Unassuming Sushi Joint

H.o.P was making our usual trek to South Coast Plaza when we started hungering for some sushi.  Triple T ended up finding Sushi Wasabi which looked to have a solid 4 stars on Yelp.  Like many sushi restaurants in Orange County, Sushi Wasabi was located in a non-descript strip mall.  It was a decent sized restaurant but very simple in ambiance.  We decided to go ahead and sit at the bar and do omakase.  In fact, there was a sign that emphasized if we did sit at the bar, we wouldn’t be allowed to order.  We had to “trust” the head chef, so in Katsu, we trust.  Pictures are courtesy of Overworked.

 

Canadian Albacore

We started with Canadian Albacore which came served with minced scallions and in a ponzu sauce.  It was pretty good, but it probably would have been just as good with the sauce.

 

Red Fin Tuna and Toro

Next up was a tuna duo, red fin tuna and toro from Boston.  I really don’t like regular tuna very much, but I’ve had worst.  The tuna was okay and the toro was good, but both were kind of unremarkable.

 

Red Snapper

I don’t often get to enjoy red snapper, but every time I’ve had it, it’s been good.  This particular red snapper was from New Zealand, and Katsu prepared each piece differently.  Both were topped with ponzu-marinaded scallions, but one had a shiso leaf hidden between the rice and fish.  Shiso has an odd taste, and I don’t particularly care for it.

 

Blue Crab Handroll

This Blue Crab Handroll was delicious!  There was so much crabmeat oozing from the seaweed wrapper.  They might have gone a little heavy on the mayonnaise, but I could still taste the freshness of the crab.  I really wanted to have another one.

 

Baked Scallops

The Baked Scallops were okay.  It was topped with onions and some creamy mayo-like sauce and baked to a golden brown.  I think the onions just overpowered the tiny bay scallops in the dish.  Probably my least favorite dish of the meal.

 

Yellowtail - Back Side and Stomach Side

The yellowtail cam from Japan, and he served a cut from the back side and stomach side.  Who knew there was a difference.  I preferred the back side more as did the rest of H.o.P., but I think because it’s a probably a little fattier and lent a richer taste overall.

 

Kumamoto Oysters

Not being the biggest fan of oysters, I was a little hesitant looking at these little suckers of the Kumamoto variety.  Aside from the slimy texture, it is the distinctly seafood-y flavor inherent in raw oysters that can be too overpowering.  These oysters were doused with a tangy ponsu-like sauce and some caviar, and I think maybe that is what helped reduce that “just came from the sea” taste.  I thought there were pretty good, surprisingly enough.

 

Scottish Salmon

The salmon was of the Scottish variety and pretty tasty overall.  I rarely meet a piece of salmon sushi I never like.

 

Scallops

The scallops were from Japan.  This was a nice big, tender piece of scallop which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Well-prepared and tasty.

 

Spicy Tuna Handroll

Omakase menu actually ended with the scallop, but we were still itching for a little bit more, so we each ordered a Spicy Tuna Handroll.  It wasn’t anything special, and I’ve had better, but it was a good way to end the meal.  We were content, full and ready to go home.

Overall, I really liked the sushi here.  I was impressed with the selection of different fishes and the preparation as well.  Overworked commented that the order in which the chef served the different items was a little bit odd.  I would probably agree since you wouldn’t expect a hand roll to be inserted in between different cuts of sushi or toro to come so early in the meal, but all that aside, I think the fish was very solid and pretty impressive considering the humble, unassuming vibe of the entire restaurant.  I don’t think the price was too unreasonable for the quality of the omakase…. about $60/person after tax and tip.  It wasn’t Taiko-cheap, but then it offers a lot more variety than Taiko.

 

Sushi Wasabi
14460 Newport Ave
Tustin, CA 92780

PAFO Ratings for Sushi Wasabi:
Price 3 stars
Ambiance 2½ stars
Food 3½ stars
Overall rating 3½ stars

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