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Inaba Japanese Restaurant
Inaba Japanese Restaurant
Ryan T./Yelp

18 Essential Japanese Restaurants to Try in the South Bay

Torrance, Gardena, and Redondo Beach are the epicenter of great Japanese cooking in LA

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Inaba Japanese Restaurant
| Ryan T./Yelp

The South Bay, a large region in LA County that includes cities like Torrance, Redondo Beach, Gardena, Manhattan Beach, and Lomita, contains some of the best Japanese restaurants in Southern California. It’s a credit to the longtime history of the Japanese-American population here, which grew in large part because of the big three automakers, Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, having their U.S. headquarters here.

Toyota and Nissan have since moved, but Honda continues to operate their national headquarters in Torrance, which means a significant Japanese-American community remains in the area. Here now, the essential Japanese restaurants in the South Bay, from ramen and sushi to izakayas and comfort food.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Umi by Hamasaku

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860 S Sepulveda Blvd #116
El Segundo, CA 90245
(310) 524-9980
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A southern offshoot of West LA’s beloved Hamasaku, the food here is more focused toward every day eating, with modestly priced sushi sets and more creative Japanese comfort fare. The lunch and happy hour menus are a fantastic draw for anyone in El Segundo looking to break away from all the chain restaurants.

Umi by Hamasaku, El Segundo
Umi by Hamasaku

2. Otafuku

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16525 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90247
(310) 532-9348

One of Gardena’s longtime izakayas, this virtually hidden restaurant is hugely popular with the after work salary employee crowd, though it’s also a fantastic place to try homestyle Japanese dishes and handmade noodles. And David Chang raves about the eel tempura here, so be sure to try that if it’s on the menu.

Otafuku
Otafuku
Stephie L./Yelp

3. Shin-Sen-Gumi Shabu-Shabu

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1695 Artesia Blvd
Gardena, CA 90248
(310) 532-0728
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Shabu-shabu literally means swish-swish in Japanese, and the hot pot here is among the best in town. Order thinly sliced beef and other meats and swish them into the gently boiling water for a few seconds before dipping in a ponzu sauce. Veggies go into the sesame sauce for a completely different flavor profile. At the end, ask for some rice to make a rice, beefy porridge to finish the meal.

Shin-Sen-Gumi Shabu-Shabu
Shin-Sen-Gumi Shabu-Shabu
Siyang G./Yelp

4. Red Rock-Torrance

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2141 W 182nd St
Torrance, CA 90504
(424) 329-3363
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Red Rock is the jazzy, fancy version of Yoshinoya, with gently roasted, extra tender slices of beef served over rice and covered with savory sesame sauce and dollop of creamy yogurt. Red Rock is a chain that originally hails from Japan and also has a location in Sawtelle for anyone closer to LA’s Westside.

Sliced roasted beef topped with yogurt sauce and raw egg yolk at Red Rock in LA. Matthew Kang

5. Asa Ramen

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18202 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90248
(310) 769-1010

This Gardena restaurant gets raucous on weekend evenings, with people coming for takoyaki, kotteri ramen, and other booze-friendly food. Prices are reasonable and the place stays open late most nights. Don’t mind the karaoke singing — it’s coming from next door.

Asa Ramen
Asa Ramen
Ken T./Yelp

6. Sanuki No Sato

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18206 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90248
(310) 324-9184
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People often think of Japanese cuisine as either ramen or sushi, but this place does something a bit different. Sure, there’s sushi. There’s noodles. There’s other simple Japanese dishes that come in bentos and lunch sets. But more than anything, Sanuki No Sato really nails the ambience as an every day but slightly fancy place for business meetings and elegant dinners without kaiseki prices.

