In mid-February, Sushi Ii quietly opened its doors in Newport Beach. Located on the second story of Mariner’s Pointe, Master Chef Susumu Ii presents a Japanese dining experience steeped in tradition, craftsmanship, and time-honored technique with his eponymous Sushi Ii.
Now that Orange County restaurants can resume dine-in service, Sushi Ii has reopened its doors. The restaurant is one of Orange County’s newest eateries, but Sushi Ii is the culmination of decades that Chef Ii has spent meticulously dedicating to mastering the traditional art of sushi. Distinguishing Sushi Ii from other authentic sushi restaurants is Chef Ii’s spirit of shokunin – the relentless dedication and pursuit of perfection in one’s craft.
Rooted in centuries of tradition, the menu at Sushi Ii pays homage to the fading art of Kansai-style pressed sushi, with omakase and a la carte options reflecting Chef Ii’s training in Osaka. His precision and meticulous attention to detail are evident as each piece of sushi is uniquely cut and crafted to enhance the flavor and texture of the fish. Each omakase course is named after a distinct type of Japanese pottery, highlighting varieties like Bizen and Karatsu.
With over 100 types of Japanese ceramics in his collection, Chef Ii shares his deep appreciation for this ancient art form with his diners by presenting each course with a different dish from his collection. Much like the seasonality of fresh fish, Chef Ii rotates his ceramics to reflect the changing of the seasons. Diners may even be treated to a dish or two presented with kintsugi – a once broken dish with cracks repaired with gold by Chef Ii himself. Chef Ii utilizes this art form to honor the dish’s history by emphasizing and beautifying its break.
At age 18, Chef Ii began apprenticing and learning from Osaka’s prominent traditional Japanese and sushi restaurants. In 1985, he moved to the United States and began working under Sakea Shibutani at Shibucho in Los Angeles. In 1990, with significant experience under his belt, he opened Kasen in Fountain Valley with his wife, Keiko Ii. After a near-30 year run, the couple closed Kasen and began conceptualizing their next endeavor. Today, they proudly present their namesake restaurant, Sushi Ii. The duo has tapped Natsuko Travioli, a restaurant industry veteran with 20 years of experience, to serve as the restaurant’s general manager.
Designed by award-winning Japanese design firm AGE, Sushi Ii presents a modern zen setting. The understated-yet-elegant design allows Chef Ii and the artistry of his sushi to take center stage. With under-counter storage, the sushi bar’s unique minimalist design allows the guests to become fully immersed in the meticulous craftsmanship and tradition on display.
At 1200 square feet, the restaurant seats 24 guests with two tables of four and 16 counter seats, six of which can be entirely enclosed with a partition to create an elite private dining experience. Sushi Ii is taking a conservative approach to reopening by temporarily only seating its two dining tables and six-seat private dining room. Guests can continue to enjoy Sushi Ii from the comfort of their homes with takeout for lunch and dinner.
Sushi Ii is located at Mariner’s Pointe (100 West Coast Hwy, Newport Beach) and is open Tuesday- Saturday for lunch from noon – 2 p.m. and for dinner from 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m, and Sunday for pre-ordered takeout. For more information, please visit https://www.sushi-ii.com or connect with Sushi Ii on Instagram at @sushi_iirestaurant.
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