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Musha or Mariscos Chente

San Francisco hound in town next weekend.

We're heading to either Pizzeria Mozza or Osteria Mozza for my birthday, depending on who wins the coin toss.

Saturday I'm spending with a old friend and her five year old on the Westside. Are we better off at Musha (can't tell how appropriate it is for kids from the website) or the Mariscos Chente in Mar Vista?

Also any good dessert recommendations nearby?

Thanks!

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Mariscos Chente
4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

Pizzeria Mozza
641 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

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  1. The Musha in Santa Monica is very small - you should make reservations there as it fills up very fast. I don't know if a five year-old would work in there, but it's worth a try if you really want to go.

    The Mariscos Chente is still good, but I'd say that while it was pretty close to a 10 while Sergio was behind the counter, I would probably score it more around 8-8.5. We were there a couple of weekends ago, and while the seafood was very fresh, I'd say the cocktel de camarones y pulpo wasn't as bright, the pescado zarandeado was very good but could have used a little more char, but the camarones a la diabla was as good as when Sergio did his magic. Again, this is based on one recent visit, and comparing it to the results of a true maestro.

    Depending on where you are starting out from the Westside, it may be worth considering going to the Musha or Torihei in Torrance (probably about a 25-minute drive on average), Izakaya Bincho on the Redondo Beach Pier (30 minutes) or heading over to the Sawtelle Blvd area in West LA (average 10-15 minute drive) for some very good small dish places as well - just not as loud/festive as Musha. Nanbankan and Bar Hayama are solid places with small plates. Place Yuu has gotten some good mention here, but I can't personally vouch for it.

    Sergio is currently at the Mariscos Chente in Lennox/Inglewood - about 15 minutes further away from the one in Mar Vista. I haven't been to this location yet but you will have to go here if you want what LA CH posters used to gah-gah over. The Mar Vista place is very plain inside, and the service is very informal - no rush. If you want something, just catch someone's attention and ask - they will gladly accommodate you. The aguachile is still fantastically cool and hot at the same time, and whether dipping tortilla chips or splaying it on your food, a good beer or three will round things out - heck, go for the cubeta.

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    Musha
    1725 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501

    Bar Hayama
    11300 Nebraska Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90025

    Place Yuu
    2101 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

    Mariscos Chente
    10020 Inglewood Ave, Lennox, CA 90304

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

    Torihei
    1757 W. Carson Street, Torrance, CA 90501

    2 Replies
    1. re: bulavinaka

      For what it's worth, did Musha this weekend with a 1 yr old. Very kid friendly and they were extremely accodating with his new habit of throwing everything on the floor. We got there as it opened but by the time we left, it was packed so I would recommend reservations if you choose that one.

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      Musha
      1725 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501

      1. re: Discokill

        The one big hit I've found dining with toddlers is dim sum. It's loud, finger food, and there are fish tanks. Plus you can go early. Turnip cakes really are baby food, as are pork buns.

    2. Mariscos Chente. You have izakaya in SF; you don't have Mariscos Chente, even post-Sergio.

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      Mariscos Chente
      4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

      6 Replies
      1. re: Das Ubergeek

        So Mariscos Chente is leading; every time I read about the aguachile, I want to book a flight to LA! Camarones a la diabla...

        Realistically I don't think Inglewood is an option knowing these friends (starting out from Washington and Lincoln), since I'm not driving. But of course I don't know what I'm missing from its peak a year or so ago with Sergio :)

        Bulavinaka, I will look up all the izakayas you've mentioned, if not for this trip for the next. Thank you both for the advice.

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        Mariscos Chente
        10020 Inglewood Ave, Lennox, CA 90304

        1. re: Windy

          Before we send our neighbor "Windy" to the wrong place, I was under the impression Sergio was at the (third) Mariscos Chente on Imperial Highway east of the Lennox location. Anyone who know the facts please kindly jump in. "Westsidelegal" where art thou?

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          Mariscos Chente
          10820 Inglewood Ave, Lennox, CA 90304

          1. re: Feed_me

            D'oh - you got me on the Imp Hwy location! Glad you brought this up...

