You know you’re in for a good Japanese meal when you’re in an authentic Japan-based hotel — the Miyako — and locals are frequenting the place.
As a reviewer, you want to keep this gem of a place to yourself, so you can always get a spot at the sushi bar, but the job requires that you tell everyone. Damn.
ISE-SHIMA in Torrance, in the aforementioned Miyako, has everything from a top-notch sushi chef, beautiful fresh fish, low-light ambiance and did we mention the Blue Fin tuna?
Our guide for the night is the restaurant manager, Igor, who gives us a helpful instruction on the history of the hotel as well as the restaurant. Ask for him.
Chef Yukio Sonoda asks for any allergies and then the Omakase courses start arriving (‘Omakase literally means “I will leave it to you.” ) First up, a tasty Amuse Bouche, eggplant marinated in a ponzu sauce, followed by tuna in soy, and then as the centerpiece, a dazzling platter of assorted sashimi, grilled black cod, yellowtail Shabu-Shabu, and seasonal vegetables add a pop of color. (The omakase experience starts at $100.)
We don’t know whether to ‘gram it or eat so settle for both. The tuna ‘rolls’ on each end are wrapped in crispy cucumber and the fish melts in your mouth. Buttery salmon disappears fast, then the brightly-hued roe, the almost transparent yellowtail, and Toro tuna.
Before we can even take a breath, out comes the Suimono Soup, a clear soup with white fish and mushrooms in a tiny teapot.
After the cleansing respite of the soup, the Savory Egg custard is delicately placed in front of us. Meant to be eaten immediately, the egg custard with fish is an acquired taste.
Japanese Wagyu Sirloin Steak follows, slightly cooked with a torch that is so marbled it melts in our mouth. More, please.
A tempura shrimp, white fish, and vegetables, the dish is light and crunchy, as it should be.
With a varied wine and cocktail menu, there are two pages dedicated to sake, so, by all means, ask for advice.
You’ll find regular favorites — rolls, miso soup, sashimi, noddles — plus ‘Western ‘ offerings such as steak and club sandwich for hotel guests, but when the sushi is so good it would be a waste to have anything else.
To give you an idea of price: California red crab, cucumber and avocado roll is $9 Spicy Tuna $10, Shrimp Tempura with cucumber and avocado $18; assorted Nigiri of sushi and tuna roll is $30. So there are deals to be had but for a special occasion, nothing beats letting the chef pick the seasonal favorites.
Just don’t tell anyone about this little gem.
Ise-Shima At The Miyako
21381 S. Western Avenue, Torrance, CA 90501
Phone: (310) 320-6700