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YAKITORI BINCHO owns all. BEST in LA!!! Yea, this may sound super-hype but I stand by what I like. Werd. (Maxi-Review w/ pics)

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So I can't claim I discovered this one, but I'll definitely take credit for keeping my radar tuned to chowhound poster Vittus, who's initial writeup sank without much notice (I posted the one reply so far!)

But after checking out Yakitori Bincho, I decided I had to give it an even more detailed review and a hype, hype title, because frankly, it's EXCELLENT.

For years now, I've tried to find a yakitori restaurant in L.A. better than Shin-Sen-Gumi. Though there's some good stuff out there, nothing ever came close to the full-flavored, sizzling crackly goodness of SSG. Evidently, the public agrees, as there's usually a long wait to get into its branches, at least on weekends.

But first, let's break down the also-rans:

Kokekokko and Torimatsu: "serious" yakitori joints, but they can be too austere for my tastes. When it comes to grilled sticks o' chicken, I tend to prefer bold, brash flavors, not delicate and subtle "essences of chicken."

Koshiji in Weller Court: decent flavor (especially their tsukune), but their portions tend to be small and kind of dry and the meals there run pretty pricey.

Yakitori-ya is dry, and Sakura House and Nanbankan are passable. These are decent yakitori joints, IF you're already in West L.A. and can't be bothered to drive to the South Bay.

There are others: Honda-ya Little Tokyo is not very good (come on, admit it), and Kappo Honda is not worth the drive. Of the general izakaya with yakitori offerings, Ryo Zan Paku in Rolling Hills has a friendly staff, but in my heart, I know that they could be much better. Iccho - meh. Gonpachi, overblown. Furaibo, good for its wings and not much else. Kan Yuzen and Haru Ulala, fun but they're no specialists.

Which leaves us with Yakitori Bincho, brand new on the on the Redondo Beach pier in the old Oriental Breeze spot.

Straight out of Tokyo, the husband and wife team of Tomo and Megumi Ueno indeed serve up proper, no-frills yakitori like any old neighborhood joint in the motherland would. The chicken is robust, and their tare, though a bit lighter than SSG's, is a nice melange of unexpected flavors.

Here's the breakdown of what I had on my first visit to Bincho (and yes, I've been back twice already since last week!):

Shio Negima - Chicken thigh with leeks. My favorite item at SSG. One of my ALL-TIME favorite things to eat. Shin-Sen-Gumi's shio negima is better, but only by a hair - a TINY bit plumper and more tender, but I also have this feeling that they undercook it somewhat. Bincho's negima, on the other hand, has grown on me even further since my initial visit; it could be a while before I return to SSG.

Tare Negima - Bincho takes the crown here. With the light, subtly sweet tare Tomo uses, it puts it over the top.

Tsukune - top notch chicken meatballs, way better than SSG's mealy, bland ground chicken. The only tsukune that I've had in LA that can even compare was at Gonpachi (but why go there when that's the ONLY good thing they serve?)

Negishio - chicken thigh with chopped green onion. A fairly unusual menu item (not to be confused with the shio negima) that adds a bit more variety to the chicken on offer.

Shio Zuri - salted gizzard. As good as SSG and better than anywhere else in town. Salty as heck but quite wonderful as a result.

Okra - grilled okra. Excellent.

Stuffed Shiitake mushroom - these suckers were huge, and hugely awesome. A couple of other places have a stuffed shiitake, this one is the best by far.

Tebasaki - salted chicken wing. This one is hard to do wrong, as both Furaibo and SSG have great wings as well. Bincho's is just about as good.

Tomato maki - The bacon-wrapped tomato was perfectly fine. Sadly, this is the only maki item officially listed on the menu. As bacon-wrapping is primarily a Kyushu yakitori tradition, SSG invariably rules the roost. But that Bincho, a Tokyo-style joint with a chef from Saitama, even offers it is good enough. I suggested adding a few other maki items to the menu. On a subsequent visit (like, last night), Tomo gladly whipped up a custom uzura-maki (bacon-wrapped quail egg) for my friend.

Wasabi Momo - chicken breast with wasabi. They use a LOT of wasabi on this one. No sissy pea-sized dollops, the green stuff fills in the gaps between the breast pieces like caulking on cracked bathroom tile. The breast meat is extremely plump and tender, against, best of the SoCal lot.

Kawa - The tare chicken skin was sublime. Both SSG and Bincho have great skin. It all depends on your tare preference. And you could do no wrong with either. A friend had the shio kawa and so I tried that on a subsequent visit. I'd stick with the tare, but at least you've got a choice.

Yaki Onigiri Soup - Grilled rice ball in chicken soup, chazuke style. On my first visit, the rice ball Tomo put together was simply so huge that it overwhelmed the rice:soup ratio and I couldn't eat it fast enough (especially not after 13 chicken skeweres). Last night, I simply ordered the soup and the rice ball as separate dishes, and did my own dunking, which proved perfect.

Anyway, that's the long and the short of it. Add to that 3 Sapporos (on tap) and I'm a happy camper to the tune of exactly $60 (including tip - I round off like that).

Since that initial trip, I've taken to trying a few other menu items. The agedashi tofu and agedashi eggplant are uncommonly good (and an uncommonly great deal considering how huge the portions are), the shiso-wrapped chicken is great, and even the cheese chicken (grilled chicken with a slice of melted velveeta-style cheese blanketing it) proved hella tasty, and not as incongruous as it sounds.