Sanuki No Sato
Sanuki No Sato
Pamela Y./Yelp

7. Jidaiya Ramen Dining

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18537 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90248
(310) 532-0999
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A solid all-around noodle restaurant with some decent side dishes, Jidaiya prepares excellent Tokyo-style shoyu ramen that’s a bit lighter than the more common tonkotsu found at other ramen shops in town. Other dishes like the spicy miso ramen and the somewhat watery but still delicious tsukemen are worth ordering. (Pro tip: pick up beers at the nearby liquor store to enjoy at the restaurant since Jidaiya itself doesn’t serve alcohol)

Jidaiya Ramen Dining
Jidaiya Ramen Dining
Tommy Y./Yelp

8. Inaba Japanese Restaurant

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20920 Hawthorne Blvd
Torrance, CA 90503
(310) 371-6675
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Inaba is the more upscale offshoot of the Ichimiann empire, and the menu is expansive here. There’s excellent sashimi and sushi, incredible udon and soba noodles, and whole lot more. But the best draw here is the reasonably priced tempura omakase, something of a rarity in LA. Sit at the tempura counter and watch chefs expertly fry bite-sized pieces of fish, vegetables, and meat, all under what one would pay at a similar place in Kyoto.

Inaba Japanese Restaurant
Inaba Japanese Restaurant
Ryan T./Yelp

9. Sushi Chitose

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402 S Pacific Coast Hwy
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
(310) 316-6268
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The best part about the South Bay is the affordable sushi selections, and perhaps none does the bang-for-the-buck better than Chitose, which sits in a standalone building along Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach. The relaxed atmosphere is quiet and restrained with expert sushi chefs preparing omakase meals well under $100 a person.

Sushi Chitose
Sushi Chitose

10. Ichimiann

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1618 Cravens Ave
Torrance, CA 90501
(310) 328-1323
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Torrance’s humble soba and udon factory is a wonderful place for a casual lunch in Old Torrance. The zaru soba is the main draw, but a lot of the soupy cold or hot noodle bowls are excellent too. The texture of the noodles is unbeatable, with a firm bite and gentle buckwheat flavor. Remember, it’s cash only.

Ichimiann
Ichimiann
Andy C./Yelp

11. Wadatsumi Torrance

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1757 W Carson St, R&S
Torrance, CA 90501
(310) 782-7356
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While sushi might seem like the main star here, Wadatsumi feels less like a straight up omakase spot and more of an approachable kaiseki destination. Perhaps it could be appropriate to call it Kappo-style, a bit more involved than an izakaya, but not as rarefied as a kaiseki. Order things like beef, sashimi, and grilled fish along with some sake, and it’ll feel like a back alley Michelin-starred restaurant in Tokyo.

Wadatsumi Torrance
Wadatsumi Torrance
Usagi K./Yelp

12. Torihei

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1757 W Carson St
Torrance, CA 90501
(310) 781-9407
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This boisterous izakaya in the heart of Torrance serves a lot of office workers looking to escape the drudgery of cubicle life. The place packs in diners every night serving kushiyaki skewers, noodles, grilled dishes, and more in a bustling strip mall space, all at very reasonable prices.

Torihei Yakitori Robata Dining
Torihei Yakitori Robata Dining
Kevin P./Yelp

13. Kagura

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1652 Cabrillo Ave
Torrance, CA 90501
(310) 787-0227
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This upscale Japanese restaurant is another place to bring a date or have a dinner meeting in South Bay. The service and ambience are definitely nicer than the strip mall spots. On the menu, the star is the donkatsu, deep fried pork chop sliced and served as a set with vegetables, rice, and a savory sweet sesame sauce. Kagura has a location in El Segundo as well.

Kagura
Kagura
Jam Y./Yelp

14. Izakaya Hachi

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1880 W Carson St
Torrance, CA 90501
(310) 618-8357
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This bustling izakaya is about the best example of a post-drinking restaurant as there could be, just a few miles from Honda’s headquarters and filled nightly with suited office workers. The menu is pretty small, with a great selection of kushiyaki and an excellent hot pot.

