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Washoku in Los Angeles

You definitely can have a washoku experience at Torihei in Torrance, though you would have to put it together yourself --

Here's an example Washoku menu that covers colors: red, white, yellow, green, black; flavors: salty, sour, bitter, spicy, sweet; ways: simmer, raw, fry, grill, steam.

This menu was put together assuming that the oden dishes could count as simmer and steam, which is a bit of a stretch. Also, I'm counting ume as bitter.

chicken breast with ume. (red / bitter)
oden stew with radish (simmer / white)
half egg with salmon roe (yellow / simmer or steam)
spicy cabbage salad (spicy / green / raw)
grilled shitake mushrooms (black / grill)
chicken liver pate with honey (sweet / salty)
oshinko pickles (sour / raw)
fried chicken (fry)
grilled chicken tail (bonjiri) (grill)

Mar 24, 2015
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

Torrance Memorial Hospital - anything nearby?

I would second Inaba and All India Sweets & Snacks next door. There's also good Korean at Cho Dang Tofu, though I prefer Da Maat which is a tiny bit further away (they have great dolsot bibimbap).

Chantilly is great for desserts or coffee. I get confused about the names of the places in that center, but the dinerish place in the back left corner is good for noodles or yaki soba, etc.

Yellow Fever is good for good quality bowls.

You're near Strand Brewing if you want to go get a pint (no food).

Yet Another SF Hound Seeking Advice

Agree re Tar and Roses. As much as I love it, this is why I haven't taken any SF friends there.

May 09, 2014
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

Bell Street Farm, Los Alamos

Quick trip up the coast this weekend, and I stopped at Bell Street Farm last night on the way home at the insistence of a friend.

I had misread their closing time and pulled in at 5:05 and found they had closed at 5. There was still some bustle inside, however, so I opened the door to find out if they were still open for dinner.

Jamie, the owner, said they were closed, and then he said, "well, what did you want to eat? Would rotisserie chicken and a salad be ok?" He then asked me to sit down--I tried to protest and said I could take it to go if it was holding them up, but he insisted.

Soon, an absolutely lovely 1/2 chicken on a butter lettuce salad with vinaigrette and croutons was served, with a small dish of white bean hummus for the chicken alongside. Flavorful chicken skin, meat salted throughout. I paired it with a nice rose from a local winery called Habit.

Nothing was done to pressure me to leave, and it was a great meal. I would urge anyone in the area to check it out. The staff couldn't be nicer. From what I could grok, Jamie lives there part time and then in SoCal parttime -- the restaurant is open Friday through Monday.
406 Bell Street
Los Alamos, CA 93440
T / 805-344-4609

Apr 14, 2014
Fig Newton in California

The Newest L.A. Treasure! The Stunningly Delectable Roast Chicken Skewers of Yakitori Master (*and* Kyoto-Style Oden Specialist) Torihei! [Review] w/ Pics!

I have been slowly working my way through the menu at Torihei, and have been so happy with my meals there. I thought I would just add onto this thread, because it was the one I studied before really delving into the menu.

I have been a couple times with friends and about 4-5 times on my own. I like going on my own because I'm super likely to get in, even when they're quite busy. There is often a negotiation about how long I can have the table or the bar seat for, and they squeeze me in before a reservation. I can't overstate enough that you will have a much better experience here if you can plan ahead and make a reservation. The place gets very crowded and I've heard them quote 2.5 hour waits.

All recommendations to use the sansho pepper are spot-on. It is amazing, and seems fresher than any I've had in the past. You really get a numbing quality, and the floral notes to the pepper are lovely and enhance the food -- especially the yakitori.

I should say that while I have had dishes that I dream about at Torihei, not every dish is a hit for me. I admire that this place seems to be so traditional that they don't dumb down the menu for American palates. And there are no "are you sure" questions when I order things like you sometimes hear in other places. The good thing is that the low prices encourage exploring and I haven't minded that some dishes just don't work for me.

While I agree with exilekiss that there are many yakitori dishes that Izakaya Bincho does better than Torihei, Torihei has something important over Bincho: open every day (I mean 365 days a year), dependable, and not randomly closed. And they answer their phone. Also, Torihei wins at the overall menu because there are so many non-grill iteams to order.

I don't have the menu in front of me, so apologies if anything is misnamed here.

Highlights I've found on the menu:

Cucumber with sesame oil. I am almost loathe to order this dish every. single. time. because it is on their "most popular" list and I like to be an original, but it is craveable and delicious.

Cabbage salad with spicy dressing. This is literally a pile of raw shredded cabbage with a delicious spicy dressing that is made of sesame oil, chiles and dried shrimp. Tons of flavor. Delicious.

