Friday, June 14, 2019

Sushi Imari - Costa Mesa

There was something specific I really liked about the original Sushi Imari in Costa Mesa. It wasn’t the complimentary items that were doled out at random. It wasn’t even the sublime piece of uni nigiri I had there several years ago. It was actually the size of the dining room.

Sushi Imari was tiny and cramped. And because it was, it felt intimate and cozy. It was as though I stumbled into a hidden spot no one knew about. The reality is that, of course, everyone knew about this place. It’s one of the most reviewed sushi bars on Yelp, largely due to its generosity with those complimentary apps. People love free stuff.

It got so popular, in fact, it recently felt the need to move to a bigger space on Harbor, in what used to be I Love Sushi and EON. And in so doing, I think it has lost what made it special. It now looks like a diner and for reasons I cannot explain, the sushi has taken on the personality of those made en masse at an all-you-can-eat joint.

I didn’t like what I had here at this new location nearly as much as what I had then, at the original place. The rolls tasted pedestrian and the uni I tried had an off flavor. An appetizer of gyoza is offered as the complimentary item. But since the things are fried in huge batches and every diner gets one as soon they’re seated, it felt more like it was done to fulfill an expectation than something that’s supposed to be welcoming.

At the new Sushi Imari, bigger isn’t better.

Sushi Imari
2340 Harbor Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 641-5654

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