Izakaya Hachi
Izakaya Hachi
Vanessa D./Yelp

15. Koshiji

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22807 Hawthorne Blvd
Torrance, CA 90505
(310) 378-3787
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Yakitori is one of the best forays into Japanese drinking food, and this tiny strip mall spot checks many of the boxes, with high quality chicken and other meats grilled over binchotan charcoal. Order up some beer, pick up a bunch of skewers, and enjoy a post-work meal the Japanese way.

Koshiji
Koshiji
Nicole D./Yelp

16. Sei-Ko-En

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1730 Sepulveda Blvd #14
Torrance, CA 90501
(310) 534-5578
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The yakinuku feel more like an everyday Japanese barbecue, with heaping piles of banchan and big plates of reasonable priced beef ready to grill on the tabletop. It’s a bit smokier in here, with a casual family vibe versus more expensive places like Tamaen.

Sei-Ko-En Restaurant
Sei-Ko-En Restaurant
Stacy D./Yelp

17. King Shabu Shabu

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3525 Pacific Coast Hwy
Torrance, CA 90505
(310) 539-5464
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On the southern edge of Torrance, King Shabu Shabu serves an especially good version of the classic Japanese hot pot, with cuts like ribeye all way the way down to ultra-expensive (and delicious) Wagyu beef. The space is more modern than the likes of Shin Sen Gumi up in Gardena, but note that the restaurant gets very busy during peak hours.

King Shabu Shabu
King Shabu Shabu
Jer D./Yelp

18. Tamaen

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1935 Pacific Coast Hwy
Lomita, CA 90717
(310) 326-0829
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Japanese barbecue, or yakiniku, is the cuisine’s take on Korean tabletop grilled meat. And while many of the elements are similar to KBBQ, yakiniku feels distinctly Japanese. That means a devotion to truly amazing meat quality, like dry-aged or even Wagyu cuts, served in a fantastic step-like cutting board on the table. Sides are great too, with kimchi and other banchan that aren’t quite as aggressive as one might find in Koreatown. Be careful here, the prices at Tamaen can get sky high.

Tamaen in Lomita
Tamaen
Matthew Kang

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1. Umi by Hamasaku

860 S Sepulveda Blvd #116, El Segundo, CA 90245
Umi by Hamasaku, El Segundo
Umi by Hamasaku

A southern offshoot of West LA’s beloved Hamasaku, the food here is more focused toward every day eating, with modestly priced sushi sets and more creative Japanese comfort fare. The lunch and happy hour menus are a fantastic draw for anyone in El Segundo looking to break away from all the chain restaurants.

860 S Sepulveda Blvd #116
El Segundo, CA 90245

2. Otafuku

16525 S Western Ave, Gardena, CA 90247
Otafuku
Otafuku
Stephie L./Yelp

One of Gardena’s longtime izakayas, this virtually hidden restaurant is hugely popular with the after work salary employee crowd, though it’s also a fantastic place to try homestyle Japanese dishes and handmade noodles. And David Chang raves about the eel tempura here, so be sure to try that if it’s on the menu.

16525 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90247

3. Shin-Sen-Gumi Shabu-Shabu

1695 Artesia Blvd, Gardena, CA 90248
Shin-Sen-Gumi Shabu-Shabu
Shin-Sen-Gumi Shabu-Shabu
Siyang G./Yelp

Shabu-shabu literally means swish-swish in Japanese, and the hot pot here is among the best in town. Order thinly sliced beef and other meats and swish them into the gently boiling water for a few seconds before dipping in a ponzu sauce. Veggies go into the sesame sauce for a completely different flavor profile. At the end, ask for some rice to make a rice, beefy porridge to finish the meal.

