A Cut Above the Rest
Hama hits its stride
For the best—and more unusual—types of sushi, refer to the list of daily specials. If you’re lucky, there will be Kona blue kampachi ($7), an environmentally sustainable fish raised in Hawaii. The serving is two pieces of nigiri sushi. The flesh is white and has a flavor similar to the far more common hamachi. What is different is the luxuriant buttery texture that shares an affinity with toro. Beware, though: It does tend to sell out.
treat from the sushi bar is ebi. These shrimp are larger and have more
flavor than usual. Try it in the seafood sunomono ($7), a salad of thin
sliced cucumbers dressed with sweet vinegar. It can be ordered with
shrimp, crab, octopus or all of the above.
The most pleasurable experience at Hama comes from weaving through the sushis and appetizers. You can pass on the teriyakis and tempuras, which are merely commonplace.
The tempura batter even qualifies as a bit
gummy; not crisp, as it should be. Instead, wander over to the maki
sushi listings, which include some of the best I’ve had in some time.
You’ll find a blackened lobster roll ($12), a careful preparation of
succulent lobster with finely minced cucumber and scallion. There is
just a hint of the blackening spice in this sea weed-wrapped roll.
Gyoza ($7) is a meaty counterpoint to this dish. Six fried dumplings
with a minced beef filling are cleverly served over shredded cabbage to
allow any excess oil to drain away. Another item that instantly brings
Hama to mind is the grilled squid. The whole body of a squid, minus the
tentacles, is marinated in soy sauce and sake before it is char-grilled
and again served over a bed of cabbage. The squid is fine as is, but it
does come with a side of masago sauce, which is orange smelt roe. This
sauce could be called a masago aioli.
If you must have tempura
and teriyaki, the best options are the lunch box ($11.95) or one of the
combination dinners ($21-$48). The lunch is served in a lacquered box
complete with salad, rice, miso soup, fresh fruit and a choice of two
items. Gyoza, sushi and sashimi are among the options.
The setting at Hama still looks good and, best of all, the kitchen staff and the sushi chefs are hitting their stride. The discreet and competent service also merits notice. Though it now has additional competition in the North Shore, Hama remains a cut above the rest.
RESTAURANT HAMA 333 W. Brown Deer Road (414) 352-5051 $$-$$$ Credit Cards: All major Smoke Free Handicap Access: Yes
Restaurant Hama | Photos by Jessica Kaminski