HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >

The L.A. Treasure is BACK! Yakitori Bincho REOPENS... as Izakaya Bincho! [Review] w/ Pics!

e
exilekiss Oct 9, 2008 01:22 AM

(Formatted with All Pictures here:
http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2008/10...)

Earlier this year, a wonderful hidden gem of a restaurant was discovered on Chowhound in Yakitori Bincho, a small mom-and-pop restaurant literally run by 2 people, Tomo-san (the Yakitori Chef) and his wife, Megumi-san, who ran the front of the house. They arrived from Japan in the hopes of opening up a Yakitori (Roasted Skewers of Meats and Vegetables) restaurant that truly excelled in that discipline. After multiple visits, Yakitori Bincho exceeded all my expectations and delivered THE best Yakitori in the L.A. / O.C. area (no hyperbole).

Unfortunately, they were closed down by the City due to lack of certain Fire Permits, and disappeared for almost 5 months. I had nearly given up hope, but they finally reopened this week(!)... with a slight hitch:

They are now known as "Izakaya Bincho," with their slight name change reflective of the unfortunate restrictions the City of Redondo Beach has placed upon them: According to Tomo-san, after their neighboring shops complained about the charcoal smoke coming from their restaurant, this prompted the Fire Dept. and other City Departments to shut them down. In the end, it was deemed that using charcoal was too dangerous and a nuisance (uhm... have they ever seen the numerous Yakitori restaurants all over L.A. and O.C.??).

As a result, Tomo-san and Megumi-san have switched to an Izakaya (Japanese Pub / Small Plates) Menu, while hoping to earn enough money to move out of this location to a new location (and new city) that allows them to cook their dream cuisine: Yakitori / Kushiyaki skewers. Megumi-san confided in me that she hopes they can get enough business and move within "1 year" or so.

From my previous visits, they were always down-to-earth, humble and delivered truly great food, so I had no qualms about paying them a visit immediately. (^_~) I grabbed one of my Japanese Cuisine Hounds and off we went for their Grand Re-Opening!

Izakaya Bincho is still in their same location, right on the Redondo Beach "International Board Walk" portion of the pier. They have no sign installed yet, so if you're visiting, be on the lookout for a simple, homely open restaurant with a dark wood bar, just north of Quality Seafood).

We were immediately and warmly greeted by Tomo-san and Megumi-san, who remembered me from previous visits. They bowed and thanked us for visiting and seated us immediately. :) Looking over their menu, they retained all the items they could from their Small Plates Menu previously, but added a bunch of new items that fit with a traditional Izakaya (Japanese Pub focused on Small Plates / Food). We placed our order and waited with anticipation.

One nice note: Tomo-san continues to use a special Jidori (Free-Range, Hormone-free Chicken) for all his Chicken-based dishes that he used to use for the Yakitori. The taste and quality was evident in each Chicken dish we had.

The first dish to arrive started off with a bang! Sunagimo Oroshi Ponzu (Fried Gizzard with Daikon Radish Sauce). Tomo-san crisps up the Free-Range, All-Natural Gizzard first, before serving it over a house-made Ponzu Sauce with fresh-grated Daikon Radish, and Negi (Green Onions).

This mouth-watering crispness and slight (good) chew from the Sunagimo (Chicken Gizzard) lends an additional fragrant aroma that only roasted Chicken can provide, and when mixed with the light sweetness and tartness from the Ponzu and Green Onions and Daikon Radish... we were totally blown away! Outstanding. (^_^)

Next up was a dish that Yakitori Bincho had mastered: Agedashi Tofu ("Deep Fried Tofu in a Soup"). This is a classic staple of many Japanese restaurants, and I was craving this dish ever since my last visit to Yakitori Bincho (almost 5 months ago). Since then, every rendition of this dish has fallen short, and I was curious and hopeful to see if Tomo-san could still capture the magic.

The dish arrived and smelled fantastic: A light, fragrant aroma from the Silken Tofu and the Dashi Broth. After one bite, all I could do was smile. (^_^) It was just as wonderful as before. The *crispy* crust gave way to fresh, Silken Tofu, with their house-made special Soy Sauce / Dashi Broth providing a light sweetness behind the beautiful savory Broth. This is the best Agedashi Tofu in So Cal (again)! My J-Hound could only smile as well.

The next item was a new item from their Izakaya Menu: Geso Yaki (Roasted Calamari with Salt or Soy Sauce Base). Roasted Squid is another classic dish, but now, without the Binchotan (Japanese White Charcoal Tomo-san used to use) the Squid simply lacked the flavor that only roasting with Charcoal can give. :( The result was a rubbery, crisped Squid, lacking the depth of flavor that is the balance and main draw of this dish. Tomo-san is now forced to use a Salamander for these type of dishes, and the loss is apparent.

Our next dish arrived soon after: Tebasaki Pirikara-age (Spicy Chicken Wings). Despite the boring-sounding English name on the menu, this dish was anything but; we were in for a big surprise.

The Tebasaki Wings arrived with a gorgeous, glistening coat, and we could smell the roasted garlic well before Megumi-san brought out the dish. This was essentially a Japanese-style (or Tomo-style :) Fried Free-Range Chicken Wings with a house-made Spicy Marinade (just slightly spicy), and encrusted with fresh Garlic! The comparisons to Kyochon (the Korean Fried Chicken) immediately came up in our conversation after taking a bite. Izakaya Bincho's version is only mildly spicy (which I prefer) and while there's a beautiful Garlic aroma and bits of Garlic on each Wing, it wasn't anywhere near the overpowering version at Kyochon. The Chicken itself also tasted very fresh, and clean, and overall, this has become my favorite version of Japanese Tebasaki to date. Excellent!

