The Hump (Santa Monica) - Review (long)
Short Review: Incredible, fresh, melt-in-your-mouth nigiri! Can't wait to go back!! Thanks 'hounds -- would have never gone without you!
Took the bf for an early bday dinner to The Hump. Hes a sushi lover, so I was a bit nervous about the quality - as I had never been but after seeing all the favorable responses on a post last week, was excited to try something new.
I made a reservation for 8:30pm last Friday night. Unfortunately, you cannot reserve for the bar (where I knew he would want to sit). We arrived a little early, and our table was ready for us. As I thought, he wanted to sit at the bar, so we made the request, and was told it would be about an hour wait. We agreed to it and headed downstairs to the sister restaurant, Typhoon, for a drink. The bar area was crowded, so we took our drinks back upstairs to the outdoor patio that overlooks the Santa Monica airport runway. Its quite lovely up there. There were about 10 tables of four outdoor patio furniture, really. Nothing fancy, but once you are settled in, its very calming and we enjoyed watching the sunset and relaxing in the night air.
The hostess, Marianne (?), was absolutely delightful checked up on us, got us more drinks, etc. I dont think we waited the full hour maybe 45 minutes or so.
The room itself was nice clean lines the sushi bar area is higher than most Ive been to and there is no glass case blocking your view. You sit on high on bar stools and can see everything the sushi chefs are doing. The dining room is fairly small, but tables were well spaced out. I expected it to be a little fancier/romantic than it was regardless, its a pleasant room.
The other thing I appreciated about The Hump was the team serving mentality. When our glasses were empty, several different servers assisted in refilling as was the case with clearing plates (always done promptly) and everyone (from the sushi chefs to the servers to the hostess) had a strikingly pleasant attitude about them like they enjoyed their job vs. pretending to like their job and/or serving out of obligation.
On to the chow
In the past, Ive had difficulty with sushi and enjoying it in a single bite. The size of The Humps nigiri was PERFECT for me. And the quality of the fish was outstanding!!! It was the closest thing to melt-in-your-mouth fish Ive had and it was nice that it could actually melt-in-my-mouth since it was the perfect size and my mouth wasnt overwhelmed with the quantity of food.
We debated doing omasake, but opted for the individual route.
* Albacore (like butter!!!)
* Yellowtail it had a bit of wasabi that was just the right amount and again, amazing fish!
* At this point, we noticed something wriggling at the bar. Ive never seen this done before, but they were serving live sweet shrimp. There was a cooler next to the sushi bar, theyd take out flopping shrimp, promptly chop off the heads and prepare the bodies. One of the bodies actually moved a bit after it was placed on my plate on top of the rice and all! The shrimp was very good but wasnt as outstanding as the other fish.
* We had the heads deep fried and they were very tasty (although, the eyeballs grossed me out)
* Octopus beautiful presentation! It was really thinly sliced I dont think Ive ever had octopus before it was dense, chewy and I didnt enjoy the flavor.
* Baked Scallops they were good, but nothing special hot, right out of the kitchen wouldnt order it again and Im a huge scallop fan.
* Halibut very good like the other fish
* The other items we had escape me at the moment (perhaps uni and baked eel?) they were all very good. We also ordered The Hump roll which was very good, but I cant remember what was in it (sorry!!) but I would definitely order it again!
* Fruit plate for dessert (really nice presentation of apples and cantaloupe)
We left very happy and satisfied. Would most certainly return. The nigiri is definitely the way to go although, we did not order any of the cooked items from the menu so I cant really say. I appreciated the accoutrements that each fish came with each element perfectly complemented each other. In addition, everything I saw had that extra element of presentation (both in arrangement and in unique and varying serving dishes) - which made the experience all the more enjoyable.
The crowd at the bar was a bit boisterous from time to time but it wasnt so bad that it ruined the experience. It could have been a notch or two mellower for my taste one of the groups when toasting, hit the glasses so hard, one of them broke! Another girl next to us broke a glass by dropping it and later kept telling a waitress how much she loved her and wanted to be friends (in that drunk kind of way) the staff took it all in stride and handled it quite well.
The damage: I was a little scared to get the bill, as I noticed the couple next to me had a bill of $660!! I was PLEASANTLY surprised that the bill was $194 (after tax -- and $60 of that was sake). Worth every penny although next time, Id skip the octopus and baked scallop.
Many thanks to the original poster of the request for a Westside date night sushi place last week and the great hound input that followed!
Sashimi is the way to go. Add a few nigiri here and there for variety but otherwise sashimi, sashimi, sashimi. If you don't know what you want, just ask them for reccomendations. Hump is my favorite sushi restaurant. Everyone I take there is blown away. And yes, you got off real easy with a $200 bill.
Last visit met a couple who fly down from SF just to have dinner at The Hump and then get back on their plane and fly back. It's that good.
Next time I'm going omakase. Witnessed this being served at the bar and it looked out of this world.
We went here for our anniversary and simply HATED it. Small portions, high prices(and we don't drink alcohol, so probably lower than most)and the nigiri itself was nothing special. We have much better nigiri in our area(Futami, Z-Sushi, Little Tokyo, Kiyosuzu), at about half the price. I would never go here again.