You might know it as the South Bay’s biggest suburb or the place with the giant mall, but it's also home to 30 parks, Chuck Norris’ first dojo, and one of the country’s biggest Japanese communities living outside of Japan. In this guide, we’ll focus on a number of great restaurants in the area. You can find everything from crispy tonkatsu and soup dumplings to creamy mole negro and fluffy malasadas.
If you aren’t familiar with Din Tai Fung, here’s a quick recap—this massive Taiwanese soup dumpling and noodle palace is a huge global chain with locations across Southern California. And for good reason. Each dumpling comes out perfectly crafted—uniform, with no soup spilling out. The skin is thin, just membranous enough to keep everything together, and the marinated ground pork pairs well with the hot pop of broth and fragrant ginger and onion. If you come here for a weekday lunch, you’ll be fine. But given its location in the Del Amo Mall (one of the biggest malls in the country), weekend wait times are counted in hours, not minutes. Is it worth it? Unequivocally, yes.
One of the best BBQ restaurants in Koreatown has another location in Torrance, where you can plan a big-group gathering in the neighborhood. Much like the crowded location on 6th Street, wait times at this location can go longer than Gone With The Wind. But their high-quality meat and pork combo platters make any wait worth it. It’s not the kind of loud place where rowdy celebrations rage until 2am, so expect to be seated near a large family or a laid-back birthday celebration while you go to town on some marinated short ribs and beef belly.
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Hakata Ikkousha Ramen
Just across the parking lot from Baekjeong, you’ll see signage for Hakata Ikkousha. That’s our favorite ramen shop in the area. It’s a great spot to grab a quick bowl of tonkatsu, but they’ve also got some other popular options like “God Fire” for spice lovers and “Black Devil,” where the broth comes infused with a heavy dose of black sesame paste and garlic. In addition to the top-notch noodle bowls, Hakat Ikkousha also makes some of the best spicy karaage we’ve ever had. Get a large order of the juicy, honey-coated Japanese fried chicken with a side of rice for the table, and try not to argue over the leftovers.
If you’re in the market for excellent sushi, Wadatsumi is where you’ll find it. It’s located at the far end of the very same strip mall as Baekjeong and Hakata Ikkousha. And it’s a great spot for fresh chirashi bowls full of albacore, hamachi, and salmon roe. The simple chirashi here is way less extravagant than what you’ll find at some of the other Japanese spots around town — but that doesn’t mean the fish quality is any different. We’re also big fans of their roast beef salad, topped with thinly-sliced meat and ginger dressing.
Ichimi Ann is a family-run Japanese restaurant that treats handmade noodles like science. Their specialty is soba, which you can order in a hot broth or served cold with a side of soy sauce for dipping. But you can also drop in for a bowl of silky udon to slurp down on your lunch break. It’s all simple, fresh, and exactly the kind of comforting food we crave at the end of a hard week. Just remember to bring cash since they don’t have an ATM inside.
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Cho Dang Tofu is a strip mall Korean spot in Torrance, serving everything from sizzling bulgogi platters to soft tofu stew. While meat dishes like their beef ribs and pork belly deserve your attention, vegetarians can also find a bunch of great options here outside of just banchan. The mushroom soon tofu is silky and full of tender king oysters, and the vegetable dumpling tofu stew has a good balance of chewy and crunchy textures. It’s also worth noting that Cho Dang Tofu is 500 feet away from a bowling alley, so you could spend an entire weekend afternoon in this one parking lot.
This just might be the best spot in Torrance for pupusas. In fact, the bakery has been around since 1994, and continues to serve a bunch of excellent Guatemalan and Salvadoran dishes in its original space on Western Avenue, and at a second location in Long Beach. We especially love their revueltas pupusas filled with tender chicharron, but you really can’t go wrong here. Their extensive menu includes everything from chunky beef stew and sweet corn tamales to carne adobada and pepian.
Torihei is a strip mall izakaya with long lines and fantastic robata. Make a reservation if you can, otherwise, they hold some tables for walk-ins. When you do eventually sit down, pick something from the long and affordable list of sake and shoju, and then order the karaage and xiao long bao oden (Chinese-style shrimp dumplings in Japanese hot pot) to start. The robata choices are all excellent, just make sure your order includes the butter scallops and wasabi beef tongue.
You’ll find a decent plate of tonkatsu on the menu at a bunch of Japanese spots in Torrance, but those fried pork cutlets are the focus at Kagura. This laidback izakaya specializes in everything from premium filets to leaner loin cuts smothered in cheese (all of which pair very well with beer), and serves it alongside an elegant tray of rice, miso soup, and salad. But the star of the show here is their signature millefeuille. Made in the style of the French pastry, fatty slices of black pork are folded and layered on top of one another, then battered and deep-fried, resulting in a dish that’s soft and juicy on the inside, and fantastically crispy on the outside. The color reminds us of what we imagine the contents of Meryl Streep’s trophy case look like—brilliantly golden.
