[Warning: If you're not comfortable seeing live or whole seafood ingredients: including heads and tails, you might want to click away now. Otherwise, keep on reading for some good eats.]
I used to live just 15 minutes away from a Japanese community in Los Angeles and pretty much surrounded by authentic Japanese restaurants. After moving to the Orange county, I haven’t really had Japanese food until my visit to Ohshima. Ohshima offers a wide variety of Japanese cuisine, both cooked and raw, a full menu from appetizers to desserts. But if you plan to dine at this place, “Omakase” at the sushi bar is highly recommended.
Omakase (お任せ) is a Japanese phrase that means "I'll leave it to you". The expression is used at sushi restaurants to leave the selection to the chef. The chef will generally present a series of plates, beginning with the lightest fare and proceeding to heaviest, richest dishes.
As noted on the menu, the nigiri sushi of the Omakase already came seasoned. You don’t need to dip them in the soy sauce, really! You can truly taste the natural sweetness of the fish/seafood and all of them were awesome and super fresh. My husband and I both ordered the 12 pieces Omakase…and we ended up having more than 12!
We’ve been to Ohshima in two separate occasions. On our first visit, we enjoyed the Omakase at the sushi bar. The second time we sat at the table and ordered from their regular a la carte menu and both were excellent. First, I’ll post the pictures of the Omakase.
Please excuse the quality of these photos. As they were taken from a cell phone, not my regular camera.
First, we started with a small plate of complimentary pickled veggies.
A glass of cold sake for each of us.
The chefs working behind the sushi bar, busy preparing our food! They were very friendly and attentive.
We started off with Diver’s Scallop. Super fresh and sweet. The tangy Yuzu is a perfect match for it.
Up next was Sea Bass. Refreshing and sweet.
Spanish Mackerel. You can really taste the ocean from this Mackerel.
Toro (fatty tuna) charred with blow torch. Any food involved a blow torch is just delicious. Charring really added a nice smoky flavor to the fish. I love the contrast of texture from the charred and raw flash.
Baby Yellowtail. Another "melt in your mouth" goodness.
Cherry Salmon. Not your usual Salmon. It's flown in from Japan.
Amberjack. Sweet, fresh and great texture. The flash is a bit firmer from the rest.
Sweet Shrimp Inari. Yes, it was still swimming a minute before it was served. The flash was still “moving” when it was on our plate. The Chef was behind the counter holding the tail of the shrimp so we could take a picture.
Sweet Shrimp Inari. It's about the freshest as it can get.
Deep Fried Sweet Shrimp heads. So crispy and light. I love it because it’s not greasy at all and you can eat the whole thing including the tentacle.
Bonito Nigiri. Great flavor.
Albacore with Secret Garlic Sauce and Chips. So pungent, rich and flavorful. The crispy garlic chips on top made a nice contrast in the texture and add another level of garlic-ey deliciousness.
Black Cod charred by a blow torch.
Uni (Sea Urchin) was super fresh and melt in your mouth.
Blue Crab Handroll, a nice way to conclude the savory part of our dinner.
Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Smoothie. The chocolate cake was moist and delicious. Perfect pairing with these Vanilla Smoothie.
All the seafood were made with quality ingredients and super fresh. However, it’s a bit on the pricey side. But you really paid for what you get. Our bill for two including sake and dessert came a bit under $160 total, including tax.
Up next, our second visit with a la carte items.
We started off with Home Made Marinated Uni. Fresh, sweet, rich and delicious. The seaweed salad on the bottom made a nice contrast on the texture. The fresh wasabi on top compliment the Uni nicely.
Seaweed Salad. A very refreshing salad. I love the crunchy and bouncy texture from different type of seaweeds in this salad. The amount of dressing was just perfect.
Baked Scallop Crabmeat Wrapped in Salmon. It’s wonderful and unique. The Crabmeat and scallop “stuffing” is chopped and wrapped with a piece of salmon fillet and baked to perfection. You can really taste the crabmeat and scallops inside.
Miso Duck and Forbidden Rice. The duck was beautifully done. The blackberry sauce was divine and compliment the duck nicely. The duck was succulent and juicy. The Forbidden Black Rice has a great texture similar to brown rice and a mild nutty flavor, the perfect bed for the duck.
Last but not least, the Amberjack Collar. I had yellowtail collar many times before so I opted to try the Amberjack Collar this time. This fatty fish collar was perfectly done. The collar was boiled to perfection with a minimal of seasoning. It’s served with grated daikon, along with some light soy sauce and a wedge of lemon. The portion was generous. Basically, it was half of the fish head along with the collar instead of just the collar.
We also ordered Udon noodle soup and a Toro cut roll (nothing special on these two). The total bill was low $70s after tax. We didn’t order sake nor desserts this time because the kids were rushing us to go home after they were done.
Conclusion: Ohshima is an authentic Japanese restaurant that serves fresh and quality seafood and many unique a la carte dishes. The dining area is rather small though. There are only about 12 sushi bar seats and less than 10 tables all together. You might want to make a reservation before you go or be there early to avoid the line. Also, there’s no high chair nor booster seat available at the restaurant. Despite these drawbacks, My husband and I DO plan to go back there again in the future. There were quite a few more other items on the menu we would love to try on our next visit.