Ohshima sits in a unassuming strip mall in the city of Orange. There is no big fancy sign with a big marquee but it does just simply say “Ohshima”.
Reservations are almost a must unless you are willing to wait for a couple hours on the weekends.
The restaurant is very small, and sits about 12 people at the sushi bar and has about 8 tables.
The reservation system is quite strict, as you can only call between 5:00 – 5:30 PM to make reservations. They will only hold your table for 10 minutes. Most importantly, they do not do “American style rolls” which is a big plus in my book. You will not see any mayo drizzles, cream cheese everywhere or exotic sounding rolls.
If you do sit at the sushi bar, the first 8 pieces will be omakase. The chef will ask you if have any likes or dislikes, but we were game for anything.
We were given a starter of seaweed salad. It was a little heavy and briny. Not my favorite but an okay dish.
First up was Sea Bream, which was firm with a very mild flavor. There was a zing of yuzu and a small punch of wasabi to tie everything together.
Next was Blue Fin Tuna which was silky and unctuous. The fish was topped with a soy glaze and a hidden gem of wasabi underneath.
Scallop was soft and pliable, with a slightly sweet finish. It was finished with a hint of citrus and perhaps sea salt.
Amber Jack was firm with a delicate finish. Once again finished with a soy glaze, a nice bite of fish.
The Sea Bass was firm and snappy. It had a lot of flavor components being topped with yuzu and extremely hot Japanese chili that certainly wakes up your taste buds.
Cherry Salmon is what Ohshima is known for. It has a slightly deeper flavor than regular salmon and a slightly firmer texture, which is always a good thing in my book. I’m not a fan of regular salmon or smoked salmon due to the very soft texture.
Gold Stripe is firm with a slightly “fishy” finish. The soy couldn’t overcome the “briny” finish of the fish however.
Black Cod has a mild flavor with a slightly chewy texture. The char from the blowtorch cut down on the fat content, and added a hint of bitterness.
Idiot Fish was slightly chewy with a mild “fishy” taste.
Japanese Butter Fish was firm, yet delicate at the same time. The knife cuts helped to make the fish more tender, and again topped with a wonderful soy glaze.
The Scottish Salmon was firm, and had a mild salmon taste compared to the Cherry Salmon. The stripes of fat seen running through the fish says it all.
Opal Eye was firm and was another piece with “fishy” notes. The soy glaze and chili quickly counteracted that however.
Pen Shell Clam was very firm, but had a neutral flavor. The punch from the chili woke up the dish.
The Uni was what you would expect, creamy and slightly briny. It literally melts in your mouth.
Short Rib with Fresh Wasabi ($10) was a big hit and the only thing ordered off the menu. The beef was so tender and flavorful, but the amount of fresh wasabi would certainly clear your sinuses. I found the best way to counteract that was to fold the beef in half thereby exposing oneself to less of a sinus explosion. At this price, I would order it all day long.
The Cold Eggplant was on the Specials board, so I thought I would give it a try. Topped with bonito flakes, this dish just didn’t do it for me. I’m not sure if the eggplant being cold tempered the already mild flavor.
The Lobster Hand Roll came with large chunks of lobster, but was mixed with too much mayo for my liking.
We finished the meal with Otoro which was rich and fatty, but also slightly sinewy which was the only disappointment of the meal.
Dessert consisted of Chestnut Crepes which were awesome. The slightly creamy and nuttiness of the chestnuts rolled into thin pancakes and finished with a crème anglaise. What more could you ask for?
The other dessert was a green tea “flan” topped with an azuki bean “caramel”. A Japanese twist on the dessert with Roman (yes) origins.
This was a great meal and one of the better sushi places in Orange County. For the quality and amount I thought the price was actually very reasonable. Order this same meal in Los Angeles and you would likely pay at least twice as much.