Their Renkon Nikuzume (Stuffed Lotus Root) was a great item from their Yakitori Menu that they carried over. Only this time, it was cooked via the Salamander. Like the Squid, you lose something without the Binchotan (Japanese White Charcoal), but surprisingly the freshness of the ingredients and Tomo-san's earnestness came through: The Marinated Ground Chicken was so delicious, with their outstanding Tare (pronounced "Tah-Reh") Sauce. A touch of sweetness from the Mirin, but with a depth of flavor (from the Soy Sauce, Sake and other ingredients) that most Tare Sauces fall short on. It paired beautifully with the Lotus Root, and even without the charcoal, this dish turned out to be delicious!

Continuing on, I just *had* to get one of their Onigiri (Rice Balls). For me, Onigiri is a true comfort food; a properly made one is just *soul-warming* and brings great happiness. (^_^)v At Yakitori Bincho, they delivered the best Japanese Rice Balls I've had outside of Japan, and I missed them dearly (especially with so many disastrous versions I had in the passing months since my last visit).

We ordered one of their Ume Onigiri (Japanese Ume Plum Rice Ball). I was so happy to find out it was just like before: Made fresh-to-order, with *the* perfect Warm Rice, and plenty of filling, so that we got a beautiful taste of Ume in every bite! This was so... natsukashii (wonderfully nostalgic)! This was straight from obaachan in Tokyo! (^_^) Good, homemade Rice Balls are my favorite comfort food! (along with a few other items :)

As if things couldn't get better, the next dish represented another great comfort food: Zosui (on the menu oddly as "Japanese style Risotto"), which it's not quite. It's more like a Japanese Rice Porridge Soup with Chicken.

And like before (thank goodness), Tomo-san makes his Zosui *from scratch* when you order (most places that serve Zosui have it partially pre-made or completely pre-made with a quick heat-up before serving). Tomo-san takes some fresh chunks of Jidori (Free-Range) Chicken and starts putting together this Zosui. It took about ~30 minutes+ for it to come out, but it was worth it. So light and fresh, that only comes with a freshly stewed Chicken with fresh Rice and Egg! It still remains the freshest and best Zosui I've had in So Cal! Truly soul-warming goodness! (^_^)

The next dish unfortunately couldn't come close to the greatness of the Zosui: Ingen to Chi-zu no Kurobuta Ro-ru (Black Swine Rolls (with Green Beans and Cheese inside)). I'm always interested if a restaurant can make some great dishes with Berkshire Pork, so I was hoping Tomo-san could create something delicious with this dish.

Sadly, it was ~OK at best. There was a nice crispy exterior (not overfried, and with a fresh oil), but surprisingly that was all you could taste(!). Inexplicably, while visually you could *see* the Cheese, Ingen (Green Beans) and Pork, it tasted like... "crispy fried breading" more than anything. There was some texture change biting into the Berkshire Pork, but it was flavorless. Definitely disappointing.

The final dish of the evening sounded intriguing: Sakana to Yasai no Miso Fuoiru Yaki (Baked Fish and Vegetables in Foil (Miso)). Today's fish was Karei (Flatfish). Essentially this was a simpler version of a classic dish like Gindara Saikyo Yaki (Black Cod with Saikyo Miso). It was a nice effort, but ultimately it was average: Nothing standout, but nothing bad about the dish. The Karei (Flatfish) tasted fine, but nowhere near the buttery goodness of a Black Cod or Chilean Sea Bass.

Izakaya Bincho features Beer, Wine, and 6 different types of Shochu, along with 4 types of Sake and Plum Wine. We enjoyed a couple bottles of Karatamba Sake, from Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. Out of the 4 Sakes they serve, it's my favorite, with a nice aromatic nose, and a clean finish. It's not Kubota Manjyu, but it's pretty good. :)

Service is fine with Megumi-san being the 1 person that takes care of all the tables and serving food. She's as humble and sweet as can be. Dishes range from $2 - $11. With all that food and Sake, our total came out to be ~$38 per person (including tax and tip).

There's no denying that the new Izakaya Bincho isn't as strong as its former self (Yakitori Bincho). With Tomo-san being hamstrung by the City, not allowed to cook any Yakitori items (which is his true forte), there's a loss in greatness in the menu. But Tomo-san and Megumi-san were asking all the customers tonight for advice on what new Menu Items we would be interested in, and we had a long talk about some of the great dishes at Izakayas in Japan (and his favorites and mine). Tomo-san mentioned that he would be adding new dishes and expanding his Izakaya Menu based on input, and that shows a lot about them.

While they may lack the greatness that was their Yakitori (Roasted Skewers) Items, they still serve some of THE best items in certain categories that I've experienced in L.A. / O.C. From the wonderful comfort food of those freshly-made Japanese Rice Balls, to the Zosui (Chicken Porridge Soup), to the Agedashi Tofu and more, Izakaya Bincho has a great foundation to becoming one of the top Japanese Pubs around (at least until they can earn enough to move to a new location and city that allows them to cook their outstanding Yakitori skewers again). Here's to hoping this happens soon! (^_^)

*** Rating: 8.6 (out of 10.0) ***

Izakaya Bincho (formerly Yakitori Bincho)
112 N. International Boardwalk
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Tel: (310) 376-3889

* Note: They only have 4 Tables and a long bar that seats 8 more people, so call ahead for reservations!

