Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
Jun 17, 2010 08:45 AM

Review: Sushi Wasabi - Tustin

Pictures can be viewed at:

You would not believe that one of the best sushi places in Orange County is located in the same plaza as AutoZone, 7-11, and even a check cashing place. But "trust me!" as Chef Katsu would say. There is nothing fancy about this place as you can see from the picture below. The real gem is inside.

Fresh quality fish is what Sushi Wasabi is all about. Sushi and traditional hand rolls. No California rolls, no spider rolls, no rainbow rolls.

Sitting at the bar gets you omakase - which means you are entrusting the chef to serve you the best and freshest fish he has to offer. If you want to order items off the menu, you would have to sit at the tables. After serving about 7 courses, the chef will ask if you want to continue. He'll suggest some or you can request if he has certain items.

Albacore Sashimi
My omakase experience started off with a bang! This Canadian albacore is served chilled with ponzu and scallion. The tangy, citrus ponzu was excellent that I wished for a spoon to drink it. The albacore was most soft and tender that I could softly chew with my tongue. The fish just melted away so quickly, leaving me wanting more. (I ordered another one of these dishes at the end of my meal). By far, my favorite!

Mebachi (Bigeye Tuna
)The tuna is from Tahiti and glowed such a richness of the red color. Absolutely fresh, soft and smooth.

Tai (Red Snapper)
The New Zealand Red Snapper is served with tobiko, scallion, and a spritz of ponzu. It had a very light, citrus and delicate taste to it. Very good.

Blue Crab Hand Roll
This is Sushi Wasabi's signature dish. The skinny seaweed wrapped roll is filled with real crab meat and a touch of mayonnaise. Seeing another customer dip the crab hand roll into the soy sauce, I copied her move. Wrong move. It was too salty for me. The hand roll stands on its own... (maybe just a quick dash of soy sauce if you really need it). But nonetheless, this was definitely tasty and deserves a second order!

Baked Scallop
The shell is filled with baked scallops, sauteed onions, creamy mayo and scallions, floating in soup-like warm ponzu. Again, I wish I had a spoon to scoop it all up.

Hamachi (Yellowtail)
The yellowtail is from Japan. On the left, is the stomach, which is very soft and tender. To the right, is the back of the yellowtail and is quite firm, yet still has that buttery taste.

Hirame (Halibut)
I don't remember where this halibut was from, but it was very nice and had more of the ponzu. It was thinly sliced. If you look close, you can see through to the wasabi underneath.

Sake (Salmon)
The Scottish Salmon was wonderfully fresh and buttery and was embellished with some kind of flexible, sweet film and sesame seeds. It was well-balanced and I enjoyed the extra flavors to the salmon. Another favorite.

Hotategai (Scallop)
These are fresh scallop from northern Japan. With a squeeze of the lime (not too much though), the scallops had a nice fresh, not seafood-y tasting. I usually am hesitant about eating scallops, but after trying these firm scallops, it's beginning to grow on me.

Uni (Sea Urchin)
The uni is from Santa Barbara and had a smooth, sweet and delicate flavor. Sushi etiquette says that sushi should be eaten fish side down, with the fish touching the tongue first to appreciate the taste. I didn't think of this as I ate my first piece because naturally the uni would probably fall off. But my husband suggested I eat it like other sushi - upside down - with the uni touching the tongue first. Oh my, it was a totally different taste. With the first piece, I tasted only the seaweed and barely tasted the uni. It was okay, nothing special, But upon the second piece (upside down), the taste in my mouth was predominately of the creamy uni. Yum!

We were sitting next to one couple who got excited over us taking pictures of each dish. They used to document the foods, especially here at Sushi Wasabi. But they stopped, after going every week for the sushi. (I'm jealous!) They commented how Sushi Wasabi was their favorite (and they mentioned that in their opinion it was better than Sasabune in LA, Honolulu, and NY).

As I was enjoying my meal, I realized it's been about 3 years since I last ate here! And I gave my husband a look and questioned him.."So...why don't we eat here more often?" Oh right, he doesn't eat seafood, but he doesn't mind watching me eat. I guess he'll be watching me eat more often...

Sushi Wasabi
14460 Newport Ave, Tustin, CA 92780

12400 Wilshire Blvd Ste 150, Los Angeles, CA 90025

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I've seen Wasabi come up as favourites for many, but your review makes me want to! Nice review. =)

    1. This does indeed sound yummy. If you don't mind me asking, what did the meal cost, food only.

      1. OCAnn - Thanks for the compliment. Indeed one of the best in OC. Let me know how it goes when you go.

        xoxohh - I don't mind you asking at all. I usually put prices for all the meals we have, but forgot to this time. The total came out to be about $54 before tax, tip, and drinks. They will usually ask you if you have had enough to eat or if you would like anything else around the $50 mark. Hope this info helps.

        1. I am glad Wasabi is still excellent. I went a few times a long time back, and it was the best I had eaten up to that point. The $50pp tab sounds light, but then I usually get sake to go with my sushi.

          I don't eat scallops any more, but they looked AMAZING.

          1. Dynamite review, TNT!

            I’ve enjoyed Sushi Wasabi for the past eight years. During my first five years, I ate there once or twice each week. Throughout the entire time, the sushi, service and overall experience have been exceptionally consistent. I truly appreciate this, particularly when dining with invited guests. You know what to expect. No embarrassments.

            Interestingly, you bring up Sushi Sasabune. Nobi-san, the owner was trained by Nozawa-san (Sushi Nozawa). He, in turn, trained Katsu-san. The lineage is apparent once you have experienced all three, even more so when Sasabune was in its original incarnation on Sawtelle. In fact, Nobi-san engaged Katsu-san to operate his Honolulu location for many years before he opened Sushi Wasabi. The three men often convene together at International Fish Market at about 5:00am to personally select from the day’s catch.

            Katsu-san is obsessively meticulous in his seafood selection and preparation. Quality and freshness are both top-notch. Being pre-sliced, however, it suffers ever so slightly. But hey, he’s a one-man show. Katsu-san even handpicks his Kumamoto oysters one at a time, a skill he taught me. I’ve always appreciated his telling patrons the name and source of each offering.

            Reading your review whets my appetite for Katsu-san’s Canadian Albacore, Japanese scallops and, of course, Texas Blue Crab hand-roll (I’ll take two of these, please).

            I’m curious, TNT. Have you tried Sushi Shibucho in Costa Mesa? I would enjoy hearing your impressions.