With partners Michael Ovitz and Jesse Duron, executive chef Yoya Takahashi has opened Umi by Hamasaku at the Point in El Segundo. It’s an offshoot of Japanese staple Hamasaku in West Los Angeles. “We chose the location because we felt the area is booming and was in need of a good neighborhood sushi spot,” Duron told L.A. Weekly.
Sandwiched between Manhattan Beach and LAX, El Segundo is a small beach-town oasis in the South Bay. The coastal portion is referred to as “Mayberry by the Sea” by locals because of its frozen-in-time hometown feel. The inland section is a thriving business district of neighboring aerospace companies, Mattel, the L.A. Lakers training facility and the breezy mall known as the Point.
Umi by Hamasaku is a sunny scene for lunch featuring seasonal shared plates; a traditional and modern izakaya offering; various sushi preparations; and an accessible omakase that includes a starter, two specialty sashimi courses, a 10-piece nigiri course and hand roll.
The tart New Zealand yellowtail pepper is a good sashimi course. Scallions, shishito peppers, fried bonito flake, microgreens and yuzu white soy are mounded on top of melt-in-your-mouth yellowtail sashimi ($14). Seasonal sushi choices include Japanese barracuda, blue nose snapper and kinmedai (golden eye snapper). For diehards, there’s raw shrimp, which has a unique texture, and a great selection of oysters with their own signature seaweed mignonette. Chef Takahashi makes it a priority to use sustainable seafood.
The ceviche maki is a rich treat ($10). Maine lobster ceviche and asparagus are wrapped in delicate soy paper and avocado. Topped with a slice of jalapeño and snuggled between soy crisps, it covers all flavors and textures. The Point roll is also a great choice, made with Fiji albacore, salmon, ginger aioli, cucumber, sprouts, seaweed and crispy onion ($16).
Because I always want a little bit of everything, I can’t help but gravitate to a bento lunch that will keep me full for the rest of the day. Umi bento choices include Fiji albacore katsu ($25), grilled local fish of the day ($25), pork katsu bites ($20) and chef’s sushi choice ($25).
Good izakaya choices are the spicy tuna crispy rice or yellowtail wasabi crispy rice, both $12.
There’s a great kids menu for $7, which includes cauliflower, edamame, crispy rice tots or rice ball and choice of sausage, fried chicken, tofu or fried fish.
Dessert recommendation: matcha budino, a creamy mixture of Valrhona white chocolate and matcha topped with whipped cream and raspberries ($3). It’s a smooth pudding with a subtle hint of matcha and is the perfect rich ending to a bright meal of yuzu and wasabi. It’s what green tea ice cream always hoped it could be.
The open-space main dining room includes a four-seat raw bar right at the foot of the white-tiled open kitchen and features blonde wood much like its Westside sister. A few pieces from Ovitz’s famed art collection bedeck the walls along with Japanese curtains, which hang from the ceiling.
The patio opens out to the breezy, family-friendly outdoor space at the center of the Point, which opened in 2015. Benches, lawns, fountains and fireplaces ooze that coastal feel, and if you’re lucky, you just might catch a glimpse of the elusive El Segundo blue butterfly dancing past the Pressed Juicery.
Umi by Hamasaku, The Point at 860 S. Sepulveda Blvd., El Segundo; (310) 524-9980.