Located on the top floor of South Coast Plaza’s Crystal Court, adjacent to the main mall is Hamamori, tucked into its very own little corner. The restaurant itself is subtle yet beautiful, minimalistic at its finest with light colors leaving a really airy feeling. If you’re into a modern take on Japanese cuisine then Hamamori is a wonderful place to try. Their food is very playful, yet still sophisticated. They also offer a happy hour from 5:00pm, until 6:30pm with quite a few tasty dishes. I was able to order from their happy hour menu, however note sushi is not on there so that was order separately. Service was great as the staff was very friendly and accommodating, constantly checking up on us to see whether we needed anything else, a suggestion, as well as water.
We started off with their happy hour menu and ordered the assorted tempura, soft shell shrimp, and shitake mushroom frites. The first of the items to come out was the soft shell shrimp, a play on soft shell crab where the whole item is edible. The shrimp was cut in half, lightly coated in a batter and fried with a similar taste to salt and pepper shrimp. The shrimp itself was very tender, still being moist on the inside with a nice crisp on the outside. I would highly suggest this; also the shrimp head is still on and meant to be eaten as well if you dare, I have no problem and devoured the entire thing. Next was our shitake mushroom frites, this is a play on French fries with less calories I’m assuming. The fries seemed as if they were blanched, then lightly baked and served with crème fraiche and chives. They place a wedge of lemon on the side and I think it’s great to squeeze it right over, this really makes the dish refreshing yet still wonderful. There wasn’t much of a crisp bite to this frite(fry), however the flavors were still delicious. Our last item on the happy hour list was the assorted tempura which came with prawns, sweet potato, butternut squash, eggplant, and a sliced lotus. I love tempura items; however I usually can’t eat much because of the heavy batter and greasiness of it. Hamamori was really able to execute this well and it was not oily at all, the light batter was crunchy but not overwhelming. Served with a side of lemon which I did add to the dipping sauce was well as the grated daikon radish. For the sushi we went with Ikura, which is the large salmon egg. I’m personally not a fan of Ikura but my mom is and mentioned that this was the freshest she’s ever had and really enjoyed it. The next item we went with was the seared wagyu beef with garlic, ponzu, and foie gras nigari. I wanted to try their take on modern sushi and everything was just perfect and melted in my mouth. The seared wagyu was cut perfect, the garlic surprisingly was not overwhelming, the ponzu added a nice refreshment that cut the richness that the foie gras offered. The next nigiri we ordered was the seared scallop with a miso ginger sauce & freshly shaved truffle. The scallop was delicious and rich, it was the perfect sear and as surprisingly how much sauce was on it, it did not mask the flavor of the scallop at all. The freshly sliced truffle on top just finished the nigiri so well and added a perfect aroma. Last but not last we went with their toro nigiri(fatty tuna) which is the rich fatty part of the tuna fish. The flavor of the fish was so clean, very well cut, not too thin, but not overly thick where the flavors just melted in your mouth with a little hint of soy to dip with. The sushi rice was cooked perfectly and the proportions were just right. At this point I was quite full already, however I have many plans to go back to Hamamori to enjoy their dishes, every dish was memorable and once again the service was outstanding. They also do offer omakase menu’s which is a pre-set menu left up to the chef and typically dined at the sushi bar where he works directly with you. I would suggest having an early dinner here so you can walk it off and shop afterwards.
Restaurant – Hamamori
Location – 333 Bear Street, Costa Mesa, CA 92626 – 3rd Floor Crystal Court next to Nike/Oliver Peoples
Contact – 714.850.0880
Cuisine – Japanese, Sushi, Tapas