Sushi I-NABA (Manhattan Beach) - OOE Omakase

I’ve been to i-naba over a dozen times and had no clue they also had a tiny six-seat omakase-only sushi-ya in manhattan beach. They started as a lunch only place and about a year ago added reservation-only dinner service for up to six guests (good candidate for an FTC buyout). The space has no gas line, no bathroom, and no liquor license, however you can bring your own “beverage”.

Sushi i-naba is run by chef yasu-san who’s doing some legit aging. He gets most of his fish, killed using ike jime, directly from his mom in japan (she owns a restaurant and has access to the fishing ports) and his nori from his step-father who makes his own nori, a true family business.

Highlights

  • aged amberjack belly
  • sanma
  • japanese water snail
  • kanimiso tofu
  • aged akami zuke
  • aged chutoro
  • aged toro
  • sawara
  • uni
  • braised kama
  • anago temaki
  • torotaku

Great addition to LA. @Chowseeker1999, @j_l, @sgee, @moonboy403, @ciaobob, @a5kobe, @bookwich, @thecookie another great place to try.

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one week aged amberjack belly, mustard, yuzu zest
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barron point oyster, ponzu
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no gas, this will have to do
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sanma (pike mackerel) seared and raw
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tsubugai - simmered japanese water snail, yuzu zest
Sweet with a great abalone-like texture
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kanimiso (crab brain) tofu, snow crab
Wow, this was like eating the entire essence of the crab in one bite, fantastic.
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tane lineup
Resting at the proper temperature and not sitting in some ice box.
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one week aged akami zuke (marinated lean tuna)
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18 day aged chutoro (spain)
So fatty it got denied health insurance for having pre-existing diabetes
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sea bream kobujime (cured in kombu)
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isaki - striped grunt (shizuoka prefecture)
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kamasu - barracuda, lemon juice, seaweed salt
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gindara - black cod, yuzu salt
Seared to render the fat and crisp the skin
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hotate - hokkaido scallop
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sawara (spanish mackerel), green onion and ginger freshly ground using a suribachi and surikogi
The freshly ground negi and ginger put this over the top.
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hokkaido bafun uni
Nori was outstanding
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braised sea bream collar, gobo, daikon
Wow, another hit, so good. The meat was fatty, sweet, and falling off the bone. The gobo still had a nice bite and the daikon was like a soft caramelized onion. I wish i had some rice to soak up all the sauce. I can only imagine how good @beefnoguy’s braised kinki he had at tsukiji must have been.
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japanese butterfish, red yuzu kosho
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sushi
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kue (longtooth grouper) shabu shabu
only miss of the night, not sure if this was supposed to have soy sauce or not, pretty bland.
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22 day aged toro (boston)
I’ve never seen this technique of gently warming up toro by placing it on top of a plastic-covered bowl of hot water.
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so old, it goes to bed earlier than @Linus
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pickled turnips
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yukimasu - snow trout (nagano prefecture)
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sweet shrimp, caviar
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anago
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kue (longtooth grouper) clear soup
Much better than the nigiri version.
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hirame - halibut
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ishidai - knife jaw
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smoked trout roe, king crab
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golden king crab egg chinmi
@beefnoguy, not sure what this is called, yasu-san explained this was pre-formed crab eggs.
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torotaku
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topped off
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santa barbara uni
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anago temaki
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matcha red bean mochi from japan
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toto
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Had another great meal with yasu-san. word must have gotten out, he did two full seatings the night i was there.

Temperature, seasoning, and NSR were all “on point”, just wish there were more hikarimono (kohada, aji, iwashi, sayori), kanpyo and tamago.

