|Living in West Irvine, my choices for neighborhood sushi within a five minute drive are pretty much limited to Wasa in the Irvine MarketPlace and newcomer Ayame. When Wasa closed temporarily several weeks back, that put a severe cramp in my fresh fish diet, but, I'm happy to report that Wasa Sushi is again open!|
Their website described their hiatus as a remodeling, and indeed, they did remodel during their down time. They were always modern themed, and have undergone an update that keeps them fresh. If anything, the mood seems darker, with darker shaded wood panelings on the walls, and darker paint colors. The wait area has been improved, with more seating near the hostess' podium. The really tall bamboo wall is still there, along with the gray smooth rocks that my son likes to grab while waiting for a table.
Also still there is the friendly Hispanic staffer who clears tables, seemingly handling the entire restaurant by himself efficiently, and still having time to high-five all the kids who come in. Less efficient is the chronic shortage of waiters and waitresses, who have difficulty keeping up, leading to longish waits for orders, and table service a little more infrequent than is my preference. I'd love it if they hired another one or two waitstaff, and I'm guessing those who are working now wouldn't much mind it either.
Food-wise, the tempura ice cream is as good as ever, as are the Wasa Treasures. Unfortunately, they seem to have cut my favorite (and my son's favorite)- the salmon with terakobu seaweed topped with caviar. I do like their new'ish rock shrimp tempura, kind of a mini walnut shrimp (the Chinese dish with fresh shrimps fried in mayonnaise, yum!) with a kick of sriracha. My wife has been eating the beef negimayaki almost every time we go in these days as well. It's several rolls of thinly sliced beef wrapped around green onions and asparagus, atop a plate of steamed vegetables with teryaki sauce.
I'm less pleased with the sushi than the cooked dishes and desserts there these days. I'm finicky, I admit it, but after eating uni at Sushi Wasabi and Makizushi in Tustin, it's tough to eat uni at Wasa. I don't eat the toro at all anymore. I think I'm happiest with the hamachi, hirame, bluefin tuna, and other fairly standard sushi selections outside the Treasures. I'm thinking maybe the clientele makes it harder to stray from the more popular selections and stay fresh.