Where To Eat and Drink Well in Torrance

City Los Angeles County

Torrance has become known for many things since 1921, including food.

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Even though Little Tokyo and Japantown have come on strong with a rush of recent openings, more good Japanese meals are still available in L.A.’s South Bay. Thanks to an early boost from Japanese car companies like Nissan (now in Tennessee) and Toyota (now in Texas) that set up North American headquarters in the area, Torrance saw the rise of restaurants that met the needs of autoworkers who were homesick for sushi, yakitori, ramen and more. Now you can also find good food from other cuisines in Torrance, a city named for Jared Sidney Torrance. The real estate magnate led investment in 3,500 acres in 1912, which residents voted to incorporate in 1921. Torrance now houses nearly 150,000 people, making it L.A. County’s eighth largest city. In the past century, a culinary and craft beer scene has emerged that would also exceed the namesake founder’s wildest imagination. Learn about 27 of my favorite food options in Torrance.

MUST ORDER DISHES:

22. Santouka Ramen

Ramen Torrance

Getting a shio ramen and ikura rice bowl combo is a strong play at Santouka.

Mitsuwa supermarket food courts across Southern California house Santouka, a reliable Japanese import that specializes in ramen. The Santouka booth in Torrance is fairly low-key. Order at the counter and wait for your number to be called before grabbing your food. Cross your fingers when finding a seat. Yes, Santouka sells different styles of ramen, though I’d recommend salt ramen most. Creamy tonkotsu broth supports fatty strips of roasted pork, green onions, floppy wood ear mushrooms, marinated bamboo shoots, fish cakes sporting mesmerizing pink spirals, tart sour plum and sesame seeds. If you’re hungry, form a Combo with Santouka’s sake ikura rice bowl, which contains juicy shredded salmon, salmon roe, and radish sprouts.

MUST ORDER DISHES: Salt Ramen, Sake Ikura Rice Bowl

23. Sei-Ko-En

Japanese Food Los Angeles

Rosy pork sears on metal grates atop Sei-Ko-En’s tabletop grills.

Tokyo native Byung Ja Yang has been running this grill for over three decades in a Torrance strip mall. The space houses blue booths, tabletop grills with stainless steel hoods, and walls that are an interesting mix of worn pink, wood panel and warped plastic tile. The menu promises many meat, seafood, and vegetable options, depending on which direction you’d like to take your stomach. Minced Raw Beef involves tartare mixed with sesame oil, soy, sugar, julienne Asian pear and more. Really, though, Sei-Ko-En is focused on grilling. Highlights include well-marbled prime rib, lightly salted ox tongue, pork with green onion, and tender marinated squid. Each table hosts dishes of lemon juice and soy-based “secret sauce” in case you care to dress your meat.

MUST ORDER DISHES: Minced Raw Beef, Ox Tongue, Pork, Prime Rib, Squid

24. Smog City Brewing Co.

Craft Beer Torrance

Creativity flows from Smog City taps, possibly Tuna Thai Thai, a Belgian blonde brewed with prickly pear and Thai basil.

Jonathan Porter and wife/partner Laurie started brewing Smog city beer using Tustin Brewing Co. tanks in 2011 and debuted their first solo venture in 2013. They’ve since added tasting rooms in western Torrance, Long Beach and Glendora, but their base of operations in Torrance’s Avoian Business Center remains the place to get wild. Smog City’s original location now hosts a light-strung biergarten with beer barrel planters, picnic tables and red umbrellas. Fun ‘80s songs, including Ratt’s “Round and Round” and Billy Squier’s “My Kinda Lover,” keep the vibe loose. So do arcade games like Ms. Pac Man, Mortal Kombat II and The Simpsons overlooking the brewhouse. During my latest visit, Smog City had 22 beers on tap and 2 can pours. Highlights included white peach saison and Tuna Thai Thai, a pink, tart, and herbaceous Belgian blonde brewed with prickly pear and Thai basil. They pulled LocoCoco from “Porter’s Cabinet of Curiosities.” This foudre saison with tropical notes featured Meyer lemon and coconut.

MUST ORDER BEERS: LocoCoco, Tuna Thai Thai, White Peach Saison

25. Strand Brewing Co.

Craft Beer Torrance

Strand Brewing allows guests to enjoy reliable craft beer in a sprawling, colorful biergarten.

