Japonica in Redondo Beach
Hidden way down deep in Redondo Beach is a japanese upscale izakaya called Japonica. if this place was in little tokyo, downtown vancouver, or palo alto, it would be a major hit. It is places like Japonica that keep me loving this ugly and traffic jammed city. Even though LA sucks as a municipal area, it curiously has great food, art, and culture spread all over the area.
Anyhow, back to Japonica. This place has a great design, very tokyo style. The sake list is HUGE and great. Ask the server for recommendation (if he cant help, ask him/her to find someone who can). They also have sake sampling which would also be great. The one thing bad about this place is it is sorta more like a tapas bar than a restaurant. It isnt festive enough to be a true lounge (although if it were a lounge, this place would be GREAT), and it is a bit too pricey for a restaurant. It reminds me of a less social japanese version of blue velvet downtown. If you can live with that, then you will enjoy this place. The entrees "tapas" are small but VERY tasty. The dishes I really liked were fried tofu, sashimi salad, and japonica fried chicken, but really everything was expertly prepared.
The best way to enjoy Japonica is to go at 10pm with 4 talkative friends, buy a big thing of sake, share 4-5 plates of creative japanese cuisinse. You wont be sorry!
Wow, and my husband and I thought Japonica was our little secret! Yes, I agree, Japonica is outstanding, authentic, no showy sushi bar. When we asked about cold sake, our server (the bartender) simply requested that we trust him. We did, and we were so very, very glad we did. The sake he poured us was simply liquid sex! And the sushi and sashimi was too good to be true. Do me a favor, keep this wonderful place to yourselves! Let's be selfish!
I've been to Japonica a few times and really enjoyed it for what it is: a sake bar with good small plates.
It is a bit pricey and both times I went it was completely empty - I sure hope they are doing all right. I don't live in the neighborhood otherwise I'd be there more often.