Show 387, August 22, 2020: Chef Gino Choi, OmG Omakase by Gino, Santa Ana

Gino Choi of OmG Omakase by GinoChef Gino Choi’s OmG Omakase by Gino in Santa Ana is a multi-course, prix fixe menu dining experience. It’s all of 10 seats and Chef Gino sources a lot of his premium fish from Japan. He’s the star of the solo nightly show. When he can accommodate diners again it’s up to 18 courses and reservations are needed way in advance.

His guests have been asking so Chef Gino has just launched a limited program of Omakase Chirashi Dinner Boxes for 2 guests for takeout. The pre-orders are taken on the Wednesday (starting at Noon) before the available nights of Saturday and Sunday. Chef Gino is limiting this to 20 orders for each night to maintain his high standards. The boxes are $120 each (plus tax.)

We’ll meet the resourceful and ever adaptable Chef Gino Choi.

Show 227, June 10, 2017: Chef Damian Stanley, Assistant Executive Chef, Pechanga Resort & Casino

Danian StanleyChef Damian Stanley is the Assistant Executive Chef at Pechanga. The highlight of his numerous achievements to date is the revamping of the restaurant space that has evolved into the highly successful Umi Sushi & Oyster Bar.

Umi means “sea” in Japanese. On the extensive menu are sushi, sashimi, nigiri, rolls, oysters on the half shell, seafood platters, specialty cocktails and so much more.

He’s also a two-time Pechanga Chili Champ (2014 & 2015) but has gracefully retired from competition to let the individual restaurant chefs have a clear field.

The two new restaurants at Pechanga as part of the ambitious expansion will include an outdoor poolside bar & grill and a Lobby restaurant.

Show 175, June 11, 2016: Damien Stanley, Executive Sous Chef, Pechanga Resort & Casino

Danian StanleyChef Damien Stanley is the Executive Sous Chef at the Pechanga Resort & Casino. He’s responsible for creating the initial menu for the newest, full-service restaurant at Pechanga, the well-received Umi Sushi & Oyster Bar.

With his promotion Chef Stanley turned the sushi mat and chopsticks at Umi over to Kiyokuni Ikeda (ex-Morimoto.)

Umi means “sea” in Japanese. On the extensive menu are sushi, sashimi, nigiri, rolls, oysters on the half shell, seafood platters, specialty cocktails and so much more.

Chef Stanley held the Pechanga chili crown for two years in 2015 and 2014. He’s not competing this year but will provide an expert’s overview for us of the nine chef-created chilies in competition for 2016.

Chef Stanley will also give us a hint about the two new full-service restaurants which will be part of the current, in-the-works expansion. One will be a poolside bar and grill adjacent to the new Las Vegas-style resort pool deck.


Show 110, February 14, 2015: Damian Stanley, Executive Sous Chef, Pechanga Resort & Casino Continues…

Umi Sushi and Oyster Bar at Pechanga Resort and CasinoChef Damian Stanley is the always on the move Executive Sous Chef at the Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula. Since the hotel tower and casino opened in 2002 at Pechanga they have enjoyed an outstanding reputation for the quality and diversity of their food and beverage offerings.

Chef Damian was the project manager for one of their newest interactive fine-dining spots, Umi Sushi and Oyster Bar. which launched after Thanksgiving in 2013. Umi means “sea” in Japanese. Sushi, sashimi, nigiri, rolls, oysters on the half shell, seafood platters, specialty cocktails and lots more are on the varied menu at Umi Sushi and Oyster Bar.

Three highly skilled Japanese sushi chefs (actually from Japan) are part of the culinary team. It’s an interactive and highly entertaining experience with the sushi chefs if you dine at the sushi bar.

There is a hint of the South on the menu, too. Look for gumbo and jambalaya. The specialty bouillabaisse has clams, fish, shrimp, scallop, and mussels in the hearty seafood broth.

A standout dish is the Bone Marrow Lobster with pear, tatsoi salad, celery root skordalia and black truffle vinaigrette.

Show 35, July 13, 2013: Chef Jet Tila with “Sushi 411.”

SushiJet has extensive experience in teaching the sushi basics to professionals so we asked him to share the fundamentals of sushi etiquette so guests will have the ability to eat better at their favorite sushi spot. With that said Jet also respectfully suggests that you follow the course in a sushi restaurant that provides you with the most pleasure.

Sushi was originally created in China as a way to preserve fish before refrigeration. It was layered, and heavily salted and vinegared.

The three basic types of sushi are sashimi, maki, and hand rolls. It takes years of rigorous training to become a master sushi chef.

One big faux pas in a sushi bar is to mix the soy sauce and wasabi together into a pool. The shaved ginger is actually a palate cleanser and not a side salad. Jet explained where each should be properly used.

If you sit at the sushi bar the chef is stealthily watching how you eat. At a sushi bar there are the seafood equivalents of filet mignon, rib eye, and chuck. All are edible of course. If the chef sees that you aren’t discriminating then the sushi you get will be the equivalent of “chuck.”

The chef knows what’s the best because he’s been prepping it all day. Omakase (literally) “trust the chef” is the way to go for a special experience. It’s a personalized tasting menu left in the hands of the chef. The sushi chef will present you one item at a time (from lighter to heavier) to savor.

If you really want to an impression with the sushi chef send over a beer or sake for them during the meal with your compliments. You’ll likely see some incredible fish as a result…