Shin-Sen-Gumi Yakitori (Gardena, CA)

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The first thing you will notice about Shin-Sen-Gumi is how freaking loud it is. A cacophony of loud Japanese, drunken patrons, and the slight crackle of the grill provide an atmosphere that’s uniquely it’s own. It’s almost so loud you can barely hear yourself talk. Shin-Sen-Gumi has various locations and each serve different types of Japanese food (ramen, yakitori, shabu-shabu). This particular location featured yakitori, The wait time on a Saturday at 9:00pm was around 30-40 minutes.  Parking lot is large but can filled when it’s busy.  Definitely avoid weekends or prime dining hours, as they don’t flip tables fast here.

You order your food on a piece of paper similar to a sushi bar. It comes out on tiny skewers containing 3-5 pieces of grilled protein. The flavors were excellent throughout, the grilled Kobe style beef and pork belly were the real winners. Although it was $wpid-20150828_220808_hdr.jpg10 for two tiny kobe skewers, it was well worth the delicious juiciness. Bill usually ends up around $60-$70 for two people without drinks.  It can get pretty expensive for anyone with a monster appetite.

18517 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90247
(310) 715-1588

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4stars1

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Bombay Tandoori & Banquet (Torrance, CA)

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While Bombay Tandoori might not be the best Indian food around, it’s a nice place to have a dinner date while enjoying some decent curry. When it comes to Indian food, unless in Hollywood, you’re not going to get a fancy dining experience. Here you’ll get lap napkins, LED lights, and a comfortable dining setting. Located next to a Days Inn, the parking isn’t plentiful but it’s free.

Tandoori chicken and Vindaloo chicken were ordered with a side of rice and garlwpid-20150823_191825_hdr.jpgic naan. I ordered the Vindaloo specifically because South Park had an episode called Grounded Vindaloop, where Butters thinks he’s living in a virtual reality. The sauce was decent and the chicken was good, but it just didn’t hit me in the gut like I wanted it to. The Tandoori chicken was the saving grace of the meal.  It was charred, marinated, and juicy.  They also provide lunch buffets, which is the way to go in my opinion.

4111 Pacific Coast Hwy
Torrance, CA 90505
(310) 303-3185

3-star

Chinatown Summer Nights (Los Angeles, CA)

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Chinatown Summer Nights is an event I attended years ago and would normally pass on now because of the large crowds, rip off parking, food trucks, endless lines, and white people in straw rice hats.  I figured this year would be different.  I just assumed they would have figured it out and got things more organized, but unfortunately it’s more of the same.

The food here was dogshit.  Plain and simple.  Typical over priced food trucks galore.  Shitty B/C grade restaurants with an hour long wait and it’s dirty as fuck. Initially paid $20 for parking, then when I returned to my car they dropped it
down to $5.  Sounds like a hellish time, but the atmosphere alone made up for all wpid-20150822_210835_hdr.jpgthe negatives.  The live music, neon lights, constant confetti, and free Orange chicken from Panda Express made it worth the trip.  Don’t come expecting a religious food experience, but definitely light one up and enjoy the lights and music.

943 N Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 680-0243

3-star

Gyu Kaku (Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, CA)

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Gyu Kaku has the best happy hour on the block.  This Japanese yakiniku chain is all over Los Angeles and they all provide the same quality at all the locations. Every table is provided with a grill that you will cook on yourself. The specials, however, vary from each location so make sure to check your local specials. Having a shitty Monday? Or just hate Mondays? Solution: Happy hour all day at Gyu Kaku. $2 draft Sapporo in a frosty glass mug, specials on just about everything, and legit food.

On this trip, my buddy and myself ordered the garlic fried chicken, yaki-shabu, pork belly, and pork sausage.  My favorites being the pork belly and sausage.  The pork belly is marinated perfectly and doesn’t come out as a piece of frozen meat. Legit spot for groups to drink as well, plenty of sweet fufu drinks to straight sake. Unfortunately, when it’s not happy hour, they’re just mediocre.  Expect to spend $20-30 per person.

163 N La Cienega Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(310) 659-5760

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Naja’s Place (Redondo Beach, CA)

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Love rare craft beers on tap?  Naja’s will be your heavenly beer sanctuary.  They have a massive menu, sometimes a hundred of different brews on tap available. Beer vendors will occasionally hold events that will have a line piling out the door and into the parking lot.

