The quest for deliciously fresh sushi in Los Angeles can be trying. You might suffer at the hands of rolls stuffed with exotic fruits and vegetables alongside downplayed (and subpar) sashimi or you may get stuck with menus featuring traditional rolls that don’t quite hit the mark. But once you eat at Hama, you realize you’ll never have to lower your sushi standards again.
Walk down the stairs to an unmarked wooden door amongst the hustle and bustle of Downtown LA’s Little Tokyo and enter a tiny vestibule that leads into the austere seating area — no more than 15 chairs around a standard size sushi bar. While the hostess is not the most friendly of greeters, when she tells you to sit, move briskly and take your seats.
The dining experience can be overwhelming for a first timer. You aren’t given a menu, and the sushi chefs are making rolls at what seems like 90 miles an hour right before your eyes. But the simplicity of Hama’s ordering process is what makes no menu necessary — your only options are cut and hand rolls, made either spicy or regular. The task of getting your order in though, is a bit challenging. The only way to be heard is to bark orders as soon as you catch the first sushi chef’s eye. But after that, it’s all smooth sailing. Your food comes out unimaginably fast, and you can continue to order throughout the course of your meal, as the sushi chefs tally your picks on a simple white checklist with golf pencils.
Everything is delicious; from spicy albacore cut rolls to yellowtail hand rolls, you really can’t go wrong. But while regulars enjoy Hama’s brash craziness, but if great service and a little guidance is what you’re after, then its best if you just sit this one out.