42. The 79 Special at Hapi Sushi

79_special_hapi_sushi.jpg
Photo by Cleo Tobbi
Hapi time

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!

Driving through Laguna Beach in the summer time, or anytime, is nothing short of a nightmare. There's basically one road, no parking, and it's microscopic. But their restaurants never cease to impress, and they redeem each trip through the city.

While you could throw a stone and hit a fantastic restaurant anywhere in Laguna Beach, the one you should hit is Hapi Sushi on Beach Street.

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Veering from a menu of 45 "different" plates that are basically California rolls topped with various fish, Hapi Sushi offers a bit more originality. Taking the spotlight for the number 42 for this year's 100 Favorites, I present Hapi Sushi's 79 Special.

Like much of the short menu, the 79 Special doesn't have some frilly name with the words "dynamite," "dragon," "sexy," or "sexy dragon" next to glossy pictures of elaborate sushi rolls. Simple yet jazzy, this roll is a little package of smart textures and flavors.

While uncooked sushi comes first in my heart, this roll of baked eel makes for the perfect bookend to any meal at Hapi. The sweetness from the teriyaki sauce drizzled over the warm rice, salty eel, buttery avocado, crunchy Panko crumbs and speck of Siracha, blends together in luscious harmony. But the real kicker? Strawberries.

Bursting with their delicate acidity and bright and tangy sweetness, the strawberries are pure candy in this dish and turn this lunch/dinner roll into a unique dessert.

God bless the Japanese for creating the word "umami" because few others can translate the ensemble of flavor in a roll like the 79 Special.

The List:

43. Chicken Nuggets at The North Left
44. Spicy Lemon Garlic Chicken at Chicken Maison
45. Surround Sound Burrito at the Secret Spot
46. Cheesecake Beignets At Scott's Restaurant
47. Spam and Egg Banh Mi From Tan Hoang Huong
48. Marianne's 10-2- Ice Cream At Ruby's Diner
49. Chile Relleno Pretzel Cheeseburger at OC Fair
50. Lunch at Big Thunder Ranch at Disneyland
51. Pescado A Lo Macho at Muelle Peruvian Cantina
52. Cemita de Milanesa at La Cemita Poblana
53. Meatballs and Polenta at 320 Main
54. Shellfish (Ốc) at Hien Vuong Da Kao
55. Basic Bol at Boldo Bol
56. Bang Bang Shrimp at Bonefish Grill
57. 10-Item Plate at Thuan Kieu Noodle & Grill
58. Leche Frita at Cafe Sevilla
59. Happy Hour Sushi at Ginzaya
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


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Location Info

Hapi Sushi of Laguna

250 Beach St., Laguna Beach, CA

Category: Restaurant

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