<< Back

Haute Spot: Hatsumi

Beyond Sushi


By Rob Kachelriess

A rewarding and inventive Japanese dining experience, Hatsumi goes far beyond routine sashimi and sushi rolls. The new concept by Dan Krohmer of Other Mama is a pivotal early step in the transformation of Fergusons Downtown from a vintage, Fremont Street motel to a social entertainment space. It works because it feels like an event without feeling like an investment. Need directions? Just look for the Big Rig Jig, a towering art installation of two intertwined 18-wheel trucks in the courtyard.  

Hatsumi was renovated from three hotel rooms to create an intimate, yet efficient space. The long dining room almost resembles a classic American diner, but with white brick, blue curtains and gold light fixtures to shape its own identity. The restaurant feels retro but modern at the same time—and that’s not a bad thing for 2019. A sit-down counter gives customers an up-close view of Krohmer, Chef de Cuisine Bobby Silva and the rest of the kitchen team in action.

A custom-made robata grill is the engine that drives most of the menu. It operates at high temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees over Japanese white charcoal to minimize smoke and trap in the juices and natural flavors of meats, seafood and vegetables, some of which are sourced locally from Desert Bloom Eco Farm. An intriguing collection of appetizers reflect Krohmer’s own exposure to Japan’s culinary culture while studying overseas. The Shrimp Okonomiyaki, served on a fluffy cabbage pancake, is probably the heaviest dish on the menu, topped with a sweet and savory combo of house-made okonomi sauce and aonori seaweed powder. Krohmer’s modified the recipe since the restaurant opened, adding bacon to bring out a heftier profile of flavors.

The main attraction is a varied lineup of grilled skewers, each ranging in price from $2 to $6, allowing guests to customize a meal according to their preferences in both price and level of adventurousness. Shrimp, eggplant and Kobe beef are flavorful, yet familiar, while quail, beef tongue and veal sweetbreads (organ meat) are perfect for those looking to step outside routine comfort zones. Krohmer makes full use of whole jidori chickens—processed and shipped to order from a Los Angeles farm—producing skewers that not only include a perfectly charred tender breast, but also the wing, thigh, liver, skin or heart. Anything left over is simmered into a stock reduction for a sweet tare sauce that’s used to glaze the breast and served alongside a meatball of ground chicken, ginger, garlic and onion.

The vibrant and photogenic Beef Tataki mixes lightly seared filet slices with fresh greens and radish. It’s topped with rayu chili oil plus a crunchy, salty mixture of fried garlic and shallots that’s balanced by the bright citrus of ponzu for a refreshing, yet full-bodied dish. A $55 omakase is based on the chef’s daily preferences and seasonality of ingredients. Pay a little extra for premium options, which on any given day could include an upgrade to Wagyu beef or langoustines in place of shrimp.

Hatsumi is an Izakaya-inspired social hub, where small plates are enjoyed with conversation, good friends and easy drinks. Careful attention is given to the Japanese beer, whiskey and saki selection, as well as simple well-balanced cocktails. The Japanther, despite the playful name, is all-business, blending aged white oak Akashi whiskey with bitters and the subtle almond flavor of orgeat.

Yet, Hatsumi is just the beginning. It sits across the courtyard from La Monja, another new concept by Krohmer that will focus on coastal Mexican flavors under the direction of Chef de Cuisine Noel “D.J.” Flores. Both ventures represent the growth of the Fremont East district as a culinary destination for locals as well as tourists seeking an organic relationship with Downtown beyond the lights and flash of the Fremont Street Experience half a mile away.

Hatsumi is open for dinner only, Thursday-Monday, 5-10 p.m. Visit hatsumilv.com or call 702-268-8939 to learn more and place a reservation.  

Leave a comment