Before there was an Izakaya Wasa at the Spectrum, before the glamour of Hamamori strutted up to South Coast Plaza's Crystal Court, chef James Hamamori began with a humble neighborhood sushi bar in Irvine called WaSa Sushi. Though the chef is rarely seen there these days, his original restaurant is still one of the most beloved and reliably popular sushi bars in the city. Friday nights are routinely rowdy, with his trio of trusted sushi chefs loudly toasting, hoisting glasses of beer, having a good time with regulars, and continuing Hamamori's recipes and techniques, including his perfectly balanced "Treasures," which were conceived and honed right here. And to this day, the WaSa loyal come to pop in to grab a few bites of Hamamori's signature nigiri embellished with wasabi cream, crispy onion, microplaned jalapeño and other finishing flourishes that warrant the somewhat-presumptuous title. New items are still being introduced: The shitake frites, thin-sliced and deep-fried Japanese mushrooms served with a floret of sour cream and a wedge of citrus, is sure to become a new classic. And the "pizza," sticky-crispy rice platforms that carry spicy tuna smoothed to the consistency of jam, is so naturally good it seems like it has been part of the menu forever. Forget the obligatory and pedestrian bento offerings that entrap too many, with leaden tempura and a standard shredded-cabbage salad drenched with a flood of dressing—try something new and uniquely James Hamamori at prices that are a fraction of what his eponymous South Coast Plaza restaurant charges.