Friday, October 28, 2005

Omakase at Sushi Shibucho - Costa Mesa - A Review in Haiku

Say "Omakase".
Utter this and nothing else.
Shibutani nods.

No seats at the bar?
Regular tables are fine.
His wife serves us here.

Her smile melts our hearts.
Steaming hot towels are brought out.
It refreshes me.

Cup of hot green tea;
The vapors cloud my glasses.
Our palates are primed.

First course is fish cheek.
It's soy-simmered with daikon.
Mirin sweetens it.

The nigiri comes.
Row upon row of colors.
A fine work of art.

Lovingly arranged,
On a wide plate with green leaves,
Which glisten with dew.

We pick up each piece,
Daintily with our fingers.
A dab in shoyu.

Oh so rich Toro;
Tuna marbled with sweet fat.
It melts like butter.

Sake is silken.
Sinus-clearing wasabi,
Lurking underneath.

Loved the Ikura.
These orange orbs burst like bombs,
Bleeding fishy brine.

Mirugai, giant clam,
Chews like chicken cartilage,
But finishes clean.

Sublime Unagi,
Tied in a nori bundle.
Bruleed like candy.

There's more on this plate,
All are sparkling, fresh, vibrant,
Morsels of the sea.

Next platter arrives,
Just as vividly colored.
We are almost full.

The Uni oozes,
Looking like frothy egg yolk.
It's sunny yellow.

Wet, cold and sexy;
The sea water saliva,
Of a mermaid's kiss.

Silver-skinned Aji,
Is brushed with sauce and scallions.
Tastes of mild sardine.

Crisp salmon skin roll.
It's packed with veggies for crunch.
So delectable!

Unknown salted fish,
Steals the show with its sharp tang.
Tiny bones tickle.

His wife brings hot soup.
It warmly soothes our gullet,
Concluding the meal.

Total cost per head?
Thirty two, not counting tip!
Fifteen pieces each.

Sushi Shibucho:
Artistry in a strip mall.
Next door? In-N-Out.

Sushi Shibucho
(949) 642-2677
590 W 19th St
Costa Mesa, CA 92627


At 5:08 PM, Blogger Ben Calvin said...

I've been here twice while visiting from San Francisco over the last year. Sure wish it was there when I lived two blocks away.

At that time getting the In-and-Out open was a major food upgrade.

In general I really enjoy eating out Orange County now (we still have family in Irvine). It's a much more habitable place than when we moved 15 year ago

At 9:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last time I went, months ago, it was about 6pm on a Friday.. We needed a table because we had the kids, and the tables were all empty but marked "Reserved." We asked them about table availability, and Mrs. Shibutani shook her head and said, "sorry."

I think Shibucho is the best bang-for-the-buck sushi place in OC, but it's just too hard to get a seat there these days. I almost wish he'd raise the prices a bit. :P (almost)

I'm sure your salivation-inducing photo set isn't going to help in that regard. I especially liked the part about the mermaid's kiss. I've always thought uni had the appearance and texture of a well, nevermind.

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elmo - No wonder I haven't heard from you in a week - you've been poeti-zing! I'd love to see a Seuss version of this as well. Great as usual.

At 2:52 PM, Blogger Daily Gluttony said...


You are so da' man for writing this up in haiku! Great post and now you got me craving sushi.

BTW, how long is the wait usually, and do they take reservations? I might just have to make a trek out there one of these days!

At 10:46 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Thanks for visiting. Shibucho was a recent discovery of mine. This and all the other eateries which have popped up around here *DOES* make OC cool to live in.


I got lucky the three times we ate at Shibucho. We were never turned away for the tables.

Of course, we weren't lucky enough to get a sushi bar seat in front of Shibutani-san without a reservation -- Not from a lacking though.

One time, when I called to make a reservation, their son advised me to call later in the day closer to the time we'd arrive. I didn't and just went ahead and chanced it. Alas, when we got there all the seats at the bar were spoken for the entire night (no surprise). But omakase at the regular tables was just fine by us.

You're right about it getting too popular though. That room is, to put it nicely, "cozy". And yup, my review ain't going to make it any easier for you or I to get seats. I am debating on whether I want to share my photos with the Hounds on this one.

So what did you think the uni had the appeara ... ooooo ... wait ... (LIGHT BULB) ... *WINK*

Yeah...let's leave it at "nevermind"


Yup...I wrote a couple of stanzas a day. Although, I must say, it was easier to write than I thought.

Glad you liked it!


Like Julian said it's the "best bang-for-the-buck sushi place in OC". Sushi Wasabi might have it's fans, but for quality/price ratio, I think it's really hard to beat Shibucho.


We lucked out the three times we dined at Shibucho. Got a table without so much as a 10 minute wait. But as far as the bar goes, reservations are definitely required these days.

Shibutani's son mans one side while the old master has the other. They take care of ~4 people each. I hear that the son's coming into his own, but still is not as deft or skillful as his father. But I can't really tell the difference.


Thanks! I'm always glad to hear that you liked my reviews! This one was actually really fun to write. The photos also came easy this time because his presentation was so pretty to begin with.

This week I hope I can get in more posts. But no more haikus since I don't think it will go quite as well with Italian cold cut sandwiches! LOL!

At 11:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a lovely post with even lovelier pics! Very much enjoying your coverage of OC fare. Keep it coming. =)

At 7:21 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Thanks for your comments! Keep reading!

At 8:22 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I had meant to type "Not from a lack of trying though"...not "Not from a lacking though"

At 8:40 PM, Blogger BoLA said...