1695 Artesia Blvd
Gardena, CA 90248

4. Red Rock-Torrance

2141 W 182nd St, Torrance, CA 90504
Sliced roasted beef topped with yogurt sauce and raw egg yolk at Red Rock in LA. Matthew Kang

Red Rock is the jazzy, fancy version of Yoshinoya, with gently roasted, extra tender slices of beef served over rice and covered with savory sesame sauce and dollop of creamy yogurt. Red Rock is a chain that originally hails from Japan and also has a location in Sawtelle for anyone closer to LA’s Westside.

2141 W 182nd St
Torrance, CA 90504

5. Asa Ramen

18202 S Western Ave, Gardena, CA 90248
Asa Ramen
Asa Ramen
Ken T./Yelp

This Gardena restaurant gets raucous on weekend evenings, with people coming for takoyaki, kotteri ramen, and other booze-friendly food. Prices are reasonable and the place stays open late most nights. Don’t mind the karaoke singing — it’s coming from next door.

18202 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90248

6. Sanuki No Sato

18206 S Western Ave, Gardena, CA 90248
Sanuki No Sato
Sanuki No Sato
Pamela Y./Yelp

People often think of Japanese cuisine as either ramen or sushi, but this place does something a bit different. Sure, there’s sushi. There’s noodles. There’s other simple Japanese dishes that come in bentos and lunch sets. But more than anything, Sanuki No Sato really nails the ambience as an every day but slightly fancy place for business meetings and elegant dinners without kaiseki prices.

18206 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90248

7. Jidaiya Ramen Dining

18537 S Western Ave, Gardena, CA 90248
Jidaiya Ramen Dining
Jidaiya Ramen Dining
Tommy Y./Yelp

A solid all-around noodle restaurant with some decent side dishes, Jidaiya prepares excellent Tokyo-style shoyu ramen that’s a bit lighter than the more common tonkotsu found at other ramen shops in town. Other dishes like the spicy miso ramen and the somewhat watery but still delicious tsukemen are worth ordering. (Pro tip: pick up beers at the nearby liquor store to enjoy at the restaurant since Jidaiya itself doesn’t serve alcohol)

18537 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90248

8. Inaba Japanese Restaurant

20920 Hawthorne Blvd, Torrance, CA 90503
Inaba Japanese Restaurant
Inaba Japanese Restaurant
Ryan T./Yelp

Inaba is the more upscale offshoot of the Ichimiann empire, and the menu is expansive here. There’s excellent sashimi and sushi, incredible udon and soba noodles, and whole lot more. But the best draw here is the reasonably priced tempura omakase, something of a rarity in LA. Sit at the tempura counter and watch chefs expertly fry bite-sized pieces of fish, vegetables, and meat, all under what one would pay at a similar place in Kyoto.

20920 Hawthorne Blvd
Torrance, CA 90503

9. Sushi Chitose

402 S Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Sushi Chitose
Sushi Chitose

The best part about the South Bay is the affordable sushi selections, and perhaps none does the bang-for-the-buck better than Chitose, which sits in a standalone building along Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach. The relaxed atmosphere is quiet and restrained with expert sushi chefs preparing omakase meals well under $100 a person.

402 S Pacific Coast Hwy
Redondo Beach, CA 90277

10. Ichimiann

1618 Cravens Ave, Torrance, CA 90501
Ichimiann
Ichimiann
Andy C./Yelp

Torrance’s humble soba and udon factory is a wonderful place for a casual lunch in Old Torrance. The zaru soba is the main draw, but a lot of the soupy cold or hot noodle bowls are excellent too. The texture of the noodles is unbeatable, with a firm bite and gentle buckwheat flavor. Remember, it’s cash only.

1618 Cravens Ave
Torrance, CA 90501

11. Wadatsumi Torrance

1757 W Carson St, R&S, Torrance, CA 90501
Wadatsumi Torrance
Wadatsumi Torrance
Usagi K./Yelp

While sushi might seem like the main star here, Wadatsumi feels less like a straight up omakase spot and more of an approachable kaiseki destination. Perhaps it could be appropriate to call it Kappo-style, a bit more involved than an izakaya, but not as rarefied as a kaiseki. Order things like beef, sashimi, and grilled fish along with some sake, and it’ll feel like a back alley Michelin-starred restaurant in Tokyo.

