Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sushi Murasaki - 04/29/2008

2901 W MacArthur Blvd Ste 108
Santa Ana, CA 92704
(714) 241-1000

I came to Sushi Murasaki on something of a whim. One of my coworkers wants to learn to eat sushi. I had taken her to one of my old standby sushi restaurants and she seemed to enjoy it. I consider myself something of a sushi snob but she wasn't willing to spend what would be required at the top restaurants plus she wanted to stay in Orange County which really limited our options.

From what I saw, Murasaki offered solid quality at a reasonable price. The reviews seemed pretty favorable so I thought I'd give it a shot. My friends dined a la carte but I had to go for the omakase, naturally.

01 Baby Squid
An interesting first course, the squid had a nice snap to it that I found quite enjoyable. The sauce was tangy and creamy, although a bit strong. A fairly promising start to the meal.

02 Sashimi - Halibut, Scallops with Rock Salt, Octopus with Yuzu Kocho, and Bluefin Tuna
A fairly strong sashimi selection. The octopus was excellent, the texture was firm but slicker than cooked octopus and the yuzu kocho added a little heat. The scallops were solid but not exceptional in any way. I was pleasantly surprised by the bluefin, finding it very soft with a bit more oiliness than I expected. The halibut had an oddly soft texture and was the weakest of the four; sadly it was also the most plentiful.

03 Oyster and Uni
This was probably the worst course of the night. The oyster had a slightly rank odor to it and the uni lacked any of the characteristic sweetness suggesting that they were both less than fresh. The shellfish was totally overcooked with the oyster having a chewy texture while the uni had a hard crumbly feel to it. In addition there was a small pearlescent object hidden in the oyster, maybe it was a piece of the oyster shell or maybe an immature pearl either way it just added insult to injury.

04 Fried Clam
I can't remember exactly what type of clam this was, probably because it wasn't worth remembering. The texture was overly soft and the only thing I could taste was the fried batter and oil, there was absolutely no sweetness to the clams.

05 Steamed Whitefish
The look of this dish reminds me of something from a multi-course Chinese dinner. The steamed fish was the third in a string of fairly disappointing dishes. The meat was overcooked, becoming dull and heavy not at all pleasing. The sauce was some sort of seaweed, soy combination that imparted an unpleasant bitterness to the course.

06 Sushi
Like the rest of the meal the quality of the sushi varied from piece to piece. The toro was quite good not super fatty and tender but still very soft and free of any gristle. The crab and gizzard shad were also quite good. The ika and both types of white fish were solid. But the uni-maki was a disappointment. The uni had a runny texture and had a taste that suggested it wasn't very fresh.

07 Dessert
The dessert was soy milk pudding with berries. Nothing really to speak of here, the texture of the pudding was a bit dense. The pudding itself was slightly sweet and went pretty well with the berries.

I really don't know what to make of Sushi Murasaki, some courses were very good and some almost inedible. I noticed my friends ordered mostly basic items, tuna, salmon and the like and enjoyed their meals immensely. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say the chef has some skill in picking and serving fish. The problem is they probably don't move some of their more "exotic" items which ended up hurting their quality

Ultimately Murasaki is a mediocre restaurant. Stick with the basics and you should be fine.

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