Tag Archives: japanese

Shinsengumi Yakitori: Loudest Restaurant EVER

Michelle and I were out of dinner ideas for eating at home, so we decided to go out to eat. Since we didn’t want to eat too much we decided on Shinsengumi Yakitori, where we could order small bites. For those of you unfamiliar with yakitori, here’s the quick rundown.

Yakitori , grilled chicken, is commonly a Japanese type of skewered chicken. The term “Yakitori” can also refer to skewered food in general. Kushiyaki (skewer grilled), is a formal term that encompasses both poultry and non-poultry items, skewered and grilled. Both Yakitori and Kushiyaki mean the same, so the terms are used interchangeably in Japanese society

They cook over a grill, generally containing hot coals, and the menu items are individual skewers.

Chicken wing. Great crispy skin without all the oil of frying.

Chicken thigh with plum sauce.

Squid in ponzu sauce.

Meatball.

Chicken hearts. Yes, internal organs are on the menu too. In fact it’s some of the best stuff on the menu.

The most unique part of the dining experience aren’t the unique menu items, but it’s the loud ambiance. You eat in fear, never knowing the next time the staff is going to shout. It’s not just that they great and cheers all the customers. They have loud, booming voices and it echoes in the tiny restaurant.

I’ve written about this place before and the consensus was the same. Good food. Loud staff. We haven’t been back until this time because it was so traumatizing for Michelle. I think we just need to wear ear plugs next time.

A Delicious 30th Birthday Dinner for the Wife

Yesterday was the day marking Michelle’s 30th year on this earth. Whoa! I know. In order to celebrate we decided to go to Musha, where we normally lie about it being someone’s birthday. This might be the second time we’ve ever been to this restaurant on someone’s actual birthday.

Tofu cheese and honey with bread and crackers.

Pork belly.

Beef Tenderloin.

They even bring out the charcoal grill to you so you can cook yourself.

Musha Fried Chicken.

Udon  with clams and mushrooms.

Ebi Mayo.

Cheese Risotto, getting to the bottom of the cheese block.

The risotto doesn’t look like much but it is one of the things we always order.

I had never seen this on the menu before. La Bomba. Three kinds of ice cream, cover in chocolate. Chocolate, vanilla, and peach. This was really good, especially the peach ice cream section.

We did a pretty good job eating, but you can see the hands are still moving to clean up the rest of the scraps.

This is the reason why like to tell Musha that it’s always someone’s birthday. They turn out the lights and play Happy Birthday, followed by a flaming finish in the kitchen.

Zenya

After running some errands in Torrance, Michelle and I decided to check out one of the two Japanese restaurants I saw the last time I was picking up some Oskar Blues G’Knight at BevMo. We decided on Hakata Yamaya. Unfortunately reservations had the place all booked up. Instead we settled on Zenya next door.

The first thing we noticed were drink specials, on sake martinis or pop drinks.

Green Tea Pop Drink and Green Apple Sake Martini.

Chicken Karage, done in chicken wing fashion.

Gyoza. The best part is the fried skin, so they give you a whole pan full of it.

Tonkotsu Ramen.

Shio Ramen.

I did get to try a new beer at the place. Unfortunately their fridge is so cold that the beer was a slushy in the bottle. I had to wait for it to thaw a little bit before drinking it. Even so, it was a pretty tasty beer.

Zenya was overall a disappointment. The chicken and the gyoza were decent, but the broth on both ramen bowls was pretty bland. We still need to check out Hakata Yamada, but if the place is booked again, I will just wait for the open table.

It’s Sake Time!

I held off posting about our trip to Chaya’s Japanese Beer Garden as not to remind one particular friend about what a rough time she had that night and the whole next day.

It’s brilliant marketing. Toss up some lanterns outside, and it’s special.

Here is Michelle with yakitori grill in the background.

While it’s called a beer garden, the beer selection is pretty poor with a few Japanese beers and Stella. We settled on sake sangria and sake flights.

This is one flight. The aforementioned friend had three of them, which is why the night slowly spiraled out of control. It’s sake time!

As for food, we really couldn’t decide, so we ordered everything. Well, almost everything.

Spicy Shrimp Roll and Grilled White Corn with Feta Cheese. Michelle was so inspired by the corn that she made a similar dish at a BBQ we went to recently.

Spicy Tuna Roll.

Everything form the yakitori menu multiple times. There are definitely better places for yakitori, but it’s nice to order when sharing amongst friends.

Grilled Octopus. I really liked this dish.

Sea Scallop Miso Gratin.

I can’t remember what this one was called. It came pretty late in the evening, and I was full of food and sake. As you can see there is prosciutto, so it must be good.

Fish n’ Chips.

Calamari and Pita with Hummus.

Kobe Beef Short Rib Melt. It’s melt-in-your-mouth good. You have to eat it while it’s hot though.

