Located on 33rd Street on Ocean City’s Coastal Highway, OC Wasabi offers an array of fresh Japanese food in a fun, local-inspired atmosphere. Park for free in the back of the restaurant, and enter through a long hallway boasting wall-to-wall photographs of attractive local faces that have frequented OC Wasabi since it first opened its doors 12 years ago. Some of the faces you’ll see in framed photographs are the same names you’ll see on the menu, which features many Specialty Rolls named after local celebrities.
The Chuck Webb Roll, for example, is named after owner Ken Diu’s best friend. It consists of crabstick, cream cheese, cucumber, smoked salmon, and eel. The Kevin Poole Roll is named after a renowned local musician, who is also server Bethany’s lucky husband. Named after a popular bartender in Ocean City, the Killa Roll consists of cucumber, avocado, crabstick, and tuna. The owner of the Sahara Café is honored with a roll named after him—the Baked Phatty Jay—with crabstick, asparagus, white tuna, eel sauce, and spicy sauce.
It’s wise when you dine at OC Wasabi to always ask your server about the chef’s daily specials. Fresh fish are brought in and prepared with a unique craft that keeps customers returning. Rather you’re seeking a venue for a celebration, a romantic date, or a good time with friends, OC Wasabi offers something for everyone. My handsome fiancé, Joey Steward, and I had a romantic dinner at OC Wasabi this week. We said hello to Peter and Yow on the restaurant side of the establishment, where happy families filled the tabletops. We entered the separate barroom, where Chip and Danny were bartending. A few tables were pushed together to accommodate a large birthday party, and we recognized several long-time local faces celebrating the occasion.
On the bar side of OC Wasabi, three high definition, flat screen televisions broadcast football and baseball games. Chip, who is a Redskins and Orioles fan, suggested we try the Birdhouse, a cool craft beer by The Brewer’s Art, which pays homage to the Baltimore Orioles. Also on tap, local brewery Burly Oak’s Pale Ale is a crowd pleaser. OC Wasabi boasts a full service bar, complete with sake and specialty mojitos, martinis, and more.
We asked the restaurant’s sushi chef, Yow, to surprise us with his daily selections. We’re so glad we did. First, he presented us with a plate of fresh Rockfish Ponzu. Thinly sliced Rockfish Sashimi is served in salty ponzu sauce. Delicious. Yow also prepared Takosu for us. Sliced octopus and cucumber are served in a rice wine vinegar that is irresistible.
Per Chip’s suggestion, we also ordered a couple of appetizers from the kitchen. We tried the Gyoza Dumplings, which are stuffed with fried pork and served with tasty ponzu sauce. We also sampled the Shumai Dumplings, which are stuffed with steamed shrimp and served with a tangy fruit sauce. The fruit sauce has hints of maple and brown sugar that make it sweet like dessert. Of course, OC Wasabi also serves classic Japanese appetizers, such as Edamame, Miso Soup, and local’s favorite—Spicy Mussels.
For our main course, Yow presented us with a sushi tray so large, we had to call our friend, local realtor Jim Prete, for reinforcements. Lemon Roll, Spider Roll, Rainbow Roll, G Money Roll, and newcomer Hab Roll were the tempting and colorful components of our tray. “I order the Lemon Roll every time I come to OC Wasabi,” said one customer who clearly is a regular.
Packed with jumbo tempura shrimp, cucumber, and spicy sauce, the Lemon Roll is topped with salmon, sweet sauce, and thinly sliced lemon. OC Wasabi is the place where I tried this roll for the first time several years ago, and it remains my favorite. The G Money Roll is comprised of yellowtail, scallions, smoked salmon, and special sauce. The Rainbow Roll offers something for everyone—cucumber, avocado, crabstick, tuna, flounder, salmon, and spicy sauce. The Spider Roll is simply cucumber and soft shell crab, which is perfectly in season this time of year. A new creation named after one of OC Wasabi’s expert bartenders, the Hab Roll includes avocado, tempura shrimp, cream cheese, and other special ingredients.
Jim, Joey, and I were so pleased with our dining experience at OC Wasabi, we didn’t save room for my all-time favorite roll, the M&M. Consisting of avocado, cream cheese, eel, shrimp, and crabstick, the M&M roll is wrapped in soy paper, fried, and topped with sweet sauce. I recommend topping it with crabmeat.
In addition to Specialty Rolls, OC Wasabi prepares Sushi Nigri a la carte, including all of the classic items. Add a quail egg to your order for an extra “wow” factor. Entrées from the Sushi Bar are available, including chef’s selection of nigri, sashimi, and rolls. For those customers who prefer hot entrées, the kitchen prepares such entrées as Chicken Tempura, New York Strip Teriyaki, and other beef, filet, shrimp, and seafood entrées. Stir-Fried Noodle entrées are also on the menu.
If you choose to dine on the barroom side of OC Wasabi’s restaurant, take a few moments to admire the artwork on display. Owner Kenny showcases a rotating exhibit of local artists. Original paintings of all sizes, as well as wooden artwork and skate deck art, are on display and for sale at OC Wasabi.
Hosting a party? Consider the King Boat for your guests. Dial 410-524-7337 for more information, or visit www.ocwasabi.com
for more details. OC Wasabi is open Tuesday through Sunday at 4 PM, and is closed on Monday. Enjoy three Specialty Rolls for $23 every Wednesday, 20% food discounts on Thursday, and half-priced kitchen entrées on Sunday. Find OC Wasabi on Facebook for more photos and information.