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Nov 4, 2001 10:09 PM

Shin-Sen-Gumi - a new take!

  • c

While I was working in the Torrance/Gardena area, I ate at the Yakitori-version of Shin-Sen-Gumi almost once a week for lunch (per a separate post from R.Foss, there are three different Shin-Sen-Gumi; one yakitori, one a noodle house, and one a take-out deli). I brought all my friends there. For lunch, they offer two different chicken skewers in a variety of lunch combinations. There were also daily specials like pork cutlet, omelets, and tempura (fabulous!). My personal favorite was called Takana Rice where, along with my chicken meatball and roasted chicken skewer, I got a bowl of rice with various green bits in it (I never did figure out what it was - possibly seaweed). It also came with a bowl of miso, a large piece of fried tofu topped with scallions, bonito flakes, ginger, and a light sauce, and a variety of pickles.

Well, driving home from downtown after my first week of work at the Music Center, I was missing my old haunts and thought I would stop in for dinner and eat my beloved Takana Rice. What beheld my eyes! An entirely different restaurant! I had no idea that a REAL Yakitori restaurant as more akin to a Sushi bar, with a wide array of raw meats, pre-skewered, waiting only for me to decide which gets grilled first. Delightfully, when I walked in to my known former haunt, I was greeted with a loud, vocal greeting, unintelligible to my non-Japanese-knowing ears.

Along with a menu of offerings, I was given a large bowl of marinated cabbage. A huge selection to choose from, I opted for duck, shrimp, chicken livers, flat meat (beef), shiitake mushrooms, and enoki mushrooms. The duck actually did not get served on a skewer, but on a small plate with marinated asparagus and sliced mushrooms. The enoki mushroms were actually wrapped in bacon. When I tipped my sake cup in cheers to the cooks behind the counter, all bowed to me and smiled and hollard another unintelligible greeting. I was thrilled. Because of the large selection, I had to force myself to not order more food until another time. I was intrigued by the list which (if memory serves), included some intestines and skin from a variety of animals (I can't remember if it was pig skin and chicken intestines or vice/versa...)

Anyway, while I miss my favorite lunch place, I am thrilled with this haunt for dinner! It is located in the Western Plaza, (18000 block of Western?).

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  1. interesting timing - i was going to post a little something about my visit friday night to the Shin-Sen-Gumi noodle house.

    while the Hakata-style ramen was very good, i think you have to be in the "right" mood for it. the richness of the broth is somewhere between shoyu and miso. you also get to pick the "density" of the noodles!

    anyway, i've been meaning to try the Shin-Sen-Gumi yakitori place. and now the new place you mentioned...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Joe Blowe

      i LUV chicken hearts. yum, yum... gotta give them a try. I haven't had yakitori in months since I heard of a salmonella outbreak at some Jpn restaurant.... Anyone know the name of that place?

      ShinSenGumi noodles does a credible job of replicating Nagahama-style ramen, but the udon are not as tough and chewy as the bowls i slurped down in Fukuoka (which is probably a good thing). Anyway, give me Sapporo-style ramen in rich miso tsuyu any day!

    2. This reminds me of the little place on Santa Monica Blvd, just W of the 405 --Nanbankan. Maybe 5 years ago, I stopped in, in a hurry, ordered a few things to go (what, I don't remember) I just remember that it was good, and there were a million interesting options on a stick. It seemed on the expensive side, like upscale Yakitori, if I remember correctly. Has anyone been recently?

      5 Replies
      1. re: debra

        A friend took me to Nanbankan a couple months ago. I'm no yakitori aficionado but I loved the place -- even if it was on the crowded and un-cheap side. Particularly memorable: green beans wrapped in bacon (sim to Carolyn's enoki?) and bbq'd on a stick. One of the tastiest green bean preparations I've ever had. I seem to remember reading some naysaying posts about Nanbankan on this board but certainly worth a try before or after a movie at the Nuart.

        1. re: Rafi
          Richard Foss

          Nanbankan always has good food but the table service is highly variable - eat at the counter if you can and you'll do very well. I still go there when I'm by myself or with a small party, but the wait for any party larger than four has always been interminable.

          I just went to Teppan Kamizidori at the corner of Lomita and Crenshaw, which is my favorite yakitori place. The yakitori is excellent and they also serve okonomiyaki and other delights. The pepper beef that is listed as a secialty is served raw with a pepper sauce and is wonderful. We ordered it because we saw another party wolfing down grilled beef in pepper sauce, and later found that it was a different item. We ordered that too (it's listed as peppered steak), and it was excellent. The bill was moderate, too - a wide selection of items for two and a cup of premium sake each was $40.00.

          There's something about a meal of yakitori that is so civilized, so encouraging of reflection on the delights of good food... Howzabout a Chowhound meeting for Yakitori? Would people be interested in a get-together?
          I'd recomment the aforementioned Teppan Kamizidori but it is not particularly freeway-friendly... Are there enough Chowhounds in the South Bay/San Pedro axis to go with this one, or does anybody have a suggestion for another place that is more freeway-friendly and can take a group? I like Shin-Sen-Gumi but the place is kinda small, probably not suited to a dozen people in one party. Suggestions, anyone?

          1. re: Richard Foss
            Carolyn Tillie

            Yes! Yes! And Shin-Sen-Gumi could work really well because they have a private back room (floor seating) that can be reserved for about 12 people... There is also an adjacent area that I am unfamiliar with. It is closed during lunch but at dinner time, I saw it open -- may be more private rooms.

            1. re: Carolyn Tillie
              Richard Foss

              Oh, I had never noticed the back room. Yes, that would be perfect!

              As regards the adjacent area that you had never visited, I believe that's something else entirely. I asked about it one time and was told that Shin-Sen-Gumi has a private area where Japanese go to watch sumo matches while snacking on the traditional items that are served at matches - sort of the Japanese equivalent of serving Dodger Dogs on the night of the baseball game. I was told that the food is overwhelmingly starchy and not to American tastes...

              1. re: Richard Foss
                Carolyn Tillie

                OHMYGOD...SUMO! You know how much I LOVE Sumo! And they have stopped showing Sumo Digest on KGTV so I haven't had a fix in ages. Well I saw a hideously abbreviated, Americanized version on some silly sports channel, but they could barely pronounce Kotomitsuki and Tochiazuma! I know, I know, it is not nearly as fun as before the retirement of Akebono but once a Sumo fan... think Shin-Sen-Gumi let me into their back rooms?

                In the meatime, let's plan an evening? I've been dying to go back and would love to meet other Chowhounds!

      2. "Takana" is a kind of edible plant that was pickled.
        Very popular accompanist for rice in Japanese cuisine. I'm surprised that you liked it!