RESTAURANT REVIEW: The New Dami Sushi and Isakaya Stays Open Late For Dinner E-mail
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Tuesday, 27 May 2014 18:32

Buena Park~I wouldn’t consider myself a food critic or reviewer and I am certainly no food expert, but I recently had a chance to visit a new place to eat in town and I thought I would provide my feedback.

Dami Sushi and Isakaya is located at the Village Circle on Beach, the new shopping center at the intersection of and Beach Boulevard, where La Mirada Boulevard meets Malvern Avenue -just a stone’s throw from the La Mirada city limits.

The shopping center was constructed on the site of the old Big T Golf Course and Big T Burgers-two iconic establishments that will be forever  be etched in the nostalgic minds of anyone who lived in and around old La Mirada.

Today, the new shopping center is primarily Asian influenced, serving the multi-cultural population in the East La Mirada and North Buena Park area.

Dami has been open a little over two months and recently the La Mirada Blog was invited, along with other media outlets, to attend a press sampling and reception at the eatery.

My ignorance and lack of preparation showed as I thought out loud that the word isakaya was a type of egg roll or dish. Yeah, I know, go ahead and laugh.

I quickly learned from a Dami staff member that in Japan, an isakaya is a type of Japanese drinking establishment which also serves food to accompany the drinks. They are casual places for after-work drinking. In other words, like a pub or tavern.

An isakaya is also similar to a lot of well-known American restaurants that also serve as drinking establishments, yet an isakaya is more intimate and local.

Dami co-owner Brandon Lee sat down with us for a quick visit and told us he is well aware of the large Korean population in the area and wants to “break the mold” of the traditional Japanese restaurant and he said that Dami wants to “serve the community’s needs.”

Thus, the Dami menu features a mixture of Japanese and Korean dishes along many unique fusion meals of the two cultures. I guarantee you will find a dish at Dami you have never seen anywhere else.

AMBIANCE: The restaurant has open ceilings and a very spacious modern interior giving it that un-cramped feeling, which I like. There is a balance of industrial and wood finishes along with simple Japanese design concepts.  It features a brightly-lit sushi and oyster bar along with three 55-inch televisions and two 45-inchers.

Lee quickly got my attention when he mentioned what I think is one of the most appealing facts about Dami. He told me that after 9:30 p.m. a 180-inch projection screen descends from the ceiling, the lights dim and the sound system gets a little louder. He said the large screen will be showing whatever the hottest sports game or event of the night is.

Patrons can then enjoy a late-night dinner in the La Mirada area, almost unheard of in this sleepy town, where most quality places close their kitchens by 9:30 p.m.  Most Sushi joints claiming to stay open until 10:00 p.m., but usually are shooing you out the door by 9:30. Dami is just getting started, staying open until 12:00 a.m. seven days a week.

Hallelujah! A great place to enjoy a full menu, eat late-night sushi/dinner and enjoy late-night sports without being rushed out.

FOOD:  Dami’s fare is inspired and produced by Executive Chef Jun Kim and Executive Sushi Chef John Yoon and includes fresh sashimi, sushi, a wide variety of seafood including fresh oysters, yakitori skewers and a wide variety of other isaka-style dishes along with many of your more traditional Japanese dishes.

The menu is so extensive, yet easy to read and select. I can’t even go into telling you how much quality is abound at this place. You also have to keep an open mind with some of the unique and exotic offerings!

Dami was very gracious to the media with the food samplings and let me share with you a few of the items I tried.

At Dami they offer over a dozen different yakitori (skewers).  I tried the asparagus maki, enoki mushroom maki, and the chicken breast.  I loved them all although the bacon wrapped around the asparagus was a bit salty.  Others include chicken liver, chicken heart, and quail egg. I told you keep an open mind!

All the sushi and sashimi I tried was good, fresh and top quality. I must say everything I tried was very good and I simply couldn’t do the Sea Snail Salad, but I am sure it’s great!

Of the many items Dami let us try, two stand out to me. The Miso Chilean Sea Bass which is marinated in miso and sake. It was buttery, sultry and absolutely delicious.

The second item that stands out for me actually surprised me I liked it so much, a signature dish at Dami, the Ssam-Bab Set (spicy pork belly, lettuce wrap, assorted vegetables, rice and this wonderful concoction called ssam-jang). You wrap the ingredients in the lettuce and go to town. It was just, all drama aside, damn good.

Other Signature dishes at Dami include Teppanyaki Beef, Oyster Tempura, Creamy Crab Croquette and Yoshi’s Owari Chicken wings.

This is just the tip of the iceberg however, Dami offers dozens and dozens of meals with again, many of your traditional favorites.

There is a $1 oyster happy hour 5:00-7:00 p.m. and 9:00-11:00 seven days a week, featuring oysters from the Seattle region and the east coast.

Dami’s specialty desert, the Matcha Green Tea Crème Brûlée, is out-of-this-world.

Dining price range is $10-$20 per entrée. Check out many photos of Dami’s food on their Instagram link below.

DRINKS: Dami serves a wide array of draft beers, craft beers and premium sake. Beers include traditional Japanese brands, but also local microbrews from surrounding towns. A wide variety of sake with different tastes and finishes is offered, a result of Dami working with their own sake master. The sake I tried was very aromatic, very wine-like and delicious.

Dami seems to have succeeded in their isakaya-style concept: to serve top quality food with a variety of draft beers and craft sake, in a modern yet casual and comfortable ambiance. What do you think? Visit Dami and let us know. Email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Dami Sushi and Isakaya is located at 515 Beach Blvd, Unit A in Buena Park. They are open 5:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. Monday-Sunday with lunch hours coming soon. They can be reached at (714) 739-2537.

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