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LA Yakitori Recs

After scouring past posts, it seemed like board fave Nanbankan would satisfy my serious yakiniku craving. Then I checked out "the delicious life's" pics: http://thedeliciouslife.blogspot.com/... Don't get me wrong, the pics are gorgeous and the food looks delicious...but is that a tablecloth I see? White platters? Sushi?

I'm looking for a place more like Yakitori Taisho on St. Marks Place in NYC, described by New York Magazine as "a cramped, dingy subterranean space lined with tin foil, old calendars, and smoke stains..." oh, and "...the food rocks, too." That place was awesome- the delicious food was well worth the hour-long wait and harried service.

So, is there a great yakiniku place that's cheap, delicious & not at all fancy? Or do I have it wrong about Nanbankan being too fancy-pants for our sensibilities (and budget)? Or do I have it right, but it’s still worth it given the alternatives?

I've tracked down some info for other recs mentioned on the board:

Nanban-kan Restaurant
11330 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025

Manpuku Tokyo BBQ
2125 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025-6249View Map

1935 Pacific Coast Highway
Lomita CA, 90717
www.tamaen.com (in Japanese


11301 W Olympic Blvd Ste 101 (on Sawtelle)
Los Angeles, CA 90064

360 E 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012


PS This title should really read "LA Yakiniku Recs" not "LA Yakitori Recs," since we're looking to chow on more than just chicken. I don't think I can change it now, though!

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  1. Shinsengumi on Western in Gardena blows em all away!

    2 Replies
    1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

      I agree Shen Sen Gumi is out of this world!

      1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

        I've only been to the Fountain Valley location of Shin Sen Gumi and love it there.

      2. Shin-Sen-Gumi Chanko Restaurant
        18519 S. Western Ave
        Gardena, CA 90248

        This place? It looks a chain (10 or so stores, including one in Japan). To be honest, that makes me a little nervous...don't want to end up at Todai (blek). What makes it good?

        1 Reply
        1. re: greenxoai

          It's got a huge yakitori menu on one side of the place, and an old-fashioned chanko restaurant with tatami on the other, where you remove your shoes and sit seiza.

          It's excellent. I really recommend it.

          The one on Brookhurst in Fountain Valley is also split, but it's yakitori on one side and ramen on the other.

          After work (18.30, 19.00, somewhere in there) all the salarymen from Toyota and Nissan, which are adjacent, come streaming in and it's a madhouse.

        2. There are several stores but they all specialize in different things. When we went,there was an hour-and-a-half wait and nobody was going anywhere! The food was much better than any of the downtown places. Trust me, it's no Todai!

          1. For many years I worked at Sakura House in Venice/MDR area of LA (on Washington East of Lincoln). I have tried most of the places on your list and still like Sakura House the best. It is not the same as the Yakitori stalls you will find under the tracks at Shinjuku station in Tokyo. I probably would not get seafood but you are looking for meat so no worries. They have a new chef in the kitchen making side dishes and good appetizers. He was chef at Hama sushi in Venice for years.
            Matsumoto is both the owner and the cook and has been there for 15 + years.

            They have both set dinners and ala carte. I would sit at the bar and go for individaul skewers. They do a pretty good job of pacing the skewers but you could always order a few and then order more. They have a good selection of sake as well. There are a lot of regulars and they get full on Friday and Saturday. About 50% of the customers are Japanese (it was a great place to learn/practice my Japanese) I would make a reservation for the bar. The bar seats 15 and there are about 10 tables. Skewers are one to an order (some restaruants are two to an order) and they range from probably 2.50 to 4.25 per skewer. I haven't even looked a a menu for years even though I go at least once a month.

            Sakura House is mentioned in several other threads and for the most part they are favourable. I would be interested in hearing from others because I am, well not affiliated with Sakura House, I am biased!

            2 Replies
            1. re: goodetime

              Sakura House is one of my favorite restaurants! I've never had a bad meal there and I've been eating there for over 16 years. My favorite item is the tomato-maki skewer. I would also kill for the enoki mushroom-maki.

              1. re: Bon Vivant

                I started working there summer of 2000. Off and on for 5 years. I'm sure we crossed paths. I was the only caucasian waiter.

            2. I love Kokekoko. They only have chicken, so don‘t expect to have beef or anything else. But they make it so great. If you're into eating the "internals" like heart, gizzard, liver, etc., you'll like this place. They have chicken everything. But even if you're not, they have wings, breast, thigh, and some other "safer" choices. :)

              1. there's a newish/relatively low-profile place called Torimatsu that i went to last night. will do a write up soon...

