Tustin >Food & Dining > Sushi Wasabi
14460 Newport Ave Ste E, Tustin, CA | Directions 9278033.732802 -117.826939
Tuesday-Friday: Lunch 12:00-1:30 Tuesday-Saturday: 5:30-8:30
Best in OC – The freshness and preparation of the fish rivals anything you will find in LA (Matsuhisa, Nozawa, Zo) and is priced accordingly. If you like traditional Japanese it's simply terrific. I've yet to find anything close in Orange County.
However, like some have mentioned... the place is a hole in the wall, somewhat understaffed, and the food is produced 'en masse'. I think the best LA comparison is Sasabune.
The downside of Wasabi makes for a better lunch place than dinner. I highly recommend it but with an asterisk.
Freshest sushi around – We had one of the best meals in our life this week at Sushi Wasabi. It was better than the omakase we had at Matsuhisa at a fraction of the cost. Note that you get the freshest fish available at the sushi bar where the chef choses for you. However, if you sit at a table, you can choose your dishes. We had 9 dishes each with drinks for $142, which the 3 of us felt was very reasonable, considering the quality and freshness of the food and the wonderful preparation. Service was friendly and we were not reminded of Seinfeld's soup-nazi. In fact, my daughter asked for her dishes to be prepared w/o wasabe, (mind you the restaurant is named Sushi Wasabe) and the chef graciously complied. We can't wait to return!
Traditional sushi at its best (with a couple of fallbacks) – Alright, first off note all the bad service reviews other people have said. They are not far from the truth. One guy I know described the chef as the Soup "Natsi" of Sushi.
Also, it is expensive. I've gotten bills well above $50/person at the bar.
Now for the HUGE pluses. I've been to my fair share of sushi bars, and this is by far the best is terms of freshness of ingredients and quality of dishes. This is straight up traditional sushi. You get what the chef puts in front of you, which every once in a while can be quite exotic. It has been an experience every time I've been there, since I always try something new. Yes, you don't get to really choose what the chef puts in front of you, but that is what makes the experience. (If you don't get that, then traditional sushi service is simply not for you.)
Refused Service – My wife and I went to Sushi Wasabi at around 7:15 PM on a Saturday night. We wanted to try it based on the abundance of rave reviews on Yelp and elsewhere. The exterior is unassuming to say the least, but we've had great sushi in holes-in-the-wall before, so it wasn't the strip-mall but the 'Closed' sign that perturbed us. The lights were on and the place was packed, so we opened the door. We were greeted not with 'eratshamase,' but 'sorry, we're closed.' According to the posted business hours, they had closed about ninety minutes early.
In my experience as a restaurant-goer, I understand that a Saturday-night walk-in at such a popular place might mean a long wait to be seated. However, I have never in my life walked into a serving establishment and been refused service upon entry. According to at least one other review I've read on Citysearch, this happened before on one of their visits. The unlucky diners were told the restaurant was out of fish - at least they got a reason - despite there being fish present in the counter-top refrigeration units. I now wish I had looked to see whether they were blowing us off as this other group was done, but I really don't care. Ikko in Costa Mesa is a fantastic sushi restaurant that serves amazing sushi and does not refuse service to its customers.
We will not offer Wasabi our patronage in the future; being turned away once was enough.
Please tell me this is NOT Orange County's best sushi!! – Many consider this the best sushi in OC. Based on glowing reviews from locals, I expected greatness. The simple fact of the matter is Sushi Wasabi is vastly overrated. The quality is respectable, but it does not qualify as top tier given the vast wealth of Japanese sushi masters found in Southern California. Unfortunately, Wasabi is frequented by loudmouth, nitwit urban professionals who swear no better sushi can be found on the face of the earth. Japanese clientele is rare, a sure warning sign for anyone seeking out truly authentic Japanese sushi or sashimi. My review is based on three different trips. Each time, I sat at a packed omakase-only sushi bar. The itamae worked alone behind the bar that served about 15 customers. Service was extremely slow and served in a mass produced mechanical fashion. There was virtually no interaction between itamae and customer. The quality of the fish is good, portions on the small side and prices on the high side. I know of 15+ sushi bars in LA with similar quality fish and most at lower cost. That being said, Sushi Wasabi is a step below the 10 or so upper tier sushi bars found in the LA area. On my last and most likely final visit, I noted a disturbing situation. A patron walked in at 12:45 PM and was denied service. Lunch hours end at 1:40, but the hostess informed him that there was no more fish. She made this ridiculous claim when it was clearly obvious plenty of fish remained in the refrigerator unit above the sushi bar. The simple truth is this: Sushi Wasabi is understaffed and ill prepared to serve more than the smallest groups. Katsu-san seems content to serve decent fish without any passion or flair in drab ambiance with little or no human interaction. To make things worse, the Sake selection is pathetic. In total, I find very little to recommend about Sushi Wasabi.
On seconds thought – Good sushi, but not worth the price. I almost fell over my chair when I got my bill. No menu, no prices, and "trust me"? No, I don't think so. I thought I give the place another chance and was served with the same damn sushi. Portion so small I had to chew on it a little longer just to get my money's worth. Don't believe what you hear when he says sushi is from far corners of the world. This sushi chef is laughing all the way to the bank.
Sushi Connoisseur – My wife and I are always searching for the best and freshest sushi and we've found a place in Tustin??? Think of Seinfeld and the Soup (N)azi episode and you have Sushi Wasabi. You have absolutely no choice or say in what is served to you, "YOU MUST TRUST ME" is literally written on the door. The sushi cheif/owner serves what he wants and to who he wants so feel special that you have a seat in this hole-in-the wall place.
With that being said, we've had sushi all over the world (Japan/Korea/Hawaii/Tahiti/CA/NY) and have paid hundreds of dollars an evening only to be disappointed. NOTHING in california comes close to the freshness and incredible taste of this place. After a large warm Sake even the extreme quite ambiance and the nervous customers(in-line to get in) begin to fade. It also helps a great deal when you see your bill! Premium Sushi (only serve hand rolls) comes at a Premium Price and you get both here. Listen carefully and you'll actually here the owner say in a Japanese accent, "Yellowtail from Japan, Toro from Australia, Blue Crab from Texas, Uni from Hawaii, Halibut from Alaska." All hand picked from your chef...You will actually TASTE the extreme difference from average sushi. It's like comparing Morton's to McDonalds with that said, the owner and his wife were very nice to us and our 2 year old daughter.
Exceptional Sushi in Tustin – Sushi Wasabi is comparable to some of the best Sushi in LA.
The fish is really fresh and perfectly cut into small pieces.
You have to try it! – The food is very authentic and the sushi is very fresh. They serve fresh fishes from all over the world. The owner of the restaurant works there, and he greets everyone that he sees. In order to eat here on a busy night... it is expected that you wait a little longer. BUT it's worth it! I strongly recommend any sushi lover to visit this place. You'll get hooked! The only draw back is the pricings $$$$$ but its worth it =)
I'm on the fences with this one. – The chef prepares sushi based on the freshest fish he can find for that day. So you may not get the exact sushi you may be craving for at that moment. I ordered mackerel and he didn't have it. The sushi is pricey and I feel robbed everytime I'm there. The portions are close to bite-sized and without a kitchen, no miso soup! Why do I keep going back? I just don't know.
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