            1. re: bulavinaka

              Whew....found it (thank you google). http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/719338
              I apologize, I just realized it's "westsidegal" not my mistaken idea of her nom de chowhound. Her post is from a short while back so I'm not sure where Sergio is right now.

              1. re: Feed_me

                Thank you for the clarification and update.

                1. re: Feed_me

                  To clarify, I've been to the Mar Vista location and while it wasn't QUITE as spot-on as when Sergio was there, I still had a truly great meal.

        2. Desserts usually are either served at restaurants or can be enjoyed at bakeries or brought home. Other than maybe Jin Pattisserie on Abbot Kinney in Venice, I can't think of any place that actually focuses on desserts where you sit down and enjoy desserts. However, you've chosen two dinner candidates that both have bakeries very close to where you'd be eating dinner.

          Angel Maid is two doors south of Mariscos Chente on Centinela. Their roots are Japanese, they're known for their cakes and mini-cream puffs, neither of which are too sweet, and they usually close around 6:30-7PM during the week, and I'd consider them a great place to pick up your dessert and enjoy it back at your friend's home.

          Musha is only a block west of Vanilla Bake Shop on Wilshire. While I personally think their PR rep does great work, their product is ok. But considering how close they are to Musha, they'd be a place to consider to grab some goods and enjoy at home after Musha. I personally prefer Huckleberry (about six blocks east of Musha) which also closes around 7PM during the week, or even SusieCakes on San Vicente in Brentwood (they also close at 7PM).

          6 Replies
          1. re: bulavinaka

            For dessert on the westside I really like Sweet Rose Creamery in the Brentwood Country Mart. It has some of the best ice cream I've had in LA. Every flavor is handmade there. Their chocolate chip mint with fresh mint is a real jolt to your taste buds, wow. They are open till 10pm nightly. Enjoy.
            http://www.sweetrosecreamery.com/

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            Sweet Rose Creamery
            225 26th St #51, Los Angeles, CA 90049

            1. re: wienermobile

              Great rec, wienermobile. I never really think of ice cream places as dessert places - my bad. The OP should know that this place has some really great flavors, and they aren't shy about letting you sample away...

              1. re: wienermobile

                Fantastic, thanks. I'll be in Brentwood Sunday, so might have to detour. (Plus you're allowed a few extra desserts for a birthday, right?)

                It's been at least 10 years since I was in the Brentwood Country Mart.

              2. re: bulavinaka

                Cool, will add those all to the list and do more research.

                I'm not too worry about missing dessert---Japanese and Mexican just didn't seem like obvious places for a cake. Angel Maid sounds perfect.

                1. re: Windy

                  Angel Maid is perfect... but Musha (I prefer the Torrance location hands down for authenticity and flavor of dishes) has a delicious tiramisu and maple creme brulee. I live down the street from Chente and have been hearing from friends that the dishes are lacking these days (probably because Sergio is at an Inglewood location as others suggested) so my suggestion, if it's just between the two, would be Musha in Torrance. Even though I have over-dosed on it, I will still always recommend it to others. Some favorites are tuna poke, ebi mayo, yellowtail salad (special), cook your own beef tenderloin, buta kimchee noodles, clam with mushrooms udon (not soup).

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                  Musha
                  1725 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501

                  1. re: WisePix

                    Thanks WisePix. My mouth is watering. It would be the Musha in Santa Monica though rather than Torrance, at least for this trip or Mariscos Chente in Mar Vista.

                    Sounds like I need some friends in different neighborhoods, or at least willing to drive a few miles.

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                    Musha
                    1725 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501

              3. Neither.

                Mariscos is hit or miss now, sadly and musha is nothing special. Nothing stands out there. Orris is much better.

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                Marisco's
                718 S San Jacinto Ave, San Jacinto, CA 92583

                1. A quick recap from a fun weekend.

                  First stop: the Kogi truck on Abbott Kinney. Wonderful to finally get a spicy pork taco and a kalbi one. Friendly people, delicious bites, and the price was right.

