Big thanks to the 'hounds who pointed me in the direction of Sushi Shibucho for dinner in the OC tonight. It was SO GOOD, I couldn't resist posting a quick report now that I'm back home in LA.
A little background: I've been spoiled by Nozawa over the past few years and have a very hard time venturing beyond Ventura Blvd (in my past experience, I've never met Nozawa's L.A. match, although I still haven't been to Urasawa... yet)
So I was somewhat hesitant about what I'd find in Costa Mesa. Thankfully, there was resounding agreement on the boards that Shibucho was the one to try.
My friend and I sat down at 8:30 after a long evening of South Coast Plaza holiday sales. Im more of an adventurous eater, shes more conservative, so I gave up hopes of omakase for this dinner and decided to have a small variety of sushi and rolls instead. Just a little taste, to determine whether it was worth the drive back. Oh, and IT WAS!!!
The restaurant is small, but was actually quite full tonight, which is hopefully a sign that their business is doing well. 3 people at the sushi bar, about 10 at the tables.
We sat at a table (sushi bar next time!)
The hostess (the most pleasant woman you could ever meet I think her name is Susan) served us hot green tea and an amuse buche: boiled radish with a dollop of miso sauce. It was soft, flavorful, delicious and a nice start to the meal. This was followed by a rich miso soup that had a few crunchy pieces in it (tempura? not sure but it made for a great salty-sweet, crunchy-soft flavor and texture combo). These first two dishes were very nicely paced. In fact, I felt like they actually wanted us to linger and enjoy the meal, which was a welcome change from Nozawa!
Our sushi arrived all at once. Usually, I like to receive a few pieces at a time, but this time it was OK. It looked beautiful all set up on a big plate with little mounds of fresh wasabi, shredded radish and shredded seaweed scattered about. And I could tell just by looking at it, that this was about to be good. REALLY good.
I started with the maguro: fresh, pink, melt-in-your-mouth delicious. So good I actually had to stop for a second and think about what just happened.
Hamachi likewise was delicious and tender. The albacore amazing.
And finally the uni: I usually judge a sushi place by its uni and Shibuchos was great. Sweet, tasted fresh from the sea, and just firm enough to make it from chopsticks to melting on the tongue.
My friend had the ebi, tuna roll, unagi roll and yellowtail roll, all of which she reported as fantastic.
I wanted to eat more, but it was getting late so we decided to call it a night. I couldnt believe it when I looked at my watch and saw it was 10:30. A 2 hour meal without the slightest hint of being rushed. This restaurant truly is a gem.
And finally the bill. To quickly recap, we had: radish amuse buche and miso soup for 2; 2 pieces each of maguro, hamachi, uni, ebi, albacore; 1 tuna roll (6 pieces), 1 unagi roll (6 pieces), 1 yellowtail roll (6 pieces).
Total bill? $41.13 before tip. I couldnt believe the bargain. Next time (tomorrow afternoon perhaps?) Ill have to go for the omakase. Well worth the extra gas money to drive down to Costa Mesa!