Remember Maruhide Uni Club? The restaurant in Torrance that dealt almost exclusively in sea urchin, and that closed in mid-2016 after a couple of years of satiating the needs of uni addicts? Well, there's a new all-uni restaurant in town, and it has a lot in common with Maruhide.
Miyabi Uni, also in Torrance, is most obviously similar to Maruhide in its dedication to sea urchin. But beyond that, Miyabi is run by two chefs who worked at Maruhide, Isao Minami and Hisao Kasama. Both chefs were trained in Japan, then moved to the United States before meeting when they both worked at Benihana in Torrance. From there, they moved to Maruhide when it opened.
At Miyabi, which has been soft open for a couple of weeks, the menu is fairly similar to Maruhide, though it's a tad more expensive. One of Maruhide's greatest assets was that you got giant chirashi bowls overflowing with uni for less money than you might pay for a couple of pieces of uni nigri at the better sushi bars in town. At Miyabi, cost is closer to those high-end Japanese restaurant prices, with appetizers that cost as much as $29.95 and uni donburi bowls hovering around $35 at dinner. (Lunch isn't yet being served, but when it is, according to the menu on the restaurant website, the menu will be oddly lacking in uni.)
Eater's Matt Kang checked out the space and the food recently, and confirms that it indeed is quite a bit swankier than Maruhide, in look and feel. When I reviewed Maruhide in 2014, I had two main complaints: The restaurant felt like the dining room of a crappy Marriott, and the non-uni offerings — particularly the sashimi that came on a lot of the bowls — were lacking in quality. If Miyabi is serving higher quality fish in a nicer room, it has a great chance of gaining the pilgrimage status Maruhide had, and surpassing it for those of us who care about more than just a heaping plate of uni.
Miyabi Uni, 1231 Cabrillo Ave., Suite 101, Torrance. (424) 376-5135, miyabiuni.com.