Great linguistic action there and great post! You know I love sushi! If ever in Costa Mesa...will definitely check this one out! ;) Happy Halloweenie!

At 10:38 PM, Blogger Seth Chadwick said...


This is probably one of the finest posts I have read in a food blog.

Just a little known fact, my friend: It was stumbling upon your foodblog that made me start my own. See? Your influence is vast and wide. :o)

Now, let's see your next review in a splashy, Broadway musical style.

(P.S. Can you drop me a line at ancientpurple at gmail dot com as I have a couple of questions for you regarding some eateries in Irvine/Costa Mesa? Thanks!)

At 11:41 PM, Blogger e d b m said...

elmo, that's a very creative post. keep going!

At 11:48 PM, Blogger Professor Salt said...

You make me proud. Who else comes up with haiku for each round of sushi?

The uni description makes me wanna go kiss a mermaid.

At 8:14 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Thanks! Yes, definitely check out Shibucho! I'm positive you'll like it.


Thanks for that comment. Hopefully the next post I do won't be a total let'll be a short writeup on a sandwich. Maybe I could spice it with a limerick or something! HA!

That's awesome that I inspired you to start your blog! Didn't realize it I had such a butterfly effect on the blog-o-sphere! Cool...

P.S. I sent you an e-mail regarding just now.


Hey thanks man! Glad to see you back from the island.

Prof. Salt.,

You mean you haven't kissed a mermaid? I was speaking from experience! ;-)

At 3:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elmo! E-mail me:

At 1:04 PM, Blogger Eddie Lin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 1:47 PM, Blogger Eddie Lin said...

high five on the haiku! your stuff is great. and people are taking notice - i.e. gustavo ; )

you are inspiring the next bunch of food bloggers, watch your back!! just kidding. great work, friend!

1:04 PM

At 3:33 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Thanks Eddie! If I can inspire other food bloggers as you have inspired me, it's all good!

At 9:17 PM, Blogger 冬冬 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8:20 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Glad you enjoyed it! That Spanish mackerel (aji) was truly tasty.

Looking forward to a picture post on your blog if by chance you brought your camera that day.

At 5:21 PM, Blogger Timothy Chan said...

wow really looking forward to eating here

At 4:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

do you know Billy Collins' prize-winning haiku? here it is:

midwinter evening
alone at the sushi bar
just me and this eel

At 10:10 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Hope you enjoy it!

Nancy Leu,

That's beautiful. But no I've never heard of it. Thank you for sharing it.

At 9:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Elmo!

Have you been to Shibucho lately? I just recently went last weekend and it was $109 for two people but she quit half way in our "omakase" adventure so it was just me from then on. I was wondering if they raised their prices? I was really excited for such a great deal for the quality, but then my neighbors coughed up $75 of their own for what seem like 1/3 of what I had. Scary! Oh, and Naga served me.


At 7:37 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I haven't been to Shibucho is a few months. Kinda gave up after I couldn't get a table (or a bar seat). The price has risen since I wrote this review. The last time it was something like $40 per person. Still a good deal though, as far as omakase goes.

At 7:38 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

And oh by the way, the cost usually is reflective on what ingredients are used. And since they use whatever is fresh that day, the choices and the expense should vary.

At 5:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your input. Where do you go to get your sushi cravings fulfilled now a days? And Cafe Hiro is really as good as you said. I really like their pumpkin soup!

At 4:01 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Nowadays, it's usually Kaisen Sushi, a revolving sushi bar on Bristol near Sunflower.

Here's a review I wrote up for the OC Weekly.

I still love Shibucho. It remains my gold standard for sushi, but when I need a fix right away, Kaisen fills it.

At 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow thanks for this post! never been there but worth a try for such a great deal! i love sushi!! Thanks
btw how can i subscribe to ure blog didnt see any section to subscribe. loved reading ure reviews.. been to quite a few of the restaurants youve posted... so knew exactly what u were talking bout!

At 10:25 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Hi Sunboopoo,

Take a look at my Site Feeds section on the side bar. You should be able to subscribe to my blog using any number of readers (like Google's)!

Thanks for writing in!

At 9:53 AM, Blogger esther said...

I went to Shibucho for the first time this weekend. My friend was wise enough to reserve a table for 5. The omakase was absolutely divine! The uni was probably the best I've ever had. I wish I lived closer to Costa Mesa so I could go more often.

At 11:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try Ango Tei while in Costa Mesa, however the original owners have open Nana San in Newport Beach nowadays; another above par sushi joint is Sushi On Fire in Huntington Beach. (Just Google it.) Hey, you need to recognize Nha Hang Van for its popular banh xeo!^ ^

At 4:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't even try Ango Tei if you are true sushi lover!!! I went there after reading many reviews---
Very dissapointing!! Just glad I went there by myself and only wasted 50bucks!!

At 5:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for a fine post and the pictures!! A friend refered me to Shibucho in New Port---is this the same place with Shibucho AKA Sushi Nazi?

N please don't even try Ango Tei--After reading many reviews I tried it-----So dissapointing!!! I should have gotten up after first bite of hamachi(thin and wilted)--I was fool to order more hoping things will get better---have you ever seen a uni roll a size a quarter? Ha!

At 4:58 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Finally found a place in the OC for my sushi fix. Loved my lunch here today...really loved reading your post. Can't wait to return! : )

At 4:51 PM, Blogger OC Felicity said...

Wonderful review!
I've been lucky with my lunch,
Always at the bar!


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