The Skinny: Yesterday for my older brother’s birthday, we went to The New York Deli in Torrance that has been around since 1985. It’s pretty much the only Jewish style Deli in the South Bay that I know of and they are known for classics like Matzo Ball Soup, Kosher style meats, Chopped Liver, and hot and cold cured cut sandwiches. The restaurant itself has the eclectic vibe of that “Harry Met Sally” movie and the walls are covered with black and white photos of legendary actors from the past 70 years. Pictures of the sandwiches on the menus are reminiscent of the stuff Dagwood would make in his comic strips. It would be my first time here.
I ordered the Hot Beef Tongue New York High Sandwich which comes stuffed with Cole Slaw, Swiss Cheese, Russian Dressing, and your choice of bread; I got the Sourdough. On the side, I got pickles and a choice of Salad, like Macaroni and more Cole Slaw; I got the latter. My brother got the New Yorker, which comes with Hot Corned Beef, Pastrami, Swiss Cheese, Cole Slaw, and Russian Dressing stacked inside 2 pieces of grilled bread. My mom got a large Matzo Ball Soup and we all shared some French Fries and Red Wine.
The Good: The Hot Beef Tongue in my sandwich was super beefy and tender, maybe a little bit too tender. The Russian Dressing certainly gave the sandwich some more depth and the Cole Slaw in it helped bring all 3 components together into one delicious bit. I also liked the Macaroni Salad and even though it took me a while, the Kosher Pickle flavors grew on me. I did try the Matzo Ball Soup my mom ordered and I liked how it had real pieces of Roasted Chicken, freshly cooked Noodles and Vegetables. Not exactly sure what a Matzo Ball is suppose to taste like, but it tasted fine to me.
The Bad: My only complaint about my sandwich is that the Tongue was too tender, therefore it just felt too mushy in my mouth. Other than that, everything was okay.
Would you come back again? Yeah, sure, why not!…I would like to try their other hot sandwiches, like the Corned Beef and Pastrami.
More Info: www.thenewyorkdeli.com | Torrance: 2424 Sepulveda Blvd | Torrance, CA 90501 | 310-891-1229 | Pasadena: 25 North Raymond Ave | Old Town Pasadena, CA 91103 | 626-578-0010 | Not the cheapest sandwich in the world.
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: Ever Since I was a little kid and first moved to Torrance I’ve become increasingly attached to this Amazing Italian Deli. The delicatessen has tons of Italian meats, cheeses, pastas, sauces, etc. And they serve some of the most legit sandwiches in Southern California. Giuliano’s has it it all; whether you’re looking to get lunch or buy some ingredients for an amazing Italian home cooked dinner…
The High: Since 6 years old I’ve been obsessed with their Torpedo Sandwich. It’s an amazingly perfect balance of Italian Salamis and Meats with Cheese, Lettuce, Pepperoncinis, and Fresh Baked bread…YUMMM, The meat is cut perfect and melts in your mouth as it mixes with the cheese and Italian dressing(that you need to add) as you take each bite. It’s comfort food…it’s gourmet comfort food I guess, because this definitely ain’t some plain ‘ol Bologna sandwich. I Feel Strongly that the key to this sandwich is in the Bread….and yes the bread is amazing and can be purchased in store and even delivered if you have a business that needs amazing breads.
The Low: The Torpedo Sandwich is amazing. It’s the only thing I order here and I’ve tried other stuff there which is also really good, but there is nothing quite like a good torpedo. I’d say the worst thing about this place is that it’s in Torrance and I live in LA now….and have yet to find an Italian Deli that can match the Zen like balance of this Sandwich…So I can only satisfy this craving when I visit friends and family out there.
Would I go to again? I’ve been going here since I was 6….nuff said.
Torrance 3849 Torrance Blvd. Torrance, CA 90503 | (310) 540 – 2500
Redondo Beach 1700 N Aviation Blvd . Redondo Beach, CA 90746 | (310) 376 – 0416
Gardena 1138 W Gardena Blvd. Gardena, CA 90247 | (310) 323 – 6990
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: The Counter is a build-your-own Burger chain that has locations all over America. You can either individualize your own burger using “Market Selection” produce or simply pick something from the menu. They also have beer on tap and burger bowls, which are pretty much salads with condiments.
The High: Building your own burger is always fun, so that’s a plus. The place I went to is in Torrance and they have an outdoor seating area, which is good for nice warm California days. They also have Arrogant Bastard on tap and some tasty french fries and fried pickles.
The Low: My first visit to the Counter I picked the 1lb burger of beef topped with horseradish cheddar, jalepenos, grilled onions, mixed greens, garlic aioli, and a runny egg. You would think all that stuff would be a burst of flavor, but it wasn’t. For me, the biggest problem was that the cooks didn’t season the meat, and if they did, they didn’t season it enough. The beef was beefy, but how could it not be? It’s a pound of meat! Even still, all the extra toppings didn’t really add depth to the overall burger, they seemed to be muted. Maybe conceptually, the Counter creators thought subtle notes of flavor is best, but to me it was just bland. On top of that, the cold hamburger bun was completely demolished by the meat juices and my burger ended up being a knife and fork steak meal. Maybe it could have been the choices I made, like the patty size being too big and the toppings I picked just didn’t work well together.
So I went a second time and I had the same problems. Even though I got the 1/3lb beef patty with a chili theme, the meat was still under season and the cold wheat bun I picked wasn’t able to hold itself together. And to add insult to injury, the Parmesan fries I got that time were cold and way too salty.
Would you come back again? Only if I’m with a group of people and I get out voted on where we want to go eat. Then I’d ask the waiter to have the cooks toast the bun a little with some fat and to salt and pepper the meat well.
More Info: www.thecounterburger.com