A Taste of Kyoto

Torihei's yakitori and oden menus can't be beat

In just a few short months, under-the-radar Torihei has become known for serving some of the best and juiciest yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) in SoCal. But it's the oden, a traditionally humble Japanese stew, that has people flocking to this Torrance restaurant.

Kyoto-style oden is usually one big pot of dashi broth filled with assorted ingredients, but here each is served individually, whether it's a fluffy house-made fish cake, a juicy tomato topped with a thin layer of soy milk-infused mashed potatoes or a slice of tender white daikon radish covered in bonito flakes (pictured). The single-serving soups are priced under $3 so you can mix and match easily.

This isn't to say the yakitori should be ignored. Jidori chickens are imported from Japan and grilled to perfection, from breast meat topped with pickled plum sauce to tender gizzard, buttery heart or crispy tail ($2 to $3 each). Other specialties like fried chunks of chicken ($7), which are so meltingly juicy you'd think you were eating a fried soup dumpling, and grilled whole octopus ($5) show the chefs' versatility.

After the restrained elegance of Torihei and a bottle of crisp Takeno Tsuyu (Dew of the Bamboo) sake, you might just be ready for the raucous karaoke joint next door.

Torihei, 1757 W. Carson St., Torrance; 310-781-9407