Since moving to the OC over a year ago, I had to give up Mori and was forced to find a closer alternative for weeknight sushi cravings. After trying Maki Zushi (fleeced), Bluefin (expensive Morimoto style), Murasaki (better for udon at lunch), and Shibucho, I had decided that Shibucho was the best sushi in town and very well priced at ~$60pp for legit omakase. However after 10-12 visits, I was still treated second rate (always served last if you're not Japanese) and after pretty horrendous event #3-4 (being relocated midway through my meal due to a reservation error on their part), I decided that I needed desperately to find another sushi spot. Shibucho was a place that does not need my business and it showed.
I tried Kasen Sushi tonight and left kicking myself for putting up with poor treatment at Shibucho over the past 15 months. The rice at Kasen was better seasoned. The wasabi was fresh, unlike the powdered stuff used at Shibucho. The fish was every bit as fresh tonight and as good as the best I've ever had at Shibucho: the bluefin toro was just as amazing in quality as Shibucho's best, the kohada and saba just as well marinated, the tai no konbu jime (snapper cured between dried kelp) just as well prepared. In addition the scallop and abalone was served with a thin sliver of nori to impart a hint of smokiness (not done at Shibucho). The head of the amaebi was offered fried or in soup instead of baked in a toaster oven. The sake list was superior containing both kubota manju and kubota hekiyu. Kasen offered the same rare herring roe on my first visit tonight which took me over 10 visits to "earn" at Shibucho. The chef took greater care in each slice and in trimming the blood lines. The total cost was $15pp more for the omakase and may have been due to the fact that we got a serving of abalone sushi and o-toro/takuan roll at the end which I don't usually get at Shibucho. Dinner ended with a nice brown miso soup.
Long time patrons of Shibucho will probably not be swayed. However, for those who are consistently treated in a rude fashion at Shibucho...as it turns out, it is not the only high quality traditional sushi in town. You can actually get better sushi with nicer ambiance, and a nicer itame at Kasen.
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