There are so many sushi masters in Orange County these days. But for a while, there were really just two venerable artisans whose names were on a short list of the best: Shibutani-san of Sushi Shibucho in Costa Mesa and Katsu-san of Sushi Wasabi in Tustin.
They were part of the old guard, known as much for their sublime omakase as the fact that they refused to make California rolls. On the latter, Katsu-san even put it in writing. On a framed sign above his sushi bar were these words.
We follow the art of traditional sushi practice. Sushi bar is limited to the fresh catch of the day - continually served. No need to place an order. We offer sushi and hand rolls of Japanese tradition. (No California rolls. If self selection is preferred, please be seated at a table.)
SUSHI BAR IS "OMAKASE" STYLE. TRUST ME.
- Sushi Wasabi: Best Sushi Orange County 2013
- Sushi Wasabi: Snowflakes From The Sea
- Sushi Shibucho: A Review In Haiku
Shibutani-san retired a few years ago, ceding his restaurant to his capable son, Naga. Now just as Letterman is following Leno by calling it quits, so is Katsu Aoyagi of Sushi Wasabi.
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Julian Hsu, one of my oldest readers and Facebook friends, just informed me that Aoyagi has sold Sushi Wasabi to "the student of one of his friends" and retired.
After eating there yesterday, he added that "The sushi was much the same, as Katsu-san had the restaurant closed for the last two weeks training."
Though Julian says that the new guy seems like he's still getting used to things after only two days of being open, he remarked that he "shows a real commitment and preference for Edo-style sushi, and we don't have enough of these places as it is."