/or Bluefin? If you don't consider these to be "good sushi", than you must have some ridiculous definition for good.

                                                                1. re: I got nothin

                                                                  i'm sorry... i've lived in OC all my life (save for college) and i love the place so i mean no bad feelings hehe.. it's just that i have yet to have good sushi in the area. yes, i've tried shibucho and bluefin- they're not bad, just not what i'd classify as "good.". i don't exactly have a "ridiculous definition for good" and i'm no sushi connoisseur but i do love my sushi and i just haven't had anything really good yet. but i'm open to any more suggestions!! :)

                                                                  1. re: namstermonster

                                                                    Still gotta put out Restaurant Koi in Seal Beach. Fresh, tasty, not too pricey compared to some of the previously mentioned places, but excellent quality and selection as well. nam...have you tried this place? and do you sit at a table or the bar?

                                                                    1. re: namstermonster

                                                                      I've got to put my vote in for Maki Zushi. I really do think it is a great little place. The fish is so fresh, tasty, and beautifully presented.

                                                                      1. re: FoodieKat

                                                                        Thanks for this rec! What an awesome find! Many firsts for me including: Razor Clam (mategai), Japanese squid (aori ika), and torigai (some other kind of clam). We were immediately presented with fresh wasabi mixed with garlic after we asked for omakase. Yoshi-san was a friendly itamae with all smiles and chuckles the entire night. He seemed very pleased that we were enjoying all his fresh imports from Japan. The rest of the clueless patrons in the restaurant were ordering spicy tuna rolls and baked salmon something-or-others.

                                                                        He told us to come back next time for raw spiny lobster, conch, and seared kobe beef. Wow! I may just come back tomorrow. LOL I asked him if he had shirako and he told me he can get anything as long as we called in advance. His brother is a wholesaler in Japan. He gets his imported items straight from the airport! Beat that, Nozawa!

                                                                        Fresh fish, exotic variety, and no attitude! Why in the world this place is not touted here on the boards more often is beyond me.

                                                                        1. re: Tkn

                                                                          Glad you enjoyed it as much as I do, but I can't take all the credit for the rec. I first heard about Maki Zushi from Elmomonster's blog. It is a great place, isn't it? I love the chirashi selection - the fish is so fresh! Yoshi is great. I don't (yet) have the budget for omakase, but as soon as I do this place will be my first destination.

                                                                      2. re: namstermonster

                                                                        No need to apologize for your taste preferences. We all have different likes/dislikes/expectations when it comes to food, and especially sushi. I meant no offense by my comment; it's just that every month or so someone throws out a blanket "OC Sucks" comment. Just a little defensive of what I like in OC, as it's tough to live in the shadow of the vast varieties that LA county offers. As LA's little brother, Orange County should be used to getting picked on for not having accomplished as much as our big brother LA.

                                                                        1. re: I got nothin

                                                                          LA itself gets picked on plenty. In the end, I find that pleasing a metropolitan population of 10million is, as they say, a foolish venture.

                                                                          My favorites in OC are Shibucho in Costa Mesa and Wasabi in Tustin.

                                                                    2. re: namstermonster

                                                                      O.K I'll bite. I live in OC but spend a day or two in LA every week. What are your favorite sushi spots?

                                                                      1. re: namstermonster

                                                                        What is your criteria for 'good'? I am not an expert, but I have eaten a lot of sushi in my time, and have tasted the sushi in Japan and while nothing can compare with those little backstreet sushi bars in Kyoto I can honestly say I have had sushi in OC that is very, very good nevertheless. Better, in fact than the sushi I have had thus far on my visits to LA (few and far between admittedly).

                                                                      2. mmm... sasabune used to be good but it's pretty factory-like now that they're in a new, huge location- still good tho. i like sushi zo and nozawa as well.

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: SauceSupreme

                                                                            Shibucho is very very good. One of my favorite in southern california.

                                                                            1. re: SauceSupreme

                                                                              IIRC, from previous posts namstermonster may not care for any sushi in OC...but he/she had not answered the same question you ask that I had posted on another thread. I too wondered where in OC may be good in his/her opinion and where had they been.

                                                                              1. re: justagthing

                                                                                I only mentioned it because this is the sushi in OC thread.

