Sakanaya, a New Restaurant in Costa Mesa, CA, and They Serve Gator

Finally, Orange County has a legit spot, and they’re open till 11 p.m. The only downside is that it’s a small venue.

Located Across the Street From Another One of my favorite izakaya’s from Torrance opened a second location in Costa Mesa, and I had seriously anticipated the opening of this place for months prior.

Unfortunately, when the new location opened, it turned out to be a toned-down “OC version.” That’s why when Sakanaya opened across the street from the much-anticipated izakaya, I was happy to quickly find an alternative.

Alligator nuggets

I was so dissapointed by the other izakaya because the new menu just wasn’t the same as the Torrance location because that place serves an incredibly Japanese menu. A menu that serves raw beef liver, shiokara (squid guts), to a personal sized serving of motsunabe (intestines).

The duck “aigamo”

The Costa Mesa location has been improving, but the prices also seem to be increasing too. That along with the fact that the food isn’t as properly prepared, I have reluctantly decided to take this place off my list as a “go-to spot.”

Instead, I’ll drive all the way up to Torrance, or I’ll make Sakanaya, my new go-to. Luckily they just so happened to open up directly across the street from this izakaya.

Yama imo (mountain potato) tempura

Truly Japanese and Creole

No big eff’n deal now since Sakanaya is now open. This is my new favorite spot (for now), and if you want to have a genuinely Japanese experience, come here. If you want to try Creole combined with Japanese, come here (they had alligator on the menu, yea alligator). If you want beef intestines (pictured below), come here. If I don’t want huge lines/waits for such a small restaurant, please don’t come here, haha.

Stewed been intestines

Where Am I?

Walking through the door, the smell immediately reminded me of being in Japan because of the amazing smell of dashi wafting throughout the restaurant. That combined with the excellent service by@SoCalwind (Ruri) made it feel like a truly legit Japanese experience.

takikomi gohan: snow crab and ikura


Eight sushi chefs, two in the roll section, one in the specials section, two in the grill section, three in the kitchen, one in prep, and one in dessert which was approximately how many people worked BOH at the Japanese restaurant I was at (including the owner). At Sakanaya, I saw what appeared to be three people. One dishwasher, one assistant, and the head chef preparing everything (oh and two servers). That is extremely impressive if you ever worked in a kitchen although what’s even more impressive is that this is probably one of the best genuinely Japanese meals I’ve had in the OC (even compared to Gardena/Torrance).

Chef Tetsuya

I Like My Corn

I like my corn grilled, boiled, on the cob, off the cob, elote style, buttered, eating it on a train, on top of a train, and most especially I like corn tempura.

Sweet corn tempura

Keep in mind this is what they’re calling themselves which is a “small plates and wine bar” vs. an izakaya due to their focus on wine since they have a sommelier.

Also since this place is on the small side, so I highly suggest you call in for reservations.


Japanese Small Plate & Wine
688 Baker St., Suite 7
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 979-2755

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