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Jun 8, 2008 12:20 PM

japanese restuarants in torrance beach citiies area

It is the kiddos graduation and she loves Miso soup. Our favorite place is closed on Sundays any s uggestions for someplace with good soup, tempura or maybe something different? I searched and came up with a few, but I am not sure of the type of cuisine they are talking about. I would take her to Yakitoi Bincho if I could get a reservation. Maybe I will give that a try?

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  1. Hey Jen,

    You've seen my review on Yakitori Bincho already (^_~)... that would be one really interesting and fun place (lots of top-quality Roasted / Grilled Meats and Vegetables), great Japanese Rice Balls (Onigiri), freshly-made-from-scratch Zosui and Ochazuke, etc. If you haven't been to Yakitori Bincho yet, you need to! :)

    Besides that, Musha is also a fun, little, modern Izakaya with a variety of different dishes to try out (I forgot if they serve Tempura there, though).

    Or if they like making things, Gaja is always a fun time out, making your own Okonomiyaki (^_~)...

    1725 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501

    Gaja Moc
    2383 Lomita Blvd, Lomita, CA 90717

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

    1. ex,
      I have been to Yakatori and we LOVED it. What do you mean by making things? I have had Shabu Shaub before, what exactly is Izakaya. I am always willing to learn and try new things, funb would be nice.

      4 Replies
      1. re: JEN10

        Hi Jen,

        Ah that's right; I remember your follow-up post now (^_^;. From your above post, it sounded like you weren't sure about trying Yakitori Bincho (I misunderstood :). Glad you liked Yakitori Bincho! (^_^)

        An Izakaya is essentially like a Japanese Pub / "Tapas" restaurant: Good Izakayas have delicious Small Plates (Tapas-like) dishes, ranging from Stewed Dishes, to Fried, Sauteed, etc. A variety of items in addition to an extensive Sake, Shochu and Beer menu. Izakayas can range from small mom&pop shops, to really fancy, high-end establishments (in Japan, at least).

        Musha is a fun Izakaya, down-to-earth, and has a lot of great dishes (it's one of my regular favorites that I never reviewed yet :).

        Gaja is an Okonomiyaki restaurant: Essentially like a Japanese "Pancake / Crepe," where you choose a variety of ingredients and it's cooked together with a batter, to create a thick "pancake" like dish (but it's savory, not sweet). You can choose a variety of ingredients, from Pork, Shrimp, Octopus, Vegetables and many other ingredients.

        At Gaja, you can have them cook each order for you, or they have a grill at the table and have step-by-step instructions so you can try cooking / making the Okonomiyaki yourself. (^_^) Depending on your mood, you may just let the kitchen make it for you, or have fun and try to make one (the staff will help out as well if you get stuck :).

        Any of those 3 restaurants would be pretty fun and different from the usual Teishoku / Boxed Dinners type places. :)


        1. re: exilekiss

          I have driven/walked by Gaja so many times and had no idea what it was. So excited to try it now. to me. Japanese!

          1. re: Rizza

            Gaja is great but you have to work for your food! Okay, it ain't so bad but whoever ends up doing most of the work deserves a nice Koshihikari Echigo beer before you get going on the grill!

            When we first went there, I didn't realize that the type of okonomiyaki they specialize in is what is known as Kansai, or Osaka style. I'm more familiar with and prefer Hiroshima style okonomiyaki (which they also have) which is prepared much differently but we gave it a go anyway. The results weren't perfect, but more than satisfactory. Now that we know the drill, Gaja is more of a place to sit back, take your time, nibble, grill, drink and chat.

            The place is frequented mostly by Japanese expats so you'll get the obligatory, "Irasshaimase...!" They will seat you relatively quickly as long as a table is available. All of the crew that I've come into contact with is from Japan, so Japanese is what they're comfortable with, but they can speak varying degrees of passable English. I bring this up because unlike most other Japanese joints, you most likely will be asking very practical questions beyond, "Sumimasen - ote-arae wa doko desuka? (excuse me - where is the restroom?)" that you truly need answers to, if this is your first go-around. The menu comes with somewhat vague instructions on how to cook up your oko, but you really need more detail. Whatever the case, make sure you order a few things from the kitchen once you get your oko going as it may seem a while before it's ready to eat. They have some pretty good izakaya-like items and other dishes that will keep you distracted while you're waiting.

            The menu can seem quite intimidating because of all the combinations of choices. And they do offer monja-yaki (a sort of runny more eggy-like version of oko) as well as yakisoba combos. The menu somewhat saves you though by indicatind what the most popular choices are. And if all else fails, you can have the kitchen prepare any or all of the dishes you choose. But I would recommend trying to grill up at least one oko yourself.

