Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sagami- Irvine, CA

Sagami- Irvine, CA: Exterior

Sagami is "beloved among actual Japanese people" and is "quite possibly the only place in Orange County" that serves hitsumabushi, said Edwin Goei of Monster Munching. It didn't take much after that for me to add Sagami, a 24 year old Japanese restaurant located in the Crossroads Shopping Center in Irvine, CA, to my Orange County restaurants to visit list.

Sagami- Irvine, CA: Interior

Thoughts to try the hitsumabushi that Goei raved about in his review, however, were slightly complicated after we were seated in the cozy interior. For, a weekend lunch special page presented an additional appealing option: uni and ikura bowl. Furthermore, additional dishes to try out were posted on menu boards as seen in the above photo.

Sagami- Irvine, CA: Green Tea

Luckily, after some thought, we ordered both of those appealing dishes, and some more. In the meantime, we enjoyed the complimentary hot green tea, whose flavor was especially apparent thanks to the use of reverse osmosis water.



Sagami- Irvine, CA: Zaru Soba and Inari Lunch Set

A variety of lunch sets, such as the soba lunch set (9.95 USD), are perfect for those who want a simple lunch. For one companion, the soba lunch set with zaru soba and inari definitely fit that criteria.

Sagami- Irvine, CA: Tororo Udon (Hot) and Uni & Ikura Bowl Weekend Lunch Set

The weekend lunch specials, on the other hand, really bring you into the weekend mode. One gets to pick from tororo (grated nagaimo/ mountain yam) or tempura udon or soba noodles, and choose among battera (pressed makeral sushi), 5 pieces of nigiri, and the uni and ikura bowl.

Sagami- Irvine, CA: Tororo Udon (Hot)
Sagami- Irvine, CA: Tororo Soba (Hot)
Sagami- Irvine, CA: Uni & Ikura Bowl

While both the tororo udon and soba were both strong renditions and were especially smooth with the added tororo, the uni and ikura bowl was definitely the star. The coupling of exceptionally sweet uni, and savory, smooth ikura was simply fantastic. This high quality simply exudes how "owners Kenji and Reiko Inoue make a daily trek to Los Angeles to hand select the freshest fish for the day," according to an Irvine Company press release. What we only wanted more of was of course, more uni and ikura!

Sagami- Irvine, CA: Hitsumabushi Sagami- Irvine, CA: Hitsumabushi

The hitsumabushi (18.95 USD), was likewise another star player, and just as special. Composed of grilled eel and rice, dashi stock, and side condiments of green onion and wasabi, the grilled eel and rice should be eaten in three ways in the separate bowl provided: first as is with some sancho pepper, second with the wasabi and green onions, and third with all the condiments and dashi stock.

This process makes for a fun experience, for first, one experiences the lightly crackly, grilled exterior and soft, fleshy interior of the eel, sweet eel sauce, and fluffy short grain steamed rice. Then, this flavor builds with the wasabi and green onion, brightening one's palate. And lastly, with the freshly made dashi stock, the dish proves to be soothing and lightening, with the stock cleansing the palate. Wonderful, and worth the expensive price tag!

Sagami's meticulous attention to detail, friendly service, and high quality ingredients (and water) makes it a great restaurant. I'm looking forward to my next visit, and trying some of the seasonal specials on offer!

3850 Barranca Parkway Suite B
Irvine, CA 92606
Tel: (949) 857-8030

Sagami on Urbanspoon

2 comments:

elmomonster said...

Oooh! Thanks for the heads up that you visited this place! And what a great post! I like how you described the three stages of enjoying hitsumabushi!

EatTravelEat said...

Elmomonster,

Thanks so much! I can't wait to go back, and now my Irvine friend has a place to frequent thanks to your recommendation.