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A True L.A. Treasure: Yakitori Bincho - Grilling Excellence [Review] w/ Pics

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exilekiss May 11, 2008 10:23 PM

(Formatted with All Pictures found here:
http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2008/05...

)

In terms of Japanese cuisine in Los Angeles (and most of America), Sushi is by far the most explored and popular type; and with that popularity came a maturity and push for excellence that's given L.A. some solid, good quality Sushi restaurants. The same cannot be said for Yakitori / Kushiyaki (roasted skewers of chicken, other meats, and vegetables over binchotan (Japanese white charcoal)). There are some decent places scattered around the greater L.A./O.C. area, but only one or two truly good Yakitori / Kushiyaki restaurants that would hold up in Japan. The current top of the pile is Shin Sen Gumi (not the Ramen side), with its Fountain Valley and Gardena branches providing good ol' fashioned, tasty skewers of meat and vegetables, in a crazy atmosphere straight outta' an authentic, local neighborhood in Japan.

But all of that just changed with the opening of Yakitori Bincho on the International Boardwalk / Pier of Redondo Beach. Thanks to the effervescent post by rameniac (Doumo! :), I was genuinely intrigued and grabbed my Yakitori Hound 'dachi and off we went to try Yakitori Bincho this Saturday evening.

The first thing to note is that Yakitori Bincho is literally right on the International Board Walk / Pier area in Redondo Beach, looking right over the Pacific Ocean. After parking and walking along the Redondo Beach Pier, we eventually found it after asking a few businesses about the layout (this already started feeling like the detective work I had to do in Japan to find specific restaurants (with its labyrinthine system)). We finally found it (note: Yakitori Bincho doesn't have any signage yet, only a simple "Grand Opening" temporary sign).

The view right outside the restaurant is fun, with the various small boats parked, and the Pacific Ocean a few feet from the entrance:

The interior design is a small, simple location, with a beautifully rustic wooden bar area overlooking the kitchen, in addition to a few booths along the opposite wall.

At 6:00 p.m. on a Saturday night, we were the only table in the restaurant, but with such a stellar review from rameniac, we weren't worried. We were warmly greeted immediately by Tomo-san (the chef) and Megumi-san, his wife who runs the front of the house. They were extremely warm and friendly throughout the dinner, and we never had any issues with service.

Yakitori Bincho has two parts to their menu, the Yakitori menu where you write in how many of each skewer you want, and then a menu featuring their assortment of Kappo-style small dishes and the drinks. The unique thing about their Yakitori menu is that it only lists the various meats and vegetables, and then Megumi-san asks you how you want each one prepared, Shio (Salt-based) or Tare (pronounced "Tah-reh") (Sauce-based (Mirin, Soy Sauce, Sake, etc.)). It's a nice level of customization where many Yakitori restaurants have specific skewers served only one way. We placed our order and anxiously awaited the food.

Two really nice aspects of Yakitori Bincho is that they use only Free-Range, Hormone-Free Chicken (Tomo-san told me he gets a certain Jidori from a California supplier), and he uses Binchotan (Japanese White Charcoal) flown in from Japan. The advantages to both of these aspects would soon be very apparent.

First up was the Agedashi Tofu (Fried Silken Tofu served in a Broth). One of the most classic, simple dishes of Japan, most restaurants around L.A. fail to properly execute it. Yakitori Bincho's Agedashi Tofu is pure excellence, with a gigantic portion, in addition to a wonderfully fresh, silken Tofu (softer and silkier than most Agedashi Tofu preparations). The broth was wonderfully complex, with a unique Dashi, Soy Sauce Broth that had undercurrents of a variety of herbs and possibly chicken). It was wonderful, soul-warming and so tasty, perfect over rice, or on its own. The execution of this Agedashi Tofu has toppled Kappo Honda (Fountain Valley) as the best Agedashi Tofu in Southern California.

Next up was the Liver Tare skewer. I'm normally not a fan of Liver, but Tomo-san's care and devotion to the craft was obvious from the very first skewer that night, to the last. The Liver was amazing! Not "chalky" or chunky in any way, and even the "liver flavor" was very delicate and light. It was moist and tender, and the Tare sauce was truly light, yet distinct, giving it the perfect complement.

