Yuzu: Daring Design and Deep Menu at Torrance Izakaya [CLOSED]

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Restaurant Sign Los Angeles

Yuzu has become a Japanese food destination in Torrance's Plaza Del Prado.

It had been over a year since I checked in on Yuzu, one of L.A. County’s premier Japanese pubs, and the only one I know of named for a Japanese citrus fruit. On my first visit, I was blindsided by Yuzu’s daring design and equally thrilling food. Unfortunately, there were just two of us, so we barely dented the menu. This time, I brought reinforcements: the other three co-founders of my eating club – EATZ, plus special guest John. With five people, we put up more of a fight.

Japanese Restaurant Los Angeles

At every turn, Yuzu features an interesting design element. A triptych of bamboo panels. A sprawling potted tree. Slats of black wood. And above our table: a massive grid of shimmering red tiles.

Always ambitious, EATZ co-founder Adam asked our waiter about omakase – chef’s choice. Omakase requires advance notice, so it wasn’t an option. Had we called ahead, omakase starts at $50 per person, and goes up to “one hundred, two hundred, one thousand…” It’s interesting to think what we could have eaten for $1000, but $40 per head at Yuzu still commands top-quality Japanese food, so we had no regrets.

Chef Kaz Akutsu imports daily specials from Japan, further heightening Yuzu’s stature. This evening, the list featured grilled stingfish and convict rockfish sashimi. No, the fish didn’t commit an undersea felony; it’s named for its black and white stripes, which are reminiscent of stereotypical prison garb.

Japanese Food Los Angeles

Grilled Iidako ($10) involved tender webfoot octopus simply served with sea salt and lemon.

Japanese Food Los Angeles

Imoten ($4.80) featured tempura slabs of delicate kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) and sweet potato. The plate held two piles of dipping salt: green tea and curry spices.

Japanese Food Los Angeles

Cubes of honey-marinated Berkshire pork loin ($9.80) were beyond tender, grilled and seasoned with sea salt, then served with whole-grain mustard sauce.

Japanese Food Los Angeles

Daily Special K ($16) was Gindara – a succulent fillet of grilled black cod served with a tangy grated daikon mountain.

Japanese Food Los Angeles

Menchi Katsu ($7.80) – two juicy minced and fried Kobe beef patties – came with tonkatsu sauce.

Japanese Food Los Angeles

Rebaa and Sunagimo ($6.80) – two skewers each of grilled chicken liver and chicken gizzard – came sprinkled with sea salt. The chunks had a nice flavor, but the gizzards’ alternately rubbery and gritty texture was unappetizing. Then again, I don’t know why I expected much enjoyment from eating the chamber of a chicken’s stomach.

Japanese Food Los Angeles

Yuzukiri soba ($8.50) featured a bamboo mat of cool buckwheat noodles made with yuzu rind. They were served with a tiny bowl of soy sauce. After adding scallions and wasabi, the soy sauce is used to dip the noodles.

Japanese Food Los Angeles

Aigamo-Negi ($10.80) – slices of cross-bred wild and domestic duck – were charcoal-grilled on an aburiyaki and served with a pile of thin-sliced negi (green onion).

Japanese Food Los Angeles

Nama Tsukune ($6.80) – two bulbous grilled ground chicken skewers – paired with sweet yakitori sauce and one egg yolk that we used for dipping.

Japanese Food Los Angeles

Rosy-centered lamb slices ($9.80) grilled on the aburiyaki and arrived with sea salt and real wasabi. Real wasabi is much more complex than the ubiquitous imitation. The fake may look authentic, but it’s a blend of horseradish, mustard and green food coloring.

Japanese Food Los Angeles

Beef Tobanyaki ($12) was a sizzling stone pot of beef ribeye, mushrooms and onions, served with ponzu sauce and more grated daikon.

Japanese Food Los Angeles

Fried eggplant ($6.50) was the night’s only clunker, cool strips of Japanese eggplant submerged in a dashi broth, topped with a bland and goopy puree of grated white yam.

Japanese Dessert Los Angeles

Yuzu’s desserts were all palate cleansers, but were still surprisingly tasty and inventive. Kurogoma ice cream ($3.50) featured two scoops of black sesame ice cream, lashed with black sesame syrup, which hardened from the cold, forming a delicious shell. Green tea ice cream ($3) featured another two scoops of ice cream, which tasted authentically of green tea. The Kurogoma was excellent, but no better than the house-made yuzu sorbet ($5) delicious citrus-soaked ice crystals, served in a martini glass.

With the check, we each received a soothing cup of hot green tea.

After Round Two at Yuzu, I was even more impressed than the first time. The menu’s deep, the design is daring, the ingredients are high quality, and the prices are reasonable. No chance I wait another year for Round Three.


Joshua Lurie

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

Blog Comments

nice ariticle. However, I don’t like this restaurant. When we were visiting this place, the owner and his wife, plus waitress were fighting over the counter. they didn’t care about we were there, if they wanted to talk about something or fighting, they sould go outside and they shound have said sorry to each customers. awful restaurant. we left as we didn’t eat anything at all. couldn’t taste anything.
they looked good, but no respect for customers, no class, no discipline.

we went there to enjoy food and conversation with compnay.
you should have researched them well, and published this article.

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