Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Tucked in the Orchard Hills Village Center of Irvine, Ayame is an unpretentious Japanese gem that seems a bit out of place. I've eaten here several times and each time I come, it seems odd to me that such an authentic place isn't in the most trafficked hot spots of OC... but rather in a mellow residential part of town.

We weren't that hungry so we decided to order a set teriyaki salmon dinner and some sushi. I know... I am at a sushi restaurant and I order teriyaki!!! How white-washed of me! But every once in a while, some good teriyaki and california rolls hit the spot... if you know what I mean.

Salmon dinner comes with salad, miso soup, and california roll. The green salad was served with a tasty ginger soy sauce dressing. Miso soup was standard fare... but the California rolls had big chunks of avocado in there - yum!

Mixed Tempura

Tempura also came with the salmon dinner (yes... you get all this). This wasn't one of the better tempura dishes I've had before... but it was decent. Although the batter was a tad thick, the shrimp was not overcooked.

Salmon Teriyaki

Let's be honest... I like salmon, but usually raw or smoked. I didn't order the salmon, my boyfriend did. This was his quest to be "healthier." But I was VERY surprised at how good the salmon was. The salmon was crisp on the outside, and super tender and moist on the inside. The sauce though, sweet and savory, was overpowering the delicate taste of the salmon.


Salmon and Hamachi

Both salmon and hamachi sushi were great! The fish were fatty melt-in-your-mouth quality. Ponzu sauce was drizzled over the salmon. While the portion size was nowhere near Taiko's, it wouldn't be fair to hold each Japanese restaurant in the OC to those standards. Ayame gives a relatively good portion size for their sushi.
-$4 to $6-

Black Sesame Ice Cream

(Disclaimer: I am a HUGE fan of sesame ice cream)
Ok... now that I laid out my disclaimer, take all my acclamation with a grain of salt. The first time I had black sesame ice cream was in Hong Kong when I was a kid... and it was SO delicious, I wouldn't be surprised if all that chub from that trip came from the ice cream. But it is sooooo worth it. All I have to say is that if you like ice cream, give this a try. Somewhat nutty, not too sweet, yet still creamy and rich... mmMMMMM!

I will come back to Ayame simply for the ice cream... but the sushi chef told me that they now sell this black sesame ice cream at Japanese markets. Mitsuwa, Marukai - here I come! Until I find it though, I will be frequenting Ayame not just for the ice cream, but for some Japanese hospitality and cuisine.

3923 Portola Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92602

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