3915 Portola Parkway
Irvine, CA 92602
Critics' Pick


  • Open Sun.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. & 5-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. & 5-10:30 p.m.
  • $$
  • Catering, Delivery, Takeout
  • Dinner, Lunch
  • Beer/Wine
  • Reservations Accepted
Jinbei is a Japanese restaurant in Irvine. As good as the bentos are, and as tempting as the imported Japanese cuts of sashimi and nigiri look, Jinbei’s scattershot menu is best explored by trying the items you’ll need the waitress to translate. There are actually three menus, but the legal-sized scroll titled “JINBEI’s Daily Recommendation” has all the interesting stuff. Here you’ll find tiny, raw, slimy, crunchy, gelatinous octopus chopped to worm-sized pieces and slicked with a bracing wasabi marinade. Here you’ll ask what a “koika to pumpkin no taitan” is and find out it’s a simple braised dish of sublimely tender squid with boiled kabocha squash. But even the things that need no translation are great. There re ruddy deep-fried chicken wings singing of their sake marinade; delicately fried pumpkin croquettes; and a towering salmon skin salad that, when torched on order, fills the restaurant with a barbecued-fish aroma.

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