Monday, May 19, 2008

Yakitori Bincho - The 2nd Visit - Amazing As Always

*** NOTE: Owners changed it to "Izakaya Bincho," due to some complications with the city. Details and Review here. ***

After having tried the excellence that was Yakitori Bincho last week, I wanted to bring along two of my friends from Tokyo and get their perspective (both of them Yakitori Hounds, through-and-through) (and I was craving the amazing Yakitori and small dishes from Tomo-san already! :).

We were the first to arrive on a Sunday evening, and throughout the course of our dinner, Yakitori Bincho filled up to about ~70% capacity and had to start turning away customers. Being the sole person representing the back of the house, Chef Tomo's reasoning is so that he can continue to deliver the highest quality food he can, solely for his customers eating at that time. Talk about dedication!

We sat down and ordered nearly everything on the Yakitori / Kushiyaki (Roasted Skewers) Menu. :) Since they were reviewed last time, I won't go into too much detail on the items that were duplicates of the ones from my first visit, except to say that they were all consistently as good as the first time (even with Tomo-san now busy with the other 4 groups of patrons). His usage of only Jidori Chicken (cage-free, hormone-free, all natural Chicken) continues to shine in each Chicken dish he prepares.

For the new items this time, first up was the Nankotsu Karaage (Fried Chicken Cartilage). Similar to their Yakitori version, this dish was made with the much rarer Yagen Nankotsu (Chicken Cartilage from the Breast), and Tomo-san's execution was flawless!

A beautiful golden-brown color and slightly crispy exterior, and moist Chicken Breast and Cartilage with each bite! Another sign of excellence: Tomo-san swaps out the oil from his deep fryer consistently, to keep all of his fried items tasting *so fresh*! Most restaurants just starting up (and in general) would keep reusing their oil for extended periods of time, but not so here.

Besides getting my 'dachi's perspective, I also wanted to try a few more of the vegetarian items, since some people were interested in the selection. Continuing on, we tried the Shishito Shoyu (Japanese Shishito Peppers, Soy Sauce-based). The amazingly fragrant and idiosyncratic woodsy aroma from the Binchotan (Japanese White Charcoal) that Tomo-san pervaded the dish. Wonderfully light, and perfectly complemented by the Bonito Shavings and the light Soy Sauce underneath.

The Momo Tare (Chicken Thigh, Tare sauce-based) was amazing as always (sorry I just had to mention it again :) -

We also tried the Okura Shio (Okra, Salt-based) was just as tasty as their Okura Tare that we tried last time. Ultimately it'd be up to personal preference as to whichever style one prefers.

Next up was Tamanegi Shio (Onions, Salt-based). This is essentially Grilled Onions, except over the open Japanese White Charcoal. Simple and fragrant with the Binchotan aroma in each bite.

Another new dish was the Negishio (literally "Green Onions, Salt"), which was his famous roasted Chicken Thigh with Salt and topped with Green Onions. Tomo-san also lightly tops the dish with an infused oil. Each bite of the Chicken with the fresh Green Onions and infused Oil was amazing!

Continuing on, their Kawa Shio (Chicken Skin, Salt-based) was delicious. The crispy Chicken Skin was roasted perfectly to allow the excess fat to burn away and just leave the deliciousness of the crispy chicken exterior.

Yakitori Bincho's Sake Ochazuke (Salmon Tea Rice "Porridge" / Soup) was wonderful. This traditional, popular dish is the counterpart to Zosui (reviewed last time), and both make for a nice finisher to a long night of drinking and eating. :) I prefer Zosui, with its wonderful Chicken Broth base, and chunks of Chicken, but Ochazuke is nice as well. It's lighter than Zosui, and Tomo-san's version is wonderful with the perfect combination of the tea flavors, Salmon, Nori and Rice (they also have a vegetarian version of this with Ume (Japanese Plum)).

We also tried out a repeat of their oh-so-wonderful, nostalgic, handmade Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls), in both Sake (Salmon) and Ume (Japanese Plum). It's just as heart-warming and wonderful as the last visit, with Tomo-san making it fresh-to-order!

Their Yaki-Onigiri (Roasted Japanese Rice Ball) was also delicious. Roasted over their Binchotan, it's perfectly cooked and better than Shin Sen Gumi's. But given the choice, I prefer Tomo-san's regular Onigiri. :)

Yakitori Bincho continues to deliver consistently, top-quality Yakitori and Kushiyaki in a down-to-earth, humble setting. Chef Tomo and his wife Megumi-san continue to provide THE best Yakitori in Southern California. Highly recommended!

Rating: 9.5 (out of 10.0)

Japanese Grill Yakitori Bincho
112 N. International Boardwalk
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
(Note: Just head to Redondo Beach Pier, park and you'll find it on the International Boardwalk section of the pier, north of Quality Seafood.)
Tel: 310-376-3889

Mon, Wed, Thu, 5:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Fri - Sun, 4:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m.
Closed on Tuesdays.

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