Sushi Sankai, the closest Japanese restaurant to South Coast Plaza that isn't Hamamori, is a workaday lunch joint. Plied ad nauseam are bento boxes featuring boring pieces of teriyaki chicken. For more years than we can remember, the sushi bar produces what must be described as passable sashimi and nigiri. Even as the room got updated with modern green tea hues and white furniture, the sushi remained the same. Where the place excels is at dinner. This is when the tuna tataki--sliced and slightly seared ahi, asparagus and mushrooms arranged in a pinwheel surrounding a puddle of special mayo--redeems the place. Their baked scallops are a wondrous union of Japanese flavors and mom's casserole, and they have this dish called yudofu, where you're given a sterno-fueled pot of tofu simmering in hot water and an array of condiments such as grated ginger and green onions with which to flavor the soup. Yudofu is to prepared-tofu soups as YouTube is to TV.
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