                                                                            2. re: namstermonster

                                                                              If you like Sasabune, definitely check out Sushi Wasabi. They're actually remarkably similar in preparation.

                                                                              First view the photos from my Sushi Wasabi report:

                                                                              Then look at the photos of Sasabune from Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/hiagfb...

                                                                              Perhaps Katsu at Wasabi was ex-Sasabune?

                                                                            3. oops. i figured my original post to this board would explain my initial opinion of there being a lack of good sushi places in oc. however i'm always open to trying places i haven't tried.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: namstermonster

                                                                                Try Hamamori in the Crystal Court at South Coast Plaza. I know, I know, it's in a mall, but the sushi is completely awesome. The menu is designed to attract people who like "fusion" sushi, but if you stick with fairly traditional sushi, you can't go wrong. The fish is extremely fresh and high quality, and if you sit in front of Hama-san (owner, exec. chef) or Hideko-san, they will make you very happy. They actually know how to make good sushi.

                                                                                I am also of the opinion there is little if any good sushi in OC, but this place is great, and even if you are not a fan of fusion sushi (which I'm not) some of the menu dishes are very good. Try the King crab risotto, which isn't really risotto, it's Japanese rice, and it's made with crab and uni. An excellent restaurant, but be prepared for a big bill, especially if you order any of the premium sakes.

                                                                                1. re: cmeronk

                                                                                  I cannot possibly recommend Hamamori to anyone. I hate this place!! I admit that I was naive, but when the sushi chef there suggested that each item I ordered be made "extra special" for me, I agreed. An hour later, after an admittedly excellent meal, I was presented with a check (for one person!!) for $160. Ouch x 10!!! I felt ripped off and absolutely taken advantage of. I will never return and definitely do not recommend this place. When I want excellent sushi, and am willing to pay the price, Bluefin in Newport Coast is where I will go. Yes, it's expensive, but it's also excellent and I have never felt cheated there!

                                                                                  1. re: josephnl

                                                                                    So what did he do in his preparations that made it extra special ??????

                                                                                    I used to really like his joint WaSa in the Jamboree center in Irvine (I think it bordered on Tustin) especially for his WaSa treasures and back then it was quite reasonably priced.

                                                                                    But this was more than a few years ago, and that was his first sushi bar before he expanded to the Bluffs and the mall in Costa Mesa, etc.

                                                                              2. Tabento Sushi in Costa Mesa
                                                                                For pictures, please go to http://www.kats9lives.com/

                                                                                On Saturday night I took my Mom out for her birthday dinner. Of course it had to be sushi! I had researched about this place and people raved about it on the internet. My Mom said that she had a nice time, but I feel kind of bad for not taking her to a better place. For me, I have mixed feelings. This place only carried the most common fishes with a few small twists to their food. Portion size was not bad, but I definitely have eaten fresher fish. The price was reasonable and the service was nice. I sat at the sushi bar and there were bottles of water at each seat. They are suppose to have a lot of alcoholic beverage, but I don't really drink so I can't comment on that.

                                                                                They have a specials menu that they set up near where you sit. I decided to try...

                                                                                Ankimo, Monkfish Liver, that was very bland. The amount they gave was generous but their sauce was lacking flavor. I wouldn't recommend this dish.

                                                                                Grilled Salmon Belly was very cheap. It was not what I thought it would be. At first I thought it would be nigiri, but it was two big cuts of cooked fish. This actually had a lot of flavor and was very tender. For the price of $4.50 I think it was definitely worth it.

                                                                                Umai Roll was an eel, avocado, & mango cut roll. I usually don't order rolls, but I can't resist mangoes and I love Unagi. This took the longest to arrive, some of the food took way longer than you'd suspect. It was good, but nothing special. The mangoes they used were actually pretty sweet and it complimented the sweetness of the eel.

                                                                                Uni Croquette actually tasted like Uni. I actually hate Uni, but since it sounded interesting I wanted my Mom to try it. She said that she still prefers nigiri. The croquette was very flavorful and crispy. If you like Uni, I would recommend you order it.

                                                                                As for the sushi/nigiri menu we ordered...