Southern Food

Nope. There will be no talk about grits and fried catfish here. I’m talking about food I’ve found since we moved to the South Bay. Michelle and I are looking for a spot to call our local eating joint.

Although I’ve been here before, Ramen Yamadaya deserves another mention. This is easily is my top five ramen joints after just the one visit. The second time we went back, I decided to try some other things.

Curry and rice. Nothing to write home about. It’s barely even worth writing about here on my blog.

Their friend chicken is nicely done. It’s light and crispy.

Their pork chop did not have the same light texture as the chicken. This just felt heavy.

While their side dishes are hit or miss, the main attraction is always superb. Ramen is what they do best. I can’t wait to make a trip back here.

One of the first joints we checked out was Nelson’s at Terranea. We know people in the area are always stopping here for food and drinks. It’s a great location, right along the cliffside overlooking the ocean. Unfortunately the food and drinks are not cheap and mediocre as well.

This is their burger. It tastes like a cafeteria burger.

This is Michelle’s portobello mushroom sandwich. It’s a lot better than the burger, but it’s nothing special. Since it was Cinco de Mayo, she also ordered a margherita. It just tasted like nothing but mixer.

Nelson’s gets a big thumbs down from me. I won’t be coming back except to enjoy the view on a warm summer night.

Another place we checked out was Coco Ichibanya, a curry house in Torrance. I originally thought it was going to be just like the well known chain, Curry House. I was surprised by how many options they had for their curry dishes.

I decided to order the mushroom curry and went for a level 3 out of 10 for the spiciness. I was surprised about how much heat this dish had. Their menu notes that they won’t let you try level 6-10 unless you’ve eaten a whole plate of level 5 first. That’s probably a pretty good idea.

Since this was a first time for me at this restaurant, I decided to gorge myself and try another dish. I ordered the mini keema curry with naan. The naan was fluffy and light. It went well with the curry.

A newly opened joint, 1321 Downtown Taproom Bistro Restaurant, was my stop this weekend. I’ve been meaning to check this place out but with the move of my office, I’ve had zero time to do it. The place was busy when I showed up, always a good sign for a new restaurant. I took a seat at the bar to wait for my friends. The bar staff was very friendly. I was pleased with the wide selection of beers available, and for a double bonus the beers weren’t all priced at ten bucks a glass like some gastro pubs.

Meatball appetizer. Not sure what kind of meat they used. It seemed a bit spongy, almost the consistency of tofu. Other than the sauce, I was not into this dish.

Chicken and waffles, definitely not the traditional take on this dish. The waffle portion was a blue cornbread muffin, very donut-like. The chicken was perfectly fried and the crispness of the skin went well with the soft texture of the “waffles.” I did wish that the chicken would have been slightly saltier. It’s sweet with a hint of mustard in the taste, but coupled with the “waffle” portion of it, it was a bit too sweet.

Other dishes that we scarfed down but forgot to take pictures of include the Mod Burger, Turkey Burger, and Hot Link. Both burgers were solid. I opted for the turkey, because it said something about hot. I was in the mood for some heat. The heat on this burger was very minimal, but definitely enough to satisfy my craving. I normally don’t like sauerkraut, but the kraut they were serving with the hot link was not too sour, a great compliment to the wiener.

Last on our new discoveries of the South Bay was Inka Wasi, a casual Peruvian joint that is owned by the same guys as El Polla Inka. This storefront in the Peninsula Center in Rolling Hills Estates is aimed at people who want a quick bite or even something to take out. I figured we should try this since the local pho restaurant is across the plaza from this place and I’m sure I will have plenty of that in the future.

It’s pretty apparent this restaurant runs under the same group as El Pollo Inka with their chicken soup to start off the meal.

Michelle’s seafood dish. The noodles here were a bit overcooked, but overall the dish was pretty tasty.

Chicken Saltado. I remember this dish being very salty at El Pollo Inka, but it was good this time around.

Don’t mistake that compliment to mean that it stacks up to Mario’s in any way. Mario’s is the de facto standard to which I measure all Peruvian restaurants. Even the special green sauce here isn’t the same, probably not enough crack in it. I would come back to this place again, but mostly because I want something other than pho.

There you have it. We have exhausted all the restaurants in the South Bay. Kidding. While it doesn’t have the smorgasbord of choices that Los Angeles area has, I’m sure we will discover some more treats. If you have any recommendations, please share.

Recent Bites

Pizza from Laventina’s Big Cheese Pizza. It’s delicious, but not quite the same when not eaten drunk and sitting on the curb with dozens of other intoxicated young adults.

Delicious sandwich from Tummy Stuffers by my office.

Ddukbokki from Western Doma Noodle.

Chicken Soup.

Onion Pancake.

Crab and pork dumplings from Mama’s Lu.