Hours: Tues - Thu, 5:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Fri - Sun, 5:00 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Closed on Mondays.

 
 
 
 
  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. J.L. RE: exilekiss Oct 9, 2008 02:17 AM

    I was waiting for this. Thanks for the review!

    3 Replies
    1. re: J.L.
      JEN10 RE: J.L. Oct 9, 2008 04:47 AM

      We will be there in support, can't wait!!!

      1. re: JEN10
        e
        exilekiss RE: JEN10 Oct 9, 2008 02:16 PM

        Hi Jen,

        Nice! :) Definitely report back as well if you end up going soon. I hope they add more Menu Items soon.

      2. re: J.L.
        e
        exilekiss RE: J.L. Oct 9, 2008 02:15 PM

        Hi J.L.

        Thanks! :) If you end up going, please report back.

      3. liu RE: exilekiss Oct 9, 2008 11:11 AM

        Thank you, exilekiss, for staying with this one and reporting back to all of us!
        This is very good news!

        1 Reply
        1. re: liu
          e
          exilekiss RE: liu Oct 9, 2008 02:19 PM

          Hi liu,

          Thank you. I personally hope they add the Kurobuta Kakuni (Stewed Berkshire Pork) dish I voted for when they asked about new menu items to add. (^_~)

        2. n
          ns1 RE: exilekiss Oct 9, 2008 11:18 AM

          Any idea what they were up to for the past 5 months? How do they even still have money lol

          1 Reply
          1. re: ns1
            e
            exilekiss RE: ns1 Oct 10, 2008 08:56 AM

            Hi ns1,

            I have no idea what they were up to besides fighting the City on trying to clear up the problems to reopen. I'm as surprised as you about that, but I'm glad they're back open. :)

          2. SauceSupreme RE: exilekiss Oct 9, 2008 11:38 AM

            I'll be back to visit LA end of November and this is VERY HIGH on the list.

            2 Replies
            1. re: SauceSupreme
              mollyomormon RE: SauceSupreme Oct 9, 2008 05:21 PM

              I'll go with you!

              1. re: SauceSupreme
                e
                exilekiss RE: SauceSupreme Oct 10, 2008 08:57 AM

                Hi SauceSupreme,

                Nice! :) Can't wait to hear your thoughts on Tomo-san's cooking. Hopefully by then, they'll have added some additional menu items to their new Izakaya Menu. :)

              2. streetgourmetla RE: exilekiss Oct 9, 2008 11:23 PM

                Sorry I missed out on Yakitori Bincho, I love yakitori.But, Izakaya Bincho will have to do.I'll get down there soon,thanks for the good news.

                2 Replies
                1. re: streetgourmetla
                  e
                  exilekiss RE: streetgourmetla Oct 10, 2008 08:58 AM

                  Hi streetgourmetla,

                  Definitely report back if you go. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Japanese comfort food and Izakaya items. :)

                  1. re: exilekiss
                    w
                    waxfondler RE: exilekiss Oct 10, 2008 09:07 AM

                    damn I work in Redondo and never new this place existed. Thanks for the heads up. I will try this place out soon.

                2. e
                  exilekiss RE: exilekiss Oct 10, 2008 05:28 PM

                  Adding Chow Place link.

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

                  1. b
                    banquisha RE: exilekiss Oct 11, 2008 09:06 AM

                    went right after i found out it was open... thanks exilekiss! it was delicious as always and we plan on going back again very soon. however, it was disturbing how on a friday night from about 7-8:30pm, we were the only ones in there...
                    the food is great. the service is genuine and warm. what more could one ask for in a izakaya? go!!!

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: banquisha
                      e
                      exilekiss RE: banquisha Oct 12, 2008 11:10 AM

                      Hi banquisha,

                      Thanks for the report back! :) Yah, they just opened this week with no marketing or advertising, so it's going to have to be visitors to the Redondo Beach Pier and word-of-mouth to get their customers into the restaurant.

                      What were your favorites on this latest visit? (Curious what new Izakaya Menu items you tried. :)

                      1. re: exilekiss
                        b
                        banquisha RE: exilekiss Oct 12, 2008 12:00 PM

                        from my very poor memory, we had: zosui, fried chicken soft bone/kaarage yagen, onigiri with plum, onigiri with salmon, curry croquette, chicken meat ball/tsukune thing, stuffed lotus root, kyoho grape wrapped in prociutto, lettuce and japanese eggplant wrapped in prociutto. all of it was good. no, wait... great. i really can't tell you what i liked more but, i was VERY impressed with the kyoho grape wrapped in prociutto. it reminded me of the prociutto wrapped melons you find at italian restaurants but with a japanese pub twist... genius!!!! i'm going back again this week and will report back again soon :)

                        1. re: banquisha
                          e
                          exilekiss RE: banquisha Oct 13, 2008 08:42 AM

                          Hi banquisha,

                          Thanks for the details. :) Wow, it sounds like Tomo-san is already adding items to the menu: They didn't have Kyoho Grapes wrapped in Prosciutto when I went. I'll have to try them (and the Korokke as well :).

