Happy New Year everyone!
I just discovered that the carne asada nachos at La Esperanza in Torrance are so fing good. They’re actually on the menu as “nachos supreme” and don’t come with meat, but you can request asada or chicken.
I also got their delicious Churrasco Guatemalteco for 2. It consists of chicken, carne asada, pork, chorizo, potatoes, & green onions, and comes with black beans, rice, pupusas, salsa, and guacamole.
Happy New Year!
Yakitoriya (a.k.a., Hostile Chicken Skewers)
There have been many mixed reviews on this place, and when even our friends from Tokyo and Osaka didn’t recommend it, I wasn’t sure if it was worth a visit, but we finally decided to give it a try.
Upon walking in, you’re hit with a strange air of solemnity. It’s dead silent, with only the quiet sound of the chef-owner flipping Yakitori skewers on a grill in front of the bar area. There were only 3 people in the entire restaurant (all sitting at the Yakitori bar).
No matter, we invited a bunch of friends and we were greeted by the chef-owner and invited to sit at a table in the back.
15+ minutes go by, and there’s no server nor any menus given to us(!). At this point, I try to get the attention of the old chef who finally sees us waving, and we ask nicely for some menus. We hear him bark out something in Japanese to the back, and finally an old woman (his wife? They seemed really familiar with each other, talking loudly back and forth) appears (looking rather upset / angry(!)) and drops off some English menu, but before we could even ask for some hot tea, she rushes off to the back again.
We invited one friend from Tokyo this evening and they wanted to see the Japanese menu (just to help clarify and maybe point out some interesting dishes that might’ve been missed in the English menu). After a few more minutes of waiting, hoping the server might come back (or the old chef might look up from grilling) (they didn’t), I get up and walk to the back and find the server. I ask nicely for the Japanese menu. She half-shouts at me, “Same menu! Japanese menu is the same!” I tried to nicely explain that my Japanese friend just wanted to look at the Japanese dish names, but she barked again, “It’s same name in Japanese! No difference!” And refused to give me a Japanese menu. Oh well.
It was just a really hostile vibe and feel, but thankfully we had good company and sat down and chose some dishes. There was no other staff in the entire restaurant throughout the evening, so it feels like a mom-and-pop operation. We never saw her again the rest of the entire dinner(!), as we had to nicely ask the old chef (waving to him whenever he looked up) to get us refills on Tea or order Sake, and it was him who ended up serving all our dishes.
Kamotsuru Tokusei Gold - Daiginjo Sake (Hiroshima, Japan):
Their Sake menu was quite limited, but this one seemed like a nice choice, and the old chef recommended it to us. It was quite light, and almost fruity, with a nice dry finish.
Chicken Breast Skewers:
Yakitori (or Grilled Chicken Skewers) is their specialty, and we started with the Chicken Breast Skewers. These were dryish but decent.
Chicken Thigh Skewers:
Arriving in a Tare Sauce, these were much better, and pretty tasty. It wasn’t overly sweet, and overall they were the best dish we had this evening.
Negima - Green Onion & Chicken Skewers:
While their regular Chicken Thigh Skewers had some Green Onions in it, their Negima Skewers were totally about Green Onions with a tiny bit of Chicken wrapped around it. These were fragrant and nicely onion-y, but perhaps too much Green Onion in one bite.
Kara-age (Japanese Style Fried Chicken):
Their Kara-age was OK. A bit too oil-laden and slightly soggy, with a slight bit of crisp.
Chicken Gizzard Skewers:
Their Gizzard Skewers were super dry and hard to chew; probably some of the most disappointing Gizzard Skewers we’ve had in recent memory.
These were undercooked, tasting slightly raw in the center.
Hakkaisan - Tokubetsu Junmai Sake (Niigata, Japan):
Their Hakkaisan Tokubetsu Junmai was definitely on the fruitier side (compard to the Kamotsuru), with a slightly longer finish (and more noticeable alcohol burn on the finish).
Yakitoriya Style Pan Fried Chicken Dumplings with Ponzu:
Their Gyoza were tasty. There was a nice crust / sear on the bottom and the Ground Chicken filling was nicely seasoned.
One Day Dried Squid (Grilled):
Their Grilled Squid was decent, but slightly rubbery (not as tender as we would’ve hoped). There was almost no perceptible smokiness either.
Shishito Pepper Skewers:
Their Shishito Pepper Skewers were much better than the Okra. They were cooked all the way through, nicely seasoned and tender.
Chicken Meatball Skewers:
Their Chicken Meatball (Tsukune) Skewers were moist and not too salty. There was a strange excess of Chicken Blood throughout, but otherwise it was fine.
Chicken Wing Skewers:
Their Chicken Wing Skewers were delicious. There was a nice crispiness on each of the Wings and a noticeable smokiness.
Chicken Thigh Skewers:
Their Chicken Thigh Skewers were everyone’s favorite, so we ordered one more round of these.
Zosui (Rice Porridge with Chicken, Vegetable and Egg):
It’s nice to see Zosui on a menu, so we had to order this. Yakitoriya’s version was fine: Not overly gloppy, the Chicken Broth base was rather straightforward (nowhere near as sublime as the one our old board recommended at Bincho).
Service was horrendous (or maybe non-existent). We had to get up and get napkins ourselves. If anyone at the table hoped to get refills on Hot Tea or even more Sake (for them to make money), we had to turn around and try and get the old chef’s attention to help, since the lone server never appeared again (we could hear him shouting things at her from time to time in the back).
