Los Angeles' New Secret Foodie Destination
In-the-know Angelenos -- like Ovitz family curator Nu Nguyen -- are heading to the South Bay for some of the best Asian food in Southern California
Los Angeles foodies have a new relatively undiscovered neighborhood on their radar: the Torrance, Lomita and Gardena triangle, quickly rising as a Southern California magnet to find incomparable soba, incredibly fresh sushi and more.
Among the fans are a slew of ad sales execs and creative types who head south on the 405 for meetings at the U.S. headquarters of Honda and Toyota. Among the automakers and their suitors, a “best of” list has been making the rounds, which includes the following five hotspots.
Be aware: Most are closed on Tuesday -- the traditional Japanese shopping day.
Ichimi Ann Bamboo Garden
(1618 Cravens Ave., Torrance)
South Bay, Tokyo-trained local Shunsuke Hosoi is dogged in his pursuit of perfect soba. In the shop at 4 a.m., prepping noodles for their daily trek to sister restaurant Inaba in Las Vegas, Hosoi uses buckwheat shipped to him directly from a Japanese secret source.
Formerly lunch only, Ichimian Bamboo Garden now is open for traditional Japanese breakfast Monday to Friday, and lunch hours have been extended from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., the later hours offering a drive-home “linner” experience. This easy-to-miss gem used to be the sole provenance of Japanese businessmen slurping noodles while reading the local auto rags and Japanese press. Now, some of the Westside’s real foodies, like Ovitz family art curator Nu Nguyen, are making the drive with no excuse other than the noodles. “Everything is so beautifully prepared with zero pretense," said Nguyen. "I fully respect the no-frills attitude and admire the dedication to craft. They are serious about buckwheat here.”
(2040 Pacific Coast Highway, Lomita)
A one-man operation, Miura delivers the best fish east of Honolulu for this dinner-only spot. Tucked back on a PCH strip mall, Chef Ryo is dedicated to food first, playful banter way second. Highlights include the oyster starter and the chef’s favorite, San Diego Uni.
Top L.A. photographer Scott Dukes, whose still work is prized by editors, automakers and their agencies from Torrance to Stuttgart, makes the trip from Pasadena to the South Bay. Dukes appreciates Chef Ryo’s simple, no-nonsense approach to the best ingredients. “Miura is a SoCal gem and well worth the dedicated road trip from Pasadena. While omakase can sometimes be a punt, trusting the chef’s instincts at Miura just makes sense. I have never been disappointed.”
Miura regular Geoff Clawson, a client partner at Facebook, says, “As I have told clients over a toast of sake recommended by the staff, Miura is a great representation of the type of partnership we at Facebook hope to build with our clients -- humble, thoughtful and tireless in the pursuit of perfection.”
(15707 S. Vermont Ave., Gardena)
If you want to go full “local style” Hawaiian, hit Gardena Bowl. This bowling alley coffee shop does it right. Favorites include bacon fried rice, loco moco, Portugese sausage and the Hawaiian Royale, a bed of white rice, topped with a scramble of eggs, chashu pork, Portuguese sausage, green onions, teriyaki sauce, with a side of shredded red ginger.
With Sawtelle’s favorite son, Sawtelle Kitchen, taking a sabbatical, Japanese-Italian lives strong in the Triangle. Be sure to check out Bloom and Spoon below:
Spoon House (1601 W. Redondo Beach Blvd., Gardena) has Japanese-Italian fusion dishes such as clam carbonera and Japanese-style cod roe with butter sauce. Bloom (24503 Narbonne Ave., Lomita) prefers the phrasing Japanese style Italian rather than fusion with an array of pastas and pizzas with Japanese ingredients.