Their Tsukune Tare (Marinated Ground Chicken Meatball) skewer came next. Generally, Tsukune in Southern California is mediocre at best, mostly dry or chunky, and really tasting like simple ground chicken and little else. After having the bliss of the Tsukune specialist in Kyoto last month, I wasn't sure how Yakitori Bincho would turn out. One bite and it was truly clear at this point: Tomo-san is a true master of his craft. The Chicken Meatball was SO moist and flavorful, giving off a wonderful flavor combination of some specialized deep marinade (overnight), that helps give a good Chicken flavor, yet also the multiple herbs and combination of other ingredients. It was also paired with a nice Karashi (Japanese Mustard) that added even more to the bliss. It rivaled the amazing Tsukune in Kyoto, and is the best Tsukune in So Cal, easily!

Their Shio Negima (Chicken Thigh with Green Onions, Salt-based) skewer is masterfully executed. Very good, but I think I enjoy Shin Sen Gumi (Fountain Valley)'s more (similar to rameniac). The execution is very good, but something in the preparation at Shin Sen Gumi puts its version ahead.

Next was the Shio Zuri (Chicken Gizzard, Salt-based) skewer. Visually it looked just like Zuri anywhere. However, taking one bite and it was another resounding success for Tomo-san: Moist, Fresh, and the perfect texture (with enough bite to make it enjoyable, but not negatively "chewy" in any way). Most Gizzard skewers locally are dried out, tough, and disappointing, not so here.

Next was the Momo Tare (Chicken Thigh with Tare Sauce). One bite and... WOW! While the Shio Negima was good, but lacking something, the Momo Tare was one of THE highlights of multiple highlights during dinner. The Chicken Thigh meat was wonderfully moist, and very fresh, and Tomo-san's Tare sauce truly pushed this dish over the top! Easily the best Momo Tare I've ever had, anywhere!

Next was their Shiso Maki (Chicken Wrapped in Shiso Leaf) served with a wonderful Ume (Japanese Plum) Paste. The Shiso Leaf when roasted with the Chicken and over their binchotan coals, provides an amazing blend of a delicate, earthy smokiness, combined with the fragrant Shiso Leaf and Chicken. And when dabbed in a bit of the Ume Paste, it provides the wonderful combination of Herbal, Savory, and Tart flavors with each bite.

Continuing the wave of wonderment was the Tare Tebasaki (Roasted Chicken Wings, Tare-sauce). While Furaibo's Tebasaki is very tasty and unique in its spices, and Shin Sen Gumi's is a solid execution, traditional style, Yakitori Bincho's Chicken Wings exceed them all: The freshness and natural taste of the Jidori Chicken Wings, combined with his blissful Tare sauce, and expert grilling over the white charcoals equals a perfectly crispy exterior, and moist, tender, lightly sweet but savory interior with each bite. Awesome!

Next was the Shio Nankotsu (Chicken Cartilage, Salt-based). Traditionally, Nankotsu is Chicken Cartilage from the Leg / Knee areas, which is moist but usually really fatty at times. Imagine my surprise when I found out that they served *Yagen* Nankotsu (Chicken Cartilage from the Breast area). This is pretty rare, and my first time trying it. While the Chicken Breast meat would inherently be leaner (and thus, dryer), when eaten with the Cartilage from the Breast area, it was truly amazing! It was purely the nice, crunchy, perfectly-cooked goodness of Cartilage, but without the fattiness usually associated with it! Excellent.

Next came their Shio Tomato Maki (Tomato wrapped in Pork Belly, Salt-based). Tomato Maki is one of my favorite items at Shin Sen Gumi, so it was with much anticipation that I tried this one. I knew that Tomo-san wanted only the freshest ingredients when possible, and this echoed that quest for freshness: The Cherry Tomatoes he used were SO fresh and sweet, and when it bursts in your mouth with the Pork Belly, it was so perfect. The Tomatoes were really fresh and naturally sweet, and perfectly grilled (as everything else was that night). Easily the best Tomato Maki in So Cal!