Highlights

  • kanimiso
  • shako
  • shirako
  • tsubugai
  • kamasu
  • kinmedai
  • ankimo
  • uni
  • gindara
  • hotate
  • otoro
  • anago
  • battera

noresore - undeveloped baby seawater eel
the eyes have it
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kazunoko - herring roe
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kanimiso (crab brain) tofu, snow crab
love this, like a crab flan.
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shako (hokkaido) - mantis shrimp
wish there was more shako in la. this was meaty and sweet, very good.
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hotaru ika - firefly squid, sumiso
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shirako - cod sperm
tis the season for sperm, come and get it.
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tsubugai - simmered japanese sea snail
delicious. sweet with a nice bite. nice contrast between the crunchy meat and the soft liver.
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braised turnip, ground chicken
warm and comforting
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21 day aged akami zuke (marinated lean tuna)
excellent
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15 day aged chutoro (boston)
soft, fatty and full of umami. outstanding.
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isaki - striped grunt
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ishidai - japanese knifejar
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kamasu - barracuda, lemon zest, seaweed salt
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yamaimo - marinated japanese mountain yam
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kinmedai kobujime - golden eye snapper cured in kombu
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ankimo - monkfish liver
fucking delicious. this was served warm and sliced off a huge lobe and had a texture of custard. i prefer this over the cold, pate prep. if chef’s replaced foie gras with this i would be okay with that.
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reminded me of a certain emoji
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hirame (chiba prefecture) - halibut
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santa barbara uni (red sea urchin), hokkaido bafun uni (purple sea urchin)
Doesn’t get any better than this, incredible.
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kan-buri shabu - kan-buri (winter wild yellowtail), mejina (large scale black fish), maitake mushroom
i’m not a big fan of shabu shabu and unfortunately this didn’t change my mind, i mostly just tasted the ponzu dipping sauce. i would have preferred just eating the sashimi straight up with wasabi and soy sauce.
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kami-nabe - paper pot
i’m always amazed by the physics of cooking broth in paper over an open flame. freaking japan.
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gindara - seared black cod, yuzu salt
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hotate no isobeyaki - scallop
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sawara - spanish mackerel, green onion and ginger
loved the freshly ground green onion and ginger on top.
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28 day aged otoro (spain) - fatty tuna belly
instead of placing the neta on top of saran wrap over hot water before serving, yasu-san changed it up and used a plate warmed with hot water.
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otoro uni
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shime saba - marinated mackerel
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mejina shiso - large scale black fish
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yukimasu - snow trout, dehydrate soy sauce powder
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madai - wild seabream
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clam, kama soup
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anago two ways, sauced and salted
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battera x3
vinegar-y hikarimono goodness
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santa barbara uni temaki
great sweet cold ending
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mochi
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Sushi I-NABA
1300 Highland Ave
Ste 107
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
https://www.sushi-inaba.com/

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Price wise, it’s basically premier LA omakase price. Verdict on the rice? Also, I suppose you had the “Umi” omakase?

Hi @PorkyBelly,

Interesting! Nice find. We had no idea either (that Inaba had a separate sushi counter in MB). I wonder how it compares with Inaba proper if you did a full omakase there?

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Another secret joint - unearthed…

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Thanks so much for the report! It’s always interesting to see what other restaurants/chefs are doing.

The thing I find very strange is using a butane/propane type blowtorch to heat up what appears to be binchotan to impart the smokey flavor and binchotan heat/profile onto the fish, although at the same time the flavor of the gas heat will also be there to an extent. I saw Akiko’s (San Francisco) do this a few months ago on social media and was quite baffled by this logistically… In a way this defeats the purpose of using binchotan to be honest. If you go to yakitori and robatayaki shops there are specific although more time consuming ways to heat up binchotan for prepping the grill. It’s entirely possible due to kitchen size and logistics that this cannot be done and if it were only for one fish out of the entire omakase. The sanma looks way too seared to me, but hopefully it was so fatty and delicious that this wasn’t too much of a distraction. If it were me I would rather him just use the blowtorch, there are techniques to carefully control it so not to over sear (e.g. hold it almost parallel to the neta) or only a portion of it is seared that the heat trickles over the rest of the fish gradually. Sure it’s not going to look as high end, but it might taste better so the exterior isn’t too scorched.

I’d be curious about how their aging is done. I was at another restaurant not long ago where they told me they aged tuna, but when I learned of the temperature, it was more about resting the fish on ice over a period of time.

The water snail looks like bagai…I love this stuff. Though did it really need yuzu zest? Chef seems to use it quite a lot.

What kind of crab was used in the dish with the kanimiso tofu? Kegani or Alaskan King Crab?