Naja’s is perfect for any type of sporting event as they have HDTV’s plastered wpid-img_20110809_162024.jpgall around the place.  If your a typical Bud light or Corona drinker, this might be a bit overwhelming.  There’s stouts, lagers, IPAs, porters, ambers, blondes, etc. Knowing your beer is like knowing your wine.  Some people only drink cabs, I only drink IPAs and Belgian ale.

154 International Boardwalk
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
(310) 376-9951

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Kanda Sushi (Thousand Oaks, CA)

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Kanda Sushi in Thousand Oaks provides authentic Japanese sushi but at a cost. Upon entering, you will notice the cleanliness and feng shui design.  The sushi bar seats 10-12 people, which is the preferred way to roll for any sushi pros.

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Uni ($10)

I ended up ordering the lunch special Kushiage for $11 and an order of uni for $10. The kushiage combo included miso soup, 6 piece California rolls and 2 BBQ chicken sticks. The California roll was nothing special (given) and the bbq sticks were decent but lacked flavor a regular yakitori stick would have. The uni was good, but they definitely skimped out on the urchin. After spending around $30 for lunch, I felt a little satisfied but wanted a bit more.  The quality and selection is there, but the price is about the same as high end sushi restaurants in DTLA that do everything better.

3637 E Thousand Oaks Blvd
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
(805) 230-0101

3-star

El Jacalito (Lomita, CA)

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El Jacalito is a locally owned shop that provides authentic Mexican and Oaxacan food. This small hole in the wall seats 15-20 people comfortable. Unfortunately, the parking is a mess. Nothing but limited street parking available.  Never having had Oaxacan food before, I had to give the Tlayuda Tres Carnes a shot.  It came with pork, sausage, and beef? over a bed of cabbage, string goat cheese, and beans on a crispy tortilla.

The flavors, however, were a big miss.  The meats weren’t grilled and had a very funky taste to them.  I actually enjoyed the beans, cheese, and cabbage, but everything else was forgettable.  Even the delicious looking wet burrito was disappointing.  Tons of fatty, flavorless meat with questionable vegetables tossed in. (corn, green beans, wtf?)  If anyone has a legit burrito spot to suggest, I’m all ears as this was a big time let down.

24609 Narbonne Ave
Lomita, CA 90717
(310) 325-6429

2 stars

Sakae Sushi (Gardena, CA)

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Cash only, street parking, no drinks, no dine in.  With that said, this is some of the best take out sushi you could possibly get. I look for reasons or make up excuses to go to Gardena just so I can order some of their glorious inari.  I usually get a few California rolls (made with seasoned shrimp instead of imitation crab), saba, ebi, and inari. Their attention to detail and quality is very impressive. Since it’s take out, the expectations are low but that will thought will be quickly erased after the first bite.  Easily the best California rolls and inari you could get anywhere. The rice is seasoned and cooled to perfection. It’s so good I don’t even bother with soy sauce.

Although it’s cliche as hell to say, Sakae is the definition of a hidden gem. The ordering area is about the size of a bathroom and there’s no dining area, but that doesn’t stop the brilliance behind the counter.

1601 W Redondo Beach Blvd
Gardena, CA 90247
(310) 532-4550

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Recipe: Maryland Style crab

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For two servings:

  • 2-3 lbs Blue crab or Dungeness crab (dungeness crabs will have more meat)
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Salted butter
  • Minimum 1 gallon cooking pot with lid
  • 1/2 cup vinegar & 1/2 cup water

I’ve been making this dish for years.  It always kills it at parties and people beg for the recipe.  It’s a simple, quick, and delicious dish that anyone can make.

  1. Using the cooking pot, bring a half cup of water and vinegar to a boil.
  2. Place the crabs into the pot and cover with lid.
  3. Leave on high heat for 10 minutes then turn off heat and leave covered for another 10 minutes.
  4. Remove crabs from pot.  Season the crap out of the crabs with the Old Bay.
  5. Serve with melted butter and you’re done!

Fishbar (Manhattan Beach, CA)

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Fishbar is a cozy restaurant that’s a quick stroll from the beach and offers an excellent happy hour menu.  There’s convenient meter parking and a parking lot across the street as well.  Majority of the dishes will run you from $10-$30, however, the happy hour offers a good selection of affordable dishes and drinks.

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The lobster mac and cheese ($6.99), garlic fries ($2.50), and oysters ($1.75) are happy hour gems.  On a recent trip, I got myself the grilled lobster.  Split, seasoned, and grilled to perfection.  They also offer king crab, clams, and other shellfish. It isn’t the best seafood around town, but it’s a great spot for a date or a few drinks and critters with friends.

3801 Highland Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(310) 796-0200

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