Gaja is a Okonomiyaki restaurant that allows you to grill up Japanese style savory pancakes for Lunch or Dinner. It’s located in the City of Lomita and sits in a tiny plaza next to two popular Udon Noodle shops. Along with the Okonomiyaki and the vast variety of toppings, like Cheese, Seafood, and mystery Meats, you can also get Italian style Pastas, Soupy Noodles, and Beer. A good time to go to Gaja is during lunch because they have specials where you get 3 personal size Okonomiyaki with 1 topping each, a side salad, and a drink for just about 15 bucks.
Ryo is a Izakaya not too far from Gaja and serves Japanese style Tapas, Sushi items, Ramen, and Yakitori. It’s located in the Rolling Hills Shopping Plaza in Torrance and sits right in front of an AMC Movie Theater. The interior has trendy old style wooden furniture and uses empty alcohole bottles as decorations.
Gaja was an interesting experience and cooking your own savory pancakes with a few friends is always fun. We ordered their “Sparking Beer” which either has Blueberries or slices of Grapefruits. Both were good and refreshing. Since I was in a party of 3, two of us ordered the lunch special to share and topped them with Cheese, Mushrooms, Scallions, Octopus, Teriyaki Chicken, and Shrimp. I ordered some Takoyaki with a Spicy Sauce. Of the 6 toppings that were ordered and shared, the Cheese was the best one, that is after we finally mastered the grill and made some decent well-done pancakes. The way the Cheese crisped up on top of the stove was pretty awesome. It was also fun seeing all the shaved Bonito flakes come alive as you place them on top of each cooked Pancakes. The Takoyaki balls were decent and the spicy sauce needed more spice.
After Gaja, I went to Ryo Izakaya with a party of 4. We shared Ramen with Pork, Yakitori items, a whole grilled Quail, Takoyaki, fried Squid Legs, Shrimp in Chili Sauce, Lamp Chops, Unagi, Asparagus in something-something sauce, and stewed Tendon in a spicy broth. Of all the items that stood out, the stewed Tendon was my favorite. It was gelatinous, tasty, and left a lovely sticky film on my lips. The Ramen that one of us ordered had the thick porky broth and it was as good as those specialty places that only focuses on making really good Ramen. The grilled items we ordered were the Chicken Hearts, Breast, Wings, Liver, Cartilage, a whole Quail and Lamb Chops. The Chicken Hearts were pretty beefy in flavor while the Quail and Lamb Chops were both juicy, charred, and seasoned just right.
I have no real lows about Gaja, it’s a fun place to eat at and once you master the grill, eating rare Okonomiyakis and half cooked seafood won’t be a problem. You don’t even have to cook the stuff yourself, you can ask the waiter to have the in-house cook make it for you in the back kitchen. Actually, one complaint I do have is that the Octopus came out raw and after grilling it with the pancake mix, it was super rubbery. I think they should have precooked or prepped seafood items like that before hand so it’ll be easier to cook later.
At Ryo Izakaya, the tapped Kirin Beer during happy hour seemed to be really watered down. It also came in a pitcher that has a pint size indent from the bottom for regular water to freeze up and keep the beer cold. That’s just BS. I didn’t really like the Chicken Cartliage, but only because it just isn’t for me. Other than that, no real complaints about the environment or food. The female waitresses were all friendly and the cook came out once in a while to see if the customers were cared for.
Would you come back?
Gaja: Only if I’m with a group of people. They have a menu that has as many combo items as a karaoke book has songs.
Ryo: Yes! It’s a fun place to drink and eat among friends.
The Skinny: Jang Mo Jip, which means Mother In Law House, is a small Korean restaurant in the City of Lomita that serves Kalbi Tang (short rib soup), Soon Doobu (tofu stew), Soondae (blood sausages), grilled meats and other hot pot stews. I ordered their Sul Lang Tang with beef and tripe to go.
The High: For 8 bucks you get everything you see in the pictures. That’s what great about soupy Korean food, it’s one of the easier kinds to contain and order to go.
The Low: The thing I love about Sul Lang Tang is the collagen and fat you get on your lips thanks to the long hours of ox tail bones being stewed and the marrow that gets pulled out. The Sul Lang Tang at Jang Mo Jip did have some of that effect but not even as close as Han But, my favorite Sul Lang Tang place in Koreatown. Their take on it was pretty bland, even with the use of the salt provided. I actually emptied the whole serving into half a bowl of what is seen in the soup container, but it didn’t make a difference. And even though there was no real taste to the tripe, it did have that tripey “back in mouth” action going on. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it wasn’t good either. The sliced beef that were also in it were tasteless and dry in texture despite being bathed in hot broth.
