Monday, July 28, 2008

Hamamori, South Coast Plaza 4 Courses, 40 Dollars Event

Thanks to my buddy Sharon, who let me know that South Coast Plaza is having a 4 courses for $40 (per person) event (*) from now [well, last Friday actually] through Sunday (click on the event title in the bottom right hand corner to see menus) at the following restaurants:

  • Marché Moderne
  • Antonello Ristorante
  • Pinot Provence
  • Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's
  • Quattro Caffé
  • Hamamori Restaurant-Lounge
  • Royal Khyber Fine Indian Cuisine
  • Scott's Seafood Grill & Bar
  • SAVANNAH Supper Club & Lounge
We ate at Hamamori, which has been occasionally criticized as overly expensive. This, however, was refreshingly not (at least in my opinion). The four courses were a Kobe carpaccio, an appetizer trio, a selection of sushi, and then a black cod.

The carpaccio was very lightly flavored, so the taste of the meat was very apparent. It's a little different from the ones I'm used to, which tend to be drizzled in an oil, like sesame oil. The presentation was pretty typical, with thin slices arranged in a circular overlapping pattern on a round plate (much like those plates of raw shabu shabu meat you get in the supermarket, except with a salad in the middle instead of a strange yellow plastic flower). Taste was, well, let's go with different. Sometimes different is good, and I was okay with a more meaty version of the dish.

The appetizer trio was a couple pieces of wrapped asparagus, a breaded and fried meatball made with kobe beef, allegedly, but was basically ground and then fried, so it was hard to tell, and a little Japanese eggroll with crab. The meatball was ehh, the asparagus had a fresh crunch to it that was light and good, and the eggroll with crab was nicely done. However, the dish itself was a bit heavily weighted to the fried side, so I'd recommend making sure you have something like an iced tea to counteract.

The sushi set was a small platter with single pieces of basically new versions of Wasa Treasures. We had a tuna, an albacore, a scallop which was drizzled with sea salt and yuzu, and a salmon. A couple slices of shrimp-infused egg provided the garnish. The sauces are much like you'd expect from Wasa, except that they don't have these particular combinations there, and the fish itself was a bit fresher. Basically Hamamori is kind of what you'd expect from a "Wasa Plus". The decor's a bit nicer, the food's a bit fresher, and the service is superior by far.

The cooked fish, however, was the star of the four courses. This was cooked just right, so it was barely done, soft and juicy, but not at all translucent in the middle. I wish I knew how to do this, but I do know it's not easy to get both the heat and the timing just so, so the whole fish cooks this way. The sauce was a nice accompaniment, but I found myself using as little of it as possible, so well was the fish itself prepared. It needed no disguise. Much like sushi- it's hard to improve on the natural taste of a well-selected and fresh fish. I contend in some ways that cooking fish is harder than making sushi, because the act of cooking fish at all confers a disadvantage over sushi that has to be overcome by effort and skill. They just about did that here.

Dessert was not included in Hamamori's set, although they seem to be in most others. We chose to share a granité, flavored with melon. It would've made a nice amuse, but as a standalone, it was almost too much iciness. The Hamamoritini though was nicely executed, clean tasting, and warming to the stomach. A nice accompaniment to sushi.

*Does not include beverages, tax or gratuity. Not valid with other offers, promotions or private dining groups. Dine-in and dinner only, please.

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Comments on "Hamamori, South Coast Plaza 4 Courses, 40 Dollars Event"

Blogger joy said ... (July 29, 2008 at 7:26 PM) : 

What a great deal! Thanks for the heads-up. Too bad it's too late for me, I'm about to leave town... I just tried Marche Moderne for the first time recently, and wouldn't mind going back there for a special deal. Were the four courses at Hamamori set, or could you choose from limited options? I haven't been to Hamamori and from your detailed description of the dishes, I can see I had the wrong idea. I didn't realize there would be so many non-sushi choices, hm... That increases the number of my friends who might like to go.

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