Bottom line, Yakitori Bincho is a GREAT deal, and really has become the king of my personal skewer pile. Throw in the fact that it's got a crazy friendly husband-wife team (after I inquired about their favorite Tokyo yakitori joints, they even brought in a guidebook to Japanese yakitori for me to borrow!), neighborhood hole in the wall vibe, a romantic spot on the Redondo Beach pier right next to Quality Seafood, and that there's no wait at all (at least for now ;) and you've got yourself a certified winner and my new favorite yakitori joint in L.A. I was tempted to keep the place a secret, but frankly, they need customers (I held out long enough so my core group of friends had a chance to check it out first :), but now that they have, I'm just gonna put the word out there. With the amount of sheer positives, this may sound shill-ish but hey, I like what I like, so try it out and judge for yourselves!

Japanese Grill Yakitori Bincho
112 N. International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach 90277
310-376-3889

m-th - 5p-11p
f-su - 4-midnight
closed tuesdays

here's a link to my buddy bikuta's pics from last night: http://picasaweb.google.com/vicdango/...

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  1. Sounds like you are also quite the yakitoriac! I'll have to check this place out as I also am a big fan of yakitori. Thanks for the info! Did you get a chance to try the nankotsu?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Keizo

      Not on a skewer, but I think that's on the menu too. They have a breaded, fried nankotsu side dish, which I had on my 2nd to last visit (like, thursday lol). It was great, but the portion was way too huge for a fried dish! If you get it, make sure you share with at least two or three people or else you won't have room for as much of the other stuff lol.

    2. awesome review

      1. Sounds like I'll have to check this place out. Hopefully the gizzards are top notch because I love me some gizzards.

        Have you been to Shin Yakitori on Hawthorne? So far, that's the only Yakitori joint I've been to and it's pretty good. I remember really liking the cheese chicken, the negima, zuri, and the tsukune. They also have pretty good izakaya dishes, in particular the buta kakuni and the kani croquette.

        1 Reply
        1. re: kainzero

          The zuri was great, seasoned very well. SSG's might be a little plumper, but I think Bincho's has more flavor. Bincho's tsukune is pretty much unbeatable.

          I've been to Shin, but only for a private party there. The offerings they served up weren't bad, but they didn't really grab me, and I remember thinking that I might as well just go to SSG if I were in the area. But that was before Bincho. I should probably have a regular dinner at Shin tho!

        2. This is right by my house...I can't believe I have to wait until Wed. to go (already have plans tonight). Thank you for the awesome review.

          1. you have peaked my interest! I don't know that I have ever tried any of those dishes, but you bet I will now. Thanks for the review, always looking for new places in the south bay.

            1. Wheee!! In between us and Glacier Ice Cream! :D

              --Dommy!

              1. Rameniac, maybe I should go with you on your next outing. I haven't a clue what to order. Do they explain the dishes so I know what I am getting into?
                Jennifer

                1 Reply
                1. re: JEN10

                  The staff (aka Megumi) is super friendly and will be more than happy to explain the dishes to you I'm sure. That said, I'm always down for some dinner company =) !

                2. Yeah it was all really good. I thoroughly enjoyed the tsukune. I think the best description would be "jouhin na aji," which is kinda hard to say in English 'cept to say that you can sense the good intentions of the chef who cut the ingredients that went into it.

                  1. I am probably with the group of people you might describe as being more fond of yakitori with chicken "essence". That's probably not a good word to describe it, but I'd say we're yakitori minimalists which is why I like the yakitori they serve at Otafuku in Torrance better than SSG. SSG is good only if I'm more in the mood for yakitori as a snack with alcohol as opposed to just yakitori for the sake of yakitori.

                    This is pretty raving review of Bincho though--I might just have to try it out. =)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: mstinawu

                      I need to try SSG too. Have you ever been to Shin in Torrance? I thought the atmosphere was really nice, but it was empty. If you've been, how would you describe it?

                      1. re: Rizza

                        I've been to shin yakitori, but only for a private party function. In that instance, assuming the food is the same regularly, the yakitori wasn't bad, but considering its proximity to SSG and now Bincho, I wouldn't consider it much of an alternative.

                    2. I really felt comfortable at Bincho. The food and ambiance was just right. It's the sort of place I'd like to visit after work...if only their location was a bit more accessible.

                      Regardless, here's a few pics I took last night, hope you enjoy them.

                      http://pbabida.smugmug.com/gallery/48...

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: yakinikker

                        Did you take these with the big cam? Nice~! Yeah, I just told my coworkers about the place and their first response was that it was too far from the 405 to bother. do'h!

                        1. re: pirikara

                          Pirikara,
                          Your pictures look delicious, wondering what the prices are like? What did you drink with all of the yummy looking goodies?

                          1. re: JEN10

                            Hi Jen10,

                            Actually those aren't my pics, they're yakinikker's. But here's my lil review: http://mikeyhateseverything.blogspot....

                            Oh and I drank tea with everything. teehee~ I don't really drink alcohol.

                            I completely forgot to add in my review that this place has a few more things than skewers. They have some hot soupy dishes too (ochazuke, zousui, tori shimeji soup) which I am grateful for since I can't stomach too many grilled things when they're handed to me in long intervals.

                            1. re: pirikara

                              Pirikara,
                              Loved your pics and review. I can't wait to check it out, it all looked very yummy.

                              1. re: pirikara

                                Hi pirikara,

                                Nice! Zousui! (^_^) Along with great Yakitori?! I'm so going soon. I have to see which of my CH group wants to go as well.

                        2. Hey rameniac,

                          Great review. :) Like you, I've looked for an alternate place for Yakitori besides my fave (Shin Sen Gumi), and your quick descriptions of the also-rans were dead-on! :P

                          Redondo Beach is a bit far for me, but if it's great food, it's always worth the drive. (^_~)

                          I'll have to try this out soon. Thanks for the info.

                          1. Chowspouse likes sake with her yakitori. Do they have any decent sake list?

                            richard gould-saltman
                            no avatar

                            1. I live in manhattan beach.. perhaps an unofficial meet up?? sounds like a fun idea!!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Foodandwine

                                F & W, I'm ready, let's chow!