Miches de la Baja reminds us of an early 2000s beach bar in Huntington Beach that sells brick-sized burritos and exclusively plays surf rock. Burritos actually are on the menu, but we prefer their crispy fish chicharrones with fries and tons of fresh parsley sprinkled on top. When it comes to their excellent micheladas, you can either go sweet or savory here. The Torrance spot serves a beer-heavy, salty michelada with a thick chamoy and tajin rim that leaves us puckering with each sip. Their mix acts as a peppery base with some heat and pairs great with its cucumber and pickle toppings. Go for the sweeter side of things with the Chamoy Piña that includes a spicy, syrup-coated pineapple wedge and tamarind stick that can double as a straw too.
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Torrance’s Tacos El Goloso is a beef birria spot that’s reliable for two things: generously stuffed tacos and extra crispy fried tortillas. Their tacos dorados glisten in a consommé slathering, yet never come out too oily. The fried tortillas’ semi-soft centers can also hold all of the birria without breaking apart, which is what makes El Goloso’s tacos dorados some of the most dunkable in the city. Would we recommend dunking your tacos in a moving vehicle or mid-walk? Probably not, but that’s because we have trust issues with crunchy tortillas. However, these tasty birria tacos are genuinely bursting with meat and happily absorb all of the juices from the spicy broth. Their birria taco dorado combo is a great deal at $8.50 and a quick fix for anyone looking for last-minute tacos for dinner.
Right on Sepulveda Blvd, Silog is serving fusion Filipino rice bowls that will bring you comfort on even the hardest of days—including the ones where your camera roll decides to show you pictures of how bad your bangs looked last year (or is that just us?). There’s garlic shrimp, made sweet and sticky with garlic, calamansi, and honey. Tocino silog is served over a bed of white rice and comes in a bright-red color, full of anise wine, annatto, and pineapple flavors. And our favorite thing, the sisig silog, is a perfect blend of braised pork belly, chicharon, and a garlic crème aioli we’ve dreamed about taking a bath in too many times.
Founded in 1998, Mitsuwa Marketplace is an excellent Japanese supermarket with 11 locations across the country—six of which are here in Southern California. That said, to call Mitsuwa just a supermarket is frankly underselling it. Along with an astounding array of Japanese dried goods, sauces, meats, and pre-packaged sushi boxes, you’ll also find book stores, cosmetic counters, and an entirely separate food court with stalls selling everything from Japanese donuts to some of the best ramen in LA.
Even throughout the pandemic, Izakaya Hachi maintained its title as a premier party spot. They’ve got a decently sized tent out front where you’ll find the full spectrum of the human experience, from 21-year-olds celebrating birthdays to groups of Japanese men who will ultimately outdrink everyone around them. And yet, it’s hard to nail down what exactly makes this place so special. The food’s a huge part of it—all of the grilled meats are excellent and worth your attention, like medium-rare beef tongue that tastes buttery and tender, or salty, chopped pork cheek accompanied by a biting yuzu sauce. But it’s also the celebratory atmosphere, and the fact that most dishes are made to share, like the pork shabu shabu, or family-style omakase that requires four people seated at the table (house rules) and involves a parade of over 13 different dishes. Either way, if you’re looking to party like it’s 1999, or whatever year, this is the place to do it.
Madre is an excellent place for a casual weeknight dinner, business lunch, or a date with someone you don’t know very well. The original location of this Oaxacan spot is in Torrance, and the mezcal collection here has to be among the largest of any bar or restaurant in the city. Inside, there’s plenty of room for big groups and lots of space between tables, so your conversation isn’t going to get derailed because the table next to you is having a heated argument about whether Tupac is still alive. Get the mezcal margarita and order the queso fundido to start. For entrees, focus on the moles–-we like the coloradito best–with either chicken thighs or short ribs.
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This strip mall spot is a very good place for affordable sushi. They’re open for takeout only, so marvel at the Dodger bobblehead-decorated bar going in, and order the No. 8 Special. It involves nine pieces of sushi and two rolls, and at $13.50, it’s the most expensive thing on the menu. Add on an order of the fantastic, salty mirugai (giant geoduck clam) if they have it.
King’s Hawaiian Bakery doesn’t just make the grocery store rolls we’ve been devouring at cookouts since we were kids, they’ve also got a restaurant in Torrance with pretty forgettable food. But the restaurant isn’t why you’re here – the bakery up front serves a huge variety of excellent, mostly Hawaiian pastries. The almond stars are good, and the malasadas are the biggest, fluffiest donut holes you’ll ever eat. You’ll get them to go, but probably spend a few minutes on the patio eating one by yourself before you take them back to the office.