As for the Ban Chan, the Mu (Daikon Radish) Kimchi they gave needed more time pickling because it was offensively raw in pungency. The other Ban Chan selections were good though.
Would I come back again? Probably not, but if I am there again, I’ll probably try the Kalbi Tang instead.
More Info: yelp | 1824 Lomita Blvd. Lomita, CA 90717 | (310) 530-6017 | 8 bucks for Sul Lung Tang that comes with Ban Chan and rice…is a good deal!
The Skinny: On-The-Bun is a new burger hole in the City of Lomita that flaunts it’s chili toppings and fried jalapenos in a hipster-ish restaurant setting. The storefront that On-The-Bun took over used to be an old neighborhood favorite grease pit, but I only took notice of their “grand opening” since it was right next to the hockey store I was visiting and the minimalistic logo.
The High: I ordered the Chili Cheese Burger, fries, and a drink. The Beef Patty had a nice crust I never really had before on a Burger. The fries were crisp and tasty.
The Low: Not sure if it was from the cheese, chili, or a heavy hand that seasoned the meat, but the burger was way too salty. On sight alone the burger did look yummy, but when I picked up the burger, the bun started to shift and break apart from the rest of the build. The chili didn’t help the ease of eating the burger either, because after each bite into the store-like bun in a bag, the runny grease just started streaming everywhere. The burger did have a nice looking pickle, some fresh red onions, lettuce, and tomato, but they barely served as a texture component. The salt lick effect was just too distracting.
Would you come back again? No, thank you! In fact, I was so dissapointed in that $7.something burger meal, I went to Bristol Farms Market and spent 30 bucks just so I can make my own burger for dinner and my family.
More info: Yelp It. – 2387 Lomita Blvd. Lomita, CA 90717 – Expect to pay about 8 bucks for a burger, side, and drink. – Credit Card Friendly.
The Skinny: El Gallito is a taco truck that can be found almost anywhere in Los Angeles. The one I went to was on Pacific Coast Highway in Lomita and on Washington Blvd near Culver City. Taco Sinaloa #3 is a sit-down restaurant in Torrance which I found on Yelp. Reviewers recommended the Pastor, so I got that along with their Buche (pig stomache), which is my favorite meat of choice. So I got the Buche at El Gallito’s, along with their Carnitas and the little more expensive Tripas.
The High: El Gallito’s Buche and Tripas were great, both texturally and in flavor. The Tripas were chewy and the amount of Buche was plentiful. I just wish the Tripas were a bit crispy around the edges.
The Low: El Gallito’s Carnitas wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. The pork was a bit dry and lacked flavor, even with the chopped onions and red salsa I put on top. I would have used the green salsa they provided, but it was frozen….so I couldn’t.
Taco Sinaloa #3’s version of the Buche taco started off well because some of the pieces were crispy and it was packed with flavor. The second bite I took felt like I was chomping down onto a soft salt lick doohickey. I could literally feel my brain fluids be sucked out by all the sodium that was in that taco.
The Pastor that people raved about on Yelp was a complete disappointment. I ordered two of them but only managed to finish one. My biggest problem with it was that it just tasted like bland pieces of pork puffs that got re-hydrated by the amount of oil used to cook it. I was expecting chucks of pork that were sliced off a gyro looking hunk of mystery meats….but got mushy blobs instead.
Would you come back again? Yes to El Gallito and no to Taco Sinaloa #3. I just hope I went to Taco Sinaloa on a bad day because their Buche could have been my favorite
The Skinny: A burger grill shop that uses certified Angus Beef on a flat top grill. Also has alternative options to red meat, like Tuna, Veggie and Turkey patties.
The High: I had the “The Works,” which is a burger topped with Pastrami, Chili and my choice of American Cheese. Every component of the burger stood out on it’s own. The Pastrami was peppery and savory while the chili wasn’t laid on thick. There was just enough of it to compliment the beefiness of the patty. The toasted bun held everything together nicely and the veggies were fresh. I also got the Chili Cheese Fries, twice fried for that extra crispness and topped it off with yellow mustard for my own enjoyment. The Turkey Burger, aka “The Flyer,” was also tasty and satisfying.
The Low: Does not serve beer.
Would you come back again? – Yes, and I have many times. They have been consistently good. Plus, they have flat screen TVs all over the restaurant for the latest updates in sports.
More Info: 2064 Pacific Coast Highway Lomita, CA, 90710. Credit Card Friendly. No Alcohol.
Song: Hamburguesa by One-T