Tabento? - Costa Mesa, CA

If you're coming here on an empty stomach, I suggest starting here. Now that I've given you some time to let the last meal settle, let's pick up where I left off. Let the third meal commence. Liz and I finished up shopping and had called up Kurt to join us in our sushi venture. We initially tried meeting up at Ikko in Costa Mesa, but they required reservations for bar seating. What's the point of omakase if you don't sit at the bar?! I had to think quick and this spot came to mind.

Tabento is one of my local favs and I love that it's a diamond in the rough. Hidden in a strip plaza away from the main street, Tabento is a quaint, family-owned restaurant with a lot of gems on the menu. I've been here countless times, but this is my first having omakase!

As always, they ask if you have any dislikes. I usually say, "Do as you please. I am ready for anything." The chef nods, chuckles or asks, "Anything?" I give them the green light with a thumbs up, nod and smile. So, yes. Let the games begin!

We were presented with this beautiful sampler - Steamed Cod Nigiri, Mentaiko with Grated Daikon Radish and Yamakake Tuna.

mealswithjamie-tabento-costa-mesa-california-steamed-cod-shiso.jpg

The mentaiko (spicy cod roe) was such a burst of flavor as a whole. The grated radish was a nice touch and added to the textural experience.

mealswithjamie-tabento-costa-mesa-california-mentaiko-daikon.jpg

The nagaimo (wild yam) was chopped instead of grated, so there were a lot of things going on - crunchy, sticky, slimy paired with the tender tuna. It was the first time I've ever had nagaimo like that so it was definitely an amazing start!

mealswithjamie-tabento-costa-mesa-california-nagaimo-tuna.jpg

Even though we just had tuna, we were given another by itself. I'm not the biggest fan of tuna because it usually has a very metallic taste, but this was indescribably good. Smooth in texture, light sweetness, great flavor with none of that metallic taste.

mealswithjamie-tabento-costa-mesa-california-maguro-tuna.jpg

Yellowtail. Hamachi. Good as usual.

mealswithjamie-tabento-costa-mesa-california-hamachi-yellowtail.jpg

Shrimp. Something I would never order on my own, but it was nice to have. It was actually nice to have something cooked with a bit of chew to separate the soft textures in mind.

mealswithjamie-tabento-costa-mesa-california-ebi-shrimp.jpg

Sardine. My first time having this. Reminds me a bit of Aji (Spanish Mackerel), but less fishy and a bit tougher. The ginger added some aromatics to each bit.

mealswithjamie-tabento-costa-mesa-california-sardine.jpg

Uni & Hotate with a bit of Masago. Two of my favs at once! It's like he read my mind.

mealswithjamie-tabento-costa-mesa-california-uni-scallop.jpg

Kama. I'm not sure if I heard this correctly, but if it is, this would be the cheek, WHICH IF I'M NOT MISTAKEN, is a pretty tough piece to get. It was so so so tender, I savored this bite way more than the others.

mealswithjamie-tabento-costa-mesa-california-kama-toro.jpg

Spicy Tuna with Crispy Rice. Fresh out of the fryer, the crispy rice was hot. I was busily taking pictures, but friends chomped on the whole piece. I learned from their haste and cut it in half before consuming. haha!

mealswithjamie-tabento-costa-mesa-california-crispy-rice-spicy-tuna.jpg

Tamago. It was good, but I feel like I've had better. It wasn't too sweet, which is what I like. The chef left us end on a good note, but asked us if we would like to try anything else.

mealswithjamie-tabento-costa-mesa-california-tamago-egg.jpg

Got another order of uni (so yums!) and chu-toro. The toro was melt-in-your-mouth perfection/tenderness. Such a nice gradient and with that, our meal came to an end.

mealswithjamie-tabento-costa-mesa-california-chutoro-uni.jpg

Sometimes the best days are unplanned and you decide to just go with the flow of things. Who knows where your next adventure will take you? Take a chance! Just don't eat a whole day and maybe give yourself more than a few hours in between. A little note from me to you haha. Now go out there and enjoy yourself!

Tabento?
1525 Mesa Verde Drive E
Costa Mesa, CA 92626