Sushi I-NABA is the latest outpost of a Japanese restaurant that debuted in Torrance in 1999. Chef Yasu Hirano presides over a six-seat, three-sided, omakase only sushi bar in downtown Manhattan Beach. Dinner’s reservation only, and lunch is more casual, but still relatively high end. Growing up, Hirano’s parents owned a fish market and sushi restaurant in Chiba Prefecture, and the young chef demonstrates a continued commitment to seafood freshness and seasonality.
Omakase Chirashi Bowl ($30) features a chef’s choice of sashimi served over California-grown rice folded with tangy rice vinegar, salt, and sugar. Chef Hirano would normally use 7-day-aged Japanese bluefin and 17-day-aged Spanish bluefin belly (chu-toro), but since I don’t eat bluefin tuna due to sustainability issues, he replaced both cuts without judgment. Chef Hirano prepared his chirashi bowl with precision and flair. Components included sliced sea bream; flounder (mako-garei); binchotan torched Canadian black cod with yuzu salt; 7-day-aged yellowtail; longtooth grouper (kue); a silky sea scallop and lemon “sandwich;” Spanish mackerel; binchotan torched beltfish with yuzu salt; binchotan torched horse mackerel (which he called “spleen fish”); binchotan torched sea eel; sweet shrimp served on shiso; cherry smoked trout roe, and a firm pink-hued striped fish I can’t recollect. He garnished with sesame seeds, seaweed salad, and wasabi.
Bonues: each chirashi bowl comes with clear “short-necked” (littleneck) clam soup made more savory with seaweed.