Very odd about using saran wrap over hot water in a bowl to warm up the tuna. Remember the youtube video of Sushi Nakamura Tokyo using hot water to warm plates to warm up the tuna? 22 day aged bluefin is a bit too much but perhaps it works for Boston and depending on the temperature and preparation method.

Kue needs to be aged, and is aged an average of 2 weeks of the several times I’ve had it at high end sushi omakase restaurants in Tokyo to draw out more flavor, umami, and texture. If he had to shabu shabu it, the texture, flavor, and umami would pretty much be completely all gone, perhaps not much aging done, and would explain why it tasted better in soup

The madai nitsuke looks very nice! Try the daikon with a little Japanese mustard next time if they have it.

The chinmi appears to be what is referred to in Japanese as kani uchiko (salt cured/fermented) where uchiko = ovaries. For those who have had Seiko Gani (female Matsuba crabs which the season just got started in Japan), the brown tiny crunchy eggs are the unfertilized eggs called sotoko and the orange more moist and pastier textured pieces are the uchiko (think of a moist but soft salted egg yolk in a mooncake). It’s a lot easier to source kani uchiko from a jar (if serving as chinmi) which absolutely facilitates the drinking of sake. It’s rather gooey in texture, but with the right timing and sake the umami level can be quite awesome.

The Santa Barbara uni looks great!!

Glad SoCal has places that are doing aged fish. Hopefully it does not become such a bandwagon like trend that other sushi restaurants start doing it. Modesty is key with aging (not just the timing but also the nature of the chef/business), too much either defeats the purpose or does not really add additional value nor satisfaction, and the same goes for places that served aged fish in Tokyo more extensively beyond true Edomae style.

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Oh wow… look at you! Sweet find.

Is this their basic omakase served to everyone? Or just peeps who give off that 301 vibe? :slight_smile:

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I had no complaints with the rice, if anything i would have preferred more.

i got the $150 omakase plus supplements.

Looking at some random pictures on Yelp

  • BYOB , corkage is $5?! (well, they call it glass fee, maybe you have to pop it open yourself) Nice!! :slight_smile: Must be fun to do a bang bang here back to back with FWD (3 mins walk away). FWD Raw oysters > FWD ceviche > I-makase + sake > back to FWD Seafood Gumbo > FWD dessert lol.

  • Looks like they are using akasu / sake lees vinegar in their sushi rice. Pictures from one a year ago the rice was white, so perhaps they made the switch this year in the seasoning or increased the amount of vinegar they use?

  • looking on Instagram last year they had uchiwa ebi (see the latest Mori Sushi thread) and seiko gani too.

Now I wonder what the $180 course will have, hopefully not just kohada and tamagoyaki. Thank goodness they don’t use wagyu for sushi…

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A little bowl of happiness.

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i’m not sure you can really compare the two, they’re on completely different levels, i don’t think they even get the same fish.

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they have three tiers: $120, $150, and $180 which requires five days notice. I got the $150 plus supplements (starting after the soup).

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Looks like they do omakase at lunch too

https://www.sushi-inaba.com/menus

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I meant does everyone get the same items? I’ve noticed and I think @Bookwich has mentioned that they gauge your knowledge and sometimes we get the starter kit instead of the big guns. Knowing all the neta helps, I know, but…

What is a 301 vibe? I think I want it. :slight_smile:

I’ve noticed when dining alone and requesting omakase, a chef will often adjust the price to how much I’ve eaten, rather than the “set price”.

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Me too. :smile: It’s a Sushi School reference - Sushi 101, 201 and 301.

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yeah chef yasu-san mentioned he doesn’t like blow torching but doesn’t have a gas line so maybe there’s some permitting thing preventing him from heating up binchotan, idunno.

not sure about the kanimiso tofu, the meat on top was snow crab.

thank you, that must be it.

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Ah okay, I’m probably not the best person to answer that since i usually give the chef no choice and just order OOE.

However, the other person there that night, who claimed to be relatively new to omakase, got the same items I got, excluding the supplements.

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Oh yay!

yeah, yasu-san says he’s using red vinegar. i noticed the pictures on yelp and instagram from last year had a different chef, so it’s possible the previous chef used rice vinegar.

i think you get more otsumami and nigiri.

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Picked up by Eater. Props.

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