Pork and cabbage dumplings.

Spicy dumplings.

Now go get yourself some lunch, people!

Ramen Jinya

Although it’s quite the trek for us to get there, we decided to try out Ramen Jinya. It has received so much attention as of late that it was worth checking out.

The place is fairly large, definitely much larger than most ramen joints I’m used to seeing.

We were pretty hungry so we ordered a few things to snack on while we waited for the rest of our party. Spicy tuna roll. This was not spicy at all. It was pretty disappointing.

Crispy chicken. This was good. It reminds me of Musha’s Fried Chicken, but it’s definitely not quite as good as that.

Someone ordered a spicy tuna bowl, and by the looks of it and the fact that he kept adding Sriracha, it was the same batch of tuna used to make our sushi.

The gyoza were tasty, definitely a great compliment when you’re eating ramen.

I think I’ve only had one other occasion where the ingredients were placed on a separate plate from the broth and the noodles. I supposed that’s to show that the ingredients are fresh.

Michelle always pics a colorful assortment of ingredients for her dishes.

The soup, the meat, the noodles. The broth in my bowl is the Premium Tonkotsu, which is infused with fish flavor.

So what did we think of Ramen Jinya? We will let our empty dishes start the conversation.

Just because I will finish a dish doesn’t make it perfect. The broth at Ramen Jinya is excellent. While it’s got lots of flavor it doesn’t feel like it’s been pumped with a whole lot of salt to get it there. The noodles are a little bit weak like Daikokuya’s noodles though. They’re a little too limp to earn the Ramen Medal of Honor, an award I just made up right now. While it’s not earning any fictional awards, I would definitely come back to this place if I was in the area. It is a bit of the beaten path for regular visits, but I recommend you check it out at least once.

Hakata Ramen. Still the best.

Taste in food is always open to discussion. Who is to say that we all perceive taste exactly the same way? What may taste like a terrible meal to me (pho), may be the food you (Michelle) would want if you were stuck on a deserted island. To each his own.

Hakata Ramen is probably my favorite noodle joint. The location in Gardena was always a local favorite for Michelle and myself when we were living in the South Bay. It was convenient and delicious.

Last week we decided to check out the location in Rosemead. The ability to custom order how heavy you want your broth and how firm you want your noodles is great. I like my broth to be flavorful but not something that will make me drink gallons of water afterward. Noodles should be like a woman’s derrière, firm. If you disagree, that’s okay. You can make your bowl of ramen the way you like it.

After all that talk about the ramen, I really wish I had a better picture that actually showed the noodles. I’m still learning how to be a food blogger. I like to get the pictures, but really I just want to dig into the food.

Masago.

Spicy miso. Bet you can’t guess whose soup this went into.

Fried fish with cheese inside. Sounds like an odd combination.

But it’s so very good.

Gyoza always compliments a ramen meal well.

Fried squid. The batter they use for this is sweet and light. I like it a lot. Someone should coat everything in this batter and fry it.

There’s a lot of hype out there in the food community about different noodle joints, but after going through the rounds, Hakata Ramen is still my favorite. Waiting in a long line for Daikokuya or trying to figure out what hours Asa is actually open is something I don’t care to waste time on anymore. Hakata has it’s special place in my heart because it’s consistent and convenient, delicious food that’s always there when I need it.

Jackass 3D, anyone?

I heard Dr. Drew almost vomited three separate times during the screening. How is that possible for a doctor that has seen just about everything? I’m a little bit scared to see it. Who wants to see it with me? While I am afraid of losing my lunch during the movie, there’s something about a train wreck such as this that intrigues me.

That is why I also love Japanese game shows. People who are willing to put themselves into harm’s way for entertainment purposes always get a thumbs up from me. Take, for instance this Japanese game show. From what I can gather the stairs are covered in lube and the big bin at the top has hot water in it.

So who wants in? I mean on the movie, not the stairs of lube.

Harajuku: Goth Meets Rainbow Brite

I’m way behind on my posting. It’s better this way though. I’d rather be living an exciting life than telling you about it, but doing both is not bad either. I’m going to jump out of chronological order to show what I did this weekend, because I am excited.

Michelle and I went to check out Sweet Streets 2, an art show at Gallery Nucleus displaying the Harajuku fashion and lifestyle through art.

This particular piece was a tapestry. Damn that’s a lot of dedication.

There were DJ’s spinning Japanese pop music there too.

There were even live painting/sketching demonstrations. I believe the girl in the middle is being drawn.

Last, but certainly not least, is my favorite piece titled “Harajuku Boy.”

The entire thing is done with different textured paper. I liked this piece a lot.

I liked it so much that I bought it. That red dot there is mine.

After a little bit of searching I found the artist, Megan Brain. She does some really cool stuff. It’s always nice to see art done without paint or ink.