Yakitori Bincho also had a few interesting "Stuffed & Grilled" dishes: Their Tare Shiitake Nikuzume (Shiitake Mushrooms stuffed with Marinated Ground Chicken, Tare-based) was simply divine! The wonderfully fragrant aroma of fresh Shiitake Mushrooms, combined with the Marinated Natural Ground Chicken, and with his Tare-sauce, and a dab of the Karashi (Japanese Mustard) was the perfect combination of flavors!

We also tried their Tare Renkon Nikuzume (Lotus Root stuffed with Ground Chicken, Tare-based) skewer, which was also very tasty, but tasted similar to the Shiitake Mushroom version minus the mushroom flavors and with the tender, but firm texture of Lotus Root. It's still very well done, and ultimately a matter of personal preference.

Next was the Hatsu, Tare-style (Chicken Hearts, Tare-based). This is another hit-or-miss item at most Yakitori restaurants. Most of the time the Hearts can come out overcooked, or chewy, or just too pungent. But Tomo-san continued his mastery of the grill with the Hatsu. Each bite was extremely moist, with the perfect texture of tenderness and silkiness! It was amazing!

Next was the Tare Okura (Okra, Tare-based). The Okra vegetable was perfectly grilled, with the nice smoky flavor from the Binchotan combined with some of the freshest Okra I've had in years!

Our last grilled item for the night was Nasu (Japanese Eggplant). Tomo-san takes a whole Eggplant and roasts the entire thing directly over the Binchotan! He then peels away the skin and presents it, lightly seasoned with a beautiful mound of smoky, rich Bonito Flakes, and fresh ground Ginger.

Next was their homemade (and handmade), Fresh Sake Onigiri (Japanese Rice Ball stuffed with Salmon). Onigiri is a common food item in Japan, but sadly most restaurants that serve Onigiri in L.A. have pre-made versions, or with rice that has started to harden slightly. Tomo-san makes the Onigiri fresh, on the spot, and gives a huge amount of Salmon with each Rice Ball (not the "half a teaspoon" found just about everywhere else locally). The fresh Rice, with the bountiful amount of Salmon and the Seaweed makes it a wonderful taste of Japan delivered on the spot!

Our final dish for the night was Zosui (Japanese Rice "Porridge" / Soup with Chicken). Zosui is still relatively rare in Southern California, and it's a wonderful, heart-warming dish, simple and yet so good (a taste of home), when done right. We had seen Tomo-san's care and pursuit of excellence all night long (we were seated at the counter bar and watched his mastery in the kitchen), but the Zosui took the cake: Tomo-san makes his Zosui *fresh to order* with each order! The dish took about 25-30 minutes to come out (he started it while cooking our other items, so it was not noticeable), but that alone was a true sign of a dedicated chef! He took fresh rice and started cooking it down, then adding in the Jidori / Free-Range Chicken, and then the other ingredients. One sip and it was all over! This was THE freshest Zosui I've had outside of a family's kitchen in Japan! Wow. The wonderful broth, rich with Chicken flavors, the perfectly cooked "scrambled" Egg, Seaweed, Green Onions and the Rice. The perfect way to end a meal! Our total came out to be $40 per person (including tax and tip), and that was with us sampling most of the Sake on the menu. We over-ordered (but it was all so good), and with less sampling of the various Sake, it'll be much less per person in the future.

One note about their Sake menu: It's rather limited (only 4 types), but they carry one of my new favorites - Karatamba Sake from Hyogo Prefecture in Japan. It's an amazing dry, clean, cold Sake, and a perfect complement to the grilled items.

In closing, Yakitori Bincho has easily become THE best Yakitori / Kushiyaki restaurant in Southern California, with its all-natural Jidori (Free-Range, Hormone-Free) Chicken, fragrant Binchotan (Japanese White Charcoal), and grilling mastery by Chef Tomo-san, and his pursuit of excellence. Chef Tomo has a *passion* and dedication for Culinary Excellence and it shows. He loves to cook, and cares about his customers and about delivering Great Food, and it shows through and through. After the amazing culinary journey through Japan last month, I was worried that there weren't enough *truly devoted* Japanese restaurants in Southern California; places with real soul that wants to do their best to serve the best possible food they can. But having experienced the grandeur and mastery that is Urasawa, and now Yakitori Bincho, things are starting to look better and better. Note that I'm not saying Yakitori Bincho is in the same league as Urasawa in terms of Kaiseki Excellence, but Tomo-san (like Urasawa-san) is a chef truly dedicated to his craft and every dish he serves shows the care and love for food with every bite; it's a place with *soul*, with food made from the heart. And that's something we can always use more of. Yakitori Bincho is a true L.A. Treasure.

