When we pulled up to the Miyako Hybrid Hotel with Discover Torrance, we thought we were just going to visit the Ise-Shima restaurant for some cocktails in their lounge. What happened next was a feast of Japanese food that we will never forget.
It started simply. The bartender offered to make us some specialty cocktails – some experiments to start the evening that ran throughout the food courses. Sunrise cocktails, apple-flavored cocktails, a blue-tini, a champagne specialty and at least two rum drinks later, and we had decided that the bartender was a creative force to be reckoned with.
We were introduced to Chef Yukio Sonoda by the hotel’s Sales and Marketing guru Alejandro Vazquez (Alex kindly stayed with us for the feasting and offered us tidbits about the hotel). Rather than just order small bites off the menu, Chef Sonoda offered us the experience of “Omakase” (Chef’s choice). This is a service also available on regular nights to any dinner who wishes to be adventurous. After speaking with the Chef, he will ask questions about tastes and preferences, and then will begin to bring you food to the table until you ask him to stop. I’ve never seen anything like this process, but it was incredible. Obviously, if a tight budget needs to be adhered to, you are better off ordering single items off of their extensive and excellent menu. But if you have the freedom and spirit to play, everyone should experience this at least once.
We started slowly – a pickled salmon, cucumber roll and abalone beginner plate. Then came the clam dip with salmon roe. Fried and grilled calamari plates were passed around. Then we started to pick up speed – the “live” lobster sashimi plate arrived much to the amazement of the crowd (note: it’s not actually live, no worries). While I didn’t try this, Andy said that it was excellent. Another lobster, this time grilled made its way to us, as did something that was flaming (sea snails? Andy said, “they were earthy and a worthy challenge for the adventurous eater.”)
Never fear non-seafood eaters, there is plenty here for you to be excited about. In fact, if you like steak, you must try the Wagyu Tobanyaki. Cooked at your table with butter and veggies, it is likely more tender than any meat you have ever had. Also excellent was the deep fried free range chicken. As Andy noted, “it is 10,000 times better than any fried chicken you’ve had before.”
From the most adventurous in the group to the least adventurous in the group (me), everyone marveled at how fresh the food was and how elegantly prepared. The presentation was a work of art that will be my new standard for Japanese food.
Ise-Shima is a fantastic restaurant for anyone who loves Japanese food (both of the seafood and non-seafood variety). They also do lunch and breakfast servings (breakfast includes a buffet that is half Japanese and half traditional American). It’s five miles from Redondo Beach, and nearly the same from Palos Verdes. Plus, it’s only a 30-minute drive from Los Angeles. The setting is perfect for a date night rendezvous, a business dinner, or a girls’ night out.
Ise-Shima is located within the Miyako Hybrid Hotel at 21381 South Western Avenue, Torrance, California 90501.