Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hama Sushi - 12/30/2011

347 E 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 680-3454

I definitely have something of a Westside bias when it comes to sushi in LA, with restaurants like Mori, Urasawa, and Zo dominating my favorites. One of my friends mentioned that Hama was her favorite, though the little downtown eatery often gets overshadowed by the likes of Sushi Gen or its neighbor Komasa. Hama's interior feels like something of an anachronism, the cramped spaces and tired wood decor give the restaurant a quaint feel to it. In essence the entire restaurant is built around the three itamae who run the 20 seat bar. Oddly enough the restaurant does not offer omakase which makes ordering something of a challenge when the place gets busy.

Cucumber & Seaweed
The meal opened with an appetizer of cucumber tsukemono, the light tang and crisp vegetal crunch of the cucumber effectively piqued our appetites for the meal to come.

Binnaga Hara & Sake - Albacore Belly & Salmon
The Albacore belly was one of the few less common items available. The belly is quite enjoyable, tender and fleshy but not overly saturated with oil. I haven't had much salmon of late so it was nice to get reacquainted with the supple almost fatty mouth feel of the fish.

Tai - Snapper
This was easily the best piece of the meal, the fish carries a wonderfully nuanced and resistant texture while the interplay of citrus, sea salt, and wasabi were perfect with the mild flavor of the fish.

Engawa - Halibut Fin
Another rare cut, Engawa refers to the adductor muscle of the fin, which has a sinewy toothsomeness that separates it from the more tender texture of the rest of the fish. The Engawa has the characteristic mildness common to many whitefishes and I detected a pleasing tingle of spice with the more traditional soy, scallion, and radish.

Saba - Mackerel
The Saba definitely ratchets the flavor up several notches from the preceding fishes. The unabashed oiliness was among the most potent that I can remember ever having.

Binnaga - Albacore
I prefer completely raw Albacore but this was definitely one of the better seared preparations thanks to the slightly charred tang.

Hirame - Halibut
The halibut was surprisingly complex, with a slight bitterness to compliment the tart zing of the ponzu.

Uni - Sea Urchin
A very solid uni attempt, the flavor doesn't resonate with the sweetness of the best uni, but quite enjoyable nonetheless.

Hamachi - Yellowtail
A classic example of Hamachi, the fish has a light fattiness augmented by typical accompaniments of soy and wasabi.

Ika - Squid
A leaner example of squid, the texture never yielded the expected creaminess. The squid was accompanied by a sliver of shiso leaf that added a delicate fragrance to the cephalopod.

Unagi - Fresh Water Eel
Another old favorite from my halcyon days, the charred eel has a fatty gelatinous texture matched with a syrupy sweet sauce.

Cramped seating, sometimes spotty service, and quality fish, Hama doesn't break any new ground but it does deliver an enjoyable meal at a reasonable price.

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