Seasons of Japan - Irvine
Why? Well, because we've had a lot restaurants that are direct imports from Japan, without anything much lost in the translation. The beef tongue purveyor Gyutan Tsukasa at Costa Mesa's Mitsuwa Marketplace comes to mind. There were few surprises when I tried it. But a Japanese restaurant by way of Georgia? Now that's new.
Don't get me wrong: Seasons of Japan is certainly doing Japanese food. It offers the usual Japanese bag of tricks we Americans decided we like most about Japanese cuisine: teriyaki, hibachi, sushi rolls, sashimi, and tempura. But then they have these sauce dispensers that squirt what looks and tastes like sweetened mayonnaise. There are two variations of this sauce: a regular one and another that is adulterated with what must be Sriracha to be spicy.
It took me only a minute to realize why I liked it so much: it makes every shrimp taste like it's the Chinese restaurant staple of Honey Walnut Shrimp, except without the honey or the walnuts.
How are the other dishes? Fine. The seared beef cubes of hibachi steak is tender enough (not the best I've had). But they got better when I doused it with steak sauce dispensed by another self-serve spigot. I used a Sriracha-like hot sauce served out of a pitcher to dab a roll draped with unagi, avocado, and filled with some sort of broccoli salad. And because they are from the Atlanta area, home of Coca-Cola, they have one of those freestyle Coke machines--another reason why Seasons of Japan might quell feelings of homesickness in Georgians more than it would people from actual Japan.
3831-C Alton Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92606
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