                4 Replies
                1. re: rameniac

                  If you are talking about Torimatsu in Gardena on Artesia I love that place! It's been there for over 10 years. It's great for dinner, but not so great for lunch since everything is not made to order during lunch.

                  1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                    has it been there that long? it's fairly under the radar but it's actually quite good.

                    1. re: rameniac

                      Yes, my family has been going over ten years. I was surprised it wasn't mentioned on Chowhound much. Maybe because it's mostly a Japanese clientele type of place. I like it because it has a wide selection of goodies!

                      Please write your report. I would love to hear what you thought of it!

                      1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                        This is the place next to Curry House and El Pollo Inka right? Looking forward to a report also (w/ some insight on prices, please. Heard it's a bit "expensive"...)

                2. I like Kokekkoko a whole lot. This place is more of a traditional yakitori place that serves the chicken salted or with a sweet soy sauce, as others have reported here. I enjoy the meatballs, liver, chicken breast, crispy skin skewered like a fan, and chicken and okra. There is a starter dish of seasoned ground chicken over rice with an egg cracked over it (you are supposed to stir it), with seaweed sprinkled on top to boot, that is delicious. There are various condiments on the tables--i like the spicy mustard. Gets busy on weekends.

                  1. There is NO doubt about this...

                    Kokekokko is the best yakitori in Los Angeles.

                    I've been going to Japan for over 6 years, I've eated at Birdland in Ginza, ive been to a ton of well known places in Shinjuku and Kichijouji...Kokekokko can hang with most of those places, which is EXTREMELY rare for Japanese food in LA (Read Ramen, Izakaya).

                    Call in advance to reserve your seat and ask for the VIP course. You'll thank me later.

                    1. I've never considered Nanbankan to be a white table cloth kinda place. The food is great. I'd call ahead to make a reservation.

                      1. I live in San Francisco and can't tell you how much I miss ShinSenGumi... Seriously the best!

                        1. Yes, DL’s blog pics looked good (too good) and based on her pics and review I decided to rescind my “never eating at Nanbankan again” declaration went back after several years absence to give the restaurant one more chance to redeem itself. The outcome? I once again vowed to never EVER eat at Nanbankan ever again. I’m stickin’ to it this time! ;-)

                          Go, if you must, and I hope you prove me wrong, I really do.

                          As for Yakitori-ya and Kokekokko, I highly recommend both of these yakitori-ya. Everything about chicken, and bits of duck, but no beef, pork, fish or other meats. Yakitori-ya is not as affordable as it used to be and, presumably, Kokekokko, is still a bit spendy. But, imo, worth every $.

                          1. Having been to Yakitori Taisho in NYC, IMO can't hold a candle to the places you find here in LA!!!!

                            I've been to Shinsengumi and Torimatsu and love them both, you won't be dissapointed. Torimatsu is a part of a Japanese chain and is marginally more "refined" .

                            Get there early as the waits can be longggggg...


                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Sgee

                              torimatsu is exactly that. a bit more "refined" than SSG... kind of like DTF to mei long village or dragonmark when it comes to xiao long bao. i'd say it's better than kokekokko.

                              1. re: rameniac

                                wow...better than kokekokko? that is extremely bold.

                                I will most definately have to investigate, thanks for the info

                                1. re: ronnie_gaucho

                                  just my taste. everything seems a little more flavorful, though not as robust as SSG. their tsukune are actual meatballs, unlike the one at kokkekokko which is just a glop of ground chicken. torimatsu is a branch of an actual tokyo yakitori. only place i've managed to get chicken sashimi these days =).

                            2. If you are looking for more than just Chicken, you're right, true Yakitori will not fit the bill. You should steer clear of Kokekokko, and Yakitoriya (both of which are good) As a point of Japanese food order, Yakiniku is Japanese Korean BBQ (you cook the food on your own grill.) which is Manpuku or Gyu Kaku. The latter is not as good as the former. Kushi-yaki I believe is correct for Nanbankan where they have much more than chicken. You might also try Koshiji in Weller court downtown at 2nd and San Pedro.

                              1. For my own selfish reasons, let's not call Nanbankan one of the top. All I can say that when i see entire japanese families, with about four generations sitting at one table together, happily eating their Kushi-yaki, I know I'm in the right place.