Tomo Ueno is the one-man band of the L.A. food world. Izakaya Bincho’s chef has been known to field phone calls and fry chicken wings while monitoring skewers on the namesake bincho grill, which burns clean white charcoal. The master checks by feel to see if his skewers are done cooking. He even makes sure to trim overly charred bits with scissors. He trained at a yakitori bar in Japan’s Saitama Prefecture before relocating to Redondo Beach to open tiny Izakaya Bincho in 2008 with wife Megumi, who runs the front of the house.
Izakaya Bincho resides between the legendary craft beer bar, Naja’s Place, and the Redondo Pier. Don’t expect to find a sign outside this tiny shoebox, but the swirl of bincho smoke is a giveaway at this restaurant, which touts a brown wood counter and five tables. Sit at a prized stool to overlook the kitchen’s controlled chaos.
Fried tofu squares are creamy inside, with puffy skins, served in a savory dashi, soy and bonito broth accentuated with seaweed sheets, scallions, and mashed daikon.
Crunchy cartilage touts a light batter and pops thanks to a squeeze of lemon.
Fried chicken wings sport thin, crisp coats and a savory sauce of teriyaki and gochujang.
Izakaya Bincho sells yakitori by the stick, which come with salt or sauce (homemade teriyaki). Gizzard is crunchy and well seasoned.
Heart, brushed with sauce, arrives juicy and savory.
Leg w/Green Onion and salt arrives with crispy, well seasoned skin.
Liver (Salt) is a juicy option that doesn’t bring too much funk.
Eggplant are small, scored and cooked directly on the bincho coals, creating smoky flavor. Ueno dresses the veg with dancing bonito, cool soy sauce and mashed ginger.
Crunchy lotus root slices serve as vessels for juicy chicken meatballs, which broil in the salamander and appear alongside scallions and sinus clearing mustard.