Food as Art: R.I.P. The Hump

Restaurant: The Hump

Location: Santa Monica Airport — Now closed!

Date: Dec 5, 2009

Cuisine: Japanese / Sushi

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For twelve years the Hump was one of my absolute favorite LA restaurants. It combined cutting edge LA Japanese, unparalleled ingredients, a cool location and great decor. Last year they got shot themselves in the head and served whale meat to some journalists disguised as high rollers and got themselves closed. Personally, I found this very sad. I myself, despite having eaten there 40-50 times and having numerous omakases ever ate anything illegal — as far as I knew. Nor for the record would I ever eat a primate or cetacean.

That being said, I wanted to post the only complete omakase from the Hump that I have photos of. Unfortunately, they aren’t great photos either, some being from my cel phone, but we shall get no more. Typhoon, BTW, which is owned by the same people and located below is still open and is a very good place as well, it’s just a different think, as a bit less elegant than the Hump was.

Uni (Sea Urchin) over Ikura (Salmon Eggs).

Tai (red snapper) and some other sashimi. I loved the sashimi at the hump. One of these has Yuzu, the other radish, and they are dusted with million year old salt.

Soem various cuts of tuna/yellowtail. Ponzu and jalapeno.

Traditional Japanese egg custard. I don’t remember what was in this particular one, often shrimp or mushrooms.

A whole main lobster, converted into various tempura and sashimi. There is also some vegetable tempura, and some endive with some lobster something on it. Oftentimes at the Hump the lobster was so fresh the head squirmed on the plate.

A close up of one of the endive things. Gold foil. I think it was roe.

Various bits of fish, all yummy i’m sure.

The lobster head returns for lobster miso soup.

Sauteed mushrooms.

Kobe beef, cooked at the table.

Some sushi. I was notorious at the Hump when not getting the Omakase for having these Mega large plates of sushi come to the table. The Hump had 3 custom porcelain slabs, about 18 inches by four feet. I’d often have one totally full.

The remains of custom homemade sorbets.

Oh Hump. Why did you have to go over to the dark side. I miss thee.

For more LA area sushi, see here.

Food as Art: Sasabune

Restaurant: Sasabune [1, 2]

Location: 12400 Wilshire Blvd Ste 150 (South Carmelina Avenue) Los Angeles, CA 90025, (310) 820-3596

Date: October 29, 2010

Cuisine: Japanese

Rating: Excellent as always.

Today I went to one of my usual lunch spots, Sasabune. This is one of LA’s many top sushi joints. It’s an culinary descendant of the Nozawa school of “warm rice” sushi making. The best way to enjoy these places is with Omakase. I opted for the “Japanese Omakase” which means more “squirmy creatures,” and hence more fun for me.

The appetizer here is some kind of giant mollusk. It was served with pepper/yuzu relish and 10,000 year old sea salt. The clam has a taste similar to scallop, but with a firmer texture. Although salty (no duh) it’s very nice with the yuzu and salt.

Big-eye tuna (Maguro) and Toro. As is typical at this school of sushi place many of pieces already have sauces, and do not need soy sauce. If you are a sushi neophyte you should know that Toro is the fatty belly of the tuna, which means it tastes better. The Japanese rank Toro into different grades of honorability. This is fairly normal Toro (some get almost white with fat), but it melted in the mouth like butter.

I believe this was Tai (red snapper) and another white fish. The little bits of seasoning are customized to each fish and add a nice zing.

Oyster done two ways: raw with vinegar and spicy radish, the other baked dynamite. The later is richer, but the first has the pleasant briny taste of fine oysters.

Salmon with the traditional sesame and the sheet of seaweed stuff (which I love). A very nice Hamachi (yellowtail), with a little yuzu for kick. Giant clam, and sweet shrimp (raw). This last is sweet and soft and melts in the mouth.

Orange clam and two kinds of mackerel, Spanish and Japanese.

After a brief trip to the fryer, the sweet shrimp head makes a return appearance, tempura style. You eat the whole thing, the heat has denatured the chiton in the shell into a softer more sugary form (chiton is a quad sugar organic construct like cellulose).

Waste not, want not. The shrimp roe returns too, marinated in a nice tart vinegary ponzu.

My brother groaned at this from across the table, but I love both. Very sweet Ikura (salmon eggs), which pop in the mouth to release their sweet/salty flavor, and a very nice sweet Uni (sea urchin) — from the taste I would assume from Santa Barbara.

Ankimo (Monk fish liver) and sea eel. Yum! The liver was in a miso sauce. The eel of course is BBQ, with the sweet sauce.

Probably red snapper again? and maybe another cut of yellowtail.

Japanese sea scallop, with salt and yuzu. This is SO good.

This is actually an eel roll my brother ate. But we each got the blue crab hand roll before it. However, the Sasabune blue crab rolls are SO GOOD that we gobbled it down before I remembered to grab the camera and snap a picture. If I hadn’t been full I would have ordred another.

Don’t miss my detailed post comparing the American and Japanese Omakases. CLICK HERE.