It’s a little after 1 p.m. on a Wednesday and the new Umi by Hamasaku is buzzing. There’s a multi-generational group of ladies who lunch happily staring down an omakase tower with oysters, shrimp and sashimi. A solo diner, clearly living his best life at the raw bar adjacent to the open kitchen, decides he wants an omakase tower of his own. Some Silicon beach dudes wearing T-shirts, shorts and snapbacks sit down at the table next to us and order sushi and a kara age bento box.
We enjoy our bara chirashi bowl (with tuna, yellowtail, albacore, salmon and salmon roe) and an albacore katsu bento. The nicely seared albacore is prepared oyakadon-style with egg, onion and sweet soy. It’s a clever and delicious upgrade to the popular chicken dish that’s cooked in a similar way. The bento also includes salad, sashimi and, best of all, an albacore sushi roll with crispy onions.
Umi is the Michael Ovitz-backed spinoff of Westwood’s beloved and celebrity-studded Hamasaku. Umi is part of The Point, a new El Segundo shopping/dining center near the LAX airport. We popped by for lunch last week, in fact, because we were on the way to dropping somebody off at LAX.
The Point, where Superba Food & Bread and Smitten Ice Cream are also popular hangouts, was packed when we visited. The main parking lot was completely full when we arrived, so we weaved our way around the secondary parking lot for a while before finding a spot. The result felt like being in Siberia, except that there were a lot of energetic people in shorts or workout clothes walking to and from their cars. There’s a Soulcycle at The Point.
Umi, meanwhile, feels like a destination restaurant in L.A.’s South Bay as well as being a good spot for your lunch break (or your pre-airport lunch). Chef Yoya Takahashi’s playful and outstanding riffs on Japanese food include yellowtail with pickled wasabi root and soy-butter crispy-rice tots. You can come by for a quick $20-to-$25 bento or sushi lunch, or you can ball out with toro tartare and an assortment of sushi rolls featuring crunchy, spicy and sweet notes alongside fresh seafood. Drop by for dinner and you can indulge in a $50 sashimi/sushi omakase.
As we’ve pointed out before, there’s no shortage of good food near the airport in L.A. Umi is taking things to a higher altitude. So why not order a G6 hand roll with albacore, yellowtail, tuna, salmon, spicy aioli and soy paper?