Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ahi Ahi Sushi Bar & Grill - Foothill Ranch

I admit it. If it weren't for the fact that Open Table had them listed as one of a few select 1,000 point reservations, I wouldn't have given Ahi Ahi Sushi Bar & Grill a chance. Would you? It's located in Foothill Ranch, which is a really inconvenient town to visit if you don't live or work there. Check the map! It's tucked away near the actual foothills, nowhere near any freeways that don't charge toll.

So even before I even saw it, I pegged Ahi Ahi Sushi Bar & Grill to be a stereotypical suburban sushi joint in a stereotypical suburban strip mall in a stereotypical suburb, which these days means teriyaki bento specials with California rolls, miso soup, a citrusy-dressed iceberg salad, and all that jazz (which may or may not be the easy-listening kind).

This isn't to say that I refuse to eat in such places. I have a fondness for a good bento combo special as much as the next guy. It's just, why go all that way when I have my pick of stereotypical suburban sushi joints inside the stereotypical suburb in which I live?

Well, the reason, like I said, was the 1,000 points on Open Table.

But by golly, Ahi Ahi turned out not to be just a stereotypical suburban sushi joint; it was a GREAT stereotypical suburban sushi joint. They had California-type rolls with actual crab meat that, yes, tasted more of actual crab than the mayo typically used to hide imitation. Moreover, they served a seaweed salad with cucumbers that ate like an actual salad, not a side dish. And they fried lobster nuggets, coated in thin batter hiding the sweet, sweet meat that redeemed a species of crustacean I've always thought was way overrated. They even made their sweet potato fries crunchy by encasing the spears in a bonafide tempura.

And when was the last time a stereotypical suburban joint offered grilled asparagus wrapped in bacon this excellent--a dish I usually have to go to a robatayaki or an izakaya to order. Or the miso-glazed seabass--probably the closest thing to fish pudding as I ever want to eat and the dish that convinced me, once and for all, that I'm coming back, 1,000 Open Table points or not.

Of course, the meal did come with a miso soup and salad. But even the salad surprised me. The iceberg was actually chilled. No, I mean chilled deliberately. When I bit into it, it sent shivers up my spine and made me actually say these words to my lovely dining companion, "This iceberg lettuce is amazing!"

And for dessert: fried bananas with ice cream, which is more of a stereotypical suburban Thai restaurant thing than Japanese, now that I think about it...but who's stereotyping here? Not me!

Ahi Ahi Sushi Bar
45 Auto Center Dr.,
Foothill Ranch, CA 92610
(949) 600-9833

Two 40 South - Brea


At 12:43 PM, Blogger Greg Hao said...

As always, love the reviews. I was wondering if in the future, you might include if not individual breakdowns but at least a total. This looks like a place I'd like to check out but like you said, it's all the way in foothill ranch!

At 10:57 AM, Blogger NP said...

Concur on Ahi Ahi, this is the closest Sushi place to where we live. The previous venue at this location was as you described, "Mediocre"

Ahi Ahi on the other hand - a full remodel and looks to be new owners is NOTHING like a stereotypical Orange County cookie cutter Japanese place.

Original items on the menu, a lot of items you would find in a proper Japanese Izakaya in Japan.

Only disappointment was the Tofu as an appetizer; it was not made in house - but that was the only complaint we had. The sushi (talking proper Nigiri or Sashimi was properly done, proportioned right (not cheap Sushi place low quality fish in large disgusting chunks). Wasabi on each piece of Nigiri, rice done perfectly on the sushi.

Sushi Rolls were good, but the Robota was awesome - shame many places don't do it!

At 1:38 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Ah, yes. I should mention prices. I used to when I first started this blog. But I guess I just got lazy.

Everything appetizer-like was ordered during their Happy Hour, which lasts from 5-7 pm most days (call to confirm). The salad, the bacon asparagus, the fries were $3. The lobster was $4. The rolls were $5.

The entree (required to earn the Open Table points) was $14.95 and comes with a bowl of rice, miso soup and salad. The banana dessert was $5.50! Worth. Every. Penny.

At 3:06 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Thanks for confirming my review! I had hoped someone else who'd been here would comment and tell me what I saw and ate wasn't a fluke. I'm happy you did!

At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Went there last night for my birthday. We ordered the scallop rolls, lobster crunch rolls, rainbow roll, and teriyaki chicken. The snow crab used in the rolls tasted fresh & delicious. No imitation crab meat taste! Generous portion, fed 4 happy people and prices are reasonable. Salad dressing was exceptionally good, would like the recipe. Ended the dinner with fried bananas and fried vanilla ice cream. Will go here again. Pretty happy it's not too far from where we live and it's 5 minutes from my work. The location is closer to the 231 toll road, but worth the drive if you're nearby and looking for quality sushi :)


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