                                                                                Hamachi Sashimi that had 5 generous slices. The texture of the fish was good, but the color was questionable. It didn't taste fishy, but I could feel that it wasn't the freshest fish around. It was decent enough that I ordered a second order of sashimi and one order of nigiri at the end.

                                                                                Ama-Ebi took a long time to come out. It was a little fishy tasting, but still sweet. I don't think I would order this again here. They fried the heads and I asked for Ponzu sauce, but I think their Ponzu sauce lacks flavor. Overall this dish was a let down.

                                                                                Sake was only average. I thought they would prepare it differently, but it was just regular nigiri. Not fishy and a generous cut.

                                                                                Albacore was delicious! I actually really liked the way they prepared this. The cut was generous and on top they put ground radish. They also added a garlic Ponzu that truly brought out the flavor of both the fish and the radish. It was a simple but splendid combo. I ordered this almost 4x.

                                                                                Uni was surprisingly great! Like I have said, I despise Uni almost with a passion. I ordered this for my Mom and she forced me to have some. The Sushi Chef advised that no soy sauce was to be used with this and that made me curious. This dish was what changed my mind about this place because they turned something I hated to something I might like now. Their Uni was very fresh and had a lemon twist. It was pure flavor basically because there was no soy sauce and only a small piece of wasabi on top. I would definitely recommend people to try this, but fair warning that it was at Market Price. For sushi lovers out there, you know that means it would not be cheap.

                                                                                All in all the place was decent and at a reasonable price. I would recommend people who just want some cheap sushi to satisfy their craving, but do not come if you are hankering for spectacular sushi that would blow your mind away. One thing that upset me was that they didn't have Toro, which was on the menu. They also ran out of Hotate, which really upset me because they took forever to make certain parts of our order that I missed out on this. I wonder if it was flavored differently since they ran out, it must be popular. Overall I will come back to take my sister here to try the Uni, but this place probably won't be somewhere I'd regularly come back to visit. A redeeming quality was that they had fresh wasabi, but watch out for the fake wasabi they also serve. Alas, my search for wonderful & reasonable sushi continues.

                                                                                1. Ikko Japanese Restaurant in Costa Mesa
                                                                                  For pictures, please go to http://www.kats9lives.com/

                                                                                  I went to this place a few weeks back with my sister. One thing we noticed for sure was that almost everyone there was Japanese, hence it must be pretty authentic. We made reservations for the sushi bar just in case. If you go early, you don't really have to worry but it never hurts to make one. The decor was very simple and modern. They have a huge menu and specials. There were a lot of fresh fish from Japan that were very unique. So began our journey into unchartered water with some familiar faces...

                                                                                  Fresh Oysters with Sea Salt & Japanese Sudachi Citrus. The oysters were not too fresh in my opinion. There was nothing special about the flavor. Sudachi is a small, round, green citrus fruit that is relatively unknown outside Japan. I couldn't really taste the flavor of the sudachi. The concept sounded very interesting but fell short in execution.

                                                                                  Carpaccio of Pen Shell with Black Truffle. As you know, I LOVE truffles. You can definitely taste the truffle flavor. They sprayed truffle oil as well. It was a nice combination of flavors, but the aromatic flavor of the truffles almost masked the pen shell. The presentation was nice. Honestly, the pen shell at Sushi Sasabune was much better. You should try pen shell if you have never had it before.

                                                                                  Fresh Octopus (Tako). This was my first time trying this. It was completely different from what I normally saw at sushi bars. You can really see the chef's skill as he added the gradients and texture into the generous cut. The nigiri really reminded me of Ika, squid. I am not a big fan of chewier texture, but I would recommend people to try this so they can experience what fresh octopus is like.

                                                                                  Alfonsino belongs in the Berycidae family. I have had this fish many times and I love the texture! Even though this fish is a little chewy, there is just something about its flavor that I always love. The sushi chef here tends to add sea salt and Yuzu to all the nigiri, which is fine by me. You can taste the purity of the fish as the components bring out the flavor.

                                                                                  Tile Snapper. As usual, it was flavored with sea salt and a type of oil sprayed on. Snapper is usually a very chewy fish, so I was not too thrilled about this piece. I feel chewier fishes have a paste-like texture and taste very bland. Since I have not had this before I definitely had to give it a try.