                              2. Great writeup, Rameniac. Your street cred goes far on this board...

                                1. We walked by this place last weekend, it look interesting, but we were already full from seafood. But, since I've eaten a lot of good meals thanks to rameniac, we definitely have to try it. Plus, I'm a sucker for marshmallows.

                                  1. Wow, Naja's, Quality, and good Yakitori all in one spot! I lvoe the Redondo Pier.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Diana

                                      Me too. Plus there's Latvian & Russian bar snacks at Gambrinus and fresh churros.

                                      Great review :-)

                                    2. Two reasons to get yourself down to this place

                                      (1) Awesome food, just like rameniac said

                                      (2) You'll probably bump into rameniac, just like WE did!!!! More below!

                                      This was my requested Mother's Day restaurant (patting self on head as a true chowhound). We eat all over the spectrum, from high end to hole in the wall where they speak languages other than English and we can't figure out the menu.

                                      I called to see if we could reserve a table; I was concerned at first because the phone was not answered after three phone tries. We finally got through and were graciously accommodated for 6:30, party of four (our two teens with us). Megumi seated us at a table as we requested and I told her we were there because of an ‘internet review’. Both husband and wife were hopping – most every seat in the tiny place was taken at 6:20 when we arrived – so now I knew why the phone went unanswered. No problem!

                                      Because we had hungry teens who had just put up with us shlepping through Cooknstuff in Torrance, we asked for a bowl of rice to hold them over. One of my teens is a chowhound in the making – he’ll try anything and usually enjoy it, especially Asian. The other one is still in um er ‘development’. I knew he’d be happy with the simple chicken skewers, chicken skin and onigiri.

                                      We ordered a few things off the menu – shiso chicken for me (I LOVE shiso, to the point where we just planted it in our garden), the fried tofu soup, and the above mentioned onigiri. OMG the fried tofu soup was TDF. I wish I could make it at home, anyone have a recipe?

                                      We also ordered the Chef’s Choice – ten skewers/plates. Megumi asked us if we wanted to include organ meats. Smart woman – although DH said yes, she saw the look on my face and gosh, for some reason, we didn’t get any (grin). Trying to remember what we got – all of it EXCELLENT - DH is more discriminating than I, and he kept raving about how good everything was. It had been years since we had yakitori (yes I know we live in Los Angeles). The meatballs in particular were memorable. I could cry because I doubt I could recreate those. We also had chicken with leeks, stuffed bell peppers, mushrooms and lotus. Quail egg (no bacon) and salt chicken wings. ‘Chicken tail’ – so cute!

                                      There were so many other things I wanted to try that will have to wait for next time – I love veggies, so the okra would be next. They also had a gingko nut dish that sounded intriguing.

                                      When the awesome onigiri arrived (long wait, be warned) – I told Megumi ‘this is one of the dishes that the internet reviewer recommended’. Within earshot, one person at the bar turned around to me and asked which site I had read – and since I saw rameniac’s Bincho reviews all over other sites like Yelp, I knew it must be him (yes, coulda been a ‘her’)! What a wonderful surprise. I get together with folks from another foodie website, but this is my first CH encounter. Rameniac, I hope I thanked you enough for the Bincho recommendation, and now I’ll have DH read up on your other thumbs-up places, LOL. We too love supporting mom and pop places.

                                      For grins, I asked DH how he liked it in comparison to Musha, another place I recommended to him (I read Chowhound, he doesn’t) – ‘they are both great places, but Bincho is cheaper’ – we were out the door, stuffed, four of us, for $80. We go light on drinks – tea for me and hubs, soda for one kid, and hubs had a HUGE beer for $7. DH wants to come back with bikes and make it a day. Although Bincho is on the other side of the hill for us, we will return, and we suggest you all do too – who knows, you may bump into Rameniac!

                                      Couple other things to keep in mind: this is NOT a fast meal. Took us almost two hours to get everything. Lots of downtime between dishes. We never felt rushed, but I was concerned that it was a school night. Otherwise it’s perfect if you want to linger for a time with friends. Also, wear washable clothes. Very smokey from the grill but hey, I get to remember my dinner this morning when I pick up and smell my Tshirt.

                                      Kanpai to Bincho!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: leetmom7

                                        nice to meet you and your family, leetmom7! great writeup, and i'm glad you guys liked the food =).

                                        happy post-mother's day too!

                                      2. Gonna have to try this place...

                                        But the fact that you think Shin Sen Gumi is better than Kokekokko makes me question the review a tad bit, no offense...

                                        Kokekokko is by far the best yakitori ive had in the states (yes, Ive spent a lot of time in Japan). Yet to find a place that serves neck, tail, soft bone and special hearts...

                                        Thanks for the info

                                        ruh roh...after seeing the pics it seems like they don't cook my favorite yakitori dish (skin) properly....it needs to be crispy as hell on the outside, yet a bit chewy in the middle...

                                        =(

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: ronnie_gaucho

                                          skin is very crispy, don't knock it til ye tried it ;)! although i'd say get it with the tare as opposed to shio.

                                          kokekokko follows a different aesthetic, "yakitori minimalism" as mstinawu coined the term. i prefer things a bit more robust and full-flavored and less austere, which is why I like SSG. to each his own...

                                          1. re: rameniac

                                            Thanks for clarifying that...Chewy skin makes me a very sad boy :-(

                                            Kokekokko is top class quality...SSG reminds me of one of those yakitori stands you find walking around Tokyo...

                                            Don't really agree with the minimalism comment either...Maybe you're not ordering the right stuff

                                            1. re: ronnie_gaucho

                                              my whole thing is that SSG IS like one of those yakitori stands... the flavors just come alive a bit more with a 'greasy spoon' or in this case, 'greasy grill' sort of feel.

