Hamamori (Costa Mesa, CA)

3333 Bear St. Suite 320
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Chefs: James Hamamori and Takumi Murase

South Coast Plaza was holding its seasonal dinner promotion - 4 courses for $40 from participating restaurants. The menu at Hamamori looked most interesting, especially for the price. Hamamori is located on the 3rd floor on the Crystal Court side (which is now called South Coast Plaza West) where the Thai restaurant used to be.

The high ceilings, posh seats and natural sunlight gave this restaurant an airy and metropolitan atmosphere. We were separated from the mall by the black walls and turquoise glass paneling, but I could still hear the typical mall music. Our server was very attentive and explained each dish as it was served (though in an soft voice and had to be repeated by those close to her). She also explained their sake list and even let us sample one of their sakes. Each person had their own blue moon-shaped chopstick holders...

Kobe carpaccio with steak soy and kanzuri miso sauce with sides of mixed greens and slices of tangy kumquat - The kobe beef was very soft, yet a bit chewy, but still melted in my mouth. Appetizer trio: kobe rissole with foie gras, crabmeat harumaki and asparagus okaki - I think this was everyone's favorite. The rissole had a small size of foie gras in the middle surrounded by minced kobe meat. The harumaki is a crispy Japanese-style spring roll served with some miso sauce. The third of the trio is cooked asparagus rolled in a batter of crushed Japanese rice cracker, butter and olive oil, which I enjoyed most. Chef's choice sushi: salmon with daikon radish and roe, scallop with lemon juice and salt and pepper, tuna with seaweed paste and basil, and albacore with crisp onion and ponzu. Each of the pieces had a nice flavor and didn't really need soy sauce either (though it wouldn't hurt if I had just a little bit). And I'm not a huge fan on scallop because it's usually on the mushy side, especially this one.
For the last course, each person had a choice of either Lamb Chops or Black Cod.

Lamb chops with saikyo miso and 5 pods of mash potatoes and edamame - The chops were served on the border of warm and room temperature. Not good. The meat was tender, but I've tasted much better lamb chops elsewhere.
Black cod tamrai marinated - The cod was pretty flavorful and tasty and found it in comparison with the Vietnamese "ca kho." Although I enjoyed the fish, I felt there was too many flavors melding in one dish. From the top, there was crunchy, pickled carrots, sour kumquats, Japanese "salsa," and lotus root.