Brilliant Bargain Sushi in the OC

Sushi Shibucho in Costa Mesa is the reigning king of quality bargain sushi. It's not exactly sushi el-cheapo, but it's a glorious raw fish experience far below the going rate in Los Angeles.

Rodzilla dined at Sushi Shibucho within days of going to Urasawa, the godhead sushi paradise in Beverly Hills. "Having visited only three days after experiencing arguably the best in the States, some may think that my ability to enjoy Shibucho would have been hindered but that wasn’t the case at all," says Rodzilla. "No, the experience wasn’t even near that of Urasawa, but it was a hell of a lot closer than the discrepancy in price. [The meal] was had for around $60 a head—about a 10th of the price for a seat in front of [Chef] Hiro-san."

Highlights of Rodzilla's experience included horse mackerel, served with a judicious application of ginger and scallion that cut the strong flavor; a sweet-and-soft clam; and one of the best servings of uni that Rodzilla has had anywhere. There was also a lovely kanpachi, "a thick, melty slice of amberjack," says Rodzilla. "Every cut of fish was very generous while the rice was kept to a traditional thumb-sized bed. There would be no complaints about ratios from our party." And then there were the rarities, including sujiko, or salmon roe marinated in the original sac, which has a brinier, almost caviarlike intensity without the sweetness.

Rodzilla's favorite item of the night: anago. The toothsomeness of the eel was nicely complemented by a touch of salt. "If you come on the day that [Chef] Naga boils the anago, the whole place fills with a sublime aroma," adds Tkn. "Kind of like walking into a bakery where they just took the bread out of the oven."

Sushi Shibucho [Orange County]
590 W. 19th Street, Costa Mesa
949-642-2677

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