- Nicholas Lowie
My wife and I are lovers of sushi. We have eaten it all over the world--we have been to all the sushi places in LA except the infamous Ginza Sushi Ko. We live downtown and eat sushi at least twice a week (we are now mostly going to R23 and ((mostly now)) to Sushi Gen). As snotty as it sounds, we know what fish is going to be good just by looking--making actual friends (not just beer/commodity buddies) of the sushi men, as well as visiting wholesale fishmongers in the wee hours of the morning to buy our fish, along with the sushi men and their sous chefs. OK. We went to the Hump tonight after I had a wonderful lunch there a few weeks ago. The lunch was (not in the order served) raw octopus-like the sea, alive; toro distinctively different than most, would turn a "The Palm" fan to forgoe a New York Strip; Red Snapper filleted from a whole fish-it's texture was sublime with a small drizzling of fresh yuzu; Kampachi also filleted from whole fish. I had a wonderful time, and the tea was very good.
tonight we went and the announced chef specials were bluefin, yellowtail, katsuo, sweet shrimp, red snapper.
We ordered the toro which was extemely dry and tasted like prosciuotto de toro. As well was the bonito--incredibly dry, chewy and topped with toasted garlic (it was deliicous the prior luch). I ordered the Hotate (scallop-which was offered with mayonaise or seared) seared, which tasted as if they had dropped the muscle on the oven floor and used it as an oven cleaner.
They suggested the whole Aji as sashimi. It sounded promising, (was easily filled and skinned--one sign of fresh aji is its difficutly to skin) but turned out incredibly greasy and slimy, leaving a film in our mouths. We shared two more pieces: white salmon that was one of the ugliest, driest, not oily but filthy greasy fealing fish that I have ever eaten. The last piece was Oshinkotemaki-a pickle hand roll to rid my mouth of this awful crap. But the sushi man cut the radish into 3/8" x 2" pieces that filled the handroll, so that when you bit into the roll, the pieces of pickle could not be bitten off (because it was dessicated) and ripped out of the roll. You hand to chew and chew. My wife was actually physically sick tonight and I don't feel well writing this. We stated our opinions with the first piece to the chef and he said it was the best, the most prize oily pice . We questioned if it was an unusual cut, but received disdain. I knew we were in trouble. I know fish is a wild thing and changes day by day but this a particularly disgusting day.
I can say I will never eat at The Hump again. I so enjoyed my lunch prior, but this was the most unpleasant experience I have ever had eating sushi.
This used to be my favorite sushi bar -- maybe my favorite restaurant -- in L.A. What with its cool in the know location, soho loft interior, and fantastic fish. (Best meal I had there included live abalone, live clam, and live prawns whose severed but still moving heads were placed strategically on a plate so they could watch as their tails were imbibed -- no kidding.) Alas, the last time I went -- almost two years ago -- I felt the quality of the place had fallen way way down. The fish seemed tired, as did the restaurant as a whole. Was that just a fluke? (We were a lage party which is nevera good idea in a sushi bar.) Should I try the place again? How does it compare to Tsukasa which people here recommend and which every day I promise myself I'm going to try... That's a question for everybody, natch.
BTW: went to Nozawa a couple nights ago for first time in a while. Still great. But total magic? maybe no...Or am I just spoiled?