*** Rating: 9.5 (out of 10.0) ***

Japanese Grill Yakitori Bincho
112 N. International Boardwalk
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
(Note: Sadly, Google Maps fails to recognize the address, but Mapquest works fine. Just head to Redondo Beach Pier, park and you'll find it on the International Boardwalk section of the pier, north of Quality Seafood.)
Tel: 310-376-3889

Mon, Wed, Thu, 5:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Fri - Sun, 4:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m.
Closed on Tuesdays.

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Izakaya Bincho
112 N International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

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    exilekiss RE: exilekiss May 11, 2008 10:25 PM

    (Argh, CH didn't attach my photos. Retrying now.)

     
     
     
     
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      leetmom7 RE: exilekiss May 12, 2008 05:23 AM

      exilekiss, we went to Bincho for my Mother's Day pick. I wrote about it on Rameniac's thread. Thank you for a more indepth food write up than I did - I don't have the culinary background.

      1 Reply
      1. re: leetmom7
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        exilekiss RE: leetmom7 May 12, 2008 01:17 PM

        Hey leetmom7,

        You had a great writeup as well! I can't wait to go back. :)

      2. JEN10 RE: exilekiss May 12, 2008 07:14 AM

        I am printing out your report and taking it with us, can hardly wait!!! Thanks for all the detail.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JEN10
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          exilekiss RE: JEN10 May 12, 2008 08:39 AM

          Hey JEN10,

          No problem. :) Hope you have fun and enjoy the great food! Let us know how it went.

        2. Professor Salt RE: exilekiss May 12, 2008 11:01 AM

          Terrific review. It's good to have such detailed writeups from Japan experts like you and Rameniac.

          Will have to check this place out when I'm up in the South Bay.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Professor Salt
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            exilekiss RE: Professor Salt May 12, 2008 01:18 PM

            Thanks Professor Salt; I love your reports as well. :)

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            rameniac RE: exilekiss May 12, 2008 01:10 PM

            great review exile! and i'm glad you liked it. too bad i missed you there, by a day =)!

            1 Reply
            1. re: rameniac
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              exilekiss RE: rameniac May 12, 2008 01:23 PM

              Thanks rameniac. I couldn't have found this place without you! (^_~)

              Hope to see you around sometime; I'll have to bring some of my Tokyo tomodachi here this week or next!

            2. d
              Densible RE: exilekiss May 12, 2008 08:39 PM

              I don't eat chicken (or meat). Eggplant is one of my favorite foods though and I enjoy tofu. Are there other non-meat -(I eat shellfish (shrimp, crab, etc) and squid) dishes? I'd love to go as it is down the street from my home and we really need another delicious spot to frequent.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Densible
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                leetmom7 RE: Densible May 13, 2008 06:04 AM

                Densible, I thought there was a good amount of veggie dishes, enough to make a meal. I bet you could get the tomatoes by themselves, no 'bakon' (loved the typos). Does anyone know if the soup bases are vegetarian? I bet they aren't.

                1. re: Densible
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                  exilekiss RE: Densible May 13, 2008 08:26 AM

                  Hi Densible,

                  Let me see if I remember all the non-meat dishes...

                  KUSHIYAKI/GRILLED ITEMS:
                  * Okra
                  * Shishito (Japanese Peppers) - SO good usually (I didn't get to try them here, but I'm sure Tomo-san will do it justice :). It's very mildly spicy, with wonderful herbal, vegetable flavors.
                  * Onion
                  * Ninniku (Garlic) - Roasted Garlic, yum! :)
                  * Nasu (Eggplant) - very good (see my original post).
                  * Tomato - As leetmom7 said, you can probably ask Tomo-san to make the Tomato Maki with just Tomato (their tomatoes are very fresh).
                  * There might be 1-2 more items, but I don't remember.