                                              kokekokko isn't bad, it's merely a different style/presentation, much more of what you'd find in a fine dining restaurant in japan (like torimatsu).

                                              i typically order the same items wherever i go (thigh, tsukune, for example), so that's how i base my comparisons. my experience with kokekokko is that the've got a good smoky, chickeny flavor sure, but lack that juicy, sizzling snap that SSG has, especially with the thigh meat.

                                              they also don't quite have the variety that i like. kokekokko is minimalist in the sense that your courses are all more or less chicken-centric - from the skewers to the soboro rice and the chicken soup; it's much more of a "yakitori" by the strict, traditional definition.

                                              SSG is technically a robata-ya, but but because they hail from kagoshima, they feature a lot of the bacon-wrapped items considered a part of kyushu-style yakitori.

                                              in short, they're two different kinds experience. kind of like comparing apples to... well, green apples lol.

                                              1. re: rameniac

                                                Also, the owner/chef of Kokkekoko is Taiwanese. While I wouldn't classify it a Taiwanese spin on yakitori (I've been to a few of those places in Taiwan and they're wretched), this would definitely account for why the place just feels different than the down to earth authentic places like Shin Sen Gumi (which is also a favorite of mine).

                                                While I found Kokkekoko to be delicious, I found it absurd that what amounted to a few chicken sticks, edamame and beer set us back $80. I'll take Shin Sen Gumi over Kokkekoko any day.

                                                Mr Taster

                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                  uhhh Tomo, the owner of Kokekokko is NOT Taiwanese...He does have a branch of kokekokko in Taiwan however...My former business partner is golfing buddies with him...

                                                  He might be a total drunk (3 DUIs) and a tyrant...But he's not Taiwanese lol

                                                  1. re: ronnie_gaucho

                                                    Oops... on further consultation with my wife (who is Taiwanese), it appears you are correct! He told us he has a branch in Taiwan, but did not tell us that he is Taiwanese.

                                                    Mr Taster

                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                      I heard he's actually trying to sell Kokekokko and move his operation to NYC

                                            2. re: rameniac

                                              ``To each his own...''? I can't believe I missed this the first time around - coming from Rameniac, a man who denounces people who prefer Daikokuya to Santouka like Leninists calling out Trotskyites.

                                            3. re: ronnie_gaucho

                                              Would Kokekokko even make the top 2 list? highly doubt it...

                                            4. Hey, I'm glad you went, and I'm glad you made such a detailed post. You are a much better marketer than I am :) I had the same feeling as you. This is the kind of place I want to keep a secret, but I also want it to succeed so...hence my original post. I'm really glad you got people interested in this place as it truly is a little piece of Tokyo in LA both in flavor and ambience.

                                              1. Tried to make a second trip to Bincho last night (now I'm hooked too), but it was closed! I'm wondering if the hours are to be interpreted loosley b/c last week we went and they weren't up and running until 6:00. I can't believe it was closed...totally Jonsing now.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: Rizza

                                                  Rizza -- I completely agree. We, too, were there last Saturday evening about 5:00 for an early dinner and they were not ready to open until 6:00pm. However, through the window the owner said he would seat us at the bar, as we requested, when he opened. At 6:00 he honored his promise and we completely enjoyed our dinner.

                                                  We agreed to be served whatever he selected for us ("omakase") and I believe we tasted most of the menu; everything was very tasty!

                                                  The location is a surprise and a funny fit, so we thank all you Hounds who found this Japanese grill and posted for us to follow.

                                                  1. re: liu

                                                    How much did your omakase course cost? Were you served any exciting off-menu specials?

                                                    Mr Taster

                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                      Hi, Mr. Taster!
                                                      Our omakase for two was about $48 (one beer and one iced tea) before tip and tax.

                                                      I think we had all of the basic offerings: lots of grilled veggies and many chicken items. Additionally, we ordered a basket of chicken cartilage and a skewer of marshmallows. The biggest surprise was being served a baked potato. Although I now know that it is a common Japanese menu item -- and it was delicious, even though we removed the butter -- it was too heavy for this particular meal. It was also very hot on Saturday night and the grilled vegetables were a perfect fit without the added potato starch.

                                                      When we left, we were very satisfied. We did ask the owner and his wife if we ate a lot compared with most of his customers. His response was that we did not eat very much. He said that many Japanese will sit for hours and consume huge quantities (both in food and drink) at these yakitori restaurants. We sat for less than two hours and enjoyed what we were served. We did not leave wanting anything more and surely we would return.

                                                  2. re: Rizza

                                                    Hi Rizza,

                                                    Sorry to hear. What time on Monday did you arrive?

                                                    I'm guessing the influx of business has really affected their originally planned hours of operation. Definitely call ahead of time and make a reservation just to be safe. Glad you liked it! (^_^)

                                                    1. re: exilekiss

                                                      6:30pm...can't wait to go back. My 5 year old daughter told the chef he cooks better than I do. My 3 year old couldn't get enough of the meatballs. And we want to bring Dad there. Friday!

                                                  3. Note re Yakitori Bincho: They apparently only answer the phone if they feel like it, so if you call to see if they're open and don't get a response, it is not conclusive.
                                                    I'm a raving Shin Sen Gumi fan but will give them a try. I've tried to do so before but made the mistake of calling first to see if they were open, and they didn't answer so I didn't go.

                                                    I'm glad to see the Boardwalk getting lively again - had a good meal at Lou E Luey's last week, now have Bincho to look forward to.

                                                    1. We are regulars at Shin-Sen-Gumi in Gardena. We have been to most of the Yakitori haunts around town, but we find ShinSenGumi by far the best. We hate that it is so loud, but appreciate the authentic tradition that is behind it. So when I read this passionate post about a new kid on the block that proports to be better than Shin-Sen-Gumi, we had to try it.

