It’s 7:30 on a Tuesday evening and 20 people are waiting to Wasa Sushi and Japanese Restaurant.
They’re chatting happily in the winter chill out of a shopping center parking lot in Irvine, Orange County, California No grousing about waiting, just a lot of talk about the dining experience that awaits you.
Another good sign.
Businessman Bronnie Lee and chef James Hamamori cook have a hit with their “ generatie”sushi new homes in Irvine and Newport Beach. They stand out in crowded places sushi World Orange County. (The two restaurants are also behind the Wasa name in Rancho Santa Margarita and Laguna Niguel).
For fans, it’s the novelty of what Hamamori does with sushi and other Japanese cuisine, that defines the appeal. And some opponents in the sample the food at me, it’s the novelty of what he does with sushi and other Japanese fare.
That novelty comes alive with the “ Wasa Treasures,”a list of 16 plates, two to take part sushi portions and fuse them with sharp, saucy flavors. This is fused with a tradition-filled sushi bar and a large number of intriguing hot and cold snacks and dinner entrees.
That Tuesday night, I grabbed four of the treasures to carry out and hustled them home. I loved all four – ahi tuna wasabi sour cream, smoked salmon with ginger sauce, seared yellowtail with jalapeño and seared jumbo scallops with spicy miso. The sauces were light, just touch the essence of the raw fish, a spicy punch my palate. I never even opened my little take-out portion of wasabi and soy sauce.
My woman, not a fan of sauces to eat, refused thumbs. They just object to the sauces on principle.
The same thing happened when I took three colleagues to lunch two weeks later. One is a relative newcomer to sushi, a lover, a devotee of the third. I’m somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.
We sat on the bamboo sushi bar and settled into the cool room, which is painted in pastel shades and decorated in a hip, West LA style.
“ Nice room,”said the lover, a designer. When our first course arrived, she hummed “ nice presentation,”in approval.
“ Wow,”said the newcomer, after biting into the seared yellowtail with jalapeño. The other two nodded in agreement, their mouths full. More full-mouth mumbles of approval for the ahi tuna with wasabi sour cream.
“ This is fantastic, a great place for people who are a little unsure of sushi,”the newcomer gushed.
And the devout set on a mission to see if the traditional sushi menu, getting up to her demanding standards.
She tried the salmon skin roll (baked salmon skin, cucumber, radish, bonito flakes, $ 3.75), saying the “ not bad”, while others bit and cried, “ Oh, yeah!”
The lobster roll (steamed lobster, smelt egg, avocado, asparagus and mayo wrapped in soy paper) was too boring for her taste.
We took a trip to the spicy tuna tartar when we spied a waitress an order from another table.
The mound of raw tuna is piled in a tower, topped with avocado and a spicy sauce, all on a banana leaf.
It was beautiful, and we admire it on the plate a full beat before we dove in.
“ I’m not sharing this,”blurted out the newcomer, although he had no choice. The lovers and dedicated agreed: It was the best.
After a few exotic travels, the devoted up wrapped in khaki – an oyster shooter – and said that it was not bad – a compliment.
We all agreed that Wasa was a nice , nice place and the sushi and other offerings that range from interesting at worst at the fantastic best.
That “what Lee was shooting for when he first opened the Wasa in the Irvine Market Place shopping center in 2001. He had spent more than a decade as an accountant. But he has also continued through the California State University, Long Beach, working in the restaurant from his cousin. When he was two years long as a minimum wage undeclared student sushi, including the time for work in R Hamamori sushi in Brea.
Hamamori and worked his way up through the Los Angeles sushi scene before Lee lured him to Irvine, or Newport Beach.
” “There was simply nothing on what we do in Orange County,”said Lee, an Irvine resident. “ We have the West Los Angeles style cit -. The sauces, the presentation, the entire visual kant”
After the opening of a small, traditional-sized sushi bar in Irvine, she added a tonier the Newport Bluffs shopping center in 2003. Prices.
But more upscale presentation and it is the sauces and the style they are most proud of.
“ We are adding another layer of flavor,”Lee said.
It’s just what’s fans Wasa love.
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