                  MENU ITEMS:
                  * Agedashi Tofu (see my original post if you need description): This *should* be only Mirin / Soy-Sauce / Fish-based, but you can ask Megumi-san to confirm (and they can probably accomodate you if they aren't too busy) (they're really nice people :).

                  * Fresh, Handmade Onigiri: You can order it with Ume (Japanese Plum), Sake (Salmon), or IIRC, Japanese Pickles. Now I'm hungry and craving them again, thanks a lot Densible (^_~). They're SO good.

                  * Ochazuke: (FYI: This is the other type of Japanese "porridge" / "rice soup," (different from Zosui). It's made with Japanese Tea (it sounds weird, but really healthy and tasty, depending on your mood and preferences), and you have a choice of I think Mentaiko (Pollock Fish Roe), Ume (Japanese Plum), or something else.

                  * Fried Garlic: Haven't tried it yet (next time :).

                  * They had 3-4 Japanese Salads (one with a nice Japanese Kelp / Seaweed, and a few other variations).

                  * I believe one other Tofu dish.

                  And that's all I can remember for now, sorry. I hope this helps (if I go again before you visit, I'll reply and tell you of any other dishes you're looking for as well (^_^)).

                  Lastly, Megumi-san and Tomo-san's English is pretty decent, and with them being so friendly, I think you can ask them to accommodate your diet restrictions (and even have Tomo-san create something "Omakase" (Chef's Choice) that would be Vegetarian and Seafood-based only). I'll ask the question for you as well on my next visit.

                  Enjoy~

                  1. re: exilekiss
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                    Densible RE: exilekiss May 13, 2008 07:33 PM

                    Thank you! I cannot wait to go-probably Friday. How exciting.... I will report back.

                    1. re: exilekiss
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                      bulavinaka RE: exilekiss May 13, 2008 10:43 PM

                      Do you recall if they offer the onigiri grilled? One of life's simple pleasures...

                      1. re: bulavinaka
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                        exilekiss RE: bulavinaka May 14, 2008 08:01 AM

                        Hi bulavinaka,

                        Yes, they have Yaki-Onigiri (Grilled Rice Balls). They also have a version served with soup. :)

                        1. re: exilekiss
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                          bulavinaka RE: exilekiss May 14, 2008 09:43 PM

                          Mucho arigato, exilekiss... I can almost smell the gohan getting the yaki treatment right how...

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                    tdo RE: exilekiss May 13, 2008 07:43 PM

                    Thanks for the great write up! I just moved to the South Bay from SF and am looking for all the great places to eat in this neighborhood. Please let me know if you have other recommendations for this area.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: tdo
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                      exilekiss RE: tdo May 13, 2008 10:38 PM

                      Hey tdo,

                      Welcome! :) Definitely give Yakitori Bincho a try; after you try this Yakitori specialist, you can bypass the other ones in the South Bay (^_~). Besides that, you can try Musha (nice Izakaya (Japanese Pub / Tapas Bar)), Asa Ramen, and Santouka Ramen; oh, and Gaja for nice Okonomiyaki.

                      -----
                      Santouka Ramen
                      21515 S Western Ave, Torrance, CA 90501

                      Musha
                      1725 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501

                      Gaja Moc
                      2383 Lomita Blvd, Lomita, CA 90717

                      Cafe Ahsah
                      18202 S Western Ave, Gardena, CA 90248

                      1. re: exilekiss
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                        tdo RE: exilekiss May 14, 2008 11:41 AM

                        Thanks exilekiss,

                        You've given me two new restaurants for me to try - Gaja Moc and Asa Ramen! Looking forward to it!

                        1. re: tdo
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                          exilekiss RE: tdo May 14, 2008 09:35 PM

                          No problem.

                          Let us know how your visits go to these places. :)

                    2. JEN10 RE: exilekiss May 14, 2008 12:29 PM

                      We are going tonight, with exilekiss's review in hand. I will report back!

