14460 Newport Ave Ste F
Tustin, CA 92780-5637
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Sushi Wasabi

Cuisine: Japanese, Lunch, Polynesian

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  • 12/12/2014

    A Japanese chowhound from San Jose, CA tried it.

GaF photo

GaF

 Tustin, CA
 

This place is incredible! I haven't had such...

This place is incredible! I haven’t had such fresh fish since…since…maybe Sakura in San Ramon…but it is truly at another level than your run of the mill sushi place. Very very costly, so don’t even think about a budget while you’re here. Yet…who cares about gold when you’re in Heaven? Diamond in the rough, I say, considering the stores it’s surrounded by…great oyster shooters from Seattle, wonderful blue crab from Texas, scallops from Japan…it’s a party around the world and my tastebuds are dancing!

mchinchen photo

mchinchen

 Tustin, CA
 

Great sushi...even better wasabi

A great place for nigiri lovers and an even better place for wasabi connessuiers.

The restaurant practices a “trust me” style where the owner and chef of the restaurant hand picks and makes nigiri for you until you are full. If you wish to pick nigiri a la carte from a menu you may still do so, but you must sit at a table and not the sushi bar.

The portions here are small and expensive. Yet the sushi here is amazingly fresh most of the time. Many items come ever so slightly marinated in a ponzu type marinade. This marinade is mostly transparent; all of the flavor of the fish can still be tasted. What the marinade does do is help in delivering the tenderness and the freshness of the fish to your palate.

The food itself is something that everyone must experience. The only reason the restaurant is not five stars is due to the small portions of the nigiri served here. Furthermore, when the restaurant is busy, the food is delivered to you at a snail’s pace. This is because the owner himself makes all the sushi he serves.

j44lee photo

j44lee

 Cerritos, CA
 

Best omakase in the OC

Woah baby! I was THRILLED to have had the pleasure of experiencing SUSHI WASABI for Chef Katsu’s omakase dinner, which was made all the more special with the company of SK and CL – yay!

On with the review (and yes, we really did eat ALL this heavenly goodness)….

4.75 stars*

1. Albacore in Ponzu: Delicious, firm albacore. The ponzu was fantastic with its characteristically vinegary notes, but a quite a kick to the tongue – almost a dulling effect, which isn’t necessarily the best way to kick off the 3-hour spectacle to come.

2. Mebachi (Big Eye Tuna): Meh, I’ve had better. The tuna was kind of dry and flaky. No robust or memorable flavor.

3. Tai (snapper): Yummy, firm, and wonderfully crisp.

4. Crab Roll: I guess I was expecting something better from all the reviews I’ve read, but the roll did the trick. It was a bit on the cold and mayonnaisey-side, but Katsu-san does not skimp on the crab meat. Way to go!

5. Baked Scallop: Eh…this takes 2nd in my least faves of the night (worst: sweet shrimp, tolerable: big eye tuna). The meat was as tough as can be – think tripe gone awry. At least the sauce, a broth substance comprising scallop juice, mayo, and ponzu was married beautifully.

6. Hamachi: I think I’ve had better, but this yellowtail from Japan was wonderful and smooth.

7: Uni: YUMMY! Next to Sushi Gen, this was my fave uni experience. The “after smell” did linger longer than I would’ve liked, but the flavor was a soft, creamy wonder.

8. Hotategai (scallop): O-M-G…spritzed with a pinch of fresh lime, this was one of the best items of the night. Tender perfection.

9. Sake: I would’ve liked the salmon without the daikon film (and even the sesame seeds), but the fish was saturated in buttery goodness.

10. Spicy Tuna Hand Roll: I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but this was one of my faves. Made with chopped toro tuna, sesame oil, and finely chopped chives (or green onion?), the flavors blended harmoniously with the nori. I could’ve had 12 more of these!

11. Shiro Maguro (Albacore): Albacore is nowhere near my top 5 favorite fishes, but this was also exceptional. Lightly brushed with ponzu, the meat was a succulent and nicely firm surprise.

12. Chopped Toro: Good, but not great. I had hoped we would get the real deal (unchopped) toro, but this was very good. I used a bit more wasabi than its original garnished state.

13. Ankimo: Monkfish liver at its finest with the texture of the silkiest and softest gelatin in the land.

14. Amaebi: YUCK! Sorry, eating the sweet shrimp was like waking up from a bad nightmare by Slimer from the Ghost Busters movie. This was just a gluey mess.

15: Unagi: I’m on the fence on their freshwater eel. It was served very hot (yum!) but I’ve had better at cheaper sushi places.

16: Kumamoto Oysters: Mama mia…we’re back on track again. Perfectly sauced raw oysters – slippery and smooth. I definitely could’ve shooted another 2-3 rounds!

17. Hirame (halibut): Fabulous, I would’ve preferred bigger slices, as 2 pieces could’ve easily been 1, but it’s good to practice restraint sometimes.

18. Mirugai (jumbo clam): A lovely and light way to finish the 3-hour love affair at SUSHI WASABI.

OTHER (RANDOM)
=======
1. *.25 star deduction: I delight in reasonably extended dinners (2 hours+), and I realize that Chef Katsu was a one-man show for the packed house, but each dish came out in 10+ minute intervals, which made me HUNGRY and antsy ;-o In short, we came in at 6 and left at 9:30 ish PM.
2. Tomomi-san (Katsu’s wife) is the one and only waitress here. She is very sweet and attentive. Your tea is refilled in stealth mode. One minute you’re sipping half-full room temp tea, the next, you have a full cup of hot matcha. How’d she do that?
3. They can’t guarantee a spot at the bar after 6:30. You need to make your bar reservations by 6 PM at latest.
4. Hot towel is provided at the start of the meal and cold towel at the end. A nice touch!
5. As I was taking the pictures of my food, Tomomi-san would look at the camera preview screen and say, “oh! pretty!” She is very sweet :-)
6. Katsu san doesn’t really interact with his customers. He announces what the next dish (and origin) is, but that’s about it. That’s ok – I’m sure he’s really focused on creating magnificence for his hungry customers.
7. Where’s the rice? I love that the nigiri attention justly falls on the fish, but there were seriously maybe a piddly 20 grains of rice per nigiri. I’m not complaining, but it almost makes me think, “what’s the point?”
8. Will I be back? Do fish have fins? HECK YES!!!

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Sushi Wasabi is located near the cities of Orange County, Santa Ana, and North Tustin.
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