1757 W Carson St, R&S
Torrance, CA 90501

12. Torihei

1757 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501
Torihei Yakitori Robata Dining
Torihei Yakitori Robata Dining
Kevin P./Yelp

This boisterous izakaya in the heart of Torrance serves a lot of office workers looking to escape the drudgery of cubicle life. The place packs in diners every night serving kushiyaki skewers, noodles, grilled dishes, and more in a bustling strip mall space, all at very reasonable prices.

1757 W Carson St
Torrance, CA 90501

13. Kagura

1652 Cabrillo Ave, Torrance, CA 90501
Kagura
Kagura
Jam Y./Yelp

This upscale Japanese restaurant is another place to bring a date or have a dinner meeting in South Bay. The service and ambience are definitely nicer than the strip mall spots. On the menu, the star is the donkatsu, deep fried pork chop sliced and served as a set with vegetables, rice, and a savory sweet sesame sauce. Kagura has a location in El Segundo as well.

1652 Cabrillo Ave
Torrance, CA 90501

14. Izakaya Hachi

1880 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501
Izakaya Hachi
Izakaya Hachi
Vanessa D./Yelp

This bustling izakaya is about the best example of a post-drinking restaurant as there could be, just a few miles from Honda’s headquarters and filled nightly with suited office workers. The menu is pretty small, with a great selection of kushiyaki and an excellent hot pot.

1880 W Carson St
Torrance, CA 90501

15. Koshiji

22807 Hawthorne Blvd, Torrance, CA 90505
Koshiji
Koshiji
Nicole D./Yelp

Yakitori is one of the best forays into Japanese drinking food, and this tiny strip mall spot checks many of the boxes, with high quality chicken and other meats grilled over binchotan charcoal. Order up some beer, pick up a bunch of skewers, and enjoy a post-work meal the Japanese way.

22807 Hawthorne Blvd
Torrance, CA 90505

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16. Sei-Ko-En

1730 Sepulveda Blvd #14, Torrance, CA 90501
Sei-Ko-En Restaurant
Sei-Ko-En Restaurant
Stacy D./Yelp

The yakinuku feel more like an everyday Japanese barbecue, with heaping piles of banchan and big plates of reasonable priced beef ready to grill on the tabletop. It’s a bit smokier in here, with a casual family vibe versus more expensive places like Tamaen.

1730 Sepulveda Blvd #14
Torrance, CA 90501

17. King Shabu Shabu

3525 Pacific Coast Hwy, Torrance, CA 90505
King Shabu Shabu
King Shabu Shabu
Jer D./Yelp

On the southern edge of Torrance, King Shabu Shabu serves an especially good version of the classic Japanese hot pot, with cuts like ribeye all way the way down to ultra-expensive (and delicious) Wagyu beef. The space is more modern than the likes of Shin Sen Gumi up in Gardena, but note that the restaurant gets very busy during peak hours.

3525 Pacific Coast Hwy
Torrance, CA 90505

18. Tamaen

1935 Pacific Coast Hwy, Lomita, CA 90717
Tamaen in Lomita
Tamaen
Matthew Kang

Japanese barbecue, or yakiniku, is the cuisine’s take on Korean tabletop grilled meat. And while many of the elements are similar to KBBQ, yakiniku feels distinctly Japanese. That means a devotion to truly amazing meat quality, like dry-aged or even Wagyu cuts, served in a fantastic step-like cutting board on the table. Sides are great too, with kimchi and other banchan that aren’t quite as aggressive as one might find in Koreatown. Be careful here, the prices at Tamaen can get sky high.

1935 Pacific Coast Hwy
Lomita, CA 90717

Related Maps