                      1. JEN10 RE: exilekiss May 15, 2008 07:23 AM

                        I took your review with us last night and showed it to the owners. We were the only one there last night at 6:15. The service was excellent and the food delicious. Loved the cabbage and miso, oh so yummy. We have never eaten Yakitori so it was a new experience. We tried the fried cheese wontons, weired but yummy, the fried garlic was excellent! We had the meatballs, they were quiet good. Had the white meat skewer with wasabi twice. hubby is a wasabi fanatic. Ordered the shitaki mushroom, forgot to say stuffed, so it was just the mushroom, ok not great IMHO. The eggplant was devine as well as the green chilies with bonito. The tomatoes are so juicy, I could have had more of those. Be careful they are very hot, let them cool a bit. Tried the quail eggs for fun. Next time I am going to order the rice soup you mentioned with chicken and egg. We will definetly be going back!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: JEN10
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                          exilekiss RE: JEN10 May 15, 2008 12:49 PM

                          Nice! Glad you enjoyed the meal! :) It's really a great hidden gem, and hopefully they can maintain their amazing quality and devotion to the food if business picks up (I have a feeling they'll need at least 1 busboy or assistant).

                          1. re: exilekiss
                            JEN10 RE: exilekiss May 15, 2008 12:54 PM

                            It will become a regular for us, it was really good. I was so satisfied, but not stuffed. I hope more people start going, we were the only ones there. I have the menu here and I am planning my next meal there for next week.

                        2. k
                          kainzero RE: exilekiss May 15, 2008 01:28 PM

                          wow, with rameniac and your reviews, this sounds like the greatest place ever.

                          i've been liking your reviews, exilekiss. they've all been awesome.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: kainzero
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                            exilekiss RE: kainzero May 15, 2008 11:27 PM

                            Hi kainzero,

                            Thanks (^_^). I don't mean to over-hype the place. It's just a real, *genuine* restaurant that has a focus (Yakitori) and the chef executes that focus with great, delicious expertise. You should give it a try sometime and see for yourself. (^_~) I can't wait to go back.

                          2. sharkgirl88 RE: exilekiss May 16, 2008 08:09 PM

                            Thank you for the thorough, excellent review, exilekiss :) With your recommendation, I reckon this place is worth a a drive from the Valley.

                            Would you mind giving me an idea of what the prices are per person? Thanks a bunch!

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: sharkgirl88
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                              exilekiss RE: sharkgirl88 May 16, 2008 10:42 PM

                              Hi sharkgirl88,

                              With us imbibing multiple bottles of different Sake, and over-ordering, it came out to be $40 per person (with tax and tip already included). I would you could easily enjoy a nice dinner at Yakitori Bincho for ~$20 -25 per person (total), if you're not sampling nearly every single type of Sake (like we were) (^_^;...

                              1. re: sharkgirl88
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                                leetmom7 RE: sharkgirl88 May 17, 2008 04:15 AM

                                IIRC skewers and other items were about $3 each, with three items per skewer. Check out the pictures posted for ideas about portion size.

                                1. re: leetmom7
                                  JEN10 RE: leetmom7 May 17, 2008 07:16 AM

                                  ok I give, what does IIRC stand for?

                                  1. re: JEN10
                                    Servorg RE: JEN10 May 17, 2008 07:17 AM

                                    If I Recall Correctly

                                    For the next time: http://www.acronymfinder.com/

                                    Many other sites too, just google.

                                    1. re: Servorg
                                      JEN10 RE: Servorg May 17, 2008 07:20 AM

                                      thanks!

                              2. JEN10 RE: exilekiss May 17, 2008 12:59 PM

                                Decided I can not wait until next week! We are heading there for an early dinner tonight. Anyone else going?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: JEN10
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                                  exilekiss RE: JEN10 May 17, 2008 10:04 PM

                                  Nice. :)

                                  I might be sending some friends over there tomorrow or Monday. Enjoy~

                                2. e
                                  exilekiss RE: exilekiss May 19, 2008 08:56 AM

                                  We went back to revisit Yakitori Bincho and try out other dishes we didn't get to the first time around. Here's my follow-up review:

                                  (Formatted with All Pictures found here:
                                  http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2008/05...

                                  )

                                  After having tried the excellence that was Yakitori Bincho last week, I wanted to bring along two of my friends from Tokyo and get their perspective (both of them Yakitori Hounds, through-and-through) (and I was craving the amazing Yakitori and small dishes from Tomo-san already! :).

