Sushi Wasabi in Tustin Sold to New Owner As Sushi Master Retires

Edwin Goei
Katsu Aoyagi in 2008.
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.)


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Izakaya Ku in Fountain Valley Closes

Edwin Goei
Ku Closed.
Izakaya Ku, the winner of our award for Best Japanese Restaurant last year (and topped more lists than I care to count), has closed. There was a note taped to the door that simply said "IZAKAYA KU RESTAURANT is CLOSED. We thank you for your patronage"

It opened in May of 2012 and replaced Funashin, the Japanese restaurant that previously occupied the space since 1989. It even kept some of the dishes from the old place, including sentimental favorites like chicken teriyaki. But it strived for something more.

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Pier 76 Fish Grill Moves; Still Great!

Christina Bryson
Fresh seafood from Pier 76
Pier 76 Fish Grill, Chris Krajacic's wonderful seafood fast-casual that I reviewed last September and then listed as one of Long Beach's 10 Essential Restaurants (not to mention the winner of Best Mussels on our Best Of Issue), has moved out of the ground floor of the historic Cooper Arms building on Ocean Boulevard and into a new spot a few blocks away on Pine and 1st.

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Crispa Crepes Closes In Irvine After Less Than One Year

Edwin Goei
Lights out for Crispa.
You might remember that about a year ago I wrote a post about Crispa Crepes opening, taking over the space of a froyo shop in an Albertson's-anchored shopping center in north Irvine. Or perhaps you didn't much notice the post. Or the restaurant itself. The business folded (pun not intended) a few weeks ago after less than one year in business, just long enough for The Irvine Company's retail website to take them off the "New Stores" list.

The windows are now blacked out, with a FOR LEASE sign on it, ready for the next business to try its luck.

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Koko's Cafe in Irvine Closes

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Edwin Goei
Koko's pork chop
For a while there, Irvine had two Hong Kong-style cafes. First Koko's Cafe came in, opening back in 2011 to serve Asian interpretations of Western diner food. Then came, Tasty Garden. The latter seemed to suck all the oxygen out of the Hong Kong-style cafe space. And Koko's was barely breathing as it is.

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Pascal Olhats Moving Pascal Epicerie; Stages Newport Beach Comeback

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Photo by LP Hastings
Pascal Olhats
Pascal Olhats' restaurant empire has slowly receded over the years with Traditions, then Pascal at Hutton Centre, and Brasserie Pascal closing. This weekend, his Pascal Epicerie also closed. But it's actually moving San Juan Capistrano. But more importantly, Olhats has announced that he is eyeing locations in Newport Beach for all new restaurants.

Here's the bulletin Olhats sent out to his loyal customers.

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Chakra Closes In Irvine's University Center

Photo by our anonymous tipster
Our anonymous tipster has made us aware that yet another restaurant has closed at University Center in Irvine, across from UCI. Chakra, the upscale Indian restaurant, has shuttered.

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Tasti D-Lite Closes in Tustin

Tasti D-Lite in Tustin--the first California franchise location of the East Coast low-calorie frozen dessert chain--has closed.

It opened in late 2011 and was supposed to be the first of many more West Coast stores. As Anne Marie wrote in her post about the opening, the chain was featured in The Apprentice, Sex and the City, even 30 Rock, where Liz Lemon not-so-subtly endorsed it while calling attention to the obvious attempt at product placement even though it wasn't one (Tina Fey is reportedly a fan).

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Traditions in Tustin Closes; India Kitchen to Take Over

Edwin Goei
I reviewed Traditions when it first opened five years ago, taking over the sad building that used to house Roderick's. The year after, Traditions won for Best Indian Restaurant in our 2010 Best of Issue. It made more Top 10 lists and 100 Favorites since then.

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Break of Dawn to Close in Laguna Hills Feb. 28, Re-Open in Laguna Hills

Kimberly Valenzuela / OC Weekly
Anyone who's been to Break of Dawn lately has seen the sign in the window that says they'll be moving across the plaza into new digs in 2014. The building they're in is going to be renovated, and after much discussion, chef-owner Dee Nguyen secured a lease with an upgrade in space. There wasn't a date on the sign, though, because Nguyen wanted to stay in one place until the building needed to be closed.

He announced today that the last day at the old location will be Friday, February 28. There's been no word as to when the buildout of the new location will be complete, so south Orange County will need to head over to BoD now for their fill of Portuguese sausage, smoked salmon and tempura poached eggs. Stay tuned to Stick A Fork In It for details on the renaissance.

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