No. 59, Live Amaebi at Sushi Imari

If you fancy yourself a sushi purist, you, too, might have dismissed Sushi Imari as a roll-peddler, an entity that would initially appear so diametrically opposed to the respected raw fish masters at Sushi Shibucho and Sushi Wasabi that it becomes like comparing a graffiti artist to Michelangelo and Botticelli. And for the most part you'd be right: it is a roll peddler. The menu features rolls with groan-inducing names including but not limited to the "Marilyn Monroll" and "Me Soy Horny." But to judge Sushi Imari by only this is to be misinformed. 


Order from the specials board instead. This was where I found the live amaebi, a typical offering that I didn't expect much from. I've been eating a lot of live amaebi lately, some better than others, but Sushi Imari's special was immaculate. I was floored how good it was. The flesh was predictably crunchy and sweet, dispatched just seconds before it's laid on top of the ball of rice, then brushed with just a touch of ponzu and dolloped with a tiny clump of capelin roe; but the way they do the heads was a different beast entirely. 

The antennae extended past the boundaries of the plate, arching towards the stratosphere, and were gilded in a thin shimmer of tempura batter that hung off like dew drops. The care taken in cooking the head was remarkable--every millimeter of the carapace was rendered crisp into a sea chip, the best fry job of its kind. It's greaseless and perfect, with just the right amount of salty. You eat the whole thing, from the wee beady eyes, to the spiky appendages, your mouth crunching all the way.

The list so far:

60. Any Burrito from Dos Chinos
61. Olive Tree's Iftar
62. Sonoran Dog at Rubalcava's
63. Sizzling Hiramasa Sashimi at The Catch
64. Yakisoba Dog from Dogzilla
65. Crispy Pork Belly from Lucca Cafe
66. French Toast with Bacon at Flurries Shaved Snow Bar
67. The Venetian Roll at Sushi at The Venetian Gentleman's Club
68. Okaki Asparagus at Hamamori
69. The "Fried Egg" at Eat Chow
70. Nam Kao Tod at Vientiane Restaurant
71. Chicken Ramen at Jinya Ramen Bar
72. Pig Snout at Tacos & Carnitas Sahuayo
73. Kale and Mushroom Flatbread at 320 Main
74. Congee at King Lobster Palace
75. Fish and Chips at Slapfish
76. Fries at Playground

77. Carne en Su Jugo at La Cocina de Mi Abuelita
78. S'mores at Ti Amo Biscotti & More
79. Broken Rice at Dat Thanh
80. Bulgogi and Potato Pizza at Chicken & Pizza Love Letter
81. Braised Bacon at Break of Dawn
82. Cake Donut at Cream Pan
83. Bistec de Pollo at Mercado El Rey
84. The Rhino at Rancho a Go Go
85. Cabernet Brownies at Blackmarket Bakery
86. Cookie Monster at Lola Ice Cream and Deli
87. Polenta Board at CUCINA Enoteca
88. Falafel Taco at Taco Asylum
89. Wagon-Wheel Bread at THE RANCH Restaurant
90. Toothpick Tacos at Mexico Supermarket
91. Hoppin' John at Memphis at the Santora
92. Free Beans and Chips at Taqueria Zamora
93. Pig in a Blanket Waffle with Gringo Bandito at Cafe Calacas
94. "Pork Hash" at Huong Giang
95. Sweet Chili Chicken Quesadilla At Kogi
96. Licuados at Mil Jugos
97. Hawaiian Ahi Poke at California Fish Grill
98. Takoyaki at Takoyaki Tanota
99. Fiesta Noodles at Jollibee
100. Chilaquiles Verdes Con Huevos Estrellados at La Tablita California

Click here to view our 100 Favorite Dishes of 2010!
Click here to view our 100 Favorite Dishes of 2011!

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Location Info

Sushi Imari

375 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, CA

Category: Restaurant


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2 comments
Blue.Osmium
Blue.Osmium

FYI, it looks like a lot of the links to past articles are broken. For example, the link for #88 takes you to #86. The problem seems to exist on a lot of the past pages as well.

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