                          1. re: exilekiss
                            b
                            banquisha RE: exilekiss Oct 13, 2008 09:39 AM

                            went again last night. we were there from about 7:30-9:00 or so. not including us, there were two other people there MAX from those hours.
                            again, the food was DELICIOUS.
                            we ordered a lot of the same things. however, we tried more new things as well. things we didn't have the other night:
                            roasted ginko nuts (YUM!)
                            fresh spring rolls (meh)
                            onigiri with bonito (great! but i discovered that i like the plum one better)
                            spicy sausage (I loved it... great flavor and snap! Hubby didn't care for it.)
                            meat ball pot with kimchi soup (perfect for a cold chilly night. YUM!)
                            we are developing some favorites now...
                            definitely the deep fried chicken soft bone/karaage yagen, onigiri with plum, and curry croquette.
                            i love this place!!!!
                            very sad to see that there was almost no one there though :(

                            1. re: banquisha
                              n
                              ns1 RE: banquisha Oct 13, 2008 09:46 AM

                              They need a better location.

                              1. re: ns1
                                JEN10 RE: ns1 Oct 13, 2008 12:29 PM

                                The location isn't that bad. You can take a nice late afternoon stroll around the pier, sit and watch the sunset, and have a great meal. There is easy parking as well.

                              2. re: banquisha
                                e
                                exilekiss RE: banquisha Oct 13, 2008 06:59 PM

                                Hi banquisha,

                                Thanks for the additional report. Good to know the Roasted Ginko Nuts turned out good (how could it not, from the Yakitori specialist? (^_~)).

                                "Of course" the Ume Onigiri is better! :P (my favorite as well :)

                                I'll have to bring some friends by and get them reacquainted with Bincho again soon.

                      2. y
                        young_chower RE: exilekiss Oct 13, 2008 02:16 PM

                        Kudos to you exilekiss for keeping us up to date on this place.

                        Inspired from your report I took my parents there last Thursday night. I was really eager to go as I really liked the yakitori when I went last June.

                        We ordered a Zosui, salmson onigiri, the fried chicken wings, the bacon-wrapped tomato, grilled calamari, and a dish with octupus and sliced cucmbers from the specials menu.

                        The zosui was absolutely delicious. Funny thing is that it reminded my parents, both Greek immigrants, of the Greek soup avgolemono, minus the lemon. My dad asked for some lemon, squeezed it into the zosui, and all of a sudden he was reminded of his boyhood. This was definetly a nostalgic dish for my parents. We were also very impressed that the soup was started from scratch, just for us.

                        We also enjoyed the onigiri, although were not knocked out by it. Same goes for the calamari dish and the octopus dish. Nevertheless, we could really tell the time and care that Tomo-san put into these dishes, and were impressed with the subtly of the flavors, particularly in the octopus dish.

                        The two absolute standouts, however, were the chicken wings and the bacon wrapped tomatoes. Both items were easily some of the tastiest things i've ever eaten. I was really struck by the unique and subtle flavors of the chicken wings, including the tiny sesame seeds(?) on the skin. The bacon wrapped tomato was also incredible, as it had an interesting taste, first nice an salty from the bacon melting into a warm tomato aftertaste.
                        When we were done, Tomo-san came from behind the counter and shook our hands, expressing deep gratitude.

                        What really saddened me, though, was that besides one other person, we were the only other people there. This is an absolute shame. The time, energy, care, and love that Tomo-san puts into each dish is something that I think is very hard to find today, and the fact that more people are not enjoying Tomo-san's awesome food and heartfelt cooking is a tragedy not just for Izakaya Binchu but also for Los Angeles.

                        That is why I encourage all hounds who can get to Redondo Beach to experience this restaurant for themselves. As I said in another thread, it is in these tough economic times that we must ensure that the truly special restaurants survive. It would be a shame if Izakaya Binchu would be a forgotten memory instead of a lasting institution that it rightfully is.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: young_chower
                          e
                          exilekiss RE: young_chower Oct 13, 2008 07:25 PM

                          Hi young_chower,

                          Very nice report back. Thank you! :)

                          I'm glad to hear your parents and you enjoyed the new Izakaya menu at Bincho. And I totally agree: Isn't their Tebasaki (Chicken Wings) just delicious?! (^_^)

                          It's also good to hear that their Bacon-wrapped Tomatoes are still good even without the Yakitori grill.

                          It's tough times out there, but especially at their great prices $2 - $11, it's a bargain for the care and passion put into each dish that comes out of Tomo-san's kitchen.

                          1. re: exilekiss
                            h
                            heinous RE: exilekiss Oct 17, 2008 04:31 PM

                            OMGOMGOMG, thank you sooo much for reporting on this. I've been checking every so often on when Bincho was coming back and had all but lost hope when your post came up. I too have dreamed of their agedashi tofu since June! I'm going tonight if I can rustle up some fellow eaters!

                            You're the best, exilekiss!

                            1. re: heinous
                              e
                              exilekiss RE: heinous Oct 17, 2008 10:43 PM

                              Hi heinous,

                              No problem. :) I was so happy to be enjoying their Agedashi Tofu again, and the other dishes...

                              Please report back if you end up going. I hope Tomo-san is doing well with the reopening.

