Let me first say that if you go to Sagami in Irvine and order only the sushi, it will be good. You could very well build a great meal from it and leave happy. But ignoring the weekly specials and the Nagoya-style dishes here is tantamount to going to a steakhouse and insisting on the chicken. Sagami is, to my knowledge, the only kitchen in Orange County that cooks Nagoya-style specialities such as hitsumabushi, which to unagi what a full Thanksgiving dinner is to a turkey.
And then there are the weekly specials, which as of this writing contains the only thing you need to eat during this godforsaken cold snap: oden, a clay pot filled with all sorts of warm softies such as fish cakes, daikon, shumai, and best of all, a boiled egg—all simmered in an umami-amped broth made from dashi and konbu kelp. This, above any other soup or stew you could have, is winter food designed to warm you from the inside out, served in the rocket-hot vessel it's cooked in.
Also, if you're stuffed up and sniffly, a dollop of hot mustard is served along side to smear and burn those clogged nasal passages clear.
Before becoming an award-winning restaurant critic for OC Weekly in 2007, Edwin Goei went by the alias “elmomonster” on his blog Monster Munching, in which he once wrote a whole review in haiku.