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OMG it’s OMakase Bliss


Chef Gino Choi unveiled OMakase by Gino in Santa Ana a year ago. The 10-seat restaurant has been booked for months ever since. If you’re lucky enough to score a reservation, you’ll be in for a huge treat---it’s easily the most special sushi restaurant in Orange County. Plan on about a three month wait for a reservation and a good two hours-plus for a dining experience.  

You’ll be in sushi bliss the entire time. Fish is flown in daily from Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, as well as from local seafood purveyors that Gino has curated from his 20 years of experience.  

Omakase is a chef’s choice tasting menu of appetizers, sashimi, nigiri, signature dishes (owan) and dessert. The menu at OMG changes daily and features an array of fish and seafood including otoro, bluefin tuna, Japanese kampachi, seasonal rockfish and more. Other ingredients Gino features include Hokkaido uni, Kush,ii and Kumamoto oysters, flying fish eggs, clams, blue crab, scallops, foie gras, monkfish liver and tomago.

Gino was born in Seoul, South Korea. He began his cooking career at age 13, working part-time as a kitchen helper in an Italian restaurant (in Korea). While in school for music during his late teenage years, Gino worked two part-time jobs, as a cook and a custom motorcycle mechanic.

By age 22 the majority of his family immigrated to the United States and Gino followed. His love for sushi came from his grandfather, who was raised in Japan. Gino took numerous trips with his grandfather to Japan, where the two bonded over eating sushi at the local fish markets.

He opened a sushi restaurant in Tustin soon after arriving in 2003. Through random circumstance, Gino found a mentor in Kikuchi Hideaki, sushi chef and owner of Kikusui in Torrance. Gino was used to cooking Japanese fusion, but under Kikuchi’s tutelage, Gino learned traditional sushi techniques.

By 2007 Gino opened a new sushi restaurant, Kaori in Fullerton, where he achieved a large following of locals and non-locals over 11 years. He sold his stake in the restaurant to open OMG.

At OMG he highlights his skills in selecting the best seafood and preparing it with exacting simplicity.

“The first time I opened a restaurant, it was to make money,” Gino said. “After I met my mentor, I opened restaurants because I wanted to be a chef. He taught me, simple is the best. Always.”

Open 5:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. 304 N. Main Street, Santa Ana. 657.231.6008.

Reservations can be made on Yelp at omg-omakase-by-gino.

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