                                  We were the first to arrive on a Sunday evening, and throughout the course of our dinner, Yakitori Bincho filled up to about ~70% capacity and had to start turning away customers. Being the sole person representing the back of the house, Chef Tomo's reasoning is so that he can continue to deliver the highest quality food he can, solely for his customers eating at that time. Talk about dedication!

                                  We sat down and ordered nearly everything on the Yakitori / Kushiyaki (Roasted Skewers) Menu. :) Since they were reviewed last time, I won't go into too much detail on the items that were duplicates of the ones from my first visit, except to say that they were all consistently as good as the first time (even with Tomo-san now busy with the other 4 groups of patrons). His usage of only Jidori Chicken (cage-free, hormone-free, all natural Chicken) continues to shine in each Chicken dish he prepares.

                                  For the new items this time, first up was the Nankotsu Karaage (Fried Chicken Cartilage). Similar to their Yakitori version, this dish was made with the much rarer Yagen Nankotsu (Chicken Cartilage from the Breast), and Tomo-san's execution was flawless!

                                  A beautiful golden-brown color and slightly crispy exterior, and moist Chicken Breast and Cartilage with each bite! Another sign of excellence: Tomo-san swaps out the oil from his deep fryer consistently, to keep all of his fried items tasting *so fresh*! Most restaurants just starting up (and in general) would keep reusing their oil for extended periods of time, but not so here.

                                  Besides getting my 'dachi's perspective, I also wanted to try a few more of the vegetarian items, since some people were interested in the selection. Continuing on, we tried the Shishito Shoyu (Japanese Shishito Peppers, Soy Sauce-based). The amazingly fragrant and idiosyncratic woodsy aroma from the Binchotan (Japanese White Charcoal) that Tomo-san pervaded the dish. Wonderfully light, and perfectly complemented by the Bonito Shavings and the light Soy Sauce underneath.

                                  The Momo Tare (Chicken Thigh, Tare sauce-based) was amazing as always (sorry I just had to mention it again :) -

                                  We also tried the Okura Shio (Okra, Salt-based) was just as tasty as their Okura Tare that we tried last time. Ultimately it'd be up to personal preference as to whichever style one prefers.

                                  Next up was Tamanegi Shio (Onions, Salt-based). This is essentially Grilled Onions, except over the open Japanese White Charcoal. Simple and fragrant with the Binchotan aroma in each bite.

                                  Another new dish was the Negishio (literally "Green Onions, Salt"), which was his famous roasted Chicken Thigh with Salt and topped with Green Onions. Tomo-san also lightly tops the dish with an infused oil. Each bite of the Chicken with the fresh Green Onions and infused Oil was amazing!

                                  Continuing on, their Kawa Shio (Chicken Skin, Salt-based) was delicious. The crispy Chicken Skin was roasted perfectly to allow the excess fat to burn away and just leave the deliciousness of the crispy chicken exterior.

                                  Yakitori Bincho's Sake Ochazuke (Salmon Tea Rice "Porridge" / Soup) was wonderful. This traditional, popular dish is the counterpart to Zosui (reviewed last time), and both make for a nice finisher to a long night of drinking and eating. :) I prefer Zosui, with its wonderful Chicken Broth base, and chunks of Chicken, but Ochazuke is nice as well. It's lighter than Zosui, and Tomo-san's version is wonderful with the perfect combination of the tea flavors, Salmon, Nori and Rice (they also have a vegetarian version of this with Ume (Japanese Plum)).

                                  We also tried out a repeat of their oh-so-wonderful, nostalgic, handmade Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls), in both Sake (Salmon) and Ume (Japanese Plum). It's just as heart-warming and wonderful as the last visit, with Tomo-san making it fresh-to-order!

                                  Their Yaki-Onigiri (Roasted Japanese Rice Ball) was also delicious. Roasted over their Binchotan, it's perfectly cooked and better than Shin Sen Gumi's. But given the choice, I prefer Tomo-san's regular Onigiri. :)

                                  Yakitori Bincho continues to deliver consistently, top-quality Yakitori and Kushiyaki in a down-to-earth, humble setting. Chef Tomo and his wife Megumi-san continue to provide THE best Yakitori in Southern California. Highly recommended!