Chicken liver pate with baguette. This is terrific, and a great example of the wafu style of great izakayas. Funny story: one night I asked if I could order it to go. I was too full, but would have loved to have it for breakfast. There was much discussion, and the chef refused. He said it was because it is "raw" and therefore he wouldn't send it to go. I haven't had the guts to order it, not touch it, and then ask for it to be wrapped up to go.

Fried cashews. I think this is on the menu as fried "cashews" which prompted me to ask the server if they were really cashews (which they are). It's just a bowl of salty, hot nuts that goes perfectly with a beer.

Oden dishes. I find them so comforting and delicate and wonderful. I have not worked my way through most of them yet, but really enjoy the daikon, the chicken meatball, and the turnip.

Ground chicken rice bowl. This is a delicious & incredibly comforting dish, and I am obsessed with the chicken soup that it's served with. The only issue I have is that it is a large serving. So if you're eating alone, skip it, or just go in for this and maybe one or two other smallish things.

From the Grill:

Tsukene. Everyone raves about these chicken meatballs, but I have to pile onto the chorus. These are fluffy and light in texture and little flavor bombs.

Special Chicken Hearts. A must-order when they are available.

Jidori bonjiri. I think these are called "chicken tails" on the menu. Little bites with a bit of crunch and a bit of delicious fat. I find them quite rich, and can barely finish one stick myself.

Okra with Pork. This is basically okra wrapped with a thin slice of bacon.

Yaki onigiri. I am a fiend for a good version of this dish, and Torihei does it right with perfect toasting and good crunch. The menu warns that this takes 30 minutes to make, but I have never found this to be the case. I have a funny habit these days of keeping the leftover sesame oil dressing from the cucumber dish and dipping my yaki onigiri in it. Probably totally uncouth, but it makes me happy.

If you are event slightly interested in this sort of food, I would encourage you to go. It's an exciting experience, the cost is relatively low, the servers are always happy to help and to explain (if quickly, because they are slammed), and the dishes are delicious.

Mar 05, 2014
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

Need good Japanese restaurants in Torrance

With Torihei, be sure to make a reservation. I have been working my way through their massive menu with approximately a visit a week for the past couple months. Really great food, and a menu that can appeal to lots of palates.

I will always be a fan of Musha.

Kagura is such a wonderful traditional Japanese restaurant. I love all the little dishes they give you, and their chawanmushi is the best I've had. The tonkatsu is great (especially the mille feiulle), but I am huge fan of their fish dishes as well. On weekdays, I often can go alone and have one of those booths to myself to read and enjoy my meal.

Mar 05, 2014
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

Freddy Smalls

I had a mind-bendingly good short rib terrine there recently. I've had nothing but great experiences there. I like to go after Happy Hour, actually. Quieter and less of a frat-boy crowd.

Feb 25, 2014
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

Where to take my 4 friends in March--my birthday, my treat--Santa Monica, etc.

I was in the same situation in Sept -- was treating about 8 people for my birthday, and wanted it to be reasonably priced. We ended up going to Muddy Leek. We had a table on the patio, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I liked it because everyone was able to find something they liked to eat. The food was good--not knock-it-out-of-the-park amazing, but quite good. And the cocktails are great, and the service is good. I was very happy with my choice.

Feb 25, 2014
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

Long Beach next week

Agree -- Michael's Pizzeria is legit. I consider it walking distance to the CC. Next door is Beachwood BBQ, which I really like. And their beer selection is the best in the city.

Enrique's is great.

I have only been to that new place where Bono's was once, but really like it. (I realize this is not helpful for someone not from the area, but maybe someone can chime in with the new name.)

Open Sesame and Magic Lamp for Mediterranean on 2nd street.

I've been enjoying the new Shabu place on 2nd street. Food is great, service is slow.

Fuego at the Maya is amazing for the location and view--that's better than the food or the price. Not to say the food is *bad* -- it's better than average.

Breakfast: I like Chuck's Coffee Shop, but sometimes think it's just because of the nostalgia. I adore their ham n' scram with corn tortillas.

I live in San Pedro, and think the better restaurants are in Long Beach and Torrance, frankly. If you are looking for specific cuisines, we can help you a little better.

Feb 25, 2014
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

Depressing Places You Like

The San Franciscan came to my mind right away. We had family dinner there a couple weeks ago and I accidentally said out loud, "this prime rib is actually good!" Mom whispered to me, "try not to sound so surprised."

There used to be some great ones in San Pedro -- Ante's for sure.

Feb 21, 2014
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

The Counter Hermosa out. Pacific Beach Fish Shop in

These sorts of fish shops seem to be the new rage. Some are definitely better than others, and they seem to be part of different chains.

