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.