Ikko

After a very long and exhausting morning/afternoon of smiling, posing, chit chatting, and sweltering in the heat, Dumpling Man, some friends, and I headed out for some fun and entertainment at the center of all that is hip, cool, and Asian in the OC…Diamond Jamboree!  For those of you unfamiliar with Irvine, you should know that there are quite a few Asians that live there and around the area.  Combined with all the young Asians from UCI, well you have quite a large population of Asian-Americans that need to be entertained and fed in a way that only a new and modern plaza packed with shops and restaurants skewed toward satisfying the Asian “flava” can fulfill.  Dumpling Man is the target consumer for a place like Diamond Jamboree.  He loves Asian things, he loves new things, he loves clean things.  Diamond Jamboree is all these things.

Wow, I’ve totally digressed, because we didn’t even eat at Diamond Jamboree!  We just sang and boozed it up at the karaoke lounge there, which is pretty nice I might add.  Afterward, it was just Dumpling Man, Quack Man T, The Mom, The Germanphobian (aka CMac Attack), and I who were left standing to chug down all the beer Turtle TWu had over-ordered for us before he had to hike it back to LA.  Let’s just say that all the champagne from earlier in the day did not sit well with all the beer Dumpling Man and Quack Man T ended up drinking.

None of us were that hungry, but we somehow ended up at Ikko for dinner, which is not really a place you go after a day of drinking.   I would consider Ikko to be one of the best restaurants in the OC for sushi and modern Japanese fare and the price point certainly speaks to that.  The Germaphobian ditched us for cooler friends, so the four of us were left to peruse the menu, but we couldn’t decide and opted for the 6 course + dessert $80 omakase.

Shrimp & Crab Ceviche yuzu tomato sorbet, white fish

The dinner started off strong with this AMAZING trio of flavors.  The ceviche was bright from the fresh seafood and tangy from the very interesting yuzu tomato sorbet.  It was lovely.  The white fish was salty with also some citrus hints and served cold.  The fried greens gave some textural contrast.  My words are falling short on how kickin’ I thought this dish was.

Sashimi amberjack, sea bass, whelk clam

This was another WOWSER.  First of all, the pieces of fish were huge and soo fresh.  The meat was sweet with that fresh ocean flavor.   My favorite was the whelk clam which had that firm chewy/crunchy texture you expect from giant clam.  It was sweet and salty.  I loved it.  The sea bass and amberjack were equally impressive.

Seared Tuna Salad sesame soy dressing

Although the presentation was very pretty with the lattice of delicately fried noodles, the salad was definitely not as impressive as the previous 2 courses.  The dressing lacked some luster and the tuna wasn’t all that special.

Chawanmushi crab and mochi

Now this was something to write home about.  First off, it was damn piping hot, like burn a hole through your tongue kind of hot, which was unpleasant to say the least.  But after getting past the insane temperature, it was a delicious potage of silky smooth eggy tofu highlighted by delightful chunks of crabmeat.  The mochi was hard to find, but ended up being a small mushpile at the bottom.  I don’t think it added much since it was so overcooked and became very sticky.  It was fun trying to uncover it.

Oven Grilled Miso Cod gorgonzola cheese custard

The cod was moist and fatty.  The miso flavoring was just right.  Sorry I didn’t take a picture of the actual custard underneath that fried wonton chip but it wasn’t too overpowering, which is what you might expect from gorgonzola cheese.  It still had that characteristic stinky sharpness, but it was still pretty delicious.

Sushi kobe beef, black seabreem, king mackerel, halibut, toro

It was at this point that Dumpling Man bowed out.  He had been struggling to stay awake during the entire dinner.  The omakase was seriously a waste on this drunken man.  He went to the car to take a nap while Quack Man T just sat there watching The Mom and I struggle to finish 4 plates of sushi by ourselves!

The kobe beef was probably my favorite.  It had a wonderful smokiness from the charred fat marbled throughout the delicate slice.  The light sprinkling of sea salt and crispy garlic really enhanced the flavor giving it a delicious savoriness.  Two thumbs up here!

The black sea bream was very subtle and light in taste.  It too had a light sprinkling of sea salt.

The king mackarel was delicious.  It was perfectly fresh and enhanced by a bit of sea salt and grated ginger.

The halibut was fresh, clean and topped with a bit of yuzu pepper.

The toro was actually disappointing.  It was lightly marinated in soy sauce but it still had a fishiness to it.  It was my least favorite of the sushi sampling.

After Quack Man T’s half-ass attempt at enjoying the sushi course with us, he too bowed out to take a nap in the car.  Who knows what The Ambiguously Gay Duo was doing in the car.  The Mom and I were obligated to order 4 desserts as part of our omakase.  Fortunately by the time dessert rolled around, Quack Man T returned, refreshed and rejuvenated from his power nap to help conquer dessert with us.

Cinnamon Baked Apple with Vanilla Ice Cream

I usually never get desserts at sushi restaurants or Japanese restaurants in general.  I’m usually never impressed, and frankly, I’d rather go get a milk tea at Tea Station any night, haha.  Anyways, the desserts were pretty much as described.  Here, the apple wasn’t too sweet or tart and the ice cream added some creamy sweetness.

Green Tea Flan

I thought this tasted sorta weird.  I’ve never been a huge fan of green tea flavored things.

Red Beans with Vanilla Ice Cream

Again, not a fan of red beans.

Black Sesame Ice Cream hot coffee poured table side

This seems to be the popular dessert on the menu, but it really is just ice cream in a pool of hot coffee.  It was the more interesting of the desserts.  I don’t think I tasted any “black sesame” in the ice cream.

I was soo damn full by the end of dinner.  I pretty much ate 1.3 persons worth of food.  I paid a hefty price for it all since Dumpling Man was still passed out when the check rolled around.  This was not my first time at Ikko, but it was a certainly more impressive visit.  I was really blown away by some of the courses.  The ceviche, whelk clam, chawanmushi, and the kobe beef sushi were amaze-balls.  Next time I come, I’ll try to sit at the bar and be in more sober company.  The place is pretty small and not meant for large parties.  It would be perfect for a nice date or to celebrate a special occasion.

Ikko 

735 Baker St, Ste C

Costa MesaCA 92626

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