Sushi Damu (West Covina, CA)

wpid-20150829_212354_hdr.jpgAll-you-can-eat sushi?  With uni?!?!
Needless to say, this sounds like premeditated volcano ass in the making, but luckily my intestines were in tact after consuming the food. Parking was easy and free since it’s located in some kind of plaza/mall.

How it works; they give you a piece of paper that has three rounds. Each round you check off what you would like to have made and sent to your table. After your third round, they give you another paper to continue the madness. Unfortunately, they limit the uni to 2 pieces per person so I wasn’t able to uni the fuck out. Figured there would be some limit as uni is a premium sushi.

Besides the uni, which was fantastic, the fish quality was better than most other AYCE sushi joints. Although, that’s not really saying much as most AYCE sushi restaurants tend to have terrible to mediocre quality. wpid-20150829_214739_hdr.jpgThe ikura was a bit too salty for my taste but the salmon, yellowtail, and tuna were on point. No amaebi or toro but it’s somewhat expect for only $24.99 per person.
Overall, I’d give it a 3.5/5. The price is great for the amount of sushi you get, but it won’t keep you away from your favorite sushi spot.

1230 Lakes Dr, Ste 101
West Covina, CA 91790
(626) 699-1046

4stars1

Japonica (Redondo Beach, CA)

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Hamachi collar

Japonica provides an interesting modern take on Japanese food.  While it’s not exactly authentic, it’s got some creative fusions to make it stand out from the rest.  The interior is low lit and mellow.  Feels like a classy winebar in LAX or something.

The food itself ranges from $10-$30 a dish.  Majority of the food is Japanese style tapas.  Which means small, but delicious eats.  I usually get the hamachi collar and karage chicken. Their sushi/sashimi isn’t bad either, but it also isn’t going to amaze you. The atmosphere is more of a date environment than a stuff yourself silly type of establishment.  Parking is in the back and shared with the liquor store/bar. Cool place for a date, but definitely other places around for more bang for your buck.

1304 1/2 S Pacific Coast Hwy
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
(310) 316-9477

3-star

The Chowder Barge (Wilmington, CA)

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32 oz Captain’s Mug ($6)

There’s no other place I’d rather be than at The Chowder Barge on a Sunday afternoon slamming down a huge mug of beer and devouring the best fish and chips around.  This has been a local secret for a while and I’m almost hesitant to share this gem, but they deserve the attention.

Their specialty is their clam chowder (get it with the fried clams) and it doesn’t disappoint, but I come here for the fish and chips, view, and beer.  It’s setup on a dock in the random industrial area of Wilmington.  It can be somewhat hard to find at first, but once you get there it’s like knowing a secret hideout.  The beers range from $4-$8 and the food ranges from $8 to $12.

The quaint scenery make this an optimal spot to grub, drink, and fade the night away watching the various animals and boats roaming around.

611 N Henry Ford Ave
Wilmington, CA 90744
(310) 830-7937

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Ramen Spott (Torrance, CA)

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Tonkotsu Black Garlic ($8.50)

A wild ramen spot has appeared! Another contestant to the large growing list of ramen joints in the South Bay.   This “ramen spott” is located in the Rolling Hills Plaza and seats maybe about 12-15 people max.

The first thing I noticed is the interesting menu.  They provide sushi rolls along with their ramen.  They also have a varied selection of ramen choices ranging from $8 to $11 per bowl.  Rolls were around $5 and were decent for the price.

I decided to give their Tonkotsu Black Garlic ramen a shot since it looked so appealing.  This bowl definitely passes the broth inspection.  A bit salty but porky, smooth, and garlicky as all hell.  The 168ad5jramen noodles were thin but cooked al dente like how it should be.  Toppings included red ginger, mushroom, green onion, and two THIN slices of pork. Unfortunately, they only have non-alcoholic beer here.   After clearing my bowl, I realized there’s another ramen spot to consider when craving noodles in the South Bay.  Open until 11:00pm, this will definitely be a contender when craving some garlic and noodles.

25412 Crenshaw Blvd
Torrance, CA 90505
(310) 530-3900

4stars1

The Shrimp Lover (Redondo Beach, CA)

10181_10200941055782464_1289491809_nThe Shrimp Lover (formerly known as the Boiling Shrimp) is basically a Thai owned version of the Boiling Crab.  It resides on the 2nd floor of the Redondo Beach Pier, so it can be somewhat troublesome to find at first.  The view is extremely beautiful and makes smashing critters that much more enjoyable.

Once inside, you’ll notice the familiar setup of tables covered in paper and rolls of paper towels. The bucket of seafood we got was around $35 and it came with shrimp, snow crab, king crab, mussels, and crawfish.  Enough food to feed 2.5 baked Asians.  They give you several different sauce options like the Boiling Crab, but with a Thai twist. I noticed the use of sweet basil in almost every dish.  The service can be somewhat lacking and they aren’t the friendliest people, but its my go to joint when at the Redondo Beach Pier.

125 W Torrance Blvd
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
(310) 374-6555

4stars1

Maruhide Uni Club (Torrance, CA)

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Uni and Ikura bowl

Maruhide Uni Club is THE place to go for your sea urchin desires.  Everything here has some uni in it, even the soy sauce/salad/soup is uni infused.  Needless to say, if you don’t like uni this isn’t the place for you.