                                                      I won't go into all the detail, as this post does a much more thorough job than I could of describing most of the menu items. Suffice it to say, we prefer an "authentic" Japanese experience, and really do enjoy the organ meats such as "special hearts." My favorite is the gizzards. (it is a textural thing). My husband's favorite item is the cartilage. So yeah, we are into it and generally the staff at these restaurants seem to respect us for understanding and appreciating the cuisine.

                                                      I love the pier, and Binchu is a really cute space. We mostly dislike all the other restaurants on the pier (except for the Korean crab place of course), so it is nice to have another options.

                                                      Service was great, and they only charged me $10 corkage. (I like wine with my skewers. Beer is too heavy, and in my opinion Sake too light to pair well with them.)

                                                      We ordered pretty much the entire skewer menu. The meatballs (Tsukune) were one of the more memorable items; very soft and succulent. Much better than the ones at SSG. And they do a nice shiso chicken. Another favorite is the meat-stuffed shitakes. SSG does not have those. The most unusual thing about the place is for each item you can choose between "salt" and "teriyaki." We told them we would go with the chef's recommendation, which was a mix.

                                                      In total, I thought the primary differences with SSG were in regards to both flavor and texture. The flavors at Bincho were much more...subtle. Not bland, but let's just say I was using a lot of the japanese pepper. They were not "chicken-ey" enough. I think SSG uses some kind of brush-on marinade that adds a depth of flavor (someone please tell me it is a soy sauce derivative and not MSG) that they do not use at Binchu. I could understand how others would prefer it at Binchu for this reason. I guess an analogy would be anyone who has eaten at sushi places like (the old) Sasabune or Sushi-Sushi; they paint a soy sauce glaze on all the fish. I prefer it "naked" like they do at Shibucho, Mori, etc. To me, it tastes more "authentic" because the natural flavor of the fish is not masked. So, I can see how some would prefer Binchu for the same reason.

                                                      The other thing about Binchu is all the chicken parts had kind of a softer texture, and had a slight "gamier" flavor/texture that I associate with slightly undercooked chicken. This was most apparent with the thigh meat. Very slightly, nothing to be alarmed about. But at SSG, I like the way the chicken has a bit of a "skin" on the outside (not literally) and is soft in the inside. WHen you bite into the chicken thigh or breast at SSG, you get a sensation more similar to biting into a sausage or hotdog (or piece of chicken off the BBQ grill) vs Binchu, which is more of almost a stewed chicken sensation. Again, I could see how people would prefer the Binchu as it is more "tender."

                                                      Also, one final point is that SSG has an extraordinarily extensive menu with all kinds of other options. Great soups, fish dishes, veggies, etc. Binchu is quite limited.

                                                      All in all, I think South Bay is big enough to support both establishments. Each does have something special to offer. I hope Binchu is successful.

                                                      I was so fascinated with this discussion I did post this on my blog with a link back to rameniac's post.
                                                      http://foodandwineblog.thefoodietrave...

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: wasabica

                                                        glad you enjoyed it! bincho's flavors are a little more subtle than SSGs, but compared to the other yakitori shops in town, they're the only ones that even rank in the same neighborhood in terms of full-flavoredness. i wouldn't be surprised if SSG used MSG actually. i actually prefer bincho's tare (marinade) over SSGs, but it's SSG's shio negima that keeps me going back there in perpetuity. but factor in SSG's wait time and bincho's killer tsukune, and i'll probably choose bincho over SSG most nights these days.

                                                        incidentally, SSG's varied menu is because they serve a certain style of yakitori that is unique to southern japan. most yakitori places won't have nearly as extensive a menu as them.

                                                        1. re: wasabica

                                                          Nice write-up wasabica. :) Like rameniac said, I'd give the edge to Yakitori Bincho in many of the categories, but respect that you like Shin Sen Gumi's bolder flavors (note: as I said in my own review, Shin Sen Gumi was my favorite place prior to Bincho; and I still appreciate SSG a lot; and I love their wonderful party atmosphere (^_~)).

                                                          If you get a chance, you should try out Yakitori Bincho's other items on the menu: I think they have a very good selection of non-Kushiyaki items (more so than many Yakitori-yas). Their made-from-scratch (oh so good!) Zosui, the handmade, fresh Onigiri, Yaki-Onigiri, Agedashi Tofu (yum!), and a few other dishes.

                                                          1. re: exilekiss

                                                            Funny exilekiss, I actually read your review shortly after posting mine, and you did inspire me to go back soon and check out their Zosui, a dish that I adore. BTW, here is a secret tip if you like Zosui. Check out Sushi Nozomi on carson in Torrance. I need to formally review this place, as they also have very good sushi, but I sometimes go there especially for their Zosui and their Kamameshi, a great hard-to-find dish. That is my kind of comfort food.
                                                            http://www.sushinozomi.com/eng1.html

                                                            1. re: wasabica

                                                              Thanks for the tip wasabica. :) I'll have to check them out sometime.

                                                        2. Just wanted to add quickly that this place met my expectations and then some. Very small place, service was pretty efficient. I hope they get busier for their sake, or at least make a comfortable living for their efforts.

                                                          Chicken was cooked perfectly everytime- bloody amazing, really. I thought the salt was very nice, as it accentuated the flavors of the chicken without overpowering it. The tsukune, as mentioned above, was godly. Could not get enough. Shiitake mushrooms stuffed with meat, as well as the karage, was awesome.

                                                          A few items I thought missed their mark: chicken with perilli (sp?) and chicken with cheese. I didn't hate them, but I would not order them again.

                                                          The green chili I thought was phenomenal, as was thigh with green onion. Okra was good as well.