Yakitoriya is probably the most hostile / strange restaurant we’ve been to in a long time. When you think of a Yakitori specialist, it’s usually boisterous, festive, or at least a place you want to sit down and enjoy a meal. Yakitoriya is the complete opposite:
From the moment we stepped inside (after the old chef greeted us (he was nice)), the old woman / server’s angry attitude and shouting at us, the non-existent service to the lack of sound (there was no music), and that the restaurant was maybe 5 - 10% full? Made us feel like we were dining in a grungy “museum.” It was solemn and the angry vibes from the old server made it worse.
Even their menu seems hostile: They have so many disclosures / warnings on the menu that we’d need our legal FTC’ers (@ipsedixit @chandavkl and others) to help out: They had warnings on asking about eating undercooked skewers, and seeking medical attention.
They had a bright RED warning for a minimum of 5 skewers per person. And a minimum charge of $20 per person. AND a warning that they’ll charge $20 per person not eating at the table, AND a warning that they’ll charge $20 per person INCLUDING CHILDREN.
They had notifications on fees (20% gratuity on parties of 6 or more (that’s fine)), but then they charge a minimum of 10% gratuity on checks of $100 or more. And notifications on charging additional Credit Card fees if you ask the check to be split more than 2 ways.
It just seems like they’re lashing back at some previous history they had with some bad customers, but it feels extremely unwelcome and rather hostile for new customers (like us).
Looking beyond all of that, and honestly evaluating the food, Yakitoriya was pretty average. Their Chicken Thigh and Chicken Wing Skewers were very good, but their dried out Chicken Breast Skewers, undercooked Okra, so-so Kara-age, Ika, etc. just made us not feel like coming back, despite it being so close.
We’d rather drive further and enjoy the Yakitori at Torihei 2.0, or Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori in Gardena / Torrance, or especially just go back to Aburiya Raku, where they are serving the best Yakitori in the city.
11301 W. Olympic Blvd. #101
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Tel: (310) 479-5400
It’s been a while since we made it over here and it was just as good as we remembered.
Large bossam, $35.95.
Meat was juicy, nice thin strip of fat. Plenty of fresh veggies for the wrap
Seafood pancake $18.99
Crispy, crunchy, not oily and chock full of seafood.
Wonderful trip to Sea Harbour, Porto’s and Salt & Straw with my daughter…
I always enjoy that eggplant with shrimp paste dish.
After getting disgustingly bad take out from Odumak in Ktown last night (was supposed to be Sichuan x Korean… do not eat here it was so bad… Rather have eaten Panda Express) Drove out to chengdu taste today solo for lunch today.
Still the best Chinese I’ve ever had.
Kung pao chicken, eggplant and string beans.
Out of curiosity, what did you order at Odumak? I’ve eaten there four times and while a few dishes have been mediocre/average (mostly on the chicken side of things), most of the things I’ve tried have ranged from good to great.
maybe it’s what i got, but I got Kung Pao Chicken, sauteed eggplant, and a tofu soup (which was actually barely OK)…
but the kung pao chicken was horrendous (most sichuan places i’ve been do to it great) and the eggplant was barely passable.
I was super excited and was hoping to get some legit flavors from them (ma la) but it was so bland and was not cheap… Should have just gone with Northern Cafe down the street.
That’d have been a good call…
Khao Man Gai at LAX-C! Let me tell you that sauce is great! Probably the best Khao Man Gai I had in LA. Yes I been to Sticky Rice, Siam Sunset, and Sanamluang. The sauce is able to hit salty, sweet, sour, and spicy(actually more warmth/heat than damn I need some Thai tea to cool off spicy) without overpowering each other. Yes it’s a takeout place but this kitchen is powered by Thai Aunties in the back!!
Yes if you dine in you will see all the Thai restaurant owners eating krapow chicken like what @TonyC said in his LA Weekly article.
The Green Curry here is very good. Like just as good as any sit down place. I am guessing one of the Aunties makes her own paste everyday.
The Sour Curry could use more heat and sour though.
Saw Mae Ting herself she runs the deco department at LAX-C, got myself a little “Tuesday” Buddha because I was born on a Tuesday. Mae Ting told me her son too was born on a Tuesday. Just a sweetheart and makes the damn best Thai coconut cakes.
Don’t sleep on LAX-C Express.
Don’t forget to stop by Chimney Coffeehouse. It is never too crowded, tables, outlets, breakfast sandwiches, larb burger, and coffee from Chiang Mai. If you like Matcha Everything!!! then you are in luck with the brick toast.
It’s a great place. Nice post. It’s also great to grab an assortment and have lunches all the following week.
Shhhh! Chimney is the best-kept secret in those parts. The pottery was made by Mori-san.
Ask for chili sauce
Deep fried shrimp rolls
For some reason I really like these.
Tofu with Chicken Sauce
Decent, crispy exterior and silky tofu on the inside.
Chicken knee with spicy salt and pepper
Poached kai choy
Cooked perfectly, a tad salty
Always order ha gao. Good flavor, skin was a little gummy this time.
I didn’t know @ipsedixit self parked his Aventador with us common folk.
Interesting to me they highlight “oriental” cuisine. I’ve been taught that is an offensive term?
Not his. Ipse’s Lambo is a Reventon.
lol, quick someone photoshop a his grinning blue head in the Lambo
That was my first thought when reading the words, @nosh.
So is Chik-fil-A fast food or fast casual? Made to order, higher quality ingredients, and they bring the food to your table. Tricky.