Each dish is priced around $18 to $30 and with very generous portions.  There’s usually a wait as they get pretty busy during the normal dinner hours, but it’s well worth it as there’s nothing around town quite like it.  The uni and ikura bowl was straight up heavenly. One of my death row requests right here for sure.  The buttery uni with the salty ikura and fresh vegetables make this a well balanced and delicious meal.  Maruhide also sells fresh uni by the box for around $8 and $42 for the large box.

If you want to make excellent uni at home, you will just need some rice wine vinegar, sushi rice, dried seaweed, and uni.  Mix a few tablespoons of rice wine vinegar to the cooked sushi rice and COOL to room temperature.  Roll up the rice with a strip of seaweed, seal with a single rice, then add the uni on top.  Dankness.

2130 W Redondo Beach Blvd
Torrance, CA 90504
(310) 323-2864

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Santa Barbara Fish Market (Santa Barbara, CA)

11036086_10205415680445284_6628429681377495825_nWhen I think Santa Barbara, I think of uni.  I travel great lengths to get the best quality.  So naturally, Santa Barbara Fish Market was bookmarked.  Being an hour plus away from LA, it isn’t a quick stop.

Unfortunately, I left with a few trays of some fairly weak uni.  They didn’t have any tuna poki or live uni or much selection, the main reason I drove up, and only had these WEAK trays of uni for $8.95.  I even called ahead to make sure they had some, but was apparently too late when I got there.
The uni tray was fairly disappointing as the quality was comparable to the uni I’d get at our loc13248_10205415681125301_4554058544842586337_nal Korean market (for $4.99).  It’s probably a good spot for locals to pick up seafood, but not exactly the game changer I was looking for.  Oh yeah, and the “workers” won’t shuck anything if they don’t feel like it.

117 Harbor Way
Santa Barbara, CA 93109
(805) 965-9564

2 stars

Underbelly (San Diego, CA)

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Underbelly ramen

While in desperate search for ramen in San Diego, I discovered this place via Yelp.
The decor and interior is nothing like any ramen place I’ve been to before.  Its very open, modern, and stylish.  I ordered the Underbelly ramen which came with egg, chasu, bacon, and sausage?

While the noodles were a bit overcooked for my taste, the broth was legit.  A bit salty, but legit.
The meat is where I got confused.  Bacon? and Sausage?  In my opinion, it doesn’t mix well with the broth and ramen.  The sausage literally tasted like a hot dog, out of the 3 people in my group that got the Underbelly ramen, none of us actually finished or enjoyed the sausage/bacon.
Since Yamadaya and Santouka are in San Diego as well, I’d recommend people visit those locations for a more legit ramen experience.

750 W Fir St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 269-4626

3-star

LBC Seafood (Long Beach, CA)

30utzl5Tired of overpaying for seafood that’s supposed to be fresh?  LBC seafood is for the pseudo chef that wants to recreate the “Boiling Crab” experience at home.  I picked up this monster 15lbs spider crab for $30.
They have shellfish here you can’t find in many other spots.  Everything from live crab (rock, dungeoness, spider), crayfish, lobsters (spiny and Atlantic), clams, mussels, fish, shrimp, and other unique treats. They even steam/fry your food on request.  The quality is a notch above the competition, it’s clean, fairly priced, and doesn’t smell like fishass.  Location is somewhat shady, but they have their own parking lot in the back.o

I’ve picked up live dungeoness crabs, rock/stone crabs, large raw head-on shrimp, and mussels.  Everything was clean, fresh, and delicious.  Customer service is on point too, they’ll answer any questions you may have and point you where you need to go.

1436 Cherry Ave
Long Beach, CA 90813
(562) 439-0500

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EMC Seafood & Raw bar (Koreatown, Los Angeles, CA)

11755680_10206511441118616_2155209651326565950_nOh, Koreatown how I love your late night foodie spots.  EMC is located in the middle of Ktown inside a mini mall, which means easy parking. Awesome sauce!  Inside, it’s loud, crowded, and usually has a wait.  No reservations accepted.

Now on to the food: It’s alright.  For $95, you get the colossal EMC tower.  Our server told us it would be more than enough for 2 people.  After clearing the tower, I’d say it’s more for 1.5 people.  It came with 6 oysters (chefs choice), 6 mussels, 6 clams, 5 shrimp, 2 lobsters, and some uni.   Sounds like a lot of food, but I’d say 70% of it is shell.

The lobsters were steamed, cut in half, then served chilled on ice.  For me, this method takes out a lot of flavor.  The lobster meat was cold and flavorless.  Had to butter that shit up to even swallow the bug meat.  The rest of the tower was pretty good but I have a hard time justifying $100 and still bei5nkhteng hungry.

Overall, the happy hour (4pm – 7pm  or 10pm – close) they have is legit.  $1 oysters, cheap beer, and some other fried crap to fill the belly.  However, the EMC tower was a tad disappointing and the wait time wasn’t worth it.  Cool atmosphere and location though.

3500 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020
(213) 351-9988

3-star