I remember reading on our old board about a new restaurant that had opened up, specializing in all things Uni (Sea Urchin), known as Maruhide Uni Club. It seemed to have gotten positive and negative reviews, but generally seemed like a place we’d have to visit one day. Sadly, we never made it out before it closed, but the 2 Executive Chefs - Isao Minami and Hisao Kasama - from Maruhide Uni Club recently reemerged with their new venture, Miyabi Uni.
The interior sports a clean, minimalist look, with the only slight oddity being HDTVs playing NBA Basketball games.
As we opened the menu, it was Uni Insanity: They have Uni Croquettes, Uni Tempura, Uni Miso Soup(!)… sadly they didn’t have Uni Ice Cream, which would’ve completed the craziness.
Uni Chawanmushi (Japanese Steamed Egg Custard with Sea Urchin, Shiitake Mushroom and White Fish):
Perfectly cooked Egg Custard, silky, delicate with tender, meaty Shiitake Mushroom was the highlight of the dish. The Uni matched the Chawanmushi, but it felt unnecessary - not really incorporated like the absurdly delicious Foie Gras Chawanmushi at Aburiya Raku.
The White Fish was overcooked, however, and seemed more ideal as adding flavor into the Egg Custard rather than actually for the meat itself.
Osakaya Chobei - Daiginjo Sake (Hyogo, Japan):
Miyabi Uni features a few familiar Sake we’ve had around town (like the safe, clean Kikusui), but we had never had Osakaya Chobei before, so we decided to give it a try. Lightly fruity, rounded and very easy to drink, it’s quite smooth.
Uni Onsen Tamago (Soft Boiled, Cage-Free Egg with Dashi Soy Sauce and Fresh Sea Urchin):
A nice, albeit slightly showy presentation with Salmon Roe, Soft Boiled Egg, Sea Urchin Roe, topped with Edible Gold Flakes. Thankfully the taste was even better!
Breaking open the Soft-Boiled Cage Free Egg, it’s a gorgeous deep orange color, creamy and luscious, and you get the little pops of deliciousness with the Salmon Roe, and then the Uni. It was fantastic!
My favorite dish of the evening.
It should be noted that this week they are featuring South American Uni. Our server noted that their regular supplier for Santa Barbara Uni mentioned that this week’s wasn’t up to par, so they went with South American Uni.
Uni Tamagoyaki (Japanese Rolled Cage-Free Egg Omelette with Sea Urchin):
Their Tamagoyaki was perfectly cooked: Fluffy, still soft in the middle, but what set it apart was that the center of this Tamagoyaki was stuffed with Uni! (A lot of it.)
It was also served with a Housemade Shoyu-Uni Sauce (Soy Sauce and whipped Sea Urchin Sauce), which went quite nicely with the Omelette.
Jidori Chicken Karaage (Deep Fried Marinated Free-Range Chicken Thigh with Lemon Zest Salt):
This was OK. Not bad, but not great. The Boneless Fried Chicken morsels arrived a little bit dark, and it lacked the crispiness of the better versions locally. But more importantly it was a nice reprieve from Uni overload this evening.
Agedashi Tofu (Deep Fried Tofu Served with Tempura Sauce and Grated Turnip):
A pretty solid rendition of Agedashi Tofu, it retained a light crispiness on the exterior, with a nicely restrained Sauce (not too salty). But after having versions using Housemade, Fresh Tofu (there’s a real delicate, cleaner, softer, brighter aspect), it makes you appreciate what a difference that makes.
Uni Aglio e Olio (Garlic, Olive Oil and Red Chili Spaghetti with Fresh Sea Urchin):
The core taste of Fried Garlic, Olive Oil and Red Chilies tossed with Spaghetti was lightly spicy and offered a pretty clean background to showcase the Uni. Sadly, the batch of Uni was not so fresh. It tasted like funky ocean water (old).
What’s strange is that the Uni we had in the previous dishes were much better. I’m guessing since they have so many dishes on the menu that feature Uni (and it was at 90% capacity) that Miyabi has to stock a lot of Uni each night, and we probably just got unlucky with a bad batch.
Butterfish Saikyoyaki (Broiled Miso Marinated Butterfish):
One of the Daily Specials not on the regular menu, a good Saikyoyaki dish is always welcome, so we were looking forward to this. The Butterfish is just slightly overcooked, but otherwise, delicious, fragrant and the Saikyo Miso really elevated the Butterfish.
Uni Cream Pasta (Creamy Sea Urchin Spaghetti with Fresh Sea Urchin):
This was SO GOOD! So much better than the Aglio e Olio, the South American Uni in this Pasta dish was very fresh, lightly sweet, a good, delicate brininess and the Housemade Uni Cream Sauce just gave each bite of the Spaghetti this really luxurious, pleasing taste with every bite.
This was easily the best Japanese-style Uni Spaghetti we’ve had in years.
Chef’s Choice Sashimi Platter:
We all knew this wasn’t a Sushi restaurant, but we were curious how their Sashimi was. Simply put, Miyabi’s Sashimi is very straightforward and typical. And it reminds you of just how crazy-good Aburiya Raku’s Sashimi is (that they can churn out top quality Sashimi for an Izakaya); there’s no comparison.
Tai - Red Snapper:
Their Sashimi in general was on the thicker, rustic cut style, which took away from the enjoyment. You got generous portions, but it felt a little too thick at times. Their Tai was really rather pedestrian (not bad, not great).
Uni - Sea Urchin Roe:
This bit of South American Uni tasted a little old. Slightly more oceanic than in some of the previous dishes.
Shima Aji - Stripe Jack:
They were featuring Shima Aji from Ehime, Japan, and it was the best item on the Chef’s Choice Sashimi Platter, firmer, but just a more pleasing mouthfeel and taste.
Shake - Salmon:
Chutoro - Medium Fatty Tuna Belly:
This was the weakest of the pieces, surprisingly. The cut was very thick (and distracting), and there was chewy gristle in my piece.
Miyabi Kaisen Donburi (Fresh Sea Urchin with Assorted Premium Sashimi (Tuna, Chu-Toro, Scallops, Salmon, Yellowtail, Squid, & Salmon Roe):
While not as pretty as Tsujita Sushi’s Lunch Kaisen Don offerings, Miyabi offers a generous amount of nice ingredients, and it went well with the Steamed Rice.
My favorite parts were a bit of the Squid, Wasabi and Salmon Roe bursting open with some of the Steamed Rice.
It’s a pretty respectable Kaisen Don / Sashimi Bowl.
Service overall was fine, being a bit on the casual side, but attentive enough.
If you’re in the mood for Uni - and lots of it - Miyabi Uni might be the spot for you. They offer a wide array of Uni dishes, so you can explore your Uni fantasies and see how Sea Urchin Roe might taste with Egg, Deep Fried, in Soup, in Salad, and beyond.
At some point it started feeling overwhelming for me, and some of the dishes were just brought down by uneven quality Uni. If Miyabi Uni is able to guarantee top-grade, fresh Uni in every single dish, it would make things better, but I think I’d still be tired of it after a while. And at $75 per person total (tax & tip included), it felt a little spendy for what we got.
But as it is, their Uni Onsen Tamago (Soft Boiled Cage-Free Egg with Fresh Sea Urchin), Uni Tamagoyaki (Rolled Egg Omelette with Sea Urchin), and their Uni Cream Pasta were the stuff of Uni lovers’ dreams. We’d be glad to go back for those items at least.
1231 Cabrillo Ave, Suite 101
Torrance, CA 90501
Tel: (424) 376-5135