It depends specifically what you're looking for. To better clarify the two styles you're mentioning:
* IZAKAYA - Usually, the term "Japanese Small Plates" is referring to the small plates found at Izakayas (which are essentially Japanese Pubs focused on Food and Alcohol). In So Cal, they are generally informal fun places with a good Sake / Beer / Shochu Menu along with a solid Food Menu. Examples of some notable ones include:
(Do a Search on these boards to find lots of Chowhound input on these places. :)
*** Izakaya Bincho - My current favorite for certain dishes, this is an up-and-coming Izakaya (formerly a Yakitori restaurant).
*** Musha - This is more Modern / Fusion (in a good way) Izakaya. They have some fun creations on the menu, and it's a great time. They have a Santa Monica and Torrance location.
*** Otafuku - Great, extensive menu, lots of traditional items.
*** Shin Okinawa Izakaya - This is an Okinawan version of a traditional Izakaya. Fun and festive, with a few misses but some great hits as well.
Then you also mention "skewer places"...
* YAKITORI / KUSHIYAKI - These are places that focus on serving little Skewers of Roasted Meats (Yakitori focuses on Chicken) and Vegetables, ideally over good Bincho Japanese White Charcoal. Many will also have a good selection of Sake / Beer to drink while enjoying the food. Some places to try this include:
(Again, do a Chowhound Search and find more detail and input from CH'ers on these places :) -
*** Shin Sen Gumi Robata-Yakitori - This is one of the standbys. Boisterous, Lively, Fun. Good, solid roasted skewers of meat. Their most notable branches are Gardena and Fountain Valley.
*** Yakitori Bincho (Closed for now :( - but you can search and see examples of what good Yakitori is all about.
Lastly, generally, they are pretty inexpensive (depending on how much Sake you drink (^_~)). If it's just food, most Izakayas' small plates range from ~$3 - $12. And Yakitori / Kushiyaki Skewers are per skewer, ranging in price from ~$1.50 - $4 per skewer. Pretty inexpensive overall.
1725 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501
Shin Sen Gumi Hakata Ramen
18315 Brookhurst St, Fountain Valley, CA 92708
424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori
18517 S Western Ave, Gardena, CA 90248
Shin Okinawa Izakaya
1880 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501
112 N International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach, CA 90277
when i paid with cash at orris, the server decided to round my bill UP without my permission and without telling me when he brought the change.
i think he thought that i wouldn't notice.
when i pointed it out to him, he said that he did it to simplify making change--no apology was offered.
if you go to orris, be careful when paying the bill.
I went to Ronin Izakaya Bistro last night and it was terrific! As soon as we sat down they brought over these delicious warm, garlicy edamame. We started with a Ahi Tuna "Taco" and cold tofu salad. Next course included: Ronin Fried Noodles, Curried Fried Chicken, Lamb Chops (these were my favorite - served with mint jelly and sprinkled with pomograntes), gnocchi with wild mushrooms. Everything was super fresh; most items were served with simple salads. We ordered the chocolate bar with a shot of ice cream (more like a milkshake) for dessert...they brought that plus a complimentary vanilla & chocolate creme brulee compliments of the chef.
We will definitely be back! Everything was delicious and the staff was very friendly and welcoming.