                  After a great walk around the canals and over to the skate park at Muscle Beach, my friend and I headed to Mariscos Chente in Mar Vista. Alas, too late for Angel Maid. We shared camarones aquachiles (drinking food! and alas, we weren't drinking), camarones al mojo de ajo (our favorite) and a caldo mixto we noticed at the next table. The only thing we would have liked was vegetables besides cucumbers. Don't they have calabazas in Sinaloa? Our congenial server spoke very little English, but was as sweet as can be. Next time, off to Sergio.

                  Yesterday started out at the Venice farmer's market, hanging out by the pony rides in the fog. Seriously folks, I fly down from San Francisco to get out of the fog, and didn't wear my sunglasses once.

                  Lunch consisted of tamales (blue corn and carnitas), gorgeous orange cherry tomatoes, overpriced scones, early season pomegranates, and the best Hungarian sausage ($5 with lemonade from two cheerful guys). Tried to detour to Brentwood Country Mart, but it was more of a hot chocolate day.

                  I won the coin toss for birthday dinner, so we headed to Pizzeria Mozza. Really, I'm still drooling reading the reviews of Mangiere con Famiglie and the pizza school. We had a couple of tiny carafes of great wine from Piemonte (one from cortese? the other pinot noir or nebbiolo).

                  The first dish was my favorite: asparagus salad with red onions and hazelnuts in a mustard vinaigrette. Worth the cost of the flights and having to get a reservation a month in advance. Tricolore was good if overdressed. Loved the marrow bones. Loved the egg, guanciale, and stuff pizza, until it collapsed under its own weight in a soggy mess. Liked the margarita in part because the crust wasn't weighed down with goop; Susancinsf, my dinner companion who doesn't like pizza, even liked it. Loved the butterscotch budino with salt and cookies. We picked up a raisin bar at Mozza's store, which looked good but was too sweet.

                  We had a great time, and liked the food and menu a lot. Still, I wondered at the acclaim for the pizza. Is this really the best pizza in a town with food as great as LA? Consider me a skeptic. It's only a couple of years ago that you couldn't get a decent pie or slice in San Francisco, and now there seems to be a new Neapolitan place opening every week. (A few are great; many are pricey and overrated.)

                  Once again, too full to head to the country mart and check out Sweet Rose Creamery, we left for the hotel. Thanks again for the pointers, and the list for future eating and drinking.

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                  Mariscos Chente
                  4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                  Kogi
                  Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA

                  Pizzeria Mozza
                  641 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                  Sweet Rose Creamery
                  225 26th St #51, Los Angeles, CA 90049

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Windy

                    hehe: I lost the coin toss, but since it was Windy's birthday, I was buying, so I guess I won anyway from a cost perspective, not to mention that I still got to treat her to a great dinner (not that I wouldn't have been quite happy to treat her to the Osteria had she chosen it...).

                    I was only there for the last dinner, (though I love Musha and have had some excellent though certainly not earth shattering meals at MC in Mar Vista, during the Sergio era: had I seen her post earlier, I probably would have voted for Musha...) Of course, had I seen her post earlier, I would have tried to save room for the chocolate chip mint ice cream in Brentwood: that is definitely on the list for a future trip to LA...

                    I did get a taste of that sausage. Even several hours later, it was outstanding.

                    Anyway, as for Pizzeria Mozza: I am probably the wrong person to judge, given how, (as Windy mentions) I don't really like pizza, even great pizza. Aside from that, I'd been on the west end of Catalina all week, with no internet, no phone, great diving in cold water, and boy scout camp food. In other words, I was starving for anything good to eat.

                    First impressions: we were seated in the small side wine room: it might not be 'sceney' enough for some, but I would ask for it again: fairly quiet, well-spaced tables, comfortable.

                    Service was excellent.

                    I also agree that the asparagus appetizer and butterscotch budino were outstanding and worth the trip. Loved the bone marrow; I always love bone marrow. I didn't think the salad was overdressed, also really enjoyed it. But then, I was starved for a well made salad.

                    The left over pizza made a nice snack on my drive home to Merced. Even for a non-pizza lover.

                    I splurged on ridiculously priced maraschino cherries from the store. Hey, you can't get them in Merced....

                    I'd definitely go back. Indeed, I need to go back: want to try the meatballs....

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                    Musha
                    1725 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501

                    Pizzeria Mozza
                    641 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036