            Depending on which oko combo you order, you most likely will have to grill the meats/seafoods/most of the vegetables first - maybe set aside delicate veggies like bean sprouts. Once they are almost done, you may want to cut up some of these ingredients into smaller bite-sized pieces. Scoop those up and either mix them into the oko batter, or pour the oko batter onto the grill and quickly mix the cooked ingredients into the batter before it starts to settle and cook. Form the mass into somewhat of a large thick pancake - probably about 8-10" in diameter and about an inch thick, and let it sit for at least five to seven minutes. Flip the sucker over and let it sit again for at least another three to five minutes - it may take longer as the person who sets you up at the table may turn down the heat a bit if he or she feels you're a rookie at this. Waiting and watching for these to cook is like watching and waiting for water to boil, so just enjoy your company while nibbling on those other dishes that can be ordered from the menu.

            Once your oko appears done, you can cut into it to check, and if the middle part of the doughy mass of pankcake seems cooked, then you can use some of the condiments and sauces to your liking. The oko should have settled down in thickness a little, the inside should be moist but not wet, and the ingredients that you first grilled up to the point of almost being done should be fully cooked now. The bean sprouts (moyashi) are a good indicator - if they look cooked, then everything else is probably ready to go. Don't worry if you think it needs to be grilled longer - this type of oko is very forgiving. You can also just ask the folks there what they think and also what they would recommend for condiments and toppings, but typically you can sprinkle on some katsuo (dried bonito shavings), aonori (seaweed powder), sesame seeds, some okonomiyaki sauce and kyupi mayonaisse. Cut the oko up into how ever many portions, serve it up and dig in! Depending on how hungry you are, you may want to get another oko going immediately while you're eating this one because of the cooking time involved.

            "Parfaits may probably be the most delicious thing on the whole dang planet!" - Donkey from Shrek

            Another dish that Gaja is known for is their Japanese-style parfaits. I think there's about 12 different types, and one will usually be enough for two normal people (I am abnormal so I usually get one for myself). They're fun and pretty dang good so save room for at least one of those too...

            Oh yeah - almost forgot - you mentioned that you've driven by Gaja so many times. Have you tried Chantilly next door to Gaja? If not, and if you appreciate pastries, you NEED to do yourself a favor and spend some "ME-time" there...

            Patisserie Chantilly
            2383 Lomita Blvd., #104, Lomita, CA 90717

            Gaja Moc
            2383 Lomita Blvd, Lomita, CA 90717

            1. re: bulavinaka

              This just sounds too fun. Yes, I have been to Chantilly. And I used to go to Eboshi quite a bit (until I got hooked on santoku). I can't wait to try Gaja. I always thought it was a funny name b/c of the winemaker Angelo Gaja. Thank you for all the info.

      2. Oh thank you so much for the explanation. I will definetly be giving both of these places a try now!!! You ared the food goddess or god!!! Have an excellent weekend I will report back.

        1. You should try Tama-En. It's a Japanese BBQ place - not quite what you're looking for but it's a very interesting experience. They specialize in Japanese Beef so the price can be a little in the high end, but it's totally worth it- kicks Gyukaku and Manpuku's ass by lots. Just keep in mind that you will come out of the restaurant smelling like a BBQ.

          1935 Pacific Coast
          Highway, Lomita
          CA, 90717

          6 Replies
          1. re: nomnomnoms

            nomnomnom - teh leetmom lieks to try Tama-En flavur but cudnot reed menoo. Mah kittehs liek BBQ we try to go mebbe thiz Caturday. [I lolspeak cuz I has TEENAGERS]

            Back to English - Jen, Gaja is great fun because you can cook your food. If you choose Musha for grad dinner, you'll get a wider variety of foods since its a 'tapas' type place. Suggestion: MAKE RESERVATIONS or don't bother showing up - the place is hopping! We usually make reservations for right when they open because the place is so small, I wouldn't trust a later time.

            1. re: leetmom7

              leetmom - u shud go this Caturday! The meat... it has flavur.

              I love love love the Jou-Tan saikoro - aka Jou (High) Tongue Diced Cubes. Please also try the P-Toro (Pork cheeks).

              1. re: nomnomnoms

                [Anyone scratching their heads can look up the wikipedia article about the culture of lolcats and lolspeak, linked below. I correctly guessed that nomnomnom was one of us because 'nom' is the verb for 'eating'. As I said above, I have teenagers so I get a lot of the verbage from my kids]

                Also reference for lots of funny cat pictures with lolspeak captions...and a few walruses, right nomnom?

                nomnomnoms: does the menu in the restaurant have any English? I'll take Engrish too. Thats another website!

                1. re: leetmom7

                  And I thought my neighbor's cat has a speech impediment...

                  1. re: leetmom7

                    kinda. But theres pictures of all items so you can point at them!

                    1. re: nomnomnoms

                      Gotcha. We'll check it out. kthxbai!

            2. Many many thanks to all who replied!!!