369 E 17th St, Ste 17
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
I'd rate trying to score a last minute brunch reservation on Mother's Day an endeavor only slightly easier than finding water on Mars. So whats a slacker to do? In my case, I thought something unconventional like sushi might be more feasible. Even this proved to be a bit harder than I expected since most sushi restaurants only offer lunch on weekdays. I was originally planning a trip to Sushi Go 55 when my friend told me about this new restaurant, Shunka, that opened three months ago in Costa Mesa. There were two chefs at Shunka; the owner Yuki who previously worked at Matsu in Huntington Beach and our itamae for the day, an older gentleman named Shin.
Sashimi - Toro, Kampachi, Ankimo
Right out the of the gate the meal got off to a good start. The amberjack exhibited a luscious jellied snap and a note of clean fish oils. The toro was immensely soft and porous almost like chewing on a fish marshmallow saturated with rich fatty goodness. The ankimo was the weakest of the three, conveying only a faint offaly tinge and with a dense meaty texture rather than the creamier mouthfeel that I was hoping for.
Shima Aji - Striped Mackerel
Shima Aji has always been one of my favorite fishes and though this piece was enjoyable it lacked the ethereal slickness and the multifaceted flavor profiles that enchanted me previously.
Aji - Spanish Mackerel
The Aji was much more impressive, with classic mackerel flavor and a lithe supple texture. The fish came with classic accompaniments of marinated daikon and scallion which added a lively freshness and hint of spice. The rice had the right touch of warmth and density as well as a sweet aftertaste that
Hotate - Scallop
Here we have a fairly classic scallop presented with salt and yuzu kocho. The former helps to balance the sweetness of the shellfish while the latter adds a lively piquant bite.
Aji no Hone Senbei - Deep-fried Aji Bones
I've only had deep fried mackerel bones on a couple of other occasions and it's always a treat. The bones have a crisp chip-like texture and robust savor. This preparation came covered in lemon which gave the morsels a nice tang and seemed to draw out an undercurrent of mackerel essence from the bones.
Saba - Japanese Mackerel
Saba tends to be one of the oilier mackerel varieties, but Shin counters that by topping the fish with a piece of marinated kombu. The overt sweetness of the seaweed balances the fish on the attack while the sweetness of the rice takes over on the finish.
Hamachi Toro - Yellowtail Belly
The white bands of marbling on the belly stands out in stark contrast to the pink flesh. Unsurprisingly the texture is tender to the point of being gelatinous while a heady oiliness seemed to emanate from the flesh with each bite.
Uni - Sea Urchin
At this point Shin asked if there was anything else we wanted. Naturally I requested an order of sea urchin as well whatever else Shin saw fit to serve. The uni had a bracing creamy texture but was a touch on the salty side, though the sweetness of the rice was an effective substitute.
Tako - Octopus
The octopus proved to be one of the strongest piece of sushi. The texture is dense and delightfully toothsome while the matcha salt provides a unique subtly bitter salinity.
Kurodai - Black Snapper
I've always enjoyed Kurodai, the fish has the mild flavor of a sea breem but a texture and richness that suggest a much higher fat content than the more common tai.
Maguro - Bluefin
It felt kind of strange to finish with the bluefin but the fish itself was faultless; completely tendon free with mild flavor and a delicate fragrance of the ocean.
Awabi - Abalone
Shin's last offering was a whole abalone. The meat was cut into thin slices of sweet snappy sashimi while the liver was served in vinegar soy mixture that tempered the organ's bitterness leaving it with a trace of foie like richness.
Overall I'd rate the place a touch behind Ohshima and Nana-san in terms of overall quality. The fish was very good across the board, though the selection was a bit limited. Likewise the rice was solid with perfect density though its strong sweetness tended to overwhelm the fish on the finish. All in all, a strong addition to the sushi scene in Orange County and one well worth trying.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
369 E 17th St, Ste 17