Sushi Noguchi has been hailed as having the best Sushi in Orange County. Even with this “accolade” it does not get much attention.
I figured with such high praise a visit was in order, but am usually wary when restaurants get such great press as many times this leads to disappointment.
Either it is overhyped, or they are living off of the attention and as a result quality tends to slip.
We made reservations to sit at the sushi bar and ordered omakase. The itamae, which was Noguchi, asked us if we had any particular likes or dislikes. We told him that we were open for anything. Unfortunately, he did not make anything we ordered, but told another itamae to make all the dishes. He only presented the finished dishes to us.
The meal started off with ankimo, or monkfish liver. The serving was very large, and was adorned with red onions, seaweed and some type of seafood gelee. The ankimo was smooth and creamy, but was way too big of a portion. Unless you love ankimo, I think most people would tire of this dish somewhat quickly.
Next up, came a platter of Alaskan King Crab, giant clam, ame-ebi, abalone with abalone liver, and firefly squid.
The Alaskan King Crab was cooked nicely and sweet. I could eat this all night, since its one of my favorites.
The giant clam was very firm, and almost had a crunchy texture. It was not off putting however.
The Ame-ebi or sweet shrimp was served raw. We had the option of either having the head in miso soup, or deep fried. We chose both.
The abalone was firm and meaty. It has a somewhat of a strong taste, but not unpleasant. The liver adds some funk and bitterness to the dish.
The firefly squid was not one of my favorites. It was kind of soft and mushy, but it is a delicacy in Japan.
Next was the shrimp head miso soup. The shrimp head/brains did not add much to the miso soup itself, so the deep fried option may be a better option.
Next came another platter. This one contained bonito, halibut, tuna, salmon and yellowtail.
The bonito was soft and chewy, and had a mild fishy after taste.
The halibut on the softer side as well with a very mild taste.
The tuna was very firm and meaty. The portion was rather large.
The salmon has a soft texture, with a mild fishy taste since it contains so much fat.
The yellowtail had a mild flavor and a softer texture.
Next up, was otoro which kind of sloppily put together. The rice was almost falling apart and the fish was not cut all that well.
Next was halibut fin which was lightly torched. It was very soft and chewy. The addition of chile helped to wake up the dish.
Amber jack was firm, but had a delicate texture at the same time.
Sardine was rather fishy, and slightly firm.
Last up was scallop topped with foie gras. The scallop was soft, which was mimicked by the foie gras. The scallop has a delicate flavor but it got lost with the strong taste of foie gras.
We ended the meal with a slice of crepe cake. This was the highlight of the meal sadly. Soft, eggy crepes were stacked a mile high, atop a chocolate drizzle.
Although the restaurant never got super busy, there was one sushi chef making most of the sushi including ours. It seems like he was overwhelmed, and the presentation and cut of the fish showed. Some things were just sloppily put together. Why would you put five pieces of sushi on a platter unless you were just half-assing it?
I don’t know who voted Sushi Noguchi as the best in Orange County, because it surely wasn’t evident based on this visit.