                                  *** Rating: 9.5 (out of 10.0) ***

                                  Japanese Grill Yakitori Bincho
                                  112 N. International Boardwalk
                                  Redondo Beach, CA 90277
                                  (Note: Sadly, Google Maps fails to recognize the address, but Mapquest works fine. Just head to Redondo Beach Pier, park and you'll find it on the International Boardwalk section of the pier, north of Quality Seafood.)
                                  Tel: 310-376-3889

                                  Mon, Wed, Thu, 5:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
                                  Fri - Sun, 4:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m.
                                  Closed on Tuesdays.

                                   
                                   
                                   
                                   
                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: exilekiss
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                                    fdb RE: exilekiss May 19, 2008 09:05 AM

                                    Thanks for your follow-up report. Redondo Beach, here we come! Wonder what your tomodachi think about the food?

                                    1. re: fdb
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                                      exilekiss RE: fdb May 19, 2008 09:38 AM

                                      Hi fdb,

                                      Oh, forgot to mention that! :) Oops.

                                      Both my tomodachi from Tokyo LOVED Yakitori Bincho! They were impressed to see the dedication of Tomo-san and the quality of the food. They agreed it was the best Yakitori / Kushiyaki they've had in So Cal, and rivals some of the good places in Tokyo. (^_^)

                                    2. re: exilekiss
                                      b
                                      bulavinaka RE: exilekiss May 19, 2008 09:17 AM

                                      Thoroughly fantastic review as always... And the formatted review from your blog is frickin' pornography! Oh you nasty boy!

                                      We were planning on going Saturday night but opted out as we got a late start and feared the great weather would have made getting to the pier tough and the pier itself too crowded... went to Gaja in Lomita instead.

                                      So their yaki-onigiri is great but you still prefer it ungrilled... I'm guessing it's fantastic either way - just a personal preference thing, or is the grilling like messing with the perfect mousetrap?

                                      1. re: bulavinaka
                                        e
                                        exilekiss RE: bulavinaka May 19, 2008 09:41 AM

                                        Hey bulavinaka,

                                        Thanks. :) The Yaki-Onigiri is just a preference thing. I think it depends on my mood at the time (^_~). Now that I think about it a bit more, I think it's probably because we've had some decent/good Yaki-Onigiri in So Cal with Shin Sen Gumi, and I haven't had a good, homemade regular Onigiri in forever. :)

                                        Also, I'd recommend giving them a call ahead of time to make reservations (just to be safe) if you're going on a weekend. Have fun~

                                        1. re: bulavinaka
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                                          exilekiss RE: bulavinaka Jun 1, 2008 03:53 PM

                                          Hi bulavinaka,

                                          Dying to hear your review of the place: Did you end up going yet? (^_^)

                                          1. re: exilekiss
                                            b
                                            bulavinaka RE: exilekiss Jun 1, 2008 07:12 PM

                                            It's tops on our list. We've been dealing with deadlines lately so by the time we call it a day, it's too late to get started on going out for dinner to the South Bay for us, especially when we're bringing kids along. As soon as we've got a window of time on a weekend evening, we're there... And I will heed your advice to make reservations - thanks for that tip...

                                      2. pleasurepalate RE: exilekiss Jun 18, 2008 06:52 PM

                                        I just read on Yelp that Yakitori Bincho is closed by the Fire Marshal.

                                        http://www.yelp.com/biz/yakitori-binc...

                                        Hope they open up soon there or somewhere else. :(

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: pleasurepalate
                                          Servorg RE: pleasurepalate Jun 18, 2008 07:02 PM

                                          You probably missed this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/528661

                                          1. re: Servorg
                                            pleasurepalate RE: Servorg Jun 19, 2008 09:45 AM

                                            Yup, I did. It's hard to keep up with all the postings sometime. :) Thanks for letting me know.

                                        2. e
                                          exilekiss RE: exilekiss Jun 26, 2008 09:13 PM

                                          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 in "2-3 weeks." (^_^) Woo hoo!

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

                                          1. e
                                            exilekiss RE: exilekiss Oct 9, 2008 01:26 AM

                                            Updating this thread / review with the latest: Yakitori Bincho has finally REOPENED! :)... as Izakaya Bincho. More info and a Review in this Chowhound thread:

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

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