                              1. re: exilekiss
                                JEN10 RE: exilekiss Oct 18, 2008 04:49 PM

                                We'll be there at 6:00 tonight, any one else?

                                1. re: JEN10
                                  JEN10 RE: JEN10 Oct 19, 2008 08:12 AM

                                  We had a nice dinner last night. We started with the roasted squid. Not sure if this is an aquired taste, but the texture just didn't do it for us. it was too rubbery. The spicy wings were delicious, crunchiness, the flavor good but a bit salty. The spicy sausage were all devoured, yummmmmmmy. The stuffed pepper was very good as well. Wish we could have eaten more, everything sounded so good. Guess we'll have to go back darnit. Some pictures, some good, some fuzzy (first time photographing food).
                                  http://picasaweb.google.com/JEN101001...

                                  1. re: JEN10
                                    e
                                    exilekiss RE: JEN10 Oct 19, 2008 08:36 PM

                                    Hi Jen,

                                    Thanks for the report back! I'm glad you were able to go. :)

                                    I'll have to try the Spicy Sausage next time. I believe Tomo-san uses Kurobuta (Berkshire Pork) for the Sausage, so that just makes it even better. :)

                                    Next time you go, definitely try their Agedashi Tofu (the best in L.A.), and if you enjoy down-to-earth, homemade dishes, their Onigiri (choice of 3 different flavors) and their Zosui are must tries! (I'm getting hungry talking about it... ;)

                                2. re: exilekiss
                                  h
                                  heinous RE: exilekiss Oct 19, 2008 12:35 PM

                                  Happy to report that I went last night! Aside from our party of five, there was another table of 6, a table of 2, and two couples at the bar. Fairly full for that little place! Tomo-san and Megumi-san were cheerful and welcoming.

                                  We ordered a bunch of stuff, much of it taken from exilekiss' excellent review and suggestions. :) Agedashi tofu, chicken wings, bacon tomatoes, zosui, ricotta tofu, tuna fritters (surprisingly too fishy), onigiri, chicken gizzards, and more. I was so so happy to be eating their agedashi tofu again that I really didn't want to share and ordered another later for myself. :)

                                  The only little flaw was that the food came out relatively slowly, which can be a bit problematic when you have 5 hungry people - every time a dish comes out, we all pounce on it, and it's devoured in 30 seconds. Then it's a 5-10 minute wait for the next one. While I find this to be a a nice, leisurely way to eat, I can see it being a annoyance to some. But it's a function of there being just one (awesome) cook and lots of people ordering lots of dishes.

                                  I'm going back tonight with another group of people! We'll be there around 7:30, I think. Can't wait! :D~

                                  1. re: heinous
                                    e
                                    exilekiss RE: heinous Oct 19, 2008 08:38 PM

                                    Hi heinous,

                                    Thanks for your thoughts! :) I'm glad to see business picking back up after their re-opening. Glad you enjoyed all those dishes! :) (and thanks for the info on the tuna fritters.)

                                    I empathize with you on the wait, but if you go with a group that enjoys nice Japanese Sake / Shochu / Beer, it's a good excuse to get a few drinks / sips and chat about stuff. (^_~) Please report back if you try some new dishes tonight. Doumo! :)

                                    1. re: exilekiss
                                      h
                                      heinous RE: exilekiss Oct 20, 2008 12:02 AM

                                      Hello! I'm back from Bincho and happy to report on another pleasant night. I went with a different group of people today, so I wanted them to try all my favorites. Unfortunately, that means I only got to try a few new dishes.

                                      One new thing I had was the stuffed green pepper. The filling (which is the same as with the stuffed lotus root and stuffed shiitake) is delicious, but I personally didn't like the flavor of the cooked green peppers (but my friends did). I would try this next time with the lotus root or the shiitake. Or both! :) We also had the plum/salmon ochazuke, which was very nice. Clean flavors - simple, but soothing, as ochazuke should be. We also tried the veggie croquette, which was excellent. I do like croquettes, but often find them to just be so-so, but this one was really delicious. Perfectly crispy on the outside, probably a little more so than usual, but in a very good way. And inside, it was really flavorful, not bland like so many croquettes can be. So simple, but perfectly executed. The eggplant with miso was a nice rendition of the dish - not mind-blowing, but tasty. And of course, we had the agedashi tofu again, which everyone raved about!

                                      The place was less crowded tonight, which is to be expected for a Sunday. There was our party of 5, 2 other tables of two, and a single at the bar. Our food came out much faster today, which was nice since this was a more impatient group of friends... and they don't really drink. :P But they're good people anyway. :)

                                      Tomo-san and Megumi-san were welcoming and gracious as always. I have to mention one thing also - yesterday, we had 4 pieces of agedashi tofu and 4 chicken wings (the normal amount) to share between the 5 of us. But today, they gave one extra on each dish so we each had a piece. I thought that was a really nice, simple gesture, and I appreciated it so much! :)

                                      I'm sure to be back again soon, and next time, I definitely want to try the fried chicken with green onion sauce. That looks so good. I'm really interested to see what other dishes they'll add also. It would be great if they tried something a bit more interesting with the Berkshire pork. Like, I could picture a broiled pork belly dish, like the one at Izayoi. I bet Tomo-san could absolutely kill that dish. :)

                                      1. re: heinous
                                        e
                                        exilekiss RE: heinous Oct 20, 2008 11:35 PM

                                        Hi heinous,

                                        Another great follow-up, thanks! :) Yes, if you haven't tried their Renkon or Shiitake Nikuzume, definitely give those a try. Especially if you love Shiitake Mushrooms, their Nikuzume is great! Simple, fresh-made goodness. (^_^)

                                        Good to hear about the Korokke as well. I'll have to try these next time. I've been prodding Tomo-san to try adding a few more Berkshire Pork dishes so we'll see what happens. :)

                          2. w
                            wasabica RE: exilekiss Nov 18, 2008 03:34 PM

                            My report: In short, wow!!