                                                                                  Wild Small Yellow Tail. Shoyu, soy sauce, was brushed onto this piece. The saltiness really brought out the sweetness of the fish. The texture was a little bit more chewy, which reminded me of Kampachi. I liked the yellow tail, but I think I still prefer regular Hamachi.

                                                                                  Japanese Groom Fish. This really reminded me of Tai, snapper, because of the chewy texture. It was very lightly flavored with sea salt, but there wasn't a sweetness to this fish. The chef had to use tweezers to make sure all the bones were taken out.

                                                                                  Large Scale Black Fish. The texture of this fish was softer on the palette. I actually really liked the flavor that the Yuzu and sea salt brought out. This fish was also fattier than the other chewy fishes. I would definitely recommend trying this fish.

                                                                                  Sting Fish. This was another chewy fish, but having Yuzu and sea salt made it more flavorful than the previous ones. The texture was closer to the black fish, but not as tender.

                                                                                  Blue Fin Sea Robin. This was actually one of my favorites that night. There was a sweet flavor that remained in my mouth afterwards. Even though this fish was chewy, it wasn't tough at all. I definitely would order this fish again!

                                                                                  Wild Amber Jack. This is a type of yellow tail. It was lightly brushed with shoyu. The texture is a little chewier like kampachi. I still love all types of yellow tail. The shoyu really brought out the sweetness of the fish and it wasn't too tough.

                                                                                  Jack Mackerel. There was ginger on top to offset the fishiness. At first I was going to take off the ginger, luckily I did not because it really complimented the shoyu & flavor of the fish. The texture was very consistent and just the right chewiness. One of the better mackerels I have had.

                                                                                  Uni, sea urchin. As always, my sister has to get an order. I recommended this to her because I have read the reviews online at how generous a piece they give you. They give whole slices on top of rice. Most places don't do nigiri style like they did. It was fresh but nothing that wowed me like Tabento did. My sister was surprised at the generous portion.

                                                                                  Hamachi, yellow tail. Most of you must have noticed my love for yellow tail. Of course I had a few orders. It was very fresh and reasonably priced. The portions were very generous and each piece was cut delicately. The soft texture was only enhanced with the shoyu brushed on and delicious fresh wasabi I added on top that brought out the flavor of the fish.

                                                                                  Hotate, scallop. How can you go wrong with a lime flavor, Yuzu, & sea salt! This really brought out the sweet flavor of the scallops. I really think this is the best way to eat fresh scallop nigiri.

                                                                                  Seared Toro, fatty tuna. Of course I always have to end a meal with Toro. We only ordered one order because their Market Price was on the higher side. Lucky for me that the Toro was not to die for, or else I'd want to order more. The fish was not very fatty so a lot of the buttery texture was lost. It almost tasted like regular tuna. There was nothing out of the ordinary in their preparation, just a brush of shoyu. I would still order it the next time because it could be just the cut they had that night.

                                                                                  We wanted to try one of the desserts because it sounded very interesting. It was the Black Sesame Ice Cream with Poured Hot Coffee & Sesame Seed Paste. The presentation was lacking because it was a melted mess in my opinion. I wouldn't recommend this dessert because the concept was very intriguing, but fell short in execution. The dish was bitter overall. The black sesame ice cream was good but everything else lacked flavor.

                                                                                  All in all I really liked the different options and traditional Japanese style food they offered. We only tried the unique fishes they had. I would go back to see if they change the choices, also their normal menu dishes looked delicious. The ladies who sat next to us ordered a lot of dishes off the menu that looked wonderful. You can definitely feel the traditional Japanese aura at this place. I would definitely recommend this place if you are looking for traditional fresh fish and unique Japanese dishes. Do keep in mind that it can get kind of pricey, but you get what you pay for.

                                                                                  1. not exactly south oc, but hashigo in huntington beach is the best sushi ever! i live a mile from gen kai in dana point and hashigo is not only worth the drive, it kicks gen kai butt! many innovative rolls wrapped w/ soy, cucumber or radish and NO RICE for low carb peeps

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: hootdog123

                                                                                      I really enjoy Hashigo as well, but my all time favorite, and again, not in South OC, is still Koi in Seal Beach. More variety at Koi, but both have quality, fresh fish.

