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recs for Early Lunch between Gardena and Brentwood

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I need an early lunch recommendation. I am in Brentwood, my dining companion is coming up from OC and has an after-lunch meeting in Gardena (but can come further north for lunch).

Person A likes: anything that is farm-to-table/seasonal, seafood, sushi, japanese

Person B likes: seafood, sushi, salads, chicken, japanese

Budget--not looking for a cheap place, it needs to be a nice place in both food and atmosphere, but not "5 star nice" (or 5 star price, for that matter). (Mariscos Chente, while delicious, wouldn't be the right kind of place for this! :-)

Atmosphere: not too noisy--need to be able to hear each other talk. Pleasant atmosphere is important.

Thank you!

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  1. With the understanding that we haven't been (but it's high on my list) there have been some excellent reviews here for: http://www.eataliancafe.com/

    1. If Torrance is okay, I-naba on Hawthorne by Torrance Blvd would work.

      http://www.restaurantinaba.com/

      3 Replies
      1. re: bulavinaka

        I second the food at I Naba great Tempua.. Slow at lunch except for the Japanese Auto Bosses and been to eat italian and enjoyed it. Not mind blowing, but good. In these cases I always like the Tin Roof in Manhattan Beach..

        1. re: bulavinaka

          Thanks bulainaka -- we're going to go to I-naba. Any ordering suggestions?

          1. re: sablouwho

            I've never had lunch there, but we've never been disappointed with anything we've ordered. I don't know if their kaiseki option is available, but it is a really nice meal. This restaurant is unusual relative to Japanese cuisine. As a rule, Japanese cuisine is ruled by specialists, and generalists tend to be considered lower tier eateries. I-naba has basically three specialists under one roof. The restaurant has a separate sushi counter, so sushi is a good option there. They also have a seperate tempura counter, so that is quite exceptional as well.

            This restaurant is part of a restaurant group that also has a soba eatery that is considered to be the best in the LA area. They make their own soba, and it is stellar.

            So pulling from these three specialties alone can create a very nice meal. Dishes that tend to be lunch standards like tonkatsu or donburi are very good as well. They also offer a fair number of sets that are very good, but may be too much food for a lunch, particularly if your friend is headed off to a meeting afterwards.

            Edit: Again, I haven't been here for lunch, so I don't know if the same options are available, particularly if the sushi and tempura counters are being staffed during lunch service. The place is very Japanese-y and the vast majority of their customers are Japanese expats. The English over the phone might be a bit challenged, but it might be worth a call if those issues are a consideration.

        2. How early is early? 11:30 AM? 10:30 AM? Since the overlap between the two preferences are seafood/sushi/Japanese, would the wide variety of Japanese/sushi places on Sawtelle be too far North? Kiriko for sushi, Morinoya for izakaya?

          A tiny bit closer to Gardena, in Westchester, is Kanpai, a place which, based on its menu (http://www.kanpai-sushi.net/menu_lunc...), may seem like a middle-of-the-road Americanized sushi place, and it can certainly fill that role, but is apparently a diamond in the rough for quality sushi (my sister's been and says the sushi's really good). They are on Restaurant.com, if you're looking for a deal.

          3 Replies
          1. re: PeterCC

            Probably around 11:30 am as that is when it seems most places start serving lunch.

            I am trying to figure out how close to "up north" in Brentwood I can do this. I was thinking about Kiriko, actually, as I've never been there and am dying to go. This may be a good opportunity!

            Funny you mention Kanpai--I have actually been there before a few times and have used a Restaurant.com certificate. I have mixed feelings about it--depending what I've ordered it's been great to mediocre.

            1. re: sablouwho

              I hear it's more that if you can show the sushi chef that you're a serious sushi eater, then they'll break out the good stuff. I assume that's more for the omakase, which, from what I can find, looks pretty high quality:

              http://spencerhgray.wordpress.com/201... (author is a personal chef who describes the omakase at Kanpai as fantastic, and for what its worth had omakase at Urasawa, and Ginza Sushi-Ko before it)

              http://joeyng.com/omakase-at-kanpai

              http://www.flickr.com/photos/lydiaman... (and next 8 pics)

              Might have to buy a Restaurant.com certificate and give their omakase a try myself sometime.

              1. re: PeterCC

                I haven't had omakase there but I have definitely ordered the more "serious sushi eater" kind of items on the menu as I'm generally more of a traditionalist when it comes to sushi. And I really do appreciate that they have some hard-to-find, off-the-beaten path fish that you cannot find in most sushi places. (I.e. kawahagi and kawahagi liver when they are in season, for instance). Even so, I have liked some of the dishes, and some have just been ok. It isn't that I am knocking Kanpai, but I have been there and left disappointed as many times as I've left having had a great meal. That said, I would still like to go there for omakase.

                Definitely recommend a Restaurant.com certificate as, even with the rare fish on the menu, many of their dishes are overpriced. If you go, please do let us know how you like it!