On social media and media coverage, sea urchin has become glamorized as an “it” ingredient in Los Angeles. Instagram posts starring uni are practically guaranteed to see a bump in likes, and chefs Isao Minami and Hisao Kasama have played a small part in sea urchin’s rise in the South Bay. The duo met while working at Benihana in Torrance and helped launch sea urchin focused Maruhide Uni Club, which became a sensation. In 2017, they teamed on Miyabi Uni in Old Town Torrance, with a menu that delivers even more (and more interesting) sea urchin preparations.
Miyabi Uni replaced long-standing Yuzu restaurant in Plaza del Prado. The new sea urchin focused tenants retained the same stylish dining room with wood slats, raked white plaster walls, and U-shaped bar. The name “miyabi” roughly translates from Japanese as elegant or beautiful, and the space and plates fit the billing.
Miyabi Oysters ($14.95) were my favorite appetizer. Two creamy, salt-kissed oysters arrived on the half-shell topped with sweet Santa Barbara uni, bursting salmon roe, caviar, decorative gold flakes, micro-greens, and savory tosazu jelly made with soy sauce, vinegar, and bonito flakes. It’s hard to imagine bites that manage to package more umami or flavor.