Newport Beach, CA — Wasa Sushi

Categories: California
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Published on: May 16, 2008
Wasa Sushi
1346 Bison Ave
Newport Beach, CA
949.760.1511
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Wasa is  a small chain of  four sushi restaurants in tony Orange County, south of Los Angeles. I am spending the week in a hotel at the nearby Fashion Island mall, so Wasa was nearby and I thought I would give it a try.

Wasa is located in the Bluffs mini mall next to a Panera. Wasa is a very modern restaurant with white walls and wood paneling and a large sushi bar. The place was full of well-dressed young people. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. The groups at the bar were sharing sake and beer with the sushi chefs. Very trendy, not usually my kind of place but it was too late to back out.

I took a seat at a corner of the sushi bar and started to read the menu. The selection of rolls was not very exciting so I decided to order sashimi a la carte. I asked the chef whether they had mirugai (giant clam). I was pleased when he said they did. I ordered mirugai, salmon and one of my favorites, Spanish Mackerel. A waiter brought me a complimentary order of edamame. I settled in with the edamame and my book.

I watched closely as the sushi chef started to work. He was an older Japanese man who was clearly a master. He had an effortless way of using his knife that was cool to watch. He used a short triangular blade knife and deftly sliced the fish. When my sashimi was served it was beautiful. The plate was garnished with sliced cucumber, Japanese radish and some mayonaisse. The pièce de resistance was the mackerel. The mackerel had been filleted off the fish body. The body was skewered between the tail fin and the head. The mackerel was served on top of the fish body.

All of the fish was absolutely perfect. The giant clam was crisp and tasty. The salmon had a strong but not overpowering taste to it. It was just fishy enouigh without being too slimy. I am a sucker for fresh mackerel and this was perfect. The chef made up a sauce for it, and while the fish was good by itself the sauce was just right. It was tangy and a bit sweet but it enhanced the mackerel but did not mask the flavor.

At the end of an excellent meal I received a surprise. The chef took my mackerel bones and fried them. When I got the fried bones, fish head and tail back, they were neatly arranged on a plate. I asked the chef how to eat it an he said, "just eat the bones."

On Guam, we ate fried fish tails, so this reminded me of my childhood. The fried bones were the perfect compliment to my excellent sashimi. I also at the flesh around the fish head. I later found out that this presentation is called Aji no tataki — if you ever see it on the menu, try it.

This was the best sushi experience I have ever had — Wasa doesn’t just get five rice bowls — Wasa is now my favorite sushi restaurant.

Wasa 5 rice bowls * * * * *

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