Izakaya Wasa - Irvine
If you recognize the Wasa name, it's because it's once part of Chef James Hamamori's empire. You may have been to the original, Wasa Sushi, where he fine tuned his sushi "Treasures", which are upgrades on pieces of nigiri with such things as wasabi cream sauce, jalapeño and crispy onion as toppings or garnishes.
These days Chef Hamamori spends most of his time at his eponymous restaurant in South Coast Plaza, and his connection with the Wasas may just be spiritual now. But Izakaya Wasa is still a very good Japanese restaurant doing real Japanese food.
The "Treasures" are present and accounted for, but so are the dishes you liked at the original, like miso marinated sea bass and the fried baby octopus that you eat in one bite and chew and chew and chew--head, tentacles, and all.
As this is an izakaya, there are more cooked dishes than there are raw, but the Wasa ahi poke is particularly good, with the cubes of fish silken, seasoned lightly with a spicy, citrusy-soy sauce and a hint of sesame seed oil.
What's the other Japanese restaurant at the Spectrum you ask? Well, it's the one you're not going to.
59 Fortune Dr
Irvine, CA 92618
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