Orange sunsets, long walks on the beach, overpriced crystal shops: these are all things you might associate with Hermosa Beach. Outside of brunching and bar-hopping, it’s not exactly a dinner destination on par with neighboring beach cities Manhattan and Redondo.
Ryla, a Japanese-Taiwanese spot located a short walk from the Hermosa Pier, is a notable exception. Its intimate, candle-lit dining room is a nice contrast from the breezy beach cafes surrounding it, and its inventive menu brings something different and exciting to this part of the South Bay.
Most people are here to eat, but if you wanted to sit at the long L-shaped bar and sip a highball made with a rare Japanese whisky while practicing holding prolonged eye contact with strangers while R&B plays, you could do just that. The interior dining room, which features lots of dark wood and cranes painted on the walls and tables that might be slightly too close together, has buzzy energy without being overwhelmingly loud.
The kitchen is run by a husband-and-wife duo who previously worked the kitchens at Fishing With Dynamite, Arthur J, and MB Post—three of our favorite South Bay restaurants. Drawing influence mainly from Japan and Taiwan, the menu is a mix of clever riffs and unique flavor combinations, including a Hokkaido milk bread smeared with a tobiko nori dip, “hot chicken” karaage tossed in togarashi spice, twice-braised ox tongue curry rice, and a colorful matcha tiramisu.
Almost every restaurant tells you everything is designed to be shared these days. At Ryla. It’s actually true. The waitstaff is fantastic about helping you balance which and how many dishes to order, so you’ll never be left trying to figure out how to split a single oyster with a friend. If you are going to choose only one entree, however, it should be the New Zealand Tai Snapper. The tender white fish arrives swimming in a savory pool of lime coconut broth, which you should greedily soak up with that fluffy milk bread.
Ryla is a South Bay treasure with broad appeal: it’s a semi-casual place to pop in for a drink and bite before heading elsewhere, but also feels special enough to plan a big date night around. Make this your new spot for when you and a couple of friends want to eat a great dinner by the water that costs around $75 per person. It's exactly the kind of dark, sexy dinner spot that Hermosa needed—that the food is fantastic, too, is just icing on the cake.
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Hokkaido Milk Bread
Great things can always be made greater. In this case: Ryla’s fluffy, slightly sweet Hokkaido milk bread. The pull-apart loaf comes with a side of nori and tobiko spread that’s creamy like butter, but with a deep oceanic flavor that provides a perfect punch of salt. We can’t imagine starting a dinner here without it, and you shouldn’t either.
Ox Tongue Curry Rice
A big bowl of Japanese curry filled with seasonal fruits and vegetables (some cooked, some raw, some pickled) and tender cubes of braised ox tongue, this dish is as multifaceted and complex as a Timothée Chalamet performance. Use the sticky rice to mop up any remaining curry sauce and be sure to take home the leftovers—this is one of those dishes that somehow tastes even better the next day.
New Zealand Tai Snapper
Did you plan on ordering fish tonight? Doesn’t matter. You’re getting this delicate, beautifully seared whitefish if you know what’s good for you. It comes in a pool of silky lime-coconut broth that strikes the ideal balance between sweet and tangy. Sadly they don’t provide you with any rice to soak up all the creaminess left at the bottom of the bowl, so you’ll have to order a separate side or use any remaining milk bread.
Hot Chicken Karaage
This is some picture perfect karaage: juicy and evenly battered with a nice crunch. Although there is a light dusting of Japanese chili powder, don’t expect anything close to a Nashville hot chicken level of spice. (note to restaurants: not all spicy fried chicken needs to be called “hot chicken.”) We are huge fans of the charred scallion mayo that comes on the side for dipping, though.
Gochujang Glazed Carrots
Sweet, tender, and a little bit spicy, these roasted carrots glazed with Korean chili paste made us really excited about root vegetables. The subtle heat of the gochujang is balanced by a handful of crushed peanuts and a bed of lemony yogurt underneath.
When it comes to tiramisu, our emotions run high. But the subtly rich matcha tiramisu at Ryla made us feel things we never knew were possible. This creamy, multi-layered dessert comes topped with a heavy dusting of matcha powder and packed with things like mascarpone cream and white chocolate leaf. It’s somehow both rich and refreshing, with an earthy green tea flavor that shines through in every scoop.