THIS SEMI-HIDDEN JAPANESE RESTAURANT IN TORRANCE HAS THE FEEL OF A TOKYO STREET FOOD ALLEYWAY

One of the best ways to eat in Tokyo is by wandering through the tightly packed street stalls of yokocho, alleyways lined with shops, restaurants, and bars that opened in the post-war era as affordable havens for locals. A new restaurant tucked into a suburban “alley” of sorts at a huge Torrance strip mall called Torrance Yokocho. Opened on April 19, this multi-faceted restaurant attempts to capture the yokocho experience with semi-private stalls and a huge array of reasonably priced dishes from early evening to late night. Inside, colorful banners, hanging lanterns, curtains, vintage posters, and Japanese signs are displayed at every angle, adding to an authentic yokocho feel.

Given the limitations of operating a concept like this in LA, owner Masato Sato decided to split the space into one large cooking area and the other into a dozen or so wooden stalls where customers can order ramen, grilled yakitori, oden, sushi, karaage, beer, and sake through a QR code. Servers then deliver food right to the table from the nine different “stalls” as soon as they’re finished. Sato says he was inspired by the yokocho in Shibuya, Daimon, Bunka, and Aoba, among others in the Japanese megacity. And prices are as reasonable as one would expect in Tokyo.

The torishin (chicken skewer) menu offers grilled chicken thighs, skin, gizzards, meatballs, and vegetables for around $3 to $4 a stick. The more general izakaya menu has grilled skirt steak ($15), grilled pork with kimchi ($12), beef tendon with ponzu sauce ($8), and squid with natto ($7.50). A sushi section prepares assorted sashimi, a mini bara chirashi bowl ($15), cut maki rolls, and assorted nigiri. Tempura options include king crab, shrimp, and shiitake mushrooms. Karaage includes chicken thighs, gizzards, and even deep-fried pork shoulder.

Friday and Saturday nights introduce a special oden section of boiled fish cakes, eggs, and daikon radish pieces. The ramen section uses a chicken broth with miso, spicy miso, soy, and salt (shio) options. A few dessert picks like mochi malls, matcha ice cream, and coffee jello round out the sweet dishes. To drink, there are Sapporo pitchers on draft, plus Orion, Kirin, and Asahi by the bottle; plenty of shochu by the bottle; some fruity cocktails, umeshu, and craft sake by the bottle.

While going so broad with this many Japanese street dishes means that Torrance Yokocho doesn’t quite have the chance to specialize, the sheer variety and distinct ambience, plus its location on the edge of Rolling Hills and Palos Verdes, should give South Bay denizens a solid new destination for izakaya fare.

Torrance Yokocho is located at 2589 Pacific Coast Hwy, Torrance, CA 90505 and is open from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. Monday to Saturday (with 11:30 p.m. last call). Closed Sundays.

2024-06-17T20:17:19Z dg43tfdfdgfd