                            I really think their food gives Yuzu a run for their money, and it is a heck of a lot cheaper. THe quality of the ingredients is exceptional, as is the technique of preparation. Plus, everyone loves the pier. After you stuff yourself silly you get to walk around and look at the boats. Here is what we ordered:

                            Ricotta Tofu - Cool, creamy, delicate, delightful

                            Agedashi - Fried Tofu in broth - The broth is rich, the tofu has a nice crust on the outside and is moist and light on the inside. THis is not that greasy stuff you get at other asian restaurants

                            Pork meatballs in broth - one of my favorites. Rich, flavorful...they really know how to do a proper stock.

                            Fried gizzards - I still prefer them yakitori style, but the crunch does have a certain allure

                            spicy chicken wings - A table favorite. Not your daddy's buffalo wings to be sure. A second order was procured

                            Kimchee pork - Flavors were more savory then either sweet or spicy. Almost like a stew

                            cherry tomatoes wrapped in bacon - Better than chocolate and peanut butter.

                            Pork Belly - Layers of succulent meat and fat that just melts in your mouth

                            Stuffed Lotus Root - (With Chicken, that is. ) I really love the soft 'crunch" of lotus contrasted with the savory/sweet ground chicken. It makes my mouth happy.

                            shrimp in mayo - Everyone liked this but me. I just don't like mayo on japanese food.

                            takowasa (Raw octopus and wasabi) - Addictive flavor and texture

                            Zouisi - chicken and rice broth - I was sick recently and really wished I could send my husband out to just pick up some of this for me. It might even be better than Jewish Chicken Soup

                            I can't wait to go again...

                            ExileKiss, I give you full credit on my blog. http://foodandwineblog.thefoodietrave...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: wasabica
                              e
                              exilekiss RE: wasabica Nov 18, 2008 09:53 PM

                              Hi wasabica,

                              Oh! I'm so glad you enjoyed the dinner with Tomo-san and Megumi-san! (^_^) It sounds like their Buta no Kakuni (Braised Pork Belly) is still as great as ever, and your post makes me hungry for their down-home cooking. :)

                              Thanks so much for your report; it's nicely detailed and I loved your comment on Cherry Tomatoes. (^_~)

                              I can't wait to go visit Tomo-san again myself.

                            2. d
                              damon27 RE: exilekiss Apr 2, 2009 09:21 PM

                              That was one of the most thorough reviews I've had the pleasure of reading. I look forward to going and sharing my experience.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: damon27
                                e
                                exilekiss RE: damon27 Apr 3, 2009 09:02 AM

                                Hi damon27,

                                Thanks. :) I hope you enjoy your visit to Izakaya Bincho and the cooking of Chef Tomo. Please report back if you end up going. :)

                                1. re: exilekiss
                                  JEN10 RE: exilekiss Apr 28, 2009 09:07 AM

                                  We went a couple of weeks ago, still as good as ever!!! I tried the sweet potato vodka, very smooth! Can't wait to go back!!!

                                  1. re: JEN10
                                    e
                                    exilekiss RE: JEN10 Apr 28, 2009 01:34 PM

                                    Hi JEN10,

                                    Thanks for the report back. Glad to hear Tomo-san is still as consistently good as always. :)

                              2. westsidegal RE: exilekiss Apr 30, 2009 12:13 AM

                                they are also closed some tuesdays. can't remember if it's the first tuesday or the last tuesday of the month. . . .

                                1. b
                                  banquisha RE: exilekiss May 2, 2009 03:42 PM

                                  I used to go here ALL the time... however, I have recently been laid off and have not been able to support this wonderful institution and its oh so charming and fantastic owners, Tomo and Megumi san. I love this board in that I can live vicariously through others' experiences, even when I am unable to afford it.
                                  This is one of my most favorite restaurants in all of L.A... not only because of the food but because of the people too. On the rare occasion when I do go out for dinner these days, I try to go here. However, when I don't go here when I'm out, I almost feel like I'm cheating on a beloved boyfriend/girlfriend.
                                  I did cheat on these guys last night with Torihei... it's all Exile's fault... again! Hahaha! Report to come soon on the other thread :)

                                  17 Replies
                                  1. re: banquisha
                                    e
                                    exilekiss RE: banquisha May 5, 2009 04:41 PM

                                    Hi banquisha,

                                    Glad to hear you still continued to enjoy Izakaya Bincho (hope you get to go back once you're on your feet).

                                    Hope you enjoyed your visit to Torihei. :)

                                    1. re: exilekiss
                                      b
                                      banquisha RE: exilekiss May 6, 2009 01:19 AM

                                      LOVED it... more to come later :)

                                      1. re: exilekiss
                                        JEN10 RE: exilekiss May 6, 2009 07:49 AM

                                        E, I requested a dinner at Bincho for Mothers day. I am so excited to go again! I hopr to try some new items, along with our favorites. My husband loves those spicy wings.

