Just relaxing on an islet in the Caribbean

Friday, January 8, 2010

"O" So Good

Friends, a new restaurant has moved into our lovely town. “O fine japanese cuisine” (yes folks, that’s the correct spelling) is located in the Albertson’s shopping center at Pacific Coast Highway and Wesley Drive in South Laguna. “O” is an off-shoot of a small chain of Japanese restaurants based in Irvine. Upon entering the eatery, behind the blue beaded curtains, you will find a small dining room which offers traditional Japanese cuisine and a lovely sushi bar that has a warmly-lit countertop which is filled with pretty cut blue glass. The ambiance with soft mood lighting, sushi bar countertop, beautiful hanging hand blown blue pendant lights, along with comfortable seating, is very inviting!

When my husband and I walked in we were graciously greeted by a smiling staff, seated and immediately served a nice amuse-bouche (a single, bite-sized hor’doeuvre, different from an appetizer, not ordered by the customer and selected by the chef as a pre-dinner treat). Our amuse-bouche was radish slices which were marinated in sesame oil, soy sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Very tasty and a nice change from typical soba noodles or marinated cucumber slices.

Our meal consisted of:

Hamachi Belly Sushi;
Yellowtail Kampashio;
Crunch Salmon Tataki Roll;
Yellowtail Hand Roll;
Steamed Asari Clam Soup;
Mountain Potatoe w/Umei (Chef special treat);
Yellowtail Bones (ribs) Baked w/Garlic Chips; and
Mango Pudding w/Seasonal Fresh Fruits

The pieces of fish for the sushi were very large and very fresh. No skimping on fish at “O”!! My Crunch Salmon Tataki was a visually gorgeous cut roll filled with crab meat, crispy tempura shrimp and white onions (we had our sushi chef add asparagus for some veggie) then rolled with salmon slices that had been dredged lightly in cornstarch and quickly seared on the outside. The final result was a delicious roll which was topped with ponzu garlic sauce and red tobiko (flying fish eggs). I also tasted a hint of smokey flavor, very nice. Yes sir…may I have another!!

A wonderfully refreshing treat was the Yellowtail Kampashio. Small cucumbers cut into delicate flower halves were filled with a generous portion of sliced yellowtail sashimi then topped with jalapeno slices, tobiko and pickled wasabi. I have never had “pickled” wasabi and found it to be a little hot and spicy…just the way I like it!

For all you clam lovers out there you must have the Asari Clam Soup. The soup is a very simple but tasty light clam broth with an over abundance of fresh clams which flavors intensify over time. Delicious.

Mountain potatoes anyone? Prior to my maiden voyage to “O”, I had never heard of these little taters. The julienned potatoes were served sushi style in nori surrounded by a quail egg; shiso leave and umei (salty plum paste). When I popped one of those babies in my mouth the raw quail egg exploded and the crunch from the mountain potatoes and salt from the umei blended very well together. Obviously, raw quail eggs are an acquired taste but this chef’s surprise was a delight!

My evening concluded with the Mango Pudding which was topped with fresh fruit (diced strawberries, blueberries and kiwi). When I tasted the pudding I could only think of an exotic summer day…very light, refreshing and not too sweet. The pudding and ice cream are made fresh every week.

As for the booze menu, “O” stocks 24 (yes, 24!) premium sakes, including, but not limited to, Hot Plum Sake, Grape Sake and Yuzu Omoi Sake (with a citrus scent from the yuzu oranges). They also carry traditional Japanese beers, red wine, white wine and champagne.

As a local in Laguna for over 20 years I have been a loyal fan of the same sushi bar in town. I must admit I enjoyed stepping out of the box and trying a different sushi restaurant. O fine japanese cuisine is splendid, the chef is very creative and the sushi extremely fresh. I highly recommend “O", they definitely have my seal of approval. Welcome to Laguna Beach “O”!!

O Fine Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon
Open daily – lunch too!
Convenient parking and good $price$ point
Shelley Teng (owner)

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