>> Sei-Ko-En | Eat the World Los Angeles

Monday 14 June 2021


JAPAN ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต

COVID-19 UPDATE: Indoor seating is open.

It does not exactly seem like much, from the parking lot or even after you walk inside. There may be a cloud of smoke in the air from grilling meats and faulty fans, but trust your gut and grab a booth. If you arrive too late, some items like their delicious kimchi and the renowned ox tongue will probably be sold out, the first tip that your meal is going to be great.

You will notice from the moment you are greeted, through your meals service, and all the way until you get your check, that this is a family run business with the feel of things being the same for decades. Prices have certainly went up over the years, but if you were in the mood for a cheap meal and pitchers of Sapporo you would probably already be at Gyu-kaku.

Towards the end.

Yakiniku has many similarities with Korean barbecue both in experience and origin story, but the best Japanese places will rely on very subtle delicious marinades and exquisite cuts of meat. While you will be bombarded by spices and garlic in the latter, places like Sei-Ko-En will not do this and allow the meat to speak for itself.

Before getting to those dishes though, it is important to populate the table with some side dishes composed of fresh greens. The fresh lettuce with homemade miso ($7, below) is a must order for any meal here. You can use the lettuce for wrapping meat if you want, and switch in between bites of protein to snappy carrots and cucumbers, slathering everything with or scooping up the brilliant miso.

Seaweed soup $3.

The grill itself is very small, which allows you to proceed slowly and not have to eat fast while things are hot. Throw some cuts of meat on with some vegetables, take a sip from your soup and enjoy the miso while everything cooks quickly, and then proceed.

When the ox tongue is sold out as mentioned, they usually still have plenty of marbled prime rib ($12.50, below), probably the most simple of grilled meats but still supremely satisfying. A soy sauce dip is available, as well as the miso, but just as often you will find yourself eating the meat on its own.

Also grab an order of the pork salt ($11, below), if for no other reason than to receive the lemon dipping sauce to use for the entire order. This pork can also be ordered in a miso version, but this salt "rub" is a fresher and more varied option when you grab the homemade miso order.

Switching back and forth or laying down cuts of prime rib and pork next to each other are both good moves.

For some "spice" in your life, grab an order of crisp leek ($4, below) which is brushed with a bit of miso. These need to be charred and fully cooked, but will still have a lot of sharpness.

Especially if you order a couple beers or sake, it is easy to get up to $100 for two people, but this hardly seems unfair. After the meal the price does not make you feel bad, for the experience and quality is enough to feel transported to a cold night in Tokyo.

๐Ÿ“ 1730 Sepulveda Blvd., Torrance, South Bay


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