Friday, December 5, 2008

Izakaya Wasa -- pricey mall fusion

Izakaya Wasa at the Spectrum
59 Fortune Drive Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 453-9500

I'm very particular when it comes to eating sashimi or sushi. REALLY particular. I have one or two places I will eat raw fish at and then I stick to it. Rarely will you find me venturing to unknown restaurants to indulge in one of my favorite meals of all time.

So when a friend suggested Izakaya Wasa for lunch, I probed and questioned regarding the quality of fish, etc etc. He assured me that it was pretty good. I trust this friend when it comes to raw fish so I happily tagged along for yet another culinary adventure.

Some people may not like this look, but I like minimalist decor. It gives me a feeling of serenity. To me, nothing is worse than extremely loud music and too much going on in a restaurant when you're trying to enjoy a meal. There is a time and place for that sort of dining -- when we're out with a bunch of kids -- and Izakaya Wasa just isn't one of those places.

There are little booths which give you the feel of privacy yet remain part of the entire dining room. The modernist approach makes it perfect for a night out on the town while the wooden plaques adorning the walls creates just a touch of old school charm without being gaudy.

The menu is quite extensive so be prepared to spend some time browsing. There are appetizers, yakitori, sushi, noodles, rice bowls and much much more to choose from. On this particular visit, my friend opted for the spicy tuna
don, while I had the premium sushi set. Our lunches came with a salad and a bowl of miso soup. The ginger sesame dressing on the salad was extremely overpowering in terms of ginger. You could barely taste the sesame and they overdressed the salad so by the time you've eaten the first half of the salad, the second half was swimming in the dressing. Overkill if you ask me. Miso soup was quite pleasant -- flavorful without being overly salty.

I found it strange that the server put my friend's order in before I was ready to order, hence, his food came out about 5-7 minutes before mine. The spicy tuna don arrived very beautifully presented, but atop the layer of rice was a generous sprinkling of panko bread crumbs drizzled with a dark, sweet sauce and then finished off with the spicy tuna. I am not a fan of bread crumbs or batter crumbs sprinkled on my rice or my noodles so I didn't like this dish all that much. Also, different restaurants create different versions of spicy tuna ..... here, chili sesame oil is used instead of
sriracha chili sauce. It's just a personal preference, so if you like chili oil, then this will be extremely favorable to your palate.

My premium sushi set arrived on a white platter. There were 6 pieces of spicy tuna roll (alternatively, you can choose California roll)
and 8 pieces of nigiri. The only piece I didn't like was the mirugai (geoduck clam). It was on the fishy side. The other fish were all very fresh with melt-in-the-mouth texture. There was also enough umami for me to deem this pretty damn good fish for a fusion-style restaurant.

Next time you're at the Spectrum, by all means check it out. It's not outstanding sushi, but it's not bad at all for its location and price.


Holly said...

Great review, and I must say, I really like your formatting, the way you have the address of the restaurant so prominently at the beginning, with a good photo (but not overloaded with too many photos, either) - it's a very clean and attractive layout. Keep up the great work!

Lady Who Lunches said...

Thanks Holly for the feedback. Keep letting me know what you like or dislike so I can constantly try to make it better.