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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ohshima Japanese Cuisine in Orange, CA

It's rare for me to get an opportunity to go to a nice and authentic Japanese restaurant.  Sure, I go to those yakitori places that specialize in grilled meats like Raku in Vegas or Musha in Torrance, but Ohshima is different from those places.  Its specialty is more of the quality of their ingredients.  Basic techniques are perfected and new flavor profiles test your palates.  Oh Ohshima, I'm so glad I was able to try you out.

As we parked and saw a tiny establishment, we had no idea what to expect.  Of course, Yelp raved about it and my friend did as well, so I was still hyped.  But if you never heard about it, you would've gladly drove on by to look for a restaurant with flashier lights on the outside.  No... Ohshima needs none of that.  Word of mouth drives its business and reservations are almost required to get a table.

We were only able to get reservations at a table and not the bar unfortunately.  That's okay by me, as our servers did a great job of helping us.  They recommended the omakase special -- we chose the 8 piece for $24 per person.  First and foremost, let me apologize for the pictures.  It's a very dim lit place and I was not going to use my flash and disturb other customers.

Well, the sushi was great.  Thick, tender, sweet pieces of fish over just the right amount of rice.  Seasoned perfectly well so please, do not ask for more soy sauce!  It's offensive to the chef and it's already seasoned perfectly... at least try it out!  If it is not seasoned to your liking, they will gladly give you more soy sauce though.

Different varieties of fish including scallops and squid... so delicious.  My favorite?  Probably the blue fin tuna or the cherry salmon.  Or the yellowtail.  Dammit, I can't decide.

Of course, the sushi isn't the only thing Ohshima is known for.  There was a menu full of things we wanted to try, but our stomachs can only hold so much food.

Braised beef cheeks were the first thing we wanted to try.  Yes, I'm starting heavy.  But I didn't care, it sounded too good.  Served with a potato salad, two potato cakes, and a small salad, the beef checks were amazing.  Succulent and tender, the salad was able to bite through the richness and the potato cakes added an extra crunchy bite to lessen the amazing richness.  Beautifully done and well executed.

Agedashi tofu is something that I always love to see in a Japanese restaurant.  Here, it was wonderful.  Texture is great and the tofu itself is amazing.  The sauce accompanying the tofu was good too.  Though not the best I've had, it's definitely up there.

This mess was their marinated uni.  This was incredible.  It was hyped by my friend but I was still overly impressed.  I don't want to ruin the surprise for you, but if you're a fan of uni, you'll be spoiled by this!  Definitely a must have.

The jellyfish salad was also amazing.  Great texture and the perfect amount of sweetness and acidity from the vinegar to balance it out.

Fish collar is one of my favorites of Japanese cuisine.  Fatty with crisp skin -- that's the good life right there.  And hey, fish fat is good for you!  So I had to try some collar.  My friend recommended the black cod collar, though it was good, I think I would've preferred to stick with yellowtail or salmon collar.  The skin doesn't crisp up as well as salmon collar so I was a bit sad.  But it was still amazing, the meat was still very moist and sweet.

Then there's the miso duck with forbidden rice.  For those of you who don't know, forbidden rice is just a strain of jasmine black rice.  Its texture is harder than standard white rice and it is very fragrant.  Wasn't my favorite thing, but I can see the benefits of having the forbidden rice over standard white or even brown rice. But then again, I felt the rice's texture and even flavor kinda put the duck on the backseat.  I think they felt that regular rice would be too simple, I did feel they tried too hard on this dish.  Maybe it's just me.  Yes, standard miso duck is very common -- but it's probably common for a reason!  Oh well, I didn't have to eat the rice.

Without the rice, the duck was bliss.  I've always been a huge fan of duck and this was no different.  Cooked to a perfect medium, it had some miso glaze and then there were berries and apples to cut into the richness of the duck.

For dessert, instead of the typical mochi green tea ice cream that we're accustomed to, we decided to go for something new.  After all, how many more chances will I get to come here right?  We elected for the shiratama zenzai, or a red bean dessert.  It was described as a more 'traditional' dessert for us.  So I'm not going to lie, even with the great food we had before, I was still worried it was going to be disgusting.  It wasn't.  It was just sweet enough to be considered a dessert and it felt healthy and actually kind of light.  I felt it was very similar to a red bean dessert my mom used to make for me as a kid... so it was also a bit nostalgic.

Overall a great experience.  Water cups were always filled up, waitresses were very nice and if you love real Japanese food (no, I'm not talking about your California roll with crap stuffed with it and barely edible and thinly sliced raw fish over it), then you'll love Ohshima.  Authentic, delicious, and memorable.  For a party of two, after tax and tip, it came out to be about $140, with no alcohol.  For a night to remember with that special someone, check Ohshima out.

Ohshima Japanese Cuisine
1956 N Tustin St
Orange, CA 92865
(714) 998-0098