Fukuno (Gardena)

Lately I been trying all I can in the South Bay with a particular aim at Japanese. In retrospect I noticed I become obsessed with a certain area/neighborhood (Koreatown, Little Saigon, Thai Town). I try to learn as much as I can about these neighborhoods thru food and at times random conversations with strangers. Maybe it’s my lack of actual international travel experience, but I go eat in these places because I want to be transported to somewhere else.

So I find myself here in a small strip mall in Gardena shared by both Korean and Japanese businesses. That’s pretty cool btw. Only in America! As they say…

It’s ran by Mom and Pop. Mom runs front of the house and Pop cooks. It’s small. About 8 or so counter seats and 3 tables. The customer base is almost 99.9% Japanese. Joining me tonight in the small dining room is a group of Japanese business men. I watched as they exchange greetings and business cards amongst each other.

Hey I learned that in high school!!! Sorry I disappointed you Mrs Oyama but I have not been practicing my Japanese! But I like to eat Japanese!

(Side note: The Mom and Pop operation reminds me of Sawtelle Tempura House. Pick up a bento if you are in the area. Is there anything more lovely and heart warming than that place? The pictures of the grandchildren, and sweet couple serving you some homestyle food. Too much feels.)

A middle aged couple in the far table having a little dinner together. I am also relieved they order a few of the same things I did.

A young mom is here with her son. They sit at the counter. He is happy and cheery. Momma Owner greets him sweetly.

Yelp actually helped me with tonight’s dinner. I am going to go ahead post the menu. There is a menu in Japanese at table side but I was given possibly the “separate” menu

Maguro Dango. These tuna meatballs were tasty! Cold and savory.

Kohada. Flavors of umami, acid, and a touch of sweet.
Beautiful. I love the look of kohada.

Ankimo Nabe. This would be nice at home in a large pot. Light broth, light vegetables let some of the light fatiness shine from the monkfish

Battera and Unagi
I love battera sushi! Really what is not to like? It hits so many different flavors. I’ve had excellent ones at Morinoya and Mako. Yes I have my eyes and stomach on the ones at Inaba and Osawa.

Kabuto Yaki. Snapper head was a delight to eat. Did a little closeup of the cheek meat for you. The flavor and tenderness of the meat in the head is far better than some filet!

The clams tasted like the essence of the sea. That chicken skewer with some yuzu kosho was very good. I am not sure what was marinade for that but it was tasty and juicy.

Let’s be real here. This restaurant is not going to be here for decades. Once Mom and Pop is getting too old, they saved some decent money for retirement, and all the kids/grandkids are taken care. They are out. Hopefully they will enjoy the rest of their lives and their families/friends. The food here is obviously made with care and with respect to tradition. For someone like me for one hour I thought I was in Japan.


Bonus dessert

Got the Chestnut Mont Blanc

Are you kidding me with that delicious cream? Just perfect.


Kansha Ice Cream

Sold out at 8pm lol

Next time I guess


@JeetKuneBao I’ve been eyeing that restaurant next to Nagomi Cake House since I’ve been frequenting it lately. Looks like I need to make a visit soon.

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I get so excited when people enjoy Nagomi. :rofl:


Nice report @JeetKuneBao! :slight_smile: Glad you liked it as well. We ate at Fukuno a few years ago (posted it about it in this earlier thread) and really enjoyed it. The menu looks the same as our visit (which is totally fine) - just home-style, down-to-earth, tasty cooking. :slight_smile:

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Looks good. How much was this meal?

Thanks for posting the menu and for the review! It’s definitely washoku central here.

Lots of good authentic style stuff, many designed for sake. It’s easy to get lost in the sushi, omakase, and ramen these days. This is my kind of world to get lost in! I would definitely explore their nimono dishes and see how they master their braise.

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About $100 with tip

Will do!

I asked for nitsuke but it wasn’t available that night

Looks nice! I wish we had some decent, simple home-cooked style washoku places in SF.

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There are a few small random homey items at Bashamichi (Millbrae) like tonjiru and chikuzeni. Better than nothing.

Since the OP mentioned Sawtelle Tempura House: It has been closed since Feb 6, due to some kind of family situation, according to the sign in the window. I managed to make it there the day before the closing, and the woman who staffs the front of house was at work, but the guy who does the tempura was not. The sign suggests they intend to reopen. Fingers crossed.


They are the last of the OG businesses on Sawtelle. My fingers are crossed as well…


Nooooo!!! That old couple is so nice I love getting Katsu plate lunch combos there with a side of curry :(((((((

Cool, I’ll have to check this one out…

Have you tried Otafuku? If so how do you compare? If not, it may be worth a visit.

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Otafuku is on my to do list next with Kagura!

What do you like at Otafuku?

I thought Otafuku was a soba specialist. Is there more to it than just soba?

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Their tamago omelette and tempura are also mighty tasty and they have other dishes aside from just soba.