Joel Elliott and Rich Marcello debuted in 2010 in a tiny industrial park location, enjoyed a smooth transition to a much larger Torrance brewhouse in 2015, and have really done a nice job of building out their beer tasting experience. They now have a huge umbrella shaded, light-strung biergarten with red, orange, and blue picnic tables. Indoors, picnic tables provide views of the colorful cartoon murals and brewhouse. They had 15 house beers on tap during my latest visit, and I tried half the menu. I particularly enjoyed beautifully balanced seasonal Summer Wheatley; Hibis Kiss, a slightly tart, low ABV blonde with hibiscus; Big Chkn Little, a hazy juicy IPA brewed with Nelson Sauvin hops, giving it Chardonnay notes; and Heartbreak, a tropical hazy IPA.

MUST ORDER BEERS: Big Chkn Little, Heartbreak, Hibis Kiss, Summer Wheatley

26. Tendon Tempura Carlos Junior

Japanese Food Torrance

Tendon Tempura Carlos Junior’s premium tempura bowl combines assorted seafood with shishito, egg, and rice.

Longtime Japan resident Carlos A. Pinto refined his tempura skills with Hannosuke before opening Tendon Tempura Carlos Junior in Old Town Torrance in 2019. His restaurant houses an L-shaped sake, shochu and beer bar up front and a dining room with paper lanterns past branded drapes depicting Carlos Junior’s face. Sadly, they didn’t have King crab in-stock, so I missed out on their top specialty, but was still thrilled with my Premium Tempura Bowl co-starring Conger eel, shrimp, kakiage (mixed seafood tempura), seaweed, shishito pepper, and half-boiled egg, all fried in sesame oil and sporting light, lacy batter. This haul arrived atop steamed white rice with tare/tsuyu sauce, served with a miso soup sidecar. For best results adhere to the “Steps to Eat Deliciously,” a graphic novel style menu starring Carlos.

MUST ORDER DISHES: Premium Tempura Bowl

27. Torihei

Japanese Food Torrance

“Torihei” Meat Ball may be the biggest hit, featuring loosely packed, well seasoned dark meat that oozes chicken juices.

This strip mall restaurant from Masataka Hirai and Masakuzu Sasaki specializes in yakitori and Kyoto-style “oden” stew. Sasaki handles oden, and Hirai handles skewers. Torihei features raked red walls, high ceilings, a counter overlooking cooking action, less exciting tables, and a menu touting dozens of dishes. If you’re sticking with skewers, Chicken Liver is supple, iron-rich and lacquered with sauce. Juicy “fatty pork” sports a winning sear and comes with scallion-sprinkled daikon mash. For adventurous eaters, Torihei also skewers gizzard, heart, limited “special heart,” cartilage and chicken tail. Non-grilled highlights include golf ball-sized chunks of Fried “Jidori” Chicken sheathed in crispy, well-seasoned batter. Kyoto Style “Oden” Stew with Half raw egg w/cod roe is stupendous, featuring a comforting broth that gained complexity with the addition of runny yolk and bursting roe. Oden with Whole Tomato is nearly as satisfying thanks to a buttery potato broth and a juicy tomato that oozes acidic juices. Seasoned Omelet w/Grounded chicken is pure comfort, with juicy cross-sections of nearly-ideal omelet studded with ground chicken.

MUST ORDER DISHES: Fried “Jidori” Chicken, Half Raw Egg w/Cod Roe, Liver, Seasoned Omelet w/Ground Chicken, Special Beef Skewer, “Torihei” Meat Ball, Whole Tomato

28. Umenoya Ramen Co.

Ramen Torrance

Flavor builds with every bite of Umenoya’s spicy miso ramen.

This restaurant predates the bulk of L.A.’s ramen boom, opening in 2005 in a Torrance strip mall. The glass-fronted space features a wood counter, four tables, and a brick-lined south wall. Umenoya’s best bet is their spicy miso ramen, which features a murky orange broth loaded with thin-cut chashu, flavored half-boiled egg, green onion, crunchy cabbage, bean sprouts, minced leeks, shredded pork, and chile threads.

MUST ORDER DISHES: Spicy Miso Ramen

Thank you Discover Torrance for helping to support this guide.

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Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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