getting a head

My first foray into good sushi, no wait, I mean, REALLY good sushi, uh, nix that – SUBLIME sushi, was an out-of-the-way sushi bar called The Hump, on the third (and top) floor of the restaurant Typhoon in the Santa Monica Airport. Great view of the planes taking off and landing, and if you catch it just right, a most gorgeous sunset to boot. Definitely in my top ten of the most romantic restaurants I’ve been to.

During my LA years, I had been known to frequent Typhoon since it’s a short drive to and from my folks’ house, and it’s eclectic enough to merit bragging rights. A few of their most well-known menu items include ants, waterbugs, worms, and everyone’s favorite – crickets. While I’ve never indulged in any of these delicacies here or anywhere for that matter, it does secretly elevate my ego, knowing I’ve eaten at a restaurant that serves my number one phobia – scorpions. Typhoon is a four star restaurant in my book, and I’m sure worms, ants and arachnids are cooked and seasoned quite deliciously well before being served. You still couldn’t get me to eat any of those, however. But I digress…

This past weekend I took my folks to Tyhoon’s sister restaurant, The Hump, for an early Father’s Day dinner. I wanted them to experience what truly amazing, screamingly fresh fish flown in that day from Japan, really tastes like. They ordered their usual hamachi/toro/maguro (though they weren’t quite used to it served as straight sashimi and not nigiri), while I ordered the omakase (chef’s choice). This is only one of two places where I feel perfectly comfortable in omakase (the other being, of course, Koo, which I’ve cooed about a few times here on gfork).

Hirame (fluke), aji (mackerel), mirugai (scallop), seasoned with yuzo, shoyu, fresh wasabi to name a few, passed my lips to melt in mouth. But the pièce de résistance was still a head (so to speak).

The itamae (sushi chef) was handed two huge LIVE amaebi (sweet shrimp), at least 6″ each from head to tail, quickly beheaded them, deshelled and began chopping up the body into bite-size pieces. He placed the still moving heads, neck down, on a glass platter, then topped each raw shrimp piece was a scoop of sherbet colored uni, a small dollop of fresh wasabi, and placed them next to the not-quite-dead top half. I knew I had to psyche myself up for this. “I could do this,” I told myself. “Afterall, I do eat and enjoy oysters which one needs to eat live.” I must say, there was something extremely animalistic in me last night, as I ate the raw bodies of the crustaceans, while their eyes still twirling around like a vintage cat clock, antennae still waving about, and gills still flapping to and fro. I tried not to think of the gross-out factor but with the heads continually moving, violently at times, my mom horrifically uttered, “See, they’re mad at you!” Strangely, it didn’t bother me as much as it should have. It was an out-of-body experience. But In retrospect, I’m not sure if I would eat it again. But it was good. AND, you can’t get much fresher than that.

I did try to capture this on video, but my camera phone refused to cooperate.


  1. just sei no « gfork’s plate - March 12, 2010

    […] sei no Posted on March 12, 2010 by me A few years ago, I wrote about my extraordinary experience at one of my favorite sushi bars – The Hump.  The handful of times I’ve eaten there, […]

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