59. Happy Hour Sushi at Ginzaya
Behold our annual 100 Favorite Dishes countdown! Every day until the publication of our fantabulous Best Of Issue, we'll list our favorite meals this year in descending order. Enjoy, pass it on, and tune in daily!
Not too many sushi bars offer Happy Hour specials. Those that do emphasize the bar part more than the sushi part. Ginzaya, though, is different. It's a real sushi bar. Even better: the Happy Hour discount on the nigiri is substantial. They take 30% off the price before 7 p.m., which is significant for this kind of nigiri. These are serious cuts of fish that are sliced generously with proper technique. It's the kind of sushi whose weight, texture and silkiness feel exactly right in your mouth.
The squid chews like a forever-gum-drop; the salmon is satin smooth and full-flavored; and the amaebi comes with the heads and spindly legs deep fried and all delicious.
For people whose definition of sushi includes Philly cheese, the rolls are also specially priced during the Happy Hour. There's a salmon skin roll that is as good as Shibucho's and a sugary-sweet eel roll with avocado that slides down your throat as though it was covered in lubricant.
And there's also the fact that Ginzaya Sushi's servers are warm and actually seem to care. They manage to dote on everyone despite the packed houses on Friday and Saturday nights. Water jugs are refilled usually without asking. Complimentary appetizer dishes of kimchi are replenished with more on the second go-round, and even a third time if you want it.
If that last part about the kimchi seemed odd to you--yes, the place is owned and operated by Koreans. Specialties are scribbled in Hangul and there's more than one Korean dish on offer. But when when the sushi is discounted and this good, who cares that the customary gretting here is not "Irasshaimase!" but rather "Hwan-yŏng-ham-ni-da!"
4790 Irvine Blvd. Ste 103, Irvine, CA 92620, (714) 505-0008; ginzayarestaurant.com
60. Red Beans and Rice at Disneyland's French Market 61. Consommé from Tacos y Birria El Güero 62. Fried Chicken Biscuit Sandwich at Little Sparrow 63. Breakfast Taco at Sapphire Laguna 64. Husky Burger at Husky Boy Burgers 65. Love Bagel from Koffee Klatch 66. Kouign Amann From The Crema Cafe & Bakery 67. Chili Lime Popcorn From Green Tomato Grill 68. PB & J At Hopscotch 69. Takuwan Sushi from AnQi by Crustacean 70. Ube Ensaymadas from The Ensaymada Project 71. Pork Bánh Mì at the OC Poultry and Rotisserie Market 72. Tacos Gobernador from Mariscos Los Corales 73. Dutch Baby at the Original Pancake House 74. Doughnuts from Sidecar 75. Lengua Tacos at La Chonita 76. Oysters from Carlsbad Aquafarm at the Orange Homegrown Farmers Market 77. Lemon Miso Crab Melt at Umami Burger in Laguna Beach 78. Pani Puri from Adya 79. The Pocket at the Pocket Burger 80. Gyro Sandwich from Paul's Place 81. Slice of Heaven at Pie-Not 82. Taquitos at El Toro Bravo 83. Peanut Butter and Jelly Donut at the Donuttery 84. Dan Dan Mian at Wei-Shian Noodle 85. Beef Burger at Rider's Club Café 86. Smoked Trout at Provenance 87. Small Plates at A&J Restaurant 88. Corn Cheese at Zoomak Asian Bistro 89. Pumpkin Curry at Bhan Baitong 90. Poke at Costco Tustin II 91. Pambazo at Tacos Radioactivos 92. Beef Pho at Pho Crystal Noodle House 93. Breakfast Burrito from Cafe Calacas 94. Koobideh Plate from Grill Cafe 95. Tacos de Cecina from Alebrije's 96. Jajangmyeong from Ching Chinese Express 97. Breakfast Sausage from Da-Le Ranch 98. Any Special Dinner by Old Vine Cafe's Mark McDonald 99. Tres Amigos Burrito from Piaggio on Wheels 100. Bacon-Wrapped Dates from Lola Gaspar
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Orange County dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.