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Spoiled for "lesser" sushi

Dorothy | Dec 20, 200407:44 PM

So, I'm slaving away at my desk this morning and a fellow 'Hound rings me up on my cell phone.

"What day this week is good for you for Sushi Wasabi?"

""How about today?" I crow!

And off we go.

Let me tell you. Sushi Wasabi is to "sushi" what your grandma's rhinestone brooch is to the Hope diamond. This is the real deal. Set in a modest strip mall in Tustin adjacent to an Auto Zone, neither the interior nor the exterior give you a clue that you're about to experience real sushi for the first time. There's a sign on the door, and a big sign on the wall, explaining that this is an Omakase house. You sit at the counter and eat what the chef chooses for you -- nigri sushi (pieces of fish on rice) and hand rolls, only -- until you're sated. If you prefer to choose for yourself, you're politely asked to sit in a booth rather than at the bar.

I had -- should have counted but did not -- perhaps 10 items. The first was albacore from Canada with house-made ponzu sauce. This sauce was like tasting light -- so fresh, with a wonderful citrus zing from a Japanese fruit (whose name I've forgotten) and a deeper/baritone tartness from vinegar. Other highlights included a blue crab handroll -- divine, the crisp toastiness of the nori a perfect foil for the creamy, perfect crab; shipjack -- more like a dairy food than flesh, so meltingly tender; and my first uni which my companions assure me will spoil me for all other uni.

All the fish was unusually tender. The chef even slapped a few pieces. This man knows how to pick fish and how to store it. Rigor mortis has passed off this fish. It's at the perfect "age" for consumption and it's wonderful. Also, the sizes of the morsels were just right for me. Small portions of rice, and a piece of fish that fits comfortably into your mouth. Not for this chef those enormous, American-sized pieces of sushi where you either have to bite the portion in two, or stuff it into your mouth and then can't taste it.

The damages? $50 including tax and tip, and worth every cent. And my friend was right -- after this experience, the neighborhood sushi joint -- fine in its own way -- pales in comparison.

Next week, off to Nozawa for a comparison.

Sushi Wasabi
14460 Newport Ave Ste F
Tustin, CA 92780-5637
Phone: (714) 505-3496
NE corner of Newport and Walnut

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