                                                                                    2. After reading through this thread, i'm supprised that nobody has even mentioned Taka Sushi in Costa Mesa. At the corner of Baker and Fairview in the shopping center with Lil' Pickle and DK's Doughnuts facing Stater Brothers. It's seriously ruined me. I can't eat anywhere else after having eaten there. I've been to a lot of places all over the OC, but I gleefully go back to Taka's. The people are awesome, the food's even better. If you get the tsunami roll, that was something I worked up with one of the former chefs Yoshi. It was formerly known as Super David Roll #2. Just tell him that David sent you. The nice thing about the place is that Taka goes to the market on an almost daily basis, and if it doesn't look good, he won't touch it. Seasonally they'll have ama ebi, (live sweet shrimp) as well as some other stuff. Get the head in soup. It's awesome.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: decay1369

                                                                                        Taka is seriously good. They season the fish and rice for you so no soy sauce needed. Great neighborhood joint.

                                                                                      2. my girlfriend introduced me to Sankai in Costa Mesa. It's across the street from the South Coast Plaza in the same shopping area as Ross. Very good quality sushi at reasonable prices. They have a basic menu without all those special rolls, but ask for their Volcano Roll. One of the better special rolls I've tried.


                                                                                        1. Restaurant Koi in Seal Beach on PCH has excellent sushi at a reasonable price, especially when compared to some of the well known restaurants in LA/Beverly Hills. The fish is very fresh and the variety of fish is very good. There is always a line to be seated but it is worth it. Sit at the sushi bar at one of Taka's stations, if possible. He has been there for many years and can create anything you desire. Favorites include spicy tuna hand roll, large scallop sashimi (when in season), bonito sushi and halibut sashimi. Make sure to order freshly grated wasabi to accompany your meal.

                                                                                          1. Kasen (Fountain Valley)
                                                                                            Koto (Fountain Valley)
                                                                                            Nana San (Newport Beach, with Goro-san from the former Angotei)
                                                                                            Sagami (Irvine)
                                                                                            Tabento (Costa Mesa)

                                                                                            1. Ohshima is likely tops in OC. Tokyo style.

                                                                                              Shibucho is great.
                                                                                              Ikko has good sushi although it is not a sushi restaurant.
                                                                                              Kasen is very good.

                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: matthewlcohen

                                                                                                Your list is reversed.

                                                                                                In terms of quality and pristine fish it goes:

                                                                                                Kasen- excellent (8+ visits)

                                                                                                Bluefin-very good quality and they do a traditional omakase if you ask for it. It's about 30-50% more than Kasen though. (5+ visits)

                                                                                                Shibucho- good and cheap for omakase (8-10 visitis)

                                                                                                Ohshima- good, large number of types of fish, quality is about on par with Shibucho but with a couple of off pieces of fish (1 visit)

                                                                                                Or, just make the drive to LA for Shunji or Mori for the true gold standards.

                                                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                  I found Oshima to be terrible even though it's a sad attempt at Zo at about half the price.

                                                                                                  Never again.

                                                                                                  I'll have to give Bluefin a try since he moved from Newport. The high prices are probably due to the upmarket environment ie the Crystal Cove shopping plaza.

                                                                                                  Just my opinion.

                                                                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                                                                    Damn Kevin, you've been CH'ing forever! Have you been to Kasen yet? If not, go there before going back to BF

                                                                                                    1. re: Eater15

                                                                                                      I have been to Kasen but it was a few years back. And it did remind me of the style of Shibucho in Costa Mesa.

                                                                                                2. re: matthewlcohen

                                                                                                  I really enjoyed Ikko. Didn't go omakase route but instead did chef's choice for some sushi. Six pieces each (12 total) at $45 was a steal for quality of fish and variety given. Plus hamachi kama, a couple soups, and other hot items, we walked out of there for $97.

                                                                                                  What do you mean Ikko isn't a "sushi restaurant"? I understand it's not 100% purely authentic but there certainly weren't any Vegas rolls on the menu. The omakase items coming out of the sushi bar/kitchen did look more creative but the straightforward sushi I had was exemplary.