                                        1. re: JEN10
                                          b
                                          baloney RE: JEN10 May 6, 2009 08:37 AM

                                          That sauce on the wings is addictive! Sometimes I like to request it on the side so I can dip the chicken thighs(and other items) in it. Also, if you like asparagus and bacon, perhaps you can ask Tomo if he can make you his asparagus wrapped in bacon. He let us have a sample last Sunday and it was great. Simple and delicious.

                                          1. re: baloney
                                            e
                                            exilekiss RE: baloney May 6, 2009 01:15 PM

                                            Hi baloney,

                                            Totally agree. I love that sauce on the Chicken Wings. :) Good to know that Tomo-san is making Asparagus wrapped in Bacon. :)

                                          2. re: JEN10
                                            e
                                            exilekiss RE: JEN10 May 6, 2009 01:14 PM

                                            Hi JEN10,

                                            Very nice! :) I hope you enjoy the Mother's Day dinner at Izakaya Bincho. Please let us know what new May items are added to the menu (I'll have to get back there soon :).

                                            1. re: exilekiss
                                              JEN10 RE: exilekiss May 7, 2009 07:40 AM

                                              UMMM, extra sauce please!!! I love the tomato and bacon dish, I am sure the asparagas is delicious too. I shall report back on what we consume with delight.

                                              1. re: JEN10
                                                JEN10 RE: JEN10 May 11, 2009 09:30 AM

                                                We had another GREAT meal at Bincho. The place was busy with almost every seat taken. They had two other helpers which was nice, the food came at a decent pace. We tried two new things for us, the kimchee pork, we really liked that, and the ume onigiri, delicious. The Japanese men sitting next to us said they are the Big Mac of Japan. I love the eggplant with miso, the texture is just right. My Hubby love the stuffed mushrooms, and spicy wings. Those tomatoes are sooooooo goooooood, the bacon is so savory. I can never get out of there without having the spicy sausage. They pop when you bite into them. What a way to spend Mothers Day!!!!!!

                                                1. re: JEN10
                                                  e
                                                  exilekiss RE: JEN10 May 12, 2009 08:25 AM

                                                  Hi Jen,

                                                  Very nice! :) Glad to hear your Mother's Day went well at Bincho. And wow, Tomo-san actually had 2 helpers there now? I'm glad for them (FYI: Bincho has been run for the longest time by just the humble chef, Tomo-san, and his wife, Megumi-san).

                                                  I love all those dishes you listed; I'll have to go back and try their May Menu items. Were there any May Menu items that you tried? Thanks!

                                                  1. re: exilekiss
                                                    JEN10 RE: exilekiss May 12, 2009 11:58 AM

                                                    Hi E,
                                                    I am not sure if the new help is regular or not. Maybe they new it was going to be busy for M day. It is nice to know if they beed more help it is available. As far as the menu went I did not notice anything different from the April menu. There may have been some items I over looked. Next time I want to go with more people, so we can try more items. I still have never had the soup, but I really enjoyed the onigiri. Keep those great reviesd coming
                                                    Jen

                                                    1. re: JEN10
                                                      e
                                                      exilekiss RE: JEN10 May 12, 2009 01:20 PM

                                                      Hi Jen,

                                                      Thanks for the info.

                                                      So you haven't tried Tomo-san's Zosui (Chicken & Rice Porridge / Soup)? Or the Tsukune Nabe Soup? You definitely have to, the next time you go; "made from scratch when you order it" goodness! :)

                                                      1. re: exilekiss
                                                        JEN10 RE: exilekiss May 12, 2009 02:34 PM

                                                        E.
                                                        Next time you go let me know, maybe we could meet you there. I live about 15 min away and it is always on my mind. When I go out, I want to have a meal that is worthwhile and Bincho has never failed me.

                                                        1. re: JEN10
                                                          e
                                                          exilekiss RE: JEN10 May 12, 2009 10:20 PM

                                                          Hi Jen,

                                                          Will do. Thanks and regardless, don't forget to try the Zosui next time. :)

                                                        2. re: exilekiss
                                                          b
                                                          baloney RE: exilekiss May 12, 2009 04:48 PM

                                                          To butt into this conversation :P. Last time I went the two extra helpers were there also. This was about a week before Mother's Day, I think? So perhaps they are somewhat permanent. And agree with exilekiss, the Zosui is killer!! And this is coming from someone who doesn't even usually eat egg.

                                                          1. re: baloney
                                                            e
                                                            exilekiss RE: baloney May 12, 2009 10:19 PM

                                                            Hi baloney,

                                                            Good to know. Wow, it seems they finally got some much needed help permanently.

                                                            1. re: baloney
                                                              y
                                                              young_chower RE: baloney May 12, 2009 10:41 PM

                                                              When I was there last Friday, Tomo said he, his wife, and some friends had gone to Vegas and that his wife was not working because she was recovering from the trip. Hence, the extra help.

                                                              (and no, I am not making this up)

                                                              1. re: young_chower
                                                                OCAnn RE: young_chower May 13, 2009 09:12 AM

                                                                I wonder if they dined @ Aburiya Raku while there....

