Saturday, January 07, 2017

Sushi Gozen at Sagami - Irvine

I've eaten at Sagami in Irvine for at least a decade.

I wrote this about the place six years ago:

Sagami has been around for as long as I can remember. It made a name for itself as a quick-pick-up-and-go lunch stop for sushi rolls and teriyaki bowls. And for the most part, it still is. But since Flame Broiler opened next door, or maybe it was before that, Sagami shed its work-a-day cred and became a full-fledged Japanese restaurant and izakaya.

Dinner diners range from the casual family out for a meal to Docker-decked business men on expense accounts. The dining room is separated into two parts, both awkwardly claustrophobic like a mouse maze, due the building's Tetris S-block footprint. The space was originally conceived to occupy two stores but they busted through a wall to expand.

But the more I went, the more dishes I uncovered and the more articles I wrote, such as the one about the hitsumabushi and, most recently, the ultra comforting hot pot called oden.

Which brings me to this post: the part where I reach the same kind of realization that a prototypical rom-com protagonist comes to in the third act of the movie. You know, when he/she realizes the one who's always been there is the one he/she should've been in love with all along!

So here's my running-through-the-airport, jumping-over-security-check-points proclamation:

Sagami, you're the most authentic and the very best Japanese restaurant in Irvine!!!

This epiphany came because of the last meal I had there--the Sushi Gozen. It was a dinner that, when I first saw it on the menu, looked kind of expensive at $25.95 but was, in actuality, one of the best prix fixe bargains in OC.

It included not just six pieces of assorted nigiri and cut rolls, but also rice, soup, salad, an entire plate of lacy tempura, pickles, and best of all: four intricately prepared seasonal dishes that's about the closest thing to traditional Japanese kaiseki as you'll get in this part of Orange County.

On that night, my kaiseki-style dishes included:

- Poke with avocado
- Simmered kabocha with homemade fish dumpling and fried shiitake
- Agedashi tofu
- A meltingly soft and deeply flavored braised pork belly that turned out to be the biggest star of them all.

So, Sagami, in keeping with rom-com movie tropes, I have this message for you:

3850 Barranca Pkwy B
Irvine, CA 92606
(949) 857-8030

"How My New Year's Eve Plans Have Changed"


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