Yoshoku cuisine in LA (Japanese western style cuisine)
Where do you recommend for a good place for hamburger steak? I used to eat this awesome hamburger steak up in Daly City at this place called Tani's Kitchen, and would like to find one that compares! There was no glaze on that, just crispy on the outside, juicy/soft on the inside.
While the Japanese chain curry places are OK, I tend to look for a little more personality and technique which are more likely found at the smaller, independent places driven by some eccentric chef. I've only been to a few Yoshoku places in LA, but I have to say that I'm somewhat jaded after going on Yoshoku cuisine binges in Japan. I also have several Yoshoku cuisine cookbooks (all in Japanese) and have been practicing at home, so I've become somewhat familiar with what good (straight-ahead) Yoshoku should be. A Yoshoku cookbook at first reads like a traditional French cookbook, as the first thing you master are the stocks and the mother sauces. The hallmark of a Yoshoku shop is the demi glace. It is used in many items on a yoshoku menu. In Japan, the demi glace sauces at the top yoshoku places are regarded as the backbone of the restaurant. It's present in things like tongue stew, beef stew, hayashi rice, omu rice, omu-hayashi, hamburger steak, menchi katsu, and even the curry. In other words, it takes a chef who doesn't take a lot of shortcuts to turn out good Yoshoku food. Pasta is a more recent addition to Yoshoku cuisine, and while it's gained a permanent place in Yoshoku menus, it's not necessarily something I look for. So that's what I mean about straight-ahead Yoshoku.
All that said, two places I liked in LA are Bistro Laramie (Western/182nd) and Sawtelle Kitchen. I believe both places make their own demi glace. I lean towards Bistro Laramie for the curry as it seems more complex, but the one at Sawtelle Kitchen is also quite good. The menchi katsu at Sawtelle Kitchen is very well executed. I still need to check out places like Akane Chaya or Blue Marlin.
re: E Eto
Thanks for your reply Eric. I have probably read just about every post you have made on the subject of Yoshoku cuisine. In fact, due to the meager information out there in english, you seem to be my sole source for expanding my knowledge in this area. What is your favorite yoshoku style dish? Have you tried the boxed version of Hayashi Raisu for research purposes? COuld you describe your experience in making the demi-glace? Have you tried the italian tomato restaurant at the mitsuwa in Costa mesa?
Just open up any French culinary training manual, like the one from the CIA or any other classic like Escoffier, and you'll find a lot of detail about demi-glace and all the other traditional mother sauces. They're all used in yoshoku cuisine. To me, it's the ultimate fusion of French and Japanese cuisines, with such rigorous attention to the details of French technique. One of my favorite yoshoku dishes is tongue stew, and I swoon for a well-made omu-hayashi. Although curry is in a category of its own, it can be a feature item at yoshoku restaurants as well. While I've eaten my share of the packaged supermarket hayashi raisu and curries, there's no substitute for the real stuff made from scratch. Demi glace is the kind of thing that most traditional French restaurants don't really make anymore because it's so time consuming and difficult. But it's a mainstay of yoshoku cuisine. It takes a few days to make properly. That's a lot of dedication.
Fortunately, LA is the place outside of Japan to find this stuff, but there seems to be some ways to go before the real "traditional" yoshoku takes a hold here. I should note that while term "yoshoku" simply means western cuisine, there is a distinction between the general term and the traditional Yoshoku that I mean.
Italian Tomato is a fast food-type chain that has attached itself to the Mitsuwa stores. It's not all that good, as they seem to just heat up packaged or frozen stuff. There are Italian Tomato shops in NYC and at the Mitsuwa in NJ. Not worth going out of your way for, unless you just have to have some mentaiko spaghetti, which is probably the best thing on the menu.
several hurry currys in and around la. your best bets are going to be in places like gardena, torrance and the sawtelle area of los angeles.
theres spoon house in gardena.
in sawtelle a hurry curry mentioned above. a sawtelle kitchen. a blue marlin, all serving curry and spaghetti.
all good, clean places with food prepared the way i expect curry, speghetti and hamburger steak and the like to be.
quick cursory search on the internet. some other places i have not tried:
http://www.japaneserestaurantinfo.com/ says that
Matsui in Torrance
T.O.T. in Los Angeles
Nobuko's Kitchen in Los Angeles
Salon de Cafe Focus in Los Angeles
Bon Marche Bakery and Cafe in Los Angeles
Inaba Tei in Torrance and
Akane Chaya in Gardena
all seem to be places that have curry or spaghetti.
i cant say whether or not these places are still open or if they are any good or if the categories assigned to them are true or not.
i can vouch for all the others that i listed at the beginning of this post.
if youre craving to yoshoku in america, los angeles is the place to be. i used to be in the bay area. one really good palce there (over the bridge)... the pickins are much better here.