                                                          12 skewers, tofu, karage, 1 small asahi, 1 small sake was 54 bucks pretip. Very reasonable.

                                                          1. I have become a broken record on the state of Yakitori in San Francisco; you can't throw a dead cat in any neighborhood of that illustrious city and not hit a Japanese restaurant, yet there is a not a single yakitori establishment anywhere in it's small confines. Yeah, I have heard of a few in South San Francisco or down on the peninsula, but in San Francisco proper, there is nary formal barbeque utilizing the essential Kishu Binchō-tan, or charcoal wood. This means my occasional trips to Southern California always necessitate a visit to a Yakitori restaurant, of which there are a plethora (go figure). Shin-Sen-Gumi has been my go-to yakitori for years but on the occasion of hitting L.A. for my birthday, old friend and local food writer Richard Foss suggested a new joint he had heard good things about, Yakitori Bincho in Redondo Beach. It was slightly surreal because Redondo was where I called home for almost a decade and left over seven years ago for the wiles of Napa (eventually decamping for San Francisco). Odd to walk the boardwalk, hear the Saturday night mating calls from nearby Naja's, a local watering hole, and see the changes in a neighborhood I had known so well...

                                                            We arrived to this tiny, 24-seat establishment to see "Reserved" signs all over the restaurant. Okay, so it must be popular. Snagging a seat at the bar, we got to watch husband-and-wife team, Tomo and Megumi work the entire restaurant. With strains of industrial shamison music in the background, Tomo is the master of the charcoals and moves with the speed of svelte leopard. Megumi, his wife, elegantly clad in kimono and obi, acts as waitress, hostess, server, and dishwasher. When we indicate that sake will definitely be ordered, Megumi presented us with a basket of glass cups from her refrigerator; pre-chilled, we get to choose which cup we wish to drink from. Of course wanting to eat as many different flavors as possible, we ordered the "Bincho," the largest chef's selection of ten skewers for $25.00. We let Tomo know that challenging meats were definitely acceptable. While Tomo was preparing our skewers, Megumi started us out on our sake as well as some edamame and cabbage salad. He double-checked, "You sure? It is stuff like liver and gizzards..." You betcha, Tomo! Our skewer selection was as follows:

                                                            * Meatball (better than Shin-Sen-Gumi's!!!! Could it be true?)
                                                            * Thigh with leek (I adore leeks)
                                                            * Thigh with chopped onions (might have been my favorite chicken dish of the evening; complex and rich and we wanted to eat every single bit of onion after the meat was gone)
                                                            * Wings, flattened with a crispy exterior (a tad salty, but tasted great)
                                                            * Thigh with cheese (the least successful of the night -- well, just plain wrong actually. The grilled meat, dipped in teriyaki sauce, is then topped with a slice of plastic-wrap cheese-like-product until melted)
                                                            * Thigh with perilla leaf (complex and elegant)
                                                            * Cartlidge (deep fried and very fresh tasty with its chewy interior contrasting the light crunchy breading)
                                                            * Liver (oh yeah, baby, it is getting good. Even Mr. Rick who is not a liver fan ate more than a single bite)
                                                            * Hearts (so tender and interestingly served fileted instead of served whole as I am accustomed to having them served)
                                                            * Gizzard (I am giddy at this point)

                                                            Knowing we were going to want to taste other bits on the menu, we also ordered the shiitake mushroom skewer which is stuffed with chicken meat and served with ponzu sauce. Another dish was eggplant soup, tender chunks of eggplant fried and served in a rich broth with a ton of green onions and topped with grated pickled daikon radish. This was an incredibly rich, complex soup despite the limited ingredients.

                                                            We also ordered a skewer of ginko nuts and a rice ball, but at this point in the evening, the restaurant was packed and it was obvious that Megumi and Tomo were a tad overwhelmed. With a bit of a delay, our meal had settled sufficiently to where we realized we didn't need more savory. Canceling those last two dishes, I did order dessert, a final skewer of grilled marshmallows. Cheeky and a bit unorthodox, I'm sure. I didn't care. It was a charming, fun finish to a delightful evening. It might actually make me considering moving back to my old home...

                                                            1. Thanks so much everyone for your raves... we went this Friday and had an absolute great time...

                                                              Although we weren't exactly sure where it was... I had missed the mention that it was right next to Quality Seafood when we left. It just didn't compute that such a place would actually be AT the pier... nevertheless, so glad we were so glad we found it... all we had to do was follow the smoke...

                                                              From the very get go, the vibe when we got there was very much like Sushi Zo when it first opened. The chef and his lovely assistant greeting everyone as they come, explaining the cuisine carefully but kindly (like how it may take a while to get our food out). It automatically put me at ease, I don't need instruction in Yakatori, but I do appreciate them being serious about their style of food.

                                                              So we ordered a good selection of items (Sadly they were out of the stuffed veggies there).

                                                              Our favorite hands down was the Tomato and Bakon. It was just perfection from the get go, with that little squirt of Mayo We would order 10 of those alone if left on our devices... but we are also glad we got to branch out. Other favorites included the Meatball, the Thigh and Scallion (it came in the most amazing sauce), the Chicken Wasabi (Although it was bit more pungent than expected) and dispite some other comments, we did enjoy the Chicken and Cheese, but we are HUGE Hapen Cheese fans... ;)

                                                              With a well priced bottle of unfiltered Sake, we made it out of there at a little under $40 bucks, which was not bad for the quality of food and the skill of cooking. The only downside of the night was that Glacier has yet to start it's later summer hours. >| So anyone wanting to do the combo anytime soon, get done BEFORE 10p...

                                                              --Dommy!

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Dommy

                                                                oh yeah that tomato with bacon was freakin stellar!

                                                              2. just came back from a late night bout at bincho. apparently they've decided to tweak their hours a bit, now that they've got a good sampling of customer traffic to work with.

