Family style in Torrance/Gardena
I think of this area of town as kind of like Oz -- a fantastical land of rich immigrant history and tempting restaurants specializing in one kind of noodle or handmade tofu or grilled chicken bits -- but its location is SO F*CKING INCONVENIENT for me (might as well chase the end of the rainbow!), I never go.
But my husband's stepsister lives in South Bay, and we have plans this weekend. Seems like the perfect opportunity to check something out. Only thing is, I'm not sure what places might be good for a group (five of us, including a little boy).
I'm dying to try Shinsengumi Yakitori, but I hear it gets crazy crowded. Should we just get there half an hour before opening? Would we then feel rushed through our meal because of the hordes waiting outside?
Summer is the perfect time for chilled soba -- I've been to Otafuku, but it's so tiny. I hear good things about Sanuki no Sato, and it looks comfortable, but I've heard better things about Ichimi an Honten, and I don't find any photos online. Is it also really small?
Is there an actual Santouka restaurant, or are they all just supermarket stalls? Is Shinsengumi ramen as crowded as the yakitori place?
I like Musha as well. They have a large communial table which you dine with others. if you dont mind seating that way in a giant round its great. I personally like the table and the food is great, blows away the SM location. You can even make a reservation. They were once running 10 minutes late and they brought us each a glass of beer on the house. Try the Musha salad, crispy fried chicken and almost anything on the menu is great..
of the choices you mentioned i would have to say shinsengumi yakitori is the best. if you get there 15-30 mins before they open, you should have no problem getting a table. it's a bit loud, but not terrible - i think it's a fun part of the atmosphere - you almost feel like you're in japan. you won't be able to see the people waiting b/c they have to stand outside - i've never felt rushed there. plus, because they grill everything to order on a very small grill, it sometimes takes a while to get your food. but again, it's part of the fun. :)
i haven't been to otafuku or ichimi an honten, but sanuki no sato is also delicious. if you want ramen, hakata ramen is also good (the sister restaurant to shinsengumi). it can also get pretty crowded.