                                          3. e
                                            exilekiss RE: exilekiss May 29, 2009 05:24 PM

                                            Hi All,

                                            Thanks to westsidegal for the reminder. I just confirmed Izakaya Bincho has one extra day they close each month. Their Updated Hours are:

                                            Hours: Tues - Thu, 5:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
                                            Fri - Sun, 5:00 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.
                                            Closed on Mondays.
                                            Also Closed on the Last Tuesday of Every Month.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: exilekiss
                                              JEN10 RE: exilekiss May 30, 2009 08:40 AM

                                              We are meeting some friends tonight, can't wait to partake of the rice with Japanese plum! Oh yummy goodness is in my future!

                                            2. OCAnn RE: exilekiss Dec 6, 2009 08:01 PM

                                              I'm embarrassed to say that it took us over a year to finally hit Izakaya Bincho. It was delicious...Mr OCAnn loved the flavours here. One sad thing however, was that we were the only ones there early Saturday evening. =(

                                              We had radish salad (one of my top 3 faves), chicken meatball w/daikon, braised pork belly, ricotta cheese toifu, fried oyster (another of my top 3 faves), spicy chicken wings, ika no watayaki (squid w/innards), agedashi tofu (third of the top 3), zosui, banana spring rolls & sake sampler. All told, it was $75 pre tip. Service was friendly, welcoming and prompt. We loved the casual, clean atmosphere...the only drawback is that it took an hour from north OC.

                                              Mr OCAnn declared that this was his favourite Japanese restaurant (I still prefer the subtle flavours of Torihei) and had we not plans in place to do Mastro's this wknd, we'd likely go to IB again to try dishes that have yet to be explored. Thank you EK for putting this on our food map!

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: OCAnn
                                                e
                                                exilekiss RE: OCAnn Dec 7, 2009 12:40 PM

                                                Hi OCAnn,

                                                Thank you for the report back on your meal. :) I'm so glad you finally made it out to Izakaya Bincho. The Radish Salad sounds like a newer menu item, I'll have to try it next time. And isn't their Agedashi Tofu lovely? :)

                                                Now imagine what it would be like if Tomo-san could cook dishes based on his greatest strength (Yakitori). While this Izakaya food is very good, his Yakitori skills are even better. Thanks again. :)

                                                1. re: OCAnn
                                                  n
                                                  ns1 RE: OCAnn Dec 7, 2009 06:28 PM

                                                  I'm glad to hear IB is still in business

                                                2. s
                                                  selfportrait93 RE: exilekiss Mar 27, 2010 11:33 PM

                                                  Finally, got a chance to dine here tonight.
                                                  At 7:00 pm , we were the only customers in this low profile restaurant. After reading the reviews here , there was absolutely no hesitation entering as a first timer despite the place being overshadowed by its packed neighbors. Ordered the Agedashi tofu, spicy chicken wings, japanese style fried chicken, spring roll and meatball pot accompanied by a couple of Asahi blacks. Izakaya Bincho did not disappoint us. Every dish was excellent and enjoyable.
                                                  I love the contrast in texture of the silky tofu with its crispy skin in broth. The wings were fried just right to give it a crunchy crust . Likewise, the japanese style fried chicken was very flavorful. I believe free range chicken was used. The spring roll dipped in goma which we preferred over the soy based sauce balanced out our taste buds after the first three courses.Lastly, the meatball pot came with a very rich soup, with meatballs that easily pop in your mouth.. It also had tofu, napa cabbage,shitake and enoki mushrooms. It is truly a one pot comfort meal.
                                                  Thanks Exilekiss for the original recommendation. I would love to return and try some of their other dishes.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: selfportrait93
                                                    e
                                                    exilekiss RE: selfportrait93 Mar 28, 2010 12:37 PM

                                                    Hi selfportrait93,

                                                    Thank you for the great report. I'm very glad to hear you had a great dinner at Izakaya Bincho. Great description of their Agedashi Tofu; simply the best I've had in L.A. :) And "yes," Tomo-san only uses Free Range Chicken for all of his Chicken dishes. I really hope they get to do Yakitori again soon.

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

                                                  2. s
                                                    selfportrait93 RE: exilekiss May 25, 2010 10:11 PM

                                                    We should give this place more LOVE. Last Saturday night, besides my wife and I, there was only one other customer dining there. We have always enjoyed our meals here and certainly love the dishes that Tomo-san serves.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: selfportrait93
                                                      e
                                                      exilekiss RE: selfportrait93 May 25, 2010 10:30 PM

                                                      Hi selfportrait93,

                                                      Totally agree. Tomo-san's made-from-scratch dishes are some of the best Izakaya dishes in So Cal. :) I have to go back soon.

                                                      Were you able to try any new Seasonal Menu items?

                                                      1. re: exilekiss
                                                        s
                                                        selfportrait93 RE: exilekiss May 25, 2010 11:28 PM

                                                        Exilekiss, we went for the "tried and tasted" :-) dishes from previous visit such as Agedashi tofu, fried chicken and spicy chicken wings. The roasted black Cod was very simple, tasty and certainly not enough.

                                                        1. re: selfportrait93
                                                          b
                                                          bulavinaka RE: selfportrait93 May 26, 2010 10:19 AM

                                                          No matter how much or how little the serving size is, I don't think I could every get my fill of black cod - IB's version being no exception - except of course if you take my rice away. :)

                                                    Show Hidden Posts