                                                                beginning june 9th (monday), they'll be closing mondays instead of tuesdays. then after that, their hours will be:

                                                                5-10pm tuesdays- thursdays and sundays
                                                                5-11pm fridays and saturdays

                                                                probably won't affect too many people, but worthy of a heads up. they asked if they should put up a notice and i said absolutely.

                                                                btw they've added this drizzle of a light, flavorful jelly-like chicken stock to the negi-shio. it's excellent!

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: rameniac

                                                                  Hey rameniac,

                                                                  Thanks for the heads up! :) I can't wait to head back (hopefully next week).

                                                                  1. re: rameniac

                                                                    actually they said june 9th, but i was kind of tipsy towards the end of the night and i wasn't sure if i heard them correctly when i apologized for keeping them up late and they said it was ok since they didn't have to work today (monday). although they might have simply meant that they didn't have to wake up early since the restaurant doesn't do lunch haha.

                                                                    either way, if you go this week, double check by calling to see if the new hours are in effect yet just in case!

                                                                    1. re: rameniac

                                                                      FYI, I was on the pier this past sunday and there was a handwritten note on the door dated june 6 saying they were closed for a fire dept inspection? No info on reopening. Everything ok? What's the scoop?

                                                                      1. re: wasabica

                                                                        I was there on Saturday when the policeman came in to try to shut them down. Basically he said that due to city ordinances, the level of carbon monoxide in the restaurant was too high. The owner tried to argue that the previous owner had a permit for him to use his yakitori grill, but the policeman was being a bit of an ass about it. He was all "I don't care about the previous owner, only what I say now matters! You have to shut down the grill."

                                                                        They actually had to take all the food off the grill and shut it down for a while as they discussed it with the policeman. I was getting nervous since I was only 5 skewers into my 10 skewer meal!

                                                                        In the end, they came to an agreement that they would contact some company to install better ventilation this week. The policeman than gave them the OK to use the grill for the rest of the day and he left afterwards.

                                                                        At least that's what I gleaned from the situation watching it unfold from the counter.

                                                                        1. re: huaqiao

                                                                          wow, that's incredible.

                                                                          I swear 80% of their 'real' customers are from chowhound.

                                                                          1. re: huaqiao

                                                                            alas i loved their smokiness! and that rusty old fan they were aiming out the window to suck up smoke lol. ah well, can't have everything like it is in japan.

                                                                            if they need a slicker ventilation system, so be it. hope it doesn't set them back too much cost-wise is all. keep eating there to help 'em recoup their costs! ;)

                                                                            1. re: huaqiao

                                                                              I was there too. It was actually not just any policeman but, THE fire marshall himself. My husband ran out after him and found out that it was the neighbors complaining about the amount of smoke drifting into their areas.
                                                                              The reason why the fire marshall came himself that night was because that was the second time they were forced to go down there because of phoned in complaints from neighbors.
                                                                              We were very nervous for them as we weren't sure if they really understood what the man was trying to tell them, and especially the gravity of it. The man was being an ass though.
                                                                              Either way, I'd be very very upset if they closed down. The food there is amazing and much better than ANY yakitori ANYWHERE in SoCal.

                                                                      2. I went here last month. It's highly recommended to make a reservation. Also, they seem to close shop unpredictably, according to my friends who go there quite often.
                                                                        My favorite is the negi-yaki and the nankotsu karaage.

                                                                        I think it's the best yakitori place in the LA/OC area. The only place that I've been to thats just as good, if not better, is Yakyuudori in SD.

                                                                        1. It sounds like their fire permit problem was serious enough to shut them down :(

                                                                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/528661

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: maxzook

                                                                            Any word on the reopening? Was hoping to try it out this weekend.

                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                              Unfortunately, nothing as of yet. Nothing to report from my South Bay friends either. Anyone else have better luck?

                                                                          2. UPDATE:

                                                                            I spoke with Tomo-san 5 minutes ago, and the good news is that they are going through the red tape and waiting for final permits. They hope to re-open Yakitori Bincho (same location) in "2-3 weeks." (^_^) Woo hoo!

                                                                            I'll post again when the special time draws nearer. :)

                                                                            16 Replies
                                                                            1. re: exilekiss

                                                                              awesome news exile! do you have the personal hookup or are they actually back in the shop and answering the phone again? they're kind of isolated from the j-restaurant community as they're so new, so i didn't know anyone else that actually knew them lol. i was about to call oriental breeze to see if they had any info, but hadn't gotten around to it yet.

                                                                              i had a feeling it wouldn't be as big a deal as we were fearing, and that they'd be getting a new fan and opening again before long. here's hoping everything goes smoothly.

                                                                              1. re: rameniac

                                                                                Hey rameniac,

                                                                                No, they're not back in the shop yet; I have Tomo-san's #. I'll post up as soon as I hear they're opening. :)

                                                                                1. re: exilekiss

                                                                                  hah, nice going! exile, you are seriously the foodie's foodie lol.

                                                                              2. re: exilekiss

                                                                                Hallelujua! My wife has been beating me up almost everyday for procrastinating and not going in time before they closed. Now i get to redeem myself. Believe u me, that same day they open, we are there! <ducking from a flying frying pan> that same day!!!

                                                                                1. re: exilekiss

                                                                                  Any additional updates on the reopening? I'm going to be at LAX on July 21, and would love to check it out while I'm in that part of town... (gas prices what they are, I'm forced to combine my food excursions with errands these days)

                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                    I'd like to know as well. Any updates here would be appreciated.

                                                                                    1. re: weebie

                                                                                      i was out at the pier for the 4th of july. they have a sign posted that they'll be back soon, but didn't really specify. took a peek through the window but couldn't discern much, although it looked like the rusty old fan/vacuum might have been removed!

