The pleasures of a late-night taco are a defining L.A. experience, a few bites of food constructed seemingly to sate whatever urge drove you to some no-name truck in the first place. But if I could replace even a handful of the city’s countless taco trucks with carts or stalls or itinerate vehicles of some kind cooking up Japanese okonomiyaki, I wouldn’t hesitate. Thankfully, there’s Doya Doya in Torrance, which caught my eye for the L.A. Times last month.
Little needs to be said of Mitsuwa’s Gourmet Food Fair other than that chefs and specialists are being flown in from Japan to the Torrance and Costa Mesa stores for a four-day celebration of ramen, takoyaki and, um, apple pie.
But Memorial Day weekend is big enough for two feasts, so Long Beach eaters listen up: Sunday is the annual Holland Festival at Police Officers Association Park behind Long Beach Towne Center. There’s Heineken and herring, but more importantly is that the Holland Festival is a second home to vendors from Duarte’s Pondok Kaki Lima. All the jackfruit curries, pork sate and durian drinks you’ve come to love will pack up and head south for the day. There’s no reason you shouldn’t do the same. Find the flyer below.
A new wave of ramen for the LA Times:
PHOTO by LAWRENCE K. HO / LA TIMES
Ramen California’s soups are startling, peculiar creations crowded with a garden’s worth of unconventional ingredients. Bobbing in a bowl might be florets of purple cauliflower, earthy chunks of celery root or broth-staining bits of beet. The restaurant’s produce-packed style marks a new direction for the noodle soup — one guided by ramen prodigy Shigetoshi Nakamura.
Excellent yakitori and Kyoto-style oden for the LA Times:
PHOTO by STEFANO PALTERA / LA TIMES
There’s a distinct division in Torihei’s kitchen. At one end, a huge pot of dashi broth sits just below a boil as it seethes a continuous cloud of steam. Opposite the pot, skewers cook with a low, gratifying hiss on a crackling charcoal grill. The kitchen partitions its duties, but not its vision — Torihei is the collaborative effort of chefs Masataka Hirai and Masakazu Sasaki.
The pair, each tasked with working half the restaurant’s double-edged menu, has created an inseparable combination of yakitori and simple, soupy oden. The Torrance restaurant’s edible union can be traced all the way back to Japan, where Hirai’s family operates like-minded restaurants in Tokyo and Yokohama.
Kagura’s delicate dining for the District:
PHOTO by ROSHEILA ROBLES
Kagura is cleaved into what seems like two separate restaurants. At first sight is a sparse space: a modern backlit bar designed around clean lines that practice the best kind of architectural parallelism. Around the corner is something entirely different: a dim corridor where booths are enclosed by walls of semiprivate wooden slats constructed with classical Japanese elegance. The styles are disparate, but they’re connected by Kagura’s cooking, which is defined by small plates that are slightly more upscale than the usual izakaya essentials.
Carved out of a Torrance corner, Kagura is in good culinary company. Surrounded by places like Musha (the godfather of the Southern California izakaya) and Shin Okinawa (a pub-like showcase of Japan’s tropical cuisine), Kagura sits at the heart of what is, by most accounts, LA’s Japanese epicenter. But it can be difficult to forge an identity under such crowded conditions, and so the restaurant distinguishes itself with a little bit of luxury—Kagura is what’s known as a kappo-ya or koryouri-ya, a comfortable neighborhood spot that pairs its refined, contemporary dishes with an ample list of alcohol.
The foreign flavors of Okinawa:
PHOTO by ROSHEILA ROBLES
There’s a pair of shisa watching over Shin Okinawa Izakaya. Perched above the door, the statues’ leonine manes are swirled together in artful curls, their dog-like frames positioned against any ill-willed eaters. Inside, those wards seem to be working, as the restaurant itself is in good spirits, full of diners happily downing plate after plate of the occasionally unknown tastes of Okinawa’s tropical shores.