Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Torrance: Hakata Yamaya (Sanui-Tei)

I think one aspect of Japanese cuisine that's overlooked a lot of times is Japanese BBQ. Most people only know of teppan-style, where you cook everything on a super hot griddle, most famous being Benihana, but most places are too Americanized. For me, Japanese BBQ is all about grilling on a steel mesh screen over SUPER hot coals aka Yakiniku. The smoke, the intensity of the heat from the coals, and the flavor you get as a result reminds you exactly why mankind invented barbecue.

Yakiniku is all about the meat: high quality meat with beautiful marbling. After cooked to the way you like it, dip it in the sauce and the flavors from the meat and the sauce meld together so well. At Hakata Yamaya (used to be Sansui-Tei) in Torrance, it's all comes together perfectly: Washyugu beef, high-grade pork, great dipping sauce, and hot coals.

Hakata Yamaya
2529 Pacific Coast Hwy
Torrance, CA 90505

washyugu rib eye
Washyugu Rouse - cut of rib-eye from Oregon Washyugu cattle. Super tender and juicy from the marbling. I like how they say it is Washyugu (Wagyu) rather than Kobe. Don't believe restaurants when they say it is Kobe beef! The breed of the cattle is actually Washyugu and most are from either Colorado or Oregon, not true Washyugu from Kobe!

Washyugu Kalbi - They used kalbi probably cause everybody's so accustomed to the name kalbi to stand for short ribs. Great flavor and the thickness is perfect. After a bite, you'll realize just how different the quality of meat from KBBQ is compared to this. Perfect with the dipping sauce.

What else? Pork belly with minced onion and pepper. My favorite!

You add the mined onion mix on the top or eat it together with the pork belly on the side and daaaamn it is good. They add something to that onion mix and makes it so addicting!

Ahi Tuna Wasabi Vinaigrette Salad. Fresh ahi and you can definitely taste the little kick from the wasabi.

Bibimbap. Ok, I know this is Korean but I saw someone eating it and I had to get it. They first mix everything in the typical stone bowl and let it sit for awhile to let the rice touching the side of the pot get crispy. Since we had to share among 3 of us, we each got a small portion. Boo. It was really good too!

I just realized I forgot to take a picture of Hakata Yamaya's dipping sauce since I think it's one of the best sauces I've had at a yakiniku restaurant.

Hakata Yamaya is now one of my favorite, especially that there's coupons for it! That definitely helps since it is kinda expensive, at about $6-10 for a plate of meat. Of course there's always Gyu-Kaku but I always think they are so overhyped and the quality isn't as good, especially for the AYCE side... Hakata Yamaya for me!