Shunka, Shunka, Shun’ka’do-ba-dee-doo
The Oompa loompa’s have nothing to do with Shunka because Shunka means something along the lines of “season?” in Japanese…. ok, or an alternative Oompa loompa jingle.
I think Shunka opened in or around Feb/March of 2012, so I have a lot of pics which is why I thought I’d compile some of my camera phone pics (iPhone pics from 6 years ago suuuuck).
Regardless if Yuki’san is the owner, he’s no slacker because you’ll see him working upwards of 7-days a week, and I can barely make it 5-days a week which is why I was at Shunka eating and drinking all the time.
Yuki’san’s wife, Toshimi’san also works the front of the house too, and she’s really cool (the better half).
Yuki’san has four boys, so I’m sure the way he’s handling that tuna collar is not any different from child-rearing.
The Usuals From Around My Hood to First Timers
Any given night Shunka is filled with a lot of first timers, Tinder to Grindr dates, and a lot of regulars from around the hood: Bentleys to Dodges and even actors, I sat next to one (unfortunately, not one I knew of).
The Sushi Chef Roster
The usual sushi chef roster is typically (left to right): Shige, Seigo, Juro, Eiji (sorry Eiji for not having your pic, but you can find pics of Eiji and Seigo on Yelp), and Yuki’san.
If Yuki’s section is busy by chance, I sit in front of Juro.
More Variety Than Most Aquariums
Shunka is very affordable and they probably have the best range of fish than the vast majority of sushi restaurants in Orange County. It is also not a place where you will have to spend upwards of $200-$300+ like a Michelin starred sushi restaurant.
If you read any of the other media outlets hyping Shunka, they’ll tout Shunka as serving a “nuanced procession” to “upscale,” I suppose that’s what you would think if you have never really been, or are just reading Yelp reviews.
The media to Yelp Elites will think that all sushi restaurants are supposed to be compared to Jiro or Sushi Saito in Japan which is silly AF, but that’s what happens when they see “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” (the producers need to do a follow-up to Jiro, with “Juan dreams of Philly Rolls).
Shunka is not your fusion restaurant with Americanized mayo covered sushi, and they fit in with being on par with Nana San in which both restaurants are above average.
Want to know where Shunka stands for sushi in all of Orange County? Check out my top 10 Best Authentic Sushi Bars in Orange County, or my “Best of” list which will help you find the best restaurant for large groups, best value, to the best omakase.
What I Recommend
Shunka is all about variety at affordable prices which is why I recommend that you try all the fish on the specials board. Just keep in mind much of the seafood is seasonal:
- Anago (salt water eel)
- Fresh tako (raw octopus)
- Akamutsu (rosy seabass)
- Mejina (rudder fish)
- Kan sawara (Spanish mackerel when it is the fattiest)
- Any hikarimono (if you like fishy, you’ll love aji, iwashi to saba)
Think this is a weak list of suggestions, go full Japanese and read this list.
The weekends (Fri, Sat, and Sun) are the busiest times to go, and you’ll most likely have to wait. If you have a large party (larger than a 4-top), I highly recommend that you call in for reservations.
Mixed sashimi plate served with wasabi although there a few fish that go great with yuzu kosho, matcha, soy marinated shishito, grated ginger, to chili oil.
A Few Pics Over the Years
Since this was my casual place a few blocks away, I took the vast majority of these pics with my camera phone vs. using my DSLR which is why I apologize again for the picture quality.
In the 80’s sushi was still referred to as “it dun be fish bait yall,” now there’s a sushi restaurant on every corner.
One of the best things at Shunka is the anago.
Give the packaged unagi a break and switch it up to fresh water eel.
Taking the heads of fish to shrimp for use in a soup is one of the best things you can eat in a sushi restaurant, and it is also an example of how every bit is used (even the bones are eaten when deep-fried).
Yes, I like a handy every once in a while.
Such manly hands handling this roll.
And you guessed it, tuna, but this is maguro zuke which is tuna marinated in soy sauce.
Aside from the sushi bar, there are a number of semi-private booths and a few tables.
Yup, that is shiokara being made which is salted and fermented viscera.
Typically most Japanese would have shiokara with sake to whisky.
Innards, fermented, and tasty.
Seriously, cheek meat is one of the best cuts, and Italians have been eating pig cheeks too, aka guanciale.
Just like the cheek, there’s a level of fatty goodness to even the collar.
Not a paid advertisement, if it were, maybe I’d hear from my brownie more often, but there is a reason why she has been written up in number of Los Angeles publications for her chiropractic practice.
Shirako (“white children”)
Here are a few shots of items with chili oil
Chinese chili flake oil is tasty.
If octopus (tako) is not prepared properly, it’s like chewing gum, but luckily for us Shunka does it right.
I can do without the ponzu.
The typical toppings are green onions and grated ginger.
After 200+ visits to Shunka, I just had to try a roll…. everybody else was doing it, and I’m a follower.
Try ordering the Greg roll (saba, shiso, takuan, and yamagobo), and if they give you that “what?” look, it’s because it’s on the secret menu, and most people are not aware of it, even the sushi chef. So just them the pic because this is a very Japanese roll.
As a kid, I had plenty of “nutsack” sushi aka inari.
I am not a fan of ponzu laden nigiri sushi, but on a few pieces I do not mind.
Ending my dinner with tamago (and more beer).
If you go, say hi to Chitose for me, thanks
Most expansive range of fish (a lot of Japanese fish) than the vast majority of restaurants in Orange County and beyond. Not only does Shunka have the best variety, but they are very affordable compared to other restaurants in the area.
No drink specials or happy hour times to incentivize you to come at certain hours or days such as on slower days.
See you tomorrow!
Shunka Sushi & Japanese Cuisine
Westport Square Shopping Center
369 E 17th St #17
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
|11:30-2:00 PM, 5:30-10:00 PM|