We arrived late, around 8 p.m. (Parking was easy; there were plenty of empty spots in the large, public lot.). There were only four people in the place: all Japanese men in their 30s. Two were sitting at a booth, one on a barstool. The owner was behind the small counter that stretched along one side of the tiny restaurant, chatting with everyone in Japanese; a good sign that it’s an authentic restaurant.
We were seated and handed two menus: the regular, printed menu and the specials-of-the-day menu handwritten with a blue ball point – a cute detail demonstrating the intimacy of the place. Even though the owner spoke little English, he was friendly and provided great service. In addition to waiting on tables, he does all the cooking.
The homemade Ricotta Cheese Tofu was absolutely divine. In the owner’s broken English, I understood him to say that it was made with soy, ricotta, soy sauce and gelatin. It was a silky custard served like a scoop of ice cream with a slightly grainy texture of ricotta.
That dish alone makes this a place definitely worth returning to.
We also ate small, light meatballs served in a Tsykyne Mizore sauce. The radish was OK, the meatballs delish, as were the fried chicken wings, spicy with a zing to them.
The roasted ginkgo nuts were served beautifully on a bed of salt. I’d never tried them before. The taste and texture was odd. It looked like a miniature, yellow grape that had the skin of a fruit but the interior of a soggy nut –definitely an acquired taste.
Izakaya Bincho: What a great food adventure and find! The tasty food, friendly service and innovative dishes make this a fantastic discovery.
For more information, call (310) 376-3889.