There is one near the AMC in Torrance at Crenshaw/PCH that is decent. There is one in El Segundo sort of near the Whole Foods that I found miserable. There is one in Downey across from Porto's that is quite good.

Sorry that this is the laziest post ever, but they all have some sort of "fish grill" name, and somehow I've ended up at several lately.

Feb 11, 2014
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

Mitsuwa Torrance update, Japanese Rice Fair this weekend

Darn -- Torafuku was always on my "if I'm in the area" list to try. Too bad.

Feb 07, 2014
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

Mitsuwa Torrance update, Japanese Rice Fair this weekend

Given all the bowls of shio ramen I've had from Santouka, I was sort of in awe that it took me this long to try the salmon/ikura.

Feb 07, 2014
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

breakfast and dinner San Pedro/Crown Plaza

My dinner recommendation would be J Trani's -- I think it's the best in town.

If you want to go somewhere that's not quite so spendy, I would recommend the Whale and Ale which is nearby -- good fish and chips.

Feb 07, 2014
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

Mitsuwa Torrance update, Japanese Rice Fair this weekend

Mitsuwa has been advertising a Rice Fair from today until Sunday, so I went tonight to check it out. It's basically one of the retail food booths that they usually have during fairs (didn't spend much time there), and an Omusubi booth set up in that temp kitchen area next to the sushi.

I don't profess to know much about omusubi (I prefer yaki onigiri), but enjoyed the one that I had with ume. The rice was fairly separated with a little salt, and while not hot, it was obvious that it hadn't been chilled--ever--and the texture benefited from that. The omusubi ranged in price from $1.80 to around $3 for more elaborate ones like shrimp tempura and unagi. They also had something called ... benkura? benkaru? that I know nothing about.

There is a "Customer Appreciation" event going on through the 16th. Every permanent stall has a special. Santouka has a 20/day "Seafood and Vegetable Tonkatsu Ramen"

I'm fairly enamored of Santouka's ikura and salmon with rice lately -- it's not as amazing as the guest ramen chef who sometimes comes to Mitsuwa, but it's kind of perfection as a comfort dish.

The stall that had the decent tonkatsu -- North side of the food court, first booth if you walked in from the north entrance -- has permanently closed. I went in tonight hoping that the booth had been taken over by a guest for the Rice Festival, but to no avail.

Link to the announcement of the fair, with more detail:

Feb 06, 2014
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

Gigante beans?

Pretty sure they have them at Surfas. I feel like I've seen them at Bay Cities, too, but I would suggest calling them to confirm.

Jan 11, 2014
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

How's Izakaya Bincho these days?

Yes ... very frequently closed. And I don't have luck, ever, when I try to call -- they pretty much seem to not pick up the phone. It's annoying enough that I've stopped trying for a little bit. But ... I was there with Melanie for that awesome yaki onigiri, and her photo reminds me that maybe I need to just try ... again.

Natural Casing Hot Dogs in O.C.?

Let's Be Frank hot dogs are in natural casing and I could swear I saw them at the OC Surfas last week.

Jul 08, 2013
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

Expensive and worth it versus Expensive and not worth it

Expensive and worth it = Gjelina, Tar & Roses.

Expensive and not worth it = Superba Snack Bar.

I know many people love SSB, but I tried it for the first time a few weeks ago and just felt like the meal was ok, and I felt so ripped off. Heirloom Tomato Salad + Papardelle w/ Ragu + 1 glass of Rose was $45 pre-tip. I understand the cost associated with local, carefully sourced & housemade foods. But nothing wowed me, and I left deeply dissatisfied with the cost.

Jul 08, 2013
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

Torrance Lunch Today i-naba, I-guess but maybe there is something else I should check out

I've been eating at Da Maat quite a bit recently and enjoying it, if you're up for Korean. Good spicy beef soup with hand cut noodles, good dolsot bibimbap.

I like the soba place in the same shopping center as Gaja (and then you can get a cream puff at Chantilly!).

I had the uni and ikura bowl at Nozome for the first time last week for lunch and it was fabulous.

And there's always Kagura on Narbonne for tonkatsu. I have only been for dinner, so not sure how speedy their lunch service is, but a really lovely place to dine.

Jul 08, 2013
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

Growler regulation change in CA

I'm hoping that the individual brewery weirdness will even out as everyone becomes more comfortable with the clarification of the rules. I don't know about the bigger guys, but I've talked to a couple small guys, and the sales from glass aren't that big a chunk of business. But maybe I'm wrong.