                                                                                    2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                      Hey Mr Taster,

                                                                                      Just finished speaking with Tomo-san. Looks like another "few weeks" :( -

                                                                                      The Health Department is insisting they now add extra Restrooms because they serve Alcohol, so they're negotiating that. Tomo-san thanks everyone for their support.

                                                                                      I'll post updates as soon as I hear when they're reopening.

                                                                                      1. re: exilekiss

                                                                                        Thanks for the update.

                                                                                        By the way, if you do hear something, could I request that you reply to this thread as well as post a new thread? The way the hotposts are organized, sometimes I miss new additions to this thread because it's not on my "page 1" anymore.

                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                          Hi Mr Taster,

                                                                                          No problem. :) I was planning on replying to this thread and start a new one when Bincho finally reopens (to clear up any confusion (^_~)).

                                                                                          1. re: exilekiss

                                                                                            Any further updates?

                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                              I just spoke with Ueno-san. It sounds like they are at an impasse--the health department said that they need to have two bathrooms (they currently have one) while the city is saying that they cannot build another one on the premises because of some grandfather clause (?).

                                                                                              There is a public restroom no more than a 100 feet away but they don't count.

                                                                                              Killing me softly...

                                                                                              Yakinikker

                                                                                              1. re: yakinikker

                                                                                                wow that's absolutely horrid. How are they staying afloat financially? seems like a mess.

                                                                                                1. re: yakinikker

                                                                                                  I think we should contact the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce and try to get them to back Yakitori Binchu.

                                                                                                  1. re: young_chower

                                                                                                    they should just ditch the location and move somewhere that is more "friendly" such as the westside... where yakitoriya, nanbankan, sukura house, (and soon to come -robata-ya on sawtelle blvd) exist with no problems. I know a lot of you love the idea of the location but, I love the food here so much, I DON'T REALLY CARE WHERE IT IS.
                                                                                                    If they build it, we will come... they really are the best at what they do, so far. So, for those of you who have contact with the masters, please pass my message on!

                                                                                                  2. re: yakinikker

                                                                                                    Sounds like some of same terrible bureaucratic mess that killed Doughboys.... lets hope Uenosan fares better.

                                                                                                    http://www.doughboys.net/whathappened...

                                                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                                      2. When is this place going to re-open? This "couple more weeks" game is driving me nuts! Please, someone tell Tomo that there are people foaming at the mouth to get back in!!!
                                                                                        I'm sure they feel the same way too :p
                                                                                        Any updates?

                                                                                        1. sounds great!
                                                                                          i will give this place a try soon ;]

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: mikachop

                                                                                            Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the place has been temporarily shut down due to issues with ventilating the smoke, I believe.

                                                                                            Sigh. Hope things are remedied soon - all of this salivation is driving me batty.

                                                                                          2. ok, I'm a bit confused. I was there last Sunday on the 31st. I called them but no one answered but since I was in the area and hadn't been to that pier in ages, decided to take a chance and check it out anyway. Walked around in circles for a while. lol. Finally gave up and ate at a nearby place and headed home.

                                                                                            Checked on here and in re-reading rameniac's review realized that it was in Oriental Breeze's old spot. I told the bf that we passed by Yakitori Bincho 3 times and didn't realize it! But then reading further confusion set in.

                                                                                            So now looking at this map...

                                                                                            http://www.redondo.org/depts/hbt/harb...

                                                                                            Is Yakitori Bincho along the area where is says Avenue of Arts and Crafts? There was one place there that was closed and could have been Yakitori Bincho.

                                                                                            There is also a place across from Tony's (on the map) that had a tiny Oriental Breeze sign on the door that was open (which I initially thought might have been YB when I got home and checked on here).

                                                                                            Now, did Oriental Breeze move from a different area to across from Tony's or was the place that had the Oriental Breeze sign on the door indeed Yakitori Bincho and they just haven't gotten around to taking the little sign off the door?

                                                                                            I had also tried calling on Monday as I was willing to drive back down there that day if they were going to be open and I could get a reservation. No one answered.

                                                                                            Gosh, I hope I this made sense and if anyone can clear up my confusion it would be appreciated!

                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Dlish

                                                                                              Well, there has been no reports that they have reopened as of yet. Many of us are waiting on pins and needles.

                                                                                              1. re: Dlish

                                                                                                I've no idea if you were in the right place or not (I didn't make it to Yakitori Bincho while it was open) - but even if you were in the right place, the restaurant would have been closed; it was shut down by the Fire Marshall (or the city?) over ventilation issues, I believe. A search on this site for "Yakitori Bincho" should yield the thread with all of the details and grumbles.

                                                                                                1. re: Dlish

                                                                                                  You know where Quality seafood is? Yakitori Bincho was/is just a few doors North on the lower level.

                                                                                                  1. re: Dlish

                                                                                                    according to that map, yea bincho would be where the 'ave of arts and crafts' is... maybe under the letter "F" in crafts... altho i never knew it was called that lol.

                                                                                                    but yea, as for oriental breeze, it did in fact move to that spot up across from tony's.

                                                                                                    1. re: rameniac

                                                                                                      Thank you! That totally clears things up. Crossing my fingers hoping they will reopen very soon!

                                                                                                  2. any news on reopening?!?!
                                                                                                    i grew up in the south bay and i would LOVE for this to be an option for when i meet friends back home over the next few weekends.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: alkylyou

                                                                                                      at this point i'm feeling rather pessimistic about any kind of reopening... no news, no updates... nothin! how can anyone stay in business that has been out for this long? i'm sad that this place has been gone for so long :(

                                                                                                    2. Yakitori Bincho has REOPENED... as Izakaya Bincho. Details and Review in this Chowhound thread:

                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/563484