Unlike most Californians, I am not a sushi lover, sorry. I know it is supposed to be good for you and people swear by it, but there's just something about eating raw fish that has never appealed to me.
However, that being said, if you are into sushi the place to splurge is at Dana Kai Japanese cuisine from what I am told.
A recent meal at the lovely restaurant proved to be an excellent choice for a light meal in a beautiful setting.
Located in a non-descript strip mall in Dana Point, once you step into Dana Kai, it's like being transported into another world.
A large sushi bar with sushi chefs donning starched red linen jackets are busy preparing fresh sushi for hungry patrons. Dark wood floors, mahogany-colored chairs and tabletops along with leafy greenery, glowing paper Japanese lanterns hanging overhead, and a trickling water fountain are all part of its alluring ambiance.
The meal began with a good-sized bowl of fresh edamame beans lightly dosed in salt. They were plump, ripe and a perfect way to start my dining experience.
I opted for the a la carte combination tempura meal consisting of eight total pieces of assorted vegetables and shrimp, accompanied by a green salad dressed in a vibrant ginger sauce, fluffy rice, and a bowl of aromatic Miso soup.
The soup arrived piping hot and warmed me right down to my toes with just a hint of saltiness.
Next, my tempura arrived looking more like a work of art than a plate of lightly breaded veggies and shrimp. Served with a sweet dipping sauce, each piece was lovely. The vegetables ranged from broccoli crowns and sweet potato to a large onion ring. None of the pieces were greasy, but rather crunchy, and bursting with flavor. The shrimp were chewy, and the only issue I had with them was that there weren't nearly enough on the plate.
Other menu items at Dana Kai include: beef and chicken teriyaki, sashimi, fresh tuna, swordfish, Udon noodles, rice bowls, a bevy of sushi, mussels, tofu and more.
Each menu item appeared to be prepared with care and I would not hesitate to return for a quiet afternoon when I want to escape to another world without leaving the neighborhood.
I give Dana Kai four Patches out of five