Here's the link to The Bruery's statement about it all. They're filling their growlers, or blank Palla-style swingtops.

Looks like I'm going to continue to have a variety of growlers rolling around in my trunk for a while.

Jul 01, 2013
Fig Newton in Beer

Best Truffle fries in LA?

I'm not a huge fan of truffle fries, but the ones at the Standing Room are good.

I was tasting a beer flight the other day at the Library Alehouse in Santa Monica when someone ordered something with truffle oil next to me. It was all I smelled in the remainder of my beers.

Jul 01, 2013
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

Mitsuwa Japanese Gourmet Fair 2013

Thanks for the Salmon Bowl mention -- I would have overlooked it. And now, I have a feeling I'm going to be eating it for as many meals this weekend as possible.

Tried the potato croquette that was sadly loaded with fake tasting butter. The scallop croquette was only slightly better.

I should have saved my stomach space for an extra salmon bowl.

Nice to be there this afternoon when things were relatively quiet.

Jun 14, 2013
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

Tasting Feedback

Check my notes on the Almanac thread about the Reserve #3. It's quite fresh strawberry-ish IMO. I think it would go great with dry cheeses (I was going to say Manchego, but it's probably because I'm eating a piece now).

Edited to add: that's a great lineup! I wish I was going to be at that tasting.

Jun 10, 2013
Fig Newton in Beer

Trying another interesting Sierra Nevada

This beer is known to my friends as the beer that made me want to murder someone--at least that's what I said when I first tried it. I tasted it in 2011 (important to note, because maybe it has evolved since its early batches), and I mostly tasted massive amounts of hops/bitterness without much balance. And the really, really high ABV (11%?) makes it something that I could never have more than a couple sips of. I'll take the balance and grand finish of Pliny the Elder every time over this beer.

Jun 10, 2013
Fig Newton in Beer

Almanac Beer

I was able to taste the #2, #3, and #4 on tap last week at The Library Alehouse in Santa Monica. Almanac had had a tap takeover there on Wednesday night, and I went in and tried a flight on Thursday.

#2 had a good balance, and I found the fruit to be the least identifiable of the three. Low carbonation. I'm always looking for good sours to use when introducing friends to sours, and this seems like it would work for that purpose.

#3 was very fruit forward, with the fresh strawberry scent and flavor jumping out of the glass. I wonder what would happen with this beer with time -- and whether it would go toward the awesome rotten strawberry funk that you get in The Bruery's Ichigo Highway. Overall, this was a refreshing, drinkable beer but I think I prefer #1 and #2 better.

#4 was very lemon forward, with the same sort of freshness I was getting in #3. This would be a great food beer, as the acid would help elevate some foods.

All three beers were relatively low carbonation, but that wasn't a huge surprise to me.

I would love to get my hands on a couple of bottles of all 4 of these beers and see what they do over time ... but at this point, I would hunt down 1 & 2 over 3 & 4. All super interesting and fun to taste, for sure.

I also had a small taste of the single hop Chinook IPA. I tend to find single hops more an interesting academic exercise than a super enjoyable glass to drink. They're great for teaching your palate what particular hops taste like, but I found the balance to be pretty in-my-face with the hops and bitterness. I would have liked something to help round it out a bit.

(full disclosure: I know the founders.)

Jun 10, 2013
Fig Newton in Beer

Tasting Feedback

I agree with this order, too. Personally, high hops strip my palate a bit, so it's better to have that right before the porter/barleywine in order to let the BPA and sour shine.

Jun 10, 2013
Fig Newton in Beer

Quick! I'm going to San Pedro need a hole in the wall rec

oh, and the eggplant parm sandwich! i don't know if it's on their menu but they made it for me a couple weeks ago.

Jun 10, 2013
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

Trendy but good LA food and drinks

Blind Barber in Culver City. More like drinks and snacks, but the food I've had there is quite good. Great for out of towners because of the speakeasy atmosphere (you enter through the working barber shop ... just walk back into the door straight back.)

+1 on A-Frame.

+1 on Eveleigh.

Freddy Small's

Maybe Baco Mercat?

Jun 10, 2013
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area

Quick! I'm going to San Pedro need a hole in the wall rec

I go to Pronto's at least once a week. I think it's good for locals, but definitely not a destination place. They have new shrimp + potato crispy tacos that are delicious. I love their caldo de res, and the spinach soup on the rare days that they have it. The potato tacos are good.

Their chile rellenos are a bit variable, but when they are good, they're among my fave chile rellenos outside of what I make myself.

Their enchiladas are good, and they have good rice. They also have a juicer, so I often get a carrot/orange juice.

Jun 10, 2013
Fig Newton in Los Angeles Area